From Garden to Kitchen

From Garden to Kitchen

Part of Ep. 701 The Heirloom Garden Pt. 1

Join Old World Wisconsin's Karen Keene to learn how heirloom veggies were actually used in the 19th century.

Premiere date: Mar 06, 1999

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We've been talking a lot about heirloom vegetables in Wisconsin. We thought it would be fun to show you how they were actually used in the 19th century. We're back at Old World Wisconsin and this is Karen Keene. Karen, tell me a little bit about what you do here at Old World Wisconsin.

Karen:
First of all, welcome to the museum. I'm the foodways and domestic craft supervisor here at Old World. We try to be as accurate as possible in the things that we show to the public, to our visitors. And so, I need to research the recipes and the crafts to make sure that they're all appropriate for that particular time period and that particular family.

Shelley:
So, this truly is an heirloom recipe that we're dealing with today.

Karen:
Oh, definitely. Now, you're in the 1890s right here. This is the home of Christian Pederson. He came from Luck, Wisconsin, in Polk County, way over on the western side of the state. And he was Danish. Now, the Danes loved cabbage. In fact, Christian had over a quarter of an acre of cabbage on his farm.

Shelley:
That's a lot. That's too much for me!

Karen:
Yes, it is.

Shelley:
I assume, then, that what we're going to be making has cabbage in it.

Karen:
Right. We're making boiled red cabbage today.

Shelley:
Let's run through the ingredients.

Karen:
All right. What we'll start out with is the red cabbage.

Shelley:
Now, you're using an heirloom variety. This is Red Drumhead Savoy.

Karen:
Right. And we've got it shredded down here so that you can see what it would look like.

Shelley:
And that's about a head and a half.

Karen:
We're also going to be adding some cider vinegar, some of your home-churned butter...

Shelley:
I'll have to go to the store for mine.

Karen:
A little bit of sugar and also, red currant jelly.

Shelley:
That looks great. You've had this cooking for a while. Tell me what you've already done to this dish.

Karen:
Well, I've already shredded it down and I've added the cider vinegar to it.

Shelley:
About how much?

Karen:
I would put in about a small teacup size.

Shelley:
Okay. For us, about a half a cup?

Karen:
Right, I would go with that. Then, you're going to put it on medium heat.

Shelley:
That's on a modern stove.

Karen:
Well, actually Shelley, we have medium heat, also, on our cook stove.

Shelley:
Oh!

Karen:
In fact, we have high, medium and low, just like you do.

Shelley:
Show me, please.

Karen:
Gladly. To get your high, what you want to do is take off your plate and put that pot right down inside. It will give you a nice, hot heat.

Shelley:
Okay, closer to the flames.

Karen:
To get medium, you'll put that plate back on and sit it right on top, but toward the front of the stove where your firebox is.

Shelley:
Where's low?

Karen:
You're going to move that pot to the back, then.

Shelley:
Okay.

Karen:
So, you do have your different heats, just like you do.

Shelley:
So, whether we're using a modern stove or a wood stove, we'd set it on medium for about how long?

Karen:
Well, I would do mine about an hour and a half.

Shelley:
So, with our more reliable heat, probably about 40 minutes?

Karen:
Right. I would start with that.

Shelley:
Is it covered?

Karen:
Yes, definitely cover it. That will help cook it down.

Shelley:
Okay. And after it's cooked down to what it looks like now, then what's the next step?

Karen:
Our next step will be to add butter. Now, I'm going to add about, oh, the size of a small egg here.

Shelley:
So, for us, more like three tablespoons.

Karen:
Right. We're also going to add sugar. Now, I will add sugar to taste in the 1800s.

Shelley:
Is that different from what I would add to taste?

Karen:
Well, it will be, Shelley. Sugar was something that you'd have to purchase. You couldn't just grow that on your farm. So, this was almost a luxury.

Shelley:
So, they probably used it a lot more sparingly than I would.

Karen:
Right.

Shelley:
I'm guessing I'm going to be adding at least a tablespoon to start with and then go up from there.

Karen:
Sure, you can start with that. Now, the red boiled cabbage is something that they probably ate on a daily basis.

Shelley:
With a quarter acre, you bet!

Karen:
But to make it a little bit special, perhaps like on a Sunday or holiday, you could add some red currant jelly. That's what we're going to add today.

Shelley:
Now, how much of this?

Karen:
Again, I'm going to add about a small teacupful.

Shelley:
I'll stick to a half-cup, then.

Karen:
Right. That sounds good. I'm going to keep this on medium heat for another, perhaps, two hours.

Shelley:
So, for us, probably about 40 minutes. Still covered?

Karen:
Right. Shelley, your finished product will look just like this.

Shelley:
That's beautiful. It's really cooked down, too. Thanks, Karen. Now, my Polish ancestors would've added bacon to this and made sweet and sour cabbage. Whatever you add, this is comfort food at its best.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.