SALEM — Because of John Turner’s success as a trader in the mid-1600s, his family enjoyed an array of nutritious foods served in the first-floor hall used for dining and entertaining. The man who built what is now known as The House of the Seven Gables brought riches and sophistication to the table.
On Thursday, February 18, from 5 to 6 p.m., Visitor Services Specialist Kaylee Redard will demonstrate dinner dishes typically served at the Turner household. This free virtual event, the second in a series of three colonial cooking demonstrations, will take place in the Visitor Center Café. Viewers can watch from home as Redard prepares and discusses early Salem foods. Register online to attend this free demonstration.
All who attend are welcome to ask questions and chat as the food preparation takes place. Creating colonial meals in a modern kitchen gives Redard a chance to compare meal preparation in 1668 with 2021 meal prep. She plans to make a chicken pie — Baked Chicken in Winter — from a 1594 British cookbook called “A Good Huswifes Handmaide.”
Captain John Turner, his wife Elizabeth and their five children consumed high-protein meals on pewter plates. They used earthen mugs, and a spoon and knife but no fork. And when he was not at sea, John Turner presided at the head of the table, or “board,” as it was called.
Redard says she is thrilled to present this fun and informative cooking series. “We wanted to connect with people during this time when house tours are suspended,” says Redard. “And we know that people like to engage with food.” And at no time in recent memory has family dining and cooking been such an important aspect of daily life as it has been during the pandemic.
Redard learned a lot about cooking from watching every episode of the Great British Baking Show and cooking something new from the series every month. She brought many of her baked goods to The Gables to share with staff. She says this British orientation is perfect since colonists were from England and brought their recipes with them.
Those attending the virtual demonstration can speak with Deb Costa, as well. Costa also works at The Gables and has a background in colonial cooking. Costa and Redard note that the Turner kitchen had typically low ceilings to conserve heat, but it had an oversized fireplace with a built-in brick oven heated with a hot pine fire. A summer kitchen was added a few years after the original house was built.
A final demonstration will feature desserts on Wednesday, March 31.
About The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association
The mission of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to be a welcoming, thriving, historic site and community resource that engages people of all backgrounds in our inclusive American story. For more information visit www.7gables.org.
Stories are at the core of what we do at The House of the Seven Gables. They are not just a part of our past, but also our present and future. In 2021, we look forward to exploring the lore of our historic site and surrounding community with a special series of lectures, programs and events.