The fireplace was once a gathering place for more than warmth

Living history interpreter and open-hearth cooking expert Clarissa Clifton preps fresh produce in the Cook House at the Archibald Smith Plantation in Roswell. When available she uses herbs and vegetables from the Smith garden.
Caption
Living history interpreter and open-hearth cooking expert Clarissa Clifton preps fresh produce in the Cook House at the Archibald Smith Plantation in Roswell. When available she uses herbs and vegetables from the Smith garden.

Credit: City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic & Cultural Affairs Department

Credit: City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic & Cultural Affairs Department

Q: During the shutdown, I began teaching my kids some history and thought the culinary aspect of 19th-century cooking would be of interest to explore. Would you tell me a bit about the “Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration” at the Smith Plantation?

A: You are inquiring about the Open-Hearth Cooking and Living History Demonstration with Clarissa Clifton held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays through Aug. 28 in the Cook House at the historic Archibald Smith Plantation in Roswell.

Clifton, dressed in garments worn at the time, recounts a slice of 19th-century life through inspired recipes, cooking methods and conversations.

What is referred to as lunch now, was the large meal of the day. Unless visitors were expected, a meal of stew and a quick bread would have been prepared. “With stews or soups, you put four quarts of water in a pot and can walk away from it, checking on it every couple of hours or so,” Clifton said.

Staggering the fire off to the side of the hearth gives Clifton three ovens, with three different temps. She hears consistently that people are surprised at the ease of cooking in the hearth.

Clifton's lineage includes a great grandfather who led a wagon train to Savannah to get annual provisions and a grandfather who raised hogs. Collecting historical cookbooks began when she was in 10th grade and eventually led her to the Latta Plantation, Tully Smith Farmhouse and the Smith Plantation to test out methods and recipes in their open-hearth kitchens.
Caption
Clifton's lineage includes a great grandfather who led a wagon train to Savannah to get annual provisions and a grandfather who raised hogs. Collecting historical cookbooks began when she was in 10th grade and eventually led her to the Latta Plantation, Tully Smith Farmhouse and the Smith Plantation to test out methods and recipes in their open-hearth kitchens.

Credit: City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic & Cultural Affairs Department

Credit: City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic & Cultural Affairs Department

Entries like oxtail stew, stewed chicken or fried chicken along with two or three sides are prepared for the demo.

“If you visited someone and they fried chicken for you, you knew they thought highly of you because they paid attention to cooking your meal,” she said. “When frying you had to stay within listening distance. Unlike today, cooking hits your hearing, smell and sight. You had to figure out their meal around your other duties.”

“Participants will experience the smell and discussions on why’s. We talk about taste. Everything contributes to the flavor when cooking in the hearth,” Clifton said.

Address: 935 Alpharetta Street, Roswell.

For more information, visit https://www.roswellgov.com/discover-us/historic-house-museums/events/open-hearth-cooking

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