Are you ready for a road trip? Today we're going to Kentucky to take a trip in a time machine.
That's right, a time machine. We're going back to 1850.
When you pull into the parking lot you'll notice a low hill. The Visitor's Center is built into this berm and there's a reason for that. When you step inside you'll find a gift shop with some very nice items. There are museum cases displaying items from the era.
You will notice there's another set of doors toward the back of the gift shop. To the left are the doors to the theater where they present a short film. I'm going to skip that today and exit the back doors into the time machine.
Why is it a time machine? Because once you pass through the berm you will not see anything of modern life. There are no electric wires, road noise or other indications of modern life. Very rarely a jet will pass overhead but otherwise you have entered the land between the lakes in 1850 Kentucky.
A small path winds around to the right and pretty soon the berm is out of sight.
Rail fence along the pathway.
The people who work here live in the 21st century but work in the 19th century. That sounds like the perfect gig for those people who have always felt they were born in the wrong century.
The farm is worked day-to-day, year round (except for the few winter months that they are closed to the public) exactly as it would have been in 1850. The tasks, and what you would see on your visit is dictated by the time of year. In the spring you would see them planting, in the fall, harvesting. You can see the processes of smoking hams and drying tobacco.
Here's a field of tobacco.
Tobacco growing in the field.
The tobacco is a very familiar sight to me. All my ancestors in Tennessee were tobacco farmers and I remember field after field of these large plants.
This is the gentleman responsible for working the tobacco patch today. It's very hot and he's taking a short break.
Next, we're going to visit the large cabin. This is what's called a dogtrot.
Beautiful dogtrot cabin.
This style of dwelling has a hallway down the middle that is open to the outside.
Sitting a spell on the porch.
The rooms are on both sides and this has an upper floor. I've rarely seen a two story dogtrot. The cabin would be raised off the ground to allow air to flow beneath. The chickens and snakes spent lots of time under the cabin also.
And for those of you who think this type of structure is ancient history, think again! My great uncle had a dogtrot house in the rural panhandle of Florida. We visited there many times when I was a kid.
Here's the side of the cabin. That's the kitchen extending out the back. Sometimes the kitchen would be a small separate building, that way if the kitchen caught on fire the entire cabin wouldn't burn down.
Dogtrot cabin with kitchen.
There's another small open air hallway between the house and the kitchen. This is where the wash pans are set up.
Pans for washing up.
There are potatoes drying on the porch. That rack is lined with a homespun fabric on which the potatoes are dried.
Drying potatoes, 1850 style.
In the kitchen, beans are prepared for cooking.
Beans for dinner.
Like the potatoes, beans were dried on a rack.
Beans preserved by drying.
There were no written recipes, no thermometers and no timers. It was cooking by the seat of your pants, as I call it. There was no such thing as canning fruits and vegetables in 1850 because the safe Mason-type canning jar and lid hadn't been invented. Women did preserve pickles and sauerkraut in stoneware crocks.
Inside the cabin is a bed with a big featherbed. This looks so inviting, I want to crawl in for a nap after eating the fried chicken and corn fritters that would prepared in the cabin's kitchen.
Here's a recipe for corn fritters.
2 eggs, separated
4 TBSP. all purpose flour
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or 2 cups canned, drained)
1/2 tsp. sale
freshly ground black pepper
lard for deep frying (or vegetable shortening)
Combine the egg yolks, flour, salt and pepper and corn in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff, forming peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. In a deep iron skillet, melt the lard to a depth of 3 inches and heat until it registers a temperature of 365 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls into the fat. Frying till golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Drain well. Serve immediately with honey. Makes about a dozen and a half fritters.
It's going to take more than one day to tour this place so for tonight we're going to rest in this bed with is big, inviting featherbed.
Old fashioned bed with quilt and featherbed.
Come back tomorrow when we'll continue our tour of The Homeplace 1850.