Archive for November, 2015

A Taste of Open Hearth Cooking

On Nov. 14, the Historic Preservation Division will offer an open-hearth cooking class where people will learn their way around a cooking fire. The class will be held at the Haislip-Hall house, located at the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre at 12229 Bristow Road in Bristow.

During the class, which runs between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., people will learn about the skill it took to cook a three-course meal in earlier centuries, said Bill Backus, the historic site manager for the Brentsville Centre. “This program will actually allow them to learn how people in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries cooked over the open fire,” he said.

People will also get a chance to sample three dishes that were popular in the 19th century, including an appetizer, main course and dessert, Backus said. “What’s actually pretty unique about this is, after they’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day cooking it, they actually will be able to taste the finished product.”

According to Backus, there’s a difference between a cooking fire and a fire made for warmth. Trying to stay warm calls for a roaring flame; a cooking fire is more subdued. “When you have a cooking fire, you do not want to use flame because flame is going to cook the food at inconsistent temperatures. What you do is you bank up a fire,” he said. “You get it nice and going, and then you produce as many coals as possible; and you actually cook over the coals, allowing you to make sure everything is being cooked at a consistent temperature. This program will allow people to learn how to properly build a fire for cooking, to get the fire going and to make sure that everything is properly cooked.”

The Haislip-Hall House, circa 1850, was built in what is now Linton Hall area and was used as a residence from 1850 until the early 20th century. The house was moved to Historic Centre around 2000 and restored back to its 1850s appearance in 2008. The restored house will offer a back drop and lend a bit of authenticity to the cooking experience, Backus said.

The open-hearth cooking class is $30 per person and is not recommended for children under 12 years old. Call 703-365-7895 to register.