the Magnificent Leaven


September 12th, 2016

Charlottesville, VA

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Exploring The French Apprenticeship of James Hemings; a Kitchen Workshop

Track: In the Kitchen

with Paula Marcouxpre-festival workshop:Friday, September 11, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. • Historic Monticello Kitchen, Mountaintop

Thomas Jefferson needed a good man in the kitchen. Given the loftiness of his succession of posts and positions in France and America, it was crucial to have someone he could trust to entertain his many guests—French aristocrats and American gentry alike—in tasteful opulence.

Thus he brought the very able enslaved servant James Hemings with him in 1784, with the “particular purpose” of arranging his training in French cookery. That James, still in his early twenties, was able to take on the role of chef de cuisine in Jefferson’s Paris household speaks volumes about his organizational skill, managerial abilities, and sheer energy, let alone his culinary sensibilities. In this workshop and tasting, conducted in Monticello’s kitchen, food historian Paula Marcoux will lead an exploration of some of the nuts-and-bolts culinary techniques and recipes that James might have learned during his French apprenticeship. Produce from Monticello’s garden, and other ingredients from local farms will provide the materials for this memorable sensory experience. $55

September 13th

Charlottesville, VA

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Make Hominy—Mulberry Row Interpretive Demo

Corn was the foundation of the American food pyramid in Thomas Jefferson's time. Food historian Paula Marcoux will demonstrate the simple, yet essential, technique of hulling corn with wood ash to make hominy — an ancient and adaptable superfood that was eaten (and loved!) across cultural, economic lines nationwide.

October 11th, 9 am - 3 pm

Plymouth, MA

Plymouth Succotash — from Archive, to Farm,

    to Plate

Harlow Old Fort House

119 Sandwich Street

Roll up your sleeves and participate in the construction of Plymouth’s signature holiday dish, as well as the deconstruction of its history and mythology. We will corn beef and pork, hull dry corn with wood ashes, and concoct the real thing from an 1880s Plymouth recipe. We’ll work outside over a wood fire as much as weather allows. We’ll break twice from cooking — mid-afternoon, for an illustrated presentation about the history of the dish and its erstwhile holiday, Old Colony, or Forefathers’, Day; and late-morning, for a snack to tide us over to the main event. We’ll sit down and share our handiwork as the delicious culmination of the program.

Our ingredients will include New England-grown corn and beans, beef brisket, pork, and chicken (fowls, really), potatoes and turnip, all sourced as locally as possible. Our recipe comes from the notebook of Frona Spooner (1831- 1917), who lived on North Street in Plymouth.

Through the nineteenth century pretty much the entire Anglo population of Plymouth sat down on December 22nd to big plates of succotash to celebrate the the anniversary of the arrival of their “Forefathers”. We’ll examine why this was, as well as how turkey and Thanksgiving came to take the place of these earlier traditions.

A fabulous dish in every sense, authentic Plymouth Succotash deserves to be enjoyed today.

Register here:

September 14th, 2 pm

Jamestown, VA

Historic Jamestowne

Jamestown Rediscovery Project

Ovens on the Edge; How the First European Colonists Baked Bread, 1590-1640, a presentation about the archaeology of baking, followed by a walk onto the James’ Fort site to have a look at the remains of a couple ovens in situ!

September 16th, 7 pm

Richmond, VA

Camden’s Dogtown Market

201 W. 7th St., Richmond, VA 23224

Subscription dinner, cool venue, excellent menu:

*Pine Needle Mussels (pg. 34) with Cast Iron Bread (pg. 155) Domaine de Rome Sancere


*Fish Kebabs with Fennel Salad (pg. 68) Louis Latour Chablis


*Roast Pork Loin (pg. 52) with Ash Roasted Veggies (pg. 31) and Salt Roasted Taters (pg. 128) Louis Latour Bourgogne Rouge

*Almond Meringue Cookies (pg. 296) with House-Made Ice Cream Sandeman Rainwater Madiera 

Brought to you by Fountain Bookstore, 1312 E Cary St, Richmond, VA 23219

This looks like FUN!

September 18th,

Lorton, VA

Gunston Hall

Cooking with Fire presentation, plus a demo of Hannah Glasse’s fabulous Muffins (Cooking with Fire, p. 117) in their sweet hearth.

September 26th, 5 - 8 pm

Plymouth, MA

Harlow Old Fort House Flip Fest

119 Sandwich Street


Independent Fermentations Brewing & Dirty Water Distillery

Flip (Cooking with Fire, p. 88) is a rich melange of beer and rum frothed with a hot poker, and served up sizzling. Enjoy a taste of this old New England concoction and other delicious drinks locally brewed and distilled by Plymouth’s own Independent Fermentations Brewery and Dirty Water Distillery. Local food historian and author Paula Marcoux will share her expertise on traditional cookery and offer tasting plates based on recipes from her new book, Cooking with Fire; copies available for signing in the Harlow Gift Shop. Chowders, pies and other homemade treats also available. Tours of the historic Harlow House are included with admission. Cover charge $5.


October 10th, 6:30 pm

Brooklyn, NY

The Brooklyn Brainery

190 Underhill Avenue

Ovens on the Edge; How the First European Colonists Baked Bread, 1590-1640, a presentation about the archaeology of baking.

October 11th, 11am - 2pm

Brooklyn, NY

Washington Park

336 Third Street, bet. 4th/5th Avenues

Brooklyn, NY 11215

The Old Stone House

Hands-on at the hearth: bread in a wood-fired oven, bread in an iron pot, bread on a griddle, bread under ashes...

January 23, 2015,

Saratoga Springs, NY

NOFA NY Winter Conference

Earthen Construction for Backyard Cooking Fun

Register at:

March 14, 2015, 1-5 pm

Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts

Sausage, Scrapple, Lard

Spend an afternoon exploring three delicious traditional ways of keeping the family fed all winter long. We will make a big batch of sausage, learning about a wide variety of helpful equipment  in preparing the meat and stuffing the casings. We will render lard from both fatback and leaf fat, examining the differences between the two. And we will prepare scrapple—despite what you may think, a completely delicious wholesome substance when made at home—out of the hog’s head.

Participants will take home samples of each of the projects, as well as the confidence needed to make these wonderful traditional foods at home.

Our hog was humanely raised, and well-fed on a ridiculous amount of goat milk, in Middleborough, Massachusetts.


March 28th, 2015, 11am - 3pm & Independent Fermentations Brewing

Plymouth, Massachusetts

A Day of CRAFT Brewing

Curious what it would be like to run a very small brewery?

Spend a day finding out at Independent Fermentations Brewing in Plymouth. Owners Paul Nixon and Rose Forbes will be crafting one of their signature brews, and you are invited to participate.

The session will begin with grinding and mashing the grains. After the wort is put on to boil, we’ll tour the facility and talk more about styles, ingredients, techniques and equipment. Paul and Rose are very active in the local micro-brewery scene, and they can fill you in on where to visit to sample a wide variety of beverages made in small operations all over Bristol and Plymouth counties.

Food historian Paula Marcoux will be on hand to answer questions about New England’s checkered beverage history.

Lunch will be provided, and, for those over 21 years of age, will include a tasting of Independent Fermentations products.

Dedicated hopheads may hang with the pros until the end of the brewing process, very late in the afternoon. But all participants over 21 are welcome to return to the brewery three weeks later to pick up the fruits of the day’s labor — three 22-ounce bottles our handiwork.


Co-sponsored by Independent Fermentations and edible South Shore and South Coast

Register at:

April 19th, 2015, 2 - 3pm

Brockton, Massachusetts

455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301


Make Speak at the Fuller Craft Museum

Seven takes on craft, seven presentations, seven minutes.

This is a free public lecture choreographed by the Commonwealth of Craft. The online registration for this event will be at:

Castle Hill Center for the Arts

Truro, Massachusetts

Wood-fired baking series

Recreating Pastries Depicted in 17th-century Dutch Paintings

Recreating Pastries Depicted in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Still Li

Ever been tantalized, or mystified, by the pies and other baked goods in the art of Pieter Claesz, Willem Heda, and other Golden Age painters? Let's reproduce some using Castle Hill's wood-fired oven! We'll employ period recipes and images to make free-standing meat pies, fruit tarts, and intricate filled cookies. For art-lovers and adventurous bakers and eaters of any level.


May 12th, 2015, 5 - 8 pm

Castle Hill Center for the Arts

Truro, Massachusetts

Wood-fired baking series

Wood-fired Pizza Party

Celebrate the return of green to the garden by making delicious, crispy wood-fired pizzas using the freshest, tastiest, seasonal ingredients. We'll mix pizza dough together and prepare toppings using live fire. When the oven is ready, we'll hone our dough-stretching skills and experience using the peel to launch pizzas onto the oven's searing-hot hearth. After enjoying the fruits of their labors hot from the oven, participants will take home pizza dough for further practice and enjoyment.


May 19th, 2015, 5 - 8 pm

Castle Hill Center for the Arts

Truro, Massachusetts

Wood-fired baking series

Focus on Natural Leavening

Toss out the notion that sourdough is for the "advanced" baker with exacting habits, a white toque, and a degree in microbiology. On the contrary, anyone who enjoys baking may find that stepping into the world of natural leavening improves the flavor and texture of the bread, opens up a range of international specialties, and best of all makes baking so much more fun. Participants will learn the basics of starting and maintaining a culture, and will take home a piece of vibrant natural leavening to get them going. Along the way, we'll cover mixing and developing techniques, fermentation basics, and dough handling and shaping. Using the wood-fired oven, we'll bake wheat and rye loaves employing natural leavenings in different ways.


Photo credit for chicken-roasting at Searsport Shores, ME:

Thank you, Sandra van Dusen!


My favorite past events I can’t make myself delete.

Build an Earthen Oven

TBD July, 2016—Islesboro, Maine

Get hands-on experience building a backyard earthen oven, the most inexpensive, engaging little unit out there. Learn how to design an oven proportioned to your needs and space,  how to find and evaluate materials, and how to mix clay mortar (daub) to create an oven that will be durable, yet recyclable.

On day one we will insulate the base, lay the hearth bricks, make a sand form, mix mortar, build the entry arch, and lay up the first layer of daub. On day two we will finish the body of the oven, sculpt the final shape of the oven, make and apply a protective mud plaster, clear out the sand form, and make a trial fire.

As we go, we'll consider questions of size and proportion, as well as insulation and thermal mass, so that you can think more concretely about crafting your own backyard oven.

Planning the perfect oven for your own baking needs is much easier once you grasp how  construction choices might play out in your future baking.

This class will take place at a private home on Islesboro, Maine. Lunches are included in $250 tuition. (Local lodging will be worked out as we go.)

The Wood Fired Oven Experience

May 11th; 10 am - 4 pm — Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro

Curious what it would be like to bake in a wood-fired oven? Spend the day working Castle Hill's oven with Paula Marcoux, author of Cooking with Fire (Storey Publishing, 2014). You'll learn all about how ovens work and a little bit about how they are built. You'll help make and feed the fire and learn to "read' the oven using both instruments and the fire's behavior. In order to understand the various phases of the heating and cooling curve (and also to supply ourselves with an appropriate lunch) the class will use live fire to bake a batch of pizzas, then clear out the oven and put its retained heat to work in rustling up some focaccia, some treats for tea time, plus something special to take home. Although the emphasis of this workshop is on working the oven, Paula will happily cover a good deal about creating and manipulating the various doughs and supply recipes for everything baked that day.

Registration and more info here!

Mother Earth News Fair

February 18-19, 2017 — Belton, Texas

Book signing and demos:

Get more out of your Griddle

It’s great for lots more than pancakes–learn a few global classics.

Wood-Fired Cooking & Baking Workshop

March 26th — Boxford, MA

Step back in time to the 1800’s by spending a day in the historic farmhouse at ifarm LLC, cooking over an open hearth and baking in a brick oven with Paula Marcoux, food historian and author of Cooking with Fire (Storey Publishing, 2014). As we put ifarm’s historic cooking equipment through its paces you’ll learn how to manage heat for a variety of culinary purposes and to adapt live-fire techniques for use in your own fireplace or firepit.


We’ll spend the morning firing up the oven and making dough, etc., in preparation for an afternoon of baking, while also whipping up a meal in the hearth. After lunch, we’ll get busy baking a range of treats; some for tea-time together that day at ifarm, and others to take home.


This is a terrific opportunity for hands-on learning in a spectacular and authentic setting.


Fuller Craft Museum

March 18-June 25


Living Traditions: The Handwork of Plymouth CRAFT

CRAFT artisans' work—and their message of teaching and sharing—will be on display in most exciting venue in the world of contemporary craft. This exhibition features pieces by most of the instructors who have led courses through Plymouth CRAFT in its short two-and-a-half years of existence. Works by green woodworkers, textile artisans, blacksmiths, and others are shown along with video and still images from workshops and other events. 


An opening reception for Living Traditions will be held on
Sunday April 9 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.


Fuller Craft Museum

455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301

Old Berwick Historical Society

April 27; 7:30 pm

Lecture, Berwick Academy

Ovens on the Edge: How European Colonists Baked Bread, 1590-1640

An exploration, with snacks, of how the French and English supplied

their first forays at colonization and what the archeology of ovens tells us about their adaptation to New World conditions.

Learn about the whole fascinating lecture series here.