Digging Up My Ancestors – Inbred

This post is a continuation of a series chronicling the relocation of my family cemetery, including my 4th Great Grandparents James Cole and Elizabeth Gilbert, in Aberdeen, Maryland in 2010. Click here to read Part I and Part II. Today, … Continue reading

I Spy…Rural Commerce in the Nineteeth Century

I was using this Martenet Map of Harford County from 1878, viewable on the Library of Congress website, to do some family research. I was as intrigued by the business enterprises going on in the Halls Cross Roads area. This … Continue reading

SRO – The Acronym for Hotel Living

Single room occupancy. For country kids like myself, this form of spare urban housing lives under the radar. SROs refer to permanent residency in hotels. Technically, this refers to everything from high style at The Plaza to sleeping on the … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: The Train Station

Bumping around the Internet, I came upon this group of images of North American train stations. Some I recognized, while others were from towns I have never considered. As I looked at the first photos, more photos kept loading, until … Continue reading

It’s Friday! Do “The Baltimore”

While I think the city of Baltimore had little to do with inspiring the creation of this dance tune by Fred Rich and the Hotel Astor Orchestra, this 1928 ditty is well equipped to send us into the weekend. Click … Continue reading

Digging Up My Ancestors

Click here for the first post on the Cole Cemetery relocation. My mother and I were standing in the Target parking lot in Aberdeen one cool and sunny Saturday morning in April 2010. We weren’t there to shop for hair … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: New York Penn Station

New York Penn Station, thy name is Melancholy. More than one website chronicles the beauty lost that was Penn Station, so I’ll skip the details about McKim, Mead, and White, Jane Jacobs, and Madison Square Garden. But every time I … Continue reading

Downton Abbey is Hot – Now for some real servants.

I fully expect Masterpiece Classic’s Downton Abbey to inspire the costume choices of many next Halloween (see my post on Downton Halloween costumes). Dr. V and I clung to the compelling story lines from above and below stairs every Sunday evening. … Continue reading

Apple of My Eye: Red Apple Rest

  A photo moment for the wayside respite that was the Red Apple Rest, on Route 17 in Southfields, New York. I stopped there in October of 2007, on my way to an outing at Storm King. It was one … Continue reading

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Welcome to The Still Room.

Barbara Fritchie Restaurant, Frederick MD, RL Fifield photo, 2009.

Conjuring the appearance of a 17th or 18th century Still Room yields a beautiful bounty of preserved foods for the grimness of winter, as well titillating sweetmeats. Here, harvests of the better months are sugared and salted, turning them into something more robust and intense. Fruits suspended in sugar, candies, a good tonic for darkening hair, and many a stringent spiced pickle issued forth from the Still Room. We might even get a little tipsy on quince brandy.

To make a fine Bitter.

Take an ounce of the finest Jesuit powder, half a quarter of an ounce of snake-root powder, half a quarter of an ounce of salt of wormwood, half a quarter of saffron, half a quarter of cochineal, put it into a quart of the best brandy, and let it stand twenty-four hours; every now and then shaking the bottle.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1805 Alexandria VA, edition.

Lest you think this is a food preservation or home remedy blog, let me clarify my purpose. My Still Room is for the percolation of past thoughts, wants, and the daily coincidence in the street. I’m pulling these stories into the Still Room for preservation and sharing with my friends. So my earthenware crocks are labeled many a different thing. I’m a Museum Collections Manager in a New York area museum, so museums and collections care will be widely talked about. Some other topics dear to my heart are historic preservation, transit, food and foodways, textiles and costume, women’s history and reproductive rights, general social history, indentured and enslaved servants, road trips, living history, and genealogy. A bit of original fiction and poetry might trickle in from time to time. I live a liberal arts life.

One note: still rooms of the past served as workshops for home remedy making. While  canning, domestic history, and agricultural history are certainly my thing, homeopathy and home remedies certainly are not. Many people over the centuries have struggled to bring us the wonder that is science – if you are sick, please see a medical doctor. If you want to read about some slices of life, stick with The Still Room.

Perhaps you’ll find a little of this and that to catch your fancy in this blog. Not everyone is a fan of pickles or cares for raisin wine, but perhaps a little from this jug or that pot will suit. I hope to hear your ideas. Don’t forget a caraway comfit on your way out.