Welcome to The Depreciation Lands Museum

Rediscovering 18th-Century Boiled Dinners

By Kimberly Chaffee, BA-English, PLCGS -American Records

As the warmth of spring breathes new life into the Depreciation Lands Museum, we eagerly anticipate the reopening of our historic cabin for the season on May 5th. With the return of visitors and the gentle hum of curiosity, the art of 18th-century cooking is once again cherished and practiced.

Stepping into our humble cabin is akin to stepping back in time, where the flicker of the hearth and the aroma of hearty meals transport us to an era steeped in tradition and simplicity. And what better way to celebrate this historical journey than by inviting you, our esteemed guests, to witness the creation of the culinary delights of the late 18th and early 19th centuries?

Our dedicated docents will chop, stir, and recreate cooking in a frontier kitchen throughout the season, wielding time-honored techniques and recipes passed down through generations. Among the many culinary treasures of this bygone era, you may get your chance to witness the cooking of the beloved boiled dinner.

Originating from the hearths of early American settlers, boiled dinners were not merely sustenance but a testament to resourcefulness and communal feasting. Traditional boiled dinners used corned beef. Corned beef does not have corn added to it. Instead, the salting process became known as “corning” due to the size of the salt crystals used to preserve the beef.

Boiled Dinner (serves 2)

Two pounds of corned beef (or smoked ham, beef roast, or pork butt)
Two large potatoes, quartered
A small cabbage, quartered
Four carrots, cut into pieces
Two yellow onions, quartered
One Tablespoon of stone-ground mustard
One Tablespoon of peppercorns
1/2 Teaspoon thyme
One Teaspoon parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a large kettle and fill 1/2 way with water. Add salt only if you are using a beef roast. Bring everything to a boil, cover, then simmer for about three hours or until meat is tender. Drain or lift the meat and vegetables out of the pot before serving.

Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast, a history buff, or simply curious about frontier cooking, we invite you to embrace the sights, sounds, and smells of 18th-century cooking at the museum this season.
**Sorry, we cannot offer bites or tastes of our cabin fare.