Archive for the ‘Hillside Homestead News’ Category

Preserving Eggs with lard and beeswax – success, failure and promise

November 22nd, 2013 by Susan Odom

On April 4, 2013 we, Maggie and I, coated four dozen of our hen’s fresh eggs in lard and stored them in a crock of oats. On May 16, 2013 we coated 3 dozen eggs in beeswax and stored them in another crock of oats. I wrote this blog post when we stored the eggs. This was done to preserve them from spring to winter. Fresh eggs are plentiful in the spring and on shortage in the winter.

Well it is winter time, so we opened up the egg crocks to see what we had! We had mixed results. Some of the eggs coated in bees wax had spoiled and I was afraid they tainted the whole crock. But the eggs coated in lard were good. I was a little disappointed, but not dismayed.

After some reflection on the results I think I understand why the waxed eggs went bad. I often took guests down cellar to show them the salt cured meats, the stored eggs and other intriguing food surprises that are to be found in our cellar.

Eggs coated in bees wax stored big end down in a crock filled with oats. A common way to preserve eggs

Eggs coated in bees wax stored big end down in a crock filled with oats. A common way to preserve eggs

I would open up the waxed egg crock, dig through the oats and pull out an egg to show. I even did some experimental techniques with the wax application; that involved wrapping the egg in tissue paper before dipping it in the wax. But I never opened the larded egg crock. I think my digging around in the waxed crock disturbed the eggs and exposed them to more temperature variation. And I think I found that my experimental waxing methods did not work. The larded eggs were just dipped in melted lard and cooled, no tissue paper.

As a test we fried one of the larded eggs. It did not taste very good, but I did not expect it too. Eggs are stored for baking purposes and not fresh eating. But we wanted to try it and we can report no ill effects.

Next we tried baking a cake. Maggie picked out a new recipe for Cocoanut Loaf Cake (365 Cakes and Cookies, published in 1904), which is like a pound cake with only eggs to leaven it, no baking powder or the like. We were very excited while it was baking and the results were amazing!!! The cake was delicious and the eggs had done just what they should do in the cake, raise it a bit, make it rich and lend a beautiful yellow color. The cake was baked yesterday (Nov 21, 2013) and we both ate some and can report we are in good health.

Cocoanut loaf cake made with eggs preserved with lard. Eggs put in storage on 4/4/13 and cake was baked on 11/21/13

Cocoanut loaf cake made with eggs preserved with lard. Eggs put in storage on 4/4/13 and cake was baked on 11/21/13. Eggs more than 7 months in storage!

Now we have eggs to use for holiday baking!!! Good thing too because my chickens have not laid an egg since November 4!

Next year we will do the experiment again, another crock of larded eggs and another crock of waxed eggs. I will stick to the plain method of coating the eggs with the wax. I think both methods, waxed and larded, hold a lot of promise. Most important I will keep my hands out of the egg crocks during the storage period! Perhaps I should make a demo crock with fake eggs that I can share with guests!

Now of course this is not USDA approved so I can’t tell you to try it at home. But It does seem to hold some promise for me and Hillside Homestead!

So bring on the holidays; I’ve got eggs!

The Apple Bee – a free, living history event at Hillside Homestead

October 6th, 2013 by Susan Odom

This is your invitation to visit Hillside Homestead on Sunday October 27 from noon to 5pm for our annual fall event, “The Apple  Bee.” This is free and open to the public and very family friendly! The last public event we had in June was very popular! I hope to see many of you again later this month!

Making apple butter circa 1910

Making apple butter circa 1910

The center piece of the event is the apple butter boil! We will be making apple butter, following the traditional 19th century method. The recipe is really quite simple. Take apple cider and boil it down to half. Add in the prepared apples and boil it hard till the apples break apart. Then cook it down till it is thick and smooth and so that it spreads like butter. This is a real hands on experience. Come give it a try and you can even have a taste! Just for fun here are some of the numbers…

  • 30 gallon copper kettle for the boil
  • 8 foot long paddle for stirring
  • 15 gallons of fresh, sweet cider will sweeten it
  • 3 bushels of apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 9 hours of cooking
  • 6 gallons of apple butter, that is what I hope we make!

There will also be historic cooking demos happening in the farm house and samples to taste! You can take a tour of the farm house and the grounds. The pigs have grown quite large and the chicks you saw in June are nearly mature!

There will be some games to play or just sit back on the porch and enjoy the rolling hills and orchards. Lots of good old fashioned doings. Please come and join us, we would love to see you! Come visit Hillside Homestead and experience early 20th century life at the farmhouse!


Getting ready to make apple butter

Getting ready to make apple butter

Peeling apples, its a big job, but we can do it!

Peeling apples, its a big job, but we can do it!

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!




Review of our Suttons Bay Historic Farmstay Dinners

June 10th, 2013 by Susan Odom

I became familiar with Susan and her passion for historic food when I served on the Board of the Michigan Museums Association. When I heard that she actually opened up her own historic farmstay in Suttons Bay, I couldn’t wait to experience it (since, at the time, I lived in Traverse City).

Every year I and at least seven friends arrange a dinner at Hillside Homestead. Folks come from Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Owosso, and the Suttons Bay/Traverse City area. Prior to the dining experience, Susan sits down with me and we create a personalized menu. Her attention to historic detail and, of course, the yumminess of the options, always makes the menu selection difficult – so many things from which to choose!

The day of the dinner, we usually arrive early. We often help put the finishing touches on things. This hands-on portion of the experience is one of my favorite parts of the whole Hillside experience. Susan is so kind and accommodating – and she just loves to share her passion for food, history, and friendship! There’s always plenty to eat, and always some kind of a surprise option that Susan adds to make sure we all go away STUFFED! Yeast rolls, seasonal veggies, homemade jams and jellies, fresh churned butter, and chicken, beef, or pork usually slow cooked to perfection . . . I’m drooling just thinking about it. I don’t like to choose favorites, but if you made me, I’d probably have to say the fried chicken and yeast rolls. Oh, and have I mentioned the desserts? You’d slap your grandmother for just a taste of the desserts.

Every dining experience has been, in a word, magical. It’s not just the absolutely delicious food, it’s the camaraderie that happens around that table. Each time I’ve gathered folks, there is a different group. And somehow, even though they come to the table just newly introduced, they leave as lifelong friends. I know that sounds corny, but it is really true. The food, the laughter, the learning, and, of course, Susan (and her fabulous assistant Maggie) make Hillside such a special place to spend time.

Some of my guests stay overnight after these dining experiences. Last year, I did for the first time. What a pleasure! The beds were soooooo cozy, it was so quiet and dark, and then we got to wake up to the sound of a rooster’s crow! But then, the piece de resistance, morning breakfast! Overnight guests get to help gather the eggs from the chicken coop and slurp up the greatest coffee in the free world (the secret: it’s made with an egg!). The morning meal is almost as filling as the dinner the night before and could consist of apple coffee cake, fried pork chops, eggs, bacon, and almost anything that was left over the night before. It’s truly hard to roll out of your chair after devouring these gastronomic delights. Burp!

It’s hard to say what the best part of a stay with Susan is, but the least favorite thing is saying goodbye. I look forward all year to our annual get together and had 2013’s December date booked back in 2012! Thank you Susan. You and Hillside are a precious treasure. See you in December!

Lorraine Austin – Owosso, Michigan

Hillside Homestead Featured!

June 6th, 2013 by Susan Odom

1112_cover_finalHillside Homestead has been featured on! You can read the article here.

Additionally, you can see more in MyNorth’s publication Traverse Magazine, check that out here.

Photo Courtesy of and Traverse Magazine

Direct Descendants are coming for Dinner

April 7th, 2013 by Susan Odom

Something really exciting is happening! A very special group of people is coming for dinner tonight. They are the sons and family of a woman who grew up in this house. Their grandfather, Joe Reicha, built this house. They are a direct connection to things that happened here, things that were farmed here, things that were eaten here! I can’t wait to hear some good stories and share some good food with them.

These fine folks also helped me with hog butchering, well they did all the hard work of butchering! They are old school farmers, growing cherries and apples and other tree fruits, but they also do a little of everything, including a little butchering in season. They give me gifts of pork fat, apples and venison! I’m able to buy straw and honey from them. I feel lucky to know them. I hope to learn all kinds of amazing things!

The dinner I am serving them features some of all the meat preservation experiments that I did. We will be finishing the pork chops stored in lard. I also opened up the pork barrel for them and extracted a ham,  that is soaking overnight to be baked tomorrow. We will have some of the bacon I salt cured and some of the fat back will be used in the pork and beans. I’m so excited!

Dinner Menu Hillside Homestead

The menu for my very special guest, direct descendants of Joe Reicha, the man who built my house