Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden

Un journal d'un Jardin Potager du Pays des Illinois

Tag: recipes (page 1 of 2)


Fall Sunset through the Ghostings

Wednesday, 23 November

50  Degrees F

Mist and Clouds, Slight Wind WNW

Time, like the cool wind and rains moving along the valley, marks the swift change from autumn to winter. The jardin has fallen into a slumber, with the final harvest of this past season’s bounty to take place this weekend. In honor of Martinmas and fall feasting celebrations, our humble contingent of la Milice de Ste. Genevieve will be in residence at Fort de Chartres, recreating the experiences of the colonists of the Illinois Country in the 18th century. The Martinmas (St. Martin’s Day) celebration originated in France in the 16th century and spread throughout Europe.

Fall Jardin Potager

Fall Jardin Potager

Traditionally this holiday marks the end of harvest time, accompanying winter preparations, and the final planting of winter wheat. Feasting and bonfires combine with hiring fairs, as workers look to the end of autumn and the natural beginning of winter. Work moves indoors as the winter sits on the doorstep.

Beginning on Friday afternoon, November 25th, a grouping of some four to six families from the Milice will be in residence at the Fort through the holiday weekend.  We will be enjoying a brief sojourn within the comfort and security of the Fort. The stone bake oven and a large hearth will be used throughout the weekend to provide meals and baked goods, while the inhabitants engage in a number of out-door activities including some informal shooting contests.

Turkey Roasting on Hearth

Milice and Schuetzen Target

Traditional regional and 18th century recipes will be prepared throughout our stay and I have posted a few on the Recettes page, with more to follow. The remaining bounty of leeks, lettuces, radishes, turnips, and winter squash in the garden are yet able to provide sustenance and decoration for our comfort throughout the weekend.  Regardless of the weather, one can glimpse life in 18th century Upper Louisiana. Visit with us as we celebrate the bounty and blessings of the past season.

D’Automne Heirloom Produce Saturday

You are invited to the Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager and sample heirloom produce on Saturday, October 22,  10 AM-Noon. Some produce and recipes available.

Welcome to our Jardin Potager outside the walls of Fort de Chartres! Join us in our garden planted in the style of a French l’habitant kitchen garden. This type of jardin was generally tended by the women of the Illinois Country for family sustenance through the seasons.

Heirloom herbs, vegetables currently in season:
Beets, Eggplants, Leeks, Lettuce, Radishes, and Turnips

Please join us and and share in the fall’s bounty. Autumn Jardin produce recipes are listed on the Recettes page in the postings of October Heirloom Jardin Produce Saturday and Haute Louisiane en Automne recipes.

Fete at the Fort

October 1, Saturday

64 degrees F

Sunny, Light Wind

Save Illinois History’s 2nd Annual Fete at Historic Fort de Chartres dawned under sunny skies on the strength of cool breezes. This annual fundraiser was a perfect opportunity for some of the Midwest’s top brewers to showcase their brews in a unique 18th Century environment, and they did not disappoint. A lively crowd of attendees savored the libations offered while enjoying the ambience of our French fort. 18th century reenactors that included natives, French Marines, British soldiers, Cannon crews, Fife and Drum Corps, and Dennis Stroughmatt et L’Esprit Créole entertained the crowds throughout the day. Our merry party was kept busy at the Fort’s stone bake oven throughout the event, offering samples of 18th century confections, breads, cakes, and tarts. Many visitors expressed interest in the technique of firing the bake oven and were enlightened by John Hancock and Nicholas Kuntz.

John and Nick offering samples.

They described the procedure by which the oven is prepared and readied for a day of baking. Antoinette Hancock, Renea Davis, and myself, shared our 18th century baked goods, many featuring among their ingredients beer, beer barm, or hops, all in keeping with the celebration of the day. Sugared comfits, honey cake, spiced honey beer cake, wigs, beer cornbread, a citron preserve tart, and variety of breads samples were offered. Please visit the recette page of this blog for recipes and photos of these offerings.

A nice respite taken among the day’s activities, were sunny moments stolen to

Leeks, lettuce, radishes and turnips.

join visitors strolling in our jardin potager behind the bake oven. It was nice to share and show the produce we are harvesting this fall. Vegetables still thriving include: beets, eggplants, leeks, lettuce, radishes, and turnips, winter squashes. We look forward to the remaining fall season ahead and the continued garden bounty.

Thank you to Renea Davis for the images of the Fete!


27 August, Saturday

90 degrees F

Partly Sunny, Calm

Finally cooler winds swept across the valley floor and some relief arrived for the jardin. A week after the previous post, two-thirds of an inch of rain fell and one could almost hear the plants sighing. It was brief respite from the heat but most welcome. Our Heirloom Produce Saturdays have been great fun and a wonderful opportunity to meet visitors, share produce, recipes, gardening stories and the continued harvest of eggplants, scallop squashes, and watermelons.

Mmes Hancock et Davis

But with exasperation, I must note the recent resurgence of heat with no new rain. The days are nearing September, late summer chores continue-heirloom beets, carrots, lettuce, radish and turnip seeds were planted, while the compost was turned and new materials were added. As a sad tune to this summer’s meter, most time spent in the jardin once again have been focused on watering and controlling weeds. Some of the seeds have emerged but a few beds had to be reseeded due to the lack of germination. The melons and squash still produce, but fewer fruit have been set.

The Author

Raccoons manage to slip into the garden overnight and sample the few remaining ripening French melons, very frustrating! The open rinds lay in the bed and scooped clean of any trace of melon except for the seed. The red seeded citron watermelons litter the melon bed intact, the rind being too hard for raccoon mischief. These melons are strong survivors to the trials of our summer. The citron melon was preserved following the recipe posted last month on the recettes page and the result was surprisingly lovely-the marmalade flavors of ginger and lemon combined with sweetened melon. The result is a marmalade piquancy without the bite. Melon preserves will be a wonderful accompaniment to meals and tart fillings this winter. As these melons are not eaten fresh, they will keep months in the cellar and can be processed as the fall season slows work in the gardens. No wonder citron melons were widely grown, even though they take a bit of work to prepare.

Garden weeded and planted for fall.

Looking about the garden, we do not wish the summer season to be at an end–still hoping to be blessed with cooler temperatures and rain. Time is needed for seeds to grow and then, as the promise of the fall garden beckons, the tastes and pleasures of the upcoming autumn will be ours to explore.

11 August, Thursday

Summer Harvest

86 degrees F

Sunny, Light S winds

While enduring the heat and the lack of rain these past weeks, the lyrics from a traditional harvest song keep echoing in my mind -“The summer is a tyrant of a most ungracious kind.” No truer words express this past August in our jardin. The unrelenting sun made the work of clearing the garden of spent summer plants and weeds even more challenging than usual. So much of the time upon arrival involved watering, harvesting, and feeding plants, nurturing and protecting the crops against the burning rays. The melons and summer squash are producing, even thriving, in this August heat while the cucumbers are struggling to set fruit.

Cucumbers and Basil

It was a relief to observe the leeks and eggplants still growing and the new planting of native Potawatomie lima beans beginning to twine around the base of their poles. Once again, friends Antoinette and Renea stepped forward several times this month, helping with the thankless tasks of digging and clearing beds. Forgotten carrots and turnips are discovered and are fed to the chickens, while the weeds are pulled and beds are prepared for planting.

Turnip Seedlings

The ticking seasonal clock waits on no one and as soon as the weather breaks, seeds will be planted for the fall season. New to the jardin this month, Heirloom Produce Saturdays. On our first Saturday, we had a few visitors brave the 90 degree heat and sample the Moir de Carmes, Charentais, Missouri Heirloom, Georgia Rattlesnake melons. We gave away some melons and squash and shared recipes. We hoped for cooler temps the upcoming Saturday, and more new friends to visit and share our jardin produce.

Chaleur de Juillet

28 July, Thursday

95 degrees F

Sunny, Light N winds

If I had to choose between winter and summer in this country, I do not know which I would take; for in the summer, besides the scorching heat and the frequent passing from extreme heat to extreme cold, and rarely having three fine days in succession, there are moreover so many Mosquitoes or gnats, that you cannot go out without being covered with them, and stung on all sides.

Letter from Father Gabriel Marest, Missionary of the Society of Jesus, to Father de Lamberville of the same Society, Procurator of the Mission of Canada,. 1707. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, TRAVELS AND EXPLORATIONS OF THE JESUIT MISSIONARIES IN NEW FRANCE, 1610—1791

Mes amis, this accounting of the weather of North America early in the 1700s aptly describes temperature and insect extremes in the Illinois country. This summer at Fort de Chartres, with temperatures registering in the upper 90s to low 100s for most of the month of July, certainly curtailed activity in our jardin. Also, it is of little comfort, but interesting to note, the observations of Constantin-François Volney: In the summer of 1779, when the thermometer was at 90 degrees at Monticello, and 96 degrees at Williamsburg, it was 110 degrees at Kaskaskia.The onset of illness and reluctance to labor in the oppressive heat, rendered little progress by this gardener through most of July. As the month waned, and the season’s earlier downpours evaporated with the rising temperatures, it became imperative to begin watering and feeding the vegetable and melon beds.
It was also necessary to rescue the beds from the onslaught of unwanted invasive plants which only competed for the limited water resources at hand. With assistance from my friend Toni, we worked throughout the morning, harvesting the cucumbers, squashes, and melons ripening in their beds. We collected Noir de Carmes and Valencia melons, Georgia Rattlesnake, Missouri Heirloom And Red Seeded Citron watermelons, Yellow and White Scallop squashes, all heavily producing in the summer heat. Surprisingly, the French heirloom cucumbers were covered with blooms but had yet to bear fruit. The basil plants had grown into full shrubs over the past month in response to the warmth, holding their own against the entwining cucumber vines. Soaking the soil with water took the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon until the heat dictated an end to our work. As our efforts were completed for the day, we took a moment of rest in the shade of the bake oven. Contemplating the resilience of some plants to weather and, in some cases thrive, in the extreme temperatures of the Illinois Country, nature’s rules and order once again surprise and amaze. The work of clearing and preparing the beds for the fall planting must wait for another day and hopefully, cooler temperatures. Visit this site’s Recettes page for recipes featuring July’s garden bounty.

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