Sunday, September 28, 2014

The kettle is empty; the Colony Stew was a big hit.

Fun was had by all this weekend at Bishop Hill’s 43rd annual harvest celebration, Jordbruksdagarna. If you left town hungry, it was not the fault of Bishop Hill cooks! Delicious food tempted visitors throughout the village. 
In 1972 the Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association participated in the first Jordbruksdagarna by preparing and serving a Swedish style meal. Each year since then The Old Settlers have set up their tents and huge black kettle outside (this year on the west side of the park) to cook this traditional Colony Stew which has, in time, become a festival favorite. Crowds lined up for a hearty meal of beef and barley stew, hardtack, and rice pudding.

Many of the dishes prepared by the Old Settlers use simple fresh ingredients that would have been available to rural folk generations ago. The recipes have been passed down through Bishop Hill families and this Colony Beef Stew recipe is a perfect example. It was published in a Heritage cookbook decades ago, attributed to Beverly Spets, longtime resident and former Postmaster. Though it is scaled for a crowd, the proportions are easily converted to make a family sized meal. The original recipe is available at right to download; click the stewpot to print!

Have you enjoyed time in Bishop Hill? Even more fun than being a guest at our many events is being part of the team putting on the show, cooking up the delights, and rolling out the carpet for new friends. The Old Settlers are always happy to add new faces to their ranks. Good news: You don’t have to be old or a settler to hitch up to this group. We welcome anyone who wishes to keep these traditions rolling. Fun and fellowship are free to all interested – just use the email form to contact us. Next year you could stir that stew!