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Our Foodways Program

Each day, costumed historic interpreters trained in the culinary arts of the 1800s staff several kitchens.

Very different food is cooked  in each of these kitchens based on the buildings’ era and original location, the socio-economic status of the owners, and the season. New hands-on activities and tastings in these kitchens will help you truly get a taste of 19th-century life. 

In addition, on certain days street-side vendors can be found selling novel treats. There’s “Pickle Peg” offering dill pickles on a stick, “Tater Tilly” selling creamy steamed and salted baked potatoes, and the newest peddler “Pretzel Gretel” with her fresh-baked German pretzels.

The Pioneer Farmstead: Circa 1809; Interpreted 1820s

This kitchen is representative of a self-sufficient family with limited cash income. Store-bought goods are limited to molasses, spices and very small quantities of items like good tea and coffee. Early on, wheat and rye could not be grown on the newly cleared ground, and the pioneer family would be busy clearing trees and growing crops in between the tree stumps. Their crops would be limited to corn, beans, squash and some root vegetables. By the late 1810s, now that our pioneers are a little more settled they have more harvested crops and other goods produced on the farm, such as potash and maple sugar, to trade or barter for additional goods imported into the Genesee Country. A true “open hearth” is in use here on most days. The pioneering farm wife uses pots or a griddle and iron bake oven (Dutch oven) hung on a trammel over the fire. Women would have limited time to fuss in the kitchen as there was too much work to be done elsewhere. You might encounter a typical midday meal of a bowl from the stew pot and some cornbread.

Jones Farm kitchen: Circa 1820; Interpreted 1830s

The aroma of the midday meal cooking on the step stove often fills this house. Meals were prepared on the new and improved cook stove. You’ll see simple farmhouse receipts (as recipes were then called) such as Green Corn Pudding and “Bubble and Squeak” prepared in this kitchen. Heirloom vegetables grown in the adjacent kitchen garden supply our cooks today as they would have at the time. Sour milk was a fact of life, as was an overabundance of fresh milk at certain times of the year. You’ll see the cream saved and made into butter using a tabletop churn. On select days, you’ll also see cheese being made. Since cheese was nutritious, delicious and easily stored, many farmwives made their own.

The Livingston-Backus House: Circa 1827-1838; Interpreted mid-1850s

This elegant city house is complete with its brick fireplace and spacious brick oven. The kitchen is an excellent representation of the changes brought about by three decades of economic growth in the Genesee Country. Guests will find one of the few “hired cooks” in the village preparing wonderful seasonal dishes that could accompany menus suitable for fine dining in this well-to-do family’s dining room. You’ll see that this is a well-equipped kitchen and learn the advantages of urban living with its easy access to markets supplied by the Erie Canal.

Hosmer’s Inn: Circa 1818; Interpreted 1830s

The brick-floored kitchen located in the cellar of the inn is a hub of activity on special event weekends and during our Good Old Days Camp Summer Sampler summer camp programs. In the 19th century, the kitchen would have produced meals for weary travelers along the State Road and local residents stopping in for a meal. The inn is now available for Hosmer Inn Tavern Dinners, a historic dining experience on select evenings in the spring and fall as well as for small groups and for private Afternoon Tea programs.