bunnyjadwiga: (Huh?)
Just a note to remind myself and anyone else who cares what we served for Sunday morning breakfast at the Tournament of St. Joseph.

This is one of those things where I try to get something as close to what is 'traditionally' served there and also as close to period as I can.

French Toast (pain perdu-- bread dipped in  egg yolk mixture, fried in butter, and topped with sugar)
Rice pudding with almond milk
Oatmeal (oop- rolled oats not grits)
Mushrooms (funges: mushrooms boiled then fried, with a little onion and some pepper, nutmeg and coriander)
Onions (based on the Roast Onion salad recipe, but with some changes: onions were cut into strips and baked with olive oil, then spiced with salt and pepper)
Bread and Butter
Strawberries, Peaches, Plums, Grapes
 Sausage gravy and biscuits (OOP)
Orange, apple, and concord grape juices (OOP)
Roasted ham (spiral sliced) (I meant to provide bitter orange juice and cinnamon with this, to make it into carbonadoes, but I got distracted).

We meant to make Chersye -- cherry pudding- but ran out of time. Last time I did this, I served a plum mousse which is redacted in Redon's <I>Medieval Kitchen</I>.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Some things I came up with in response to a question on the SCA cooks list:

1. Shop at discount stores. You must know what stores are likely to have what before you start.

2. Plan 2 or more alternative seasonal vegtables so you can use the one which you find at the best price/quality

3. Bulk buy-- case prices can be significantly cheaper.

4. Resell/split overages from bulk buying, either to another group/event or to local cooks.

5. Make drink syrups instead of using drink mixes.

6. Peas and lentils are still inexpensive in relative terms. So are favas. Try dishes with these ingredients. If you have to offer a vegetarian and non-vegetarian version, it's still worth it.

7. Grains, especially specialty grains, are underused. Try barley, millet, barley groats, buckwheat etc. Use them with AT least a homemade vegetarian stock, or make one pot vegetarian and the rest meat, and serve your meat ON the meat stock grain.

8. Make stews rather than roasts. Leg quarters are the cheapest part of the chicken.

9. A Gallon can of pomace olive oil from the Middle Eastern or Hispanic grocery is still cheaper than 2 quarts from the regular grocery.

10. Skimp on the dessert. A dessert served buffet style is completely documentable for the end of our time period, and can be used to lure people away from tables.

11. Greens and salads are still inexpensive. Plan a half head of lettuce or equivalent for each table-- mixing lettuce, spinach and spring mix makes a great salad, and dressed with kosher salt, cheap red wine vinegar
and pomace oil, goes over really well.

Someone else posted:
> 1) Make your own broth from suitable feast ingredients-appropriate
> bone/skin/fat/peels.

I responded

Curiously, we use paste 'base' at home and for feasts. At $5.99-$7.99 a pint, and only a few spoonfuls needed to make the difference between veggies in water and soup, we find it saves us significant cost in making
soups and stews for lunches. A pint lasts us about a half year! We get Minor's Chicken and Beef base from B.J.'s; I need to find a source for Minor's ham flavor.

I collect ham bones for stock from events we've done and use it for soup. If you cook the ham for the dayboard ahead of time, you can cut it off the bone. Dump the bones in water in a crockpot overnight and you get amazing soup base for something like pea or lentil soup. I float some ham cubes or pork neck bones, which are very cheap, in the soup to make it clear it's a meat dish.

I'd suggest that making your own vegetable broth is really the only way to go for SCA purposes: i've not found a vegetable broth that completely avoids tomato, pepper, and/or potato.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
an interesting point that I've been thinking about lately, because I've been reading books with other people's interpretations of pre-1650 recipes in them again.

In the SCA-cooks world, we try to limit ourselves to recipes that are fully documented, specifically ones that start with a known, extant recipe written down before 1650, and which we 'redact' (i.e., recreate in modern measurements) as exactly as we can and with great care to ingredients.

But I find myself fussing in certain ways about what people do in their redactions and in their service, and in different ways about what I do, and what corner-cutting or accomodations to modern life I find acceptable for me to do.

I, for instance, tend to fuss about modern spicing and modern expectations of textures being accomodated in redacting and menu choices. But then I smack myself about serving modern crudites in my dayboards, and my tendency to serve certain sauces to be eaten with bread. (I haven't found good sauce on bread documentation, though many of the veggies I serve in sauce are meant to be served OVER bread, such as buttered worts...)

And then there's the drinks. Infusions of herbs and jalabs of sugar syrup are very popular in my kingdom, and I've helped to make them so. But I wonder if anyone routinely drank cold mint tea or cold lavender tea rather than small beer or small mead? What about my lemon-ginger syrup jalab? I serve that at events, and people think I'm being very
period-- but I made that recipe up, using the proportions in a modern sekanjabin recipe, and I have to keep admitting it. That recipe has escaped out into the SCA cooking world and has a separate existence. People think it is period because they've had it at feasts that were full of redactions from period recipes.

I've served Vanilla pizelles in place of period wafers with something, because that's what I had time and people would eat, and comforted myself with the idea that Vanilla is the modern equivalent of rosewater. But my pizelles weren't from a period recipe, and they had vanilla in them!

And yet, I'm still cranky at Constance Hieatt because in Pleyn Delit she recommends allspice in a recipe, though the allspice can't be documented as a regularly used spice in our period, and because her cameline sauce is based on a completely obscure version, which, if tweaked by unsuspecting cooks, comes out as a raisin-nut stuffing...

Do I hold a double standard? Am I really judging my work by similar, if not the same, standards I judge others? I've served bananas at a dayboard, and will do it again. Is it right for me to complain so bitterly when someone serves Bigos/Hunter Stew with tomatoes in it at a feast?
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
MS. Sloane 1986, dated about 1460.
Transcription from The Babees' Book; Medieval Manners for the Young: Done into Modern English from Dr. Furnivall's Texts by Edith Rickert. (New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1966) p. 112-113.

"This ewerer shall cover his lord's board
with double napery, at a bare word,
The selvage toward the lord's side;
and down shall hang that other wide.
The uppercloth shall double be laid,
To the outer side the selvage braid;
The other selvage he shall over fold
As towel it were, fair to behold.
Napkins he shall cast thereupon,
That the lord shall cleanse his fingers on;
The lady and whoever sits in hall,
All napkins shall have, both great and small.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Roy Strong. Feast: A History of Grand Eating (NY: Harcourt, 2002), p. 73-75.:

What is probably the best and most complete account we have of a late medieval banquet describes the dinner given by Gaston IV, comte de Foix, at Tours in 1457. It was staged in honour of an embassy from the king of Hungary, a mission which included not only Hungarians but Germans, Bohemians and Luxemburgers. To that cosmopolitan guest list of a hundred and fifty must be added the whole of the French court. The guests were seated in strict order of precedence at twelve large tables with the host, together with the leaders of the embassy and the most important French notables, served separately, as was customary, at a high table.

The feast was exceptional, not only for the number of courses involved -- no fewer than seven -- but also for the fact that the account actually describes the food served. Up until now, such details were normally passed over in silence or, if mentioned at all, simply remarked in terms of splendour and abundance. The meal opened modestly with pieces of toast that the diner dipped into the spiced wine called hippocras, but then swiftly moved on to 'grands pates de chapons [capons],' 'jambons de sanglier [hams of wild boar],' and seven different kinds of potage, all served on silver. Each table bore a hundred and fourty silver plates, a feat of ostentation that was to be repeated in the courses that followed. Ragouts of game came next: pheasants, partridges, rabbits, peacocks, bustards, wild geese, swans, and various river birds, not to mention venison. These ragouts were accompanied by several other kinds of dishes and pottage. Then came a pause.

Although there is no reference in our account to the placement of the tables, they must have been arranged in a horseshoe forming an arena at the centre. Into that space came what was called an entremet, the first of a series. Twelve men wheeled in a castle on a rock. Whether the men were concealed inside the rock or not we do not learn, but the castle itself had four corner towers and a large keep at the centre with four windows, at each of which could be seen a richly attired lady. The central keep was adorned with heraldic banners bearing the arms of the king of Hungary and those of the other great lords who made up the embassy. At the top of each of the four towers a child sang like an angel (though what they sang we do not learn.)

After this display the feast resumed with a dish called 'oiseaux armes', which has defied definition by culinary historians, served with yet more pottages. But the real distinction of this course was that 'tout ce service fut dore' '-- all the food was apparently gilded, or at least given the appearance of being golden. Then came the second entremet: six men, dressed in the regional constume of Bearn, carried in a man disguised as a tiger wearing a collar from which was suspended the arms of the king of Hungary. The tiger spat fire and the Bearnais danced, to great applause from the onlookers.

Following a fifth course which included tarts, darioles (small moulded dishes, sweet in this case) and fried oranges, another entremet came forth. In terms of sheer spectacle this must have eclipsed everything that went before. Twenty-four men were needed to bring it into the hall, an indication as to both its size and weight. It was a mountain containing two fountains, one of which spouted rosewater, the other 'eau de muscade'. Suddenly out of this rocky promontory rabbits scampered while live birds emerged to fly around the hall. Four boys and a girl, all dressed as savages, descended to dance a morisco. Then the
count distributed largesse to the various attendant heralds of arms, the one from Hungary recieving, in addition to the two hundred e'cus bestowed on the others, a fine length of velvet.

The sixth course consisted of dessert, red hippocras served with certain kinds of wafer called 'oublies' and 'roles', after which came a final entremet. A man attired in embroidered crimson satin appeared astride a similarly caparisoned horse. In his hands he carried a model garden made of wax which was filled with roses and a variety of other flowers, and set it before the ladies (an indication that they must have been seated separately from the men). This, we are told, was the most admired of all the entremets, although what followed in the way of food as a finale must have been equally extraordinary. It involved a heraldic menagerie sculpted in sugar: lions, stags, monkeys and various other birds and beasts, each holding in beak or paw the arms of the Hungarian king.

Unbelieveably, the banquet was not yet over. In came a live peacock with the arms of the queen of France encompassing its neck and the arms of the ladies of the French court draped over its body. In response, all the lords present advanced and pledged to support the cause of the Hungarian king (it was customary to make vows of chivalry on birds). Our account closes with one other important detail. In the middle of the room there was apparently a platform, an estrade, from which singers and an organ provided music during the dinner.

Since the original of this description was in Catalan, I would suggest that the fried oranges are really the cheese balls described in De Nola. Having the ladies sit separately, if indeed they did, would have followed the Eastern European meal tradition.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
So, as of last night, the Bizcochos have claimed TWO different hand mixers. But boy, are they good. Sarah helped me do the last 2 batches of 3, so they are done.

Juergen helped me with the coriander comfits. I think my candy thermometer is out of calibration, as when it read 228 I put the syrup on the comfits, but it definitely wasn't hot enough; we got damp sticky comfits that didn't dry. So, since I couldn't stand the thought of wasting them, I tried the other period method. I took a stainless steel frying pan, heated it up on medium-low flame, and pour the comfits in there. Then I rolled them around for a while. Slowly they dried out, so I started adding sugar. My hands aren't tough enough to stand hot sugar, so I switched to our massive silicone spatula to stir them. I did have to turn the heat up a bit, but the sugar melted and re-hardened on the coriander. A couple more coats got better coverage, but not complete coverage, and then I chickened out and stopped, lest I lose the coverage I'd gotten. But... I DID IT! I did the coating-in-the-pan trick! Yay me!

The orange peels and lemon peels are peeled (revelation: a good sharp veggie peeler DOES do a good job on citrus; obviously the one I used before wasn't configured right; 2nd revelation: I NEED a NEW paring knife; the house is full of knives but no non-serrated paring knives that work worth a damn to be found) and soaking in water; they've already had one change. This is a speed round; they should soak for 10 days but I hope if I change the water several times a day it will make up for shorting on the time.


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