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For those interesting in 15th & 16th century things that go BOOM, the Imperial Academy of Gunnery is BACK in Eisental (this time with no Jedi), September 25-27 2009, Lehighton PA.

I'll be there teaching redacting for open fire cooking and Wildly Weedy Herbs.

They could use some more people to teach, and they always like to have lots of people to play with the guns and pikes. C'mon out!
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What to bring to the potluck if you don't cook:
A nice little handout, if a little heavy on the godecookery.com site (the contributory nature of that site makes it... difficult). Of course I think I could do better, and of course I haven't. :)

Intro to medieval food: http://www.advancenet.net/jscole/introfoodclass.pdf

A great sauces handout: http://medievalcuisine.madpage.com/classes/Sauces_Handout.pdf
with charts and humors and everything!

My much less impressive sauces handout:


Perfectly preserved 300 year old broom found in monk latrine:
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Why is it that so many people are so convinced that beet sugar (invented in the Napoleonic era) is *more* ancient and specifically medieval than cane sugar (the original form of sugar)? Why do people think that cane sugar was not available in the middle ages and renaissance?

What can we do to combat this?
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Please forward this information as appropriate.
The theme of the 2009 Penn State Center for Medieval Studies conference is "Sailing the Western Sea: The Atlantic Ocean in Medieval Perspective."
Conference is March 29, 2009, in State college, and there's no registration fee.
More information:


Feb. 13th, 2009 03:28 pm
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So, is the correct term for the head cook of a feast in fact "Chef de Cuisine"? Consider what Tigers & Strawberries has to say about the title:
So what do I mean by “run” a professional kitchen? What is it that a chef does that home cooks, cooking instructors, food writers, food bloggers, line cooks and television personalities do not do?

They don’t create menus, cost out each menu item so that accurate prices can be assigned to them, set up pantries, understand and effectively run and repair arcane kitchen equipment, much of which is dangerous to life and limb, deal with multiple purveyors, keep track of inventory, order foodstuffs, hire and train staff, create plate presentation, devise and cook off-menu specials, expedite during service, deal with cranky dining room staff, cook and act as both den mother and field marshal at the same time.

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A bunch of my LJ friends are Fourteenth-Century Costuming Laurels. I admire them for that. It involves levels of knowledge, expertise and skill I could only dream of.

But... I will say it right here, right now, just as I just said it on SCA. and you can all fight with me about it here.

Read more... )
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There are some people who do the work to get the recognition. There are some people who do the work for the work's sake and are pleased at the recognition. And then there are some people who do the work, get the recognition, look at the recognition, say "Hey, this comes with Cool Jewelry(TM)!" and go back to what they were doing.

Juliana Von Altenfeld, the woman who coaxed me into feast cooking despite my deepseated terror, received a simultaneous Double Peerage (Laurel and Pelican) on Saturday. (For those playing along outside the SCA, this is like getting two PhD's at the same ceremony, or, though on a much smaller scale, getting the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in the same year. Unusual. Generally shows either someone is brilliant, or people giving the recognition were a bit daft in the past. The awards are decided on separately, but it's unusual to give them both in the same year, let alone at the same time.)

Now, this is a woman who laughs at herself as "Garden Party Barbie" and "A retired Jessica Rabbit"* -- she is half German, was raised in Florida, and has been a Navy wife. There are a few people I know who don't get along with her, but both men and women generally do. She's famous for pushing people out into the spotlight with a stick, and being perfectly willing to stand in one position imparting information (and sometimes goodnatured gossip) for hours.

I think her cooking really is that good. I know a bunch of people who have gotten out there and done high level cooking because of her. So, I was pleased and proud to be there when she got the award. In fact, when they 'cornered' her to put her on vigil (a pre-award phase where you sit around and people come in and congratulate you, give you advice, and if necessary convince you to accept) I volunteered to be the one to find her and keep her in one place long enough for the ceremony.

This is typical. I heard she was coming down the hall so I wandered about saying "Juliana! I need to find Juliana! Have you seen Juliana?" (as Bunnies are Wont to Do). I tracked her down and realized that after I said, "I need to talk to you..." I didn't have a cover story. Fortunately, we have had enough conversations like this that I could hum and haw long enough to draft something-- Ah. Someone needed dishes to bring something (oh dear, I can't say to the dayboard or the A&S display-- I don't even know if they have an A&S Display!) um... into the Royal Room. She immediately sprang into action, listing what she had with her, and summoning her husband for the keys. While he stood there with the Royals waiting for them to get the ceremony started. I stalled some more. I claimed I needed to find my coat to go out the car with her. Still no movement on the Royal end. No coat, because of course it was not where I was looking for it-- I was stalling! So she offered to go out to the car and just get her stuff while I talked to the mythical cook... So, I claimed I wasn't sure what she would need, and claimed I needed to head off and check in my basket, and circled around the Royals to hiss "What are we waiting for?" to the herald. Turns out that the Prince (call him the Ceremonial Vice President) was not there, and he was a particular friend of hers (while her husband is a student of the King / Ceremonial President) and they were waiting for him. I walked down the hallway VERRYYYY sLLLOWWLLLY until I heard the Herald say "Draw Near! Draw Near! Now Opens the Court of Their Majesties..." and I RAN back.

I will point out that this whole thing was so typical of a Juliana-Jadwiga interaction at events that she apparently never expected a thing. :)

P.S. If you were there, know that Brunissende did the food, and it was very tasty, very period, and exactly what was wanted. (Yes, it's traditional in our area to have food out near the 'vigil' for the awardee and those waiting to go in and speak with the awardee.)

*Yes, well. To my previous shire who don't travel much but have excellent memories, I need only say "'Red Bikini' got a double Peerage" and at least all of the Gentlemen will remember her. :)
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Stumbled across this article by Kirrily Robert:

I especially like the charts of 2 menus with period food and of a number of period vegetarian dishes. Go, read, eat! It almost makes me want to think about food.
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So, the other night I dreamt that, at the behest of Baron Jehan and Master Luke Knowlton I was putting together 'a little banquetting stuffe' for a display at 12th night, from things I had sitting around the house. (Yes, this IS Gise's fault.) These included Figs in the French Manner, Jordan Almonds, pears in syrup, some unusual pickles-- not generally a banquetting stuffe-- and, for some reason, possibly some Peeps Bunnies. [Even in the dream, I hesitated over these, trying to decide if I was going for something more in keeping with the periodness of the challenge or for a Knight's Tale interpretation thereof for those who aren't familiar with late period banquets.]

You think it might be time for me to clean out my cupboards? *rolls eyes*
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This was one of the things I put on the St. Luke's dayboard-- it's one of my never-fail recipes-- but I didn't have it in the documentation. It makes a nice cookie dip or fruit dip, and if you use 'potcheese' (soft cheese) rather than ricotta, or keep it really cold, it also makes a nice spread.

Food for Angels
From the Libro de Sent Sovi, translated in Santich, Barbara, The Original Mediterranean Cuisine (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1995)

Angel's Food
If you want to eat the fresh curds, put the curds in the mortar and pound with some good white sugar. And when pounded together, blend in some rosewater or orangeflower water, and put it in bowls or dishes or whatever you like; and serve it at table... And you can do the same with fresh cheese, which is better, and it is called angel's food.

2 lb container ricotta cheese
several tsps orangeflower water
sugar to taste

I was in a hurry, and the ricotta I had was some my mom had in the freezer, so it was broken in curd. However, for a sweet dish, I had the perfect helper on hand-- a teenage girl. I had her dump the ricotta in a bowl and mix it. I added several generous splashes of orangeflower water -- I use that more often than rosewater because some people have an automatic rosewater=soap reaction; someone once said "I feel like I'm eating face cream"...
Then I handed her the box of sugar and said, "This dish is called food for angels. Keep stirring in sugar and tasting it until it tastes like food for angels.
I believe everyone in the kitchen tried it at some point, and it was nummy.

Also, you can substitute splenda for the sugar if you want. :)
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Dayboard served 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm

- Hen in Broth
- Lentil Puree with herbs and cheese
- Roast beef (Sabrina Welserin)
- Ham
- 4 types of cheese
- Salat of Green Herbs
- Radish Salat
- Black Grape Sauce
- Cinnamon Mustard (Viander de Taillevent)
- Plain Mustard
- Aquapatys (boiled garlic)
- Bread (rye, wheat, white)
- Butter
- Cheese spread (commercial, Boisin brand)
- Raw Vegetables: Celery, Carrots, Turnips
- Nuts: Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds
- Dried Apricots
- Apples (Stayman, Rome, Cortland, Gala)
- Seckel Pears
- Red and Green Grapes

Added Dessert-type foods (Came out about 2:00)
- Snow (Sabrina Welserin: whipped cream on sugared toast)
- Food for Angels (ricotta cheese, orangeflower water, sugar)
- Vanilla Pizzelle Wafers (they don't sell rosewater ones...)
- Rumpolts Flooded Apples
- Hais (date nut balls; Cariadoc's redaction)
- Gingerbrede
- Jordan Almonds
- Candied Ginger
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"Social Identitites Within the Society for Creative Anchronism" by Zane Gardner Lee, December 2005


Interesting, though he definitely needed a better editor, not to mention spending less time blathering about the intricacies of the SCA.
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>.


Jun. 16th, 2008 03:41 pm
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Old Marian's research on period gypsy costume:
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Where I am reminded that the SCA is very much like high school, though in my high school most of the football players and beautifully-dressed people regarded being smart as more important than either-- though the administration didn't.

Then again, my high school didn't have an electronic communication medium, either.

I will feel better about many things once the weekend is underway. I apologize for being a Grinch.
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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?
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A quick look in the Roget's doesn't turn up any terms other than dominate or reign that really convey how I feel about the SRWC dayboard. It's mine. I'll "let" other people do it, if I have to. (I'm making fun of myself here. Other people should have a chance and autocrats have the right to pick people to work with.) And I will summarize/subsume any criticisms/objections I have to the way they do it as "That's not the way I would do it," because that would be the sum total of how I feel about it. (Ok, they should not run out of food. That's not right. But otherwise...)

So when I was offered a chance to do it this year, I jumped at it. Even though my housemate and dear friend was going to do the Sunday Breakfast. (We will never have this combination happen again. Two meals out of one house/family was too much stress.)

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's a cold buffet luncheon open to anyone who attends the event at no additional cost. Read more... )
Everyone loved the food. Everyone ate and ate and ate. We even fed a few late-comers when we went up to clear off the court board after a quick dip in the pool-- it was their first outdoor event and they hadn't known there was food or where to find it!) Oh. And yes, I came in under budget. :) I got many compliments from out-of-shire.

(It was only the stress of getting the kitchen ready for breakfast and helping with breakfast prep that burnt me out at the end...) It was a happy dayboard and I am pleased with myself.
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Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day, edited by C. Anne Wilson. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991.)

Those who have grown bored and fretful at this stream of reviews will be pleased to know that this volume, papers from the Fourth Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions, is the last in my possession. This volume is of particular interest because most modern Americans have little idea of the preservation techniques used before the 20th, or at best the 19th, century. I certainly had only a hazy idea of drying, pickling, and the 19th century innovation of canning.
Table of Contents:
  • Introduction, C. Anne Wilson
  • Preserving Food to Preserve Live: The Response to Glut and Famine from Early times to the End of the Middle Ages, C. Anne Wilson
  • Pots for Potting: English Pottery and its Role in Food Preservation in the Post-mediaeval Period, Peter Brears
  • Necessities and Luxuries: Food Preservation from the Elizabethan to the Georgian Era, Jennifer Stead
  • Industrial Food Preservation in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, H.G. Muller
  • Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Trends in Food Preserving: Frugality, Nutrition, or Luxury.

Wilson's work in the introduction is reassuringly solid, if dwelling a bit on the famine threat. Methods she covers include air-drying, burial (one that we usually eschew, but which did indeed work well for cereal grains under appropriate circumstances), including bog butter, salting, parching, smoking, preservation of milk and cream (we seldom think of butter and cheese as preservation methods, but they are), brine preserving, etc. There is not an in-depth description of pickling here, and lactic acid fermentation is not given much space. One thing she does highlight is that the changes wrought by 'decay,' such as lactic acid fermentation in bog butter, could turn something into what was considered a delicacy. She also points out that medieval dried fruits were considerably drier and harder than our modern jarred or plastic-containered versions and therefore could be stored in a moister environment. Wilson also places food preservation in the seasonal cycle of foods, both for peasants and the well-off.

At first glance, Brear's "Pots for Potting" sounds rather narrow in scope, but the light he sheds on potting or preserving fruits, pickled meats, fish, lard, vegetables and even grains is invaluable. It's hard for me to remember that preserves, i.e. jams, are uncommon in the medieval and Renaissance record, still more to realize that the 'more period' stoneware crock (compared to the glass jar) is not necessarily as time-honored a tradition as we may think. Brears traces the use of pots for 'potting' things back to the covered coffyns or pies of the middle ages, which were often topped up with fat after baking and used as preservation media for the fish, meat or other items inside. (I've even found references to baking herbs in a dough coffin for preservation). Admittedly, this Pots article is focusing more on the post 1600 than the pre-1600 era, but knowing what developed after our time period, at least in England, is a useful mark. Furthermore, what foodie could resist hearing about the orgins of meat- and fish-paste and their pots, or the nineteenth-century bread-storage pot?

This volume catapults Jennifer Stead firmly into the company of Wilson and Brears as food history writers for me. The only weakness in her essay is a tendency to confuse the reader as to which period is under discussion, but a reference to her footnotes, which generally are to primary sources, is all that is needed to set one straight. Again, the primary period under discussion is post-1600. Here, not only the discussions of the introduction of techniques but the scientific background and results of those techniques (such as the widespreadness of rancid butter in the 18th c.) are invaluable. In particular, I have always wondered about 15th-16th century references to gunpowder being rubbed on meat. Stead's explanation of the use of saltpetre (and its connection to nitre), salprunella and even gunpowder clears this up. She also traces the precursors to airtight 'bottling' (ie canning) of fruit from recipes in the 1600s onward.

The last two articles are definitely out of our period, but are fascinating as they remind us about the changes in the nature of food preservation even in the last century and a half. That a cake of portable soup (boiled-down broth, the precursor to the boullion cube) made in 1771 remained substantially unchanged in 1938 is one of Muller's fascinating tid-bits, as is an explanation of the spray-drying process used for dry milk and instant coffee. Hunter's article is rather harder going, especially for the reader who knows something of American cookbook/cooking history or who has wandered the pages of Cornell's HEARTH collection (http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/) The history of preserving information in Britain is much different than America's! But Hunter's analysis of when and to what class home preserving methods were advocated is enlightening for the Britophile.

All in all, perusing this collection left me with a much improved understanding of the diversity and development of food preservation. Today, in the days of the sealed can, the deep freeze, and the refrigerator, older techniques have been left behind, only revived in Camping Without a Cooler. For Food service purposes, we are wise to adhere to the 4 hours between 40 and 140 degrees rule. But it is worth knowing how those who literally could not achieve such a standard worked to preserve their food and protect it from spoilage.
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'Banquetting Stuffe:' The fare and social background of the Tudor and Stuart banquet. edited by C. Anne Wilson. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991)

This is, of course, papers from the first Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions. Knowing that the attendees got to consume a banquet in the Stuart style created by Peter Brears makes me retroactively jealous. But reading the book helps.

The Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: the Origin of 'Banquetting Stuffe', C. Anne Wilson
  • The Evolution of the Banquet Course: Some medicinal, Culinary, and Social Aspects, C. Anne Wilson
  • 'Sweet Secrets' from Occasional Receipt to Specialised Books: The Growth of a Genre, Lynette Hunter
  • Rare Conceites and Strange Delightes: The Practical Aspects of Culinary Sculpture, Peter Brears
  • Bowers of Bliss: The Banquet Setting, Jennifer Stead

Read more... )


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