Levels of Skill

A discussion on the Avacal A&S facebook group lead me to think about levels of skill. These are only my thoughts, and I’m not a Laurel, so feel free to take this with a grain (or barrel full) of salt.

Updated: Master Thorvald gave some advice on this that I’ve added as an addendum. I agree that I’m putting too much emphasis on research while someone can definitely be at master level based on their artistic merits alone.

When considering levels of skill I like to think in the context Novice/Intermediate/Proficient/Mastery. These have nothing to do with SCA granted awards, but I think A&S awards frequently line up with them.

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CASBa Rapier Tourney

This post was about to be titled:

What I Learned From Watching My Fencing in the Tir Righ CASBa Rapier Tourney

But I figured that wouldn’t work well for a link.  If you’re wondering how the A&S portion was it was great.  I had a lot of fun judging a food entry and got to judge a bardic entry for the first time.  Now back to the Rapier.

So this is going to be my reactions as I watch my fighting on Don Godfrey’s videos.  His YouTube account is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/godvonrav.

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February Update

Some thoughts today:

Stats

I was browsing my stats.  I never realized how popular my Roman Legion Cooking project I did for AT War was.  It seems that that is the most viewed page, and the biggest reason people come to this blog.  Followed closely by my bread experiments.

Norse Bread

I’ve been planning some more experiments with the bread.  I’m thinking that since the mead barm bread went so well I might try to expand on that.  A friend of mine did a project on Norse Bread, and it brought up some great ideas.  I could use the resarch into norse bread and the types of grains that were found in it, particularly in the Birka find, and make a mead barm bread with the proper grains.  I’m not sure if they would use mead barm or beer barm to leaven it, but since both would be readily available it would make sense.  My no research suspicion is that they would use mead barm, as it would impart a light sweetness to the bread.  Based on the types of norse bread I’ve read about I’d assume that they would go stale about a day after baking, so they would likely be eaten fresh and hot.  Perhaps a lightly leavened pan bread….  Much research is required here.

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An Examination of Coffins

(Note Sep 6, 2016: I have done more research on various types of coffins and you can see it here)

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As promised a month ago, here is my documentation for late 14th and late 16th century coffins.

Summary

An examination of pastry coffins from the ends of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.  I am making coffins from two cookery books, one from 1390 (Fourme of Curye) and one from 1597 (The The Second part of the good Hus-wiues Jewell).

My goal here is to compare and contrast the earliest and the latest coffin recipes I have found and to see if their similarities will allow me to assume that they function as a baseline from which to measure other coffin recipes.

Introduction

When I began this project it was because I had read in too many places[1] that there weren’t any coffin recipes in existence, while others say that there aren’t any from before the latter part of the sixteenth century.[2] I felt that as coffins are a key part of English cookery there had to be a few recipes somewhere.  I examined fifteen Middle English and Early Modern English cookery books from 1390 CE to 1597 CE and found references to coffins in eleven of them.  Of those eleven, six of them had actual recipes.  In total I found fourteen separate coffin recipes.

Although there are a number of general similarities they are exceptional for how often they are not followed.  Most of the coffin recipes seem to be prebaked, though there is the occasional exception[3], and some are baked half way, removed, filled and baked again.[4] Most of them seem to have lids, though there is the occasional recipe without a lid.[5] Many of them have the lid raised up by blowing into it.  Some have the lid prebaked and a hole cut in it so a gelling agent (like eggs) can be poured into it.[6] Some of the coffin recipes seem to be designed to be eaten, containing sugar or other flavorings,[7] [8] some would probably taste very bad and so do not seem to be designed to be eaten.[9] Most are baked, but some are fried.[10] They seem to be used for all sorts of menu items including desserts. The biggest similarities I could find were: a coffin is a pastry case designed to hold other food for baking or frying, it is often prebaked, it often has a lid.  The term “coffin” in this context means a chest, case or box,[11] so I suspect it has more to do with the shape than anything else.  Because of this I will use the term “coffin” to mean: a pastry case which has a bottom, sides and a top (with exceptions where referred to in the recipe) and that it will be at least partially prebaked so as to hold its shape.

For this entry I decided to compare the earliest and the latest coffin recipes; I will examine and redact the recipes from Fourme of Curye and The Second part of the good Hus-wiues Jewell and compare them.

More after the break:

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The Food of the Late Roman Legion

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This was my entry for Avacal/Tir Righ War, which is a war between neighboring principalities.  I was thankful to get to use a friends full camping kitchen to prepare these dishes instead of ours.  The dishes aren’t very complicated, but with four dishes that all had to be ready about the same time it was tough.  The judges loved the taste of all of the dishes, which I was surprised about, I wasn’t expecting them all to taste as good as they did.  I lost some points by not using period cooking vessles or heat source, though I did use period cooking methods.  But I gained points by making my own liquamen and using spelt instead of a more modern grain.

I’ll be doing more research into period grains in the future.  It was something that I did at the last minute for this entry, but I can’t imagine how bad the biscuts would have been had they been made with bread flour instead of cracked and lightly ground spelt.

Summary

Roman legionary food from the fourth century.  The recipes I have created are adapted from recipes in The Roman Cookery Book: a Critical Translation of The Art of Cooking by Apicus. Which is a translation of a fourth century Roman cookbook.  The originals of the recipes I’ve adapted are later in the documentation.

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Baked Venison: Fresh and Preserved

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This was done for the Barony of Lions Gate A&S Defenders competition in February 2010.  The competition was that your entry had to be related to your persona, and you needed one page of documentation to show that.  I made Baked Venison and Cameline Sauce.  I made two kinds of Baked Venison, one with salted venison and one with fresh.  I served them with a cameline sauce.  Here are the highlights of my entry:

Source

Venison

When looking for a baked venison, or venison pie, recipe I found seven different recipes, sometimes from the same cookbook, spanning from 1393 till 1596.  I have arranged them in order with my commentary here.

DEER VENISON. As this meat is tougher than fawn or goat, it must be parboiled and larded all along it: and in cooking, it must be put in plenty of wine, and when partly cooked, ground mace added; and it must be eaten with cameline. – Item, in pastry, let it be parboiled, larded along its length, and eaten cold with cameline. (Pichon)

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Tart of Prunes

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This was done for the A&S competition at Lionsdale Champions in June 2009.  The competition was “Rhymes with June”.  My lady Kayleigh deLeis and I did this together.  We won the competition.

Recipe

Original source

The recipe we chose was from A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye which was published in 1557 in England.  It is for a dessert tart made with prunes.  We found a second source in The Good Huswifes Jewell, published in 1596 in England which we used to add a bit of spice to our adaptation.

To make short paest for tarte.
Take fyne floure and a cursey of
fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and
a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges
and make it thynne and as tender as ye
maye.

To make a tarte of Prunes.
Take prunes and set them upon a chafer
wyth a little red wyne and putte therto a
manshet and let them boyle together, then
drawe them thorowe a streyner with the
yolkes of foure egges and season it up wyth
suger and so bake it.
(Frere)

To make Tarte of Prunes.
Put your prunes into a pot, and put in
red wine or claret wine and a little faire,
water, and stirre them now and then, and
when they be boyled enough, put them into
a bowle, and straine them with sugar, synamon
and ginger.
(The Good Huswifes Jewell)

Modern Translation

Preserved Venison and Salmon

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In June of 2009 my lady and I entered the Sealion War A&S competition.  The theme was “War Rations”.  We salted venison and salmon, then baked the salmon into a pie and grilled the venison.  I’ll be giving snippets from the documentation here and attaching the full documentation at the end.

Introduction

Competition

In war, the need to keep your troops well fed is an important necessity, but the long distances travelled to each battle requires some careful preservation and selections of such foods. As such the science points will be the best representation of period war rations. Points will be awarded to the rations that provides the best balance of nutrition/energy, best execution, and best documentation.

Supply Train

The supply train seems to have been a key part of medieval armies. The failure to cut off the English supply train during the siege of Orleans in 1429 for example nearly cost the French the city, and without aid from Jeanne d’Arc it would have (Kibler and Zinn). In the 13th century supply trains were so vital to the function of an army that Florence had a special guard unit simply to protect it (Nicolle and McBride). For this reason we have decided to focus ourselves on things that may have been carried in a supply train and cooked along the way.

Brief Outline

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