I know, I know, I have a lot of catching up to do. I will have posts on cuttlefish metal casting and dyeing with weld, madder, logwood, almond skins and elderberries shortly, but I need to organise a few mundane life things first. Oh, and go to Autumn Crown Tourney in Caerphilly Castle, Wales this weekend (I’m going to Waa-ales, I’m going to Waa-ales. I may be a little excited about this. )
Last weekend was Champions of Lough Devnaree, the annual event to decide the Champions of the Isle. First things first, Lady Agnes La Verte is our new A&S Champion, which is no surprise to anyone who knows her and her work. As a result she gets a cool staff to “encourage” folk over the course of the next year. Given her growing expertise in heavy fighting and our shared household I may have to get cracking on some serious A&S projects now 🙂 Barún Pól Ó Briain is the new archery champion and Viscount Cernac the Inspired the new fencing. The Heavy Champion will be decided at Medieval Dead this year.
Champions this year was my anniversary event, I’ve now been involved in the SCA for a year, and it’s been a very fast year. Aodh was feastocrat for the event and I volunteered to take care of lunch. Gytha was very quickly roped in after I realised what I had done, and she was brilliant even after having huge work commitments earlier that week. ( I recommend virtual shopping to anyone, but then I did get the easy part of that task. ) If I’m honest the whole thing was mildly terrifying. While I have worked in the kitchen at events a few times now, being responsible for getting a decent tasting, varied lunch on the table for 36 people reasonably on time is a big deal. Gytha worked out the time schedule that went really well and we got lunch out in good time. Thank all that is thankable for Gytha 🙂
I settled on Mylates of Pork, Spinach tarts, a Cooked dish of lentils, Pottage of Turnips and intended on having Applemoyse with Cruste Rolle. Gytha and I threw menu ideas about some more and we added roast chicken drumsticks and wings and roast vegetables I was terrified we wouldn’t have enough food, catering to larger numbers than I am used to. One of my main reasons for choosing pies and tarts is that I could work out portion sizes in slices. I started on the pork pies in advance of the event as I knew they would be time consuming.
MYLATES OF PORK. XX.VII. XV. Hewe Pork al to pecys and medle it with ayrenn & chese igrated. do þerto powdour fort safroun & pyneres with salt, make a crust in a trape, bake it wel þerinne, and serue it forth.”
– Forme of Cury
The pork pies were popular, I think. I cooked the pork in advance of making the pies themselves with minced pork (cheaper), eggs, mozzerella cheese, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. (I also made a spice free version and a coeliac friendly version.) The recipe calls for pine nuts but I substituted a large grated apple and reasonably finely chopped leek to lower the cost and bulk the filling quantity. I used a breakfast bowl to help shape the pies and the pastry held up well.
Blind baking the pastry cases for the spinach tarts was incredibly time consuming and a pain. But they were good to go and just needed the filling added on the day and the tarts themselves turned out pretty well.
TO MAKE A TART, take four handfuls of beet-leaves, two handfuls of parsley, one handful of chervil, a bit of turnip-top and two handfuls of spinach, and clean them and wash them in cold water, then chop very small: then grate two kinds of cheese, that is one mild and one medium, and then put eggs with it, yolk and white, and grate them in with the cheese; then put the herbs in the mortar and grind them up together, and also add to that some powdered spices.
Le Ménagier de Paris.
We had to drop the chervil, beet leaves and turnip top and stuck to spinach and lots of parsley. I love chopping large quantities of herbs if I have a big enough knife, it’s therapeutic and the burst of smell from good fresh herbs is enormously satisfying. We used mozerella and cheddar as our cheeses, again to keep costs down, but I would like to try this one again and experiment with the cheese. I used beaten uncooked egg for the filling instead of grated eggs as in the recipe above, and added a mixture of ginger, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to most and kept a spice free version as well. The kitchen was fun, as always. Nessa was working on biscuits and feast prep as well so we had the everyone working together vibe I love about event cooking, even if all the while Gytha and I were swearing we’d never do lunch again.
The chicken Gytha marinated in limes, salt, garlic and coriander overnight and they were roasted for an hour. Very popular, really glad we added these. There was so much food (there was also bread, eating apples and the lentils and pottage) we decided to keep the stewed apples for feast, but the recipes I intended to use were:
To make Applemoyse. Take a dosen apples and ether rooste or boyle them and drawe them thorowe a streyner, and the yolkes of three or foure egges withal, and, as ye strayne them, temper them wyth three or foure sponefull of damaske water yf ye wyll, than take and season it wyth suger and halfe a dysche of swete butter, and boyle them upon a chaffyngdysche in a platter, and caste byskettes or synamon and gynger upon them and so serve them forthe.
(A Proper New Booke of Cookery)
(stewed apple, sugar, egg yolks, cinnamon and ginger)
Cruste Rolle. Take fayre smal Flowre of whete; nym Eyroun & breke þer-to, & coloure þe past with Safroun; rolle it on a borde also þinne as parchement, rounde a-bowte as an oblye; (Note: Oble, sacramental wafer) frye hem, & serue forth; and þus may do in lente, but do away þe Eyroun, & nym mylke of Almaundys, & frye hem in Oyle, & þen serue forth.
(Two fifteenth-Century Cookery Books, edited by T. Austin)
(flour, egg yolks, pinch salt (saffron if your budget is up to it) flatten into thin wafer-y things and deep fry. For a sweet version dip in a sugar and ginger mixture.)
After lunch there was a bit of a wander to look at the deer that were at the event site with Nesa, and time to do a little dress consultation and embroidery before heading back to the kitchen to help out with feast preparation with, in the main, Aodh, Nessa, Cassandra, Juliette, Gytha and Maeve.
Feast was fabulous. It’s getting to be a wonderful habit, this fantastic feast thing. There were courgette fritters, black pudding and a berry jam, then sweet and sour fish with salad and rice, then roast beef with a chestnut gravy or raspberry sauce (the gravy in particular was absolutely divine) and frumenty. At that stage my son was looming at my elbow looking to go home and my frantic couple of days and a back ache had caught up with me and I had to go, but there were biscuits and an applemoyse based on almonds with stewed apples and I believe an excellent night full of wonderful bardic performances followed. I was really sorry to miss Nessa’s poem, with which she became Champion, but I will hopefully get to hear it again.
My intentions for Crown are to go nowhere near the kitchen at all. The dress the Lady Cassandra has been very kindly helping me make will not allow it. That’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it.