Thursday, May 18, 2017

Busy in the Kitchen

Oops - this should have been posted April 2016!

Since I have been back from Hampton, I have been busy. In the fall (2015), I was busy talking to everyone about my experience there and some of the epiphanies I had.

I was especially excited to talk with John Moran about my experience as he had a similar one. That discussion lead to us collaborating on a Tudor Feast for Ealdormere's Kingdom Arts and Science Competition. We wanted to try and recreate a full feast with all the right servers and pomp and ceremony.

We wanted to create the atmosphere of a Tudor Dining hall with ceremony of hand washing, seating by rank, entering the hall by rank, etc. THL Christabel worked hard as Master of the Hall to ensure this was followed. Not to forget to mention ALL of the volunteers who served the dishes. This is a very difficult thing to accomplish in an SCA setting. :p

Unfortunately for me, there are no pictures of either of us in the kitchen or of the actual feast that I can find. We were excited to do this for our King Quilliam III and Queen Domhnail II as Their reign was a Tudor Reign. (Very exciting!)

Grand Salad - All about Height! - Photo by David Gotlieb

The menu was as follows (and all items were of bite size, due to the amount of food we were producing):

  • Chicken in German Sauce
  • Grand Salad
  • Sausage in a Wine sauce
  • Spiced Pickles
  • Custard Tart 
  • Plain-Roast Beef with Black grape sauce and Mustard sauce
  • Fruit Jellies
  • Stewed Shrimp in Cream Sauce
  • Sorge, Chicken on Eggs
  • Cucumber and Onion Salad
  • Boiled Rice Pudding
  • Sop of Onions
  • Cheese Tart
  • Sop of Egg
  • Bacon Tart
  • Sop of Lumpy Cheese
  • Sop of Turnip
  • Fylettys en Galentyne, Roast Pork
  • Furmenty of Mushrooms & Barley
  • Sop of Spiced Pea

The dishes going to the head table were all done in Subtleties. John made some amazing pieces along with our friend Lady Lerthan. 

Octopus Subtlety for the Shrimp in Cream Sauce  - Photo by David Gotlieb
In the Octopus above the shrimp and sauce were placed in the glass dish (and tuned upside down) and when served it was removed and she shrimp rolled out.

It was a very long day with many bumps and things to do better next time, but I enjoyed myself.


Subtleties and Bacon Tarts - Photos by David Gotlieb

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Feast of the Hare sure was unusual this year!

Photo By Alex Sears, 2016
Ah Feast of the Hare, always an interesting event and I usually try and go. What made this year different was that Rick Mercer was going to go and film for his show the Rick Mercer Report. (If you are not from Canada and reading this - he's a national treasure of comedy. His rants are excellent and catch Canadian sentiment exactly! Check out his you tube - Mercer Report)

Partners in Crime Avelyn and I (Photo by Alex Sears)
What made this year different, was that I was working hard at getting my Queen's Prize Tournament (QPT) work done, so I was planning on passing on the event, but I got a call from my partner in crime Avelyn, swearing me to secrecy about Mr. Mercer's attendance. She wanted to pick my brain for some more demo like activities he could partake in. So I (the nice friend that I am, lol) offered to help and enlist my Tudor cooking partner in crime John Moran to use his UBER period outdoor cooking set-up. Poor John, he always puts up with my voluntold activities. Thankfully he was free to do it and we can play outside for the day. I did promise to help setup/take-down/and pack stuff in my car too. (I think that helped)

The only thing that put a wrench into my plans was that there was a death in the family. I was super busy cleaning out an apartment and dealing with lawyers, always a crazy thing to do. Avelyn said I didn't need to do it, but the image of the SCA was at stake. This is a national TV show, and we wanted to make sure we represented our hobby well. To be honest, there was no guarantee that we would even make it off the editing room floor. But we had to try and represent all the non-fighting cool activities that happen at event (let's be honest, fighting always gets great coverage, it loud, flashy and everyone looks great), so the competition can be fierce.
Tudor Partners in Crime John and I (Photo by Alex Sears)

The night before the event I head over to John's for load-up, I tell him I am planning a White Pea and Bacon Pottage, should be fairly easy to cook over the fire and will hold up in case the Rick Mercer crew take longer to get to us. We also decided we need to load up like this for Trillium War, so John can have a little more space in his SUV for his stuff.

Morning of arrives and it is a cool day (won't get warmer than 8 degrees C.) but we will have a fire. Wilhelm come over to help us set up the tent and keep up company as we got the fire started.

Meat and Pottage on the fire
I was super excited to get right into working with the fire. John spiced his meat, and got it on the rotisserie (man powered) while I got started. I had my white peas soaking overnight drained and ready to go. The trestle tables was set up for chopping of the onion, garlic and bacon. So I put John's larger cast iron Tudor pot (Bell) on the fire to warm up. I added the bacon to the pot to cook down, and so I could use the fat to cook the onions. Once the bacon/onion was decently cooked I added some garlic. At this point many of the fighters who were fighting down wind of our cooking, stopped by to see what was going on, and to comment on how it smelt delicious at 9am. :D

I stirred up the mixture and added the beans and chicken stock to cover the beans. Basically it sat on the fire (mixing it once in a while) covered till lunch time. The texture was amazing, like a nice mushy thick porridge. (hence pottage. lol) We were told that Rick was going to come over and as some questions and taste the food.

mmmm...meat roasting
  1. Lucky for us, people didn't mind coming by and chatting with us while we turned the meat and made sure the pottage didn't burn. Bell cooked the food a lot faster than I was expecting, she has a wonderful shape to create convection within the pot when there is a lid. The only issue I had was that the brazier is quite high on its box, and that meant I was very close to the fire. I singed my smock, getting in to close to stir. Now I get why I see reenactors with wool sleeve protectors when they are working by the fire.

  2. We were ready when Rick came by, he asked a bunch of questions and tasted the food and that was it. Pretty anti-climatic, but he had more things to see and film. We were lucky to get any camera time and this great picture of us. See proof that it happened. Both John and I were hopeful we made the cut. Only time would tell. We were not sure at the time when the episode would air, and it was only at QPT would we get that it was going to show at the end of November.
 (L-R) John, Rick Mercer, Tempus and I (Photo by Rick Mercer Report)
 I spent all day outside in November in Ottawa, which is unheard of. lol I brought a wool gown I had been working on since the summer and watch all the fighting. I got to see Avelyn close the door on Rick's face when he was in full and watch some great dancing just on the other side of us. It was a really wonderful day and I had a great time just sitting by the fire, talking to anyone that would stop by.

Alex was at the event doing an SCA photo booth (which was AWESOME) so we could all get pictures of ourselves and our friends. (You see them above). Then it was time to pack up and head home. Mission accomplished I think. Then it was just waiting till the episode aired.

Here is the episode for your viewing pleasure: Rick Goes Medieval - Rick Mercer Report CBC

Oh and the pottage recipe if you are interested. It was based on the Pea and Bacon Pottage from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in the UK. Here is the original recipe:



Monday, February 6, 2017

A beautiful Fall day...Time for a Fall Pilgrim's Practice!

Not long after returning from War of the Trillium, we started planning our Non-SCA event. We wanted to do a small 20 person themed event to maybe encourage new people to come out and have our SCA friends come for some fun food and atmosphere.

We rented a cute city space in Bells Corners in Ottawa, it had a good kitchen and great log cabin atmosphere. What was also great about it was that some easy forest trails end right at the community centre. So, Cristabel and Wilhelm organize the path and decided what the pilgrimage would be like. John helped create the path markers and there was even a Hermit.

The Pilgrims would walk the trail and arrive at the Inn of the Surly Mermaid (my household with Avelyn Wexcombe and Dafydd ap Alan). Everyone was encouraged to come dressed up as a medieval pilgrim.
John made this based off a 17th century sign

I was tasked to make the food (Quelle surprise!). We needed enough food for the evening to be spaced out all afternoon/evening. There would be stories and games and some dancing for entertainment. A couple of months before the event I was contacted by a guest to see if we would have Gluten Free options. I knew I also had some Vegetarians as well, so this posed an interesting challenge.
OMG a cooking shot...that never happens!

Fall Pilgrim's Practice Menu: 

All from period sources

Vegetarian dishes - V
Gluten Free - GF

Chickpea Soup (V & GF)
Chicken in Yogurt Sauce (GF)
Meatballs in eggplant Sauce (GF)
Saracen Stew (Beef) (GF)
Onion Tart (V)
Rice in Broth (GF & V)R
Roasted Carrots (V & GF)
Cucumber Salad (V & GF)
Baked Turnip with Cheese (V & GF)

There will be some raw veggies, pickles and fresh fruit.

For dessert
Custard with dates (V & GF)

John, myself and Cristabel in the kitchen
I was excited about this event since my Dad and Memere (Grandmother) were coming. My Mom was suppose to come but she was very sick and had to back out. :( It was really neat to have them come and see what I do for fun, instead of just hearing me talk about it.

Memere and I in the kitchen - She is wearing my Garb. :)

As always I have a great time with friends in the kitchen and my Memere came and helped me with dishes. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and My husband and Daughter came by later in the day for fun with Cristabel and Wilhelm's kids.

Some travellers enjoying games.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Onward to Trillium War I go!

I haven't gone to War of the Trillium in a long time. The last time was when my Daughter was 2 and it was very HOT and we didn't even wear garb. So my husband wasn't interested in going this year, but I wanted to go since I had been invited to camp with Fettered Fleur. They are attempting a period camp, and didn't mind that my modern tent was going to be there.

It was also a chance for me to cook with fire and John was going to teach me how he does it. YAY! This year I also decided to go for the Friday to Sunday, which I normally don't do. Now there is always concerns when camping with new people. For me, I worry about personalities, chores and expectations. I know there are always classes I want to do, and I am a planner so I like to schedule things. lol I am not the best at loosey goosey things.  I packed up the car and headed to the site. It was about a 4 hour drive, so not too bad.

The camp the next day after setup - Photo By Ross Weaver

So we as a group decided on a meal plan and it was reasonable at $20/p/day, though I think it could be done for less than that and the problem with arrival day is that it can take a while to set up, that having food that don't require a kitchen is best. So I would like to plan the food as much as possible this upcoming year. We have kids who come to this event, so it is important to make sure they are fed and watered. :D

One of the major items we came across as a problem was that there was a MAJOR fire ban. This part of Ontario had little to no rain all summer so far. So the site was a dry very dry field. How do you do fire cooking if you can't have any fire, you ask? Well, have a brazier. We had a fire box that was raised on  stand and we used charcoal to fuel it. That way there were no sparks, and it was like cooking with a BBQ. It was a wonderful experience, but I have to say, I was apprehensive to use John's equipment. Next year it will be better.

We did a lot of cooking, we had a roast beef on the spit, some chicken dishes and a whole host of things. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of us cooking or really our setup. (If anyone has any pictures they wish to share, I would love to post them). I promise for next time to document what we cooked and maybe even recipes. :D

I had a wonderful time on the Saturday night drinking the mead I love from Quebec, enjoyed a Bardic circle, and general silliness with friends. I was also happy to pack a lot of warm clothes. I packed a wool cloak and my flannel nightgown....boy did I need it at night. I also tested wearing wool in the heat. The result? I was nice and cool. I was more warm in my car than anything else.


Monday, January 30, 2017

I was on D is for Dinner Again!

This was March 23rd, 2016 (Sorry so late)

I was asked to go on CBC's All in a Day's D is for dinner segment again. W00T and Terror! This time the format was going to be different. I was to create a recipe with a listener requested food item. The crux is that it was a hard to find item or possibly hard to cook with item. Listeners wrote in what they wanted recipes for and I had to create it.

So I was told I needed to create something with raw butternut squash. What?!?! who eats this? lol

So the challenge is on, sure it is March again, just after Kingdom A&S, and I have hurt my back. Seriously. I can't walk or do my 5K walking. It was BAD. :(

Okay so, I do a bit of research on using raw butternut squash, there is some stuff out there, but people want the texture to remain the same, crisp. So, I decide to do a pickled butternut squash, make them into matchsticks and do a nice Tudor spicing, since really Butternut squash is not a period squash. Hello New World!

Here is my recipe.

Pickled Butternut Squash

Erin's Refrigerated Pickled Butternut Squash

  • 1 butternut squash 
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 8 green cardamom pods (4 opened to get the seeds, 4 full pods)
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 long peppers (can also use black peppercorns)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cut in half
  1. Peel the squash and cut off the neck.
  2. Slice the squash into ¼-inch matchsticks (you can also cube, but it may take longer for the flavour to infuse the squash).
  3. Place squash matchsticks in a bowl, sprinkle with some salt to get the excess water out, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. While the squash rests, begin the brine. In a saucepan, bring the cider vinegar, water, salt and honey to a simmer until the honey melts.
  5. As it heats up, drain and rinse the squash and dry with paper towels.
  6. Divide the cardamom, cloves, saffron, peppers, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks between two Mason jars.
  7. Put the squash matchsticks in the jars and top with the brine, leaving ½-inch of space at the top of each jar.
  8. Let cool and place in the refrigerator. Let sit overnight or longer.
 I arrive at the radio station to get ready and see 2 other people come into my area. I find out that there are 3 of us who were given this challenge and both own their own restaurants. WTF! I am sweating now. Don't be fooled by the picture below.

Me waiting to go on the air.
Well, I am happy to say that I was able to hold my own and Alan liked the pickles. He was pleasantly surprised. I gave some to the Chef's after our segment, and they were quite pleased with the flavours and textures. Needless to say I was pretty happy with the compliments. 😀 I could do this radio thing. 😉

Raw Butternut Squash Done 3 Ways Challenge