Sunday, November 27, 2011

*cues the Rocky music*

Success!

I finally have a pie crust! From scratch! That doesn't suck!

In your face 14th century. Your pork pie is going down...stomachs that is.

Long Nights regional Art/Sci, here I come!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reflection

Looking back sometimes can be rough, but a healthy part of living I feel. Looking back upon huge moments that affect a life is refreshing at times but also can be stressful and generally heavy.

My grandmother passed away yesterday at 9:17am in the morning. She simply fell asleep and did not wake back up, her last hours were pain free and relaxing as her body simply let go. I was never particularly close to my grandmother, I'll be the first to say I didn't like her but she was family and she was loved nonetheless. She was one of the first people in my life, literally right after the doctors and my parents she was there. My grandmother has been a stable and pointed fact in my life for these last 25 years, and quite suddenly she's gone. I said all my goodbyes when I left New Port Richey over 7 years ago, she and many others I did not ever need to see again to live a happy life. But I am still moved at her passing, at the woman who first taught me to plant and grow and garden. This woman who taught me to cook and combine spices, which lead to a passion that fills me completely.

The person you are today is a mash-up of your life experiences, both good and bad. My grandmother who has passed on was a big and important role in many of my life experiences, for good or for ill. If you enjoy the person that I am today, raise a glass in respect for the woman who helped me along my both.

We may not have always gotten along, but you know I always ahve and will love you Grandma.

 - Chris

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IC: A quiet moment aboard the ship.

Jolan quickly made his way back to the ship, sealing the airlock with a relived sigh. He had barely spent time off the ship, just long enough to gather supplies and price check while the sky was still dark. A small shiver runs up his spine as he shies his eyes away from the singular piece of hull still for repairs and quickly heads to his bunk to seek the solace of darkness and cool metal beneath his hands.

In the past 48 hours his life had been shaken and were it not for his space-legs he may have had far worse of an outburst than a simple punch to Yardley. His long-dead sister comes back into his life, the man whom took her for whatever reason is his Nav-Com, his boss is an alien robot and the ship councilor is a mutant. Jolan wished he could shake his unsettled feelings towards the Captain but he couldn't get over the fact all this was going on aboard without his knowledge. If he had been an ivosch aboard a Fleet ship...

No, he wasn't aboard a Fleet ship and he had to get used to that idea. Maybe that was his big issue, he wasn't home. This ship was beautiful no doubt, a dream come true to any young Vosch who had ambitions of becoming a Fleet mechanic. The crew was full of stories and he knew that in the years to come he would spend so much time laughing, crying and loving with them all fiercely. His sister was just as beautiful as he remembered, and she looked so much like his mother. Adventure was on the horizon and in his mind he knew he made a good choice.

But still.

There was no singing as the ship launched, nor were the sounds of laughter and life echoing from the halls. The lack of pitter-patter of small children was like a void in his heart, the missing sounds of the cook chasing tonight's dinner around the mess hall made his breath catch. There was no sense of history or family for him, no paintings or fabrics from a cousin's mothers uncles wife. Stories weren't being told over the glow of a fuel cell, and there was no silent dancing through the zero-g fields. Everything that made Jolan feel at home was not here, no matter how hard he tried to fill it and put it there himself. No one would give a friendly touch or comforting hug, no one would fight with him when angry or cry with him when upset. Even his sister, the vain hope he clung to that she would be just like any other Vosch, couldn't stand his touch to be awoken by or didn't want to spend personal time with him to learn and just be near each other.

Jolan stared up at the soft red fabric draped above his bun to help him feel more enclosed. On this busy planet, with billions of travelers in and out, and crammed into an old ship with minimal personal space at best...he had never felt more alone.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SCA Recipe of the day: Glazed Toast

OK, this is part 2 of a combo dish I'm doing for the House meal on December 5th. This part is the Glazed Toast. This is a dish from 14th century Germany, gathered form a collection of camp cook recipes by the wonderful kingdom of Drachenwald (this collection of recipes and more can be found at http://www.drachenwald.sca.org/index_new.php )



The following is the original translation:

Pour faire Tostees dorees, prenez du pain blanc dur et le trenchiez par tostees quarees et les
rostir ung pou sur le grail; et avoir moyeulx d'oeufz batuz et les envelopez tres bien dedans
iceulx moyeulx; et avoir de bon sain chault et les dorer dedans sur le feu tant qu'elles soient
belles et puis les oster dedans la paelle et mettez es platz, et du succre dessus.

The redaction and translation is as follows:

To make glazed toast, slice hard white bread into squares for toast, and roast them lightly on
the grill, and coat them completely with beaten egg yolks; get good hot grease and glaze them
in it on the fire until they are properly glazed; then take them out of the pan and put them on
plates, with sugar over top.
6 slices dry white bread
6 egg yolks (or 2 whole eggs)
oil or butter
sugar

Remove the crust from the bread slices and, if they are not sufficiently dry, lightly toast them before
the fire. Beat the egg yolks. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan, soak the toast slices in the egg and fry
them golden brown on both sides. Serve warm, with sugar sprinkled over the top. This can also be
served with savoury soups, leaving out the sugar.


* * * *

Oh yes, medieval french tost :p. This came out really well, the pre-toasting made these look a touch darker than I'd like but we'll hope that the flavor comes thru just fine. I cut the bread in half to spread the wealth as it were, in hopes that everyone will get a shot to nibble on.

Some of the bread came a little too well done, but that's ok. It tastes very yummy, and the strawberries added on compliments it very well. I'd say another B+

SCA Recipe of the day: Strawberry Puree

OK, this is part 1 of a combo dish I'm doing for the House meal on December 5th. This part is the puree of strawberries. his is a dish from 14th century Germany, gathered form a collection of camp cook recipes by the wonderful kingdom of Drachenwald (this collection of recipes and more can be found at http://www.drachenwald.sca.org/index_new.php )




The original translation is as follows:


Item Schlah Erper durch mit weissem prot vnd mit hönigk, vnd thue essich vnd wein
daran vnd guot gewürcz. Das haist ein Erper muoß.


The translation and redaction from the text are as follows:


Pass strawberries through a sieve with white bread and honey, and add vinegar and wine and
good spices. That is called strawberry puree.
500g (1 lb) strawberries
1-2 slices white bread
honey
white wine vinegar
dry wine
spices (ginger,pepper, cloves)

Even if you do not have a sieve, strawberries mash easily. Boil them with a dash of vinegar and/or
wine and add the white bread, torn into small pieces, to thicken the dish. Stir constantly to prevent it
from burning until the bread has completely dissolved. You can pass the puree threough a sieve or
foodmill if you want it to be particularly smooth. Remove it from the fire and add honey and spices
to taste. It can be served hot or cold.


* * * *


OK, I don't have a sieve...but I do have my guest assistant to help me mash up all the strawberries! Meet my special assistant Juliana:




She's helped me make butter before, but now she's giving me guidance on mashing strawberries and even taking a hand in it herself :p The strawberries mashed well, I added the vinegar and dry white wine (called Prosecco for those curious) for preservation and cooking purposes.


Oh man, all the stirring. I think I stirred for almost 20 minutes, I have several lovely burns on my hand and face but I feel it was worth it! I added a pinch of cinnamon and clove for the smell, along with the rest of the spices. Man oh man does it smell good and it tastes pretty good too. Definetly something I'd serve on the side of instead as a whole dish. B+ from me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SCA Recipie of the Day: Sausage and Apples with Onions

This is a dish from 14th century Germany, gathered form a collection of camp cook recipes by the wonderful kingdom of Drachenwald (this collection of recipes and more can be found at http://www.drachenwald.sca.org/index_new.php )



The original translation follows as such:

Wildu ein gemacht wurst machen, so henk di wurst in ein rauch und brat si
dann und mach dann ein ziseindel dar uber mit zwifeln oder mit opfeln etc.

The redaction and translation provided by the chef is as follows:

If you wish to make a made sausage, hang it in the smoke and then roast it and add a sauce of
apples or onions etc.

4-6 bratwurst sausages
2-3 apples
2-3 onions
butter or oil for frying
salt
pepper
If you like smoky flavour, you can suspend the sausages over the fire for a while before you prepare
them. Peel, core and dice the apples, peel and dice the onions. Fry the sausages in a pan. Once they
are browned, add the apples and onions and cook the whole till they soften and the sausages are
done. Season to taste – salt and pepper only are fine.


* * * * *

I am sadly not cooking over an open fire (yet) so I will be adding a touch of liquid smoke to try and emulate the flavor. I'll also be reducing the recipe for one person, so only 1 sausage and less on the onions and apples.

By the by, I find I remember how much I HATE peeling vegetables and fruit during this. Alas. The sausage is browning nicely and a wonderful smell is drifting through the kitchen of cooking meat. I added the apples and onions and turned it down a touch, I added a pinch of cinnamon on impulse so we'll hope it goes well over with the whole dish! I went ahead and chopped the sausage up halfway through the cooking process, it seemed to make sense to me that that's how they would serve such a dish so I did an early cut to increase saturation of the juice and flavors into the meat.

OK, meal is off the stove-top and boy-oh-boy does it look yummy. I like my sausage a little blackened so I cooked mine a touch longer than you normally would, but man does it smell heavenly.

...

OK, wow. Like...this is amazing. The apple/cinnamon/onion combo blends so well with the smoked flavors and salt/pepper of the sausage. Its like a party in my mouth, and everyone's invited! The onion and apple are soft and smooth and glide down the throat with the cooked meat, mixing perfectly with the whole dish. This...oh fuck I need to make this more often!

Seeing as mustard was a pretty standard German/period condiment I went ahead and added a bit of the only kind I have in the house (spicy brown, for those curious). I do say the mustard compliments this dish amazingly well, but the spiciness of the mustard distracted from the rich flavor off the apples and onions. Maybe a honey mustard or a standard brown would go better with this, but I would recommend against the spicy brown as it takes away from the flavors already added.

The only drawback I see with this is I will have an abundance of the onion/apple sauce left over after the meat is consumed. I'm told that traditionally that would be saved for other dishes to use as a baster or a marinade, and I believe it! A definite A+ from me folks, do try this one at home whenever you get a chance.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh, 9 hours can just fly right by...

I wish I had gotten to spend the whole weekend at MMM, but sadly I was only able to spend about 9 hours. Turns out the site is only about an hour or so away from my work, so I daytripped out there and left around 4pm. Overall I had a really fun experience!

So...I didn't sleep the night before. I had a request to bake shortbread and a rough day at work meant that I could use some kitchen therapy time to relax. However I knew if I stayed up baking shortbread I wouldn't really sleep that night, and just making little circles for 4 hours seemed hella boring. In a tiny fit of madness, I decided to make designs and shapes to pass the time, maybe even different colors with food dye. Several people have been really awesome to me and my friends as well as a real inspiration, so I decided to make heraldic devices out of shortbread. I personally, due to lack of sleep and a general crankiness, was unhappy with them at first and embarrassed that they looked horrible. I didn't wanna give these awesome and nice people a bad gift! Photo's below of the finished product!





Those along with about 30 pieces of shortbread later...it was 6am and time for the long drive! I met Sarah at my work, she was nervous but excited to attend her first event. Troll was very welcoming and happy to see us, I always love when we get nice and happy people at troll because it's just a great way to start the event. Warmly welcomed we shuffled our way into registration and then down to camp. 3/4 of everyone were still dead asleep when we arrived, so dropping off the shortbread for later distribution I decided to give Sarah a tour of the campgrounds. I heard the good news at Lana getting belted at the next Kingdom event, I can't think of a more deserving person for such an honor. We ran into Ever and decided to go a'wandering together because she needed help with waterpoint set-up. On our way we encountered a lovely dressed gentleman having issues with his pavilion set-up so we offered to help to make it all less stressful. After the pavilion was all nice and grand and waterpoint was set up nicely I had Ever escort me into the Farflung camp so I could give my first gift.

I'll admit I was incredibly nervous, I know my face was red and I was rambling a bit, but I gave my gift to Rurik and Ceridwen in thanks for how nice and friendly and a real inspiration they've been to me. Ceridwen insisted on showing everyone at camp and giving me public praise at the camp fire, I couldn't do much but bow and look down. I just feel weird about public praise...I mean, I didn't make them the gift to get attention so I always worry people will think such about me. Thankfully I was able to escape the camp with some of my dignity intact and not doing any stammering while talking :p

Lana took Sarah to get her properly dressed while Jake and Kaoru accompanied me to visit his Majesty. He's been a really big inspiration to my friends and I, a great first King for some and a great King to come back to for others. A real role model for honor and chivalry, and I was highly embarrassed to be wearing such threads around him while giving him the gift. He was really pleased and happy about it though, and I was glad to be able to do it before he was in public. After that we made our way to the lyst field for processional of the Crown Lyst. We met up with the womenfolk and watched the parade of wonderfully dressed knights and warriors, there was some snarky political discuession going on to my left that I avoided very simply by moving away.

I got a new hat! I'll get a photo taken at the next event for you to see the current outfit, it's a work in progress sadly. There was more wandering and hanging around, met some new friends and reconnected with others while we looked for their Excellencies of Darkwater and Wyvrnwoode. We eventually found both and I offered both parties my simple gifts, their Excellencies of Wyvernwoode made jokes on how tasty wyverns were while my own Baron joked that next time I should do a device totally in bacon. Jake participated in the Poet Laureate competition, I thought he did wonderfully even if he forgot a stanza (unless you knew the poem you couldn't tell, so it came off really well!). After that we did tours of the archery range, Sarah expressed an interest in that next time, and ended up doing some impromptu retaining for their Excellencies while they had lunch and attended a Laurel meeting :p.

Sadly we had to leave by then and go back to work. I had a great time at my mini-event trip, and like always felt renewed and ready to tackle-dive into my SCA work. Now if only I could have more meeting days off ;).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas Wishlist of DOOM!

As is tradition, I like to provide a Christmas wishlist for all of those people who inquire or wish to do any gift-giving towards me this upcoming season. Likewise, if you would like one of my delightfully made Christmas cards or a gift, do let me know your address or provide me with a similar list :)


Electronics:

. XBox 360
. PS3
. New Laptop battery
. Blackberry Cellphone Charger
. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PS3 or 360)
. World of Warcraft game-time cards
. iPad
. Digital camera
. iPod Touch
. Skylander (Wii)
. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
. External drive
. Flash drive

Clothing:

. White tee-shirts (large)
. Khaki shorts (36 waist)
. Socks!
. Fabric for making clothing with (white, blue, red, brown, green and black preferred)
. Elbow pads
. Catcher greeves
. Leather boots (preferably in a 14th century style)

Books:

. Mage: The Awakening Minds Eye Theater addition
. Banisher (Mage: the Awakening supplement book)
. Seers of the Throne (Mage: the Awakening supplement book)
. Forme of Cury
. Wolfheart
. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (hardback)

Media:

. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger tides (DVD)
. Lord of the Rings Extended edition Fellowship of the ring (DVD)
. Howl's Moving Castle (DVD)
. Troll Hunter (DVD)
. The Lion King (DVD)
Captain America; The First Avenger (DVD)

Miscelanious:

. Basic weight lifting set
. Sticks of Rattan
. Decks of playing cards
. Saffron
. Grains of Paradise
. Cubeb
. Kiddie pool (big plastic ones)
. Potting soil
. Onion, Green pepper, basil, rosemary or sage seeds
. Camping lantern
. Fire pit
. Razors
. Gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, Books-a-Million, Michaels or Jo-Anne's

Monday, November 7, 2011

SCA Meal time!

So tonight I did my first stab at a full SCA-style meal. The dinner broke down as such:

First Course -
. Italian Bread with olive oil (Italian item for Kaoru's persona)
. May Eggs spiced with Powdered Fort and stuffed with Cinnamon Bread (french item for Lana's persona)

Second Course -

. Mushroom Stew (German item for mine and Becky's persona)

Third Course -

. Mylate's of Pork (english dish for Jake and Brit's persona)

Fourth Course -

. Celtic Shortbread (because everyone loves shortbread)

First Course info:

The bread was purchased from Publix, the may eggs were actually my first recipe tried and (almost) perfected the second time around! The spice blend was delightful, the eggs not cooked as I would have liked but till done proper. Next time I need to allow them to cook a tiny bit longer before pulling them out to drain the yoke because I lost a fair bit of white to the lack of better cooking.

Second Course info:

The mushroom stew was supposed to have onions as well, but I had thought one of my friends didn't like onions so I left them out. Silly me, they actually do like them >.<. It was still good anyway, it was from a German recipe book on various camp-style items found by Mistress Madhavi. Only criticism was the lack of onions, so I call it a success!

Third Course info:

I did my best to stick as period as possible with this one. Using a white cheddar cheese instead of parmesan and even making my own pie crust! The pie crust was finally correct, but I didn't spread it thin it enough so the crust was very thick and sections of it didn't cook all the way through. The spice mixture was amazing and the cheese tasted ever so yummy.

Fourth Course info:

This was seriously the best shortbread I've ever made. Like...fuck. It was absolutely perfect, and I don't think I'll ever make a better shortbread cookie. Chrissy says that its because it's cold outside and that helps, all I know is that it works amazingly well and they were goddamned perfect.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Man, I had a great time at Baronial Bash!

So this past weekend was Baronial Bash. It was my third event since coming back and I did have a lot of fun here despite the smaller cam size. I did have some very bad news hit me about an hour before court, but I don't feel like going into that here. Needless to say, if you feel the need to ask, ping me in private.


Now on to happier things!

We arrived onto site on Friday night, it took a little longer to arrive than we desired mostly due to traffic and pie baking on my behalf. Dave was super helpful at troll and we were able to get unloaded and to our cabin with relative ease. I chatted with Chrissy a bit before changing into real clothes, and decked out in garb I sought out adventure! I found Ever and had intended on sharing with her a slice of my Art/Sci project (I made two, one for general eating) but talking and chit chat kept us distracted until the Baroness of Wyvernwoode mentioned she hadn't eaten that night. Ever passed her slice over to the Baroness who was quite taken with the pie, so that made me feel good! Ever also gifted me with a wonderful cookbook of medieval french and Italian meals so now I have more things to play with.

Ever and I made our way into the kitchen to store my Art/Sci project where I once again ran into Chrissy hard at work making bread for the next days feast. There was some idle chit chat going on at first, then next thing I knew I was helping Chrissy make the various breads and getting cooking lessons! We spent nearly five hours kneading dough, grinding rosemary and making the bread while all the while the lovely woman was walking me through quietly with instructions and tips. As always its an honor to be allowed to work with such talented indiviudals and I really feel my chops tightening as a chef because of it!

Their Majesties requested breakfast at 8am so after only 5 hours of sleep I was wide awake and bouncing my way to the kitchen again (much to the chagrin of my cabin-mates). I managed to beat the breakfast cook into the kitchen by 15 minutes, he was confused at my level of perky and to be fair so was I. Breakfast was simple, sliced fruit (apples, oranges and banana's) as well as a breakfast braid of apple, gravy, sausage and various spices using some of the bread we made the night before. I snagged a couple slices for my housemates to entice them out of bed, then Lana and I were off to Art/Sci with our projects in tow and our hearts on the line.

The Art/Sci showing was small, only four entries total, but they were all very good! Besides Lana's scroll and my Mylate of Pork entry there was a woodcarving relief and a viking wedge tent on display. I personally thought the wedge tent and woodcuts were amazing, and thought for sure they'd win something! My judges were fairly cool, I was able to learn a lot fro mistakes I didn't know I was making and the compliments on my successes really invigorated me. Thankfully the judges were patient in explanations and receiving the judging forms in return really will help me to improve my project to become even more period correct and yummy!

After the Art/Sci we went to go cheer Jake on in his first fencing list. It was a very exciting time, and all of the fighters really looked marvelous! The first list was the Don Porthos Memorial Tournament, which raised 500 dollars to support the widow of the late Don. It was a touching display of Chivalry and Honor, and Jake was super awesome during it. He did not win his two bouts, but he did give respect and fought with honor including sacrificing his right arm (and thus his victory) to be honorable to his opponent. Yay Jake! As I was once again leaving for the kitchen Chrissy gave me a token of her appreciation for all the work, a fleur de lis from her dress! I was so touched by the display, I gave her two hugs.

Wearing my new token over my heart, I quickly dived back into kitchen work for the Feast in just 5 hours. The next course I worked on was the lasagna, a vegetarian dish with no meat to compliment all the meat in the rest of the meal. Instead of a whole pan I took each individual noodle and smothered one side in spinach/ricotta cheese blend, rolled into a tube and set upright in a dish of tomato sauce to smother then in cheese and spices. I wrapped 128 of these suckers, then moved onto making the garlic knots (again using dough from the night before and the garlic sauce I made to taste). After this was basic clean up, carving of the corned beef and setting the garlic knots to bake while court happened which Baroness Gryphone insisted I attend on her behalf.

Court was lovely, there was a guy kinda acting out and I wish it had been treated a bit more seriously but I guess you get whatcha get sometimes! It was nice to see all those who had won various lists and awards receive recognition, a young man received his Award of Arms and another fine gentleman I've had the pleasure of cooking with before received his Grant of Arms. It was an exciting time! When it came to Art/Sci awards Lana won both the Peoples Acclaim and the Crowns Acclaim, which I felt were both well deserved. I found myself winning Coronets Acclaim for my Mylates of Pork entry, which took me by surprise because I didn't expect to win anything. Not only did I receive a wonderful scroll (my first!) but we were also gifted with dirt from the Battle of Agincourt, which made my heart stop a bit just from the sheer historical value of such.

After Court came the Feasting! Oh man, so much food. First course was the rosemary bread with either a butternut squash or split-pea soup. Roasted vegetables were the next course with a choice of onion, potato or carrots basted in citrus. Third course were the roasted chicken. Fourth course was the lasagna and garlic knots. Fifth course was corned beef with basted potatoes covered in cheese. Sixth course was the first desert, a seven layer butter pound cake soaked with rum and smothered in chocolate sauce. The seventh and last course was a bread pudding (with or without raisins) and hard sauce. Sadly the Baroness of An Crossira took ill and could not attend feast so I made sure to deliver her the various courses as they arrived.

At the end of the night was dancing! There was good drinking to be had, and I learned two new dances with someone I hop to become a new friend. It was nice to chit chat with various folks, see all the unique costumes and of course all the drinking! I chatted up various meat cooking with those on the grill for midnight meat, danced several rounds with some wonderful folk and generally enjoyed myself.

All in all, a great event. Now to get back to work on cooking :p