Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SCA Recipe of the day: Chardewardon covered in Snowe

Hello again gentle readers! Another installment of SCA Recipe of the Day is here again, I haven't done one of these in a while :)

Excuse me while I go fight with my pears.

Right then. So today is me doing Chardewardon covered in Snowe, two recipe's combined into one to make a yummy delisious dish. First up is my Chardewardon, a pear dish (because pears are in season) from the cook book Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.) :


4 pears
1 cup white wine

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger


Peel and core the pears. Cut into small pieces and place in a sauce pan along with white wine. Bring to a boil, and simmer until pears are soft - about 15 minutes. Allow to cool and then grind with mortar and pestle (or in food processor). Mix with remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until it boils and becomes very thick - it will resemble oatmeal in texture. Serve warm or cold.

 Pretty simple, right? Careful, pears boil quick!

The next item on my list was Snowe, a pretty simple dish that was used to top many a meal. This recipe for Snowe can be found at A Proper New Booke of Cookery, C.F. Frere (ed.):

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. rose water

Separate egg, discarding yolk. Stir egg white in a large bowl. Add cream, sugar, and rose water. Whisk until mixture will not drip out of whisk. Strain to remove whey if necessary.

So yeah, snowe itself is super easy!

I went ahead and made my snowe first, to allow it time to chill and firm while I made the pears. Because I would be using the yolks for the main pear dish, I went ahead and separated and stored the yolks in a side container while using the egg whites for the snowe. I made the dish and played pass-along, handing the cream around for people to stir and shake until it became snowe. Once down, I put it in the fridge to chill and relax. Simple as pie!

The Chardewardon was a bit more complex, requiring lots of steps. The coring was the trickiest for me, pears do not have as distinct of a core as say apple or peaches so it was a lot of trial and error in de-coring the pears. I went with a simple Chardonnay wine because I enjoy the taste, and the smell of the boiling pears in the wine was divine. Wine burns really well when it splashes out on top of your skin, so take care.

I set aside the pears and let cool for 20 minutes while discussing some politics, then went back to the food processor to blend the pears down. I added the rest of my ingredients into my original pot, stirred till evenly mixed and then boiled. As you can see by my statement above as I started to write, the pears boil up quick and hard and splashed my lappy a few times while I worked :p. It continued to be a wonderful smell while boiling, and turned a wonderful cinnamon brown in color.

I served these into small tumblers and topped with snowe. The taste and color was amazing, and I really loved how this dish came out. When finished and cooked it came out thicker than oatmeal, but not quite custard. It reminded me of pumpkin pie filling in a way, i served it war but I'm sure it would taste just as good cold. I plan on doing my own redaction of this dish, seeing how my own translation will work out for me. I highly recommend this dish, a solid A!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Event down :)

On Saturday was Trident Tourney, an event hosted by my own local Barony of Darkwater. Overall it was a really great time, the weather held up for the weekend and the rain that rolled though on Friday morning cleared for perfect blue skies the rest of the weekend. I sadly had to work Friday night so I could only daytrip, but Saturday I woke up stupidly early to make my way up to Trident.

Saturday, for me, started at 5am. I awoke early to begin preparations on my gift to their Excellencies, two pounds of bacon stuffed into a dough shaped into the form of a pig. I sadly didn't have enough time to do the level of detail I wanted with the pig, it looked like a pig but the details need to be far more clear so I didn't take a photo. Sarah and I got on the road and traveled north to the site, thankfully it was far warmer that Scot-Welsh warm just a few short weeks ago. I checked in, gifted their Excellencies with the pig which they both enjoyed and charged me with sharing it with the populous in the Feast hall. let me tell you, the quickest way to make friends it to show up with a pound and a half of bacon to give away!

Sadly, there was some down moments for the event. The only real one for me was the lack of cooking I could participate in, something I'll be honest I was looking forward to. Not to knock the Feastacrat or anything, the lovely Peer had just done so much prep work the night before and made the meal so simple so she could take time to go participate in combat in between checking on meat. Her two helpers did much of the heavy work for her, so in the end there was just nothing for me to do. Disappointed, I made my way over to Master Evan when I heard that there was a scheduling issue and His Majesty had no retainer for most of the day. I volunteered to help out as I did enjoy my previous time retaining for His Excellency, boy was I in for a surprise at the level of work! My basic duties saw to following him around, carrying things he may need or running errands on his behalf. Simple, right?

Retaining for His Majesty was a lot of work, but all of it fun.His Majesty can move incredibly fast and make sudden changes quickly, he moves like a fighter so keeping an eye on him can be tricky at the best of times! Early on I would make the mistake of thinking I could look away for a while before he would suddenly vanish and I was almost jogging to catch him and be there. His Majesty is also a busy man this time of year, on top of his regular Kingdom duties he also has to prep for Gulf Wars and work on fighter moral for the upcoming battle. Improptu meetings would take place in between changing armors or even on the way to the bathroom, and His Majesty fought for hours upon hours against anyone who would challenge him (with me being his "dance card" register).

Court time came, there were tons of lovely awards handed out to many well-deserved (and long overdue) gentles. There was a 3 way surprise between Jake, Lana and I though which made us all crack up at the end of the night. Jake thought Lana and I were getting awards, Lana thought Jake and I were getting awards, and I thought Jake and Lana were getting awards but apparently our own Baroness was tricky enough and we all three got awards! I was made a member of  Order of the Hidden Treasure, a simple Baronial award sure but I was deeply honored to receive it! It also came with this sweet pendant.

The event ended on a great note, and as always recharged me and energized me to work harder and improve. I also learned today I need to invest more time in other things than cooking, because every now and then there's no cooking to be done ;)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recipe Time: Pears in Confection

Sorry for the delay in posting this, it's almost a week old now but I've been so busy with other things lately I just haven't had the energy! In the next few days I'll post my review of Trident, cover my future projects and (hopefully) will finish this filk song so I'm happy enough to post it. Until then...its Recipe time!

Original Recipe: Peeres in Confyt-

Take peeres and pare hem clene. take gode rede wyne & mulberes oþer saundres and seeþ þe peeres þerin & whan þei buth ysode, take hem up, make a syryp of wyne greke. oþer vernage with blaunche powdour oþer white sugur and powdour gyngur & do the peres þerin. seeþ it a lytel & messe it forth.

This is the first time I've done my own Translation and redaction of a recipe, following Mistress Madhavi's advice I am working on mastering my understanding of the Forme of Cury text. This recipe can be found under the XX.VI.XIII section on your book, for doing your own translations I recommend purchasing your own book to write in because it seemed to help me!

 My Own Translation: Pears in Confection -

Take pears and peel them clean. Take good red wine and mulberries (or other sundries) and seep the pears within. When the pears are soft, take them out. Make a syrup of Greek wine or other white wine, add blanched powder white sugar and powdered ginger and cook the pears in it. Soak it a little and plate.

As you can see in my translation fro the original, we've picked up a lot of extra letters in our words from way back then! I felt pretty confidant with my translation, so I decided to go ahead and make a redaction and cook these for an SCA social day with a bunch of friends.

My Redaction: Pears in Confection -

Tools needed:
. Large pot(s) to keep pears in
. peeler
. Large pot(s) for the sauce
. ladle
. whisk
. spoon
. Cooking deive (stove is fine, open fire is period)


. Pears (16)
. Red Wine (1500 mL)
. 6 Cups of Warm Water
. White Wine (1500 mL)
. 1 pound of Cherries
. 1/2 pound of Raspberries
. 1/4 pound of Blueberries
. 3T ground ginger
. 5 Cups of Cold Water
. 1 pound powder sugar


1) Peel pears and keep in a cool/damp place while the others are being peeled. I recommend a dish with a little lemon juice in it to ensure no browning of the pear flesh.
2) For large groups, cut pears in half for more distribution. For smaller groups, keep pears whole for presentation. In either case, well rinse all pears to ensure no blade residue or peels remain
3) Place pears in large pot(s) for cooking. Add the red wine of your choice, 6 cups warm water, cherries, raspberries and blueberries. Make sure the pears are covered in the wine mixture, if not add a little more wine or water as to your taste.
4) Start the pears to cooking, this should take about 45-50 minutes at a medium high heat. When they're done each pear will have an even red color and should be soft enough to cut with a spoon.

5) In a separate dish, combine the white wine (I recommend a sweet Italian), ginger, cold water and sugar. The sauce mixture should be enough to again cover the pears and should be thick. Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring consistently until the blend is one mixture and thickens. The sauce should be warm, but not scalding hot.
6) When the pears are finished, take them out and dry them softly. Make sure not to throw away your red wine, just remove it from the heat and set aside. Make sure the pears are all one color, that means the wine was absorbed properly! Carefully dip the pears in and allow them to remain in the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until each pear can be pulled out and have a thing coating of the sauce on top. If the sauce isn't thick enough, it won't stick to the pear!
7) Place the pear on your serving dish of choice, finish off the presentation by drizzling the sauce onto the pear.
8) Remember the red wine mixture? After it's cooled (or even warm) it makes a great dessert drink to accompany the pears! Just pour and serve alone with the dish.

Now I didn't have the plates to do fancy presentations, so I jus laid them in a dish to serve buffet style. But here is my finished product!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Recipe: Poached Peaches

A yummy dish, an old work from 2010 that I can see now was a sampler for cooking experience I'll be doing this year!

Ingredients -

. 4 Peaches
. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
. 1/4 cinnamon stick
. cinnamon powder
. 1/4 cup sugar
. 3 cups Cranberry juice
. Vanilla Ice Cream
. 1 cup water


. 2 cups Cranberry juice
. 4 cups sugar
. 1/4 cup water

Instructions -

1) Make the syrup first, it takes longer. Bring water and cranberry juice to boil in syrup recipe.
2) Dissolve the sugar into the boiling juice, stirring constantly.
3) Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat immediately!
4) Allow to cool completely and thicken.
5) Now, onto the peaches! Wash then peel the skin off the peaches, cutting them in half and removing the pit.
6) Combine the cranberry sauce, water, vanilla extract and cinnamon stick in a medium sauce pan, bring to a gentle boil.
7) stir in sugar into the sauce, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
8) Lightly cover the peaches in cinnamon, making sure an even spread is across the peach.
9) Submerge the peaches in the medium sauce, bring to a simmer and cover.
10) Poach peaches until tender, 20-30 minutes.

Plating -

1) Place two peach halfs on a small plate
2). In the left pit, fill with the sauce used to poach the peaches.
3) in the right pit, one scoop of vanilla ice cream.
4) Drizzle with the cranberry syrup


One from the Vaults: Twas the Night After Thankgiving

'Twas the night after Thanksgiving, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The plates were all dirty, the cupboards all bare,
The fridge was all stuffed with leftovers in there;

My son was all nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of tinker toys danced in his head;

And I in my worksuit, scarf and fine hat,
Had just settled down for a vodka nightcap,

When out from the workshop there arose such a'clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what's the matter.

Away through the Hedgegate I flew like a flash,
Opened  door wide and kicked aside all the trash.

My Hedgebeast was running and jumping to and fro
To signal the completion of my weapons down below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Hedgespun sleigh, and eight steam-powered reindeer,

The weapons were primed and the missiles were quick,
"Well, that will finally do in that bastard St. Nick!

I have cold iron stocked and nitro boosts steady
With my night vision goggles I'll not be caught unready!

Now, Basher! Now, Lancer! Now, Taser and Mixen!
Now, Kermit! Now Ares! Now, Flamer and Twitchin'!"

I hopped in the sleigh and turned the key hard,
And rose high from my workshop, leaving ground charred.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the Hedge-top the robo-deer flew,
With a sleigh full of high-grade explosives, and rocket or two.

And then, with a roar, I heard in the night
A pack of Briarwolves, their eyes burning bright.

I drew up my reins, and turned myself 'round,
And pointed my weapons at the bastards on the ground.
There were rockets and rifles for hitting long distance,
And napalm and flamethrowers to ignite me some bitches;

I let loose my payload, tinsel sparkling in the sky,
And blew those poor briarwolves high up into the sky.

My eyes -- how they twinkled! My dimples how merry!
My cheeks were a sparklin', and I ate a hedge-berry!

"These weapons may seem abit much, but they just don't know,
How much I would give to see Santa's guts all over the snow;

His horrific reign of terror finally brought to an end,
And children everywhere can celebrate without fear once again!

And when he is gone," as I rub my hands in the napalm light,
"Then I can do his job, much to the childrens delight,

I can make all the best toys like a right jolly young elf."
And I laughed when I thought of it, in spite of myself;

"A dolly for Susan, and a Nerf gun for Fred,
Soon all will know they have nothing to dread!

A Teleporter for Holly, and a new yacht for Bandy,
While Edria gets a new dress that's just dandy!"

And laying my hands on the reigns nice and tight,
And giving a nod, I flew deep into the night;

The Hobs they all stared in wonder and gave whistles,
As I flew high above them, above Briar and Thistles.

And they all heard me exclaim, as I drove out of sight,
"You're time's up fat bastard, and soon it'll be Toil's night!"

Five Minute Cake

Ingredients needed:

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous)..

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from cake at any time of the day or night!

One from the Vaults: The Forge

tink tink tink

For hours on end, that was his only companion in the darkness. He could see nothing, having doused every flame and ensured that no sun shone over his Hollow, and worked his craft in absolute darkness. The furnace even produced a black flame, the blade when heated seemed to suck in the light around it.

tink tink tink hisssssssssss

Wiping sweat from his brow, Toil pants softly. This was the longest part, the hardest part of the craft. Until now it had all been physical strength which was required, a strength Toil sadly lacked. Hammering the metal, heating and cooling over and over for more hours than he could recall, Toil's body ached in places normal bodies were not meant to ache. Yet this was all easy, all simple. The real hard part became the magic, which he would have to add neck.

tink tink tink hissssssssss

Pulling the blade from the water once more, he lays the metal back onto the furnace. Feeling the heat beat form the dark flames, he begins to sweat profusely. Summoning his courage, he reaches into his sack. He begins to pull items from it, placing them on the hollow of the blade. Thrusting his hands into the fire time and time again, he winces as he feels his flesh blackening and burning, the smell of cooked meat to his nose. Each time he thrusts his hands in, he seems to speak aloud to only his own ears what he has added.

"The first rays of dawn, so it may know hope."

"Blood of the enemy, so it may thirst."

"Platinum, so it may remain pure."

"Blood of the hero, so it may know its path."

"Blood of the creator, so it may know sacrifice."

As he with draws his burned hands, he steels his resolve. Grabbing the blade from the flames once more, he sets it within the hilt and begins to hammer. Every ounce of pain, almost enough to make him faint, he used to fuel his strikes. As each hammer blow fell, sparks of light rose up as if to defy the darkness. Toil hammers, slamming the mallet down over and over for hours before stopping from sheer exhaustion.  Dipping his own hands into the water, and knowing he taints its purity with his blood, he looks at his finished work. Wrapping his hands around the hilt, he holds it aloft, gazing with unseeing eyes.  "You who was forged in the darkness, when all hope has seemed lost for a new day. What say you then, to the endless night?" The most critical part...that which would define if he were to succeed or fail.

The blade begins to hum, like the soft thrum of a new day. From deep within it's core, it starts to glow a ruby red and gold. As if the dawn itself was rising from within the blade, it began to glow brighter and bright like the sun. Banishing the darkness from the workshop, it illuminates every corner of small space. Its light is reflected in the tears on Toils face, shimmering and sparkling as he admires his creation.

"You...are ready."

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Private Moment Aboard the Gym

Thud thud thud THWACK

Jolan punched the sandbag over and over till his knuckles had split open, then over and over again until the bag was dyed red. It felt good to get this rage out of him, this anger that he felt threatened to overtake him like it had the other councilors. The negotiations had gone sluggish, the Vosch penchant for expressing emotions as they're felt leading to many fistfights in the middle of the discussion amongst the Chorus. Tempers were boiling, emotions were high and the tension each day the negotiations continued could be cut with a knife.

Thud thud thud THWACK

Never before in their peoples history had anyone WANTED to leave the Fleet in such large numbers. Sure, the occasional family would depart or a child would not return from a pilgrimage...but a whole 1/5th of the Fleet wanting to tear away and start their own Fleet? It was like someone had stabbed a knife into the heart of the Vosch, families and whole clans of people torn apart. The smell of inner war was on the tip of every tongue, and it seemed that the only thing containing the fire were these talks. Like they were actually accomplishing anything.

Thud thud thud THWACK

And over Christmas no less! A wonderful holiday, one had was trying to spend with his sister...then the goddamned Fleet decided to get a hair up their air hose and cause this mess. Would she be able to forgive him for not attending, hell what would the rest of the crew think? It's hard to spend bonding time with a crew when your constantly being pulled away...but the Fleet was his home and he needed to take care of it. At the same time, this kind of fighting was NOT what home was supposed to be about, and the cold looks and sneers at laving his ship from the other Councilors had given Jolan enough anger to knock out more than a few teeth.

Thud thud thud THWACK

If he wasn't at home in the Embery Riddle, and he wasn't at home amongst the Fleet...where was home?

Thud thud thud THWACK

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Art/Sci...complete!

I am back from the Scot-Welsh War and the Trimaris Winter Art/Sci event, and I had a total blast!

After only 3 hour of sleep, I packed up and headed out to the site. Registration was a little hard to find, but once I did it was a simple enough process. I got myself registered, warmed myself by the fire, and then braved the cold once more to recover my Art/Sci tub to unload and display my project. The table set-up was a little confusing, not due to the event staff but several people had begun to set up their displays already and had covered the table markers! After a little looping about I found the division 5 table and set up next to a lovely woman who had done dyes and fabric.

This was my lovely display, based of a painting depicting a 1387 dinner party amongst French royalty. The Mylates of Pork pie rests on the wooden charger plate, to the left of the plate are two knives for eating and part of my documentation packet while to the right is a wooden spoon and my journal. Above and framing the display are two candles (scented vanilla because I love the smell), a bottle containing my powder fort blend, a small nef containing sea salt and kosher salt and finally a pitcher of water with two glasses. I feel that the red tablecloth really goes well with the color of the pie :)

A closer look at my pie, because it's just so sexy. The moment this came out of the oven, I could not have been happier with how it looked. The smells and yes even the tastes on this thing were amazing, and this truly was the best version of this pie I have every produced.

Sadly Lana could no attend to present her beautiful scroll (and be there in person to accept her winning of the Crowns Acclaim!!) so I set up her display for her. It was a beautiful piece, and I am so jealous of her talent with paints.

The judging went well, I got a 56 average out of 60 points. Two judges that I was very nervous to have grading my entry were Mistress Madhavi and Baroness Bebin, one is a cooking Laurel who I admit I have a tiny amount of hero admiration for and the other is the head of my local cooks guild here in Darkwater. I was glad that I brought my spice blend for my presentation, both Bebvin and Madhavi were happy to sample it and greatly enjoyed the blend. All three judges loved my entry, and thankfully many of the issues I had previously I had managed to clear up. I was given some really great feedback for improving, and they all were just wonderful to me as a judge!

There were 26 other truly amazing entry's, and photo's of most are on my facebook page to look over which I highly recommend! After the judging I spent the entire day...just relaxing :). I did barely any work this event, normally I would feel bad but I really did need the time to decompress. I enjoyed wonderful conversation with some people and learned a lot just from the other entry's, I viewed several people being belted and I am so happy that one lady who I've been becoming friends with was suchly honored. It was a nice experience to relax by a fire, or drift in and out of sleep at my chair while talking and trading cooking notes on various products.

I was gifted with a few select pieces of armor at the event, most importantly a new helm and a shield. I had a local squire inspect and help me figure out proper cleaning and repair as well as what's left for me to add before I have a completed kit. I spent a good hour watching the King whip his army into shape, the fighting was most excellent and the cold weather seemed to help the fighters keep their endurance up. The army is looking great for war, we're gonna do so well this year I just know it!

All in all, I had a amazing time at the event. It was capped off nicely by being invited to dine with Madhavi for feast, we spent much of the night talking amongst here and Rurik and Cerdwin about cooking and other SCA topics. An amazing experience that reinvigorated me to continue on my journey forward.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My First Kingdom Art/Sci Report!

This still needs to get run past a few friends of mine who have more experience than I do at such things...but here is my very first (and 95% completed) Art/Sci report! I'm still imputing the bibliography of all the sources used as some of my research is no with me, so that's missing, but otherwise I feel good about this :)

Kingdom of Trimaris
Journeyman Documentation Form
Static Entry

ID #: 092686CC                                                       Name: Christoffer Koch
Category: Food preparation                                      Division: 5; Domestic Arts and Sciences

Title of Entry (What is the item?): Mylates of Pork, a reproduction from Forme of Cury

Country or region item is from in period:  England

Time period of item (within 50 years): 1390

Intended setting of item (i.e., court, nobility, merchant class, peasant, farmer, sailor, etc):
All signs point to this being a royal household recipe. Powder fort and saffron were expensive spice and spice blends to keep in stock, spice blends especially were the sign of a wealthy household. The recipe itself is also found in a roll of vellum and was stored in the royal library, also pointing to this being a recipe of royalty.

Source of Inspiration (Describe source of inspiration here and attach a photocopy, photograph, computer printout or other appropriate format to this page.):
The source of the inspiration was the recipe entitled Mylates of Pork, from the medieval cookery roll Forme of Cury. This text is a recipe collection from the 14th century, the author is listed as the chief master cooks of King Richard II so it can be assumed this is a collaboration of efforts and not just one man writing.

List the materials or ingredients used by period artists/artisans in projects of this type:
Several ingredients would have been used by period artisans in regards to making this pork pie. Pork is an obvious answer, it doesn't say what type of pork from the recipe however. Flour, water, salt and lard would have been used to make the crust as this was the standard recipe from other comparison crusts provided by French texts from a similar time period. Pine nuts, eggs and cheese would all have been used as well and were all readily available to the royal kitchen. Powder fort was a common spice blend from this time period, the spices I used in my blend would have been difficult to procure for the average household but not too difficult for a royal kitchen. Saffron was incredibly expensive and rare, but commonplace within royal kitchens as it was considered a sign of wealth and power to serve.

List the materials or ingredients you used in the project:
The ingredients I used in this product are as follows: Flour, water, butter, sea salt, pork, eggs, pine nuts, cheddar cheese, Spanish saffron, powder fort (ground black pepper, ground ginger, ground mace, ground clove, ground cinnamon, ground cumin), egg whites.

Briefly explain why you chose any materials or ingredients that are different from those used in period:
As far as my research and exploration into the project has shown, I have stayed very close to what ingredients would have been used in period. Sea salt was a favorite of Richard the II's during his rather large and gaudy feasts, favoring the French  nef design  for many tables so sea salt seemed an obvious choice. My research does not say where the saffron would have been imported from, logic dictates that the Spanish saffron would have been used over distantly imported varieties, however it is possible with Richard the II's reputation for extravagant parties that he would have had it imported from other countries far and wide. There is also no real verifiable resource for a powder fort blend from the 14th century, it seemed to be a regional option and item over all which changed from which cook to which cook used such a spice blend. The one I am using is from the digital copy of Forme of Cury, they have a recipe listing and a blend of powder fort they suggest using which I have found most tasty! I also used pre-ground spices rather than grinding my own, I had trouble locating fresh mace and drying/preserving spices is the next skill I am hoping to learn from a talented teacher.

List the tools or equipment used by period artists/artisans in projects of this type:
The list of tools that a period chef would have used over a modern chef differs very little, I like to attribute this to "if it's not broke, don't fix it" way of thinking. A variety of sharp knives would have been used to chop and shred meat and cheese, cutting boards of various sizes used for the chopping and shredding. A mortar would have been used to grind spices together for spice blends, and a separate mortor would have been used to grind any other ingredients as they required it such as the pine nuts or saffron. A mixing bowl would have been used to mix the wet ingredients in, a smaller bowl for spices would have been used as well and there is a chance that large storage bowls to prepare the dish for a feast would have been used to hold mass quantities (such as the shredded cheese, pork, pine nuts, eggs, etc) because pre-portioning is a useful skill. A large pan would have been used to bake the pie in, possibly ceramic or metal in nature, and trays to store the meat as it is cooked in the kitchen. The recipe does not state, but it is possible due to the other cultural influences from France and Italy at the time that a testo oven would have been used to cook the pies in.

I used the following tools when cooking: Four separate knives (one to cut in the butter into the crust, one to cut the crust into a circular shape, one to shred the pork and one to shred the cheese), three separate cutting boards (one for the pork, one for the cheese and one for the crust), four mixing bowls (one to mix and store the egg and spice blend, one to store the shredded cheese, one to store the pine nuts and one to mix all the ingredients together to pour into the pie crust), a metal pie crust pan, measuring cups, spoon, wisk, stone mortar and sea salt grinder.

Briefly explain why you used any tools or equipment that are different from those used in period:
Modern knives are obviously differently made than what they used to be, I haven't found any information yet on what would have been a more period knife to use so I used my fancy Cutco knife set. I used my fancy the pampered chef cutting boards, obviously not period but the best I could use at this time as I haven't found a proper wooden one yet. I used metal pie pans, I don't know where to find a good ceramic ones but I haven't seen any research to suggest metal pie pans would not have been used. I have not seen any info on what they would have used (or if they would have used them at all) as far as measuring cups, but I used sets of metal measuring cups to remain as close to what they would have used in period as possible. I do not yet have a ceramic testo oven or large kiln oven ( though I desperately want one!) so I used my electric oven to bake the pie. I do not yet have experience with grinding salt so I purchased a sea salt grinder from Target and filled my salt with it and ground it down fresh, it was plastic and metal and cheap and effective as I have yet to find any resources that said what they would have used to grind sea salt in mass quantities.

Describe how a period artist/artisan would have made this item:
My research has shown many different methods this dish would have been cooked, from the many sources I have gathered I will attempt to show a streamlined process that would have occurred to make this dish for the royal household. Your baking would happen in a separate location from the main cook site, baking requires a very specific style of oven as well as specialized training and many recipes even make mention that a baked item would first be cooked off-site, so the chef would first place the order with the baker for the crust.
The chef would then take the pork and pre-cook it, either salting the fresh pork for the cooking process or using salted and stored pork, by assigning his speciality cooking staff member to handle the cooking of the meat over an open flame within the kitchen. The cheese would be shredded fresh and the eggs scrambled fresh, most likely eggs collected that day to ensure maximum freshness for His Majesty, and again in a large kitchen this would be assigned to specific members of the kitchen staff trained in these tasks primarily. The pine nuts would have been ground fresh, stored whole, and the spices would have already been blended and stored in a dry and dark location.
The pie crust, when made and pre-baked, would have then been brought back to the main kitchen and the various items would have been mixed in and poured together and then baked, possibly in an Italian testo oven knowing Richard the II's extravagant lifestyle or possibly cooked in the embers. It would have been left to cool in a cooling rack away from heat and other food dust before being served.

Describe how you created this item:
I started with pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees to ensure the oven was ready when I was ready to actually bake. I set all of my ingredients in separate bowls, not yet shredding or grinding but just setting aside  I started by taking my pork and slicing it into smaller sections to cook better. I well-salted the pork before baking and then baked the pork in the oven until done on a cookie sheet to keep the juices from spilling over.
While the pork is baking, I mixed well and made my hot water pie crust following the recipe given to me from the online resource I found (copy of which is in my documentation section). I set the pie crust within my metal pan and set aside to set and cool, then blended my eggs and spices together in my mixing bowls. One blended I set aside the egg and spice blends, taking to the work of freshly dicing my cheese into small shredded slivers. I set my saffron stems into water to allow the coloration to flow out and enhance the flavor, this was done by simply placing the saffron into a small dish of water and keeping away from bright lights. Once the pork has fully cooked, I removed it from my oven and allowed to sit and cool. I took my pine nuts and crushed those into my mortar, once crushed and freshly ground I poured the nuts into my side bowl for storage.
 I then took my knife and got to the work of shredding the pork, first by slicing my pork into smaller more manageable chunks. Once the pork was in smaller and easier to move chunks, I began to slowly shred the pork by hand. I then evenly spread the shredded pork into the bottom of my now cooled pie crust. Once I was satisfied with the level of pork being uniform I blended together the eggs, spices, saffron, pine nuts and cheese into one dish. I then poured that mixture into the pie, filling the crust. I smoothed out the mixture and gave slow stirs with my spoon to ensure an even distribution, then leveled the pie mixture. I used egg whites to give the edge of the crush a gentle egg wash and then placed it in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes.
Once it finished baking, I set it up high on a cooling rack to cool.

Briefly explain why you did not create this item the way a period artist/artisan would have:
Several thing made this difficult, if not impossible, to make as a period artisan would have. I did not need multiple specialty-trained individuals to take care of each step, this was not cooking for a Feast so I was able to handle each step by myself. I also do not yet have access to a period oven/cooking apparatus, the knowledge to build one is also out of my grasp but I would love any resources that could assist! I did not need to travel to a bakery to cook my crusts as well, so I was able to do everything in house. I did not dry and grind my own spices, herbalism (both the growing and later drying) of spices is my next project and my local herbalism Guild in Darkwater is teaching me those skills so i can more period-correctly cook in the future. As far as my research goes, I have otherwise correctly made this as a period artisan would have.

List all the sources you consulted in creating this project (including books, journal or magazine articles, class handouts, web sites, photographs, etc):

Do you have any questions about this project or future, similar, projects that you would like the panel of judges to answer for you?
I have several, I will list them you in number format for an easy read :)
1) Any information on drying fresh herbs would be ideal.
2) Any information on construction of period-style ovens or cooking apparatus's!
3) Any comments or criticism is ideal, can you please be detailed on your judging form so I may sure to use that to learn from my mistakes?
4) I will be starting my own herbal garden in the next week, are there any spices you recommend as go-to or important to have in bulk?
5) Did you have fun judging my entry?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh, the joys of pie...

The last 24 hours have been an adventure in baking, to say the least.

I was falling asleep in my chair from exhaustion yesterday, when a random factoid came across my screen when researching my first Kingdom Art/Sci. It referenced a trape being an open-top pie, and being that the project that I'm working on is a pork pie dish I have made before ( seen here ) this is a huge piece of information for me. I have been making pies in the traditional American style of pie, which assumes a top covering, but an open-faced top was a brand new thing to me. Needless to sya, this put me into a research frenzy and angerly shouting at Wikipedia for not giving me any source as to why it has said that.

Several hours later, and wonderful advice and assistance from a Laurel up in Gainesville, I was able to piece together that crusts were a complex item in the 14th century. They were just moving into the edible stage, moving away from being just simple cooking tools and baking dishes into edible constructs. Its entirely possible that it could be either way, but it is unlikely that it was covered as the French dishes of similar styles would mention to cover or not. That in mind, I went over to some of my Official Food Tasters (Jake and Lana) and baking in their kitchen for a few hours.

I made two pies in the end, one as standard how I have been making them for the last few months while the other with the special blend and altered cooking process.

The above is my standard pie. This is what I have always released and made for others, not bad in any way shape or form, just not as close to period as I would like to perform.

The above is the new version of the pie I have made previously. Again, still Mylates of Pork just with a different cooking process and a removal of the top crust.

At the suggestion of Mistress Cerdiwen from Gainesville I used a shredded pork instead of my standard sliced pork cubes. I pre-salted the meat a bit heavily to help hold in the juices during the pre-cook process which I think really enhanced the pork flavor of the dish as a whole. I did a far finer chop of the cheddar then previous blends, that took a good bit of time but I really got a more even and smooth cheese blend with this than previous types. I also crushed the pine nuts instead of simply serving whole, the flavor got a bit too intense and I'll need to cut back on the crushed nuts in my next version of the redaction but I love the texture of the nuts mixed in than of whole.

The only way I can think of improving this is by using less pine nuts next time to even out the flavor, as well as divide half the cheese to be on top. I want the top to have a more uniform and pretty looking top, and I think the baked cheddar will look quite lovely with my tablecloth I have selected for my Art/Sci display.Now as it sets the sauces will thicken and the flavor intensify, I really like the intensity of the filling without the crust top.

Next week I get to visit my butcher and select the meat cuts! I'm getting fresh-sliced meat cuts for my pies for the display to ensure maximum period-ness!