Wednesday, December 22, 2010

... about that Solstice Dinner

Last night we had our Solstice dinner, celebrating the long night with the kids and a couple of (newlywed) friends (Hi Kristen & Shane!). I posted the menu a couple of days ago, and I thought I'd make a couple of notes about how it went.

Roast Capon - I'd never cooked a capon before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Both before and after cooking it really looked just like a chubby chicken.  I made the stuffing as per the directions (but using whole hard-boiled eggs instead of just the yolks), and cooked it in the oven for two and a half hours.

The result was ... a chubby chicken.  The meat had a very nice flavor, and was moist to the point of being buttery.  The stuffing was loaded with flavor, and went really well with the capon.  What did surprise me was the amount of fat in the capon.  Even after cooking there were still layers of fat here and there.  Yummy, but this is not a diet bird.

Roasted Turnips - This is an old standby now.  It's almost as much a custard as it is a turnip dish - add some sugar and it could just about pass for a dessert.  However, with all the eggs, butter, and cheese - this one is also not diet friendly.

Brussels sprouts (steamed, plain and simple) - I made about four tons of sprouts for this dinner and there were no leftovers. None.  Aren't these supposed to be one of the least liked vegetables?  I didn't even smother them with cheese or cream sauce.  I didn't add bacon.  I didn't add sugar.  Just plain old sprouts.  Either the world isn't like I've been lead to believe, or I have a weird family and friends.

Applemoyse (with snowe) - Ok, this is now officially my favorite medieval recipe.  Not only is it incredibly quick and easy to make, but everyone seems to love it (including me).  I made it properly this time (which adds the oh-so-difficult-and-tedious step of separating three eggs), kept it warm until serving, and topped it with snowe that I'd made ahead of time and kept in the fridge.  I think I'll make some more for dessert tonight.

All that's left for my holiday season is the dinner on Christmas Eve.  There's some extended-family drama that may complicate things, but we'll see how it goes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Solstice Menu

Barring last minute changes, I think I've got the menu set for dinner tomorrow.  Here's what we'll be having:

Roast Capon
Roasted Turnips
Brussels sprouts
Applemoyse (with snowe)

The capon and applemoyse recipes are English (15th and 17th centuries), and the turnips are 17th c. French.  I'm going to keep the sprouts simple - steam and butter, and maybe a bit of garnish or spice, don't know for sure.

The capon recipe will be new, so I'll need to keep track and write things down.  I'll also try to get pictures of the capon and the turnips (which is a recipe I've had for quite some time, but haven't managed to take a photograph for it).

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Capon Recipe for the Solstice?

I've got two "big" dinners to cook next weeks.  The first is a solstice dinner for my immediate family and a couple friends (Hi Kristen & Shane!), and the second is Christmas eve dinner for the family and in-laws.  This means that right now I spend a good amount of time musing over potential menus.

While I focus almost entirely on traditional new-world foods for thanksgiving dinner, I've tended towards medieval English foods for the solstice (and Christmas eve dinner ends up being an attempt at more fancy foods).

For the solstice dinner this year, I think I'd like to roast a capon.  But which recipe should I choose?

A search of the online medieval cookbooks finds heaps of poultry recipes, dozens of which are for capons.  However, the majority of the capon recipes are boiled rather than roasted.  I sifted through a bunch of the more interesting ones and came across two likely candidates.

Capon or goos roste. To rost capon or gose tak and drawe his leuer and his guttes at the vent and his grece at the gorge and tak the leef of grece parsly ysope rosmarye and ij lengs of saige and put to the grece and hew it smale and hew yolks of eggs cromed raissins of corans good poudurs saffron and salt melled to gedure and fers the capon there withe and broche hym and let hym be stanche at the vent and at the gorge that the stuffur go not out and rost hym long with a soking fyere and kep the grece that fallithe to baist hym and kepe hym moist till ye serue hym and sauce hym with wyne and guingere as capons be.  [A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)]

Capoun in Salome. Take a Capoun and skalde hym, Roste hym, then take thikke Almaunde mylke, temper it wyth wyne Whyte other Red, take a lytyl Saunderys and a lytyl Safroun, and make it a marbyl coloure, and so atte the dressoure throw on hym in ye kychoun, and throw the Mylke a-boue, and that is most commelyche, and serue forth.  [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)]

Both of these sound interesting, though I'm leaning towards the first one as the herb and currant stuffing sounds more holiday-like to me.

For side dishes, I may go with some "garnished" or roasted turnips, or maybe compost (pickled root vegetables).  I'll want something green as well - maybe Brussels sprouts (they're the traditional holiday vegetable in England, aren't they?).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Privilege of the Cook

A while back there was a post to the SCA Cooks mailing list by Johnna Holloway (Hi Johnnae! Thanks!) that contained these ... guidelines? They were originally written between the 13th and 15th centuries, and collected and published in "Ancient laws and institutes of Wales" (1841).

There are a lot of interesting bits in here, such as how the cook gets all the entrails (except for the hearts). Some of the perks of the job could have money-making potential (he gets his land for free, but does he have someone working it for him? how much were goat skins worth?).  I also find the part about "protection" intriguing.

I'll have to read through the source (in my copious free time) and see how the cooks benefits compare to those for other jobs. Was the cook's job a good one, a bad one, or somewhere in between?

XXVII. The Privilege of the Cook.

1. To the cook belong the skins of the sheep, the goats, the lambs, the kids, the calves, and the entrails of every animal slaughtered in the kitchen; excepting the hearts, which go to the hawks; and the milt and the rectum to the porter.

2. To the cook belong the tallow and skimming from the kitchen, except the tallow of such ox as shall be three nights with the cattle of the maer-house.

3. He has his land free.

4. And he has a horse, always in attendance, from the king.

5. And a share of the gwestva silver.


XXIII. of the Cook

1. The galanas and saraad of the cook are the same as those mentioned above.

2. He is to have his land free.

3. And his horse in attendance from the king.

4. The cook is to have the entrails of all the animals killed in the palace, excepting the hearts.

5. The cook is to have the skins of the sheep and of the goats, and the fragments from the cauldron.

6. He is to have a share of the gwestva silver.

7. His daughter has the same privelege as the daughter of the bard of the household.

8. And his ebediw is six score pence.


XXIX. of the Queen's Cook, This Treats.

1. The seventh is her cook.

2. He is to have his land free; his horse in attendance; and his linen from the queen, and his woolen from the king.

3. He is to be supplied by the steward with all his necessaries for the kitchen.

4. He is to taste each dish that he may prepare.

5. His protection is the same as that of the king's cook.

6. His lodging is with the steward of the king.

7. His saraad is six kine, and six score of silver.

8. His worth is six score and six kine, to be augmented.


XXI. of the Cook.

1. The fifteenth is the cook.

2. He is to have his land free; his horse in attendance; his linen from the queen, and his woolen from the king.

3. He is to inhabit the kitchen; and he is to have his necessaries from the steward and the land maer.

4. He is to have skins of all the small animals which come to the kitchen with their skins on; that is to say, he is to have one third, and the steward two thirds.

5. He is to taste each dish that he shall season.

6. He is to have the fragments, and the tallow, and the entrails.

7. He is himself to bring the last dish, and place it before the king; and then the king is to present him with meat and drink.

8. His protection is, from the time he shall begin to prepare the first dish until he shall place the last before the king, to convey an offender away.

9. The steward is to supply him with all herbs to season his dishes; such as pepper, and other herbs.

10. He is to eat with the servants.

11. His lodging is with the steward.

12. He is to have one share of the supper silver.

13. His saraad is six kine, and six score of silver, to be augmented.

14. His worth is six score and six kine, to be augmented.


19. The protection of the cook is, from the time he shall cook the first joint, until he shall set the last joint before the king and queen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving in Perspective

The Thanksgiving holiday is approaching for those of us here in the US - one that is pretty much all about the food. The menu for this year is pretty much like the ones I posted back in 2007 and 2008 (I went to visit my parents last year, and therefore didn't have much control over what was cooked).

I've been putting together the shopping list and planning what to cook when, and it stuck me that it all seems too easy. It should be complicated and stressful and a big deal, but it isn't. Then I figured out why.

When you've cooked for around 100 people, sometimes without proper kitchen facilities, and managed to serve multiple course meals with upwards of 20 different dishes, a fancy home dinner for 8 seems pretty simple. After all, I have a full day to do most of the cooking, and a decent kitchen to work with.

Happy Thanksgiving! May your turkeys be juicy and your gravy be lump-free.

(I'm trying out a medieval recipe tonight and will post about it soon)

Friday, November 12, 2010


Last week I was looking for a new recipe to try out for dinner. I wanted something that would serve as a main dish, would use eggs (because that's what I had), would use beef (because a lot of the folks in this area really seem to like beef), and would be reasonably quick and easy (because the last thing I want to do after work is spend hours in the kitchen making dinner).

Oh, and I wanted it to be medieval English (just because).

I fired up the Medieval Cookbook Search and what jumped out at me were several recipes for "Froyse". There are several recipes with this name, all English, from the 14th and 15th centuries. Here's one:

lvij - Froyse out of Lentyn. Take Eyroun and draw the 3olkes and the whyte thorw a straynoure; than take fayre Bef or vele, and sethe it tyl it be y-now; than hew cold other hote, and melle to-gederys the eggys, the Bef, or vele, and caste ther-to Safroun, and Salt, and pouder of Pepir, and melle it to-gederys; than take a fayre Frying-panne, and sette it ouer the fyre, and caste ther-on fayre freysshe grece, and make it hot, and caste the stuf ther-on, and stere it wel in the panne tyl it come to-gederys wel; cast on the panne a dysshe and presse it to-gederys, and turne it onys, and thanne serue it forth. [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books]

Generally the recipes all involved eggs and meat - usually beef, but one suggests pork. The meat is boiled and then chopped up, mixed with eggs and spices (saffron, salt, pepper), poured into a hot pan, and flipped over once. Basically it's a frittata. I looked up a couple of frittata recipes to confirm this, and to get a general idea of proportions. Then I went ahead and tried it out on family and friends for dinner.

This is the culinary equivalent to walking a tightrope without a safety net. Our standing rule is that if it doesn't work out we can order a pizza.

In this case we didn't need to call Domino's, but it wasn't a real success either.

The first problem was that I think I was off on the ratio of eggs to meat. I used six eggs for 1 1/2 pounds of beef, and the result was a little to dry and crumbly. The pan I used didn't help things either - I had to cut the froyse up to get it turned over.

The other problem was that it was ... well ... boring. The saffron flavor was good (mmMMmmm ... saffron) but even with that it sort of sat on the tongue and said "Yeah, I'm food. So what?" I kept thinking maybe some kind of sauce or gravy, kind of like egg foo yong, but none of the source recipes have even the slightest suggestion of a sauce involved.

I intend to try again, adding more eggs next time and maybe a bit more saffron. I'll also have to see what I can learn about Froyse from other sources. Maybe it was meant to be boring, but maybe I'm missing something.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apples, Quince, and Cooks

Some quick updates on assorted subjects:

A couple of weeks back I posted about apple pie recipes, where I'd picked out a few potential recipes to try. The one I settled on, Tartys In Applis, worked out pretty well. Grating the apples was really kind of strange, as was the addition of figs. Still it tasted good. better warm than cold in my opinion. I think a dollop of snowe on top would add some fat to make it even better.

I've posted here before about the quince tree I planted in my back yard. While it has flowered for the past two years and some fruits have formed, this is the first year that any have made it to harvest. I picked the two small quince from the tree last week, and last night I made them into marmalade. It's a small thing (the result is only a single pint) but it's still geeking me out. Hopefully there will be more next year.

Finally, the Middle Kingdom Cooks Collegium is this upcoming weekend in Chicago. There will be cooks from all over the midwest United States (and some from farther away) all gathered together to share their knowledge of medieval cooking. I'll be teaching two classes there - one on food safety and another that is sort of an overview on medieval cooking from a sort of holistic viewpoint. In spite of all that I still need to to to get ready for the event, I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

American as Apple Pie

Somehow the month of September managed to zip past and I was too wrapped up in other things to post here.

At any rate, apples are now in season in my part of the United States, which means I was compelled to go to a nearby orchard and buy a large quantity.  That in turn means I'm now looking around for new recipes to use up said apples.

By far, the favorite apple dish here in the US is apple pie (which ironically has a history that goes far back before the European colonization of the Americas). I therefore have a perfect opportunity to engage in some historic cooking at the same time as I partake in an annual apple overindulgence.

The question of course is which recipe to try?  I've already made our family's traditional apple pie (apples, sugar, cinnamon, crumb crust on top), so I want to make something a bit different.  That eliminates a number of medieval recipes, as a large number are essentially apples, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in a pie crust.  A quick search through some of the medieval cookbooks comes up with the following contenders:

This one is essentially regular apple pie recipe, but with the top crust glazed during baking using sugar and rose water.  Interesting, but not very exciting.

Tartes of Apples with covers.  Mince your Apples very small, season them with Sugar, sinamon & ginger, and laye thereon a faire cover, and dresse your cover when it is halfe baked with Rosewater and Sugar.  [A Book of Cookrye (England, 1591)]

Here from the same cookbook is a tart recipe where the apples are precooked in wine.  That sounds more promising!
Tartes of Apples without covers. Boyle your Apples very tender in a little wine, or for lack of Wine Ale, and then strain them with Sugar, sinamon and ginger. Make a tart of it without a cover.  [A Book of Cookrye (England, 1591)]

A much older recipe from Forme of Cury adds pears and dried fruits and saffron (that reminds me, I need to buy more saffron - a lot more).  There's no sugar or honey listed, though I suppose it could be part of the "spices".
For To Make Tartys In Applis. Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.  [Forme of Cury (England, 1390)]

The last three recipes are from the same German cookbook - they had a lot of apple recipes in there, with numerous apple pies and tarts.

This one calls for egg yolks, which might make it more custardy.
74 An apple tart. Peel the apples and take the cores cleanly out and chop them small, put two or three egg yolks with them and let butter melt in a pan and pour it on the apples and put cinnamon, sugar and ginger thereon and let it bake. Roast them first in butter before you chop them.  [Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (Germany, 1553)]

This one precooks the apples and adds raisins.
79 An apple tart. Peel the apples cleanly and take out the cores, chop them small and fry them in fat, put raisins, sugar and cinnamon therein and let it bake.  [Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (Germany, 1553)]

Lastly, this one grates the apples and adds cheese and eggs.  My wife likes cheese in her apple pie, but I never could get used to it.  Incidentally, this is the only medieval apple pie recipe I've found that calls for cheese.
177 To make an apple tart. Take apples, peel them and grate them with a grater, afterwards fry them in fat. Then put in it as much grated cheese as apples, some ground cloves, a little ginger and cinnamon, two eggs. Stir it together well. Then prepare the dough as for a flat cake, put a small piece of fat into it so that it does not rise, and from above and below, weak heat. Let it bake slowly.  [Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (Germany, 1553)]

Looking at these options, I think I'll try out the one from Forme of Cury first.  Then perhaps one of the German recipes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here, There, and Everywhere!

The title pretty much sums up the state of my brain.  I've had a lot going on in the past couple of weeks but not much of it shows on the surface, so I thought I'd make a note here about a couple of the more interesting things.

At Gen Con I talked with Shane Moore, author of the Abyss Walker books, and because of that I'm now working on a cookbook ... of sorts.  It's going to be an Orcish cookbook - a sort of fantasy thing filled with recipes for roast Elf and such.  The goal is to have all the recipes be workable (assuming some ingredient substitutions) and have the cuisine have its own distinct flavor.  We'll see how this goes.  If nothing else, it should be a fun project.

Yosinori Satoh of Kobe, Japan has just completed a Japanese translation of the 14th century French cookbook "Enseignements" (Bibl. Nationale Ms. Lat. 7131), based upon my English translation.  I've been corresponding with Yosi for a couple weeks now, clarifying and revising parts of my translation - which probably means my translation will need to be updated in the next month or so.

I'm starting up a writing circle with a couple of friends.  Hopefully this will encourage all of us to get more written, and help work out plot issues, etc.  The zombie story I'm currently working on is currently around 8000 words and starting to move.

I've got a small bunch of things by other researchers that I need to format properly and put up on the website - a couple of articles and recipes and the like.  I should also take some time to make sure I've got links to all of Kristen's recipes.

Recently I have been taking more of an interest in medieval European charms, amulets, and magical "cures".  I don't know how far I'll be going with it, but it's neat stuff.

Yesterday I received an email from Dr. Thomas Gloning.  He'd been contacted by Helmut Kluge who is working on a database of plants and their uses in German manuscripts.  Dr. Gloning thought I might be of some help for this project.  It took a bit for me to work out what the emails were about because my understanding of German is very limited (I can read medieval German recipes and comments in German database code with reasonable accuracy, but beyond that I'm lost).  It turns out that Helmut is well aware of my website (Hi Helmut!), and while there isn't much I can currently help him with, there is some potential for future collaboration.

There's more, of course, but a lot of it is silly stuff that I do for fun and is probably a waste of time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

When the Party's Over

Once again, Gen Con has come and gone, and It'll probably take over a week for me to fully recover. This year was great. I had fun, I learned lots of stuff, and I talked with lots of cool people. The fact that Jean Rabe organizes the Writers' Symposium events for Gen Con every year shows that she's one of the most awesome people ever.

My two hour talk, titled Real Medieval Feasts seemed to go well. It wasn't as much fun to do as the Principles of Medieval Cooking one I've done a number of times, but people still seemed to enjoy it. Attendance seemed smaller than last year - there were only about 60 or so in the audience, and some empty seats. Still, the crowd was responsive and inquisitive.

I was really nervous for the cooking workshop. I'd never done this kind of thing, and the lack of proper cooking facilities made me worry even more. I was so nervous that I managed to burn my fingertips (slightly) while adjusting the element on the cooktop - I hadn't realized it got turned on while setting things up.

Still, I managed to get the food served and did my best to keep the guests entertained. I'd cooked most of the food ahead of time, and that's about the only way I could have done this at all. No one seemed to mind much, and in fact they said I could have charged significantly more (which I'll likely need to do if I try this again next year). Given the cost of dining anywhere near the convention (where a burger, fries, and drink can cost up to $20) I guess I'm not surprised.

One thing I did get a kick out of was that two of the guests were children. Both boys, one around eight years old and the other I'll guess was maybe six, and they were there with their mothers. The kids were very well behaved, tried everything (that I could see) and seemed to like it. These were my kind of kids! If either of the moms are reading this, thank you for raising such nice children.

For the Writers' Symposium panels I was on, I had a great time. I was a bit concerned about the panel on drinking, but it was really fun - and I got to have a nice chat with Linda Baker before and afterwards (Hi Linda!).

The panel on Dark Women worried me even more - it was mis-scheduled in the Gen Con computer, so very few people were there at the start, and I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to contribute (I'm a guy, after all). I think we managed to do pretty well, and we even extended it an extra hour to accommodate the (large!) crowd who showed up for the scheduled time. Paul Genesse had the brilliant idea to draft one of the audience members from the first hour into the panel for the second hour. Susan Carhart (I hope I remembered her name right) was a really neat person to be on a panel with - smart, charming, and all-around fun.

That's about it for now. There are several potential projects that might develop from the convention, but we'll have to wait and see. I'll post some details on what I served at the cooking workshop a bit later this week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

GenCon 2010 Update

My preparations for the convention are going well. I've got my notes all ready and the menu set for the workshop. I do have one bit of news though: I am now officially a published author!

The group that puts on the Writer's Symposium panels at GenCon have put together a collection of short stories called "Stalking the Wild Hare", and in it is my story "Critical Violation".

It's a nice little story about zombie rats invading the cafeteria at a government laboratory. See? It's even food related!

There are also twenty or so stories by some of the other Writer's Symposium authors - they're a great bunch of people and I'm honored to be included in their midst. The publisher says it'll be available from in a couple of weeks (I'll update this post with a link at that time).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gen Con 2010 Schedule

It's less than a month before Gen Con, and once again I'll be participating in some of the Writer's Symposium seminars, as well as a couple of events of my own.

On Thursday evening I'll be giving a 2 hour talk about medieval feasts, targeted more towards fantasy authors and role-playing gamers than historians (there does seem to be a surprising amount of overlap though).  I expect this to be a bit rambling, with my usual tendency to sidetrack and distract myself.  Here's the description from the Gen Con catalog:

SEM1008386 - Real Medieval Feasts
Why did they have feasts in medieval Europe? What did they eat? Who paid for it all? This seminar examines real feasts based upon descriptions and menus from medieval sources, and compares the medieval practices with modern misconceptions. Some of the topics to be included are feast foods, entertainment, manners, economics, and the practical challenges of processing two thousand head of poultry. 08/05/2010, 8:00:00 PM, Marriott : Santa Fe

I'm also trying something new this year, a medieval cooking workshop.  It's scheduled for late Saturday afternoon, and essentially is providing an early supper for the participants.  I am understandably a bit nervous about this one, ans there aren't any cooking facilities available.  This means I have to do any cooking using hotplates and the like.  Having worked in equally difficult situations though, I'm sure it'll turn out just fine.

WKS1008387 - Medieval Cooking Workshop
Everything you need to know and not know about the basic techniques and ingredients of medieval European cuisine - complete with roasts, vegetables, pies, sauces, and desserts - complete with a demonstration and full meal. A booklet will be provided to each participant with full recipes for all the dishes made. Due to limited facilities, special dietary requirements cannot be accommodated.
08/07/2010, 4:00:00 PM, Marriott : Santa Fe

Because of the limitations in space and such, I had to limit the number of participants to 15 - and I was surprised at how quickly it sold out.  This is also the first time I've charged anything for a seminar/workshop ($12), but given how much I'll spend on the food it was pretty much unavoidable.  Considering how much the convention center charges for pizza or hot dogs, I suppose it's a good deal.

Here are the Writer's Symposium panels I'll be part of:

SEM1009889 - Bottom's Up!
Is your hero always sober? Does your villain have a drinking problem? When is it appropriate to use alcohol in literature to set a scene, advance the plot, or add some color to your characters? Our panelists look at drinking ... and not just the intoxicating stuff. We’ll delve into medieval drinks and futuristic concoctions and discuss reference material to sate your characters’ thirsts and wet your readers’ whistles.  08/07/2010, 11:00, AM Hyatt : Studio 1
SEM1009908 - Dark Ladies
There is a dark side to the “fairer sex.” In this hour, we’ll focus on female villains, hard-boiled heroines, and tough-as-nails supporting characters. How do you make a female character real without becoming a cliché or done-to-death stereotype?  08/08/2010, 9:00 AM, Hyatt : Studio 1
SEM1009910 - Rounding Your World
If you’re not writing in the “real world,” and you’ve created a land of your own, you have to do more than draw a map, add a river, and sprinkle in some mountains and other geographical features. You have to put a lot of thought into the place. Our panelists will tell you what elements make a fantasy setting believable, including weather, population clusters, animal life, and more. 08/08/2010, 10:00 AM, Hyatt : Studio 1

I'm looking forward to it all, but there's a lot of preparation still to do.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Starting Points

When I first started researching medieval cooking - back in the dark ages before the invention of the internet - there were few resources available to anyone who didn't live close to an academic library. The few good sources of information were either people you had to go find, or texts that been copied and re-copied so many times that they were almost unreadable. Now there are so many resources that the beginner is likely to be overwhelmed.

Even on my own page of recommended books I've got an awful lot of titles listed, and for people who are just beginning to study medieval European cuisine, or those who just want to touch on the subject lightly, it can be difficult to figure out where to start.

So I thought I'd take a moment here to list a handful of what I see as basic works - books that provide an easy point of entry to the subject.

For an overview of medieval European cuisine, I'd recommend the following:

The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages by Terence Scully

Cooking in Europe, 1250-1650 by Ken Albala

Both of these books are well written in a very approachable style. They provide the general context of medieval cooking as clearly and simply as possible.

If you want to try and cook medieval foods however, you'll need recipes. There are a handful of websites out there which have recipes worked out already, but there are many medival cookbooks widely available, and working from the original source is really cool and very educational. Below are a few that I feel are good, basic sources, broken down by region. The best part is that most of them are available online for free.


Forme of Cury
(included in "Curye on Inglish" - in Middle English)
(free online version - in Middle English)

Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books
(in Middle English)
(free online version - in Middle English)


Le Méenagier de Paris
(English translation, as "The Goodman of Paris")
(free online version -in French)
(free online version - English translation)

The Viandier of Taillevent
(in French, inlcludes English translation)
(free online version - English translation)


Das Buch von guter Speise
(free online version - in German)
(free online version - in German with English translation)


The Neapolitan Recipe Collection
(in Italian with English translation)

Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco
(free online version - in Italian)
(free online version - English translation)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Quiz - Question 3

My apologies for the lack of posts recently. I've been a bit busy with the whole real-life thing and have been neglecting the all of you. I'll try to do better.

Back in December I posted a 6 question quiz about medieval cooking. I had tried to phrase the questions so that there would be many possible answers that could be considered to be correct depending on viewpoint. Here are my thoughts on the third question.

3. How did the primitive cooking equipment available in 15th century England affect the foods cooked?

The use of the word "primitive" above is obviously a leading one, or perhaps that should be misleading. The popular view of medieval European cuisine is that the food was rustic. Images of medieval kings gnawing roasted meat off the bone (usually a Turkey leg at that) are typical in films set in medieval times. While I'm sure that some cooking was rustic then, just as some of it is now, the upper and middle classes enjoyed lavish feasts. Dishes were often ornately decorated, often with gold leaf. Cooks would make "illusion foods" where one kind of food was carefully prepared to make it look like another (for example, making fish look like a hard-boiled egg).

How did they manage to do this with such primitive equipment? The answer is that what they had wasn't necessarily all that primitive.

Yes, they didn't have food processors or refrigerators. They didn't have kitchen timers or thermostats or even measuring spoons. However, take a look at the kitchen of a modern chef. Clean countertops, knives, gas burner, these are the basic tools of the modern chef, and no one would be surprised to see a great chef prepare a stunningly beautiful meal using only the basics.

Each of those basics was available in medieval Europe as well (ok, the gas burner would have been replaced with a wood or charcoal stove, but the form and function aren't that different). Why is it expected then that a great chef back then couldn't make an incredible feast using the same tools? I think the reason is that we automatically tend to assume that the middle ages must have been more primitive than the modern era. This probably stems in part from the Victorian era assumptions that wound up being written into history books.

After all, people aren't too resistant to the suggestion that the ancient Romans cooked elegant feasts. There's this strange tendency though to assume that the fall of the Roman empire plunged the world into darkness for over a thousand years, and in that time we all ate dirt and waited patiently for the renaissance.

In short, the answer to this question is: It didn't.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - June

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of June.

Juniting (first ripe) Pepins, John-Apples, Robillard, Red Fennouil, &c. French.

The Maudlin (first ripe) Madera, Green-Royal, St. Laurence Pear, &c.

Cherries, &c.
Duke, Flanders, Heart { Black. Red. White. } Luke-ward, early Flanders, the Common Cherry, Spanish Black, Naples Cherries, &c.

Rasberries, Corinths, Strawberries, Melons, &c.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - May

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of May.

Pepins, Deuxans or John Apples, West-berry Apples, Russeting, Gilly-flower Apples, the Maligar, &c. Codling.

Great Kairville, Winter Bon-Crestien, Black Pear of Worcester Surrein, Double Blossom Pear, &c.

Cherries, &c.
The May Cherry, Strawberries, &c.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A (Hypothetical) Wedding Feast

The other day I was browsing through Menagier de Paris (yes, I'm geeky enough that I browse through medieval cookbooks) and I came across the following menu:

L'ordonnance pour les nopces Hautecourt, pour vint escuelles, ou mois de Septembre:

Assiette: roisins et pesches ou petis pastés.

Potages: civé, quatre lièvres et veau; ou pour blanc mengier vint chappons, deux sols quatre deniers pièce, ou poules.

Rost: cinq cochons; vint hétoudeaux, deux sols quatre deniers pièce; quarante perdriaux, deux sols quatre deniers pièce. Mortereul ou...

Gelée: dix poucins, douze deniers; dix lappereaulx, un cochon; escrevices, un cent et demy.

Fromentée , venoison, poires et noix. Nota que pour la fromentée convendra trois cens oeufs.

Tartelettes et autres choses, ypocras et le mestier, vin et espices.

Here's the same section of text (slightly modified) from Janet Hinson's translation:

The arrangements for the Hautecourt wedding, for twenty dishes, in the month of September:

Platter: grapes and peaches or little pies.

Soups: civey, four hares and veal; or for blancmanger twenty capons, two sous four deniers apiece, or hens.

Roast: five pigs, twenty capons, two sous four deniers apiece; forty partridge, two sous four deniers apiece.

Jelly: ten chicks, twelve deniers; ten young rabbits, a pig; crayfish, one and a half hundred.

Frumenty, venison, pears and walnuts. Note that for the frumenty you will need three hundred eggs.

Tartlets and other things, hippocras and wafers, wine and spices.

In reading it, I'm struck by a couple of thoughts. The first is that the entire menu calls for a total of six pigs and forty capons to serve twenty people. That sounds like an awful lot. I took a quick look at the online facsimile at the BNF and it has the same wording. Perhaps there was something else going on here - I'll have to dig into it further.

The second thought was that it sounds like a pretty reasonable menu. It's lacking any reference to vegetables, but that might just be the omission on the level of "don't be silly, every dish gets served with vegetables". Then again, the menus at some of the restaurants I ate at on vacation also lacked references to vegetables.

If I were going to base a menu off of this, here's what I think I'd make:

First course:
Fresh peaches (peeled and sliced) and grapes (halved) with a dash of wine, served as a tartlet

Second course:
Rabbit in civey
Blanc manger

Third course:
Roast pork medallions with scallions and verjuice
Roast capon breast with yellow pepper sauce
Squab in pastry "in the Lombardy fashion"
... all the above served together with collards and parsnips

Fourth course:
Meat in aspic, with crayfish

Fifth course:
Frumenty with venison, served with poached pears and walnuts

Sixth course:
Custard tartlets, candied fruit and ginger, snowe, hippocras, wafers, anise in comfit, port.

I've taken a few liberties here and there, but on the whole I don't think a fifteenth century French noble would be overly surprised by any one dish. It'd be a bit on the pricy side to prepare (especially with the squab) but would be fun. I wonder if I could find twenty people willing to try it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roastfish and Cornbread

Late last week my family had lunch at a small restaurant on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Then we went back the next day because we liked it so much. The establishment in question is Chef David Young's Roastfish and Cornbread.

This is a restaurant that is hard to categorize. The food is more unusual and upscale than one would expect for a locals' hangout, but it's also too "homestyle" for haute cuisine. Take a look at the menu on the restaurant's website (make sure to check out the vegetarian menu as well). Note the occasionally surprising combinations of ingredients. Now picture it as simple, but well made food served without pretension.

Where's the medieval aspect to all this? There isn't one really. Yes, there's an odd link between the cuisine of the southeast United States and that of medieval England (e.g. honey-mustard barbecue, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, peach pie), but that's pretty tenuous and I don't think that's what drove me to post this. I think it's more to do with the fact that chef Young loves food. He researches his own cooking and shares the results. I like that, a lot.

Many of David's recipes from Roastfish and Cornbread are available in his cookbook, Burnin' Down South, which you can purchase from (I bought a copy before leaving the restaurant).

Burnin' Down South
David Vincent Young
Outskirts Press, 2008
ISBN: 1432724649

... and of course, if you're lucky enough to be in that area, you can go to the actual restaurant.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - April

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of April.

pepins, Deuxans, West-berry Apple, Russeting, Gilli-flowers, flat Reinet, &c.

Later Bon-chrestien, Oak-Pear, &c. double Blossom, &c.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Feast Complete with Garbage

I'm now (mostly) recovered from cooking the feast on Saturday. Even though it went well - in fact almost too well, in that there were several times where I turned to one of the assistants and shrugged because I had nothing to do at that moment - I was still completely wiped out at the end.

The food all turned out great, with compliments coming back about the Cormarye and the Applemoyse. The biggest sensation though was the dish I included for fun and announced as "The Chef's Challenge". It was an authentic 15th century English dish called "Garbage". Here are the sources I have for the recipe:

xvij - Garbage. Take fayre garbagys of chykonys, as the hed, the fete, the lyuerys, an the gysowrys; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste ther-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle; an a-lye it wyth brede, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Garbage. Take faire Garbage, chikenes hedes, ffete, lyvers, And gysers, and wassh hem clene; caste hem into a faire potte, And caste fressh broth of Beef, powder of Peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces, Parcely and Sauge myced small; then take brede, stepe hit in the same brothe, Drawe hit thorgh a streynour, cast thereto, And lete boyle ynowe; caste there-to pouder ginger, vergeous, salt, And a litull Safferon, And serve hit forthe.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

To mak a garbage tak the heed the garbage the leuer the gessern the wings and the feet and wesche them and clene them and put them in a pot and cast ther to brothe of beef poudere of pepper clowes maces parsly saige mynced then step bred in the sam brothe and cast it to pouder of guingere venygar saffron and salt and serue it.
A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

The best strained meats you can have on meat days are made from the necks of pullets and chicks. And you must grind up the necks, along with the heads and bones, then grind again, and put in the cooking-liquid from beef cheek or leg, and strain.
Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)

Simply put, it's a stew made from broth, chicken heads and feet, livers and gizzards, and spices. I'd purchased the ingredients from Jungle Jim's (I had to substitute duck heads for chicken heads - don't know why they sell the one and not the other), and put them in a large pot to cook for several hours. I'd checked the broth a couple of times to make sure it was ok, and actually it wasn't at all bad - tasted like a rich chicken soup.

I announced it personally right after the first course was served, briefly went over the ingredients, and told the guests that they could have it English style (with the ... pieces ... left in) or French-style (with them strained out). For added incentive, I offered a box of saffron as a prize to the first person who consumed a bowl of the stuff. I figured only two or three people would go for it. Silly me. As I walked back to the kitchen there were several people chanting "Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!" and shortly thereafter the servers came in with dozens of requests. Of all the things to run short of, I had to ration the garbage.

Her Highness received the saffron for emptying her bowl first (a bit unfair since she received hers first, but then rank has its priveledges). She'd been served a head, foot, and liver along with the broth, and all that was left was a scary looking pile of little bones.

It kind of figures. After years of hearing "medieval food is nasty" and having people turn up their nose at things like roasted turnips with cheese, I intentionally make something that I figure almost no one will like ... and it gets compliments. Now I've got to find something even weirder.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ceilidh Feast 2010 - Shopping List

The feast is only a few days away, and I'm now putting together my Brain Book™. An important part of this notebook is the shopping list, and since I mentioned it in my earlier post I figured I should say a few words about it.

I've put a copy of my draft shopping list up online (sorry about it being in Excel format - if it's a problem then I'll look into converting it to something that doesn't require using a Microsoft application). It's really just a simple spreadsheet. The first page is all of the ingredients needed for each recipe, which is more an organizational tool so that I don't miss something super important. The second page is the same list, sorted by inrgedients, with totals needed for each ingredient. This page also has an estimate on the number of servings per recipe, a cost per unit, and a total cost for the ingredients.

Over the next couple of days I'll try to post and comment on the other parts of The Brain Book™ for this feast (of course, if things get too nuts then I'll post it all next week after the feast).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - March

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of March.

Golden Ducket, [Doucet] Pepins, Reineting, Lones Pearmain, Winter Pearmain, John-Apple, &c.

Later Bon-Chrestien, Double Blossom Pear, &c.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Having had some success with changing our diet a bit in order to get a sense of the medieval European diet, this year Cindy and I decided to skip meats for lent.

Many modern Catholics eat fish instead of (terrestrial) meat on Fridays during lent. During the medieval period though, the common practice was much more restrictive. Aside from meats, dairy and eggs were also off the menu. There were some typical substitutions for the wealthy - almond milk, almond cream, almond butter - but for the most part it was nothing but fish and plants for 40 days.

The reasons for these restrictions (other than theological) are unclear. I've heard that at this time of year poultry would have been laying few eggs, so not eating eggs makes sense. Also, I assume that any animals that one didn't intend to keep through the winter would have already been slaughtered in the late autumn, so not eating meat also makes sense. But dairy?

I suppose (caveat lector: I am not a dairy farmer) that milking cows over winter when there is limited feed would stress them further and reduce their chances of reaching spring in a healthy state. By not milking them they'd require less fodder, and even though they'd dry up, when they calved in the spring the milk would start flowing again.

At any rate, we'll be splitting the difference between the modern and medieval Lenten diet. No terrestrial meats on any day, but I'm granting us an indulgence for dairy and eggs. I don't expect it'll be too difficult for us given that we were primarily vegetarian for a couple of years a long while back, but for our children it's a new experience (especially for Alex, who often says things like "Animals are yummy!"). Next year maybe we'll go completely medieval.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ceilidh Feast 2010 - Menu

I've been asked to cook the feast for an upcoming SCA event here in southwest Ohio, and I thought this would be a good chance to document the whole process I go through in running these things.

The first step for me is working out the menu. In this particular case I don't have much time to try out new dishes or do a lot of research, so I decided to stick with dishes I know reasonably well. Also, since I seem to have been having trouble getting my act together lately, I figured it'd be best to choose more simple, straightforward dishes - less to go wrong. I knew I wanted the whole thing to be primarily English because their feasts were much less structured than those of the French (and therefore, simpler). After a couple of days I took the time to sit down and - with Kristen's input - settled on the following menu:

A Supper for a Meat Day
On Table:
manchet bread
soft cheese
fruit preserves
First Course:
Pegions Stewed (stewed chicken)
Onion and Parsley Salad
Chervis (carrots and parsnips)
Second Course:
Cormarye (roast pork)
Wortes (cabbage)
Rice Lombard
Third Course:
Apple Muse (with Snowe)

Ok, so right off the bat I'll point out one major factual error. The title, "A Supper for a Meat Day", is in all truth incorrect. In the medieval religious calendar, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays were meatless days, so properly I should have a fish-based menu. However the problems with doing so are numerous, but the biggest ones are that a lot of people around here don't like fish and that they really like meat. If I did an all-fish feast I would probably be feeding 20 instead of 120.

The bread, cheese, and preserves are all pretty dull and straightforward. For this event I've got someone else to make the bread (thanks Amari!), so that's one less thing for me to do ahead of time.

Pegions Stewed is a simple recipe. I'll be using chicken legs and thighs instead of using pigeons both to save costs and because they're more acceptable to the locals. Of course once I've got that on the menu then the onion and parsley salad is a natural accompaniment.

Chervis is essentially a variation and simplification of a recipe from Menagier de Paris. Really it's just cooked carrots and parsnips with spices.

Cormarye is an old standby for me. Pork is plentiful and inexpensive here - sometimes cheaper than chicken, and this is one of those recipes that is really hard to mess up. If things go well then I'll thicken the juices from the roasting pans with some bread to make a sauce.

The recipe for Wortes is one of Kristen's. One of the VIPs apparently has an intense dislike for cabbage, so I'll have to do a separate dish for head table.

Rice Lombard is a new dish for me, but it's really just rice cooked in meat broth with spices.

Finally in the last course are wafers, walnuts (which will be sugared if there's time), and apple muse topped with snowe.

The apple muse gave me pause though. The most common recipes for it call for almond milk and honey, which adds a lot of effort and expense for such a simple dish - especially when cooking for so many. What I'd like to have is something more like Chardwarden, which is thickened with egg yolks and sweetened with sugar. After some serious digging, I did find a couple medieval variants of the recipe that did call for eggs and sugar, so that's what I'm going to use. Apparently I'm incapable of doing even a simple feast without researching at least one new recipe.

With the menu settled, the next step will be to work out the shopping list.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - February

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of February.

Kentish, Kirton, Russet, Holland Pepins; Deux-ans, Winter Queening, Harvey sometimes, Pome-water, Pome-roy, Golden-Doucet, Reineting, Lones Pearmain, Winter Pearmain, &c.

Bon-Chrestien of Winter, Winter Poppering, Little Dagobert, &c.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Font Overfloweth

Last week I went to see the movie, "Avatar". On the whole it's a pretty good film (read: an overdone plot done very very well), however I was continuously thinking about my website for almost the entire film. Why? Because of the subtitles. Cameron used the same freakin' font - Papyrus for the movie's subtitles as I've been using on my website for years.

Way back when I started the site, I chose Papyrus because it was attractive, vaguely medievalish, and was relatively unknown - especially compared to all the "Ye Olde English" fonts. More and more over the past few years I've been seeing it everywhere. It's on menus and signs and t-shirts and even packaging for socks. Some in the graphic design business now feel that Papyrus is overused.

This gives me just that much more encouragement to replace it on my site. Now of course the question is, what do I use in its place? I'd prefer something with a little historic accuracy, but it also has to be readable (I found a really nice reproduction of a 14th century script, but it's hard for even me to read and I'm a language geek).
I did some searching on various font sites and here are the candidates I found.

One option is to choose a font similar to medieval blackletter calligraphy.


Manuskript Gotisch

1454 Gutenberg Bibel

1456 Gutenberg

1492 Quadrata Lim

Then there are some fonts that are more script-like.

Cantzley AD1600


Gotische Minuskel

Gotyk Poszarpany

Magna Carta

For the moment I'm leaning towards 1456 Gutenberg or Magna Carta. I'll have to do a couple test pages to see how they look.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's in My Google Books Library

There's some really neat stuff available through Google Books, and I realized that over the past few months I've used their "Library" feature to build up a nice reference list.

The art of bookbinding - Joseph William Zaehnsdorf
Fac-similes illustrating the labours of William Caxton at Westminster - Francis Compton Price

Medii ævi kalendarium - Robert Thomas Hampson

Le vrai cuisinier françois - François Pierre de La Varenne
The forme of cury - Samuel Pegge
Old cookery books and ancient cuisine - William Carew Hazlitt
De opsoniis et condimentis - Apicius, Johann Michael Bernhold
De honesta uoluptate - Platina
The art of cookery, made plain and easy - Hannah Glasse
A new system of domestic cookery - Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell

Domestic Life
Domestic life in England
Early English meals and manners - Frederick James Furnivall
The household of a Tudor nobleman - Paul Van Brunt Jones
Dialogues in French and English - William Caxton

The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer, Walter William Skeat
Le morte Darthur - Sir Thomas Malory, Sir Edward Strachey, William Caxton
The fables of Aesop - Aesop, William Caxton, Joseph Jacobs
Book of Sir Balin - Sir Thomas Malory, William Caxton

Caxton's Game and playe of the chesse, 1474 - Jacobus (de Cessolis), William Caxton

Kalendarium hortense (1683) - John Evelyn
Kalendarium hortense (1699) - John Evelyn

Health Manuals
Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum - Sir John Harington
Regimen sanitatis - Robertus Gropretius
Regimen sanitatis Salerni - Jean Petit

On early English pronunciation - Alexander John Ellis
Dialogues in French and English - William Caxton

Le Bastiment de Receptes
A collection of above three hundred receipts - Mary Kettilby
Ars magirica - Jodocus Willich, Jachian Bifrun

The fifteen O's, and other prayers - Stephen Ayling
The lay folks' catechism - John Thoresby
The lay folks' Mass book - Thomas Frederick Simmons
The Primer; or, Lay folks' prayer book, v1 - Edmund Bishop
The Primer; or, Lay folks' prayer book, v2 - Edmund Bishop
The golden legend: or, Lives of the saints - Jacobus (de Voragine), William Caxton
The New Testament (1852) - James Murdock
The clergyman's vade-mecum - John Johnson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Medieval Hot Dog Stand?

I'm browsing through the collection of "Culinary Prints" at Academia Barilla when I come aross this image.

La grigliata - The Grill
17th century German etching
Livio e Wilma Cerini di Castegnate Collection

On the website it's described as "A rare representation of a women selling grilled vegetables outdoors." A nice, simple picture. No surprises in terms of cooking utensils or methods. No big deal. I'm about to go on to the next image when I take a closer look at what's in the customer's hands. For all the world, it looks like a sausage in a bun. Maybe it's just being served with a piece of bread? No, it definitely looks like the bread is cut down the middle, with the sausage between the halves.

Now the common belief is that sausage sellers first started putting sausages into split rolls sometime in the late 19th century, so I doubt my own eyes and post a link on a cooking mailing list. The quick consensus is that it does indeed look like a sausage in a bun. Then someone suggests that the caption on the etching might shed some light on things. My German is only good enough to know that it says something about "good fried sausages", but a better translation is provided moments later.

Here, a decent sausage is roasted for not much money, with which hunger can be appeased but not thirst.
This (thirst) can be appeased later as much as someone wants in a place where wine and beer is sold.
[translation courtesy of Emilio Szabo, via the SCA-Cooks mailing list]

So the notes are incorrect - the woman is selling sausages, not vegetables, and she is serving them in a bun. No sign of ketchup or mustard though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Medieval Calendar

One of the things that I've always tended to get all geeky about is calendars. For some reason the various methods used around the world and throughout history to measure the passage of time are like chocolate cupcakes to me. I'm pulled to them irresistibly and can't help but to eat four or five ... ok, maybe the simile breaks down there. Anyways, I think calendars are cool, and since I'm also into medieval European history, and into food, it's no surprise that I'm very interested in the type of calendar used throughout Europe in the middle ages.

There's a lot of stuff out on the net about medieval calendars and the like, including some beautiful images, but what I really wanted was a typical example that had links to information about the saints it listed. Nope, I couldn't find one. This of course meant that I had to make one for myself.

So it is with great pleasure that I present Halidai's Kalendarium - a medieval-style calendar that lists the feast days for the saints, as well as the information about those saints taken from the Golden Legend. There really isn't anything groundbreaking here - it's all stuff that's already freely available online. I've just put it together in a way that I thought would be useful to me. Hopefully others will find it useful as well.

Oh, and tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Hilary.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A busy time without much to show for it...

The last couple of months went by in a blur, but apparently very little of what I did was related to medieval food.

The holiday insanity of course started with Thanksgiving. This year we spent it at my parents' house, which limited my cooking a bit. Still, the food was good. I've posted before on what I cook for Thanksgiving - the short version is that I focus on all new-world foods, and not medieval at all (a fun sort of cognitive reversal for me).

I did do a little bit of medieval cooking in December though. For our regular solstice dinner I used the Sauce Madame recipe from Forme of Cury to go with a roast turkey (the last time I cooked a goose - which was good, but not good enough to merit the extra cost). I think I'll have to look into other types of stuffing for next year, just for the sake of something different.

I also made a batch of Cameline Sauce for Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws. It went really well with the beef tenderloin and duxelles (just learned about duxelles this year - Oh my! - why didn't anyone tell me about them before? Wikipedia says they go back to La Varenne, but I'll have to look and see if there's anything similar in the medieval sources).

There are some neat things in the works for 2010. I hope to teach a couple of cooking classes, which will be a bit of a new thing for me. I've also got one transcription project and a couple of other bits for the web site that I hope to have done soon. I'll be trying out the odd recipe here and there - Kristen told me yesterday that she got some more deer kidneys. Then there's helping others nearby to cook medieval feasts, and in my copious free time I'll finish writing a novel.

I get the feeling that 2010 might be a blur too.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - January

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of January.

Kentish Pepin, Russet Pepin, golden Pepin, French Pepin, Kirton Pepin, Holland Pepin, John-Apple, winter Queening, Maragold, Harvey Apple, Plome-water, Pomeroy, Golden-Doucet, Reineting, Lones-Pear-main, Winter-Pearmain, &c.

Winter-Musk (bakes well) Winter-Norwich (excellently baked) Winter-Bergamot, Winter-Bon-crestien, both Mural: the great Surrein, &c.