Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gilded Fried Bread in Butter or Rendered Fat

Page 253 recipe # 232 (Scappi)

Served at KWDS this was a vegetarian substitution and fried in butter

Get twenty beaten egg yolks, six ounces of finely grated bread, three-quarters of an ounce of cinnamon, three ounces of sugar, three ounces of rosewater and a little saffron, and mix all that together with very finely beaten herbs. get crustless fresh bread slices the thickness of a knife blade, dredge the slices in that mixture, fry them in butter or rendered fat and serve them hot with sugar and cinnamon over them and splashed with rosewater.

4 eggs
1 Tbsp Rosewater
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Mixed herbs
1/3 c bread crumbs
4 slices of bread
Butter for frying
Cinnamon sugar mix

Beat the eggs with a fod
Add the rosewater, sugar, herbs, and bread crumbs
Beat until well mixed
Heat a pan with butter
Dredge each slice individually, spreading it on if necessary 
Fry in the butter until golden brown on both sides
Serve sprinkled with cinnamon sugar

Serves 4 people 1 slice each

This was a good quick recipe.

I see some fine tuning that can be done with it as the redaction has no cinnamon other than the sprinkle of cinnamon sugar at the end. The rosewater could be upped to keep the mixture from getting too thick to dredge in. I was able to dredge the first 2 1/2 pieces and then needed to spread the mixture for the last 1 1/2.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tea Time / Kaffeezeit

Each day there was a time when something light was put out. Usually some salami, cheese and something sweet. The sweets were well received. We were unable to accomplish one as figs were completely unfindable so we doubled up on the Elizabethan Gingerbread, which delighted many.

Elizabethan Gingerbread (Delightes of Ladies by Sir Hugh Platt)

This recipes from all accounts has stumped many. When it is good it is very very good, when it is bad it is horrid! I have never had any trouble with the following recipe even when upscaling it.

4 cups Honey
450 gm breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Ginger
1 tsp White pepper

Boil the honey, skim if necessary (modern honey from the store usually does not need skimming)

In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs ( the super dry crumbled ones not torn pieces of bread) with the spices. Make sure that they are fully incorporated an there are no spice lumps.

Pour the honey into the breadcrumbs and mix until the breadcrumbs soak up all the honey.

To form it place it in a buttered form or pour onto waxed paper or parchment paper and spread it with buttered hands.

You can decorate the gingerbread with saunders (red sandalwood) or colored powdered sugar.

Waffres ( from two fifteenth century cookery books)

12 Eggs
3 cups flour
1/3 c sugar
1 Tbsp Ginger
1 1/2 cups Cheese
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your waffle iron
Beat together all ingredients
Pour batter into the waffle iron as directed by the manufacturer
cook until done

Elizabethan Biscuit Bread (Elinor Fettiplace)

These too were a big hit.

450 gm Flour
450 gm Sugar
8 eggs
8 egg yolks *
14 gm Coriander seeds (whole)
28 gm Anise Seeds (whole)

Preheat over to 170c

Mix all ingredients into a smooth batter *
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop batter into cookies
Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown

* Add yolks if you want lighter cookies

These can be done on a buttered griddle similar to pancakes as well as be poured into a shallow sheet cake type pan and then cut. If you do them in a sheet, cut them and the place them on the sheet again and toast for another 10 min  like biscotti.

Peascods in Lent (The Good Housewifes Jewel)

This did not get made as i could not find figs!

900 gm Figs (dry)
100 gm Dates
100 gm Raisins, sultanas or currants
1 cup Water
1 cup Red wine

Mix wine and water in a large bowl
Add figs, dates and raisins.
Soak overnight
In the morning bring the mixture to a boil for 5-10 min
When the mixture has cooled puree it

Prepare paste (you will need at least a double paste)
Roll out the paste in 2 portions of equal size and thickness
Place one paste on a parchment lined cookie sheet
Spread the mixture on top of the past
Top with the second paste and seal

Bake in the oven 20 - 30 minutes until golden brown
Cut and serve warm or cold

These can be made into small portions as well.

The original instructions were to cut the paste into circles, fill them and then fry them. These are tasty but not practical to serve a large crowd this way. Also when fried they need to be served hot.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Such an ugly name for such a delightful dish. Over the course of KWDS I made 2 different types of compost and despite the name of the dish it seemed to go over very well.

The first which I have spoken about before here in my blog is a recipe from Liber de Coquina. The first time I made this recipe it was met with some very mixed reviews. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it, at KWDS people loved it!

1 kg Pears (make sure they are hard pears and not soft, soft pears do NOT work at all)
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp anise seeds
20 gm sultanas or raisins or currants
3/4 cup white wine vinegar

Peel, seed and cube the pears into bite sized pieces
Place pears in a pot just covered with water , as soon as the pot comes to a boil remove the pears from the heat
Drain the pears
Lightly crush the coriander and anise together
While the pears are still warm mix the spices with the pears, add the raisins and vinegar
When cool place in the refrigerator for 12 hrs to a few days for the flavors to mingle
Serve cold

The second compost recipe is one I found in a couple of places but ultimately comes from The Boke or Kervynge.

250 gm Carrots
250 gm Parsnips
300 gm Turnips
400 gm White cabbage
485 gm Hard pears
250 ml Muscatel (sweet white wine)
1 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c honey
1 tsp sweet powder
1/2 tsp Anise seed
1/2 tsp Fennel seed
2 tsp Mustard seed
1/4 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
1/4 tsp Cardamom (ground)
1/4 tsp Black pepper

Prepare the vegetables and pears by peeling and chopping them into bite sized pieces (Not the cabbage yet)
Place in a large pot and boil until they are softened (about 5 min or so)
Core and chop the cabbage
Remove the pot from the heat and place the cabbage on top
Let it sit for 5 min
Lightly salt the vegetables and cool
Meanwhile crush the mix with honey, wine and other spices, heat to incorporate honey
When vegetables are cool place them in a non reactive (not metal) container
Pour the spiced honey/wine mixture and the vinegar over the vegetable and stir
Store in a cool place for 12+ hours.

This is one that gets better the longer it sits, just stir it every few hours.

*The sweet powder recipe I used is based off of a Poudre Douce recipe in Liber de Coquina with the ratios of:
1/4 tsp Clove (ground)
1 tsp Bay leaf (ground)
1 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp Ginger (ground)

I used normal bay but the recipe calls for Indian Bay leaf.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Pie fillings

I should mention that if I even want to make more than 1 dish in a day with a pie crust I am to be slapped! With that said, I will put all my pie filling recipes here that were used. I will include the filling for the pasties as well. I will begin with my basic pie dough recipe I use and end with the special dough that should be used for the egg pies.

Basic pie dough, makes 2 crusts.
2/3 cup butter ( soft is OK but it is better firmer)
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
6-7 Tbsp cold water (I mean cold!)

Place the flour in a bowl, add salt and stir.
Blend in the butter with a fork, pastry cutter or even your hands until the mixture is coarse.
Add water 1 Tbsp at a time and blend. You want a soft but not sticky consistency.
The amount of water used will depend on humidity of the kitchen as well as the flour.
Roll out the dough and place in your pie tin, curl up the edges to make the crust. I like to press mine with a fork after.

* when making a single crust use
     1/3 cup Butter
     1 1/4 cup Flour
     Pinch of salt
     3-4 Tbsp cold water


A pie of coleworts (Good Housewife's Jewel)

1 pie crust

24 cups of Kale fresh and dry (can also use spinach, cabbage or other coleworts)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger

Wilt the kale (if using cabbage salt it and pound it to reduce it and break it up)
Mix with spices, butter and eggs. You can add more spices to taste.

Bake at 170c for approximately 30 min. The crust should be firm and golden.

Mushroom Pie (Le Me'nagier de Paris)

1 pie crust

1 kg mushrooms
6Tbsp Olive oil + oil for sauteing
1 1/2 c cheese (use a blend for best results, we used Gouda, Parmesan and Emmentaler)
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Pepper
3/4 tsp Ginger

Saute the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil or butter, drain.
Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and mix with oil, cheese and spices.
Pour into the pie crust and bake at 170c for 35 - 40 min. Until pastry is firm and golden brown.

Tart de Bry (The Forme of Cury)

1 pie crust

6 egg yolks
500 gm Brie (room temp)
1 Tbsp ginger
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp water
1/16 tsp salt

Break up the brie into a bowl.
Sprinkle ginger, sugar and salt on top.
Add the yolks and water.
Mash together with either a fork or your hands to break the brie up well.
Place in the paste and bake at 175c for approximately 50 min or until the cheese is set.

For the pasties: (Hand pies are mentioned in several sources and depicted in several manuscripts, thes particular recipes have no source)

Prepare the pie crust and roll to 3mm (1/8 in) thick and cut into 3 inch rounds. You will get approximately 18 from the recipe.

Beef filling:
500 gm Ground Beef
1/3 cup Currants (or Raisins)
6 Dates pitted and finely chopped
1 Tbsp (heaping) of fresh grated Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar (or sugar in the raw)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Pepper (freshly ground)

Turkey or chicken filling:
500 gm ground Turkey
1 Tbsp Fresh green herbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Dill
1/4 tsp Sage
1/8 tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper

Pork filling:
500 gm ground Pork
1 Tbsp fresh green herbs
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Dill
1/8 tsp Salt
Pinch of pepper

All filling should be made ahead by at least 6 hrs

Have oil on hand for your hands and measuring cup.
Using a 1/4 cup measure (oiled), fill with filling.
Pop out of measure and divide in half
Place 1/2 on a 3 in round, fold over and seal with water and a fork around the edge.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush tops with 1 beaten egg with 1 Tbsp water.
Bake at 175c for 15-20 min until golden brown.

Note: before brushing with egg they can be placed single layer on trays in the freezer, when they are frozen they can be placed in ziploc bags and kept. No need to thaw before baking just add 5-10 min baking time.

Tart of Eggs (the Good Housewife's Jewel)

12 Eggs
2 Egg whites (will be leftover from the special crust)
3 Tbsp Rosewater
2 Tbsp Sugar

Special pie crust:
1 1/4 c Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3  cup Butter
2 Egg yolks
2 Tbsp Rosewater

The instructions for making the crust are the same as for the regular crust except you add the yolks in with the liquid. If the paste is too dry add tsp of water at a time to get right consistency.

Fill the pie crust and bake at 180c for 25-25 min or until the paste and filling are set and a light golden brown.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

stuffed sheep's leg

Stuffed sheep's leg

Page 170 book 2 recipe # 69 To braise a stuffed leg of whether whole

Get a leg of the good sort described above and beat it with a bat until it separates from  the bone in the middle of it, then carefully draw out that bone which is the hollow bone, leaving the knee pad there. Along with the bone remove some of the flesh and beat that with an equivalent amount of pork fat, marbled prosciutto and garlic cloves, adding in pepper, cinnamon, beaten herbs and a few raisins and saffron. Turn the leg inside out and slash the inner flesh here and there, being careful not to cut through to the skin. Splash the flesh with rose vinegar and sprinkle on pepper, sugar and cinnamon.Then turn right side out again and stuff it with the mixture, sew it up with cord, and put it into a stewing pot which has beaten pork fat in it and enough meat broth to cover the leg; add in verjuice, common spices, and prunes and dried visciola cherries. Seal the post so that it cannot breath, and set it to cook over a low fire for two hours. When it is done, serve it hot with the cord removed and that broth over it.
If you want to spit -roast it,  when it is stuffed half-cook it by boiling, take it out, let it cool lard it with very small bits of pork fat, and mount it on a spit. Cook it as you do roasts. You can also cook it in an oven, after it is full of the same mixture used to stuff it when stewing it, putting in less broth. You can also put it raw on the spit.

What we did:
I purchased a leg of sheep (I asked for whether but the lady said lamb when I picked it up, so I am not sure which one I actually got) It was roughly 2 kg with the bone in.
I placed it in a large ziploc bag and  beat it with a "bat" (my french pin) for about 20 min. I could have beaten it  longer and next time I need to  pay closer attention to the ends. Much of the tissue did disconnect from the bone  but for speed we used a knife to cut it the rest of the way off the bone. It easily turned itself inside out while removing the bone.
Trim off piece that can not be stuffed , about 4 inches of the top, this is the piece you will grind up to use as stuffing. Do not throw away the bone, use it to make the stock.

Cut the "extra" meat into 1" pieces and slightly freeze to make it easier to mince (grind or use a food processor).
Turn the leg inside out, I sprinkled my leg with branntweinessig and rose water, then lightly sprinkled it with pepper, cinnamon and sugar.
For the stuffing I used what I had on hand: Next time use:
2 1/2 tsp pepper                    2 Tbsp
50 gm 8 herb mix (frozen but thawed) 150 gm
380 gm meat (cut from the top of the leg, skin removed)
240 gm fat   (beef fat)
1 tsp cinnamon            2 tsp
20 gm of raisins
1/2 head of garlic                    1 head
200 gm schwarzwald ham

Notice there is no salt, I boiled the bone in a pot of salted water and the ham provided more than enough salt for the dish. This made more than enough to stuff it well! So well I couldn't even think of sewing it shut and so just tied it with string to help keep the stuffing in.
I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven in the oven. But first heated it up and seared the outside of it on my stove, added the broth to half cover and covered and placed in my oven. I had pre heated it to 200c and forgot to turn it down, so there it cooked for 2 hrs undisturbed and then sat covered for 20 min - 1/2 hr before I sliced it. It was very tasty!!!

Notes and next time:
The taste was great! though next time we will boost the herbs, garlic and spices some :) The meat was just on the edge of dry but not quite there. I will reduce the temp and the cooking time down to about 170c for 1hr 30min - 1hr 45 min, sheep can have a little pink. I am looking forward to making this again!

Post event and "again" notes:

The upping of the spices was perfect for me but maybe scale back a little on the Garlic to 3/4 of a head. Depends on how large the heads are, how much you like garlic and how pungent they are.

The fat used should be equal to the "extra meat" that is cut off to be used to stuff the leg. You can even go a bit over though I wouldn't go too much.

Lower temperature and a shorter cook time did the trick and it was still tender and moist!

A bug hit many people talked about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It is done...

All the build up... all the planning... and the hustle and bustle ... and it is done

KWDS 11 was a fantastic event, smooth running and pleasant. While I spent most of my time in or around the kitchen I did get out to see some of the dancing, particularly the Masque. It was lovely and from the sounds everyone was making it was really enjoyed by all.

My concern though, was the food and the kitchen and what I have to say on that and that is "I dropped the ball, and it bounced!"

The food was good, filling and in most cases enough to more than enough.

I am going to use this space to talk through my problems first and then get on with the good stuff. Recipes will come in follow up posts.

We had our first hiccough with the first dinner some chicken legs were missed in the confusion that was the walk in and so in the end I think a few people went without. So what did we do... thinking we had cooked them all? Bought extra the next day for dinner... yup, we had those leftover too :/

Peas, mushrooms and pears, oh my!

First with not enough mushrooms and then too much. Part of it was calculation and part of it was shopping error. The trouble was not finding enough and then the pie tins I had were smaller than average, so we had leftover filling for pies. Which people gladly enough ate. We were a little light on the mushrooms and leaks as a side dish though but were trying to conserve for the pies. We also sent a non kitchen member out for mushrooms without giving a specific amount to purchase and so we had leftover mushrooms.

Peas, I really have no clue. We ended up buying peas in 3 different stores and I think we really needed only to buy them at two. I believe that after one of the purchases they did not get marked off the list and so extra ended up being bought.

Pears, I never want to see a pear again! OK maybe just not for a bit. Both composts contained pears and we had a pear dessert. They need to make a gadget for peeling and coring pears! Mostly my complaint on pears is that we had to work with tons of them, and I cut my finger.

Pies, If I ever want to do more than 1 pie or more than 1 recipe that has paste per day again... SLAP ME! Seriously, I know they have an awesome oven but someone just beat me if I ever get that bright idea again!

Not everyone will show up for every meal! This includes feast! This was sort of a surprise.

Scaling up pudding is not something you should do! I think I may have discovered a problem with the recipe as well but that will require some investigation.

Now the elephant in the room and where I feel I dropped the ball. My health is not something i particularly talk about a lot, at least not outside of private conversation but I am going to talk about it now. I am about to turn 41, I am overweight and I have chronic pain issues. None of these things were a factor in the dropping of the ball. A few years back when my mom died it threw my body into "shock". Traumatic events can trigger (especially in women) hormonal changes. Well, I was hit with a change I wasn't prepared for, I was hit with the beginning stage of "the CHANGE", perimenopause. This affects my body in many ways most of which are not anything I will discuss here. I will discuss here the mental change that has happened.

I have dealt with depression all my life, my own and my mother's. What I only had an outsiders view of until now was anxiety. It seems one of the common effects of perimenopause is anxiety. This is what hit me like a ton of bricks. Had it been about the food, the feast or the general state of the kitchen I would have understood, I could have dealt better but it wasn't. I had confidence in my crew, in the kitchen and we were progressing really well! This was different, a closed feeling like I was continually being squeezed by some sort of constrictor I could see. Clothes that fit fine felt too tight, I felt like I couldn't breathe and worst of all I couldn't function.

It took a bit to put my finger on what was going on, at first it seemed I was just suffering from exhaustion. I hadn't slept well the night before due to not being able to get comfortable with what I thought at the time was a sinus issue. So I woke up tired and slow going but we got out and to the store and back in good time. I started to eat my breakfast and that is when the tightening started. No feeling of dread or panic but just a tightening. Due to circumstances shortly after this began I broke down and thanks to good friends I was able to get dressed and try to move on. I took a seat outside the kitchen and did only what they would let me. I spent my day in conversation as I had most of the day before, but to me I was dropping the ball. It was the BIG day and I should have been more helpful, I should have been doing more, I should not have been sick, and this is when the ball bounced. The kitchen staff took over and I was only there as a consult. I don't even remember cutting or chopping or peeling or anything, and like a well oiled machine it moved on. Everything was on time, everything was going smooth. It bounced!

The food was good tasting and what was supposed to be hot was hot, what was supposed to be cold was cold. Service was on time and friendly :) Ideas were exchanged and a lot of love as well.

A week and 2 days later I can look back at the bouncing ball and not say "I did that" but WE did that. I could not have done it without the awesome team I had and maybe partially they couldn't have done it without me, but I am pretty sure they could have because they did.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I can't art

It's true, I can't art.

I can not draw, paint, sew, sing, play an instrument or compose. I can not create anything that has a lasting beauty or value. What I can do is cook, redact and feed. I hope that what I do is seen as, making memories, creating atmosphere and nourishing the soul as well as the body. I create food and meals to try and enhance what is already around us, a beautiful hall, good company and immersion into another place and time. My hope is to supply those that are truly in the moment an opportunity to stay there, not to be jarred out of it by the mundane. It is a fine line where modern meets medieval and once the veil has been lifted it is hard to close the curtain again.

Often enough in the places discussions about my hobby takes place I have often heard how people want a good atmosphere. They encourage you to cover modern object, elevate clothing to beyond "ren faire" adequate, play period games and music but when it comes to food, they don't care and some are even against authentic (well as authentic as we can get) foods and recipes. Labeling them as yucky or weird before even giving them a chance. I plug away though endeavoring to make foods that are palatable even to the picky.

I can't art, it's true.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

That's not period

Yes folks, another one :)

Back about 20 some odd years ago when I started this hobby I was told more than a few misnomers both in the cooking arena and in the non cooking arena. I have addressed the turkey one, now to address pudding.

Indeed it is true that most instances of the word pudding refer to a savory meat dish that has nothing to do with what we modernly know and call pudding. Technically this recipe is not called a "pudding" but after making it... really there is nothing else to call it. Scappi's recipe is Various ways to make pies with a cream filling, book V recipe 45 (page 456 is the translation by Terence Scully) but boiled down (no pun intended) it is pudding. It has milk, eggs, flour,sugar and a flavoring agent. In this case that agent is rosewater, a popular flavoring in the middle ages. It's use here is very similar to how we use modern vanilla extract and in fact all rosewater is, is an extract.

Scappi begins by defining what a "Crema" is, "Crema is a French term; it is made of fine flour, milk and eggs." Cooks and cultures have borrowed from and given to since time began it seems. As people move and travel they are influenced by what they experience and try to share it in tidbits with those they return to. Fashion is the most obvious of these ways but cooking gives it a good run for its money in my opinion.

While I am not ready yet to share my redaction as it is one of the dishes for feast at KWDS, I will say that it is delightful and easy to make.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Learning curve

This is sort of a follow up to my last post.

I want to discuss the event that I feel was my steepest learning curve. It has given me my greatest success  as well as my greatest "failure". I already talked about my launching points, the feast from hell and the recipe that burned my brain. I learned quite a bit from those experiences and I continue to learn from them as I learn from other experiences and make comparisons, sometimes ya don't get it on the first try. I am going to talk about 20 year celebration. I believe I even mentioned it here, that I had been invited to redact recipes for the feast. I was delighted, elated. humbled, ecstatic, scared, nervous, nauseous and a whole other large gamut of emotion and feeling  wrapped in a tiny ball. I was sure this was going to be fun! I was going to love every moment... and then, then I didn't.

It is hard to even summarize what all went wrong. Communication was slow, when it was answered. Often I had questions and no one to ask, or didn't receive answers to the questions I was asking, incorrect information, changed expectations, all of these lead to apathy and procrastination. Along with 20 year I was also committed to cooking (willingly, I could have said no) for Accademia Della Danza and a seated Baroness. Now to put some time perspective on this, I was asked to do the feast for 20 year (a June event) at least a year in advance, actually even longer. As I was blogging about it in snips as early as May the year before. No matter, the event was to be in June and ADD was in the beginning of March before that. Originally the timeline was the recipes needed to be in the end of March beginning of April and somewhere around December this changed. It should have been OK, everything should have been alright, but it wasn't. The biggest problem, I didn't know it wasn't OK. There are times when it feels like life is conspiring against us and others where we blissfully jump into the void completely unaware. I was burning to a crisp and didn't feel a single flame. I was stressed with 2 big holidays and an event in a 6 week span of time. Then I got sick, and not just a sniffle but a " Holy hell I am going to die" feeling flu. Still I was plugging along, well more like plodding. I was not yet stressed but feeling pressure. This is where I started sabotaging myself, as I got reminders from my "boss", I would pile on more pressure and function less well. My sleep and health were starting to go downhill with every day, then the floor dropped out from under me. As of mid January I began getting "reminders" of the impending deadline and began to spiral, a week later my mother went into the hospital. I dropped everything and despite not going home at that point I just couldn't focus. A week later I spoke with her, things were looking up. Her health was improving and we were making future plans. Three days later, she died. I still didn't realize things were not OK. I kept telling myself and my "Boss" everything would be fine, I honestly thought it would be and apparently they believed me. I even said in an e mail I would try to find time to work on it while I was in the US. This was my Mother and I thought I would have time for cookbooks, recipes, redaction and meal planning? I must have been crazy! and they believed me, they must have been crazy too. I came home after a week at mid February and I tried but I was so broken. My health had gone to absolute hell, I didn't sleep or I would sleep too much and I could barely focus on daily life but by now I had convinced myself not only I would do it, but that I *HAD* to do it. There was no choice, no other way, no back up plan, nothing. A week later, even sicker, the March event looming, I am still trying to convince myself that I can and will and MUST get this done. I was supposed to bring my notes and everything I had to ADD, but forgot them, along with a dozen other items. Crap, I was going to have to mail it, but I was going to get it done, I HAD to! I got through ADD (the March event on the first weekend). Sick, tired and broken... I was fired! I was angry, and then I was relieved.

I "beat myself up" plenty over this "failure" and not just my own part in it but the part of others as well and then I had space and time, so I revisited the process so I could learn. I am feeling that pay off right now.

As I mentioned I have been given an equal if not greater opportunity and feel I am meeting it head on and better armed. Over a year ago I was asked to be the head cook for a Known World event, not just feast, but all of the food. There are less people coming to this event about half the number of those that attended 20 year but about 1/3 of them are coming from outside of our Kingdom. I will be doing the cooking in the kitchen. No not by myself but I can be hands on, an option that was not available for 20year. This event will take place in 1 month from yesterday. I have no stress, my health is good and I am prepared in case of emergency. If I dropped dead I am confident that everything would continue on with only a minor bump in the road.

Where I am at, I have a solid menu. Actually I just made a change to the menu and it wasn't due to stress or anything "bad". I just re evaluated the amount of work it would take and found it did not fit with the flow of the menu planned. One month out and I changed a menu that I had set in December and you know what? The world didn't end. I have a few more things to work some bugs out of and I am happy.

I don't think of anyone on my team as a "boss" because I am not treated like an employee. This has allowed me to be more creative I think. I was given a job and  both freedom and trust to go with it, these reduce my stress about things greatly. No stress = Happy = More productivity. I have still had "low points" in the process but there will always be low points. They are what make the peaks that much more beautiful.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Baby steps and giant leaps

It is 4 years ago in April I was taken on as an apprentice. My journey is far from over but I am over the "halfway" point of my contract (7 years)  and decided to take a look back and figure out where I am. So, where exactly am I ? Who am I now? How did I get here? 

Who am I? 
     The simple answer is, me. The complex answer is... you guessed it, a bit more complex. Who I see in the mirror is not who everyone else sees, what I have needed to re learn or remember is, those other people don't matter. They don't make me who I am, I do. So, again, who am I? I am Magdelena Grace Vane or much more to my liking,  Maggie. I am a  Court Baroness, and Ex landed Baroness, apprentice, cook ,consort, friend, drinking buddy, teacher, Gottfried's wife, Alex's mom, B's mom, mom, confidant, student, the "other" mother, acting "auntie", sister from another mister, niece, cousin, family, cat herder, cooker of the food, and much more that I can't think of or haven't discovered yet and I am who I need and want to be. Nobody can make be anything I don't want to be, they can only help me discover more of who I am and who I am not.

Where am I?
     Happy, confident and at peace. I have a loving family, some great friends and a good crowd of people I know. The haters, the naysayers, the ones who can't be happy in themselves so they need to destroy others, I don't need them, certainly don't want them and don't have time or room for them. Leave them behind, let them go.  Not easy but when it is done it brings peace.

     I am currently in the middle of planning a HUGE endeavor, at least for me. A few years I was given an opportunity and was unable to "make good" on it. I at first felt like I had failed and wouldn't be deserving of another opportunity like it, I had already proven ( in my mind)  I couldn't handle it and was a failure. I was wrong, I didn't fail. I survived, I learned and I was given, not  a second chance but another opportunity to do something big and I am loving the process and the result this time around.

How did I get here?
      Four years ago I had a few good ( and recent) cooking experiences behind me (even if a few were crazy) as well as my feast from hell and a desire to move forward and do something else, something new. I had "broken up" my previous peer relationship, short story is: I was taken as a protege' things didn't work out for various reasons, relationship ended, and was in an odd space. I had within the previous 6 months written a public note about peer relationships. Just a collection of my own thoughts. The piece got a lot of good feedback and sparked discussions between myself and a couple of peers. As you might be able to guess one of those peers and I took the step forward and entered a contract. Since then it has been baby steps, or maybe they have been big leaps. None of this answers the question though, but provides a base for them, but hard work, self reflection and the ability to learn do, otherwise you don't move forward. From the first step you take to all the other "milestones" in life these three things seem to be the keys. 

     I want to address what I find the hardest of those 3 keys to be, honest self reflection. Taking the time and developing the ability to look at both your failures and your successes and learning from them is important and here is the shocker... it's hard work! You are likely both your own worst critic as well as your biggest supporter. The trick is finding balance an stepping back and looking at things objectively and not subjectively.
     When something goes wrong it is easy to sit and blame "outside" problems or oneself, what is needed though is  to take a hard look at the situation and not just at the negatives and what went wrongs but the positives and the what went rights as well. I have been working at it for the last four years and now find it is a regular part of any project I do. My peer created a document for us to work with, we call it the "Post Mortem". I offer a blank copy  to anyone that wants it along with the offer to work the process with them as well. So far, I have sent the blank out once and have heard nothing back. Anyway, this process, this post mortem dissection of the "event" / project and because it has become a normal way of  processing things for me I have been able to take my giant leaps. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Duck, duck, goose!

A friend of mine posted a link on her facebook wall to a lovely article on making duck ham. The article can be found here . I found this idea, intriguing and began to investigate some and found that it is a tried and trusted way of making Prosciutto which people mostly think of as a pork ham but the word is actually for the process not the type of meat.

Searching the sales papers I found a great sale and went to get some duck. After I got home though I discovered that I had bought goose. Not deterred I searched and found that goose ham is really a thing! So off we went to make some.

Today we pulled it out of the basement to try it :)

Texture is fine, a good "ham", flavor was good though as noted by others who have tried it it was salty. I attribute this to the quick rinse we used to get the salt off and not a thorough cleaning as it probably should have gotten. I suppose that done again I might use less salt and more herbs in order to try and combat the overly salty taste.

Another experiment is we are trying is that they are "dry enough" as they are now and to leave them until we need them wold turn them to leather, so we have packaged them up and placed them in the freezer to try in a few weeks. I will try to remember to update when we do that what the results are.

Monday, January 12, 2015

You want me to eat what?

Don't get me wrong, I like to be adventurous when trying food, but I also like my food a bit... normal. OK I get that what is normal for me may not be normal for the next person, but really, garlic and orange juice?

OK, story goes like this. I was looking for simple vegetarian alternative recipes for the feast I am creating in April. I am using only 1 book for this feast and that is Opera. I already know there can be some strange food combinations in there but this one so far has taken the cake. The recipe is "To prepare a layered omelet" from Book 2 recipe number 235 page 254 of the translation I am using.

Beat fourteen eggs. Get a spoon that will hold 2 eggs, fill it with the beaten egg and make a small omelet the size of the pan - which pan should not be much larger than the dish in which the omelet is to be set. When the little omelet is made, set it in the dish - minding that, to do it well, is enough for the bottom of the pan to be greases with rendered fat. Sprinkle the omelet with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, splash it with orange juice and set small slices of provatura or a creamy cheese on it. and on that little chunks of butter, cloves of garlic that have been steeped and crushed, and raisins. Cover that with another omelet. Go one making omelets, putting one on top of the other until all the egg is gone.

I will stop here as next he offers an alternative meat filling which I will not be making at this time.

What we did. First we did not use 14 eggs, this would have been too much for just the three of us. No, first I read the recipe wrong and made 2 omelets. One with the OJ, cinnamon sugar and nutmeg with mozzarella cheese, the other with creamy cheese, garlic and raisins. We thought that each of them was a little "flat" and the garlic one was better. Then we realized I was reading the recipe wrong and all the ingredients should be in one omelet... Um... OK, I guess. This sounds strange and dubious at best but off we went back to the kitchen. We were all damned surprised when it tasted good! Real good! Don't believe me? Try out what we did.

What I did:
6 large eggs well beaten Butter for the pans to cook the eggs
Filling: 4 Tbsp ricotta 4 large cloves of garlic (blanched until soft and crushed) 2Tbsp Raisins (measure before plumping with either hot water or OJ) 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/2 - 1 tsp sugar with cinnamon (make it sort of strong) 1 lg pinch of salt
OJ for splashing
cook 1/2 cup of egg at a time in a well buttered 6" frying pan (you should get 3 omelets)
mix the filling together and spread 1/2 between the 1st and 2nd omelet dotting with tiny pieces of butter and splashing with OJ

Now go forth and try this crazy creation that somehow works real well, next time I want to try it with fresh mozzarella.