A Different tale of “Frozen” sweetness

d0874fb4-8366-430a-84a5-b6a979be164d_570With the increase of temperatures and longer days, not much is quite as refreshing as a frozen dessert on a summer day. With all the various chains out there selling all types of frozen drinks and desserts, and all the variety one can find in most big super markets, it’s very much part of most culture’s culinary experience. Making it at home is actually not that difficult as well and you don’t always need a machine for it (thought it definitely helps).

Where did Ice Cream originate within our past? Being able to keep something frozen, was certainly a challenge when there is no power involved. That’s a no brainer of a comment, however, well before the invention of the refrigerator, there were ways of keeping things cool.

I want to actual go back a bit more to the origins of Ice Cream, or perhaps more importantly, it’s inspiration of sorts. Iced drinks, basically using ice to cool liquids, were supposedly consumed as far back as over 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Greeks and Romans were noted as having access to ice and making a chilled drink using wine and honey (Emperor Nero was a fan of this). Most of these early drinks were non-dairy. Where did the ice come from, you may ask? Laborers were send into the mountains to retrieve snow or ice. It’s good to be Emperor (or rich…really, either or in this case)! In China around 1100BC, they started to harvest ice and use it to preserve foods as well. Alexander the Great supposedly had pits dug in Petra order to store snow. Japan has a reference to ice storage pits around a 4th century Emperor created an “ice day” holiday of sorts.

Technically, these are more “ices” and not ice “cream.” It was supposedly in Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) China when the use of dairy was used as the base. However, sugar (or any real sweetening) wasn’t used in this first version. It was mostly a fermented milk (Buffalo, Cow or Goat) that was heated with flour and camphor. They later froze these concoctions in ice pools.

There are some legends within history that state that either Marco Polo or even Catherine de Medici brought a form of ice cream to their respective countries. However, these are just not true. However, the stories are fun. In fact, it was mostly from the Arab lands that frozen drinks hailed from in medieval times. It was called Sherbet, Sharab or Sharabt in Arabic. Persians and Turks both enjoyed these drinks using mostly fruits like cherries, pomegranates or quinces to flavor.

Iced drinks were usually wine, sugar, spices, water and some sort of local fruit like peach or raspberry as it moved into Europe later. The Italians and French were particularly interested in these drinks (influenced by their Arabic neighbors). By the middle of the 17th century, the drinks were being made into more of a frozen dessert (Sorbetto). The first real “ice cream” was a milk sorbet by Latini at around this time, as he found the combination of milk, sugar and flavorings that we are most familiar with. Experimentation of adding in various flavorings and ingredients, playing with cooking the base and really technology, really cemented how ice cream is made to this day.

42426b02f09e62dcc9eacbb0ff6ea3ea--vintage-food-vintage-imagesWith all this being said, I figured I would provide a few other websites and resources for various frozendesserts and ice creams for your amusement.

Making Ice Cream like it’s 1927
Ancient Ice Cream without a freezer
Colonial Williamsburg “Some Cold, Hard Historical Facts about Good Old Ice Cream”
History Extra’s Vanilla Ice Cream recipe of US president Thomas Jefferson
Ivan Day’s Article on Georgian Ices
Ivan Day’s Asparagus Ices
Parmesan Ice Cream

Bibliography:

Most of my research for this article was using “Ice Cream: A Global History,” by Laura B. Weiss. It was found here

 

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J-E-L-L-O!

Jell-o is one of those treats that went through quite the transition. Savory salads were all the range pre-19th and early 20th centuries. Here are some samples of Jell-o ads that go through a range of ideas as to what one can do with Jell-o, especially since we all are looking for cool foods for hot summer days.

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Divers Pretty Things Made Of Roses & Sugar

We have a guest blogger here today to discuss edible Roses and what you can do with them.

Rose edited 1

Divers Pretty Things Made Of Roses & Sugar
by Mistress Renata Kestryl of Highwynds

The 1552 edition of Banckes Herbal contains a woodcut of three Tudor roses, a crown and a ribbon banner proclaiming the rose to be “The Kynge of floures” an opinion that seems to be shared by the people of 16th century England. Of course, the rose was the symbol of the royal family, but it was also a favorite embroidery motif, probably the most common floral motif in use at the time.

Herbalists and the writers of household recipe books were also fond of roses. John Gerard, whose Generall Historie of Plantes was first published in 1597, devotes no less than twelve pages to the description and virtues of roses, far more that he gives to any other herb. (The title of this article comes from his description.) Sir Hugh Plat, who published his Delightes for Ladies in 1609, has 16 recipes for preserving roses in various forms.

The recipes (or “prescriptions”, as the herbalists like to call them) are for things like rose-water, rose oil, rose honey or sugar, rose syrup and conserve of roses. All these item were used for cosmetic, medicinal and/or culinary purposes. Rose products were thought to be good for the skin, cooling and soothing to the digestive and the respiratory systems, and gentle enough that even the very old and the very young could tolerate them.

A disclaimer: While these treats were used medicinally in the 16th century (some examples follow each recipe), these recipes are not meant for anything other than culinary uses.

Harvesting Rose Petals

Warning: Most roses today are grown for ornamental purposes, and are usually treated with chemical pesticides and systemic rose food. While these help the rose plant produce more and healthier flowers, they make the flowers extremely toxic. Therefore, it is very important that no chemical pesticides or systemic rose food have been used on the rose plants for at least one year before harvesting for human consumption. You can be sure of this by a) growing the roses yourself in your own garden (but keep an eye on your gardener, if you have one — often they will feed your roses every year without mentioning it to you) or b) knowing the person who does the growing. If you are not 100% sure, do not use the roses.

Having made sure of the non-toxicity of the petals in question, they should be picked in the early morning, after the dew has dried. Cut flowers that are fully open, but the petals should not have started to wilt too much. (A few wilted petals are all right — they will be eliminated in processing) The whole flower head should be cut, as this will encourage the plant to produce more blooms.

Note: In the 16th century crimson Damask roses were grown by the acre, so cooks of that time had access to roses that a Caidan cook can only dream of. It is not necessary that all your petals be from red roses — any scented rose will do. I have made both rose petal jam and rose syrup using a mixture of petals of all colors, and as long as at least some of the petals are red, the results have still been dark red.

Once all the roses have been cut, carefully remove the petals from the rosehip, discarding any petals that are wilted or damaged. If at all possible, this should be done outdoors because there will be an incredible number of insects inside each flower (no pesticides, remember?) and you’ll want to keep them outside the house.

At the base of each petal is a small white patch, called the “nailes” by John Gerard and the “whights” by Lady Elinore Fettiplace. It should be removed using a small sharp scissors, as it will add a bitter taste to the final product.

Finally, the petals should be rinsed thoroughly with cool running water and allowed to air dry. They are now ready to be cooked.

The first rule of preserving, like that of medicine, is “Do no harm,” which means (in our case) do not let bacteria get into your preserves. Before you start, wash all pots, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot, soapy water and rinse well.

To Make A Conserve Of Roses

Take Red Rose budds, Cut of the whights then boyle them in water untill they bee very tender, then wey to every pound of Roses and water 3 poundes of sugar and boyle yt together till it be thicke enough stirr yt still on the fire and untill yt be colde then put yt in glasses and preserve yt to yor use.

– Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, compiled 1604

Conserve Of Red Roses

The same can be made another way, but better by many degrees: take the Roses at your pleasure, put them to boyle in faire water, having regard for the quantity; ,for if you have many roses, you may take the more water; if fewer, the less water will serve: the which you shall boyle the least three or foure houres, even as you would boyle a piece of meat, until in the eating they be very tender, at which time the roses will lose their colour, that you would think your labor lost and the thing spoiled. But proceed, for though the roses have lost their colour, the water has gotten the tincture thereof, then shall you add unto one pound of Roses, foure pound of fine sugar in pure powder, and so according to the rest of the roses. Thus shall you let them boyle gently after the Sugar is put thereto, continually stirring it with a wooden Spatula until it be cold, whereof one pound weight is worth six pound of the crude or raw conserve, as well for the vertues and goodnesse in taste, as also for the beautifull colour.

– John Gerard, The Herbal, or General History of Plants

You will need:

1/2 pound rose petals, cleaned and trimmed as above
1 cup water
3 or 4 pounds sugar
2 8-oz (or 4 4-oz) jam jars processed according to directions on the package.

Put the petals and water in an enamel or other non-reactive pot, cover and stew gently for about 30 minutes until all color has been leached out of the petals. (Don’t worry about this — they’ll turn red when the sugar is added.)

Increase heat and add the sugar, one pound at a time, letting each pound dissolve completely before adding the next. Three pounds of sugar, as Lady Fettiplace suggests, results in a somewhat runny jam, while four pounds of sugar will most likely cause the rose petals to crystallize (not necessarily a bad thing) in the jar. The amount of sugar you add will depend on the result you want.

When the last of the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture thickens and a drop placed on a cold plate forms a skin when it is pushed with a spoon. Overcooking the mixture can result in the entire batch of jam crystallizing once it is in the jar.* Remove from heat and quickly ladle the jam into the hot sterilized jam jars. Carefully wipe any spilled jam away from the outside of the jars, then apply the seals and rings.

*If this happens, the jam can be re-melted by putting the entire jar (unsealed) into a bowl and adding hot water up to about an inch below the lip of the jar. Leave the jar there (changing the water as needed to keep it hot) until the jam is sufficiently melted.

Note: because the ratio of rose petals to sugar is so high, this jam does not need to be heat-processed after the jars are sealed. The high sugar content acts as a preservative and prevents the growth of bacteria. The jam should be refrigerated after the jar is opened.

This jam has a very delicate flavor and can be used for any purpose as any other flavor of jam except one: peanut butter sandwiches. The strong flavor of peanut butter totally overwhelms rose-petal jam. Lady Fettiplace used her conserve for cheer and comfort the ill, incidentally while hiding the flavor of her more noxious medicines. Herbalists tended to prescribe it for coughs, colds and lung complaints.

A Singular manner of making the sirup of Roses

Fill a silver Basin three quarters full of rain-water or Rose-water: put therein a conveient proportion of Rose-leaves: cover the basin and set it upon a pot of hot water (as we usually bake a custard) in 3 quarters of an houre, or one whole houre at most, you shal purchase the whole strength and tincture of the rose: then take out those leaves, wringing out their liquor gently, and steepe more fresh leaves in the same water: continue this iteration seven time, then make it up in a sirup: and this sirup worketh more kindly than that which is made meerly of the juice of the Rose.

-Sir Hugh Plat, Delighes For Ladies, published 1609

To Make A Serop Of Roses

Take damask rose buds six handsfulls, & cut of the tops, and take a quart of faire running water, & put the roses therein, & put them in a basin & set them over the fire, that the water may be warm one day and night, then in the morning squise the roses hard between your hands out of the water, & put in as many fresh, & let them stand still on the fire, this doe nine times, then take out your roses, cleane out of the water, & put in as much sugar as will make it sweet, and boyle it till it come to a serop; you must put to everie pinte a pound of sugar.

– Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, compiled 1604

You will need:

Clean and trimmed rose petals
Water
Sugar

Put two handfuls of petals into the top of an enamel double boiler (or a Pyrex casserole suspended over a pot of water) with just enough water to cover them and put them over gently simmering water. Although Lady Fettiplace states that it should be on the fire for a day and a night, Sir Hugh Plat points out that 45 minutes to a hour will “purchase the whole strength and tincture of the Rose.” An hour is long enough for even the darkest petals to bleach absolutely white. Take the mixture off the fire and allow it to cool enough to be handled, then remove and discard the petals, squeezing as much liquid from them as possible. Put in two handfuls of fresh petals and repeat the procedure.

Lady Fettiplace’s recipe calls for this to be repeats nine times, although Sir Hugh recommends seven changes and other contemporary recipes call for as few as three changes. How many changes you will get depends on how many rose petals you have. No additional water is added for each successive change, so the liquid will decrease in volume as it becomes concentrated.

The end result will be a dark red, almost black, liquid. For every pint of liquid, add one pound of sugar and boiled the mixture gently until it thickens. The longer it is boiled, the thicker the resulting syrup be, but do not cook it too much or it will lose its fresh rose taste and aroma.

Pour the finished syrup into a clean bottle or jar with an air-tight closure, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator, where it will stay good for years, if it lasts that long.

Lady Fettiplace used this syrup to flavor cool drinks in summer and to also hide or counteract the strong flavors of some of her medicinal remedies. John Gerard recommends rose syrup to cool the heat of fevers and agues, as a thirst quencher (taken with white wine) and for mild stomach problems. (Actually, he goes on to describe in medically gruesome detail the benefits to the whole digestive tract.) Nicholas Culpepper recommended it to cool the liver and comfort the heart and notes that a small dose taken every night will help with regularity. Banckes Herbal recommends syrup of roses for “feble sicke melacoly and colorike people.”

Bibliography

Culpepper, Thomas. Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. London: W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd.

Digbie, Sir Kenelme. The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened. London: H. Brome, 1669

Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. Revised 1633 by Thomas Johnson. New York: Dover Publications, 1975

Hillman, Howard; Loring, Lisa; MacDonald, Kyle. Kitchen Science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1981, 1989

Plat, Hugh. Delights for Ladies. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609

Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair; The Old English Herbals. New York: Dover Publications 1971

Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair; Rose Recipes from Olden Times. New York: Dover Publications 1973

Spurling, Hilary. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking. Compiled 1604. New York: Elizabeth Sifton Books/Viking Penguin, Inc. ,1986

Copyright 1998 by Sharon Cohen, P.O. Box 7487, Northridge, CA 91327-7487.

Recipes Associated with an English Summer

Another post from our guest blogger THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE

Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
Chaucer. The Parliament of Fowls. c. 1381

Among the oft-repeated instructions for carving and serving of various dishes and meats, Wynkyn de Worde’s The Boke of Keruynge (Book of Carving) of 1508 contains suggested menus, which divide the season of Summer into two parts. The first part is from the Feast of Pentecost until Midsummer with the second being from Midsummer to Michaelmas. For those us living in the 21st century who commonly think of Summer as the season between Memorial Day to Labor Day or more formally the days between the Summer Solstice to the Autumnal Equinox (or quite frankly those days between the end of the school year to the start of the school year), it might seem odd to think of Midsummer as being a specific date, but it is and was. Midsummer is also known as St. John’s Day, celebrating the nativity and feast day of St. John the Baptist. The solstice may vary between June 20th and
2 book of hours 141, seasonal activitiesJune 22nd. St John’s Day is June 24th with St. John’s Eve being June 23rd. So yes, Midsummer occurs just a few days after the Summer solstice! By tradition Midsummer was a time of revelry and bonfires. Shakespeare even has Olivia in the play Twelfth Night say, “Why, this is very midsummer madness,” knowing his audience would be well aware of the merriment of a Midsummer eve and day.

Among the foods for late Spring until early Summer mentioned in the 1513 edition of The Boke of Keruynge, we find “befe, motton, capons” (which might be sodden or rosted), “Iussell charlet or mortrus with yonge geese, vele, porke, pygyons or chekyns rosted with payne puffe. …Here endeth the feest from Pentecost to mydsomer.” The suggested foods for “the feest of saynt Iohn̄ the baptyst vnto Myghelmasse” include

“ potage, wortes, gruell, & fourmenty with venyson and mortrus and pestelles of porke with grene sauce.” Then follows: “Rosted capon, swanne with chawdron.” There follows “ potage,” “rosted motton, vele, porke,” and a selection of fowl, including “chekyns or endoured pygyons, heron.” Then come the “fruyters or other bake metes.”

The Boke of Keruynge. [London: Wynkyn de Worde, 1508, 1513.]

This advice regarding serving and carving of various foods along with the menus given in The Boke of Keruynge would be repeated in later cookery English books well into the late 17th century. Thomas Dawson in the late 16th century would repeat the same advice in The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. Dawson also includes this “goodlye” recipe which mentions summer.

A goodlye secret for to condite or confite Orenges, citrons, and all other fruites in sirrop.

 Take Cytrons and cut them in peeces, taking out of them the iuice or substance, then boyle them in freshe water halfe an hower vntill they be tender, and when you take them out, cast thē in colde water, leaue them there a good while, thē set them on the fire againe in other freshe water, doo but heat it a little with a smal fire, for it must not seeth, but let it simper a litle, continue thus eight daies together heating thē euery day in hot water: some heat ye water but one day, to the end that the citrons be not too tender, but change

the freshe water at night to take out the bitternesse of the pilles, the which being taken away, you must take suger or Hony clarified, wherein you must the citrons put, hauing first wel dried them from the water, & in wīter you must kéep thē from the frost, & in Sommer you shal leaue thē there all night, and a daye and a night in Honie, then boile the Honie or Sugar by it selfe without the orenges or Citrons by the space of halfe an hower or lesse with a little fire, and beeing colde set it again to the fire with the Citrons, continuing so two morninges: if you wil put Honnie in water and not suger, you must clarifie it two times, and straine it through a strayner: hauing thus warmed and clarified it you shall straine and sette it againe to the fire, with Citrons onely, making them to boyle with a soft fire the space of a quarter of an houre, thē take it from the fire & let it rest at euery time you do it, a day & a night: the next morning you shall boyle it again together the space of half an how¦er, and doo so two morninges, to the end that the Honie or suger may be well incorporated with the Citrons. All the cunning consisteth in the boyling of this sirrope together with the Citrons, and also the Sirrope by it selfe, and heerein heede must be taken that it take not ye smoke, so that it sauour not of the fire: In this maner may be drest the Peaches, or Lemmons Orrenges, Apples, greene Walnuts, and other liste being boiled more or lesse, according to the nature of the fruits.

Dawson, Thomas. The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. London: 1597.

Also printed in the 1590s was The Good Huswiues Handmaid, for Cookerie in her Kitchin in dressing all maner of meat, with other wholsom diet, for her & her houshold. &c. This work offers a recipe for summer chicken pies.

To bake chickins in Summer.

CVt off their feete, trusse them in the coffins. Then take for euerie Chicken a good handfull of Gooseberries, and put into the pie with the Chickens. Then take a good quantity of butter, and put about euerie chicken in the pie. Then take a good quantitie of Sinamon, and ginger, and put it in the pie with salt and let them bake an houre, when they be baked, take for euerie pie the yolke of an eg, and halfe a goblet full of vergious and a good quantie of sugar, and put them altogether into the pie to the chickens, and so serue them. Page 20

Contrast with

To bake chickens in winter.

CVt of their feete, and trusse them, and put them in the pies, take to euerie pie a certaine of Corrans or Prunes, and put them in the pie with the Chickens. Then take a good quantity of Butter to euerie chicken, and put in the pie: then take a good quantity of ginger, and salt and season them together, & put them in the pie, let it bake the space of an houre & a half, whē they be baken, take sauce as is afore said, and so serue them in. Page 20

The Good Huswiues Handmaid also includes this recipe for a manchet, which notes differences between summer and winter baking.

The making of manchets after my Ladie Graies way.

Take two pecks of fine flower, which must be twise boulted, if you will haue your manchet very faire: Then lay it in a place where ye doe vse to lay your dowe for your bread, and make a litle hole in it, and take a quart of fair water blood warme, and put in that water as much leauen as a crab, or a pretie big apple, and as much white salt as will into an Egshell, and all to breake your leuen in the water, and put into your flower halfe a pinte of good ale yest, and so stir this liquor among a litle of your flower, so that ye must make it but thin at the first meeting, and then couer it with flower, and if it be in the winter, ye must keep it very warm and in summer it shall not need so much heate, for in the Winter it will not rise without warmeth. Thus let it lie two howers and a halfe: then at the second opening take more liquor as ye thinke will serue to wet al the flower. Then put in a pinte and a halfe of good yest and so all to breake it in short peeces, after yee haue well laboured it, and wrought it fiue or sixe tymes, so that yee bee sure it is throughlie mingled together, so continue labouring it, til it come to a smooth paste, and be well ware at the second opening that ye put not in too much liquor sodenlie, for then it wil run & if yee take a litle it wil be stiffe, and after the second working it must lie a good quarter of an houre, and kéep it warme: then take it vp to the moulding board, and with as much spéede as is possible to be made, mould it vp, and set it into the ouen, of one pecke of flower ye may make ten cast of Manchets faire and good. Page 51-52.

The good Huswiues Handmaid. [Sometimes cited as: A Booke of Cookerie, otherwise called the good huswiues handmaid.] [London] : [E. Allde, 1597]

The 1598 Epulario, or The Italian Banquet also includes a few recipes which mention Summer. Here we find a recipe for a sweetmeate and a recipe for the color blue.

To make a kind of Leach.

Take the yolkes of foure egges, halfe an ounce of Sinamon, foure ounces of Sugar, two ounces of Rosewater, and foure ounces of the iuice of Orenges, beate all these thinges together, and boile them and make it somewhat yellow, this is common in summer time.

 To make a skie colour sauce in summer.

Take wild mulberies which grow in the Hedges, and a few stamped Almonds with a little Ginger, temper all this with Veriuice and straine it.

 Epulario, or The Italian banquet. London: 1598.

Likewise, John Partridge offers up a seasonal recipe for a rose vinegar.

To make Uineger of Roses. Chapter. viii.

IN Sommer time when Roses blowe, gather them ere they be full spred or blowne out, and in dry wether: plucke the leaues, let them lye halfe a day vpon a fayre borde, then haue a vessel with Uineger of one or two gallons (if you wyll make so much roset,) put therein a great quantity of the sayd leaues, stop the vessell close after that you haue styrred them wel together, let it stand a day and a night, then deuide your Uineger & Rose leaues together in two parts put the in two great Glasses & put in Rose leaues ynoughe, stop the Glasses close, set them vpon a Shelfe vnder a wall syde, on the Southside wtout your house where the Sonne may come to them the most parte of the daye, let them stande there all the whole Somer longe: and then strayne the vineger from the Roses, and keepe the vinegre. If you shall once in .x. dayes, take and strain out Rose leaues, and put in newe leaues of halfe a dayes gatheryng, the vyneger wyll haue the more flauor and odour of the Rose.

You may vse in steede of Uinegre, wyne: that it may wexe eygre, and receiue ye vertue of the Roses, both at once. Moreouer, you may make your vineger of wine white, red, or claret, but the red doth most binde the bellie, & white doth most lose. Also the Damaske Rose is not so great a binder as the red Rose, and the white Rose loose th most of all: wereof you may make vinegre roset.

Thus also, you may make Uinegre of Uiolets, or of Elder flowers: but you must first gather & vse your flowers of Eldern, as shalbe shewed hereafter, when we speake of makyng Conserue of Elderne flowers.

Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits.1573**

 Although his works are published in the early 1600s, the author John Murrell is worth mentioning because this work distinctly mentions “Summer” on the work’s actual title page. It reads:

  “A NEVV BOOK OF COOKERIE.

Wherein is set forth a most perfect direction to furnish an extraordinary, or ordinary-feast, either in Summer or Winter.”

 Then on page one, we are told:

 “BY reason of the generall ignorance of most men in this practise of Catering. I haue set downe here a perfect direction how to set forth an extraordinary Dyet for the Summerseason, when these things mentioned may easily be had.”

Page 2 promises:

“Also, another Direction for another seruice for the Winter season, of twenty Dishes to the first Messe, and as many to the second Course to the same messe: so that in al there be forty Dishes to the messe although it be contrary to the other seruice of the  Summer season.”

 He then provides this bill of fare, which would indeed provide an extraordinary meal:

 “A Bill of service for an extraordinary Feast for Summer season, 50. dishes to a Messe.

  • A Grand Sallet. 2 A boyld Capon. 3 A boyld Pike. 4 A dish of boyld Pea-chickens, or Partriges, or young Turky chicks. 5 A boyld Breame. 6 A dish of young Wild-ducks. 7 A dish of boyld Quailes. 8 A Florentine of Pufpaste. 9 A forc’d boild meat. 10 A hansh of Venison roasted. 11 A Lombar Pye. 12 A Swan. 13 A Fawne or Kid, with a Pudding in his belly, or for want of a Fawne you may take a Pigge and fley it. 14 A Pasty of Venison. 15 A Bustard. 16 A Chicken Pye. 17 A Pheasant or Powtes. 18 A Potato Pye. 19 A Couple of Caponets. 20 A set Custard.

The second Course.

  • A Quarter of a Kid. 2 A boyld Carpe. 3 A Heron or Bitter. 4 A Congers head broyled, or Trouts. 5 A Hartichoake pie. 6 A dish of Ruffs or Godwits. 7 A cold bak’d meate. 8 A sowst pigge. 9 A Gull. 10 A cold bak’d meat. 11 A sowst pike, Breame, or Carp. 12 A dish of partriges. 13 An Orengado pye. 14 A dish of Quailes. 15 A cold bak’d meate. 16 A fresh Salmon, pearch or Mullet. 17 A Quodling Tart, Cherry, or Goosebery Tart. 18 A dryed Neates-tongue. 19 A Iole of Sturgeon. 20 A sucket Tart of pufpaste.

The third Course for the same Messe.

1 A Dish of Pewets. 2 A Dish of Pearches. 3 A dish of gréen Pease, if they be dainty. 4 Dish of Dotrels. 5 A dish of Hartichoakes. 6 A dish of buttered Crabs. 7 A dish of Prawnes. 8 A dish of Lobstars. 9 A dish of Anchoues. 10 A dish of pickled Oysters.

Murrell, John. Murrels tvvo books of cookerie and carving. (This combined late edition is dated 1641.)

Lastly, a search through the early English cookery books printed prior to 1700 finds that the work with the most recipes mentioning the season of Summer appears to be Robert May’s 1660 classic cookery book The Accomplisht Cook, or The Art and Mystery of Cookery. May, who was born in 1588, includes recipes for alternative summer versions of recipes for pigeons, fillet of beef, mutton, veal, sturgeon, lobsters, bisk or Battalia pie, and “Paste for made dishes in summer.” I will end by mentioning the 1608 The Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen***. The work may not directly mention the season of Summer, but the work is worth examining for its numerous recipes for confections, pastes, and waters made of flowers and herbs, all suitable for summer feasts and banquets. Happy Summer, Everyone.

Sources are as indicated.

For more on Robert May, see:

Holloway, Johnna. “An Appreciation of Robert May.” Tournaments Illuminated. #188. 4th quarter. 2013. pp 25-27, 32.

** Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits of 1573 may be found online in a transcription © 2010 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/treasurie.pdf

***The Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen of 1608 may be found online in an edited and annotated edition © 2011 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/1608closet.pdf

©Holloway 2015, 2018.

Bread, Eggs and Milk

8410390-bread-milk-and-eggsWas looking up some ways that cooks in the Lowlands (12th Century Western Europe) would of used up old bread from the days before. Nothing went to waste in that society and with no real refrigeration and limited resources for ingredients, it made sense to use up as much as possible.

As I skimmed around this book (Libellus de arte coquinaria: An Early Northern Cookery Book ed. by Rudolf Grewe, Constance B. Hieatt), I came across two recipes with the same more or less basic ingredients — bread, milk, and eggs — but handled differently.

Recipe XVI [D13] (Page 63)
How to prepare a dish called “White Mush”

One should take fresh milk, an well crushed wheat bread, and a beaten egg and well ground saffron, and let it cook until it becomes thick. Then, place on a dish and add butter, and sprinkle on powdered cinnamon. It is called “white mush.”

The second dish, I originally thought was a cooked dish, but as I really looked at it, I can’t assume it was and think more that this is a drink. With all the health concerns of raw eggs nowadays, I can’t imagine recreating this at all (or it being like the title “sweet”). However, I wanted to include this since it seemed really interesting to see the “take break, milk and eggs” combination.

Recipe XVII [D14] (Page 63)
About a dish call Kalus: Sweet Milk

One should take fresh milk, and cut into it the crust of wheat bread, cut into a small dice. Afterwards place this in a pan and well beaten egg yokes. This is called “Kalus.”

Differences off the bat, one is cooked, the other is raw. The first crushes the bread and the other is a dice. One seems to be a sort of pain perdu riff, cooked and more soft.

My mind started wandering and I thought perhaps “white mush” is a precursor to the “Pudding in a Frying-panne” that is mentioned in John Murrell: A new booke of Cookerie; London Cookerie. London 1615. Or maybe it was some sort of influence? Probably not, but it makes sense to create recipes from basic food stuffs that were mostly found in homesteads and farms, created from common livestock like cows and chickens.

To make a Pudding in a Frying-panne.
Take foure Egges, two spoonefuls of Rosewater, Nutmeg grated, Sugar, grated Bread, the quantitie of a penny Loafe, halfe a pound of Beefe Suit minst fine: worke them as stiffe as a Pudding with your hand, and put it in a Frying-pan with sweet Butter, frye it browne, cut it in quarters, and serue it hot, eyther at Dinner or Supper. Jf it be on a fasting day leaue out the Suit, and the Currens, and put in two or three Pomewaters minst small, or any other soft Apple
that hath a good relish. [Recipe taken from http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/1615murr.htm]

The Kalus, seems to be more of a drink,and less of a dish (side or main) really. Though the handling of the bread into cubes, also reminds me of another recipe from A New Booke of Cookerie, however, this one again is more of a dish that is cooked and less liquid (plus sugar, fruits and other sweet goodness).

To make an Italian Pudding.
Take a Penny white Loafe, pare off the crust, and cut it in square pieces like vnto great Dyes, mince a pound of Beefe Suit small: take halfe a pound of Razins of the Sunne, stone them and mingle them together, and season them with Sugar, Rosewater, and Nutmegge, wet these things in foure Egges, and stirre them very
tenderly for breaking the Bread: then put it into a Dish, and pricke three or foure pieces of Marrow, and some sliced Dates: put it into an Ouen hot enough for a Chewet: if your Ouen be too hot, it will burne: if too colde, it will be heauy: when it is bakte scrape on Sugar, and serue it hot at dinner, but not at Supper.

Many other plays on the three staples out there. How many can you find?

Visions of Sugarplums

This article was originally published in the July 97 issue of Ars Caidis and has been archived on Stefan’s Florilegium here. I asked Renata for permission to repost her articles here for my readers.  Since Plums are a summer fruit (mostly here in California) I thought it would be timely to post something to do with plums.

Plum-Cake-prep-16

Visions of Sugarplums
by Mistress Renata Kestryl of Highwynds

The dictionary defines a sugarplum as a small round or oval piece of sugary candy. English being the flexible language it is, the name could have come from the resemblance to a small plum. Or it could have come from actual plums preserved in sugar, a relatively new idea in 16th Century England. Prior to this time sugar was so expensive that it was used very sparingly, much as we would use a spice today. In the 1540’s, however, sugar started being refined in London which lowered the price considerably, although only well-off families were able to use it lavishly. Preserving with sugar allowed the sweet fruits of summer to be enjoyed all year round, especially during the holiday season.

16th Century cooks did not record their reasons for using one ingredient over another, although they seem to enjoy very much trading recipes and most of those who wrote down their recipes were scrupulous about attributing them to their original creators. Some recipes have delightful names such as “The Lord of Devonshire, His Pudding.”

Herbalists of the day, however, had a great deal to say about the produce and seasonings used. John Gerard, whose Complete Herbal was first published in 1597, says of fresh plums that they provide very little nourishment and moreover have a tendency to spoil quickly and taint any dish they are served in. Dried plums, or prunes, he says, are much more wholesome and he recommends them for problem in the digestive system. Thomas Culpepper, writing somewhat later, finds virtue in both the fresh and dried fruit.

Gerard also has a bit to say about sugar cane and the product of its juice, sugar. In addition to listing the benefits of sugar to the respiratory and digestive systems, he starts to list the culinary goodies which can be made with it. He then points out “it is not my purpose to make my book a Confectionairie, a Sugar Bakers furnace, a Gentlewoman’s preserving pan…” He also offers a thumbnail sketch of sugar refining.

Whether 16th Century cooks worried about the nutritional value — or lack thereof — of their holiday treats is, of course, open to conjecture. I invite anyone who has lived through a massive holiday baking session to ponder this question.

I first tried some 16th Century preserving techniques to make 12th Night gifts, and now understand why sugared fruit was a treat to be saved for special occasions. For one thing, sugared fruit is intensely fruit-flavored and unbelievably sweet, for another it is extremely time-consuming (but not difficult) to make. Fortunately for 12th Night gift-giving, the time to make sugarplums is during the summer, when plums are ripe.

TO DRIE APRICOCKS, PEACHES, PIPPINS OR PEARPLUMS

Take your apricocks or pearplums, & let them boile one walme in as much clarified sugar as will cover them, so let them lie infused in an earthen pan three days, then take out your fruits, & boile your syrupe againe, when you have thus used them three times then put half a pound of drie sugar into your syrupe, & so let it boile till it comes to a very thick syrup, wherein let your fruits boile leysurelie 3 or 4 walmes, then take them foorth of the syrup, then plant them on a lettice of rods or wyer, & so put them into yor stewe, & every second day turne them & when they be through dry you may box them & keep them all the year; before you set them to drying you must wash them in a litlle warme water, when they are half drie you must dust a little sugar upon them throw a fine Lawne.

(by the Lady tracy)

— Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, 1604

Sir Hugh Plat, in his Delights for Ladies (published 1609), seems to have more faith in his readers’ culinary skills, as his recipe is much simpler:

THE MOST KINDELY WAY TO PRESERVE PLUMS, CHERRIES, GOOSEBERIES, &c.

You must first purchase some reasonable quanity of their owne juyce, with a gentle heat upon embers, in pewter dishes. dividing the juice still as it commeth in the strewing: then boile each fruit in his own juyce, with a convenient proportion of the best refined sugar.

You will need:

1-2 pounds of plums (any variety) fully ripe but not too soft
lots of white granulated sugar (unfortunately I cannot be more exact)
a large, heavy saucepan, preferably enamel
a wire rack — a cookie cooling rack works very well — set up over a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pits (this is a lot easier if you’re using a freestone variety). Lady Fettiplace, you may have noticed, does not mention this step, and may have indeed preserved her plums whole. Since the resulting candy is incredibly sweet, I found that preserving the plums cut in half makes a more reasonable serving of the final product.

Do not peel the plums — the peel helps them keep their shape while cooking and colors the sugarplums, and most of the peel will come off during processing. The idea is to preserve each half as complete as possible, so you want to avoid breaking down the cellulose structure of the plums. Since the act of cooking, adding heat and moisture, is exactly what breaks down the cellulose structure of food, you will see the words “gently” and “carefully” often in the following instructions.

Put a thin layer of sugar in the bottom of the saucepan. Lady Fettiplace’s recipe calls for clarified sugar, because she was working with a less refined sugar than we have today. She would have done the last boiling of the sugar (the last step in modern sugar refining) herself.

Lay the plums halves, cut side down, on the sugar in a single layer. Add enough sugar to completely cover the layer of plums, then lay another layer of plums on top. Continue layering until all the plums have been used and are covered.

Put the pan on the stove over the lowest heat possible. The sugar needs to dissolve in the plum juices without burning. While this is happening, stir very gently and scrape the sugar away from the sides of the pan. Try to disturb the fruit as little as possible.

When all the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat until the syrup comes to a gentle boil. (If it boils too hard, it will break up the plums.) A “walme” is 16th Century culinary for a “warm” or a boiling up, i.e., bringing liquid to a boil. Let the fruit boil for one minute, then remove the pan from the stove. If you are NOT using an enamel pan, gently remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and put it in a large shallow glass or ceramic bowl and carefully pour the syrup over it. If you are using an enamel pan, the fruit can stay in it. Carefully place a plate over the fruit to keep it submerged in the syrup. Cover with the pan lid or a clean dish towel and let soak for three days.

A note about sugar: Boiling sugar can cause severe burns. It is very, very hot and tends to stick to the skin like boiling oil. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it will also stick to your stovetop and counters with incredible tenacity. Be careful not to splash the hot syrup when transferring the fruit.

Another note: The soaking process should be at room temperature, which means that you can leave it out on the kitchen counter or on an unused stove burner. But beware of ants! If your kitchen is ant-prone, place the pan or bowl in a larger container that has a few inches of water in the bottom.

After three days, carefully remove the fruit and bring the syrup to a boil. Gently return the fruit to the syrup, bring to a gentle boil again and let boil for one minute. Remove from heat and repeat the soaking process. Repeat the boiling and soaking process one more time, for a total of nine days soaking and approximately 3 minutes boiling.

After the last soaking, remove the fruit from the syrup. Heat the syrup again and dissolve one additional cup of sugar in it. Let the syrup boil until it thickens somewhat (it may darken as well, depending on what variety of plums you’ve use), add the fruit again and allow it to boil gently for four minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the plums one at a time from the syrup and rinse the excess syrup away under cool, gently running water. Since no two plums are ever at exactly the same degree of ripeness, some of your plums will have broken up during processing. Never fear, they’ll taste just as good as those that kept their shape. If you wish, you may remove any peel that remains on the plums. (Ladies in the 16th Century would have removed the peel — I like the texture with the peel in place.) Spread the plums on a wire rack and put in a warm dry place. “Yor stewe” was a special drying stove in the 16th Century stillroom. In the 20th century kitchen, a gas oven with just the pilot light burning in it is perfect, but make sure you remove the plums before preheating the oven for dinner. I’ve lost more plums that way, and burned sugarplums are the stickiest mess you can imagine.

Turn the plums every other day. When the plums are almost dry (they should still feel a bit sticky) sprinkle each side with granulated sugar. Throw a fine Lawne, as Lady Fettiplace says, is to sift the sugar through a piece of fine linen, which is not necessary with modern sugar. The drying time may be anywhere from a few days up to about two weeks, depending on local weather. When the plums are completely dry, store in an air-tight container. Plums processed in July are still soft at 12th Night and are chewier, but still delicious, more than a year later.

I have tried this recipe with several varieties of plum. I find that the Italian plums (prunes) work well because they are free-stone. As they have a higher sugar content and less acid than other varieties, the final sugarplums are much sweeter than those made from other varieties. In addition, they tend to be smaller than other plums, which result in bite-sized sugarplums. Lady Fettiplace probably used the Damson variety, which is a tart plum with purple-black skin and green flesh, and is used today for jam and jelly. Unfortunately, I’ve never yet been able to find Damsons, but I’ve used home-grown Santa Rosa plums (which were a bit on the tart side and ended up being totally wonderful) and the ones sold in the market as Black plums and Red plums. All turned out equally well.

I’ve also processed peaches, apricots and figs this way, with good results, and I’ve seen similar recipes for candied citrus peel. Figs are not as juicy as the other fruits, so add one-half cup of water to the sugar at the beginning to allow the sugar to dissolve before it burns. Otherwise you’ll end up with caramelized figs, which are very tasty but probably were not served on 16th Century tables.

Bibliography

Culpepper, Thomas. Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. London: W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd.
Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. New York: Dover Publications, 1975
Hillman, Howard; Loring, Lisa; MacDonald, Kyle. Kitchen Science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1981, 1989
Pratt, Hugh. Delights for Ladies. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609
Spurling, Hilary. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking. New York: Elizabeth Sifton Books/Viking Penguin, Inc. ,1986
Western Garden Book. Menlo Park: Sunset Publishing Corporation, 1994

Copyright 1997 by Sharon Cohen, P.O. Box 7487, Northridge, CA 91327-7487.
. Permission granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided author is credited and receives a copy.

Cookery in Spring

Spring is in bloom.  Our guest blogger, THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, is on here to tell us more about it.

Grimani Breviary April 1490-1510This is a year of a late Spring. Here in Michigan, we had scant snow in February, but it snowed off and on in April.  One must move along and think seasonally, so one might as well look for recipes which specify spring. Here are a few English recipes mentioning the season.

Spring flowers feature in our nursery rhymes and sayings today; they also can be found scattered in our culinary references. John Partridge in his 1573 The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits, includes a chapter titled “To know what time in the yeare Herbes and Flowres, should be gathered in their full strength. cap.lxi.” Therein he explains when herbs and flowers should be gathered. He writes:

“Camimamill shalbe gathered in Apryll… Addertung should be gathered in Apryll.

Uiolet should be gathered in the Month of March, & in this month should Uiolets be put into Sugre and to Syrop.

Roses should be gathered in April and in May: and of them shoulde be made Suger ro set in Syropes of Roses and in this same Month should Oyle be made of Camamyll.

Rosemary flowres should be gathered in May. Centory whe he begieth to flowre.

Origanum in ye Month of Iune.

And as to what might be done with those roses gathered in May and June, he writes:

“Here foloweth, the sundrie Uertues of Roses, for dyuers Medicines. Ca.lxii.

Roses, be colde and moyste, in two degrees: it hath these Uertues. Stampe it, & lay it to a sore that brenneth & aketh: and it shall cease both the brennyng & akyng.

Also, it is good for the feuer in the stomacke, & against all euyelles that are gendred in hot humours.

Also, lette any woman drynke it with Wyne, and it shal foorthwith restrayne bleedyngs, and helpe the Marowes of the wombe.

Also, make Oyle of Roses, & that is a principall Receipt for pricking in Sinewes & the water threof is good for sore eien, and for hot euils, and the Oyle is good for head ache to anoynte therwith the timples, and ye roote of him is good, & drawynge for Iron: or other thing in a man’s foote, & the red Rose is much better then the white.”

Partridge, John. The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits, and Hidden Secretes. 1573.**

 Here is another recipe for a dish to be made of all those gathered herbs. From 1598 comes this recipe:

To make a Herboletta of hearbes in the month of May.

Take as much new chéefe as aforesaid and stampe it, then take fiftéene or sixtéene Egges and some milke, good store of Bettonie, Margerum, Sage, Mint, and a little Parsely, stampe these hearbes very well and wring out the iuice and straining it, you must put it into the Chéefe and other things aforesaid, with halfe a pound of Butter, halfe a pound of Ginger, and ten ounces of Sugar, and mixe all these together and set them on the fire in a pipkin not ouerwhote, and stirre it with a spoone vntill it begin to thicken like pottage: that done, hauing made paste you shall put the composition into it, and set it to bake in a pan with a soft fire, both vnder and ouer it. And when it is well baked, take it out and straw fine Sugar and Rosewater vpon it. This kinde of Tarte is best when it is gréenest.

[Rosselli, Giovanne de.]Epulario, or The Italian banquet. 1598.

 In the 1597 The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell,

 Thomas Dawson advocated that one confite orange peels “cheefly in May.”

To confite Orenge peeles which may be doone at all times in the yeere, and cheefly in May, because then the saide peeles be greatest and thickest.

Take thicke Orenge péeles, and them cut in foure or fiue péeces, and steepe them in water the space of ten or twelue daies. You may know when they be stéeped enough, if you holde them vp in the sunne and sée through them, then they be steeped enough, & you cannot sée through them, then let them stéepe vntil you may. Then lay them to drye vpon a table, and put them to dry betwéen two linnen clothes, then put them in a Kettell or vessell leaded, and adde to it as much Honny as will halfe couer the saide peeles, more or lesse as you think good, boyle them a little and stirre them alwaies, then take them from the fire, least the Honny should séeth ouermuch. For if it should boyle a little more then it ought to boyle, it would be thick. Let it them stand and rest foure daies in the said Honny, stirring and mingling the Orrenge and Honny euery day together. Because there is not honny enough to couer all the saide Orrenge péeles, you must stir them well and oftentimes, thus doo thrée times, giuing them one bobling at ech time, then let them stand thrée dayes then strain them from the honny, and after you haue let them boile a small space, take them from the fier, and bestow them in vessels, putting to them Ginger, cloues and Sinamon, mixe all together, and the rest of the Sirrope will serue to dresse others withall.

Dawson, Thomas. The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. 1597.

          From Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook, from 1660 comes this menu for April:

A Bill of Fare for April.

Oysters.

1 A Bisk.
2 Cold Lamb.
3 A Hanch of Venison roste.
4 Goslings four.
5 A Turky Chicken.
6 Custard of Almonds.

A second Course.

1 Lamb, a side in joynts.
2 Turtle Doves eight.
3 Cold Neats Tongue Pie.
4 8 Pidgeons four larded.
5 Lobsters.
6 A Coller of Beef.

Tanseys.

Lastly, the agrarian writer Thomas Tusser offers this advice for April regarding the keeping of the dairy by the good housewife. He regarded the milking and making of cheeses and butter to be the sole province of the women of the house and chided them in a number of verses should they prove negligent or fail in these tasks.

From Aprill beginning, til Andrew be past,
so long with good huswife, her dayry doth last.
Good beast & good pasture, good husbands prouide
ye resdue, good huswiues, know best how to guide

Tusser, Thomas. Fiue hundreth points of good husbandry vnited to as many of good huswiferie. 1573.

Happy Springtime.

Sources are as indicated.

** The Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits of 1573 may be found online in a transcription © 2010 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/treasurie.pdf

The article originally appeared in The Citadel, Spring 2015.

©Holloway 2015, 2018.

Discussion: Cookbooks and Where to Start

I’d like to welcome a new guest writer for the blog, Johnnae llyn Lewis. She is a very knowledgeable food historian and writer. I’ve asked her to reprint several of her articles in order to get her work more out to the world (and these are great so I hope you all enjoy her perspective as well as I do).

Discussion: Cookbooks and Where to Start
By THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE

gm_00278701In late March 2016, the local Cynnabar Baronial Book Club section focused “on period cooking.” The instructions read: “Please bring a short list of your favorite food related books. Discussion is Round Robin format.” This is the guide which local member and librarian Johnnae prepared for the session. She has updated for readers here.

In the spirit of Ranganathan’s laws of librarianship and the ideal of “Every reader his [or her] book,” my question as to which cookery books and works on food history might be appropriate for a reader would be: what do you the Reader want to accomplish? By this I mean what do you want to achieve in cookery or play with in terms of food and cookery? Are you looking for some, perhaps just a few easy standby recipes for suitably historical dishes? Perhaps you need suitable recipes for potlucks, luncheons, or contributed tables of dessert items. Are you interested more in the history and foodways of a certain period or place? Are you interested in the role food played in the culture of the medieval period or in the lives of famous Renaissance or Elizabethan personages? Do you want to know what dishes or foods your persona might have eaten back when? Or are you interested in cookery of a specific type? Are you interested in baking bread, cakes, spit cooking or roasting over an open fire, creating your own cheeses, or even creating sugar subtleties and confections? Do you want to throw caution to the wind and become a feast cook responsible for feeding 100 plus diners?

Despite this being a short article on books, I am going to start by advocating heresy and suggest that all a beginner or even a moderately established cook needs when starting out is to use the very marvelous website medievalcookery.com. The Midrealm’s Master Edouard Halidai (Daniel Myers) created the site. It offers over 100 carefully tested redacted recipes, a bibliography, and a database of recipes with an ingredient keyword index. Plus it provides a gateway to all the online cookery texts of period or appropriate interest which are already housed on the web. As a secondary source, take a look at Stefan’s Florilegium http://www.florilegium.org//. [Librarian’s Note: When using the Florilegium, please be aware that the editor, THL Stefan, does not edit or remove faulty information or references. Be sure to read all the sections through from the start to the end, as later posts may correct misinformation cited earlier.]

My one invaluable tip: When embarking in cookery, make it a practice to keep files and notebooks. If you want to engage in redacting recipes, note your attempts. It takes practice before a reader can easily redact, render, or work out his/her own versions of an actual historic recipe. Keeping track will give you the all-important record of attempts and successes, trials and errors. If you are saving your work on a computer, be sure it is backed up on the cloud. Far too often, recipes and sources have been irretrievably lost due to computer crashes or software malfunctions.

Also be sure and note sources carefully if you copy or Xerox a section of recipes. There’s nothing worse than an original or redacted recipe with no source attached. Likewise, if you copy something off the Internet, get the source (www.address) copied. (It’s not a bad idea to do a page grab.) Please be aware online quality varies even in terms of Society websites and recipes. Some are great; some are awful; some are just plainly inauthentic or worse! Verify, research, verify. Do not think for a minute that all you need to do is just get on Yahoo and type in medieval and that your hits will be authentic enough for any sort of A&S contest. Facebook groups these days may provide hints or links but it’s not for serious research. The hive mind may be convenient to poll off one’s phone, but it’s a matter of authority. The person who replies to a Facebook question may mean well, but their information may be just a folktale or false. Did they actually look it up? Do they have any real experience? Do they research and have a collection in the topic? Again– Verify, research, verify! Lastly, be honest. If a recipe came from a modern website or off the Food Network, say so. Lastly, never claim another’s recipe or handout as your own. Chances are, you will get caught!
As to books, suggested Works in English to buy or use. Both of these are widely available and can be downloaded into your Kindle e-readers. As with all suggested volumes, if funds are short, please consider buying used copies or look at the volumes mentioned here at your local library or request through interlibrary loan.
Brears, Peter. All the King’s Cooks. The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. London: Souvenir Press, 1999. Paperback ed. 2011. Excellent text with 82 recipes from 16th century England. Highly recommended. Excellent photos and drawings. Great Tudor source. KINDLE version available.

Hieatt, Constance and Sharon Butler. Pleyn Delit. Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. 1976. 1979. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. The second edition is credited to Hieatt, Brenda Hosington, and Butler. Good basic text with 142 documented recipes of English & French origin. KINDLE version available.

For French and Italian recipes, then I recommend starting with:
Redon, Odile, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi. The Medieval Kitchen. Recipes from France and Italy. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998. The American edition is translated by Edward Schneider. Available in paperback. A favorite of many Society cooks with 150 14th and 15th century French and Italian recipes.

If you want to spend some money or are looking for a suitable gift, then consider:

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining In Medieval England. Totnes, Devon, UK: Prospect Books, 2008. 557 pp., 75 B/W line drawings. [Notes: 485-503. Notes on Illustrations: 504- 511. List of Illustrations: 512-514. Bibliography: 515- 528. Indexes: 529-557.] [Paperback ed. 2012. ISBN: 978-1-903018-55-2] This is Peter Brears’ award winning volume on English medieval cookery. 200 plus recipes. Tournaments Illuminated published my review. I highly recommend the book.

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining In Tudor and Early Stuart England. London: Prospect Books, 2015. 670 pp., 141 B/W line drawings/figures. [Notes: 613-632. Bibliography: 633-641. Indexes [both general and recipes]: 642-670.] Marvelous new companion volume to his earlier volume. 370 plus recipes and variations. Includes menus, calendar customs, banquets, banqueting fare, etc. Essential and highly recommended volume. Tournaments Illuminated again published my review. I again highly recommend the book.

Culinary Readers interested in a more serious way may find my bibliographies of interest. The Citadel recently carried a few of my special bibliographies as part of the “Starting Points” series. These include bibliographies for England, Spain/Italy, Scandinavia, and Poland. These original bibliographic guides list original printed works, manuscripts, historical and reference works as well as bibliographies and online sources and projects.
Contributed by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, OE ©Johnna Holloway, 2016, 2018

Passover Pre-17th Century

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This is one of those cuisines that is a real challenge to research before the 18th century: Jewish food.  It’s been a bit of a struggle for me to find what little I have over the years.  As I network with other people that are interested in the same historical roots, I’ve been able to find more and more details to my files.

Within the SCA, there was a very resourceful and dedicated researcher (Mistress Judith bas Rabbi Mendel) that put together this document on various types of Passovers throughout the SCA period.  It is hosted currently on  Stefan’s Florilegium over here.  Since it is that time of the season, I thought it would be a good idea to post this to help anyone out there looking for details like these for pesach.

Hannah Glasse and her 310th birthday via Google Doodle

Google Doodle today features a prominent culinary figure in the 18th century, attributed to writing the first modern cookbook in English.

hannah-glasses-310th-birthday-5894265455509504-2x

Hannah Glasse was the author of “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” which was published in 1747. In comparison to the other cookbooks previously published over the years, this version was written in easily understood English, far closer to modern English. This made this book highly used and sought after within Great Britain and further.

There are 972 recipes that cover all sorts of standard home cooking fare. Baking, roasting, frying, boiling and everything in between is discussed using locally sourced ingredients (and nothing truly shocking or wild like in much earlier cookbooks for Royalty for Tudor kitchens, and the like). It was made for the home, for servants to use (or to those so inclined that weren’t servants). On top of the recipes for meals, recipes for medicines and housekeeping tips were also included. It seems like a precursor to a Mrs. Beeton that came a century later.

This book was so popular, that it had been reprinted several more times after its first publication. 20 editions in the 18th century were printed and continued to be published until 1843. Many classic English comfort foods are discussed and much of what we understand as traditional English cuisine are in this book.

This cookbook is used fairly extensively for early American cuisine and 18th century food history. It is still available in print currently, but free copies of the book are available throughout the web. Here is one showing the original text that you can download here. You can also pick up her book on Amazon.