Category Archives: General

General updates, comments and information on the Feasting team.

Take a Culinary Adventure

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Many of my friends have food preferences, which is fine. Some people have some major allergies to different types of foods. I totally understand. Those with medical issues please don’t feel bad in not being able to cook these items for you to eat. It’s ok. Those of you that have just never found an eggplant that you’ve liked, I task you to at least try.

Cooking is one of those things that you can control the outcome with very little effort. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me and told me they hated X thing (be that a vegetable, meat or otherwise) and when they ate the item by me, they realized they hated it because of how it was cooked in the past, but they enjoyed what I did.

I don’t say this to pat myself on the back (well…not exactly) but to say that if you hated something from childhood and you’re an adult now, to actually try a new completely different preparation recipe for said past horrible food item. Example, you hated boiled vegetables when you were 7, so how about trying to roast them instead? Yes, there is a BIG difference in flavor and texture, so much so that it may change your opinion of vegetables.

This rule covers all type of food stuff, because from preparation to preparation, there are subtle flavor and texture differences that can change the way you perceive and enjoy food stuff. While you may hate things that are boiled, you may adore them sautéed, roasted or au gratin. Changing out the type of oil you use to fry, brown or sauté foods can go a long way in flavor profiles. When I was first learning to cook, I was using a lot of canola oils, blends, and cheaper oils because a) I didn’t know any better and b) they were what I could afford. Using vegetable oils, butter, animal fats, and a combination blending all those, can make a huge flavor difference. Examples of some of the more flavorful cooking “oil/fats” would be duck fat, bacon fat, coconut oil (especially nice when cooking for vegetarians and vegans), olive oil, and an old favorite, peanut oil. Of course, you should use what is easiest for you to get a hold of at your local markets. Just keep your eyes open for things that you might not ever tried, but might take your cooking, and food enjoyment, to the next level.

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DO drink the Water: Water Consumption in Medieval Europe

Food Fallacies: Medieval people drinking Ale or Wine only because the water available was not safe.

When dealing with Medieval food and food history, there are numerous fallacies out there on a variety of topics. One of the more annoying ones is the quality of safe water that was available to drink in Medieval times. I believe this idea, the thought that all water was terrible to consume, goes back further that just Medieval Europe, but this is something I am not sure about. But what is a fact is that while, I’m sure there were unsafe and stagnant waters within pre-17th century culture, that not “ALL” water was poisonous, and as such, people did, in fact, drink out of fresh streams, fresh water rivers and natural springs.

There are a number of online sources for this myth buster, but the best one I found was this link which is a book search result from Water: A Spiritual History by Ian Bradley. While the chapter mostly discusses holy wells, several pieces of his commentary go over the consumption of water in medieval times. Page 73 states: “In fact, the majority of water sources were probably seen in purely utilitarian terms, as providers of water for drinking and washing and not regarded as especially sacred.”

There are earlier examples of water being drunk as well. This goes to an article about Greek and Roman ideas about water.

There are some very good blog posts from Beer brewers and other food historians on the subject of water purity and the Ale and Wine myth. This one from Jim Chevallier has a lot of great examples of drink water references.

Myth spreading is bad. Don’t be part of the water myth! Drink up!

The Edible Monument

Not sure if you out there in cyberspace have seen Ivan May’s great blog or his recent post on “Joke Food” or not. If so, I would strongly suggest giving it a look if you are into illusion foods and learning about some fun things to make with sugar paste, marzipan and the like.

Also, there is a great resource for illusion foods and displays at the Getty called The Edible Monument. Check that one out if you love historical festival research, sugar sculpture info, cookbooks and table setting info… just a lot of great cooking stuff.

Both links have been added to my links sections for reference.

Enjoy!

Christmas pie for diabetics

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a cranberry
And said “What a good boy am I!”

Wanting to try other pies for my family and use splenda because my hubby is diabetic, I give you my latest work, the Cranberry Buttermilk Pie. I was going to make Chess pie, but with most recipes, corn syrup was called for and that is a no-no for diabetics. However, I didn’t want to make just a plain buttermilk pie, so I decided to add something very much associated with Christmas, the cranberry. The tartness of the cranberries blends well with the sweetness of the buttermilk filling.

My recipe:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup Splenda [if you wish to use regular sugar, use 1 1/3 cups sugar]
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

If you wish just to make a plain buttermilk pie, stop here and use 1 9 inch pie shell.

If you with to make the Cranberry pie, use two 12 oz bags of fresh cranberries and two 9 inch pie shells.

Cream the butter and sugar; add the egg yolks, beating after each addition. Beat in flour and buttermilk; add the lemon juice, lemon peel, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into the filling.

For the cranberry pie, place one bag of cranberries into each pie crust. Pour half the filling into each pie shell, gently folding the filling around the cranberries; bake in center of a preheated 325º over, until the custard is set and slightly brown, about 1 hour.

Welcome to Feast of the Centuries!

And we are just putting this super food blog together as I type this, so excuse the “dust” (which could be powdered sugar knowing us).  For those of you who don’t know us, we three (well, three so far, there might be others in the future) are foodies on a Historical Mission to share food goodness whereever possible.  Whether that is in the form of recipes, interesting facts, historical tidbits, interviews, reviews, how-to’s or what-have-yous… we will be there serving up the information and the good flavors.

The official introductions should be up on the main page in a few days (knock on wood) and more links will be added that I have, but we will always be open to hearing what our readers have to say.  If you have any interesting links, redactions to any period recipes, reviews of books related to cooking, or anything that would fit into the food ideal we are trying to relate to, please contact us privately!  Always appreciate that sort of thing.

More later!  Thank you for your peeks and interest.

–Mercy

Chief troublemaker and headcheese smeller