Saturday, October 26, 2013

A new to me view of the French Hood

I was at the MET the other day when I came across this very early 16th C pendant:

I'm thinking it's probably 1490's based on the style of the hood and the dress.   What I found interesting is the way the back of the hood is stylized.  It doesn't look like a tube, to my eye, as other have speculated, but a separate veil. The black velvet band across the top of the head is folded back- popular in the early ages of the French Hood. 

I've been working on a theory that the Mysterious White Band we see a bit later is actually the straps to the coif worn beneath the hoods.  The theory is based on something I saw in Italian portraits like this one:


This painting is only a few years before the French hood pops up in fashion in...France! Given the interaction between France and the Italian City States (like near constant war) at that point, it's completely possible that a few French soilders brought back some lovely Italian veils for their wives to wear.

Although not shown, we know they did wear coifs or veils beneath the French Hoods.  As the French Hoods got smaller, the veils may have stayed the same size and continued to go over the front of the arms (like the French hoods originally did and the veil in the Italian portrait).  With the Mysterious White Band, what we are probably seeing is just the veil tails or coif lapels being pinned to the front of the dress during a known fashion transition period.   We always see crazy holdovers during transition periods.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Middle Nephew's Halloween Outfit Progress

When middle child told me that he wanted to be a yellow butterfly for Halloween, both my brother and I were surprised. Middle child is known as the destructor, the child that will break anything given to him. I sort of thought he'd go for something like Spider-man given that is his latest obsession. Did I mention he's three?

However, middle child kept to the yellow butterfly costume idea for a good month so, that's what I'm making him. Oldest child wants to be Link from Zelda - asking his medieval minded Aunt to make him a t-tunic and hat? Sure! Yeah, it took all of a few minutes for that one.

Anyway, back to the middle child's yellow butterfly. I had no idea how to make a butterfly outfit so I did some research:

Most yellow butterflies I saw looked like this. They were yellow but had thick black lines. I realized that a simple half circle cape with some cutouts might work.

The half circle was easy enough to cut out.  Rather than a normal curve, I made the edges "wavy" to mimic butterfly wings. 
I also decided the butterfly needed a tail so I took some of the scraps - after cutting out a hood- and placed them at the back of the cape. 
The yellow will show thorough the cutouts.  The cape is basically a bottom full black fleece half circle, a yellow poly satin half circle, and a black fleece cutout half circle.   Plus a hood that I cut out as well.
The first few cut outs.  If you've ever made a paper snowflake, it's sort of like that but on a much bigger scale with fleece.  It's not hard but you do have to be careful. 
All the cut outs.  I wanted it to look like it was two butterfly wings, the top and bottom, together. 
This is the cut out over the yellow satin and bottom black fleece.  What do you think?  Will he look like a proper yellow butterfly or does it need something else?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Fudge!!!!!


240 ML Vanilla Flavored Soy Milk
7 oz Ricemallow
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of Coconut Spread
1 bag of Chocolate Chips (non dairy)
1 1/2 cups of walnuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional if you use vanilla soy milk)


You want to reduce the soy milk to about half.  Just pour the soy milk into a medium sauce pan and put it on low heat.   You'll need to stir it every so often as the soy milk gets that "film" on top.  If you stir it back in, it's fine.  I'm not sure how long it took, but I had my burner on "3" (out of 10) and was able to eat lunch plus write a couple of emails so I'm guessing a half hour.

Once the soy milk is reduced by half, add in the coconut spread, salt, and then the ricemallow.  Stir it all together over a medium heat (my burner was between 5 & 6).   Once it's pretty well blended, wait for it to boil.  It doesn't take long.  I got the chocolate chips & walnuts out at this point & cut open the bags so I would be quick once I was ready to add 'em in.

When the mixture starts to boil, stir it for a good five minutes.  Make sure it is still boiling as you stir.  This may mean you need to turn the heat up.  The mix will turn from a frothy off white to a caramel color - it's okay, it should.  Technically, the mixture should be at 240F after those five minutes but I don't have a candy thermometer and I know you don't need one to make fudge. 

After five minutes, take the sauce pan from the heat and add in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and vanilla (if you need it).   It will turn into a lovely dark chocolate goo pretty quickly as you stir everything in.  Once the mix is well blended, pour it into a 8" by 8" sized pan.  (Or any small cake pan, really)  Let it set by leaving it out at room temp or putting it in the fridge for a while.

This will make a nice bit of dark chocolate fudge.  Perfect for those of us that can't have dairy!

Now that I've been eating some of it and it's set, I thought y'all might want to know what it tastes like.  It is good.  It tastes like a fudge flavored chocolate chew.  It doesn't taste exactly like regular dairy fudge but it certainly isn't bad either.

I admit I had a bit of an issue getting it to set. I simply didn't have the heat hot enough when I was mixing it. If you run into this issue, just pour the fudge back into the saucepan, turn it up, and make sure it is boiling. You'll know it's ready when the chocolate no longer sticks to the sides of the pan. I did add a bit more ricemallow (the rest of the can)and a small bit of olive oil since I was worried part of the reason it wasn't setting was the lack of fat. I also added some powdered sugar once I removed the mix from heat. It set pretty quickly after that.

Postus Editus:

My family tried it. And even a few family friends. :-) My dad thought it tasted too much like candy - we agreed on chocolate taffy. Mom seemed to agree. My baby brother really liked it - he had two pieces. His best friend also tried it as was surprised it wasn't quite as sweet as he thought it would be - it's a true dark chocolate fudge taste. He liked it too. So, if my very much bacon loving family liked something vegan, my guess is it's decent. :-D

I'm going to play with the recipe some more - I think almond milk might help- but I also want to learn how to make a few other confections without milk or corn...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Apples, apples everywhere, but none for me to eat....yet!

Last week, I went to Butler's Orchard here in Maryland to pick some apples. I ended up with two bags in under ten minutes. Each of the bags weighed about 10 pounds each. In other words, I ended up with a lot of apples, very, very quickly.

This is not a bad thing since I love apples. Apple pie has become a staple for me during Lent since I like doing the medieval Lent thing. However, this does mean I needed to find a way to keep the apples until I actually want to use them. With around 60 apples, there is no way I could even begin to just let them sit around until I need them - like I normally do with a bag of apples. Instead, I decided to freeze them.

Yes, canning 'em would be period correct but I simply do not have the time, money, or room to go out and buy a ton of canning equipment and then store all the canned apples. I could borrow some of the canning equipment from Mom but, really, freezing apples is very simple and you end up with apple slices that are ready to be cooked.

First, you peel the apple. This is pretty standard for any long term storage of apples. I then used my apple corer/slicer to end up with nice, little pieces of apple quickly. I then took the apple slices and put them in this:

This is a bath of lemon juice and water. Technically, it's about 1/4 lemon, 3/4 water but I kept adding fresh squeezed lemon to the solution so I have no idea what it ended up being. Anyway, it worked. Bath the apple slices in this and you don't get brown apple slices.

After that, I put the apple slices in small containers. Each container or bag ended up with roughly four apples in them. Today, I have seven containers filled with apples. Tomorrow, I plan on peeling,coring, and freezing the other bag I ended with.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Historical Fortnightly #20 Outerwear

The Challenge: Outerwear
Fabric: Wool and Linen
Pattern:  My own! Based on several extant cardinal cloaks
Year:  1770's - 1780's
Notions: The clasp when I find it...
How historically accurate is it? The cut & fabrics are accurate. However, the "hidden" seams are machine sewn. The visible seams are hand stitched with cotton thread.
Hours to complete: 2, maybe.
First worn: Hopefully this winter
Total cost: The wool fabric was $5.90 at my local thrift store. The linen lining was stash.

I decided the one period I actually tend to have dresses for but no outerwear for was 18th C. I needed a red cardinal cloak like every other American historical costumer between the ages of 9 and 40 ish who also gets giddy about blue gowns and going to balls at the Governors Palace for reasons embedded in our childhood.

The wool I picked up at the thrift store was a nice medium weight and just enough to make a decent half circle cloak. The hood is just two 15" squares sewn together, gathered at the back, and a small oval shaped piece of wool placed over the gathered hole in the back of the hood.

I might make some small changes to the cloak but, overall, it's wearable. I apologize for the photos. I know they are terrible. I just wanted something "up" to prove it was completed before the deadline...and I've lost my camera. Again. As soon as the camera gets found, I'll take better photos. You really don't get the nice brightness of the red wool in the photos.

EDIT: Found the camera. :-) Even took photos outside to have the nice natural lighting.