Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Honey in Lent!

So, last year, I was curious about the use of Honey during lent. After all, it is an animal byproduct....sort of. Or, did our ancestors consider the busy bee not an animal? I think I might have finally gotten my answer.

From Two 15th Century Cookbooks:

Chare de Wardone. Take peer Wardons, and seth hem in wine or water; And then take hem vppe, and grinde hem in a morter, and drawe hem thorgh a streynoure with the licour; And put hem in a potte with Sugur, or elle3 with clarefiede hony and canell ynowe, And lete hem boile; And then take hit from the fire, And lete kele, and caste there-to rawe yolkes of eyren, til hit be thik, and caste thereto powder of ginger ynowe; And serue hit forth in maner of Ryse. And if hit be in lenton tyme, leve the yolkes of eyren, And lete the remnaunt boyle so longe, til it be so thikk as though hit were y-tempered with yolkes of eyren, in maner as A man setheth charge de quyns; And then serue hit forth in maner of Rys.

My not so great translation:

Heated Pears. Take pears, and seethe them in wine or water; and then take them up, grind them in a mortar, and draw them through a strainer with liquor; and put them in a pot with sugar, or else with clarified honey and cinnamon sticks, and let them boil; and then take it from the fire, and let it cool, and caste there in raw egg yolks, until it is thickened, and caste there in powdered ginger; and serve it in the manner of rice. And if it's Lent, leave out the egg yolks, and let it remain boiling so long that it will be as thick as though it was made with egg yolks, in the manner as a man seethes boiled quince; and then serve hit forth in the manner of rice.

Basically, according to this, just take the egg yolks out of the recipe and you are fine. The catch, of course, is that you can make it with either sugar or honey....and they may have went with the sugar during Lent.

And then I found this one:

Brewes in Lentyn. Take a fewe Fygys, and sethe hem and draw hem thorw a straynoure with Wyne; then putte ther-to a lytil Hony; then toste Brede, and Salte it; and so broune and rennyng as Brwes, serue hem in, and straw pouder Canelle y-now ther-on atte the dressoure, and serue it forth.

My bad translation:

Brew in Lent: take a few figs, and seeth them and draw them through a strainer with wine; then put in a little honey, then toast bread, and salt it, and so brown and running as brews, serve thme in, and add powdered cinnamon, and serve it forth.

Yay! Honey! In Lent! Granted, it's just a little honey but there is no mention of sugar, it clearly puts honey in use during Lent, and that's all I wanted. Yay!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Historical Fortnightly UFO Project

I promise better pictures later but I took these with my phone.

The project:  My Pelisse I gave up on a couple of years ago.

What happened:  I started the project, cut it out of both the uncut corduroy and flannel backed satin, got the bodice done, and that was it.  The sleeves were never sewn and the skirt was never pleated, sewn, or attached in anyway.   If I remember correctly, I got sick and ended up not needing it for the event I was going to so it never got finished.

The Challenge: UFO
Fabric: Uncut Corduroy and flannel backed satin
Pattern: I think it was a Sense & Sensibility Pattern
Year:  Ummm...Regency? I think 1810's...
Notions:Thread, buttons
How historically accurate is it? The cut is correct and the facing fabric looks like a velveteen they would have used in period but the satin is very man made
Hours to complete: ...2 years? Oh, and one month because I started it back in Dec 2010 I think.
First worn: This upcoming weekend most likely
Total cost: I really don't recall.


It is wrinkled - due to sitting on the shelf for so long- but I can fix that. I also need to add buttons - I couldn't decide tonight. However, it's in coat form and it's at the point I can wear it as a coat...even if I'd have to pin it closed. ;-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Medieval Apple Pie

Yesterday, at the even I attended, I brought a few medieval items for the hospitality table. I figured that way, I'd get to bring food that I could eat but that others might try just because it's all from within the time period of the SCA (600-1600).

I ended up bring my sourdough bread made from just flour, water, olive oil, honey, and sea salt. The only thing more period correct would have been if I ground the flour myself. ;-) I also brought the medieval herb bread which was a huge hit. It was a HUGE loaf of bread and I only have enough left over to maybe make one sandwich with. I also made Apple Pie. I did get some wonderful feedback on it (thank you Mistress Molly!) that makes me think I might start entering in some of the food I've been making for A&S competitions or maybe even do an open display on the Lenten Food. I did try a slice of the apple pie and, honestly, I think I love this recipe.

First, the pie crust:

I used two slightly different pie crust recipes. One for the bottom crust and one for the top. The reason is very simple - I didn't think an apple pie should have a crust without some sort of sweetener in it. In the bottom crust, the sugar would seep in from the filling. Not so much in the top crust.

So, the bottom crust:

I took this recipe from here.

A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye of the Sixteenth Century)

Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

This is the source I use for medieval pastry recipes; it forms the basis for a standard shortcrust pastry, enriched with eggyolk and, often, saffron.

200g flour
1 tsp salt
100g margarine or butter
pinch saffron
1 egg yolk
iced water

Since I can't have butter and olive oil is a period substitute, I used that instead. I also used cold water. I suspect that "Fayre water" might actual mean something more like rosewater but that would change the flavor of the entire recipe way too much and be far from the modern palette.

Because of the oil for butter change, the recipe itself changed. Rather than 1/2 a cup of butter, I used a "hefty" 1/3 cup of olive oil and a tablespoon of oil as well. The reason is that you always use roughly 20% less mass for olive oil than you would for butter.

The one egg yolk was fun. I kept passing it bag between the two shells, slightly lamenting that I had nothing that needed egg white right then, until I had just the yolk. The yolk gives the dough a slight yellow color but the saffron makes it "dear God!" yellow. The water was necessary just to make the dough less clumpy. I only used a little bit.

The dough looks...sticky. But it's not really. It will stick to the wax paper but not to your hands as I quickly figured out. So, I ended up picking up small batches of it and placing them into the pie pan. I then pressed them down until it felt even enough and I got another batch. This recipe is just enough to completely cover a store bought tin pie pan (it was going to an event and I wanted something I could throw away!) along the bottom and sides. You will not have enough for the top.

Once I covered the pie pan, I set the crust in the oven for about 8 minutes at 390F (200C). Once it was done, I got started on the top pie crust and the yummy filling.

Top Pie Crust

I found page that talks about pie crusts in the 15th and 16th centuries. On the page is even Italian instructions for a French Apple Pie, hooray! I'm an Italian making an apple pie so...this sounds good. According to the translation:

then make a dough of sugar, flour, oil, water and salt, mix them together to make the dough, spread it over the bottom of a low pan, and put the mixture in so that it is no more than a finger deep; cook it in the oven or on the fire as is directed for the other tortes; when almost cooked, get wafers, crumble them over the Tart - those wafers should be made with good sugar; when cooked, garnish with sugar and rosewater.

This sounded interesting to me because the top "crust" and the bottom were clearly different. I also liked that they are essentially sprinkling cookie crumbs on top but decided against that. Instead, I used flour, olive oil, honey rather than sugar, water, and salt. I may have used another egg yolk as well but I don't remember. I pretty much hybridized the two recipes to come up with something that may have been used in period but isn't exact. I wanted honey, gosh darn it! :-) I let that sit while I worked on the pie filling.

Second, the pie filling:



PERIOD: Germany, 16th century | SOURCE: Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin | CLASS: Authentic



225. To make a good tart with roasted apples. Peel the apples and cut them into four pieces, cut out the cores, and put them in pot, which should be well covered, and let them stew in the pot. One should watch them frequently, so that they do not scorch. Afterwards spread them on the pastry shell, which should be made of good flour, and put a half pound of sugar and a half ounce of finely ground cinnamon therein.

I cheated and used the lovely modern invention of an apple slicer. Yes, I still had to peel them but this made life a lot easier. (And, okay, so they probably wouldn't have been shocked in the 16th C by that. It's not like I used a blender.)

I put the pot to boil with enough water to easily cover the apple slices. I ended up cutting up 4 medium sized apples which was exactly enough for the pie. Once they had boiled for about 10 minutes, I drained the water and put the apple slices into the pre cooked crust. I then sprinkled on 1/3 cup of sugar in the raw plus another 1/8 cup or so because it didn't look like enough sugar. :-) I also put in a generous amount of cinnamon simply because I like it and you try measuring anything from a grinder spice jar. :-p

Once the filling was in the bottom crust, I smoothed out and added the top crust in clumpy pieces which actually looked fine once it was baked. The pieces were flattened by hand they just were...everywhere. Based upon the instructions, I preheated the oven to 375 and baked the pie for a half hour. It came out perfectly and I really liked it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Medieval Cooking Again

So...I'm thinking for Lent to do the whole Medieval cooking for 40 days again. Yes, I heard a couple of you groan. ;-) I won't be quite as strict when out and and about but I'd like to cook this way at home a lot more. It's honestly easier for me to cook using medieval recipes because of the dairy allergy than it is to bother attempting modern recipes that call for premade items.

Anyway, I found this lovely middle Dutch (I swear, try saying this out loud without sounding like the Swedish Chef. It's not possible!)recipe for pastries:

Om roffiollen [..]*maken jn die


stoet jn enen mortijer hondert okernoten

ende ende een cleijn hantvol amandellen vel

ontstucken hier stotet xx goyer appellen

wel gheschelt sonder kerlhuys doter potsucar

ghenbaer ende canel suyker poyer oft nempt

greyn voer den ghenbaer voer den ghenbaer

ende weruet dese spijse met een luttel sofferaen

Luttel sofferaen....*cue giggles*

So, the English translation courtesy of Christianne Muusers :

1.65. To make pasties during Lent
Grind hundred walnuts and a small handfull of almonds very finely in a mortar. [With] this grind 20 good apples, well peeled, without core. Add powdered sugar, ginger and ground cinnamon, or use grains of paradise instead of ginger. Colour this mixture with some saffron.

This sounds like a "gluten free vegan" pie crust. Honestly, it sounds pretty good. I'm not sure where I could get pre ground up walnuts - maybe I need to get a grinder finally- but it's basically walnut flour, almond flour, sugar, apple sauce, and yellow food coloring - or COOKIES!!!!!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Medieval Foods

I managed to cook the sourdough I've had sitting around for a couple of days. I started the dough on Monday, left it overnight, punched it back down on Tuesday and let it sit overnight again, and baked it this afternoon...and burned it. Sadly, it's really REALLY good in the non burned parts. It's not horribly burned but I've learned to trust my nose since trying to look through the oven doesn't work well. I started another sourdough for Saturday to take with me to the event.

I'm making sekanjabin now. I've used my Lemon vinegar I like to use on salads to see how it ends up and Almond honey. I don't have a ton of honey on hand (anymore. Need to order some from the bee folks) so I ended up half a cup of honey and used a 1/4 cup of vinegar. It won't be a lot of syrup but it should be enough to make a gallon of sekanjabin, I think. I used mint leaves for the mint. We'll see how it ends up tasting.

I need to work on a few more sewing projects and learn how to use a spinning wheel before the end of the month!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Historical Fortnightly #1 the 13th year of any century

1513 Italian style dress

The inspiration:

Engraved silver plaque showing the 32 year old Lucrezia presenting her son and heir, Ercole (b. 1508), to San Maurelio, protector of Ferrara. The plaque was executed by Giannantonio da Foligno to commemorate the victory of the French and Ferrarese forces over the papal and Spanish armies at the battle of Ravenna in 1512. (from source) Taken from wikipedia

The research:

The high waist, big sleeve style appears in the early 1500's in Northern Italy and stays in style well into the 1520's. There are some small changes to the bodice shape and the width of the sleeves depending on the city state they are worn in, but the dress varies little from the high waist, big sleeve style pictured above. Additional images depicting this style are on Anea's website and show a date range of 1504 to 1528.



For my dress, I used a red linen blend brocade. The design of the brocade is very similar to what was found in period paintings and is a color red that is very common as well. Although it's a blend, it's a 60/40 blend, with 60% being linen.

The lining is a brown hemp silk fabric. According to this site "canvas 15th century hemp cloth used for outer clothing by lower classes and lining garments by the more wealthy." And according to this site hemp was so important a fiber that "in the UK, in 1535 Henry VIII passed an act compelling all landowners to sow 1/4 of an acre, or be fined. During this period hemp was a major crop and up to the 1920’s 80% of clothing was made from Hemp textiles." The fabric itself looks like silk but smells like peanut butter when burned.

For the inner lining, I used duck cloth to give added stability.


dress 1513

This photo is really poor, however I wanted to get one up before midnight on the 14th to show that I did, in fact, have a dress done before the deadline. I promise to update this post with better pictures later tonight.





Monday, January 7, 2013

Tudor Gown Progress

After a disastrous start on Friday with the pair of bodies pattern I was using (The Simplicity Elizabethan one), I found my old pair of bodies pattern I drafted years ago. I figured if this one didn't fit, maybe it was a sign I shouldn't actually work on the dress this weekend and just wear my old black velvet Tudor gown I've had for oh....ten or so years now?

Luckily, the stays fit.

tudor gown 011


Here's a picture of the pattern after I drew out each of the channels that I later ignored almost completely:

tudor gown 002

I accidentally drew the front channels wrong so I ended up just using the sewing machine foot as a gauge. Once I had sewn the the front sides together, leaving the bottom of the pair of bodies open, I turned it and used the front edge as part of the gauge. The sewing machine foot was always a couple of mm from the previous line and the previous line acted as a ruler. I hope that makes sense! Anyway, it worked out and I half boned it since I don't need it to be super structured.

tudor gown 004

The picture above is after I added each of the channels and before I added the bias tape to the bottom.

You would not believe how much of that blue brocade I have.....or how much I've used. Or how little I bought it for.


I realized I didn't really have enough time to draft a proper pattern, get it fitted, mocked-up, and all the little things I would need to do before even thinking about cutting out the I cheated.

I've used McCalls Tudor Rose Pattern 3282 before with successful results. It needs tweeking but it's overall a decent pattern. I drafter out the darts and princess seams, made the bodice into three pieces (a front and two back pieces), and used the same upper sleeve pattern. The lower sleeve pattern was dictated by the fur sleeves I made earlier in the week.

By drafting out the darts and princess seams, the pattern is closer to what would have been worn in period and helps me to create the proper period silhouette. Okay, here comes the fun part - After cutting out the bodice and sewing up the shoulder seams on the machine, I had to figure out how to give a look of it being fur lined without it being fur lined.

I hand sewed a bit of real fur trim (it's from that cutter coat lot I think I talked about in my last post) to the neckline of the velvet. It took a good couple of hours to get it right. I then took the muslin lining (I'm not going for 100% accuracy, just the correct look) and overlayed it to the fur edge velvet bodice.


I had to cut away the top edge of the the fur edge will on "peek" out of the neckline to make it look like the bodice itself is fur lined even though it's not. Once I sewed up the lining to the bodice and made it all bodice shaped, it looked like this:


Yay! So I had a bodice and a forepart by that point. The forepart was easy - cut out a nice big trapezoid shape of the pretty fabric and sew it to the el-cheapo fabric that no one will see once the gown is on. I did have to hand sew the pink silk to the cheap fabric because sewing machines and beaded fabrics do not mix. Ever. I like my sewing machine and I like my hands to not have pieces of a needle in them so, therefore, I didn't even bother trying to machine sew that. The hem to the forepart is even hand sewn down.


A blurry close up of the bodice before I put on the sleeves.

After that, I had to sew up the sleeves, which meant adding the fur to the upper cotton sleeve lining, sewing up the velvet sleeve, matching up all the edges, sewing the velvet to the fur (that was an interesting experience), and then making sure the sleeves match well enough to inset them into the bodice armsyce.

I also sewed up the skirt (I did very large trapezoids because I didn't want too much bulk at the waist with all the velvet), pleated it, attached the fur trim to the front the gown, pinned it, sewed the skirt to the bodice and...


...Oh, yeah, I also hand sewed the faux undersleeves you can probably just make out in this picture.


This is a much better picture of one of them.


This picture is much clearer but without the faux undersleeves. The pins on the front are just where I need to tack down the fur trim to make it look like the skirt to the dress is also fur lined.

All I need to do is finish up the inside, add some lacing holes or some sort of closure to the back, and tack down the trim - oh and sew up the French Hood!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just a quick update

First, the bread I am apparently allergic to? My family LOVES it. According to Mom, my brothers are gobbling it down. Which is good because it means my taste buds aren't out of whack - just my immune/digestive system. ;-)


I've created a small board to hold all the portraits I'm using as inspiration for my Henrician Tudor Era gown. I've finished sewing together all the various fur pieces and just need to start working on the stays next so I can try them on and then worry about the gown. :-)

I'm also going to work a slight bit on Mom's robe a la Francaise this weekend. Her first fitting with the mock up pattern! Yay! She needs to find her stays I made her a couple of years ago first.

Cooking and Sewing

sourdough bread

Slightly sourdough bread - because I got impatient as I mentioned over on LJ. I used a medieval starter - nothing more than flour and water. It is hard to get a starter started in the winter because it does need a bit of heat but that's where all those slightly warm electronics that are always on everyone has around their house come in very handy. I put my starter on top of my bluray player and it worked beautifully. I'm told desktop PCs work wonders as well. Yes, it's not a period heat source but it works and it worked well. Seriously, the started doubled within three hours of it's second feeding. I fed the starter every 24 hours.

On the sewing side of life:


My sleeves! Okay, so they don't look like sleeves right now...

This is one of the many examples of a Henrician gown I'm using as inspiration for this Tudor gown. The fur in the picture above is going to line the sleeves and then be pinned back to show off the fur.

The main body of the gown will be a nice chocolate cotton velvet and the forepart and undersleeves are out of a pink silk that is already pintucked in a diamond pattern with pink "pearls" in the center of each diamond. Yes, I doubt they had pink pearls either but it looks really nice with the chocolate velvet. Colored fake pearls are period! :-) The link goes to a google book called The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts: Two-volume Set: Two-volume Set, page 515. It doesn't say which decade of the 16th Century but it's nice to know at some point there were fake pink pearls in the SCA period.

EDIT: I've even found pink pearls in a portrait now, on a French hood, from 1550. Yay!Kimiko indicates that it might even be earlier than 1550. Since the date of the ball I'm wearing this to is 1543, I'd LOVE the 1543 date for the pink pearls. :-)

The inside front edges of the skirt will be lined with more of the fur leftovers and I have a very long, very thin piece of fur trim for the inside neckline. All of the fur I'm using was, at one point, pieces to a vintage coat. The guy I got it from had used what he needed and sent me the sleeves, the collars, and any other odd parts to about three or four different coats. So, these are all cutter pieces and not "new".

Originally, I was going to do the Catherine Parr gown but I realized the way I wanted to do it -and to do it justice- would take a lot longer than two weeks. :-) So, this Henrician era gown is in the same vein with the fur sleeves (I think it's mink? I have no idea. All I do know is my dog LOVES it and my cat believes that's what I did to the last cat, bwahahahaha.) but not completely lined in fur.

I hope to have more progress pictures this weekend. I need to work on a new pair of bodies first (stays) that I'm just making out of the 20 gazillion yards of blue cotton blend damask I have. It's not a period fabric whatsoever but I have a lot of it and won't cry if they don't come out perfectly this way. I'm using the Simplicity pattern for them.