Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly '14: 24- All that Glitters

The Challenge: #24: All that Glitters – due Thur 1 January. Celebrate your completion of HSF ’14, and the New Year, with a glittery, glitzy, sparkly, shiny, something.

Fabric: Embroidered cotton velvet and silk

Pattern: My own!

Year: Late 16th Century

Notions: Thread

How historically accurate is it? The pattern of the silver is close but not quite right. I machine sewed the seams that wouldn't show and hand sewed the top seam as well as the eyelets to hold the sleeves to the bodice/doublet

Hours to complete: 1 hour

First worn: Hopefully Jan 24th

Total cost: The cotton velvet was scraps from a Surcote I did a couple of years back. The silk was $8 for a little less than a yard.

For this challenge, I figured I'd make something I've wanted to make for a while. I had *just* enough scraps leftover from my Spanish Surcote a few years ago to make a pair of simple sleeves. I love being able to change out the sleeves for my later period outfits and really wanted a "fancy" pair to go with some of the velvet and silk kirtles. However, I kept putting off making the sleeves because they weren't absolutely necessary. Now, I can dress up some of my other outfits with a pair of very sparkly sleeves!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stuff I made for Christmas

Okay, Mom's knit dresses first.  They pretty basic.  She really wanted a dress for Saint Kitts.  Something simple but easy to dress up or down.  She loves blues so I went with both an aqua knit and a purply blue knit.  The pattern is one of my favorite patterns for my work dresses - I think it's a McCalls.  I've used it at least 7 or 8 times now.  For her, I edited it and made it a petite size.

Da nephews!  I made them the ultimate medieval dress up trunk.  I knitted "dirty" chainmail, a new "chainmail" coif, and sewed up a silk tunic as well as a linen parti colored tunic.  The Jester outfit (blue and gold linen) is H/A for the 14th Century - although it is machine sewn and not handsewn.  The silk tunic is made in the same style.  I also made a leather "crown" so they could play king.  

For my SIL, I knitted a chunky green scarf and a pair of fingerless mittens.  Unfortunately, no pictures of those.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly:15. Sacred or Profane

The Challenge: 
In this challenge, be as divine or as devious as you like! It could be a food with connections to a religion, a dish served for sacred celebrations, or a concoction with a not-so-polite name. Whatever your choice, show us how naughty and/or nice you can be!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
This is one I've done before

The Date/Year and Region:
15th Century, Italian

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
This time, I used 1 cup flour, 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of saffron for the batter.  I dumped some cheap olive oil in a pan and fried up apple slices - cut the horizontal, not vertical.  I then sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

Time to Complete:
Maybe 1/2 hour?

Total Cost:
It was all stuff I had on hand.  The apples were one I froze a couple of months ago.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)  There is a reason I keep doing this recipe again and again...:-)  It is absolutely delicious.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)

The original recipe calls for currants - but I'm not sure if I can eat those or not due to allergies.  Since the currants are supposed to make the batter sweet, I added sugar (still period) to it instead.  I also added cinnamon because I love cinnamon and what is better than cinnamon and apples?  The Almond milk is store bought and had vanilla.

As for the scared/profane, this recipe is called Apple Fritters for Lent.  Lent is about 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday where Catholics are called on to give up certain things.  In the medieval and renaissance church, you couldn't eat any animal products except fish.  There were certain fasting days (Wednesday and Friday with sometimes Saturday) where you could only have one full meal a day.  

There were a lot of reasons for this.  Basically, it was to give people a religious reason to conserve the food they had. You couldn't run out to the grocery store and expect imported foods to be there and be fresh.  You also needed to give the animals a rest and let them recoup their numbers a bit while allowing the mama animals to be able to nurse their newborn babes.  Remember, this is spring so all the lambs, cows, and a lot of other animals would be being born during this time.  (Not that animals aren't born all the time, just that it tends to be more common in the spring)  This way, the milk went to the baby animals and not towards butter, cheese, and other common food.  

Because we can run out to the grocery store now, we no longer are required to give up animal products during Lent.  Rather, you are expected to not eat meat on Fridays and do something that will help you to increase your faith in God - typically it's giving up something like chocolate which I never do since Hot Chocolate was okayed as a Lenten drink in the very early 17th Century.  :-)

As you can see, the idea of giving up sweets really wasn't part of the medieval mindset - the idea of desert really didn't even exist as we know it.   Rather, you ate what you had.  If you had sugary stuffs, great!   Apple fritters would be served along side a fish dish and probably a rice dish or just some bread and herbs as well.  

 I kept eating the fritters which is why there are only two in the picture.  They are very very yummy.
Cooking up the fritters.  You can tell I didn't quite get the batter on one apple slice correctly.  Eh, it tasted fine.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Medieval Pie!

I was debating all yesterday to do the medieval meatballs or a medieval pie for the historical food fortnightly challenge. The meatballs one won. However, I forgot I left the frozen apple slices out (whoops!) and realized I either had to cook those or throw them out. So, I had pie for breakfast. It was good!

I got the recipe from Medieval Cookery but changed it up a bit to more follow the original recipe from From of Cury.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: XXIII. For To Make Tartys In Applis. Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.

The modern version of the recipe didn't call for the apples, figs, raisins, and pears to be turned into a sauce.  So, I went with the original 15th C recipe.  See?

Yeah, I know, not exactly appetizing looking in the photo.  I used saffron, powder douce, and a bit of sugar (just a couple of tablespoons) in the fruity mix. The pastry shell is vegan - I used olive oil rather than butter. This is also period correct.

So the reason baking a pie might be terrifying? The powder douce. I hadn't used it before and I can really only get it once a year at Pennsic. It isn't super expensive but the fact I can only get it once a year is prohibitive in itself.

And yes, it made for an excellent breakfast. ;-)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Best Apple Cider Soda Evah

I've been playing around with various forms of Sekanjabin for syrups to flavor seltzer water since I got a sodastream. Most have been quite good. However, the one I made this morning? Outstanding. It tastes almost *exactly* like my favorite apple cider.

  • 3/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup of Balsamic Red Apple Vinegar 
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups water that apples have been boiled in

This morning I made a pie that I'll post later. (I actually have pictures of that!) Since it had apples and pears in it, I had to boil those before putting the fruits in the pie. I remember a medieval recipe calling for water that apples had been boiled in (which I can't find now, grr) and thought that it might help to flavor the sekanjabin. I saved the water and started on the syrup.

The syrup is simple. You put the sugar, vinegars, and 1 cup of the water together. Stir it up, bring it to a boil. While it is boiling, stir it for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat and leave it for another 10. I then took the other cup of apple water and put that into the container I have for syrups. Some of the syrups I've made are about one step away from being a taffy so I've had to mix them with water to make them into a good flavoring for sodas. I've found one cup of water works well.

Once the sekanjabin was ready, I poured that into the container with the rest of the apple water and shook it all up. I then let it refrigerate until I wanted a soda. Because the flavoring is a bit more watery, I filled the glass about 1/3 of the way with the flavoring. I then filled the rest of the glass with the seltzer water. It is so good! I love apple cider and this is going to be a repeat syrup. :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly: Fear Factor

The Challenge:14. Fear Factor November 30 - December 13
What foods have you always wanted to attempt, but were afraid to attempt to make - or afraid to eat? Choose a dish that is either tricky to create or nerve-wracking to eat, and get adventurous! It’s historical Fear Factor!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)Pumpes

The Date/Year and Region: 15th C England

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation) I followed the recipe given in the link pretty much. The only things different are that I didn't have cubebes so I added a bit more black pepper, I used raisins instead of currants, and I added the wine to the meatballs, not to the broth.

Time to Complete: 45 min, maybe? My stove top refused to heat up!

Total Cost: The Sangria was $6.99. The ground beef was maybe $4?

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)

Amazingly, it sort of tastes like Ikea's Swedish meatballs but much better. It is a sweet dish but not overpowering like it says in the link.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here) I used store bought almond milk rather than making my own - I was lazy, I know.

(Ignore the deconstructed meatballs. I was hungry and mashed them up before realizing I should probably take a picture to prove I made something)

Okay, so you might wonder what the fear factor is in this one since it's ground beef meatballs with cinnamon and egg yolks - ie, not really that far out there even for a 15th C recipe. It was the wine. I tried a new wine that I hadn't tried before. This was a Sangria I got at the store.

Because of my food allergies, changing up anything is terrifying. The wrong ingredient can, very much, kill me. Now, it's doubtful that Sangria will have buckwheat in it but you get the idea. My other food allergies tend not to be quite as bad at the buckwheat or tomato ones. Those are the just dial 911 and tell them we'll meet them on the way allergies. However, the berry one can be quite scary in itself.

One day, I was picking blueberries with my cousins. My face swelled up so bad that my eyes swelled shut. That was from just picking blueberries - not eating them. Strawberries are not a berry. They are actually part of the rose family and I'll happily eat them. Every single other berry to include cherries? Yeah, not so much.

Many people know that some wines have berries in them. What many people do not know is that wines are not required to have ingredient labels. Sure, they have that "if you are pregnant and you are drinking this, you deserve a Darwin Award" label on the side but nothing to indicate what might be in the wine other than grapes. And grapes are fine. I ate a bunch of grapes the other day in fact.

The label showed lemons, oranges, and grapes - all of which are fine. The label said wine and citrus - which might be okay, might not. It completely depends on the type of citrus.

Since I wasn't using much wine and it would be cooked into the meatballs, I figured that even if I was allergic, the reaction would probably be mild. So far, no allergic reactions to the wine in the meatballs.

Basically, every time I try something new, there is a "fear factor" to it. The way our ingredients are labeled in the USA is completely ridiculous. For instance, I tried to contact "I can't believe it's not butter" the other day about their new improved product. I wanted to know what the "natural flavors" actually meant and if that meant it had corn. I received a rather rude email back stating that it was trade secret and that if my allergy was so severe then I should have my doctor contact them about it and they'd tell my doctor. Er, what? Doctor Patient privilege anyone? Not that I'm exactly secretive about my food allergies. But the point is that ingredients don't have to be listed. The food companies can use "cover terms" for a lot of different ingredients. And, if it's an alcohol as in the case this evening, they don't have to list a thing.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

A New Shoulder Shawl

I knitted this shawl out of some hideous late 1970's early 1980's yarn I got at the Thrift store. Navajo ombre was the color name. My Mom thought that was an insult to Navajos. My brother said the same thing I did - it was the exactly color of the couch we had when we were little (1980's) that Mom and Dad apparently got as a wedding gift (1977). So, that gives you an idea of how bad the colors were as just yarn.

However, as a knitted work? Not nearly as horrible. The yarn itself was easy to work with. It was less than a $1 at the thrift store. The pattern was one I made up. The finished work is quite warm and I was wearing it around the house with my pink and grey striped sweater - I clashed like nothing else.

The Pattern:

R1: Using size 10 knitting needles, cast on one.
R2: Knit that one back and front to have two loops.
r3: Knit those two.
R4: K1, Increase 1, K1.
R5 and all odd number rows, knit.
r6: k1, Increase 1, k1, Increase 1, K1.
r8: K1, increase 1, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r10: K1, increase 1, k5, Increase 1, k1.
r12: K1, increase 1, k3, P1, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r14: K1, increase 1, k3, P3, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r 16 and all even rows - the pattern is simple, each edge is done in a garter stitch with a k1, increase 1, k3, x amount of Purl, k3, increase 1, k1. Basically, you look for the last four of the row you are on, switch from purl to knit, and then knit 3, do an increase of one, and knit the last stitch.

Once it gets to the length you want, bind it off loosely. I would double knit each stitch and then bind it off to give it a bit more give.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Company Christmas Party Dress

The inspiration dress. I saw the dress above on etsy and completely and totally fell in love with it. I love every detail of it but, for my dress, I had to change a few things because I simply didn't have enough time or fabric.

Originally, I tried to create the sides as they were on the extant dress but I quickly learned the extant dress wasn't pleated like I have here.  It was actually cut and then sewn back together...which would involve more shaping that I had time for.

Above is just a close up of the sad state of the pleats before I gave up and took it apart.   I then just measured out a couple of 1/4 circles from the remaining fabric and ended up with.....

This! What you don't see is the gold stain lining and the gold net attached petticoat beneath the dress. I still need to add the zipper and hem the dress but it is in dress form. The fabric is some silk brocade I got at the thrift store for $5.90. The lining and net were from Wally world (walmart) for a little over $15. I think the entire dress - the zipper is one I also got from the thrift store for 20¢. If that, really. So a total of about $22 for a new party dress? Not bad.

EDIT: I lied. It's now $23 because I used some trim I bought a decade ago from Wally World as hem facing tape. I bought about 13 yards for $1 (rather than $1 a yard) and used maybe 4 yards? So it closer to $23 now.

And I LOVE the dress. It's so the perfect party dress. I can't wait to wear it tonight.

EDIT Again:  I wore it and I loved it.  It really is a fabulous dress and I got a ton of compliments on it.  It's just logn enough to still be quite lady like but puffy and fun enough to work as a cocktail dress.

Monday, December 1, 2014

My makeshift Knitty Noddy

I have a bumblebee spinning wheel and I love it.  I bought it a couple of years ago.  I wanted a spinning wheel that was all wood but not ridiculously expensive.  Mine is a slightly different style from what they are currently selling - the feet are connected to the wheel just with leather straps, not wood and leather.  

I've found that the spinning wheel is ridiculously quicker than the hand spindle - what took me two hours with the hand spindle I can do in a few minutes with the wheel but I'm slow at spinning.

Today, I finished another skien of yarn.  I overtwisted it, of course, but I'm pretty happy with it overall.  It's just natural wool roving that is now spun and drying.  However, once it was spun, I realized I had a slight problem - how to wrap it and wash it.   I didn't have a knitty noddy anymore as what I was using broke.

So, I took a swimming noodle, cut it with a box cutter, and added two notches on either end.  Yes, the noodle does bend while I'm wrapping the wool but it works for wrapping it, washing it, and letting it dry on the noodle.  The noodle is also cheap.  I bought this one at the dollar store over the summer for another project that never got finished.  Once the wool is dry, I'll wrap it up into a ball.