Friday, March 28, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This is not a medieval recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread but I've been making a lot of it and I appear to have forgotten to post it!  Everywhere I take it (it's an awesome bread for get togethers or picnics), people love it.   I've made a couple of different versions of it and both are wonderful.   
The original version is here.   This is my version.

1 cup vanilla almond milk
 2 teaspoons vanilla balsamic vinegar (regular vinegar will do but I like the vanilla taste in the bread)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup coconut spread
1 egg or 2 apples, cored and peeled, cooked and then mashed.
 2  4 cups all-purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking powder (I use a corn free baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350f.  Grease your bread pan.  Combine almond milk and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl - stir it and set aside.  It will curdle pretty much immediately.   In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, the coconut spread, and either an egg or egg replacer.  The egg replacer I've used was just two peeled and cored apples that I boiled in a pot for about 15 minutes, strained, and then easily mashed.   This works really well and tastes great in the cinnamon bread.   
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  I then combine the wet ingredients bowl with the dry.  This includes the curdled milk.  
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bread pan.  This won't look like much but this bread will rise a LOT in the oven.  In yet another bowl (be glad if you have a dishwasher.  I don't), combine 1/3 cup of sugar with cinnamon.  Use this to sprinkle on the bottom layer of the bread.   Pour half of the remaining batter on the layer.  You might have to smooth it out a bit.  These layers look pancake thin.   Sprinkle half of the remaining sugar and cinnamon on top of this layer.   Pour the remaining batter on top.  This time, combine a small amount (1/2 teaspoon) of olive oil to the sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle this on the top of the bread.  The olive oil helps it to stick to the bread. 
Bake for 45 minutes.  Once it's done, let it cool for about 10 minutes at least.   It's absolutely delicious.  It's a cross between a bread (really, really good for toast) and a coffee cake.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Modern Clothing

I used McCalls M5314 as a base for this dress.  I left off the cuffs because of the pretty border on the sari fabric I used.   More of the border was used to create the ties.   I wanted to keep the border on the skirt as well so this meant pleating the skirt to the bodice rather than doing a circle skirt.  

I'm not really in love with it.  It looks too 1970's for my taste.   I was hoping for more 1950's.   I think it's more the pattern of the sari than anything else.  Still, I did sew!   And there is evidence!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Medieval Leomonade

From From an Andalusian Anonymous Cookbook, 13th Century:

Syrup of Lemon
Take lemon, after peeling its outer skin, press it and take a ratl of juice, and add as much of sugar. Cook it until it takes the form of a syrup. Its advantages are for the heat of bile; it cuts the thirst and binds the bowels.

I have no idea what a ratl is but it doesn't really matter for this.   My redaction below

  • 5 or 6 Fresh Lemons
  • One cup sugar
  • 5 or so cups water (or to taste)
I squeezed about 5 lemons until I got a cup of fresh juice.   I then put a white cloth over a pot and poured the juice over that- this was to get rid of the seeds and any pulp.  I then added the sugar and set it to boil.  I accidently burned the sugar.  Grr.  But it wasn't horrible when I taste tested it.  It never got super thick - it was more like cough medicine syrup.   I added this syrup to the water, stirred it, and it was ready to serve.  

It tastes like...lemonade! It's actually really, really good.  Even if I burnt the sugar a bit.  :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014


How to seeth Shrimps.

Take halfe water and halfe beere or Ale, and some salt good and savery, and set it

on the fire and faire scum it, and when it seetheth a full wallop, put in your Shrimpes faire washed, and seethe them with a quick fire, scum them very clean, and let them have but two walmes, then take them up with a scummer, and lay them upon a fair white cloth, and sprinkle a little white salt upon them. 

A booke of Cookery, 1591

This sounds amazingly simple and good.   Heat up a waterdowned beer then thrown in the shrimp.  Once they've been cooked, throw some salt on them.  I think this one might just be doable.  

I'd also like to look more into the yellow/mustard sauce as this cookbook above also talks about it for fish days.  The one problem with the above book is that it's late period English - meaning they allowed butter and eggs into their fish dishes.   It's easy to take out, but it is something to look for as well when reading the later stuff.   The Catholic Church didn't allow butter and eggs until the 17th Century.    


I apologize for not keeping up with this as much as I should. Last night, I had more of the cod with green sauce. I changed up the green sauce a bit. I used mint this time and I used only the cooking wine and vinegar to boil the herbs. I also used bread crumbs rather than fresh bread pieces for the sauce. OMG! It is so terribly good. I put it on the cod, cooked in cooking wine as well, and I think this may be a new favorite meal. It's really that delicious.

Today was a fasting day so I only had mushrooms (cooked with parsley) and bread with jam....and six glasses of wine. I think. ;-) The fun of the medieval diet is that you can have wine. I also had tea and water through out the day as well, of course.

I have a lot of sewing projects planned - one I will work on this weekend- but work has been crazy. I bought a bunch of saris as a thrift store recently. Most are synthetic but I did get a couple of cotton ones and a silk one. I want to use them to make some modern work dresses. There is one that is already claimed to be my Easter dress this year - once I make a pattern and cut it all out. Hopefully, next week will be less crazy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Visit to the Met

I know many of us who study late 16th/early 17th Century clothing have seen this painting. It's from the 1630's. The old women is a Gypsy fortune teller as are the two ladies to the left of the painting. The couple in the middle are your typical German couple from the time. What I haven't noticed before is the amazing detail in the Gypsies' garments!

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The blanket worn over the other clothing is a jacquard weave. You can really tell in this close up. Also notice the knife the old lady carries for protection. Where the heck is it hanging from?!? The younger Gypsy ladies clothing is even more interesting.

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I wanted to get a close up the necklines with this photo. Take a look a the loose weave kerchief/partlet around the lady in the back's neck. These ladies are also wearing the thick blanket (jacquard/tapestry) as we see typical of Gypsies at this time period.

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In this close up, you can see the lady closest to us' cap. Also, the lady further away has a very unusual hairstyle. I love the front braids just twirled up like that!

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The scarletwork and goldwork on her chemise suggests that these Gypsies were anything but poor. I just really adored the details in this painting. It's a bit out of the typical SCA period but we also know that the Gypsy/Roma fashion didn't change quite as quickly as Western European fashion at the time. You can see several similar examples of Gypsy fashion well within the pre -17th century constraints.

Back From New York

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That was the view from my hotel room. :-) Although I was traveling - and therefore couldn't cook Lenten meals each day- I did stay away from meat and eggs. Still, breakfast was typically rice krispies in vanilla soy milk (with a banana and OJ but those can be found in the 16th C) with dinner being shrimp cooked in salt, pepper, and olive oil (which is actually pretty period) and potatoes fried up in salt and rosemary. A couple of times, I got the shrimp stir fry down the street as well for lunch. It wasn't bad but I really wish I could have had a little more variety.

I did try to sew. I was going to make a pair of bodies - hand sewn- for the Bodice challenge and...I cut them out WAY too big. I didn't realize it until I sewed up the seams. It's pretty ridiculous. So, I'm going to do a "quick" machine version instead. It won't be H/A (I had silk thread, linen thread, reed, leather bias tape, and everything!) but it will give the correct shape.

So, tonight, hopefully, a new recipe and a pair of bodies!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday's Food List

This was my dinner. The link will take you to a 15th C recipe of a Potage of Rice. The ingredients are cooked rice, saffron, cooking wine, honey, and almond milk. I didn't have any cooking wine so I left that out. It was pretty blah so I added cinnamon. Still, not a huge fave. Probably won't do this again.

For lunch, it was toast and jam with olives on the side. I've also been snacking on peppermint sticks. :-) Breakfast was Apple Muse which also tastes good with cinnamon.

I am working on a sewing project. More details later on that.

Fly By Post

I won't be able to do much with the food side of this blog next week. I've been called to NYC again. Don't worry, it's a good thing. And it's for work. However, next week will mostly be shrimp over rice with garlic sauce from Essen's due to trying to stick to something vaguely medieval lenten themed. (They had garlic; they had shrimp; they had rice. I'm good! Breakfast will be interesting though...) I'll resume the medieval lent craziness next Saturday. Like I said, I'm not completely giving up on it - at all- I'll be eating only seafood and veggies. Just no research or cooking.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Apple Muse!

I used the Gode Cookery site's research for Apple Muse but the measurements and directions are my own. I made it this morning for breakfast. Today is a fast day so I only had a small amount of this and probably won't eat again until an early supper - with the fish from last night and maybe some veggies. :-)

  • 1 bag of frozen apples (approx. 4 peeled, cored, and cut apples per a bag)
  • 1 cup Japanese style Bread Crumbs
  • 1/3 cup (ish) of honey
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Red food coloring because I can't find food grade sandlewood

I tried to boil the apples but my stove is ridiculous. I managed to get them to boil eventually despite my stoves attempts at not cooking anything. (Although my stove *should* have 9 different settings, it thinks it only has two on the main burner. One is "warm" the other is "OMG! HOT!". Where these settings are changes every single day. )

Once the apples were cooked (I just dumped the bag from the freezer into a pot of water), I drained them. Then, I mashed them - which took all of two seconds. They were really, really easy to mash into apple sauce. I added the red food dye at this point. I put in a LOT. I then added the bread crumbs. The reason I used the Japanese bread crumbs is that I could read the label and picture the raw ingredients in my head: Wheat, salt, yeast, and sugar. I know exactly what each of those ingredients are. The other "plain" bread crumbs had words that start with "mono". I don't want to eat things that start with "mono".

After the bread crumbs, I squirted in the honey - originally only two tablespoons. However, once all this was done cooking, I realized it was a bit blah and added more honey. That did the trick. I also added the salt and saffron to the mix while it was cooking. Then I added the almond milk, stirred it all up, and brought it up to a boil. It sort of looks like marinara sauce as it's cooking because of the red food dye. I let it cook for about 5 minutes and then served it.

I think I may have put a bit too much honey in when I put the extra bit in. Really, with some cinnamon, this would taste just like apple cinnamon cream of wheat. It's a great breakfast food.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday's Dinner

I bought fresh cod at the store and figured I'd look up a recipe later. That proved to be a challenge. Cod is a period fish - but it seems it was too common to write much about. For example, I found this:

Freshe Cod. Sauce, Grenesauce.
1575 by William Howe

So, fresh cod, good! But what the heck is green sauce. The original text gives no clues on how to cook the fish or what greensauce is. It's just something to eat on fish days. This mid 16th Century cookbook says the same thing. Cod with greensauce but no additional information. So, I found this:

FRESH COD is prepared and cooked like gurnet with white wine in the cooking, and eaten with yellow sauce; and the salted cod is eaten with butter or mustard.
(1393, Le Menagier De Paris)

So now I know to cook it in white wine. Great! But what the heck is yellow sauce now? Luckily, this guy actually thought to write it down:
Yellow Soup or Yellow Sauce on hot or cold fish. Fry in oil, with no flour, loach, skinned perch or other similar fish, then grind almonds, and mix most of them with wine and verjuice and sieve, and put on the fire: then grind ginger, clove, grain and saffron, and stir with your bouillon, and when the soup has boiled, add your spices; and when serving add sugar, and it should be thick.

So almonds, wine, verjuice (lemons work), ginger, clove, I have no idea what type of grain "grain" is; maybe he meant flour?, saffron, & sugar.

Still, I want to know what the heck green sauce is. I stumbled upon this modern book called Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks By Constance B. Hieatt that takes excerpts from period cookbooks. In it, the lady states that green sauce was common and subject to a huge amount of variety. Which both helps and doesn't at the same time. It means that when I find a recipe for green sauce, I can just leave out stuff and not worry about it too much but it also means that the recipe I'm using might not even be close to the ones the cooks above were thinking of.

Eventually, I found this:
Green Sauce
Tractatus de modo preparandi et condiendi omnia cibaria 394, translated in Redon et al.
"Here is how to make green sauce: take ginger, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, parsley, and sage. First grind the spices, then the herbs, and add a third of the sage and parsley, and, if you wish, three or two cloves of garlic. Moisten with vinegar or verjuice. Note that to every sauce and condiment salt is added, and crumb of bread to thicken it."
Other variants:

Max Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch, 1581
"9. Sauce of green parsley made/ with toasted bread and vinegar ground together/pepper and salt it a little/ so it becomes good and well tasting.

Le Menagier de Paris:
"GREEN SAUCE WITH SPICES. Grind ginger very fine, clove, grain, and take out of the mortar: then grind parsley or allheal, sorrel, marjoram, or one or two of the four, and white breadcrumbs soaked in verjuice, and strain and grind again very fine, then strain again and put it all together and flavour with vinegar."
Forme of Cury, 1390
"Take persel, mynt, garlek, a litul serpell and sauge; a litul canel, gynger, piper, wyne, brede, vyneger; do thereto powdour of gynger and pepper, & the grece of the maulard. Salt it; boile it wel and serue it forth."

Le Menagier de Paris:
"SORREL VERJUICE. Grind the sorrel very fine without the twigs, and soak in old, white verjuice, and do not strain the sorrel, but let it be finely ground; or thus: grind parsley and sorrel or wheat-leaves. Item vine buds, that is those that are young and tender, without any sticks."
Making Medieval Sauces, a class by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

Another excellent resource on green sauce is found here with a modern redaction and images of the actual medieval recipe and the 18th c transcription.

So which one to make? The easiest is the 1581. Parsley, toast, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Pretty easy. It's also close to the date of the "Fresh Cod with greensauce" mentions above.

But I sort of like the Forme of Cury parsley, mint, garlic, thyme (serpell is creeping thyme), sage, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, wine, bread, vinegar, and salt version too. However, I don't have mint. Well, I might have oil of peppermint but that doesn't have the same flavor. So, maybe everything but the mint? We'll see when I get really hungry. :-)

A half hour later...

I got hungry.

Despite the time it took me to do the research, this recipe is actually very, very quick. It takes 10 minutes to cook the fish and you just prepare the sauce while that's cooking. That's it. And it's pretty yummy. A bit on the sweet side for the sauce but that may have been the vinegar I used. Still, yummy.

1 cup white cooking wine
1 cup water
1 fillet of fish

I heated up the pan full of wine and water first. I waited until it was steaming and put in the fillet. I then covered the pan and started on the sauce. Ten minutes later, the cod was done!

Green Sauce:

Lots and Lots and Lots! of Parsley. I *think* I used about 6 tablespoons.
1/4 of water or there about
1 tablespoon of cooking wine (it's what I had left in the bottle. It probably could have used a bit more)
Piece of the bread I made last night I tore up into bread crumbs. About half a slice
2 tablespoons of honey ginger balsamic vinegar. Probably should have used regular white wine vinegar but I love the balsamic vinegars.
Garlic salt - 2 teaspoons
Thyme - a big pinch
Sage- another big pinch
Cinnamon - about a teaspoon (I gave up on measuring at one point and just put stuff in until it looked good)
1/2 teaspoon of Ginger
1 teaspoon of pepper

I cooked this all up in a saucepot while the fish was cooking. It's more of a dark green/brown color but it's quite good. First time I haven't had to add salt to something for more flavor.

I saved half the fillet and sauce and will probably have it for lunch tomorrow.

The recipe is good, quick, and period! What's not to love?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Boring foodwise Ash Wednesday

Really, I had a salad for lunch.  (Romaine Lettuce, herbs, cabbage, carrots, croutons which probably aren't exactly period, and my typical oil and vinegar for a dressing)  I didn't eat breakfast because I had to go to the doctors for a couple of lab tests.  (Stupid gallbladder!)  The tests required fasting so when better to have the appointment than on a fasting day?

For a snack, I had raisins and walnuts which helped a whole lot.   For dinner, it was mushrooms and onions.  I also ate half a pickle at some point.  

Very boring but I had a lot to do today, unfortunately, and I don't have fish in the house yet.  Hopefully, tomorrow. 

I am making bread.  I'm cheating a bit and using yeast as my starter died again last week.  In the middle ages, yeast was used from beer so it's not a complete cheat.   Just that yeast isn't quite like the stuff you get in the grocery store.  

The bread is out of whole wheat flour, honey, Atlantic sea salt, water, and an olive oil I got at my favorite olive oil place, Under the Olive Tree, in Tysons.  The olive oil is from only one type of olive grown in Spain, I believe.  I'm hoping this is somewhat closer to what our ancestors would have had available to them. 

Tomorrow, for lunch, probably strawberry jam on bread.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Using up the last of the eggs...Happy Mardi Gras!

Since today is Mardi Gras, I've been eating everything in sight. I had bacon for breakfast with two eggs, cinnamon swirl bread for lunch, and this for dinner:

To boyle Chickens after the French fashion.
Quarter the Chickens in foure peeces: then take after the rate of a pinte of wine for two Chickens: then take time & parsly as small minced as ye can, and foure or fiue Dates, with the yolkes of foure hard Egges, and let this boile together, and when you will season your pot, put in salt, sinamon and Ginger, and serue it foorth.
(16th C,

Except, I didn't quite cook that much. My version:

1 Large Chicken breast
2 cups of red wine
2 chopped up dates
1 boiled hard egg yolk (I had used the rest of the eggs in the fridge already. 2 would have been better)
1 tablespoon of Thyme (I thought I had parsley but didn't. I probably will use a tablespoon of that in the future)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ginger

Put the wine in a pot (or deep frying pan like I did) and bring it to a boil. Throw in the chicken. Mix together the thyme, parsley, egg yolks, and dates. Throw those on top of the chicken and let it cook for a few minutes. (On my stove, it took about 20 min total. Turning the chicken half way through. However, my stove is ridiculous and it would probably only take 10 min on a proper stove). Remember to baste the chicken with the wine every once in a while while it's cooking. Once it looks close to being cooked, throw in the salt, cinnamon, and ginger on top of the chicken. Let it cook another couple of minutes and serve.

To me, it tasted like it would be great over some brown rice. It's sweet but almost what we would now think of as a Caribbean chicken taste just without the hot/heat spices. I was pretty pleased with it.

Now, to go eat the rest of the chocolate chip cookies and whatever soda is in the fridge.  Tomorrow....hard cider and lots and lots of apples...

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's that time of year again

Can I just say, I've been bouncing around for the past couple of months, super excited for Lent!   I know, I'm probably one of the very, very few Catholics that are.  Most are looking at giving up chocolate or soda for a full 40 days with resignation.   First, I don't have to give up chocolate (hot chocolate for the win!) and I absolutely love looking up crazy medieval lenten recipes to try.  

This year, starting on Wednesday, I will be having a TON of apple dishes.   Remember the apples I got back in October?  I still have 13 of those bags frozen in my freezer.  Lots and lots of apple pie!  However, I also want to try a few new fish recipes.   Like this one:

1.18. Pancakes in Lent
Take fillet of pike and saffron, well ground. [Add] white flour, tempered with wine, and cut figs (small] in the dough. Have boiling hot fat and bake [the pancakes] in it.

Now, I'm not sure if the translation is off or if - as I've read from plenty of secondary sources- that they really did "cheat" when it came to the no animal products rule.  However, rather than fat (or lard, as the google translate program wants me to use), I'll just cook it up in olive oil.   

From the same cookbook, this sounds pretty decent for breakfast:
1.17. Porridge of almonds and bread in Lent
Make thick almond milk and add saffron. Take the crusts of white bread, cut in small pieces, and let them boil in it, and add chopped figs and grains of stoned raisins from oversea.

I'm not sure what stoned raisins are yet (other than possibly the Califonia Raisins on drugs...)  but raisins and figs in a porridge sounds pretty yummy.

However, since I still have a few days before Lent (and a freezer that is currently half apple/ half meat), I'm thinking of trying a few out of Lent recipes like this:

To boyle Chickens after the French fashion.

  Quarter the Chickens in foure peeces: then take after the rate of a pinte of wine for two Chickens: then take time & parsly as small minced as ye can, and foure or fiue Dates, with the yolkes of foure hard Egges, and let this boile together, and when you will season your pot, put in salt, sinamon and Ginger, and serue it foorth. 
I do need to use up the rest of the eggs before Lent.  I plan on making the cinnamon bread again (very very yummy) as well.   
I know it's a bit silly, but I am really excited for this year's Lent!   

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #4: Under it All

The Challenge:Under it all
Fabric: Cotton blend, canvas
Pattern: My own
Year: 1770's
Notions: Bias tape, hem tape, thread
How historically accurate is it? 50% The pattern is correct and there is a lot of hand sewing but the fabric print isn't correct and there is a lot of machine sewing. Plus, the almight duct ties aren't correct
Hours to complete: way way too many. Stupid bias tape I had to hand sew on
First worn: Tonight!
Total cost: Maybe $5? Duct ties were on hand. The fabric was $2 a yard. The bias tape and hem tape were part of a collection from an antique store that I got for $1.

Pictures tomorrow!  Stupid wifi won't let me upload!
Mom wearing her new stays last night after the party.  They survived!!!!

Front of the stays
Inside the stays.
The Story:   Mom lost her stays.   Therefore, I had to make her a new pair so she could wear her robe a la francaise to the Francaise dinner.  They are not the best, I admitt.  The cotton blend really isn't good for stay making.  I much prefer the canvas and heavy brocades or tight weave linens I'm use to using.  However, this was in the stash and on hand.    Still, they aren't horrible to look at.   They give the right shape, and Mom said they were comfortable.