Baronial Banner

Some months ago, I agreed to make a new banner for our Barony. This was a chance to work on my cartooning skills, just like the renaissance artists had done. I printed the hare image from a website with our baronial heraldry, drew a grid on it and a March larger grid to suit the size of the banner. Then I blew up the little hare to full size by drawing what was in each small square into the corresponding large square. Then it was simply a matter of making appliqué pieces, Sewing them down, embroidering details, and assembling the banner to hide all the stitches on the back of the appliquéd piece. All the fabric is linen.88484731-6cc4-4fef-9d79-0a295be9719d


A question arose tonight about Viking Age needle cases and metal needles that sent me searching for answers. I had lots of images of bone needles and a couple of bone needle cases, but no metal needles. After a bit of searching, I came across The Reverend’s Big Blog of Leather here on WordPress. It isn’t quite a perfect match with my interests, but he has been doing skeletal materials research and that is worth noting. I really enjoyed his post about the skeletal materials at the National Museum of Scotland, which has lovely photos of things I have only seen as drawings, and two photos with metal needles and bone needle cases that fit into the Viking Age. The Reverend’s Big Blog of Leather


Back in early August, I tried my hand at making pastirma, the Turkish dried meat. I dutifully took it down when it was sufficiently dried, stuck it in the refrigerator, and pretty much forgot about it. Tonight I finally remembered to take a photo, and I had a bunch for supper. It is delicious. I like the fenugreek flavour a lot – I’m sure it will be even better now that I know to soak the seeds before trying to grind them!



Horse hair fishing net

I tried doing this years ago. I couldn’t find decent instructions. I did make myself some bobbin-type things to help, but it wasn’t a great success. These instructions, with much clearer guidance on how to add in hew hairs, make much more sense. Time for more experimentation! https://www.lostwitandwisdom.com/how-to-make-a-horse-hair-fish-line/

Thomas de Courcy (https://www.bakerspeel.com) asked a question about documentation for pastirma before 1600. Of course, that sent me down today’s research rabbit hole.

Wikipedia had some interesting links that focused on etymology but no actual recipes.  According to Wikipedia, “the word pastırma comes from the Turkish verb bastırmak which means “to press”. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink writes that pastırma is the word Ottomans used for a type of Byzantine cured beef that was called pastonThe Oxford Companion for Food says that a Byzantine dried meat delicacy was “a forerunner of the pastirma of modern Turkey”. According to Johannes Koder, an expert in Byzantine studies, paston could mean either salted meat or salted fish.

Other scholars have given different accounts of the historical origins of the Ottoman pastırma. The armies of settled, agricultural peoples had cereal based diet, and some Turkish and Bulgarian scholars have written that certain medieval fighters who kept dried and salted meat under their saddles had an edge over opponents who ate mostly cereals. Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Huns warmed this meat by placing it between their legs or on the backs of their horses.  Pastırma is mentioned in 11th C scholar Mahmud of Kashgars Diwan Lughat al-Turk and 17th C explorer Evliya Çelebis Seyahatname.”

Wikipedia also notes that “the word pastrami may be a Yiddish construction that combined salami with pastırma or one of the similar linguistic variations of the word (pastram in Romanian, pastromá in Russian and basturma in Armenian).”

Henry Marks, in Byzantine Cuisine, wrote about apoctia, which is pieces of meat prepared by removing them from the bone, covering them with salt and placing them in the sun. His source was a Greek author (Koukoule), who said that the original information comes from Geoponika. Unfortunately, my edition of Geoponika does not seem to include that information.

Andrew Dalby, in Flavours of Byzantium (p. 71) says that apokti, dried cured meat, is mentioned in the Book of Ceremonies of Constantine Porphyrogennetos. The modern recipe from the same book (p. 171) is a traditional one from Santorini. It uses pork loin that is trimmed, salted for a day, then steeped in vinegar for three days. Then it is removed from the vinegar, patted dry and rubbed with cinnamon and left for five or six hours. Then it is rubbed with ground black pepper, dried savory, and more cinnamon and hung to dry for several weeks.

In a different document (From Greeks Abroad: social organization and food among the ten thousand, 1992) Dalby notes in his Footnote 97 – “Turkish and Bulgarian scholars consider that the fact that their warlike medieval ancestors had a regular supply of meat, dried and salted under their saddles, contributed to their success against opponents who fought on cereal food. The method (said to be precursor of modern Turkish pastirma) is first recorded of the Huns by Ammianus Marcellinus 31.2.3, quam inter femora sua equorumque (Gardthausen; vaporumque or equorum mss.) terga suhsertam … calefaciunt, ‘[meat] which they warm by placing it between their own legs and their horses’ backs’, not, as Shaw (25) has it, ‘between the hind quarters of their horses’. On pastirma see Kaymak, M. G. in Türk Folklor Arastirmalari no. 208 (November 1966) Google Scholar; Riddervold, A., ‘On the documentation of food conservation’ in Food conservation: ethnological studies ed.  Riddervold, A. and Ropeid, A. (London 1988) 210–218 Google Scholar; L. Radeva, ‘Traditional methods of food preserving among the Bulgarians’ ib. 38–44.”

Since both the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey are largely Muslim, I decided to go with a beef version. http://www.grouprecipes.com/95661/pastirma.html. I now have beef being pressed in salt in my refrigerator. I’ll report back in a few weeks.

Today I participated in a demo at a festival, so I did some spinning, some naalbinding, and started drawing out and carving the design on my antler salt holder. The design on the original is quite worn in spots so I spent some time with a pen, trying to figure out exactly how the knotwork works, then transferring as much as I dared onto the antler. My piece of antler isn’t as big as the original, nor is it quite the same shape, so some will need to be filed off and redrawn. I used a sharpie so that I could soak the antler to soften it while carving. I struggle to follow patterns and put them into another medium, so I’m pleased with how it is working so far. I feel like putting knife to antler was a huge step. I may go back and clean out the inside more, but for now I intend to focus on the decoration.



Now I need to go through all my cookbooks and dig out these recipes to try.