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Archive for October, 2010

I finished it yesterday morning. It looks pretty okay, I think. Now I need to write up the documentation for it. I think I’ll write a little article on the history of the women’s coat, which I have also seen described as an open tunic. I also need to make up a quick belt. I think I’ll do one in slyng, since I have nice wools and some exposed beams so I can do it in the basement. The inkle loom would also work, but I’m feeling lazy.

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I have spent part of this afternoon and much of the evening looking up sausage recipes and documentation for sausages. I have found a 13th C merguez, a reference to andoulle in Menagier de Paris (possibly related to my andouille recipe, though the spicing is quite different), a lucanian sausage in Platina that looks more like salami than the Apicius lucanian sausage,  and a number of regional recipes (mostly English, but also some descriptions of southern and eastern European specialities).

The Anglo-Saxon word ‘mearch’ is used to translate ‘pork sausage’ (lucanica) in several glosses (vocabulary lists), accoding to Ann Hagen in A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food Processing and Consumption. C. Anne Wilson lists three Norman-English words: aundulyes, saucistres, and pudingis, in Food and Drink in Britain

Food and Feast in Medieval England (PW Hammond) has a picture of a 14th C butcher’s shop from the Bodleian Library, with a man preparing sausages, or at least handling a partly stuffed casing.

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My friend Rozalynd and I made more sausage today. We helped my sister with some basic stuff first (chorizo and hot Italian). For ourselves, we did another batch of bratwurst, which is not documentable to the middle ages, but all ingredients are plausible. Then we did smoked andouille, which contains allspice (dating to Columbus’ voyage to the West Indies, or very shortly thereafter). All the rest of the ingredients (cloves, mace, thyme, pepper) were well known. This was a very complex flavoured sausage, which we smoked on my barrel smoker. The final experiment was saucisse sec, a dry cured sausage that should be ready in about a month. It contains a bit of sugar, but otherwise seems totally period. Depending on how it turns out, the next batch could be done without sugar, or possibly with a bit of honey. Here is a picture of it hanging up in my basement to dry.

It is an an area that is insulated but has no heat source. I have closed it off from the rest of the house, so hopefully the temperature will stay near the ideal 60F.

Earlier in the day, I went to the annual fabric flea market and met a friend who said she is interested in making bobbin lace. Another friend has also said she is interested, so I am now planning to organize a pillow making session. It will be nice to have people to lace with; when I last did a lot of lace, there was no-one, and I eventually gave it up.

At the same sale, I scored a kilo of merino roving. I really need to get on with the spinning and dyeing! I just obtained a new tablet weaving book, and I think I am almost brave enough to start weaving, once I have some nice wool to work with.

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Some friends and I were kicking around ideas for a group project, and I discovered I really want to do a group embroidery project. My inspiration is something like the Bayeux or Oseberg embroideries. I don’t have a story I would like to tell just yet, but I’m thinking something that recalls elements of our trip to l’Anse aux Meadows would be perfect. I need to figure out how to make embroidery stands that would look appropriate and could be taken down for ease of transportation. I also need to figure out how to do the stitches. My friend Marina has promised to teach a course on Bayeux stitch at our Practicum in February – she is a whiz with the other embroidery problems I need to solve too, so I am looking forward to her help. This will be a long project to get going, but it would be a neat way to expand on the Bayeux tapestry project I had already set for myself.

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My mead is bubbling! It’s so cool! Now that I finally have it going, I’m sorry I waited so long. I’m already looking forward to starting the next batch. Before long, I will need to head to the wine shop to see about things like corking bottles.

My son’s hockey games are longer this year (1 1/2 hours plus time in the dressing room) so the newest pair of mittens is coming along at great speed. Periodically, I switch between the mittens and a little purse I am making in a different stitch, and another pair of Viking construction socks. I have mixed in some of an old dyeing project, so the mittens will not be a nice even white, but I am having fun thinking of a suitable explanation to be included in my documentation for our Kingdom A&S competition.

Since I have finished a bunch of projects, I will be sending them down for display, judging, comment, whatever. Along with the costume items, I plan to send this lovely smoked lamb:

Known as hangikjot (hung meat) in Iceland, this brined and smoked lamb dish is traditionally served at Christmas. It is boiled, then sliced thin and served on flatbread. I have yet to find solid documentation for the dish in the Viking Age, but I can document sheep, salt and smoke to the period. The lighter coloured corner at the top is where I have nibbled a bit to taste the meat. I brined it for four days in my refrigerator (substituting instacure #1 for saltpetre), then smoked it for about 9 hours in my barrel smoker in the back yard.

In a final bit of news, my copy of Livro de Cozinha da Infanta D. Maria arrived last night. This is a late 15th or early 16th C Portuguese cookbook, the oldest known cookbook in that language. There are some facsimile pages from the original, transcriptions of the original recipes, then modern Portuguese versions on opposite pages. The book has four parts: meat, eggs, milk and conserves. There are also three health or first aid recipes at the end. There are no redactions, and I am not aware that anyone else has taken on redacting this particular cookbook. This wasn’t quite what I had in mind for my redaction project, but I am now all excited.

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Mead

It’s into the carboy now. My carboy is rather large for the purpose – I think it holds 5 gallons, but it might be even more. I made a 1 gallon batch of mead. Once I got going, it wasn’t as terrifying as I had feared. Assuming it works, I will want to make lots more. My friend Rick used to make an awesome metheglin with lemons, and I have wanted to recreate that recipe for years.

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Mead

Tonight, I start. I realize it has been over a year since I bought the honey that has been sitting on my counter because I have been too afraid to start. Today I found Storm The Castle’s Guide to a successful first batch of mead (stormthecastle.com). Let’s see how it goes…

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