On Sunday I collected a lovely big bag of windfall apples at a harvest for Hidden Harvest, a local social business that collects fruits and nuts that would otherwise rot on the trees, and shares it with our food banks and shelters. Most of the apples were destined for the stable where my horse lives, but as I was browsing through Sir Kenelm Digby’s cookbook, I  spotted this recipe for apple sauce.

To Stew Apples

Pare them and cut them into slices. Stew them with wine and water as the pears, and season them in like manner with spice. Towards the end sweeten them with sugar, breaking the apples into pap by stirring them. When you are easy to take them off, put in goo store of fresh store of fresh butter, and incorporate it well with them, bag them together. You se between two dishes. The quickest are the best.

To stew wardens or pears

Pare them, put them into a pipkin, with so much red or claret-wine and water, as will near reach to the top of the pears. Stew or boil them gently, till they grow tender, which may be in two hours. After a while, put in some sticks of cinnamon bruised and a few cloves. When they are almost done, put in sugar enough to season them well and their syrup, which you pour out upon them in a deep plate.

The Closet of Kenelm Digby’s, Kt., Opened
Brewing and Cookery
1677, p. 194
Falconwood Press

To make this, I peeled and sliced about 6 cups of apples, added a cup each of water and red wine brought them to the boil and then let them simmer for a bit. Then I added a cinnamon stick and 6 cloves plus 3 Tbsp of sugar and simmered for a bit longer. From time to time, I gave the apples a good stir so they would run to mush. The apple sauce is like a tart apple pie filling. I like it tart, but you may wish to adjust the sugar quantity to your taste.




Since I had beets leftover from yesterday’s pickled turnip experiment, I went searching for a way to use them up and came across Marx Rumpolt’s 1581 recipe in Ein New Kochboch. As a bonus, it called for horseradish, so I was able to use up all that remained from this harvest.

3. Rote Ruben eyngemacht mit klein geschnittenen Merrettich/ Aniss/ Coriander/ und ein wenig Kuemel/ sonderlich wenn die Ruben geschnitten/ gesotten mit halb Wein und halb Essig.


3. Red beets preserved with small cut horseradish/ anise/ coriander/ and a little caraway/ special if the beets are cut/ marinated in half wine and half vinegar. (Source: http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD/pickled-foods-msg.html)

I used 6 beets, about 3/4 c of horseradish pieces, 1 c each of red wine and vinegar (mix of balsamic and white vinegar), 1 tsp caraway seed and 1/2 tsp each ground anise and whole caraway seed. Put everything into a jar, covered it, and left it to sit on my kitchen counter for 24 hours. The result is a delightfully crunchy beet pickle and a remarkably edible horseradish root that is tinted bright red.


I have too much horseradish. Despite best efforts, it takes over my garden. I usually let it go until fall because it is supposed to be sharper, but this year I stead the space for something else so I ripped it out. Now what? Horseradish mustard seemed like a good idea.

Grey Dragon, which is an excellent resource for mustard recipes, has one from Sir Kenelm Digby (The Closet of Kenelm Digby, Kt., Opened. Brewing and Cookery, 1677, p. 187. Falconwood Press).

To make Mustard

The best way of making Mustard is this: take of the best Mustard-seed (which is black) for example a quart. Dry it gently in an oven, and beat it to subtle powder, and searse it. Then mingle well strong wine-vinegar with it, so much that it be pretty liquid, for it will dry with keeping. Put to this a little pepper beaten small (white is the best) at discretion, as about a good pugil, and put a good spoonful of sugar to it (which is not to make it taste sweet, but rather quick, and to help the fermentation) lays good onion in the bottom, quartered if you will, and a race of ginger scrapedndbruised; and stir it often with an horseradish root cleansed, which let always lie in the pot till it have lost its vertue, then takea new one. This will keep long, and ow enter for a while. It is not good till after a month, that it hath fermented a while.

Some think it will be the quicker, if the feed be ground with fair water, instead of vinegar, putting store of onions in it.

My Lady Holmeby makes her quick fine Mustard thus: choose true mustard-seed; dry it in an oven after the bead is out. Beat and searse it to a most subtle powder. Mingle sherry-sack with it, stirring it a long time very well, so much as to have it a of a fit consistence for Mustard, then put a good quantity of fine sugar to it, as five or six spoonfuls, or more,to a pint of mustard, stir and incorporate it all well together. This will keep good a long time. Some do like to put to it a little (but a little) of very sharp wine-vinegar.

I used the GreyDragon redaction as a base, because I also like hot mustard.

1/2 lb of brown mustard
A 2″ piece of ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black mustard
1/4 large onion, chopped into tiny pieces
3″ piece of horseradish (from a thick root, so it was about 1″ thick)’ chopped into tiny pieces
1/4 tsp sugar
About 1 c apple cider vinegar

I ground the mustard in my amazing new giant granite mortar and pestle, and put the ground mustard into a bowl. Then I ground the ginger and horseradish. I added a bit of mustard seed in with the vegetables to ensure they got fully ground. Next, I transferred the vegetables to a bowl and added vinegar, mustard and sugar, then stirred everything together. I transferred this mix to the bowl of ground mustard and stirred again, and added more vinegar until it was nice and liquidy. Then I covered it with cloth and it is now sitting on the counter, where is will stay to ferment and mellow for the next month.

Pickled Turnips

I have some white turnips in my garden, and I love pickles, so pickled turnips seemed like a brilliant idea. Documenting medieval pickled turnips was less brilliant. However, I have found enough evidence to (mostly) justify a batch of my beloved Lebanese pickled turnips.

According to Delights of the Garden of Eden (a cookbook and history of Iraqi cuisine by Nawal Nasralla, 2003), turnips and beets have been growing in Mesopotamia since the times of the Sumerians, and possibly earlier (p. 577). She notes that traditionally, turnips and Beets are preserved in brine and kept in large earthenware jars called bastouga. They are left for forty days on the suny side of the flat roof of the house, to let it mellow under the gentle warmth of the Iraqi winter sun. However, this method doesn’t work as well in other climates, so she offers a variation with some vinegar as well as brine. She adds that turnips and Beets are essential for making this kind of pickles, as Beets will give the vegetables a beautiful pinkish hue.

The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (Knopf Doubleday, 2008 p. 460), refers to a pickle in the medieval Baghdadi Cookbook. According to Roden, the recipe is for turnips pickled in vinegar, sweetened with honey, perfumed with aromatic herbs, and tinted with saffron.

I couldn’t find that recipe in my version of the 10th C Baghdadi Cookbook, which is found in Annals of the Calliph’s Kitchens, by Nawal Nasrallah (Brill, 2010). It does, however, have a recipe for turnip chutney: take one part turnip, one part quince, and Levantine apple combined, and half a part of citron. Finely chop them, put them in a container and sprinkle them with a handful of salt (p. 205). n
Nasrallah also describes two different kinds of turnips (white and red), and their traditional use in pickles (p. 794
Having failed to find convincing evidence for pickled turnips, I decided to make them anyway. I use the recipe found here: http://www.wander-crush.com/2014/04/13/pickled-turnips/ but used about half of the quantities because that’s how many pickles I have harvested so far. After a day on my kitchen counter, protected by a cloth, they look like this:


82 – Taught Emundr how to make a fishing net. Wore my new dress for the first time, only to discover that I had forgotten to hem one sleeve. I fixed that as soon as I got home, and applied my braided trim to the second dress. I also made a cloth needle case and made a shoulder bag that is functional, though it still needs some decorative trim and seam reinforcing.

83 – Today was our last full day on the site. A high point for me was using a Viking Age frying pan to cook fresh cod. The first filets were falling apart on the pan, so Ragnarr told us to heat the pan until the butter is sizzling, then add the cod and get a good sizzle going. Take it off the fire until the sizzle stops, then repeat a couple of times before turning the fish over. Once it is turned, repeat on the other side. It made a huge difference.

84 – embroidery on my shoulder bag.

85 – more embroidery

86 – spent the day learning about the history of the Basque whalers in LAbrador. there were some wonderfully preserved textiles, as well as many wooden and pottery implements. I now need to add a fishing reel for jigging cod, and noisemakers and a bird net, to go with my collection of useful things I will never use. Also, I should have more things like spatulas and a bread dough cutter, at least for later period cooking.

87 – this was a long travel day, in which I finally finished reinforcing all the seams on the bag. I still haven’t decided on a colour or design for the op edge, so I have moved to naalbinding my little bag.

88 – I spent the day at the Fortress of Louisbourg, an early 18th C French town and garrison in Cape Breton. The high points were learning to identify some new medicinal plants and chatting with the cook. She introduced me to the cooking of Francois Massialot, (1660-1733, I think); he is credited as the inventor of creme brulee.

89 – finished the first mitten

90 – knitting – I am close to finishing the second mitten

91 – gardening, made another braid as I taught my friend Marina how to do it. I also spent time on tablet weaving with her, and eyeing bobbin lace patterns as I convince her to take up the hobby (insert evil enabling grin here).

92 – helped Marina set up a new tablet weaving project.

93 – I started a new modern knitting project because it was easy to carry with me to the doctor’s office but then I didn’t have time in the waiting room to continue it. I did get to the garden to harvest camomile flowers.

94 – helped my friend pick currants so she could make a jelly.

95 – made another braid just before bed because I couldn’t bear the idea of breaking my streak at this point.

96 – researched cured pork recipes – lonza, lomo and speck

97 – started curing three pork loins

98 – lots of gardening. Hung some herbs to dry, identified the hyssop I had planted and then forgotten the name of, transplanted basil and woad

99 – more gardening. Transplanted more woad, plus some of the borage and alkanet.

100 – more gardening (well, pruning) to make room for my new foxglove plant. I also spent a couple of hours helping a friend sort out problems with her tablet weaving project.

Success! I have completed the 100 Days of A&S challenge. To celebrate, here are pictures of my pork loins, which will hang to dry for the next three months. It’s not very exciting, but sometimes projects are like that.

80 – Taught archaeology students to sew and embroider, taught Thora to do finger-loop braid (must send her more patterns). Watched Kadlin dye with madder so I could try it at home (she did a skein of my wool). IMG_0620.JPG

Earlier in the week one of the archaeology students and I tried ironing with a stone. It turns out that the stone doesn’t need to be hot, but it definitely worked better when the linen was slightly damp.

81 – Spent most of the day in the kitchen, welcoming visitors to the site and explaining about what we know about Norse society. Many of today’s questions revolved about pee. I had a madder dye pot going for the afternoon, so that led to questions about other dyes, and therefore urine baths. Which led, of course, to discussions of ammonia for cleaning stains, and then to other useful products, including horse manure for cob (and the bead oven in the next room). There was an often unrelated line of questions about where the Norse in Newfoundland went to the bathroom. There is no evidence for privies, so best guess is a bucket in really bad weather or during the night, and open defecation during the day – with a crew of 25 or so men in each boat, and only a few women, this seems like a very reasonable guess.

On the less medieval side, we had dinner on the beach with the permanent staff tonight. We made fresh pizza in a bread oven, grilled some steaks, and listened to an impromptu jam session with five people who showed up with musical instruments. It was quite magical.

I also learned stories about the L’Anse aux Meadows moose. Apparently the young moose love to frolic on the newly prepared ground of the septic system. The staff kept noticing the ground was disturbed so they set up a hunter’s camera and caught them dancing and digging on the bouncy fresh peat. They are also very curious; late in the summer, when people come out of the main hall after a presentation of the saga that tells about coming to this place, they are startled to discover that the moose have moved in as close as possible to the doorway, drawn by the sounds of the storyteller.

Today I got to teach a Newfoundlander how to make a fishing net. The irony has had me giggling since yesterday, when I was told I would have this job. Newfoundland, of course, has more than 500 years of fishing tradition, and it was the main employer on the island until the cod fishery collapsed about 25 years ago. thankfully the cod are now starting to return and we had a fine feast of it for lunch today.

We started off with learning the basic knot. Then we started a new net so that he could keep working on it at the site. I suddenly discovered that I had no idea how to start a net properly, so we fetched Egil, who I remembered knew how to make nets; he had given me pointers when I was here seven years ago. Apparently, you can start the net with a series of loops and two half hitches onto a line. To make sure the knot doesn’t move, you can do a rolling hitch, a knot that has two half hitches, then a third hitch that loops on the line to the left of the first two (when working left to right). Egil also told me that you measure a net by the number of rows of mesh – for example a 50 mesh net is deeper than 30 mesh net. You wouldn’t call it a 10 foot deep net.

Then I made a dip net. I lashed four sticks together after running each stick through the net. Then I tied the whole thing to a pole using rope I had made using whipcording. Egil says it would work for schooling fish like herring or mackerel; the mesh is far too large for capelin, thought it needs a longer pole (I have one on site so can make th switch tomorrow). It might even work for the salmon that do come up the stream on site. I need to find a nice rock to fasten into the bottom to give the net a bit of weight. While I would still like to try and bend a pole and knot my net on that, I’m reasonably happy with this experiment. Next time I make a square net, I’ll lash the poles together first and net around the frame, rather than trying to work around the net to lash after the fact.