Cookbook Progress Update

Since posting about the cookbook project back in January, some stuff happened that was really hard and sad and I’m still processing all of it. It definitely put a damper on my dreams of testing a recipe a week for the cookbook, but I’m finally starting to feel a little human again (ugh grief is dumb). I don’t know how many recipes I’ll be able to test and add to the cookbook, but I have managed to get a small handful together since January (and it’s not like I didn’t have lots of recipes ready to go back in January, either!)

So, there will be a cookbook, it will probably mostly look like the table of contents already posted (see link), but there will also be at least a few more recipes too! I still don’t have anything like pre-order details or even how I’ll be releasing it nailed down; I’m going to just have to take that as it comes.


Spice Mixes for an Auction, and an Announcement

When the Queen calls, you answer.

Her Majesty Sha’ya of An Tir laid a challenge on our Kingdom, and in particular upon the Laurels: produce a work to be auctioned off to benefit RAINN during the Knights Auction (all donations are sponsored by a Knight) at 12th Night.

I was moved — this is an incredible organization whose mission I believe in. I wanted to produce something worthy of auction. I found a sponsor, Sir Philip de Mantel, and proposed to put together a set of spice mixes for period cooking.

And I did make a set of spice mixes, a rather nice set if I do say so myself:




Most of these (4/6) were made using actual period recipes. The remaining two (powder douce and powder fort) are more “generic” spice blends that I have my own versions of. You can see I found cute bottles and a cute basket and even made little labels for them.

Here are the sources for each one, and their ingredients:

  • Powder Fort: Black pepper, cubeb, cassia cinnamon, mace, clove
  • Powder Douce: Sugar, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Duke‚Äôs Powder (Menagier, 14th c. French): Sugar, ginger, grains of paradise, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, galangal
  • Clar√©e Spices (Two Anglo-Norman Culinary… 13th/14th c English): Spikenard, cinnamon, ginger, mace, clove, nutmeg, fennel, anise, caraway, cardamom
  • Fine Spices 1 (Libro di Cucina, 14th/15th c. Italian): Black pepper, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, clove, saffron
  • Fine Spices 2 (Livre Fort, 16th c. French): Ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, nutmeg, clove, grains of paradise, galangal

Fun, right?

But here’s the thing: I didn’t feel like it was enough. I got it into my head that spices are okay, but you need recipes to know how to use them.

So, long story short, I kind of wrote a cookbook.

No, really:


That’s a screenshot of the cover. I wrote a cookbook, and I got a copy of it printed, and I put it and the spices together as one lot for the auction. The winning bidder currently owns the only copy of this cookbook in existence.

For now.

Yeah, soooo… I’ve given myself a year. I’m going to edit what I have and add more recipes to it if I can (my goal is 1 new tested recipe every 1-2 weeks), then I plan to release it for sale. I’m not planning a big run, and I’m planning to self-publish for a few reasons (although, um, if you work for a publishing house and want to talk me out of that and offer me $$$$ to change my mind and publish through you, let’s talk!)

To get you excited, here is the table of contents so far:

  • Preface¬†¬†¬† 4
  • Brief Notes on Some Ingredients¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Salt¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Spices¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Verjus¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Vinegar¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Saba¬†¬†¬† 5
    • On Almond Milk¬†¬†¬† 6
    • On Rose Water¬†¬†¬† 6
  • Spice Mixes for All Manner of Dishes¬†¬†¬† 7
    • Powder Fort¬†¬†¬† 7
    • Powder Douce¬†¬†¬† 7
    • Clar√©e Spices¬†¬†¬† 8
    • Fine Spices 1¬†¬†¬† 8
    • Fine Spices 2¬†¬†¬† 8
  • Beverages¬†¬†¬† 9
    • Quick Mead¬†¬†¬† 9
    • Hippocras / Ypocras / Clar√©e / Piment (Spiced Wine)¬†¬†¬† 9
    • Oxymel / Posca (Vinegar/Honey Drink)¬†¬†¬† 10
    • Clar√©e D‚Äôeau / Clarea de Agua (Water with Honey and Spices)¬†¬†¬† 10
    • Rose Drink Concentrate¬†¬†¬† 10
  • Finger Foods, Nibbles, and Snacks¬†¬†¬† 11
    • Pescods (Peas in the pod)¬†¬†¬† 11
    • To Churn Your Own Butter¬†¬†¬† 11
    • Whole Pickled Onions¬†¬†¬† 11
    • Pickled Onion Rings¬†¬†¬† 12
    • Pickled Champignons (Mushrooms)¬†¬†¬† 12
    • Fried Livers with Saba¬†¬†¬† 13
    • Hais (Date and Nut Balls)¬†¬†¬† 13
  • Meats, Fishes, and Their Sauces¬†¬†¬† 14
    • Sour Grape Juice with Fried Summer Fish¬†¬†¬† 14
    • To Dresse a Crabbe (Crab with Butter and Verjus)¬†¬†¬† 14
    • Peiouns Ystewed (Stewed Pigeons)¬†¬†¬† 14
    • Grilled Quail with Lemon Sauce¬†¬†¬† 15
    • Good and Perfect Hens with Sumac¬†¬†¬† 16
    • Roasted Chicken with Orange Sauce¬†¬†¬† 16
    • Limonia (Chicken in Lemon Sauce)¬†¬†¬† 16
    • To Make Stekys of Venson or Bef (Steaks of Venison or Beef)¬†¬†¬† 17
    • Alows de Boef (Herbed Rolled Beef)¬†¬†¬† 17
    • Fresh Lamb Sausage with Cilantro Sauce¬†¬†¬† 18
    • Pork Loin with Peach Sauce¬†¬†¬† 19
    • Cormarye (Spiced Pork Loin)¬†¬†¬† 19
    • Salt Pork¬†¬†¬† 20
    • Mustard Sauce¬†¬†¬† 20
  • Egg and Pasta Dishes¬†¬†¬† 21
    • Erbolat (Medieval English Frittata)¬†¬†¬† 21
    • Sphoungata (Byzantine Omelettes)¬†¬†¬† 21
    • Cress√©e of Noodles (Heraldic Chequy Noodles)¬†¬†¬† 22
    • Cheese Gnocchi¬†¬†¬† 22
    • Makerouns (Baked Noodles with Cheese)¬†¬†¬† 23
  • Vegetables, Grains, and Legumes¬†¬†¬† 24
    • A Dish of Leeks¬†¬†¬† 24
    • Onion salad¬†¬†¬† 24
    • Asparagus¬†¬†¬† 24
    • Parsnips in Pottage¬†¬†¬† 25
    • Basic Green Salad¬†¬†¬† 25
    • Sprouts of Life¬†¬†¬† 25
    • Carrot Puree¬†¬†¬† 26
    • Chyches (Seasoned Chickpeas)¬†¬†¬† 26
    • Green Chickpeas¬†¬†¬† 26
    • Fresh Fava Beans¬†¬†¬† 27
    • A Dish of Rice¬†¬†¬† 27
    • Almond Porridge¬†¬†¬† 28
    • Oatcakes¬†¬†¬† 28
  • Pies of All Sorts¬†¬†¬† 29
    • Basic Self-Supporting Hot Water Pastry¬†¬†¬† 29
    • To Raise Coffins¬†¬†¬† 29
    • Coffins Another Way¬†¬†¬† 30
    • To Build a Large Coffin¬†¬†¬† 30
    • General Baking Instructions for Coffins¬†¬†¬† 31
    • Richer Hot Water Pastry for Molded Pies¬†¬†¬† 31
    • Paest Royall¬†¬†¬† 32
    • Short Paste for Tarts¬†¬†¬† 32
    • A Formula for Meat Pies¬†¬†¬† 33
    • Crustardes of Flessh (Birds in a Pie)¬†¬†¬† 33
    • Cheshire Pork Pie¬†¬†¬† 34
    • Simple Pork Pies¬†¬†¬† 35
    • Une Tourte (Greens Tart)¬†¬†¬† 35
    • Leche Frys of Fische Daye (Cheese Tart)¬†¬†¬† 36
    • Tarte of Apples¬†¬†¬† 37
    • To Bake Pippins (Elizabethan Apple Pie)¬†¬†¬† 37
    • Daryols (Mini Cream Custard Tarts)¬†¬†¬† 38
    • A Formula for Fruit Tarts¬†¬†¬† 38
  • Sweets and Desserts¬†¬†¬† 39
    • Dulcia Domestica (Candied Stuffed Dates)¬†¬†¬† 39
    • Payn Ragoun (Pine Nut Candy)¬†¬†¬† 39
    • Marzipan¬†¬†¬† 39
    • Nucato (Honey-Nut Candy)¬†¬†¬† 40
    • Suckets 1 (Candied Citron Peel)¬†¬†¬† 40
    • Suckets 2 (Candied Orange Peels)¬†¬†¬† 41
    • Pears in Confit (Poached Pears)¬†¬†¬† 41
    • Quince Paste¬†¬†¬† 42
    • Sweet Dessert Yogurt¬†¬†¬† 42
    • Gingerbrede¬†¬†¬† 43
    • Stamped Shortbread Cookies¬†¬†¬† 43
    • A Jellied Ypocras, or, Elizabethan Jelly Shots¬†¬†¬† 43
  • Assorted Useful Non-Edible Things to Make¬†¬†¬† 45
    • Herb Water¬†¬†¬† 45
    • Basic Lard Soap¬†¬†¬† 45
    • Tooth Powder¬†¬†¬† 46

Next addition will be a chapter on recreating medieval bread in a home kitchen (with a normal oven).

I look forward to posting updates as this project develops ūüôā

Medieval Cooking is Complex: A Complete Recipe Annotation

During the process of creating my pie for KASC, I had to not only do a lot of test cooking, but I also had to do a ton of close reading. Reading a medieval recipe is a complex and nuanced endeavor. Here is an example of my process of interpreting a recipe.

Continue reading “Medieval Cooking is Complex: A Complete Recipe Annotation”