This article first appeared in the Seahorse, the monthly newsletter of the Crown Province of Østgarðr, in July, 1996.
Cooking at a camping event like Pennsic can be difficult, whether you're cooking for yourself or for an entire encampment. Food storage is even more so; bringing a mini-fridge would hinder the medieval ambience, lugging ice from the camp store to the Serengeti or other far-flung spot is a nuisance, and making daily food runs is impractical (thanks to the dauntingly congested Pennsic parking fields). So, what can you cook if you don't want to be a slave of the ice demons? Root vegetables will keep nicely in a dry shady spot, or even buried in a box of earth....
(Forme of Cury no. 7)
"Take rapus [turnips] and make hem clene, and waissh hem clene; quarter hem; perboile hem, take hem up. Cast hem in a gode broth and seeth hem; mynce oynouns and cast therto safroun and salt, and messe it forth with powdour douce. In the self wise make of pasternakes [carrots/parsnips] and skyrwittes [not available in U.S.]."
1 lb carrots
1 lb parsnips
1/2 large white onion
4 C broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 t poudre douce (ratio 2 T sugar, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t cardamom)
Mince onion. Peel carrots and parsnips and cut into eighths. Bring broth to boil and add vegetables and seasonings. Simmer c. 35 min.
Dried pasta is also easy to store and prepare out-of-doors; butter and cheese, the traditional accompaniments, can be purchased at the camp store. (An old Boy Scout tip: butter and cheese can be kept cool by storing them in an earthenware crock buried in wet sand)
(Forme of Cury no. 95)
"Take and make a thin foil of dowh, and kerve it on peces, and cast hem on boiling water and seeth it wele. Take chese and grate it and butter cast bynethen and above as losyns, and serve forth."
(consider the pasta already made and dried :-)
1 lb. pasta (flat noodles, an Italian version uses tube pasta; try percciatelli)
c. 8 oz. grated cheese (cheddar is nice, feta is awesome!)
butter to taste
Cook the noodles in water, or in broth for more flavor (see "Losyns", FC 50). When done, layer with butter and cheese. You can also sprinkle with poudre douce (at least two other pasta recipes call for this).
If you do wish to cook with meat, but don't want to worry about keeping it fresh, try preserving it. We pickle meat in Lord's Salt, a mixture of vinegar, breadcrumbs, and divers spices. The recipe is available in Cariadoc's Miscelleny. Meat pickled in Lord's Salt tastes sour and spicy even after rinsing, and is best used in dishes that list vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, etc. among the ingredients....
(Forme of Cury 23)
"Take connynges or kydde, and smyte hem on pecys rawe, and fry hem in white grece. Take raysouns of corance and fry hem. Take onyouns, perboile hem and hewe hem small and fry hem. Take red wyne and a lytel vynegur, sugur with powdour of peper, of gynger, of canel, salt; and cast therto, and lat it seeth with a gode quantite of white grece, & serue it forth."
c. 3 lbs of meat, pickled in Lord's Salt (rabbit, beef, venison, or
pork all work nicely)
1 C currants
4 1/2 C red wine
1 1/2 C sugar
breadcrumbs to thicken (1 bowl's worth)
butter for sauteeing
Parboil chopped onions. Wash Lord's Salt off meat and set meat aside. Fry onions, currants, and meat in butter. Add wine and sugar; cover and simmer c. 45 min. Thicken with breadcrumbs; simmer a bit more. Serve over rice or crusty bread.
Pickling your own meat is a lot of work; you could also cook using canned meat (canning is Napoleonic, but I'd really rather not deal with raw, bloody chicken on a camping trip).
(Harleian MS. 279 (Potage Dyvers), .lxxxxvj)
"Take [an]Sethe Chykonys, & smyte hem to gobettys; than take Pepir, Gyngere, and Brede y-grounde, & tempere it vppe wyth the selfe brothe, an with Ale; an coloure it with Safroun, and sethe an serue forth."
1 canned chicken (or equivalent fresh)
2 cups ale
2 cups broth
1/2 t pepper
1/4-1/2 t ginger
6 threads saffron
2 slices of bread for crumbs (1 cup?)
Boil chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Heat broth and ale; add spices and chicken meat. Mix breadcrumbs with some of the broth until mushy, and gradually add mixture to the pot to thicken. Simmer 45 min.-1 hour. Serve over toasted bread.
Absolute culinary authenticity is not possible, for a number of reasons, but with discreet use of a few modern innovations (boullion cubes or powdered soup base, canned meats, dried pasta), your camp can produce tasty period dishes without relying on modern (in)conveniences. You can take the time spent hauling ice and visit the merchants, instead....
The following are items written by Scadians or living history interpreters that contain information about food preparation at or for events:
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