Feast of Saint John Baptiste

The Feast of Saint John Baptiste was an event run in the Shire of Quintavia (central MA) on June 20, 2015. Traditionally, St. John's Day was celebrated with feasting on the first day of summer. The event site did not have a kitchen, but they did have a 4' x 8' dedicated firepit, which we used to cook the majority of the food. We also had a high-output propane stove and a propane smoker. But the entire feast was cooked outside using period techniques when possible.
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Tyger's Cub Scroll for Markis Galea

When my friend xandra_rozina told me that both her children were going to receive Tyger's Cub awards, I was thrilled that she wanted me to do the scroll for her son. At first, we discussed possibly a Viking scroll, but then I found a reference to the Voynitch Manuscript. This manuscript is really fascinating. It's a 15th C. Italian manuscript written in a code that's never been deciphered. It has a lot of drawings that fall into a few categories: herbal, astronomical, biological, cosmological, phameceutical, and recipes. The page I used as inspiration is thought to be a calendar of some sort. This fit in well with the theme of the current reigning King and Queen, which is astrological, and I thought would be something that would appeal to a young boy.

My version is below. It is done on pergamenata. The gold on the stars and the sun rays are gold leaf over miniatum. I substituted the Tyger's Cub badge for the central sun; this is done with shell gold and gouache paint. The calligraphy is using black calligraphy ink (Winsor & Newton) in a batarde hand. This was my first time doing calligraphy on a non-linear shape, and it was a challenge. But I really liked the result, and so did the receipient. Being the very well mannered young man that he is, he came up to me after court (without any prompting) and thanked me for the scroll.

2014_11 Markis TC

SCA related Graphics

This isn't strictly period A&S stuff or research, but I've been making a lot of graphics related to SCA stuff that I think might be of interest to people, so I'm going to post them here. Download if you like; all I ask is that if you use them somewhere else, please credit to Lord Aleksei Dmitriev/L.K. Forney.

First up, archery rank badges. In the East Kingdom, we have a way of ranking archers using a shoot we call the Royal Round. A Royal round consists of 4 ends: 6 arrows at 20 yard, 6 at 30 yards, 6 at 40 yards, and a 30-second timed end at 20 yards. The maximum score for any end with 6 arrows is 30 points, just to give you a scale for the scores. An average of three Royal Rounds scores of less than 40 earns a rank of Archer; 40-59.67 is a Marksman, 60-79.67 is a Bowman, 80-99.67 is a Master Bowman, and 100 and up is a Grandmaster Bowman (a permanent rank). Each rank has a different badge, which correspond to the rings on a target—the higher the rank, the closer you move toward the center of the target (click for larger image to download):

archery_badge_archer archery_badge_marksmen archery_badge_bowmen archery_badge_mb archery_badge_gmb

The next set of badges is for the Quintavia Keeper awards. I made counted patterns for these for embroidery a while ago, and try to create petit point badges to give out when the awards are given (although right now I have a bit of a backlog). But I thought people might like graphics of the badges to put on their personal pages on the East Kingdom Wiki. They are (from left to right) the Torse (heavy list), Light (service), Chalice (A&S), Golden Arrow (archery), and Silver Blade (rapier). There are plans for one for Thrown Weapons, but we haven't finalized that yet. And we should probably consider one for Equestrian as well. Again, click on image for larger version:

quintavia_badge_torse quintavia_badge_lantern quintavia_badge_chalice_sm quintavia_badge_arrow quintavia_badge_blade

What sort of started this whole thing lately is working on graphics for devices for friends. I bought a program that will produce a decent background for most arms (with a good variety of shield shapes, divisions, and ordinaries), and allows to export images as large as you want. I was using the free version which was limited, and decided the pro version was worth the purchase price. The program is available at Ink Well Ideas. Then I use Photoshop to tweak if necessary and add charges. I'm trying to make a little side business of this now, selling custom graphics of devices for $10 each (slightly more if very complex) or for barter. Here are some I've done:

quintavia_arms aleksei_old teresa_arms

Bustaniyya - Chicken with Orchard Produce (Recipe)

This turned out to be my favorite of the three entrees that were offered at Hafla. I have been hearing for years about the Annals of the Caliph's Kitchen, and was so happy to finally get my hands on a copy of it. Here is the original translations:

Bustaniyya (cooked with orchard produce)
Wash small and sour plums and put them in a wet kerchief (mindil) [to hydrate them] if using the dried variety. If fresh ones are used, [just] add to them some water, press and mash them then strain the liquid.
Cut chicken breasts into finger-like strips and add to them whatever you wish of other meats. [Put them in a pot], add the [strained juice of] cherries, and let them boil together. Season the pot with black pepper, ma kamakh (liquid of fermented sauce), (90v) olive oil (zayt), some spices, a small amount of sugar, wine vinegar, and 5 walnuts that have been shelled and rushed. [When meat is cooked], break some eggs on it and let them set [with the steam of the pot], God willing.

I cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into thin strips, and marinated them with the strained juice of sour cherries (which I had left over in my freezer from a dessert dish I had done for another dayboard; never throw anything away!). After marinated them in the refrigerator for a day, I cooked them in the juice and then let them cool for transport to the site.

Once there, the chicken and the juices were put into a large pot, and added the other ingredients: pepper, soy sauce (for the ma kamakh), canola oil (due to an olive oil allergy), cider vinegar, some sugar, and chopped walnuts. The spices I used were cumin seeds, coriander, fennel seeds. The last ingredient added were peeled and chopped up tart black plums. After it simmered for a couple of hours, it was salted to taste, and the balance of sweet and sour was checked.

Like many period middle eastern dishes, this one depended on a balance of sweet and sour from the tartness of the fruits plus the vinegar, balanced with sugar. I liked it more tart than sweet, and the fruits helped a lot with that flavor.

Because of the way that the dish was being served, I didn't do the poached eggs put on top, although if I make this dish again in a smaller quantity, I'd really like to try putting the eggs in, because I think it would add an interesting flavor/texture. I think it worked equally well with both the rice and the couscous.

Here's the quantities I used to make enough to serve about 60 people. There was some left over, but a lot of people tried both the lamb and the chicken, so there was just enough to send some home with the assistant cooks as a thank you.

16 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into think strips
8 cups sour cherry juice (previously frozen)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar (adjust at the end to taste)
1/4 cup sugar (adjust at the end to taste)
6 T cumin seeds
6 T ground coriander
4 T fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Tharida of Meat with Turnips and Walnuts (Recipe)

Another dish from the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook. The original translation:

Tharida of Meat with Turnips and Walnuts
Cut up meat and put in a pot and put with it the white part of whole onions, spices, salt and oil. Pound raisins and put in vinegar and pour them on it. When it is about cooked, pour on it a little water.
Throw in big turnips, cut up, and carrots and a little saffron, and when you have made tharida [that is, crumbled and sopped bread in the broth, and shaped into a round loaf or a ring], arrange the meat in the center and interweave sliced boiled eggs as apples are interwoven [overlap the sliced] and arrange on the plate with the meat on the tharida, and serve, God willing.

A tharida is a stew that is served surrounding a mound of broth-soaked bread/breadcrumbs. I liked the sound of this recipe, serving it just as a stew, especially because it didn't specify the form of the "meat", and I wasn't sure at that point if I was going to do goat, lamb, or beef. I wanted to try cooking goat, but the only source I could get to only sold bags of "parts", which wasn't really good quality meat, and it was rather expensive for that. I knew (or thought I knew) that I could get lamb at a local butcher house called Blood Farm in the next town over. However, the week before the event, I found out that Blood Farm had burned down the end of December and was still closed! Luckily, a wholesale grocer in Worcester had lamb legs on sale for $5/lb (yay for spring lambs). So I hied myself down to Fairway Beef and got about 20lbs of lamb quarters.

Funny story there. Fairway is one of those old fashioned butch shops where when you buy a big hunk of meat, the butcher will break it down for you however you like. So when I asked for two lamb quarters, he asked me how I wanted that cut up. I said that wasn't necessary, I'd take them as is. With wide eyes, he asked, "And you know what to do with them?" Nod. His incredulity grew. "And you were born in this country?" Nod. "Well! Good for you!"

Back to the recipe. Rather than taking the meat off the bone, I interpreted "cut up the meat" to mean cut the pieces small enough to fit in a pot. So I butchered down the quarters a bit and threw everything into my large electric roaster with about 4 cups of raisins, a cup of vinegar, a little oil, salt, spices, and a small amount of water. I skipped the onions because we have onion allergies in our group. I did plan to add leeks later to add that flavoring though. I roasted all that overnight at a low temperature. Once it was cooked, I separated out the meat, covered it with the amazingly RICH broth, and refrigerated it until the event a day later.

At the event, I added in about 6 lbs of chopped turnips, a large bunch of chopped leeks, 4 lbs of sliced carrots, and saffron, and simmered the stew for about 2 hours until everything was tender. We tasted it, and adjusted the salt to taste. It was served over a choice of rice or couscous (rather than bread) and even though I made boiled eggs to slice and garnish with, I forgot them. But no one seemed to complain.

Oh, and despite the title of the recipe, notice that there were NO WALNUTS in the translation! I don't know if that was an error in the translation or some weird mistake in the title of the recipe, but since the chicken dish had walnuts, I was happy to leave them out.

I liked the flavor of this dish a lot, especially served with the couscous (which more closely approximates the crumbled bread than the rice did). It had a nice strong flavor, balanced between the sweetness of the raisins and the sourness of the vinegar, which held up well with the lamb, and the carrots gave it a little texture.

So here's the proportions I used:

20 lbs of lamb quarters, cooked and then cleaned of fat and bones
4 cups of raisins
1 cup of cider vinegar
1/2 cup of canola oil
2 tablespoons of cumin
2 tablespoons of coriander
4 tablespoons of garam masala (a spice mixture of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, cardamom, and turmeric)
a bunch of mint leaves
6 lbs of white turnips, cut into bite-size pieces
4 lbs of sliced carrots
1 bunch of leeks, slicked thick
about a dozen strands of saffron
salt to taste