Called the Captain

A song for Cedric of Armorica and the Eastern Unbelted Champions of Pennsic XL.
To listen or download, go here:

Go, go, go – came the call from the captain
Go, go, go – take our land back, he cried.
We will go, go, go as we are commanded
And our rivals will go to a man or will die.

Thirty-five men marched into the sunlight;
Thirty-five men shouted their battle cry;
Thirty-five men knew that they had a story,
That they would be victors no man would deny.

Many years passed since this field had been theirs,
Now held by the dragon for many a day.
They to a man swore they would take it or perish
And write with their own blood the end of this play.

Go, go, go – came the call from the captain
Go, go, go – take our land back, he cried.
We will go, go, go as we are commanded
And our rivals will go to a man or will die.

Over the wintering they practiced and plotted.
One with a spear would fight one with a sword.
The pole met the axe, shattering both in darkness;
Weapons and men were thus stronger reforged.

Some were the fire and others the water.
Cedric did hammer, Feral stoked the flame.
Folded with each blow were patterns of tigers,
When summer emerged they were ready for fame.

Go, go, go – came the call from the captain
Go, go, go – take our land back, he cried.
We will go, go, go as we are commanded
And our rivals will go to a man or will die.

To the field brothers, came clarion call,
Into the dragon-men girded with red.
They stood but a heartbeat then took up the charge
And in less than one minute the dragons were dead.

A moment of silence – no sound but the birds…
Men fell to their knees and raised fists to the sky,
Then all pulled together with full understanding
That this battle was theirs indeed none could deny.

Go, go, go – came the call from the captain
Go, go, go – take our land back, he cried.
We will go, go, go as we are commanded
And our rivals will go to a man or will die.

Go, go, go – came the call from the captain
Go, go, go – take our land back, he cried.
We will go, go, go as we are commanded
And our rivals have gone to a man or have died.


**  **  **  **  **  **  **  ** **  **  **  **

I will confess to being kind of…fond, we’ll say, of the Pennsic XL Eastern Ubelted Champions. I will also admit that the battle at Pennsic XL was one of the most fantastic things I’ve witnessed on a field. Swift and brutal, it and the men who warred in it, were an inspiration. Cedric of Armorica was the Captain of this team, and this is a song about him and the team he led to victory. (And for Karl, I made sure it wasn’t too slow!)

Salmon Dinner at Pembridge at Pennsic XL

So we had driven for miles and miles and miles and at last had arrived at the Pennsic War.

We were grocery shopping for the week’s supplies and there, before us, were these beautiful salmon fillets.  Our house didn’t have a cooking fire pit dug yet, but I had a feeling where we might find one…

Suspecting (correctly) that Pembridge Manor just might have had a nice cooking fire ready for a girl, we sent a message to the good Baron, who replied that indeed, were such foodstuffs procured, a fire to order would be made.

We picked up planks of cedar for the salmon, and the fish (beautiful, beautiful, though a little thinner than what we often get here in Endewearde).  We had a few non-period root vegetables, onion, garlic and some summer squash and zucchini.

We took the salmon, coated it in oil, and tied it onto the plank with oil-soaked cotton string, then rubbed the fish down with sea salt and pepper. The veggies we tossed in oil, threw in whole cloves of garlic, the onion and everything with salt and pepper as well into a neat little packet of foil (so as to not need to clean the cast iron. I am a lazy cook.)

The salmon faced the fire, and soon was dripping and steaming in the radiant heat from the nice fire. The veggies were steaming gleefully in their package, and so we headed out to park the beast of burden someplace in the next county.  Of course, it always takes longer than you think, so when we returned the salmon was not so moist as it ought to have been had I tended it, but it still was a bit moist in the thickest parts, and a flavorful, flaky jerky at the lean end. It was utterly delicious, and the veggies were magnificent – perfectly cooked to tenderness and full in flavor without being a bit dry or really burned, even those at the bottom of the pot.

With a lovely glass of brandy, and the company of Drew, Angus, Margarite and Connor, we passed a lovely evening away before the fire, eating our fill and then taking the salmon on a walkabout for neighbors to sample. And that was how the war began, and it set a wonderful tone for the rest of the week!


Planked Salmon

  • olive or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper (or spices to taste)
  • wood for planking – it need not be cedar, but ought to be, obviously, untreated and clean
  • cotton string (enough to wrap the fish onto the plank)
  • ideally a little butter or oil to baste the fish as it cooks

Get the fire nice and hot, so it is fiercely radiating. Wet the string with oil, oil the board lightly and tie the fillet to the board with string so it is secure – it ought to be able to stand tall-ways and not slide. Prop the salmon up near the fire so it is getting the best heat; you will need to turn it.  It does dry quickly, so one should (not leave camp to park a car in Ohio) stay with the fish and baste it to keep it moist, turning it frequently. You can use any kind of fillet in this method, but salmon holds up to a lot of abuse in a way a more delicately tempered fish might not.

Roasted Vegetables

  • half dozen red potatoes, cut coarsely
  • one sweet onion, cut coarsely
  • one bulb garlic cloves, peeled but not cut
  • two each small zucchini and summer squash
  • other veggies as preferred
  • oil, salt and pepper

Make a packet of tin foil which will hold all the vegetables, or line a pot with a few layers of foil. Toss the veggies with oil and spices and put them into the foil, wrapping it tightly to help steam them. You can place them over the fire in a Dutch oven, or over coals, or put the packet itself right in the middle of the coals.  They should be done in an hour or less, over a hot fire, but they won’t really overcook if they’re above. Burning the bottom layer is really the worse threat to this dish.  You’ll want to check periodically to see that it’s cooking but not burning. Make more than you think you’ll need, because even people who hate vegetables seem to love them when they’re cooked in this steamed/roasted method.

I am of the North

“As the Pennsic War nears, we all prepare for battle. This post appeared after the war practice at Sommer Draw in early June, posted by Master Angus Kerr Pembridge. Being Northern, it had no small effect on my spirits, and so I wrote a song inspired by his words.”
This song is featured on the CD “I Am of the North” available for purchase online at:

I am of the North.
My soul sings in the Winter Wind.
My blade was quenched in the snow.
No soft Southern Sun warmed my crib.
War is coming. The Northern Banners Raise high.
My Brothers gather, our weapons gleaming in the Sun.
And all, all gathered, say the same thing. “I am of the North.”
(Master Angus Pembridge)

*   *   *   *   *   *

If you would find honor
look toward Polaris.
War it is coming; our banners raise high.
As Brothers we gather, our weapons gleaming
And all who are gathered,
say the same thing.
“I am of the North”

My soul sings in the Winter Wind.
It tears through the mountains
as we through the foe.
The winter wind calls
and my brothers come join her
she carries their voices where we are to go.

If you would find honor look toward Polaris…

No soft Southern Sun warmed my crib.
I was born in a blizzard,
first steps on the frost.
My first lullaby
was a warsong of glory
and the snapping of banners by the wind tossed.

If you would find honor look toward Polaris…

My blade was quenched deep in snow.
Brought from the fire
it blazed red as sun.
Bitterly plunged into
winter’s cold scabbard
it craves the blood that o’re it shall run.

If you would find honor look toward Polaris…

War is upon us, our banners rise.
Bear up your weapons,
hear the wind call.
We move toward the warm lands
where together we conquer,
“I am of the North” sing each and all.

If you would find honor look toward Polaris…

Thank you Angus!

Cooking at Pembridge Manor

Pembridge Cooking
Pembridge Cooking
The Pembridge Fire Pit

The War of the Roses in Concordia is a three-day event in beautiful upstate New York.  We were hosted at the camp of Baron Master Angus Pembridge, at Pembridge Manor.  One of the best parts of the camp was the large fire box Angus had built, raised and made of wood, with a bottom consisting of 300lbs of masonry sand. While a lot of great things happened at the event, this post is just about the food and how we cooked it.

Dinner Saturday: Marigold, a lovely but (fatally) inappropriate farm cow, was the guest of honor.  Cooked in a large cast iron pan over a hot-coal fire by Angus as Katheryn, who actually asked Sir Walter Raleigh how to cook the new world vegetable BEFORE assuming we boil the tops, took the tuberous roots from the potatoes and boiled them to good effect.

Breakfast Sunday: fresh farm eggs and handmade home-cured bacon.  Eggs cooked in the standard fashion, but the bacon was fried over hot coals in a large cast-iron pan.  After eating that bacon, all other bacon in the world is almost an insult to it.  We reserved the grease, which would be important for everything else!

Lunch Sunday: Drew and I prepared Saturday’s lunch, which was onion cooked in bacon fat, and then we added two jars of moose meat which had been cooked with onion and canned (by Drew’s mother) after he got a moose a while back.  To this mix we added a generous pour of red wine, some black pepper and salt and what cooked potatoes had lasted from the night before. We also made ployes, a French-Acadian buckwheat and wheat pancake, which are traditionally served with stews.  We had maple syrup for dipping them as well, so they were both the starch for the meal and a light desert.

Dinner Sunday: Making this dinner was one of the best SCA experiences I have ever had.  The end result was Coneys Stewed with Wine and Herbes de Provence and Ginger Bourbon Coney, fresh green beans, and potatoes pan fried with onions and rosemary.

Angus provided three rabbits, which had been skinned and dressed, to a degree.  We chopped them (one by Angus, one by my own hand, and the third by Isabel Chamberlaine) into large pieces (about 6 pieces per rabbit) for cooking, which was entirely over the Pembridge Pit.  Our recipes are as follows, or are at least as good as I can remember them, because it was a fury of cookery going on:

Coneys Stewed with Wine and Herbes de Provence

2 onions, chopped small and sauteed to clear in bacon grease
1/4 cup maple syrup (roughly) added to onions
pepper and salt added to the onions
2 rabbits, cut to fit in the pot
2 cup Cotes du Rhone (or other red wine, we picked what tasted “right” from what was in stock at camp, a terrible process, of course….)
2-3 tbs blend of Herbes de Provence (ours included generous lavender…)
some water as needed

We let it boil merrily over the fire for a couple of hours, periodically opening the pot to exclaim and congratulate ourselves on how lovely it smelled.  We took all the rabbit out at one point to shift the top pieces and bottom pieces so everything would cook at about the same rate.

The resulting dish was intensely fragrant, causing a ruckus every time we opened the cauldron.  The meat was sweet, tender, and succulent.  The broth was a beautiful purple, appropriate for the lavender influence of the herbes de Provence. Everyone who tried this dish was greatly impressed with its flavor, and it is a true pity there was no way to make stew dumplings for it, because they would have been spectacular. (We boiled it again the next morning for lunch, and it was, remarkably, even better the next day!)

Ginger Bourbon Coney in Dutch Oven

1 onion clarified in bacon grease
a generous pour of Maker’s Mark Bourbon (add just when the onions are almost dry…)
1 rabbit, cut into about 6 pieces
salt, pepper, powdered ginger (to taste / by instinct)
a little water as needed

We heated the pan and onions up well, and there was a good amount of bacon grease added to this dish.  The bourbon caramelized the onions and the ginger gave the little flavor beyond pepper and salt that it needed.  As there was less liquid, the rabbit also got a caramel flavor and the skin seared where it touched the pan, which was close to low, hot coals.  The rabbit was turned half-way through the cooking, and water was added, which brought up a sizzling cloud of fragrant steam, which made us dance with anticipation.  The taste of this was less intense than the other dish, but I liked it a little better, maybe because of the sweetness of the bourbon and onions.

Monday Morning: Plain, slender, civilian bacon cooked on the cast iron skillet over the fire; French toast with potato bread and farm eggs, with maple and black pepper peaches on top (for those patient enough to wait), and fluffy scrambled eggs with the remainder of the eggs.  We used up a really good amount of food that morning, making the packing up a little better.

Monday Leaving Lunch: My last taste of the War of the Roses was of the Coneys Stewed with Wine and Herbes de Provence, which tasted even better after lying in the stew all night and being boiled up again.  It was like a sweet, sweet kiss of farewell to Pembridge Manor, and I savored the last moments before the long road back to home and daily life….





The York Rose

The blossom pure of softest white
below the green bears brutal thorn.
It tears the hand that reaches forth
to see the rose from its stem torn.

The thorn is of a silver bright
the flower bears a painted shield.
For victory good York shall fight
and never to Lancaster yield.

The bloodied hand retreats with speed
crushed and battered, wet with red.
The white rose root remaineth still
with Crown upon her rightful head.

“This poem was written at the 31st War of the Roses, as an inspiration for our host at the war, a dedicated white rose of great hospitality. During a pause in the battle, I read it to our goodly King, who also fought for York.  His Majesty requested that should York win (which, of course they would), that the poem be presented as a gift to the Baron of Concordia and supporters of York from Their Majesties.  It was presented at the Baronial Court on May 29th, AS46.”