“The food presented in this course represents the foods of fall in a well to do abbey. The abbey gardens would be heavy with fruits and vegetables, the chickens would still be happily laying, beer would be ready for drinking, and the wheat turned to flour.
As our new Baron and Baroness consider their new station, the religious orders would have been called to give counsel. In this case, counsel is to share a fine, simple meal with friends and loved ones as often as possible.”
Due to some last minute changes, I couldn’t use the menus I’d printed and created, so I’ve included the text that had been intended for that use as well as new text discussing the items that were improvised the day of.
“Garbage” is a 15th century recipe for a thickened broth made of…well, garbage. Why?
It was the annual chicken harvest at the Packards’ house. A few SCA and non SCA folk gather and harvest the chickens raised over the summer. This year there were 49 chickens. Last week Anya and I made chicken foot stew loosely inspired by the Garbage recipe to make a potluck dish at the Endewearde Hunt. We used last year’s frozen chicken feet. But – behold – it was chicken killing day! There were all KINDS of chickens and ample “garbage” about so we decided to make the recipe today with all the fresh garbage we had.
The recipe from the late 1400’s goes like this:
Garbage. Take faire Garbage, chikenes hedes, ffete, lyvers, And gysers, and wassh hem clene; caste hem into a faire potte, And caste fressh broth of Beef, powder of Peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces, Parcely and Sauge myced small; then take brede, stepe hit in the same brothe, Drawe hit thorgh a streynour, cast thereto, And lete boyle ynowe; caste there-to pouder ginger, vergeous, salt, And a litull Safferon, And serve hit forthe.
We cooked based on the above recipe, and redacted it as we cooked. We didn’t formalize it, but this is what it was.
14 chicken feet
7 chicken heads
5 chicken livers
5 chicken gizzards
12 cups beef broth (we used “better than bouillon”)
ground herbs as follows:
black pepper and ginger each- to fit in the hollow of the palm
cinnamon and clove – about half a palm (2tsp?)
mace – about a quarter palm (1tsp?)
fresh herbs as follows:
broad-leafed sage, chopped finely – to fit in the hollow of the palm
carrot tops, chopped finely – to fit in the hollow of the palm
cider vinegar – about 2tbs
Because we were slaughtering, there were lots and lots of parts of chickens. Agatha saved feet, gizzards, livers, and some heads for use in the recipe. (I was plucking.)
I carefully cleaned the livers and gizzards and feet. I then plucked the heads as much as I could be motivated to (I figured that medieval people may have also been lazy!) and cleaned them as well. It began to rain heavily, so I fled for a while, and when I returned there was rainwater in the bottom of the cast iron pot hanging over the fire. I added to that steaming water livers and gizzards and feet. Anya brought out the broth and added it. When the broth was in, I added the heads and herbs, except the ginger. Put the lid on. Let it boil.
After it had boiled, I added the ginger to it and stirred. We decided to hold on the bread and that the saffron was likely for color, but we didn’t have any anyway. It looked horrible but smelled ok. Put it back on the fire and let it heat up again.
Another hour later or so we checked on it.
It looked a lot like it had been appropriately named.
Here we decided to deviate from the recipe.
We added the ginger and chose to strain the broth, and then to not use the bread to thicken it. Instead we’d serve it with bread, so people could dip bread into the soup. (This felt like a good idea, since we had people with gluten issues anyway.)
I removed all the parts, separating the livers, which we used to make a pate with butter and onions. The “garbage pate” was well received and many ate it on toast and praised its rich taste.
Ultimately we just dipped bread into the soup and ate the bread. We then canned all the remaining broth. The assessment was that it looked horrible but it was very tasty.
It made sense to not waste things that could make a good and fatty broth, which we did and which made for little waste. It was especially good on a day when we were deeply in touch with our older time agricultural heritage – killing and gutting and plucking by hand made the process seem ancient and rooted. Gathered around a fire, sharing a spoon of broth, tearing off large pieces of bread and dipping them into soup or putting thick smears of pate on them, felt like an old, old fellowship.
I’m glad we made the Garbage. It was fun, entertaining, thrifty, and tasty. We have put some away for leaner times (or feasts) and that felt right too.
Eating, singing, laughing – this is the stuff of a good life. I call this experimental archeology project a smashing success!
Lady Anya (Jill Packard) had some chicken feet. She’d cleaned them and frozen them after the chicken harvest the year before, when she and her husband Lord Oleksander invited us to join in the annual harvest. Over a dozen of us slaughtered, plucked, and cleaned more than 50 chickens that day. I’d held those feet while I pulled feathers from many of those birds.
We decided that we should make some soup or stew with the feet, because they are reported to make wonderful broth. We figured that medieval people would have used as much of everything that they could, because it takes a lot of work to raise and harvest creatures to eat. Feet would be no exception.
We decided to look for a recipe that seemed reasonable, though we were totally comfortable making it up as we went along. That’s when we found a period recipe for a dish called, appealingly, “Garbage.”
Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: Garbage. Take faire Garbage, chikenes hedes, ffete, lyvers, And gysers, and wassh hem clene; caste hem into a faire potte, And caste fressh broth of Beef, powder of Peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces, Parcely and Sauge myced small; then take brede, stepe hit in the same brothe, Drawe hit thorgh a streynour, cast thereto, And lete boyle ynowe; caste there-to pouder ginger, vergeous, salt, And a litull Safferon, And serve hit forthe.
Source [A Noble Boke off Cookry (Holkham MSS 674), R. Napier (ed.)]: To mak a garbaggysowrys; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste ther-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle; an a-lye it wyth brede, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe.e tak the heed the garbage the leuer the gessern the wings and the feet and wesche them and clene them and put them in a pot and cast ther to brothe of beef poudere of pepper clowes maces parsly saige mynced then step bred in the sam brothe and cast it to pouder of guingere venygar saffron and salt and serue it.
It’s recognized that they bring extra good things to a soup, health-wise, and one cook thought that they would even help make joints feel better – especially with a little vinegar added to help bring calcium from the bones.
Medieval veggies are often made into thick stews called pottage. Broad beans are common, so we used lima beans. Carrots are less common (and would have been purplish!) and turnip seemed to usually have more going on with it (cheese!) and onions were…largely unmentioned in many pottages. But we wanted to do this our way and we chose to add veggies. We decided not to add the bread, in the end.
And because there was a pot-luck, we figured, what the heck, let’s do this thing and see if people will eat it! (Which was another reason to not just make broth.)
At the Endewearde Hunt, which is in October in Maine, soup is a good thing. It’s also good for a crowd and easy to cook outdoors.
12 chicken feet, well washed
2+ lb onions
2 medium rutabagas
2 bags frozen lima beans
5 marrow bones
water sufficient to cover things
mace, clove, salt, pepper, saffron
gluten free bread to thicken (we decided not to bother)
In a cast iron Dutch oven, we warmed the bones in a little water to get the flavor moving in them.
In a larger pot, we added cut onions, carrots, and turnips. We made velociraptor noises and played with the chicken feet. We artfully arranged them in the pot. We took photos. When we had finally had enough of that, we added the spices. We splashed in some vinegar then we poured the marrow bone drippings from the second Dutch oven and added one of the bones to the mix.
We put it on hot coals and put coals on the top of the lid. Then we let it do its thing. It cooked on very hot coals for a couple of hours. When finally served, it had lost some vibrancy and much liquid, but was a really pottage-y pot of melt-in-mouth soft vegetables.
(We also made a second soup – marrow bone and onion with the same spices, only not much of them – and it was delicious.)
Pot-Luck Public Reception
We served it in the cooking pot but pulled out most of the feet, so people could access the pottage unhindered. We put the cooked feet on the pot lid beside the dish and to our serious surprise, some brave people took them to eat (we heard there were challenges). Those who ate the soup part said it was tasty (I thought it too vinegary and not spicy or salty enough) and those who ate the feet said they were weird and didn’t have much meat (which is not a surprise.)
Overall though, we were delightedly surprised that people were so comfortable with eating something so “weird” and unusual on even an SCA table. We’re thinking of how we can do it again with a better recipe.
And in spite of my dislike of liver, we may even try to make Garbage on the next go!
http://www.lovefood.com/guide/recipes/27272/spicy-chicken-feet-recipe and https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1859445
A very dear friend and Thanet house-brother, Ane du Vey, was to be elevated to the Order of the Chivalry at the Great Northeastern War in Malagentia in mid-July, 2015. I was invited to create the vigil menu to share hospitality with visitors who were coming to visit Vey as he sat vigil.
It was important to me that the food be period-possible for the most part, with influences of period spices and simple foods. Vey prefers simple things like roast meat, so I created things I knew he would enjoy. Also, because there would be many coming who had been fighting during the day, I included some loving nods to a field dayboard incorporating gatorade, oranges, pickles, and pepperoni – all items which are regularly eaten field-side between battles.
I prepared the majority of the food, since I can do food, but I can’t sew, and that’s what everyone else was doing to get ready. The day of the event, Lady Thallos of Brighton Hall, Lady Agatha Wanderer, Lady Lucie Lovegood, m’Lady Alesone and her lord Absolon of the Debatable Lands, and other members of Thanet House assisted with the plating and setup.
Lucie and Lord Alaric did a number on the dish cleaning in the morning.
This is the menu for that event. We believe that about 200 people visited the camp and we served food from roughly 5pm through 2am.
Fresh Fruit in Season -Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, and Pears. I tried to choose fruits that would have been available in period, having been in fashion in 14th c. Italy, brought by the Arabs in southern Spain.
Strawberries in Elderflower Liquor. A little bit of beautiful, floral liquor helps keep the strawberries in good shape and tastes and smells amazing.
Fighter’s Tray. Sliced oranges and small dill pickles. Since it’s the food most often eaten by fighters, I included it on the menu as a nod to the regular fighter’s dayboard.
‘Adjari: The Virgins’ – Rosewater shortbread cookies. These Arabic “adult butter cookies” are so named because you are to make the dough and then “form like the breasts of the virgins” and bake them. These were flavored with rosewater and dusted with edible gold dust. (Recipe from “Scheherazade’s Feasts – Foods of the Medieval World” – http://www.amazon.com/Scheherazades-Feasts-Foods-Medieval-World/dp/081224477X)
Almonds – raw, plain almonds. Almonds were popular in the middle ages, as now. They are good protein and easy to eat without mess.
Meatballs in Green Sauce – commercial gluten-free Italian meatballs with a fresh green sauce of basil, green onion, parsley, cider vinegar, garlic, and sugar. These are always a gigantic favorite. The dressing would be amazing on pretty much any kind of food. (It’s a little like this: http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke27.htm and this http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke06.htm and http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke65.html but with parsley and basil sharing the flavor weight.)
Roast Pork Loin – pork loin roasted with lemon, pepper, salt, and garlic served with large-grain, homemade mustard.
Sausages – pepperoni and hard sausage finely sliced
Bread and Honey Butter – an SCA staple (and one of Vey’s favorite things)
Roast Garlic Cloves – garlic cloves roast in olive oil
Moretum – a Roman feta and garlic herbed cheese spread. I included feta and ricotta both with fresh, sharp garlic, celery, coriander, and salt. I omitted rue. (http://www.godecookery.com/friends/frec70.htm)
Toasted flatbread points – flour tortillas toasted on a pan and cut into slices (we also had corn tortillas for our gluten-free friends)
A Plate of Cheeses: feta, chevre, colbyjack, and brie
Quick Dill Cucumbers – cucumbers in vinegar, garlic, many herbs and spices and sugar
Beverage: Orange Beverage for Fighters – orange Gatorade
Beverage: Sekanjabin – lemon lavender sekanjabin
Beer & Mead – There were several varieties of beer provided by brewers in the Barony of Endewearde. Mistress Sylvia du Vey provided mead.
Also part of the spread were some food gifts – a loaf of homemade bread, and some of Lady Rose’s amazing salsa served with corn chips – also some of Vey’s favorite things.
Saturday’s Two Knight Show
We repeated the menu, mostly, for a dual party for Sir Vey and Sir Ed McGuyver on Saturday night. Anything we had not placed out the night before was plated and sent, augmented by breads, spreads, salsas, chips, many cookies, and much beer and mead. I know that Lady Rose had a large hand in those provisions.
In addition to the help from the night before, my husband Andre helped, as did Sir Cedric of Amorica and – at the end of the night when the candles had burned low – Sir Matthew Moraveous stayed to assist with cleanup of the main tent.
The next morning when I finally rose, I found Sir Vey himself washing the dishes.
Many were fed. It feels like loaves and fishes at Thanet sometimes.
A summer picnic on a Light Middle Eastern Theme – mid-June 2015
I wanted to explore some items in Middle Eastern cooking. I also wanted food that would not be too far outside people’s comfort zone, and I wished to fulfill the suggestion of our Baron and Baroness that the dayboard ought to be, ideally, finger food.
The dayboard was prepared to serve 100 people a light repast. About 70 attended the event and ate, I think, very well. The budget was $150. Chicken was purchased at $.79/lb. Eggs and cheese have increased in price a great deal recently. The meal was pretty close to budget – I donated some small things (some flour, sugar and butter and all the spices.) As the day was quite warm it turned out to be a really lovely meal of crisp veggies and the chicken, which I planned to heat on the grill, but the assembly (who had gathered to watch the laying of the table) thought cold would be just fine. Including His Excellency the Baron, so cold it was.I had help from Agatha Rachel Case in cutting and laying out things and help from Alys Karen Childs who chopped cheese and then grilled all the flatbreads. It was a merry work crew and I appreciated their help very much.
This is what you see on the table:
– Sekanjabin syrups with ginger and spices
– Chicken with lemon and olive oil, rubbed in salt and pepper and then baked (served cold)
– Plate of chopped herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint) for adding flavors
– Plate of two cheeses (feta and colby-jack, because I know my audience)
– Carrots cut into dinars
– Bowls of salt and black pepper
– Fresh cucumbers
– Roast garlic hummus
– More carrot dinars
– Lemon kale hummus
– Strawberries dressed with elderflower liquor
– Fresh strawberries
– Small dill pickles
– Olives stuffed with almonds
– Olives stuffed with pimentos
– ‘Adjari: The Virgins (“adult butter cookies” so named because you are to make the dough and then “form like the breasts of the virgins” and bake them.) Regular and flavored with rosewater.
– Whole cloves of roast garlic
– Badhinjan: Tangy Eggplant Stir Fry (eggplant, chopped walnuts, oil, vinegar, onion, caraway, garlic) This was the surprise favorite of the day, to my surprise. It was my “risky new thing” dish.
– Bread and whole boiled eggs
– Grilled flatbreads – flour tortillas cooked over a grill (until charred, puffed, firm, crisp, etc. They are much more delicious that way and they could be used for trenchers of a sort too.)