Personal A&S challenge – The birth of alcohol

Since moving into the house I’m in, I’ve developed a passion for gardening.

In the same time frame, I’ve also developed an interest in brewing.

Gardening + Brewing means that I can create the things I then put in my brews.

So far I’ve done a number of different brews utilising herbs that I’ve grown. I’ve used home grown liquorice, lemongrass, lemonbalm, rosemary, tarragon and other flavour additives in my mash in the hopes of making everything just that little bit tastier. However, something I haven’t yet done is brew anything solely using things I’ve grown myself.

While drinking some of my ale about a month ago, I started to consider what sort of things went into medieval brews. I know that many ales were a combination of grains instead of the straight barley that I had been using. A plan formed in my mind… to have a personal A&S project that would take me all the way through brewing – starting at planting the crops.

Today I have segregated a bed specifically for grains. The spot gets shade in the early morning and late afternoon, but has nice, bright sunlight through the day. It’s not a large bed by any means, and I’m not expecting to have a massive crop, but I hope there will be enough to brew a decently sized batch of ale. I’ve planted a third of the bed with wheat, a third with rye, and a third with barley.

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

I will document the progress of the crop through the coming months.

Chirurgeon’s Baldrick

Th Great Northern War, I acted as a chirurgeon. This is not a familiar role, and not one I’ve done for the SCA before, but I have current first aid training for the first time since I was 15, so I figured it was a service that I was able to happily give. The only issue was, there was no regalia to be had. Hrothgar lent out his baldrick, but that was problematic in and of itself. Hrothgar is one of only 7 mentor chirurgeons in Lochac, and his regalia is bounded in gold, not white.

To this end, I decided to make some regalia. I intend to donate it to the first aid box at Riverhaven. This way, they will always have regalia for the chirurgeon on duty.

Chirurgeon's baldrick

Chirurgeon’s baldrick

The embroidery has been done in cotton, stem stitch. The baldrick itself used some reasonably heavy-weight red cotton, bounded on each side of the fabric strip with white bias binding. It seemed easier to do it that way. I’ve simply stitched the inner, the outer and the white trim using a running stitch. This was great practice for me to get my stitches evenly spaced and consistent. I’ve already had someone tell me it looks like I used a sewing machine, which makes me most proud. It’s a bit ragged where I’ve stitched the white teardrop on, but I’m considering attaching the teardrop in a different manner for my next attempt (which will go to St Florian de la Rivere).

Because everyone should be able to tell who the first aider is at an event.

Song: Three Mavens

In the lead up to Great Northern War, I’ve been thinking on the songs I’ve been packing away in my arsenal. I think that must have been seeping into my subconscious, because at roughly 2am this morning I had a song pop into my head, almost fully formed. I’ve worked on it through the day, and I bring you my song:

Three Mavens (to the tune of Three Ravens)

There were three mavens sat on a bench
Down a down they tore her down
Staring at a badly dressed wench
With a down
The one of them said to her friend
Look how badly that dress is hemmed
With a down truly truly they tore her down

That outer layer’s Florentine
Down a down they tore her down
But that chemise is from an earlier time
With a down
That’s a Viking circlet on her head
Why does she mix her period
With a down truly truly they tore her down

They called her over eagerly
Down a down they tore her down
And she stepped to those mavens three
With a down
She hoped for wisdom and new friends
They lectured her on fashion trends
With a down truly truly they tore her down

This fact will shock you and appall
Down a down they tore her down
The garb she wore was borrowed all
With a down
She quickly saw she was outclassed
Her first event shall be her last
With a down truly truly they tore her down

I’m releasing this song under a CC0 Waiver. For those familiar with Creative Commons, this is the least restrictive licence they supply.


CC0

To the extent possible under law,

Kristine Sihto

has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Three Mavens.
This work is published from:

Australia.

#47 Lucet

Some time ago, I came across an online image of a Viking line winder. You can find an image of the specific find here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/511440101403969955/. Falling somewhat in love with the image, I decided to make lucet with similar markings. So I prepared a nice piece of beef bone and here’s the finished product at roughly half the size of the original find.

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

 

#46 Wooden Spoon

This was carved for an Arts and Sciences competition at the Stegby Feast of Friendship this year for an item for a feasting kit. I was lazy, I didn’t write up any documentation to go with the entry, so I lost to an unadorned Viking era horn spoon with awesome amounts of documentation. I’ve been asked to run a collegia on carving for Riverhaven, but I’m not really sure what I would talk about. Carving is what it is… you take stuff away until you have what you’re aiming for or until something breaks.

Mermaid Spoon

Mermaid spoon

This spoon was made in stages. I knew what basic profile I wanted it to be, so I drew that onto the block of wood (which by the way is acacia). This was using a hand saw with a cylindrical blade. Then I cut the profile from the other direction. I cheated with this one… I used a cutting disk on a dremel.

Spoon bowls are annoying to carve out. I started by hand, got sick of that, then used the dremel, and eventually finished off with a gouger once I had it to almost the right depth.

After a fair amount of sanding, I had a shape I was pleased with, at which point I started worrying about details. I carved striations into the hair, individual fingers, and used a small gouger to mark her tail with scales.

Closer image of the mermaid's hair on the spoon

Closer image of the mermaid’s hair on the spoon

The reverse of the spoon shows that she has breasts.

The reverse shows the feature most often attributed to mermaids…

 

 

This closeup shows detail of the tail's scales

Spoon detail of the tail

I am a little disappointed that I encountered a couple of borer holes in the course of carving, but as I didn’t come across them until fairly late in the piece, I decided there was nothing to do about it, and set to polishing. That was the end of my work on the spoon prior to its entry into the competition.

At this stage, I’ve decided I need to continue work on my mermaid. I haven’t done a lot of work with wood before, so the polishing has been mainly hard work and very little in the way of cutting compounds or sealants as I didn’t want to run the risk of contaminating the wood. Using the spoon once has convinced me that I need to seal the wood before using it again. So it’s time for me to look at food-safe options.

#45 Antler Needlecase

At the Abbey Medieval Festival, I managed to pick up an antler. I’ve never worked with antler before, and I’ve wanted to try it for a while.

Logistically, I had never really considered the fact that antler is made of bone, not of horn. This is a fairly important distinction when carving something, as bone is spongy on the inside. This immediately put paid to a number of ideas I had regarding said carvings, as much of what is inside the antler is useless for making anything out of. However, the tip of the antler is quite useful for my first project: a needlecase.

I cut the tip of the antler off at what seemed a reasonable distance, then cut another smaller section in parallel to the first cut. I hollowed out the tip using a drill, then with a rotary tool I carved the lid so it would sit inside the needlecase.

A few carefully placed holes for the hinge and clasp were the last bits. Then I polished it up and tied on the cotton hinge and clasp.

Antler needlecase

Antler needlecase

 

#44 Prince Bisket

Being the sort of person who wants to impress everyone every second of the day, when being asked to bring a plate for a colleague’s birthday party I decided to go all medieval on their feast. I said I would bring a sweet, then turned to the internet to save me.

I discovered this lovely site almost immediately and set to looking for something which a) seemed easy to make and b) didn’t require me stepping out of my house to find ingredients. Thus began my love of this recipe, Prince Bisket.

I have found two recipes for Prince Bisket. The first is the only one I have tried, as the second seems a little more involved.

The first recipe:

Hugh Platt p. 14/94 (attribution copied from originating site–I have not identified which of Platt’s works this recipe derives from)

Take one pound of very fine flower, and one pound of fine sugar, and eight egges, and two spoonfuls of Rose water, and one ounce of Carroway seeds, and beat it all to batter one whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better your bread is: then bake it in coffins, of white plate, being basted with a little butter before you put in your batter, and so keep it.

The second recipe: 

To make Prince Bisket

PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1617 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A sweet bread or biscuit baked in a pie shell, or made like wafers

 To make Prince Bisket.

Drie a pound of very fine wheat flower in an Ouen two houres, after the bread hath beene drawne, or the Ouen being warmed, but not heated for the nonce, the flower were best in an earthen Pipkin couered, least it loose the colour, put to it a pound of double refined Sugar beaten and cearsed fine, then take ten new laid Egges, take away fiue of their whites, straine these Egs into a Bason, with a spoonfull of Rose-water, and sixe spoonfuls of scalded Creame, when you haue all in the Bason, first put in your cearsed Sugar, and let it dissolve by beating it into your Egs, then put in your flower by little and little, vntil both the flower and the other things be incorporated, beat it well together an houre at least, and you shall at last see it turne white, then you must have coffins of white plate indude with butter as thinne as you can, so as it be touched in euery place, then take an ounce and a halfe of sweet Anise-seed, and one of Coriander, dried rubd and dusted, put the Anise-seed in the batter, & the batter into the coffins, and bake it an houre at least if you will, you may make Cracknels of the same batter, driue it thinne vpon the Plates, and when you take it off, rowle it thinne like a Wafer, and dry them again in the Ouen.

What I did:

I saw the redaction on the first recipe then proceeded to ignore it completely.

Not wanting a large amount of food, I cut the recipe down to two cups of white flour and one cup of white sugar and sifted them together.

I took two eggs and put them into my blender for a few seconds. Then I put a decent splash of rosewater in with the eggs and blended it again. By decent splash, I’m talking somewhere in the vicinity of 1 1/2 tablespoons of rosewater. Then I tipped the flour/sugar into the blender with the eggs along with roughly 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.

I blended all this together for a couple of minutes, using a spatula to push it down the sides a couple of times.

Once it was nice and smooth, I put small squares of greaseproof paper into a mini-muffin tray and put the mix into each section.

Then I popped the tray into a preheated oven at 180C for 20 min.

Prince Bisket

Prince Bisket: I forgot to take a photo until they’d been half eaten already.

They are delicious. The caraway and the rosewater really make this a flavour that’s unusual and morish. After trying the first one I was a little worried that the flavour might not suit the modern palate (particularly as I was feeding them to people who hadn’t experienced medieval foods before), but I’ve had multiple requests now for the recipe. I’d say that’s a winner.

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