Day 4: Lettuce Salad and Herb dressing

Tonight was the first time I really ignored the book as far as what it says to put in the salad itself (cress, lettuce, parsley, spinach) and did my own thing based on other green referenced.

My Saxon salad:

Loose leaf lettuce (ripped up)

Spinach

Dandelion greens

Mint

Radishes

Cucumber

It’s really just your run of the mill salad. Nothing complicated.

The herb dressing isn’t bad. White wine vinegar, oil, dill, rosemary, chopped cress or cress substitute. It’s a simple and healthy dressing that I am going to make again.

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Day 3: Roasted chicken, cucumber salad, and honey butter

Roasted chicken is a bit different than I’m used to. The glaze is cinnamon, clove, honey, and apple cider vinegar. That’s it. No salt, no other seasonings I associate with “chicken”. It’s not bad, just…sweet? But not cloyingly sweet or sticky candy sweet. More like sweet bread without icing sweet. Still worth a try if you’re willing to play around with your expectations, but if roasted chicken needs to be entirely savory? You won’t like this. I don’t notice the lack of salt honestly. I’m too confused about whether or not I like the cinnamon to notice.

Cucumber salad. This is basically a quick pickle salad. I added radishes because I have them, I like them, and I thought it’d be a good idea. It was and I regret nothing. Cucumber, onion, white wine vinegar, salt, and honey. Put them together and forget about them in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you leave them the stronger the flavor.

Honey butter is honey butter. If you’ve gone to an SCA feast you’ve been offered honey butter. This called for some cinnamon too, and honestly I really like it here. It keeps the butter from being too sticky sweet.

I’m finding I like the over all flavor profiles I’m playing with this week. A little sour, a little sweet, not much salt or spice. Food tastes mostly like a formal version of itself rather than a vehicle to carry herbs. I admit I generally cook, especially chicken, by dumping so many different flavors on it that the food itself vanishes. This is a nice change and I think I’ll try to remember this going forward.

Day 2: Salmon Cakes and Honey Carrots

Confession: today was my “cheat” as far as experiments go. I’ve made honey carrots before. These were my ace in the hole in case everything else tasted horrible. Today is also note worthy in that I did not use any salt. Anywhere. It still has flavor.

That being said calling these honey carrots in like calling a pizza “cheese bread”. There is so much more going on that what the name implies and it works so well. Carrots cooked soft work as the base for a honey/cinnamon/apple cider vinegar glaze. Mint keeps it from tasting sticky sweet and dandelion greens and radishes add a peppery bite that make up for the lack of other spices. It’s flavorful, complex, and dirt simple. I’ve made it for holiday meals before and am far too smug about working them in on a weeknight.

The salmon cakes? Well… Those are underwhelming at best. Flaked salmon, oatmeal, egg, and onion. I like my salmon sushi rare. So frying it in patties after it was baked and flaked makes it taste sad and chalky to me. And with these the lack of spices the modern palate is used to is super obvious. Next time I’ll skip the bake/turn into patties step and just fry up a hunk of salmon with some salt and garlic and be a happy camper.

Day 1: Bean Soup

Holy shit folks I do not regret scheduling this twice. This may end up as my default post work out soup. Let’s back up and see how we got here.

I’m not going to lie, the name is not a major seller here. And the lack of spices doesn’t make it seem promising. Trust me. This is simple and hearty as fuck.

I used canned kidney beans instead of dried, and double milk stout rather than ale. I also threw everything in the instapot on slowcooker for 4 hours instead of simmering on the stove. No regrets.

The thing that makes this soup is the lamb. It’s beans, lamb, salt, garlic, carrots, beer, stock, and onion. That’s it. No other spices. No pepper, no bay, no celery, nothing I’d normally throw into soup as a needed thing. It doesn’t need it.

If the rest of this week goes as well as today then I’m going to eat like a 950s queen.

Gathering Food

So for this week I am omitting anything that would have been outrageously expensive for Aethelflied. So sorry black pepper, even though you appear in almost every ingredient list, you’re spice not appearing in these dishes. This does mean that I had to spend a little more for things that would have been widely available to Aethelflied, but are less available now. I’m looking at you lamb.

Last post I showed my meal plan for the week. Here’s the shopping list. I already had all the meat except salmon and lamb, but I bought everything else. Between two different stores I ended up spending just over $60 on this. But it’s enough to feed two people, and I am only one. So I’m going to end up eating this next week too. So here’s hoping I like it. Otherwise I’m going to be very sad.

Shopping list:

Eggs

Sprouted grain bread (I’m taking advantage of living in the modern era)
Salmon
Trout (or other white fish. I’m using the one in my freezer. )
Chicken (whole, bone in. I got a game hen)
Pork sausage
Lamb
Dried red beans (I cheated and got canned, store one only had dried white beans)
Lettuce (not iceburg, anything else. Fuck that shit)
Spinach
Watercress (I got dandelion greens, my store didn’t have cress)
Cabbage
Leeks
Mint
Parsley
Honey
Apples for baking (no red delicious. Just no.)
Carrots
Onions
Beets
Butter
Carrots
White Wine Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Barley

Ale if desired. This is optional. It goes in the soup, but if you don’t like cooking with alcohol (or consuming it) then ignore it. I’m trying to cut back on my alcohol consumption for Reasons That Are Personal. I’m not sure yet if I’ll end up using it to cook. That’ll be a day of call and store run if I decide to.

 

An experiment

When I say “Medieval English food” what do you think? Bland, boiled to within an inch of it’s life, kinda taupe colored? Maybe a little grey? Certainly nothing tasty or appealing to the modern palate.

Let’s find out together. I have a cook book (Tastes of Anglo Saxon England, by Mary Savelli) and I’m due to go grocery shopping.

Parameters:

As I get fed lunch at work, and breakfast is made of oatmeal, protein powder, and coffee, I am only going to be making dinners. As I work full time I will not be making bread from scratch more than once (probably next weekend) and even then not rye bread because I don’t like it. I want to give this a fair shot and deliberately cooking food I know I dislike doesn’t do that.

My goal for each dinner is:

1 protein

1 veg

1 carb

1 sauce (depending on main dish)

I will NOT be posting what goes into each dish, or how to make it, in it’s entirety as I’m taking most of these from a published cookbook. If I make up a meal using only ingredients I can document I’ll share that. But not someone else’s research that they’re earning income on. If what I make looks interesting in a good way, or you’re curious how to make it at home? Buy the book.

I will be cooking in cast iron on an electric stove (I rent. It’s what I’ve got.) So no open flame or earthen oven cooking this week. Maybe in the future if I ever own a home or con a friend who does into letting me do that in their yard. But this is not an exploration of period Saxon techniques, just flavors.

You’ll notice Monday and Thursday will be soup I can toss in an instapot as I have evening commitments. But we’re going to do a full seven days of year 1000 English cooking.

Meal plan:

Monday- bean soup with cucumber salad

Tuesday- roast chicken and honey carrots with bread

Wednesday- baked trout, lettuce salad, and barley pilaf

Thursday- bean soup

Friday- salmon cakes, buttered beets, cabbage salad

Saturday- sausage casserole

Sunday- cabbage soup

Dessert may happen or it may not. I may make one and just eat that all week. I am only one person after all.

Weaving the Sacred

Beloved guests, you don’t have to follow a particular religion in order to be respectful to it. And boy howdy if you’re going to make something associated with any particular religion you need to have a lot of respect for it. Today we’re going to break down the bare bones of what that looks like with a very specific project plan.

A friend of mine posted on a popular social media site that she was considering buying a Tallit. She posted a couple links of things she was looking at. She is someone I am rather fond of and so I offered to weave her one custom. As a gift. Because I believe sacred objects should be gifted not sold. I did agree to let her buy the silk for me to make it with because well, I’ve been dealing with a lot of Life lately and I’m broke and living on my own for the first time. So lets break down how to make this, shall we?

Step 1: Research.

Know what you want to make. Read up on it, ask people whom it is sacred to why it is sacred. What makes it holy? What are the parts? Are their parts that are more holy than others? Is there something that you just should NOT make/touch as someone who doesn’t follow the faith or cultural practice in question? Is there something that HAS to be there? Is there a specific thing that CAN NOT be there?

If the answer is “do not make this thing. Do not wear this thing. Do not do this thing in this way” honor that. Full stop, no buts, end of discussion, thanks for coming to my TED talk. It’s not yours, you’re not entitled to it because it looks cool.

In my case the questions I had were:

What is a Tallit? Short answer: A Jewish prayer shawl.

What should I not make as someone who is not Jewish? The tassels. Those are extra sacred and I’m not comfortable putting those on.

Is it still going to be sacred if I (a not Jewish person) make it? Yes if it’s blessed by a Rabbi after I make it, before it’s used.

Is there anything I CAN NOT do to make it? YES do not mix wool and linen. No mixing fibers. That’s bad. So pure silk it is. Just avoiding the possibility of wool/linen mixing or the question of if a cotton blend is ok. Silk is good.

Other than that the person it’s a gift for signed off on the colors and design. So we’re good there.

Step two: Is the faith practice you’re making or the culture you’re working from still alive and active?

If so then you really Really need to talk to people who actually practice and make sure you’re not stepping on toes. If not, look at why. If it suffered a violent death or was stomped out rather than just faded with time? Maybe skip this project.

In my case, yes this is still a very Very alive and active and vibrant faith. So I sought out a couple other folks who practice it aside from the friend this is for to check and make sure this was really alright.

Step three: Be brutally honest with yourself for why you want to make it. 

Are you looking to convert? Did you marry into this faith or cultural practice? Is it a gift for someone who follows it? Are you attempting to authentically reenact a specific place and time where this would have been ubiquitous? Are you looking to create something challenging and display it with the appropriate context and research?

Or.

Do you want something pretty without context? Did you see someone wearing it and decided you needed to have it for fashion sake? Is it Halloween and you think it’d be great to dress up as another faith/culture? These are all signs you should really skip this project. No matter how pretty it comes out, you’re skirting the edge if not diving headlong into, cultural appropriation here. And that’s just a poor life choice my darling dear. That being said, I can’t stop you. No one really can. I’m not your parent or legal guardian and you’re more than likely not a child. But still. If you persist that path you’re getting a hell of a lot of side eye.

For this Tallit I wanted to make something pretty to celebrate a friend finishing converting to the faith that makes her heart sing. I wouldn’t make it for myself, and (pretty as it’s going to be because SILK) I’ve got no temptation to keep it. I was told the tassels are the most sacred part so I’m not going to make those, I’m going to leave that bit for her or her Rabbi to do.

Out of steps but reflecting on my own actions like a halfway human critter

My persona in the SCA is a Christian woman. She’s a Saxon. She’d at the very least have been culturally Christian, whether she believed the dogma or not. I am, well suffice to say I am not a Christian, devout or otherwise. So where does that leave me? I cover my hair, and wear long sleeved dresses, just like a proper Saxon lady would. The bible speaks on covering hair and dressing modestly. Am I failing my own test here? Can I reasonably assess that, given my own bias towards assuming what I’m doing is ok?

Lets try to break it down and see what I can do differently.

How much do I wear that is actually religious? I veil myself, and wear long sleeves. I don’t wear anything with a cross, or a saint’s face, or an associated animal or symbol. At least not on purpose or knowingly. Veiling and long sleeves are not confined to Christianity, and it is almost, if not, impossible to break out the garb of my chosen era from veils and long sleeves. I can’t do Saxon and ditch them. Therefore I’m calling them cultural rather than sacred.

Is my chosen culture still alive? If not how did it die? No. It is not still an active culture. Fucking Normans and Vikings. I have to rely on books, engravings, and whatever we can dig out of the ground. I can’t actually ask if the veil is sacred or cultural. I just have to assume and er on the side of caution.

What can I do differently? Not much that I can see. I don’t invoke God, I don’t carry a bible or prayer book, and I don’t wear religious jewelry. I think I just need to stick with that and put more careful consideration into any pieces I add to my kit.

So I think I’m doing ok? If not, let me know.