Eat-Like-King-art - 10/15/17
"Eat Like a King - SCA single camper dining ideas and tools" by Dame Hróðný Rognvaldsdóttir, OP, OL.
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Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Eat Like a King -
SCA single camper dining ideas and tools
by Dame Hróðný Rognvaldsdóttir, OP, OL
Atlantian Fall University, 2017
Eating well when you do not normally cook can seem overwhelmingly difficult but it needn't be. The difference comes from bringing a trained eye to the store before you pack for an event. At a time when you are not rushed, visit one or two large local stores and treat it as a tour. Walk up and down each aisle and note what foods are available. It is common for groceries to stock types of foods in more than one place, for example our local Commissary has cheeses in the deli, in the produce area, in a stand by the fresh chicken shelves, and also in the dairy. It is easy to miss the variety on hand if you are not specifically looking for it. Likewise, protein or snack bars might be found in the cookie aisle, in the cereal aisle, and also wherever 'health' or 'specialty' foods are located. Quick or easy pre-made shelf-stable foods may be stocked which you'd never noticed before. Use your phone to take photos so you can remember what intrigued you.
Dining at SCA events should help you continue to feel medieval, not be something done on the sly to hide the modern cuisine. Sandwiches, for example, are a regular item in our diets. Medievally they were unknown but except for mayonnaise, their ingredients are common medieval foods. It is the presentation, which changes. Consider loading your plate with a few pieces of bread, a roll, or with fat pretzels, a generous slice of cheese, a daub of mustard on the side, some thick chunks of a cooked meat, and a handful of olives or nuts. Finish it with a pear or apple – it is still a 'standard' lunch but it doesn't take you back to the modern world. Change out the bread for crisp Carr's cracked pepper table crackers or fresh flat bread and substitute a spread made from cream cheese and salmon for the meat & cheese, and you have stepped a little deeper into your medieval experience.
Prepared food can only be kept safely between 40 degrees and 150 degrees for a maximum of 4 hours. That includes preparation time, and is less for easily spoilable foods or high heat. Your cooler is your friend.
If you are eating foods from plates or bowls, you will need to wash them. A hotel shampoo bottle holds enough dish soap for 'light' washing (once or twice), while a bigger sealable bottle from the travel section of the store is useful for more frequent or heavier washing. If you rinse your dishes in water that has been treated with a capful of bleach and DON'T DRY THEM WITH A CLOTH, they will be more sanitary than if you wipe them dry. The bleach will evaporate as the dishes dry and you will not be rubbing yesterday's leftover bits onto today's dishes. Besides, you have other things to do, don't you? Make sure that your small bottle of bleach is clearly labelled with 'do not ingest' warnings. Take a hint from the Boy Scouts and at the end or your meal use a piece of bread to wipe the drippings or sauce out of your dishes and pan – even if you are full and don't want to eat the bread it makes cleaning up infinitely easier. Use the wiped-out pot as a holder for your wash water and finish its cleaning last.
Raw vegetables: Celery, parsnips, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, mushrooms. Be brave and try a raw turnip. The small ones are sweeter. Salads made with lettuce and other items are period. Oil & vinegar based dressings are typical. Adding sliced nuts to your salad can liven it up. WARNING: Purple carrots will turn your mouth and any stew they are in that color. This does not wash out.
Fruit: Apples (Lady and Pink Lady strains are close to period varieties. So are many pippins. Small flavourful apples are suggested for your weekend pleasure), pears, plums and other stone fruit, grapes, melons (watermelons were known but were smaller than our modern ones), cherries, elder- or black-berries, quince, and strawberries. Sweet oranges are late in period but we don't generally care. Same with tangerines, which taste wonderful in a salad. Pomegranates are tasty and were rare in Europe so you're rich if you are eating one. Also try blood oranges, peaches, apricots, figs, dates, and berries.
Canned fruit: check out "Oregon" brand, found in the fruit aisle, as it is nearly like fresh fruit. The juice can be mixed with milk for a refreshing drink or heated to mix with oatmeal in the morning. No need to store chilled.
Dried fruit: Raisins, plums/prunes, currants, apples, apricots." Nuts Online" is a fantastic source for dried fruit. Try not to get distracted by the chocolate-covered offerings.
Single-serving sized bottles of fruit juice can be frozen in advance and act as 'ice' in your cooler.
Pickled items: Sweet or dill pickles, olives (especially black or Kalamata), carrots, cauliflower, artichokes, capers, etc.
Bread: Look around the store. If you eliminate Wonder Bread, what is left? All sorts of tasty alternatives. Pretzels, Flat breads (such as pita), and small almost cracker-type breads found in the cracker section are fun to use.
Unsliced round breads from the bakery make great plates for a dinner – slice them in half horizontally then serve your food on one half. Gravy and 'sops' will be absorbed by the bread. You can 'clean your dishes' by eating your plate!
Things to spread on bread: Butter, soft cheese (soft cheese such as cream cheese mixed with other ingredients is good), honey, sauces, thick fruit preserves. Hummus is a good hot-weather topping for breads.
Eggs: Hard boiled eggs are good for quick energy.
Cheeses: pack more than one type so you have variety. Make sure that their container is air tight or you will have cheese slime all over your cooler.
Meats: Deli meats can be ordered thick-sliced so they look more like something carved from a roast. These can be eaten cold or heated.
Kielbasa or sausages are tasty and some may be eaten from the package. Others can be cooked over a fire, or sliced and quick-fried in a pan.
Canned meats (chicken, for example) pack well and do okay as a protein source when cooked with noodles or rice.
Fish: smoked oysters, clams, sardines, tuna or salmon.
Pre-cooked bacon can store without refrigeration and works well added to a slice of bread.
Soups: Canned soups are an easy substitute for period soups. Split pea, ham & bean, cream of mushroom, lentil, beef with barley, butternut squash (this is not strictly period but we don't have access to the gourds replaced by New World squash), Italian Style Wedding (Spinach and meatballs in chicken broth). If you wish to eat oriental, instant ramen or yakasoba will warm you well.
Nuts: Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios chestnuts, pine nuts (good for strewing onto dishes before eating). Physicians recommended that when fish was served it, was to be immediately followed by nuts, as their dry humour would absorb & balance the moisture found overly abundant in most fish.
Sauces: Applesauce, honey mustard, tart cherry or berry preserves, horseradish sauce – these all go well with various meats and cheeses. Consider almond or hazelnut butter as a protein-rich spread.
Try a quick period sauce - Pit a handful of black Kalamata olives and peel a clove of garlic, then grind (process) both together until a smooth paste results. If the garlic is dry, you may need to add a olive brine or oil. Salt to taste if desired. This sauce can be made ahead of time and keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Candied things, such as Jordan (candy-coated) almonds, candied seeds, candied ginger, etc. are documentable. Asian and Middle Eastern groceries sell these.
Pizelle wafers can often be found in the bakery section. They look like fancy waffles. Oatcakes (oatmeal cookies stuffed with fruit filling or mixed with nuts and berries), shortbread, and ginger cookies are unexceptional.
Muesli or other granola type cereals with fresh berries mixed in, topped with milk (purchase the lunchbox shelf-stable milk cartons and only put one at a time in your cooler if mornings are warm.)
Protein bars crumbled up in a bowl & topped with milk make a good 'mash'.
Sliced fruit tumbled in a bowl with honey drizzled over it. Eat apples and pears with your fingers and save your spoon for messier fruits. Serve a few oatmeal cookies or sweet cakes with it for a filling breakfast.
Cream Cheese sold pre-mixed with fruit is filling when used as a dip for hard breadsticks or pretzels.
Rice pudding is period, so is cottage cheese. Both are found in the dairy section. Blend or garnish these with fruits.
Mini quiches are available frozen and premade. Bake them at home and bring them in a stable container. They are just as good cold as they are warm.
Before an event, buy a package of croissant dough (such as Pillsbury's). Chop up ham or other meats. Place a spoonful in the middle of an uncooked pastry, then add a touch of mustard and dry cheese (parmesan or romano) before rolling up the dough to enclose it. Bake according to the directions on the dough package. Pack in a plastic container or bag.
Before an event, purchase a package of empanada dough (it will look like a stack of round disks). Thaw the disks and put half of them in a muffin pan to line each hollow, then fill them with a meaty stew. Use the other half of the wrappers to create a lid, wetting the edges with water before crimping them together. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Let cool and pack in a non-crushable container. Use Pillsbury-type pie dough as a substitute if needed.
Tuna fish mixed (one small can to one 8oz package) with cream cheese and a bit of soy or Worcheshire sauce makes a rich spread to use with breads.
Applesauce or cherry preserves make a sweet sauce on the side of pork dishes. Don't ignore the variety of mustards in the store, or the unusual fruit spreads or preserves.
During a hot event, slice cucumbers and place in a container with vinegar and a dash of soy sauce and place in your cooler. Shake it occasionally. Wait 2-3 hours, sprinkle them with black pepper and serve.
Campfire (foil only) meals
Wrap in foil some pre-made meatballs on a bed of pre-cooked rice or beans, then fold the foil over and seal each edge. Place by the coals of the fire and wait 15-20 minutes. (While waiting, assemble your plate, bread, and condiments or sauces.) Remove carefully from the foil and arrange on your plate.
Take sliced uncooked meat (or fish such as salmon) and arrange it on foil, then lay sliced vegetables (such as sliced carrots and parsnips) beside it. Sprinkle an envelope of instant onion soup over all or use your own blend of spices, and then seal the foil into a package and place it on the side of the fire and let it cook for 20 minutes, turning it over after the 10 minutes.
Filled rolls, or bread dough rolled around something, can be somewhat documented from the Domostroi, a late-period Russian household manual. Buy a soft roll from the bakery, carve a hole in the middle, and stuff it with meats or cheeses, with maybe a bit of mustard or other sauce added in. Wrap in foil and briefly heat on the edge of the fire to melt the cheese & heat the meat.
Filled Pockets: Use refrigerator biscuits or frozen bread dough and fill with fairly dry spoonful of sausage, berries, etc. Enclose totally and bake for handy tourney food. The same technique can be used to make instant pasties.
Peel & core an apple or pear. Stuff the interior with dried fruits and nuts, then drizzle a bit of honey inside. Sprinkle the interior with cinnamon if you have it. Wrap in foil, twisting a bit of it to act as a handle, and place on embers in the fire. Let cook 5-10 minutes (20-25 for pears), and then place the softened fruit on your plate or in a bowl to eat. (Extra: pour a bit of heavy cream mixed with sugar or spices over it.)
Thinly slice pork loin or chop, lay half down in a foil then top with dried fruits and honey. Spread the other half of the pork over the top of this and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice. Fold & wrap well, then roast by the fire for 20 minutes, turning it over at the ten minute mark.
Stove top meals
Before an event, place raw eggs, cheese, and any other thing you like in omelettes in a sealable bag with salt & pepper, then seal it. Place in cooler. In the morning at the event, put the bag into boiling water until cooked through. Open the bag and place your omelette on a plate or large piece of bread. For variety, try adding a dash of orange juice to the raw materials – it was mentioned as an omelette ingredient in a pope's cook's notes.
If you are using instant oatmeal try heating chicken broth for it rather than water. This gives a better protein kick and is a period practise (adding grains into meat broth). If you really want a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, boil grains directly in the broth until it is thick and sprinkle pre-cooked bacon or sausage into it. For variety a savoury breakfast could be had one morning and a berries-sweetened one the next, still using the same grains.
A hearty side dish for beef cooking on a skewer or in a foil at the fire is to boil barley in beef broth until it has thickened.
Any cooked grains or pasta can be put in a seal-a-meal bag, as can any pre-cooked meats (you can add sauces in with the meat before sealing.) Two bags can be boiled at the same time in a 10" pot. This will enable you to include pre-frozen meal items to your menu. Single-serve frozen chicken cordon bleu, for example, can be removed from its commercial freezer package and placed in a sealed bag, then popped back into the freezer. It will thaw slightly in your cooler but will cook well in a boiled bag. Leftover takeout also works well, especially meats such as roast pork or teriyaki chicken/beef. So do TV dinners transferred to a boiling bag. Any foods, just about, can be easily reheated in a boil-a-bag.
up a can of cream of broccoli soup, add in cubed ham or chicken. Let cool and
seal it into a boiling bag.
Slice an onion and with a dab or oil or butter sauté it in the bottom of your pot. Add in a can of beef consommé. Once it has hit a good heat, pour it into a bowl and then drop chucks of cheese into the soup. Make sure you have bread with which to sop all of it up.
Makerouns: Boil dried noodles with a dash of oil & salt until al dente (tender-crisp). Drain well. In a serving bowl or platter place some melted butter and cheese. Lay noodles on top and add more butter and cheese. Serve as is or continue adding layers of butter, cheese, and noodles. Use extra cheese as necessary. Serve immediately. Alternately, buy a package of Annie's mac & white or cheddar cheese but substitute flat egg noodles for the pasta.
Carbonadoes of Beef and Mutton, Pork, and Venison of Hart and Roe Deer: "If you want you can pour vinegar over the carbonadoes once they are grilled. You must always beat them with the back of a knife before they are grilled so that they become tender. You fry tender roast or lean meat on a griddle, then sprinkle it with salt and serve it." This is a translation from a period cook book.
Cooking in a pot, follow the directions to cook packaged noodles with sauce and add in whichever cubed meats you would like, as well as a small can of peas or green beans or fresh mushrooms. This works especially well with canned chicken or torn-apart pre-cooked bacon.
To make ramen the easy way, boil water and pour it over your ramen & spices in a bowl, then cover the bowl with a plate and wait 3-5 minutes for the noodles to finish cooking.
"Bashed Neeps": Can be any combination of mashed non-green vegetables, but most particularly carrots and turnips (parsnips are sweeter than turnips). Take equal amounts of each vegetable, boil until tender. Mash with a fork, adding butter and such seasonings as you'd like. Try honey, cardamom, caraway and cinnamon (not necessarily all in the same batch...) to differ the taste from plain salt and pepper. This is especially useful when you are missing potatoes.
Tools which will help with your dining pleasure:
· A wooden plate. It can double as a cutting board.
· Two bowls - one bowl large enough to hold a messy meal (such as noodles with sauce & meat), the other a smaller dining bowl. These can also substitute for dishpans while cleaning up.
· A good paring knife with a sheath for packing
· A can opener if you bring canned foods (often forgotten!)
· A trash bag
· A hand-held bag sealer & one roll of 'seal a meal' plastic
· A single-burner stove & a medium-sized pan with lid
· A water kettle, which can pack into your pan
· A wooden spoon
· Small sealable containers for salt, pepper, and any additional spices
· A travelling sealable bottle of dish soap, another of bleach, and one or two cloths or sponge for washing dishes
Butane stove $20
propane stove $35
"Euro sealer" is available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. "iTouchless" sealers are available in a duo-pack from Amazon.com and Walmart.
Dayboards and Sideboards: Theory & Practice, an SCA class and discussion moderated by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
Period Precooking for Camping Events, Senhora Rafaella d'Allemtejo, GdS, JdL http://www.fridayvalentine.com/rafaella/precooking.html
All Recipe's "apples by the fire", Mike Prawdzik
Stefan's Florilegium, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD/idxfood.html
Fruit in Medieval Europe , Translated by Jean-Marc Bulit
A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents How to Cook Medieval http://www.godecookery.com/how2cook/howto10.html
Caid's "Chapter 3: Preparing Medieval Food",
Plain Fare - A Period Camp Cookbook, by Giano Balestriere (Volker Bach) http://www.drachenwald.sca.org/drupal/sites/default/files/PLAIN%20FARE.pdf
Copyright <year> by Terri Morgan, 905 Spring Garden Lane Virginia Beach, VA 23452. <online2much at cox.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.