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headcooks-msg - 3/14/14


Advice for SCA headcooks. Feastocrats.


No one should have to go on counseling after they run a feast.  -Sianan


NOTE: See also the files: feasts-msg, feast-menus-msg, fst-disasters-msg, HC-butchers-art, p-menus-msg, p-cooks-msg, Run-a-Feast-art, Medievl-Feasts-art, dayboards-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: cook grain w/o burning

From: schuldy at zariski.harvard.edu (Mark Schuldenfrei)

Date: 13 Jan 94 21:35:02 EST


Tarrach Alfson wrote:

My lady is about to take on her second large feast, and has asked me to

see if any of you out there know of a good way to cook large quantities of

grain (ie. barley, bulgar wheat, etc.) without having it burn to the

bottem of the pans.  Any information will be greatly appreciated.


If you can get Angharad's little pamphlet on the mechanics of large scale

cookery, you will find it invaluable.


The short answer is, preheat the water (hours before you think it will need

to be preheated: the volume goes up with the cube of amount, but the surface

area at the bottom increases only with the square: add in the additional

surface area radiating heat away, and you've got a long time to wait).


Them stir like the dickens.  Commercial food establishments sell wonderful

paddles for this purpose, for about 7 dollars.  Because of the dynamics of

the system, the normal convection you would find in a small batch will not

suffice. Stir about every five minutes.


        Tibor (I spent a lot of time in kitchens before I discovered

        heraldry and fencing.)


Mark Schuldenfrei (schuldy at math.harvard.edu)



From: jtn at nutter.cs.vt.edu (Terry Nutter)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: cook grain w/o burning

Date: 14 Jan 1994 18:12:02 GMT

Organization: The Rialto


Greetings, all, from Angharad ver' Rhuawn.


Tibor responds to Tarrach Alfson:


>Tarrach Alfson wrote:

> My lady is about to take on her second large feast, and has asked me to

> see if any of you out there know of a good way to cook large quantities of

> grain (ie. barley, bulgar wheat, etc.) without having it burn to the

> bottem of the pans.  Any information will be greatly appreciated.

>If you can get Angharad's little pamphlet on the mechanics of large scale

>cookery, you will find it invaluable.


Gee, thanks for the plug.  Those who are interested in this (or the booklet

with the recipes) can email me for info; I do have a bunch of them.


>The short answer is, preheat the water (hours before you think it will need

>to be preheated: the volume goes up with the cube of amount, but the surface

>area at the bottom increases only with the square: add in the additional

>surface area radiating heat away, and you've got a long time to wait).

>Them stir like the dickens.  Commercial food establishments sell wonderful

>paddles for this purpose, for about 7 dollars.  Because of the dynamics of

>the system, the normal convection you would find in a small batch will not

>suffice. Stir about every five minutes.


If you can get someone to, stir constantly.


But there's another trick, if you can get a large enough container and the

means to drain it (the steam kettles that high schools use to cook veggies

in are perfect): use _much_ too much water.  Boil the grain in _lots_ of

water; drain before serving.  Works well with rice (so long as you're not

trying to retain the delicate flavor of a special variety like basmati),

and reasonably with others.  Try at home first.  With rice, boil for 16

minutes, then drain.




-- Angharad/Terry



From: ayotte at milo.NOdak.EDU (Robert Arthur Ayotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: cook grain w/o burning

Date: 14 Jan 1994 02:35:33 -0500

Organization: North Dakota State University ACM, Fargo ND


In article <CJL1xE.20I5 at ns1.nodak.edu> you wrote:


: My lady is about to take on her second large feast, and has asked me to

: see if any of you out there know of a good way to cook large quantities of

: grain (ie. barley, bulgar wheat, etc.) without having it burn to the

: bottem of the pans.  Any information will be greatly appreciated.


:                                             Tarrach Alfson

:                                             Dahleen at badlands.nodak.edu

        Cooking time is the key.  Starting with boiling water (not simmering)

and then add the rinsed grains.  Bring it back to a boil and then near the

end of the cooking time turn off the heat. (depending on volume can be up to

30 minutes).  And use a lid to keep the temp as high as possible.

        If your going to strain the grain from the liquid, just use more

fluid (barley).  Sometimes cooking the grain ahead in smaller batches

and adding it to a boiling mix can do the trick as well.





From: ayotte at milo.NOdak.EDU (Robert Arthur Ayotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cooking Lots of Rice  (was Re: cook grain w/o burning)

Date: 14 Jan 1994 15:40:26 -0500

Organization: North Dakota State University ACM, Fargo ND


: Is the method for cooking large batches of rice similar?  Cariadoc, in his

: Miscellany, mentions (off hand) that there is a way to cook rice that

: depends mostly on the retained heat of the boiling water but he doesn't

: give details.


: Konrad


        Rice is easy.  First you need a very large pot. (sorry that was just

too easy....) but I digress.


I have used this method for rice and rice mixes (then with lentils) and it

works well every time.


Measure your liquid (2 times by volume of fluid to dry) plus 3-5%

Bring the liquid to a rapid boil. (yes they are right it's gonna

take a very long time so keep the pot covered). Herbs may be added here.

To the rapidly boiling liquid add the dry goods (rice) and bring back to

  a boil while covered.

Once it's boiling again turn the heat off and wait 20 minutes covered.

It's done.

The water will retain enough heat to cook the rice.





Date: Tue, 08 Apr 1997 14:02:10 -0400

From: "Philip W. Troy" <troy at asan.com>

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Subject: Re: Food Restrictions and Feasts


Michael F. Gunter wrote:

> >       How do you handle getting people with dietary restrictions to notify

> >       you *before* you start buying food?


> My attitude is that I try to avoid or at least substitute for the more common

> dietary restrictions (no pork, plenty of food for vegetarians, etc...) but for

> the less common problems.  Well, if they tell me I try to make some accommodation

> but if not, tough cookies.


> > I just cooked an event and had *one* person (out of nearly 150 attendees) who

> > told me ahead of time that she had an allergy.  Meanwhile, I know several

> > local vegetarians did not tell me,




> I always try to make sure that vegetarians are well taken care of at my

> feasts, it is just pre-supposed planning.  Besides, having good edible veggie

> dishes can make for a less expensive feast.


> > I also had one person attend who could not eat a single dish I made because

> > of dietary restrictions.  At least he was prepared to eat off-board, which wasn't

> > scheduled and everyone knew that.  If he had let me know ahead of time, I

> > could at least have made something special for him for lunch and dinner.


> The sign of a caring head cook. :-{)}


> > Derdriu


> Gunthar


It seems to me as if you are pretty much doing all that you can to

accomodate the maximum number of people. I also had one person contact

me in advance regarding dietary restrictions at an event I cooked for a

couple of weeks ago. As it happens, that person proved ultimately unable

to attend anyway. There will always be a certain amount of this sort of

thing. Ways to deal with it include:


        1. Include a loud, tactless notice in the text of the event notice to

the effect that you are willing to accomodate the dietary restrictions

of the event rs, but that you will have to KNOW ABOUT THEM IN ADVANCE.


        2. Post (prominently) a menu with an attached ingredients list. Leave

plenty of room for addtional hand-written notes, in case you decide

during the day to throw an unscheduled tot of ginger in something. Have

a herald announce shortly before the feast that persons with dietary

restrictions should check the list for recent annotations.


        3. Keep your menu constructed so that the feast is modular. Meat dishes

should contain meat. Vegetable dishes should not. Dishes that fit

neither category clearly can often be made in their "fast day" or Lenten

form. For instance, a green or black porrey can be made with butter

instead of bacon. It will often say this right in the primary source

recipe. This will take care of most of the problems you might encounter.

You can also set aside a small portion of the dish before the

questionable ingredient is added, to be reserved for the use of

vegatarians, people with allergies, or whatever it may be.


        4. You may or may not choose to provide additional vegetarian "main

courses" for such people as have contacted you in advance: I have never

found this to be necessary, and have never known anyone to go hungry

because of it. I am certainly willing to do so if I am asked to do so,

but I usually am able to set up my menu with sufficient variety that if

someone has to avoid up to about 40% of the meal, they will still be fed

more than adequately.


I feel that if you have done these things, you have faithfully

discharged any responsibility in this area as a chef. Running a kitchen

isn't easy, especially if you are actually doing the cooking as well. I

don't mean to sound harsh, but while I feel a cook should accomodate the

minority, I also feel that this should not be at the noticeable expense

of the majority. If providing what is in essence a separate feast for

folks with dietary restrictions detracts from your ability to provide

the rest of the attendees with their money's worth, then you need to

rethink your plans.


Cheerfully anticipating a flood of intriguing responses to this,





From: Mark Schuldenfrei <schuldy at abel.MATH.HARVARD.EDU>

Subject: Re: Food Restrictions and Feasts

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 13:02:19 -0400 (EDT)


       How do you handle getting people with dietary restrictions to notify

       you *before* you start buying food?


I would let grown-ups be grown-ups.  If they fail, they fail.


My wife (the frequent cook for events) usually prepares a feast that is

quite edible for vegetarians, anyway.  We have quite a few of them here.

Many of them come prepared to supplement the meals, anyway.


I guess the real question is, what is the role of the cook at an event. In

some places, it is to feed everyone, no matter what, no questions asked.

Around here it appears to be to provide an authentic medieval dining

experience that will satisfy the senses and nutritional needs of the guest.


Just as we wouldn't expect all present to be able to partake in authentic

dance, we cannot expect everyone to partake of an authentic feast:

especially if they don't call ahead.


On the other hand, anything and everything feasible should be done for those

that plan ahead.  My wife once made kosher versions of a feast for a table

of observant Jews, except for the chicken: she asked them to purchase a

kosher chicken, and furnished recipes to them so it could be cooked in

advance: and included their costs in the feast budget, in fairness to them.


        Tibor  (Whose dietary restrictions are legion, so I no longer eat




From: "Kay Jarrell" <kay.jarrell at ccmail.bus.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Subject: Re: sca-cooks Re: intro

Date:    4/10/97 10:38 AM


You know, the reason cooks bitch and moan about how hard it all was is so those

who see food "appear" on the table will have some small clue as to how much

work, time, training, experience, frustration, diplomacy, effort and late ngihts

went into not just the plate they see but the education of the cook.


I have had few rewards so sweet as a round of applause from an SCA feast, or the

members of a class here at work, but the work had to get done, first.


Kay of Tre Asterium C.L.



Chef Kay Jarrell

The Executive Education Center

Univeristy of Michigan Business School

kjarrell at umich.edu



Date: Thu, 10 Apr 97 17:09:52 EDT

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Subject: sca-cooks Complaining


Mark Schuldenfrei wrote:

>   > Any have any suggestions on how to get

>   > comfortable cooking for 200 rather than 40?


> Gunther wrote:


>   You'll never be comfortable as Head cook!  Abandon all hope!


> Nope.


> Plan, plan, plan some more.  Make lists, work out timelines, make some more

> lists.  Have people you know, and trust, practice the recipes and take

> charge of each one.


> It isn't that bad.


I was going to address this and hadn't figured out how to do so

delicately. If we (the experienced cooks) make it seem like cooking is

the greatest trial and a miserable experience, how will we ever get

others to join our ranks?  


This is like saying to newcomers "Oh, fighting is miserable, you get all

hot and sweaty and bruised and battered and it takes forever to learn to

be any good and its mortifying when you lose and the equipment is

expensive and some big Duke is probably going to beat the tar out of

you". Certainly not what we do where I'm from, and not a very good

incentive to getting people to fight.


Yes, cooking feasts is a lot of work.  But with some reasonable

organization and advance planning, it doesn't need to be a miserable

experience. I teach a whole class on Feast Planning for our Kingdom

University and it sells out every time, so there's certainly interest out

there in "doing it and doing it well".  My great tool for feast planning

is the clear plastic sheet-covers.  You can put the period recipe on one

side, the redaction on the other, and write on it with a grease pencil to

check off steps, or note "cooling in left hand  fridge" or whatever.





From: "Greg Lindahl" <lindahl at pbm.com>

Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 12:58:32 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: SC - Re: sca-cooks Feast Budget


> I'm a big believer in buying produce in season: not only does it save

> money, but it gives a more period effect.  A medieval feast would not

> have had fresh asparagus and fresh apples at the same dinner.  A good

> reference for produce seasons is _The Goldbecks' Guide to Good Food_,

> a revised and expanded version of their classic _Supermarket Handbook_.


I also have an article on the web which discusses this issue: "Robbing

Peter To Pay Paul: Halving Feast Costs". It can be found at:




- -- G. B.



From: "Richard Cockrum" <cawhill at ccia.com>

Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 16:31:09 -0400

Subject: Re: SC - asbestos undergarments (silly)


> Last time I was in the kitchen I was crouching in

> front of the oven, lifting out a roast when someone let little terrors

> (children) into the kitchen.  Little kids have no regard for the safety


> others and playfully gave me a push.  Sianan's balance, not very good at

> the best of times, went off and she fell forward banging her cheek against

> a *VERY* hot grille.  To this day I still sport an interesting lattice of

> scarring on my cheek and forehead.  Not too noticable, but still there.


> -Sianan


        This brings too many memories of my various feast scars to mind! ( Ask

BMDL chirs. about my burn record sometime:<) Any way, as a special

presentation from some of the canton members, I was given a set of WELDERS

LEATHER GLOVES !!! Bless you Bonnie & Chuck :) These actually are a great

thing to have around! The gloves are longer than the oven mitt things ,

mine come almost to my elbow! You can find them at most home builder type

shops, ladies get the smallest set you can find, the fingers will be too

long for most women in the medium or large sizes! You still need to use pot

holders if carrying heavey, hot things for a distance of more than ten

feet, but they really save your arms and wrists from those oops! types of



Lady Glynis of the Inn of the Laughing Fox



From: "Sue Wensel" <swensel at brandegee.lm.com>

Date: 14 May 1997 17:40:12 -0500

Subject: Re(2): SC - trial feasts


> If you wanted to do it as 4 seperate evenings of one course each, that

> would be much better then dropping items you know how to do.  (That

> compatibility issue).  Personally, though, I test cook also to find out

> things like the number of pots and pans and burners I need, space issues

> on countertops and timing issues on cooking.  (Another story:  one of my

> early feasts looked incredible on paper, but the autocrat didn't get me

> in to look at the kitchen until the day before the event.  The kitchen

> had a normal, house-sized stove.  I had 3 of my major foods requiring

> on the top of the stove cooking.   Needless to say, I did a bit of

> juggling and creative cooking.  (I cooked on item in the oven in pan of

> water, and had a person assigned to make sure that the other two industrial

> size pots didn't fall off the stove (which just wasn't big enough to hold

> them).)  


I absolutely agree.  My first (and so far only) feast, things were so hectic

in my mundane life that I didn't get to look at the kitchen until the day of

the feast.  We were planning to do 48 pies but had only two ovens with one

rack each.  Fortunately, we found another partial rack and were able to get

twice as many pies (12 instead of six) in that oven.  That plus serving the

soup first instead of simultaneously saved the day.  I am just glad that I had

pre-baked everything else.


When you visit the site, double-check what burners are functional, what ovens

are working and what are the quirks of the stove.  Just what you don't need is

to leave something "cooking" for half an hour only to find the pilot didn't

light. Also make sure you know where all the switches are for lights, garbage

disposals (if you are so lucky), and stove hoods.  Find out where the fuses

are and what to do if you blow one.  Find out who your site contact is and

know how to contact them.


> So, while I realize it's a lot of work, invite 3 to 7 friends over and

> cook one serving plate worth of each with your best estimates on timing

> and get them to taste the courses together.  Your feasters will be glad

> you did!


I always thought you would test the feast out on you, your SO, your autocrat,

and your autocrat's SO plus anyone else who is game enough to try.  For my

feast, we did a run through the week before -- lunch was held at lunch time

and the feast at dinner time.  Word of caution:  when you serve out the food,

divide your portions as you would at the event.  We slice the bread and got a

much higher person to bread ratio than we were getting at the event (Just pop

a few more loaves in the oven!).


> Ruadh


All in all, the feast went wonderfully.  Just some notes from the school of

hard knocks.





From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 20:20:17 -0400

Subject: Re: SC - Cook's Knees


L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt wrote:

> I had major knee surgery about 8 months ago and am coming up on my first

> concrete-floor feast kitchen since the op. PLEEEEEEASE give me some hints on

> what to do to avoid cook's knees. I've got the excellent shoes bit down pat

> and am thinking of investing in some of those blue dense foam sleeping mats

> as floor mats. Does anyone, anywhere, have some good hints----Don't ask me

> to cook sitting. My personality won't allow it.


> Aoife


Hello again, Aoife!


Regardless of my stodgy views on pies ;  ), I've been cooking in the SCA

for going on 13 years, and have earned my living as a chef as well.

Here's what I've learned in that time, speaking as a cook who can still

easily remain standing AND coherent (well, as coherent as I usually am,

anyway) for around 16 hours or more, despite my grey hairs:


Necessity 1) Really good shoes. They have arch support, HEEL support,

and probably a steel toe. Knapp used to make a steel-toed, black leather

"dress" sneaker that was ideal. Good traction (another essential), too!

Many chefs wear a special clog with a stiff but jointed sole that

provides excellent support, and has the advantage of being able to be

kicked off, in the event of dousing them with boiling oil or other

disasters. Unless you need to run in them, they may be the ideal kitchen

shoe. (I can't afford them myself!)


Necessity 2) Thick, padded socks, such as hikers and mountain climbers

wear. You can get them in a sporting goods store. They have extra thick

padded sections on the toe, the sole, and the heel. Pretty expensive,

but 5 pairs saved my life when I was the man in white (and funny checked



Necessity 3) Remember to flex your Achilles tendon. Try to bend your

ankle til you can touch your shin with your toes. I assume you won't

make it, but the effort is helpful in preventing funky bunions on your

heels, and other weird calcium deposits that eliminate the elasticity of

your tendons.


Necessity 4) This may or may not be a problem, depending on the kind of

person you are. With all respect to everyone on the list, one of the

best ways to avoid injuries to joints is to lose any excess weight you

may be capable of losing. Less weight, less joint stress. It's that

simple. It sounds so easy, and it is so hard in reality, but if you are

one of those people who can do this, it is helpful.


Necessity 5) Seltzer.


Here endeth the messin'!





From: Bronwynmgn at aol.com

Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 11:40:54 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: SC - Cook's Knees



I had major knee surgery about 8 months ago and am coming up on my first

concrete-floor feast kitchen since the op. PLEEEEEEASE give me some hints on

what to do to avoid cook's knees. I've got the excellent shoes bit down pat

and am thinking of investing in some of those blue dense foam sleeping mats

as floor mats. Does anyone, anywhere, have some good hints >>


Well, speaking as my mundane persona as a physical therapist, I can give a

few suggestions.  I certainly won't ask you to do the entire feast sitting

down, but it would be a good idea to intersperse short sitting periods (10-15

minutes each) in your cooking time, every hour or two.

The dense foam mats may be too soft - they'll be unsatble and that will make

your knee work harder.  The kind of rubber mats some people use in the back

of theit trucks would be better - you don't want anything you are actually

going to sink into, just somethng that will take a little of the hardnes off

the floor.  Also be sure that it is something that will absolutely not slip

(rubber seems to be the best for this, too.)


Barb Croll

Licensed PT

(Bronwyn doesn't know anything about this.)



From: "Sue Wensel" <swensel at brandegee.lm.com>

Date: 19 May 1997 09:56:42 -0500

Subject: Re(2): SC - Cook's Knees


> L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt wrote:

> > I had major knee surgery about 8 months ago and am coming up on my first

> > concrete-floor feast kitchen since the op. PLEEEEEEASE give me some hints on

> > what to do to avoid cook's knees. I've got the excellent shoes bit down pat

> > and am thinking of investing in some of those blue dense foam sleeping mats

> > as floor mats. Does anyone, anywhere, have some good hints----Don't ask me

> > to cook sitting. My personality won't allow it.

> >

> > Aoife


Adamantius replied (edited for brevity):


> Necessity 1) Really good shoes. They have arch support, HEEL support,

> and probably a steel toe. Knapp used to make a steel-toed, black leather

> "dress" sneaker that was ideal. Good traction (another essential), too!

> Many chefs wear a special clog with a stiff but jointed sole that

> provides excellent support, and has the advantage of being able to be

> kicked off, in the event of dousing them with boiling oil or other

> disasters. Unless you need to run in them, they may be the ideal kitchen

> shoe. (I can't afford them myself!)


I too have knee problems (and damaged nerves in the bottom of one foot) and

have searched high and low for solutions.  


In addition to the good shoes insert Dr. Scholl's Backguard (tm) insoles in

them. They provide an extra pad at the heel which is designed to take the

strain of standing off your lower back.  It also helps cushion your knees and

feet. The team who developed them ought to be beatified.

Other things I do:


1. Grab a chair and rest your bad leg on it.  Try to make sure the seat of the

        chair is nearly knee high or you will really strain your hip. If you can't

        find a chair, grab a stool and put your feet on it.  Sometimes, I just

        stand on my knees on the chair.


        Alternating resting your feet on a stool is recommended for everyone, not

        just for those who have knee or back problems.


2.     Check with your local building supply stores for the rubberized

        grease-resistant mats like factories use.  They resist getting slippery

        from grease and are designed for prolonged standing in one place. You will

        need to clean them with very hot water -- I don't know how easily they



3.     Walk around.  Go out to the feasting area periodically to check how things

        are progressing.  Check out the nearby areas of the event.  Hook up with

        the autocrat to see if things are running on time.  Check with troll to

        see how attendance and on-board look.


4.     Don't forget your anti-inflammatories.  They can prevent the inflammation

        that can cause continuing damage to joints.


5.     Ask someone else to carry that heavy box.


Does anyone know where you can get arch supports of an arch 5 inches long and

a little over an inch high.  Nothing I buy in the store is long or high




(whose last job involved keeping an eye on the ergonomics of the time)



From: dragon7777 at juno.com (Susan A Allen)

Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 20:28:55 -0700

Subject: SC - Cook's Knees


Get a low stool to raise your foot up, so that one knee is flexed

alternate that and be sure to walk about, I have a really bad

back problem and the foot stool really helps, with the knee

flexed, blood circulation to the legs is opened up (standing

tends to clamp closed the blood supply, leading to

edema (water) in the feet and varicose veins (yuck)


Leg wraps also help, ace bandage or varicose stocking

sort of like leg girdles.





Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 04:47:16 -0500

From: gfrose at cotton.vislab.olemiss.edu (Terry Nutter)

Subject: SC - Booklets


Hi, Katerine here.


I'm normally pretty shy about anything that smacks of an ad, but there are

so many people on this list who seem anxious for this sort of thing that

I'm violating my usual rule.  Experienced cooks probably want to move

to the next message now.


I have a couple of booklets that can be ordered by mail.  They were designed

for beginners in the SCA (i.e. there's probably nothing here that an

experienced cook would find particularly enlightening, but people with less

experience may be interested in either or both).


The "big book" has twenty-five recipes from 14th and 15th C England and

France, and some general information on food, ingredients, and stuff like

that. The recipes themselves are in the format I've been posting here (in

fact, several of the ones I've posted came from there, with some transformation

but not a huge amount).


It's 65 pages (plus front material), in what I think of as the

standard booklet form, that is, 8.5 x 11 sheets folded in half, with four

pages to each sheet (counting both sides, of course), single spaced, in the

smallest print that is easily legible.  This one is 17 sheets plus cover.


The "little book" discusses feast planning and execution, i.e. everything

*except* recipes.  The main topics are:


        * menu design -- including matching to budget, equipment,

        kitchen, and staff, how to find recipes, and balancing the meal;


        * staff -- who and how many you'll need;


        * preparation -- purchasing, cooking ahead vs. on site,

        transportation, timing [including allowing for problems with large

        quantities and thermal mass], getting recipes and ingredients ready,

        and basic safety;


        * peripherals -- serving, presentation, clean-up, and leftovers;


        * execution -- delegation and disaster control;


        * references.  


It's 29 pages of text, in the same format (eight sheets plus cover).


Crude financial details: $5 for the big guy, $3 for the little, plus $1 mailing

cost for the first booklet and $0.50 for each additional.


Anyone interested in a copy of either one should email me at

jtn at cottagesoft.com.



- -- Katerine/Terry



Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 18:22:50 -0400 (EDT)

From: Uduido at aol.com

Subject: SC - Burned Rice-saving


In a message dated 97-09-22 09:53:04 EDT, you write:


<< As to the burned rice, I always tell anyone I'm teaching that if a dish

doesn't come out right, it's better to toss it and go without, than to

serve a poor dish.  Everything else could be absolutely fabulous, but

it's the burned rice everyone will talk about later.



This is NOT a period solution but works wonderfully well for turning burnrd

rice into a 'gret' dish and it really does work.


If you burn you rice, IMMEDIATELY remove it from the heat and scoop out the

part that has not burnedd. Take a goodly amount of tea leaves and crumble

then into a powder. Stir into the rice until well-mixed.


I burned the rice at Will's and some wonderful gentle told me to try this. I

did. ALL of the rice got eaten and many people wanted the recipe.


Uh, let's see.....take a pan of rice and burn it.........:-)


Lord Ras



Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 14:00:20 -0400

From: Donna Kenton <donna at dabbler.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Field Expedient Noodles


I did an outdoor feast with noodles.  I pre-cooked them until they were

almost done, then tossed them in a little olive oil, and packaged them

in ziplock bags, one serving bowl's worth per bag.  I made the

accompanying sauce and bagged them, too.


When it came time to serve, the sauce bags (bag and all) were put into

boiling water to heat them.  Each noodle bag was emptied into boiling

water for a couple of minutes, then scooped out, a bag of hot sauce

poured on, and then given to the waiting server.  Every table had hot




- --

Rosalinde De Witte/Donna Kenton * donna at dabbler.com *




Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 09:26:23 -700 MST

From: "Jeanne Stapleton" <jstaplet at adm.law.du.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - Documentation


> How does everyone present documentation for their feasts?  Do you

> add it as an addendum to the menu or do you offer it at all?


> The ever curious,

> Murkial


I've done it in various ways, or participated in feasts where there

have been a couple of methods:


        -      One is to present small placards or menus at the table

               with snippets of documentation

        -      Another, which I personally like a lot, is to prepare a

               small brochure with recipes and documentation for

               sale for a trifling amount, or to roll the cost into the

               feast fee and offer one to each diner who enters the hall.





Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 11:45:13 -0400 (EDT)

From: Mark Schuldenfrei <schuldy at abel.MATH.HARVARD.EDU>

Subject: Re: SC - Documentation


       -      One is to present small placards or menus at the table

               with snippets of documentation


Usually we do that, just citing recipe name and source.


       -      Another, which I personally like a lot, is to prepare a

               small brochure with recipes and documentation for

               sale for a trifling amount, or to roll the cost into the

               feast fee and offer one to each diner who enters the hall.


My wife bribes her cooking staff with a copy.  It seems a fair recompense.





Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 11:59:21 -0400 (EDT)

From: Uduido at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Documentation


<< How does everyone present documentation for their feasts?  Do you add it

as an addendum to the menu or do you offer it at all?



I make 20 copies of each recipe page that includes the original recipe, it's

source, my translation and the redaction plus any notes on parts that need

clarifying. I then colate them and staple them together. Anyone of the first

20 people who wants copies of the recipes can then have them for the asking.


Lord Ras



Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 14:54:29 -0500

From: Debra Hense <debh at microware.com>

Subject: SC - Documenation


I've always made up little souvenir cookbooks of the feast.  They contain the source as well as my redaction. They come onto site with me and are available for anyone who asks: can I see the list of ingredients? Then, several are placed on each table. Extras are available if more than two or three at a table want a copy.


They are all free.


But then, I started out cooking for College Madrigals... Before I ever conceived of cooking my first feast for the SCA.


Kateryn de Develyn

debh at microware.com



Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 21:26:56 -0700 (PDT)

From: rousseau at scn.org (Anne-Marie Rousseau)

Subject: Re: SC - Documentation


> How does everyone present documentation for their feasts?  Do you

> add it as an addendum to the menu or do you offer it at all?


> Murkial


Here in Madrone (Seattle), we often will take the recipes from a big

feast, along with piles of documentation and produce a pamphlet pretty

much at cost. These are made available by word of mouth, or through our

kingdom stock clerk.


For a recent smaller meal at an event, I handed everyone a copy of the

recipes (with attendant documentation, of course) as they stepped up to

the line to fill their plates. Worked very well, especially since they

had the tasty stuff in their mouths and could read the paper and see it

was period to boot. Hah!


- --Anne-Marie, on a constant crusade to show people that authentic

medieval food is not nasty, wierd or brown glop.



Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 10:55:51 -0400 (EDT)

From: Mark Schuldenfrei <schuldy at abel.MATH.HARVARD.EDU>

Subject: Re: SC - potential problem foods


Berengaria wrote:

Anyway, I happen to love spicy foods.  I also happen to be a bonafide

sodium chloridaholic, which means I don't "get" people complaining

about salty chicken broth and too-salty onion dip (love the stuff).  

  I adjust for others' tastes as best I can, go very light on the salt,

but I refuse to cook bland food when I have other choices.  


I agree completely about the bland foods.


In general, however, food tastes the same whether you salt it at the table,

or during the cooking.  (Unless the salt is part of the cooking process you

are using, like brine or koshering, or whatever).


I would recommend, therefore, that you cook almost exclusively without salt,

and let those that use it put some in at the table.  There are exceptions,

of course: like oatmeal or cream of wheat that requires some salt in the

cooking, or spinach.  But, even then, with a light hand.


To give you an idea: my wife and I are both very pro-flavor cooks.  We have

been using the same box of salt for about 5 years.  Now, try to take away

our garlic.... (:-)


My blood pressure is fine, thanks.  But I know plenty of people on diuretics

in an attempt to reduce their BP.  Excess salt for them is just begging to

give them problems.





Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 07:19:53 -0600

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Cooking AROUND Court


>Court drag on past the Dinner Hour in a former East Kingdom Kingdom?


>What do you think about putting large fans blowing aromas from the

>kitchen directly at the thrones? Do you think that would end court any


>I've got people bugging me to do a RP event,..... convince me that it will be

>okay. I need to make a decision soon.



Well, my first ploy is to send my schedule directly to the crowns involved.

They can then see when court is supposed to be and when the feast is

supposed to be. Theoretically, they can then tell you if they think court

business can take place in that time frame.


Additionally, have a runner check with their Majesties just before the

tourney ends (or right before court), to see if it started on time.


Next, I like to plan a first remove that is either mostly cold food (salad,

bread/butters/ quiche), or is easily "held" (mac and cheese, soup/stew,

etc...). I save the labor intensive stuff for later in the feast. This way,

you have some "fudge time" built right into the feast, and essentially

you're prepared to slap the entire first remove on the table at once, saving

all that serving time and complaints about where the food is (they'll be

starving by the time court runs over AND the feast is served dish-by-dish).

I also go with family style serving in this scenario.


There ARE things one can do. You'd be surprised.  Just plan on having a

flexible first remove. BTW, by sending my schedule to the Crown, they had a

good idea of my needs. At 1st Crown last summer, the East King had a

messenger who came to tell me exactly when THEY wanted the feast served,

(ie: how late they thought it would be). With lots of creative footwork, and

a flexible schedule (and professional warmers) the last dish was served on

time, even though the first dish went out 1 1/2 hours late(I had a generous

2 hours planned for the feast, *knowing* full well that that would be eaten

into by a late court). The first remove was fancy but cold. But you can do

that in June. WE stuck to our schedule. The 1st remove was ready to serve

sitting in the cooler, and the servers just walked in, took a dish, took off

the plastic wrap, and took the dish to the table, came back for another.....





Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 21:40:29 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - SC Feast n the law


Charles McCN wrote:

> A thread running on the histrenact list (a small europe-based list) asked

> how people get around the legal requirements that usually exist for

> people feeding other people for money. (We don't - we ignore them and

> hope we don't poison anybody)


> Any other thoughts?


I wrote an article about kitchen sanitation several years ago (~10) for

T.I., which suggested that, as our various respective governments don't

seem to be engaging in gratuitous DEregulation, that it would behoove

cooks to know a little bit about how to get various local food handlers'

certification. What makes this a bit of a problem is that some lawyer

somewhere could easily decide that a case of food poisoning is the fault

and liability of the licensed food handler on site. The SCA probably

doesn't require it for that very reason, in the same way that I have

been discouraged from getting too specific on the topic in other

SCA-wide publications. The SCA cannot _appear_ to sanction any specific

act or statement which would result in injury to members or others. If I

say, in an SCA publication, that it is okay to butcher raw chickens on a

wooden cutting board, and then prepare salad on the same board without

washing and sanitizing it, ans surprise, someone gets sick, there's a

good chance the SCA will share in the liability.


On The Other Hand, people who do have such licenses, certificates, etc.,

receive very good, and very inexpensive, training, which will help

prevent such difficulties as massed cases of salmonella at Twelfth

Night. My papers from the New York City Department of Sanitation and the

State Board of Health would tend to make me the duck in the shooting

gallery, but I am not defenseless by any means. I run my kitchen in such

a way that I am certain that either nothing will, or can, go wrong in

the way of food-borne illnesses, or if it does, I will have saved

documentation indicating I have done everything in my power to avoid it,

and that I am not responsible for the Red Tide in the scallops, or

whatever it may be. In other words, the certification is kind of a

two-edged sword. There is, of course, no law that says you have to be

certified as a food handler, at least where I live, and there's also

nothing that says a certified food handler must publicise the fact that

he is certified. Sometimes I'll have people mention it if I have reason

to believe it will make the difference between being allowed to use a

site's kitchen facilities, or not. Some places, like Universities, will

often balk at a bunch of crazies using, and possibly messing up, their

kitchens, while they sometimes have less of a problem if the crazies in

question are licensed, and, presumably professionals. No need to correct

them, of course, on this point.


Basically what you need to do is follow the regulations as set down by

your local Health Department, Department of Sanitation, or whoever

handles this where you are. To do that, you need to learn the

regulations. You may or may not want to actually get the certification,

but it is important that you know the stuff, more or less. This includes

various temperature controls for bacterial growth (i.e. how to use a

refrigerator and a stove, 101), how to avoid cross-contamination (such

as storing the raw chickens on the rack UNDER the cooked beef, and not

the other way around, since drips are a minor inconvenience in one

direction, and potentially deadly in the other, but luckily liquids

don't drip UP). Then there is Sink 101, which includes basic stuff about

washing dishes, pots, equipment in general, and a bit of plumbing

theory, so as to be able to avoid things like raw chicken heads backing

up into the sink of the building next door. Basic first aid is optional,

but I feel that every manager should be able to take care of his or her

people in an emergency.


Beyond that, there is the stuff we have already beaten to death on the

subject of allergies and how to deal with them, posting accurate,

up-to-date ingredients lists, etc.


Yes, this seems like a heck of a lot, but the bottom line is that you

love your friends, and want them safe. I think most of us will go to

great lengths to assure that.





Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 14:00:28 -0600

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Kitchen Commandments


Have I forgotten anything? This is going to hang next to a bag of hair-ties

outside the kitchen door, next to the menu and ingredients lists.




Kitchen Commandments


1. Thou shalt wash thine hands upon entering the Kitchen, and often thereafter.


2. Thou shalt tie back thine scraggly locks before entering the Kitchen.


3. Thou shalt not pester the cooks, and thou shalt obey the Chef.


4. Thou shalt pay for thy disturbances of the kitchen staff with chocolate.

Likewise, thou shalt turn a deaf ear to the rowdy disturbances of creativity

in the kitchen.


5. Thou shalt not borrow kitchen equipment or supplies without permission.

Thou shalt return every piece of equipment thou borrowest in tip-top

condition, promptly.


6. Thou shalt honor thy cooks with backrubs and praise often, for verily,

without them thou wouldst go hungry.


7. When thou carest not for what is put before thee, thou shalt simply say

"No, Thank-you", for those who wouldst shout "My God, that's disgusting"

shall surely forfeit their lives at the hands of those who have slaved hours

to prepare it.


8. The Cooks of thy acquaintance surely have not been fed while they have

toiled for you. Therefore, thou shalt save them some of the food if they so

desire it.


9. Thou shalt have a soft chair and a glass of "something with a kick" for

thy wearisome cook when the feast is done.  While thy cook relaxes, thou

shalt help clean the kitchen.


10. Thou shalt help thy cook load the wagon for the journey home, for verily

will thy cook be falling down tired after providing such an awesome meal.



Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 10:48:17 -0600

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Help!


>From: "rond" <rond at sginet.com>

>Iam new to the SCA and for my first project I get to feastocrat an event.

>Great isn’t it!

>Please oh please I can use all the help I can get. Us gypsies are not

>always the most organised.

>                    Annastasis


Well, let's see---Feast-0-crat 101 in one easy lesson. That's a tall order!


First I suggest you gather the following information:


1) When is the event (what modern date, time. etc, i.e.: how much lead time

do you have until then)?

2) What is the theme (ie: 14th century France, etc., or is a generic-themed

feast OK?)

3) What are the cooking facilities like?

4) Who will be helping you?

5) What is the attendance estimate?

6) What is your budget per person? Ask for about $2.50 per person minumum

for each course of dishes, and more per person per course if you are serving

fewer courses, with a minumum of $3.50 per person for a one-course feast, or

$2.00 for a bread-and-stew type feast (we call that a half-feast around here).

7) How is this all being served, and who is coordinating that? Consult with


8) Who is your clean-up crew (or are you also responsible for that?).


Once you have this information, it should be easy to find your "direction".

Next I suggest you begin by using already redacted sources for your recipes.

A good one to start with (let's get you off on the right foot, cooking

documentable food right away!), is Elizabeth and Cariadoc's Miscellany,

which is online at http://www.sca.org  . You'll need to click on the Arts

and Sciences Icon. Also there you will find other useful resources such as

"Take a Thousand Eggs or More" by Cindy Renfrow. For your first event, I

suggest you stick to one source, plan a menu (easy=2-3 helpers)--one course

of dishes, or middling-hard=4-6 helpers---two courses of dishes, or

downright exhausting=6-10 helpers, three or more courses of dishes).


As a rough European rule of thumb, pick your meat and surrounding

complimentary dishes, and a beverage for each course. Include a vegeteable

dish for the vegetarians, a starch dish, and a fruit dish, along with your

meat dish to satisfy the MODERN diners, if you have a vocal and pernickity

group of eaters to whom you must cater. Dessert is optional, but a good

idea, espescially if it can be made in advance, such as fruit tarts, small

cakes, candies, etc.


Now that you have a menu planned, cost it out with supermarket prices. If

this adds up to over your budget, re-plan your menu. Always have a "fudge

factor" of about 10% of the budget that you plan on NOT spending, so that

you can run out and get those extras you forgot to bring/buy the day of the

event without busting the budget. For very small events, this is crucial!!!!


Next, scale down your menu to serve 8-10,and invite over a few SCA friends

and you helping cooks. Cook the feast for them, and record your process of

cooking AND their reactions to the dishes. Re-plan and cost your menu

according to any changes.


You can do this test-cooking in installments if you want to, but make sure

the dishes go together well. Once you have all this down, get a check from

the group for the amount of the allownace per person. If you go over this

amount, my method is to pay out of pocket and get re-imbursed later, tho

this happened to me only once in 13 years of cooking. At this point, you

must keep your receipts faithfully, because you will have to account for

every pennny with a receipt or else pay for the difference! I tend to keep a

special envelope in my purse for these receipts, with a running tab of what

I spent, and then any difference in cash I get the day before the event so I

won't have to confuse the troll with sums taken from the cash box for

emergency ingredients. Re-deposit any excess in your account and after the

event and write a check for that amount to the shire, so there is always a

paper trail of what you did with that money and why.


The next step is to make a detailed schedule of what gets cooked when

onsite, and what can safely be prepared ahead of time, what prepwork gets

done early, etc., and when serving happens, and what order things are served

in. This will be posted on the kitchen door or some other handy place the

day of the event. Put a pen or pencil with it so you can cross items as they

get done. This way, anyone who comes in volunteering to help should consult

that schedule for things they can do. Include dish washing, etc. on the

kitchen schedule.


Now you have a schedule. You also need a presentation menu (at least 1 per

table, made up a few days before in case of emergency changes)and a recipe

list or at least ingredients list to post (I make a pamphlet with the

sources, redacted recipes, ingredients, with the menu on the inside front

cover, but folks here think I'm nuts to do it---it has come in handy many

many times, though. lately i have been running out of them, and hav to

e-mail an entire feast's recipes to different people who wanted a pamphlet

but didn't snag one in time).


Now you have a workable menu. Multiply your recipes by the number expected

onboard (get a concrete number 1 week ahead, if possible!!!). Sort out the

odd ingredients found only in special places--you'll have to get them

seperately from the rest of the groceries. The next step is to call a

restaurant supply house and price out bulk items (ie: half a case of leaf

lettuce is $12.00 currently in my neck of the woods. That's 12 large heads

of green or red leaf lettuce, which would cost me about $20.00 in the

grocery store. Half a case of lemons (perhaps 50 or so)is 9.00, which beats

4-for-$1.00 any day of the week. I just bought 2 cases of chicken parts for

.55 a pound, fresh---never frozen, and packed specially for me. They will

sell me untrimmed whole top rounds, still cry-o-vacced, for a significant

discount (maybe 1.29-40 a lb.).  They gave me a 3% discount for ordering a

week ahead and a 5% discount for non-profit group----get that tax number

from your seneschal and call ahead of time!!!!). You are now significantly

under budget, and your autocrat loves you. This is a good thing. Order your

groceries for pick-up early the day of the event unless there are storage

facilities onsite, in which case get them the day before. Take a beefy guy

to help you load/unload them. Then take a nap, you're going to need it!


The day of the event, arrive onsite and post your schedule. Stick to it if

at all possible. At least an hour before serving happens, make sure the

servers have talked to you and the head server, so there is no confusion and

they know what the dishes are roughly made from and how to pronounce the

names, and who is serving which tables.


It is handy to have a person coordinating the dishes travel from the kitchen

to the staging area, and the server's taking of dishes from the staging

area, if you are serving family-style or individually (not!).


When it is time to toast the cooks, make sure someone comes to get you, so

you can take a bow. While you're out there, look around. All those happy

faces are there because you did a great job!


That's my method. It has never failed me. I hope it works for you, too!


PS We didn't cover what to do about Royalty, etc. Do you need to know that now?





Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 11:04:10 -0500

From: "Decker, Margaret" <margaret at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: SC - Feast info


Mike Hobbs wanted info on feasts. Here's mine.

Plan your Menu as far in advance as possible. Learn which food suppliers

(including wholesale if legal in your area) sell the items you will need at

the highest price and which at the lowest for each item. Use the highest

prices for setting your budget, then watch for sales that drop things below

the lowest price and pick up what you can that way. Now purchase remaining

items at the lowest priced vendors on your list. Be sure you have included

all non-food items such as aluminium foil in your budget. Base price for the

feast on what will break even if only 2/3rds of the people you plan on

feeding at table show up. I have never lost money on a feast when I followed

the above even when food prices flucuated wildly.


Baroness Margarite du Battenhelm who usually only lurks and lets her beloved

Bear say it all.



Date: Sat, 9 May 1998 14:56:48 -0700

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: EK Crown Feast


Adamantius comments on What Went Wrong:

>... and a populace who simply

>refused to read the menu and feast notes posted all the heck over the

>place (my usual kitchen "bouncer" was away squiring his knight and

>fighting in the Tourney).


Le Menagier gives, at one point, a list of all the supplies and personnel

that were needed for one particular wedding dinner and among them we find:


"Item, big strong sergeants to guard the door."


Elizabeth/Betty Cook



Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 09:14:50 -0600 (MDT)From: Sabia <sabia at unm.edu>Subject: Re: SC - Allergy rantOn Mon, 11 May 1998, Erin Kenny wrote:> Like I said before, I don't expect people to cook around me, but I> can't eat even the basic things if we can't be a little bit careful> about things like cross contamination.>> ClariciaI must whole heartly agree that cross contamination is a problem, butIhave found that a relationship with the servers to be helpful.  Bytalking openly to the servers about the upcoming courses they can thenspeak with those they are serving and at that time request a isolatedserving of the food.  The most common request I have seen is for avegitarian to request a seperate bowl of the rice (or whatever) dishthat on the main tray might be exposed to meat products.  In addition toposting a list of ingrediants at gate, i prefer to have one for theservers, plus give a verbal rundown/warning of foods as they are goingout.  An unfortunate mishap at a recent feast had us having the serverswarn each table that the garlic sauce was not safe for those allergic tomushrooms (this was due to a dish of diced mushrooms being bumped andfalling on several of the serving dishes).  In light of the fact that mostof my kitchen crew were new to the SCA kitchen we also met several timesin advance to discuss cross contamination and how to avoid it.  I havefound that most people - when they understand the why - are very goodabout being careful, it does not seem though that a large portion of thepublic are aware.Sabia (sabia at unm.edu)


Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 16:07:05 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Chivalry


The simple answer is "control the feast hall."  Whoever takes responsibility

for the feast (not necessarily the cook, although I have done double duty),

needs to take control of the feast hall, reservations and entertainment.

They handle the organizing, scheduling, and timing of everything occurring

in the feast hall.  The best feasts I have had were when I knew what

entertainment had been scheduled in what order and how long the performances

would run.


If the high table wishes to hold court, your hall co-ordinator and the court

herald need to work out the approximate timing of the awards and

presentations. The kitchen is responsible for notifying the co-ordinator

and the herald of the actually timing of the courses.  In this case, let the

herald announce the course and stall the court, while the food is delivered

and people fall to eating.


If the desire is for entertainment, select your entertainers and arrange

your entertainment to suit.  If this is not possible, have people who wish

to entertain during the feast sign up with the hall co-ordinator to be

properly scheduled "in the interests of fairness and courtesy."  Find out

what they intend to do and the approximate length, then it can be scheduled.


Position your strongest performers, the ones who can command an audience in

a tempest, just before the courses are to be delivered.  In general, they

have bettery time control and are less likely to have their feelings hurt if

you have to step on them.  If you work with them in advance, good performers

can stall a delay in the kitchen and present the delivery of the next course

in such a manner as to make the entertainment and the food work together.


It should be remembered that a feast is not just food.  It is a performance

of the art of dining.  To make it work, you need to plan what will occur,

prepare to make it occur, and communicate the details of the occurence to

those who will take part.  The feast begins with the layout of the hall and

ends with taking out the last of the garbage and everything occurring in the

feast hall that falls in between needs organization and scheduling as much

as the work in the kitchen.





Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 09:48:08 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: SC - RE: Limiting the unexpected at Feasts


> One thing that helps to be able to stick to a published menu is knowing

> the facilities available to you ahead of time, preferably several months.

> Euriol of Lothian


Knowing the available facilities is nice, but it is not a guarantee of being

able to stick to the menu.  I've had sites change within two weeks of an

event and I've experienced four ovens dying in succession in the last three

hours before the feast.


Frankly, for me, a feast is an exercise in logistics.  Creating a menu that

can be prepared at any of a number of sites, establishing the budget,

obtaining the best food at the best price and storing it, laying out the

feast hall, occasionally arranging the entertainment, handling the pre-event

food preparation, organizing the delivery of food and equipment to the

appointed location at the appointed time, then cooking and delivering the

planned meal to the tables as planned.


Controlling what you can limits the unexpected, but it doesn't protect you

from major problems, such as the four ovens dying, and it doesn't stop the

clock for the feast.  If you have prepared properly, it does give you the

opportunity to overcome the problems.


The biggest drawback I find with this method is that I internalize the

details over so long a period, I forget to communicate some of those details

to my assistants (this was pointed out by one of those assistants, so I am

now taking pains to correct the flaw).





Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 16:25:34 -0400

From: mermayde at juno.com (Christine A Seelye-King)

Subject: Re: SC - Greetings!


>I buy antibacterial soap by the gallon. I've gotten food poisoning a few

>times (not by my own hand) and I'm a freak about making sure that neither

>I nor anyone I feed ever gets it.



Me too.  I love antibacterial soap.  I bathe with it.  The best thing

about it is (from a feastcrat's point of view), is that with a bottle of

it sitting on a handsink, volunteer kitchen workers get the hint that

that's why the handsink is there, you are washing your hands to kill the

bacteria before you touch food!  Such a simple thing that has been so

hard to get into people's heads before this simple piece of 20th century

commercialism came into being.  Ah, the Middle Ages as they should have

been (without germs?  why, you might as well try to re-create the Middle

Ages without the church! Bwua-Hahahahah!)


Mistress Christianna MacGrain, OP, Meridies

who can tell you about all kinds of food bourne illnesses, and will, if

you take her preliminary Feast Appreciation Class at a Royal University

of Meridies event (event and class plug)



Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 23:41:16 -0400

From: Bonne <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - courts running long


> Frankly, it's the autocrats job to either communicate to the kitchen

> when dinner will be served early enough so that plans can be changed, or

> to see that the day's activities move along so that court can happen and

> dinner be served at the scheduled time.


And it is the cooks job to arrange for some leeway with the food. The cook

ought to be able move feast a half hour or even a full hour either way without

going into a panic.  It seems to me that arranging for the first dish, or more

than one dish at all to require crucial timing is foolish, though I understand

re-using serving dishes is a consideration some places.  I've heard of feast

running hours late, but not seen it, it would be the event stewards job to

keep the cook informed throughout the day so that the cook can plan accordingly.


Last feast I was at started out with platters of cold foods: breads, cheeses,

pickles; then moved on to soup that was in crockpots and could have been

served a little sooner or later, as needed. Then came the meats and pies that

had to be HOT. Court didn't run late (our baron likes his supper!), so the

cold platters and second course were eaten leisurely to allow time for the

meats and pies to finish.  If court had run late, the first courses could have

been hurried by  combining them.  Or either dish could have been held back and

served later during the feast. Perhaps to cover another waiting period.


though I've got some nerve saying this when I've not been the head cook.  I

think I'll do my first while Wulfbrand is Baron. He likes his supper and won't

easily let it be delayed.





Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 10:03:14 -0500

From: "Weiszbrod, Barbara A" <Barbara.Weiszbrod at SW.Boeing.com>

Subject: RE: SC - HELP!!!!!


Alys here.  Most of you won't know me because I dont post often, and

Gunthar always introduces me as Barbara, so if you've met me you still

dont know Alys.  I am Gunthar and Thyra's roommate, and have worked with

him on all of the large feast that he as done.  My main input is

organization (Gunthar has none, so it is needed).  Here are some things

that make it easier for us.


When planning portioning for that large a group I have two rules of

thumb, plan for 4oz of each meat per person, and no matter how many

veggies you plan on making, cut it in half.  Unless you are going to

grill or stir-fry them with seaseme oil, then people can't get enough of



For the last feast Gunthar did (Steppes 12th Night, 500 people) I took

the receipies and made a spread sheet of the ingredients.  This helped

me do fewer shopping runs since many ingredients are duplicated.  I

multiplied the receipes to make enough for 20% fewer people than we were

expecting. Not everyone will eat everything.


Next I went to the store and didn't buy a thing.  I got pricing on

everything from at least two sources.  When you are cooking for this

many it is very easy to spend a ton of money before you know it.  After

deciding where the best deals were and what things we just couldnt

afford to do I had a comprehensive shopping list.


I know this seems a little work intense, but I think that it was worth

it in the long run.





Date: Sat, 22 Aug 1998 01:10:29 -0500

From: allilyn at juno.com (LYN M PARKINSON)

Subject: Re: SC - HELP!!!!!


Check out the kitchen as soon as possible.  Know what pots, pans, mixing

bowls, electric gadgets and all the cooking stuff you will have access

to, and what you'll have to bring.  For the things you bring, get some

good firm colored tape, in the hardware store, and put a piece on each

item. Helps to know what's yours at the end of a long, frazzled day and

night. Look for 'work stations' you can set up:  Tape up a copy of the

recipe that will be prepared there, with a list at bottom of it detailing

items: 9 x 13 pans (4), large slotted spoon, bread knife, cutting board,

etc. Serve into xxx dishes, with large serving spoons.  That sort of

thing. Keep an extra copy in a notebook in case it falls off the wall

into the goop.


Get a notebook or folder, now, and start it with printouts of posts you

get that are helpful.  Add all your notes, questions, etc.  You'll make






Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 00:58:34 -0500

From: allilyn at juno.com (LYN M PARKINSON)

Subject: Re: SC - A question of concern...


Incidentally, do you all know that Walmart's sells big boxes of non-latex

(some people are allergic to latex--don't get those) disposable gloves

quite cheaply?  They are in the band-aid section.  Great for handling raw

chicken, etc.  And wearing to clean a kitchen before using it.  A

zip-lock bag containing a dozen pairs of medium gloves costs almost

nothing and could well be kept in the supplies box.





Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 10:51:03 EDT

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - An unusual cooking method


In a message dated 8/12/98 6:57:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time, sunnie at exis.net


<<   A similar

method to taking chicken or roast that is mostly cooked at a feast and

putting them in coolers (no ice, of course).  The meat continues to cook for up to 2 more hours in the cooler while you use the oven for other things.  It works great when you have limited oven space.


Brenna >>


     It does indeed! It's a standard technique in our only-two-oven site. We

do tend to cook things completely first, just to be safe, but it certainly

keeps them hot until they are served. In fact, you have to be a bit careful--I

warped the inner walls of my own cooler (Thank heavens it *was* mine, not

someone else's!) pouring one of Apicus' pork dishes in it while still

bubbling. I wanted to make sure it stayed hot until feast, which it certainly

did! ;-) We have even made bulgur by putting the grain in the cooler and

pouring the hot soaking liquid over it, stirring, and closing it up until it

was needed. Worked beautifully!


              Ldy Diana


Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 14:45:15 -0400

From: Brenna <sunnie at exis.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Safe temperatures (was: Cooking meat in coolers)


>         Perhaps I should rephrase it.

>         Given the properties inherent in cooking poultry, would it be wise

> to further cook it in a cooler where the "temperature danger zone" may be

> attained?


Okay, the whole story... we put the birds, drippings, pans and all in the

coolers so everything is red hot (375 to 400 degrees) when it is put in the

coolers. It helps even more if the coolers are lined with towels to radiate

even more heat and protect the coolers from burn marks.  Usually the birds spend

an hour in the coolers.  If it needs more, then more (if feast is delayed).  We

have never had to reheat, but if they are not too hot to handle you can pop them

back in the oven again.





Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:10:32 EDT

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Fish at Feasts


sianan at geocities.com writes:

<< I got changed pretty quick into my normal garb,

ran back to the kitchen and served forth a Patina of Soles.  What do you

know, everyone ate it.

Anything for my art

-Sienna >>


I have bad experiences with fish at feasts (a certain eel pie and a sweet fish

custard come to mind) BUT when I personally have cooked and served fish at a

feast it has always gone over well and no leftovers. :-)


When the decision to serve fish is being made, it is one of the few areas

where I take modern tastes into account.  Although I don't serve a non-period

dish at the main feast, I always serve fish simply prepared> say boiled (e.g.,

sauteed) in olive oil or dredged in flour and fried.  By far the biggest

consideration when looking at fish as a potential course at a feast is expense

but choosing whiting or cod usually a good alternative to more expensive

brands such as salmon or flounder.  Including shrimp or scallops also is not

prohibitively expensive if they are chopped utilized in some of the extant

frittour type recipes from Apicius or other period sources.


It is always a big hit and I have only received 2 complaints.  One was from a

person who was allergic to fish.  And one was from someone who wanted more

when there was no more to serve. I suggested that the first person not eat the

fish and  invited the second to join the cooks who were picking over the left

over bits and pies in the pan. :-)



Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 20:14:24 -0400

From: "LHG, JRG" <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: RE: SC - nerves


If I may be so bold as to add my two pence' worth...


Make your kitchen schedule and hang it on the wall/door with a pencil on a

string. Cross off things that are done. If someone wanders in to volunteer

unexpectedly, you can then point to the list and say "is there anything on

the list you can accomplish?". If not right away, they will then know

(without quizzing the very busy kitchinier--that's you) when to return to

help. The added benefit is that you know where you are timewise at a






Subject: 1st time feastocrat seeking advice

Date: Sat, 3 Oct 1998 14:25:05 -0500

From: allilyn at juno.com (LYN M PARKINSON)

To: angelicadanion at hotmail.com

CC: him at gte.net, stefan at texas.net


Hi Tessa and Helen,


There is a big discussion going on between the list members of the

chirurgeons list and the sca-cooks list in regard to cooking safety.

This is something for you two to think about.  Perhaps you are

experienced in the kitchen, even if not as SCA Kitchen Stewards, and if

so, I apologize for taking up your time.  If not, a few things to


1. Make sure you and your assistants are healthy when working on the



2. Be paranoid about storing food cleanly, safely, and at proper

temperatures, and not leaving out--cooked or uncooked--for a long time.


3. Wash hands frequently, definately between touching different foods.

Keep a 10% bleach to water solution handy, for rinsing your hands, and

for washing cooking surfaces.  Buy the anti-bacterial dishwashing liquids

rather than a bargain brand.


4. If working outdoors, keep LOTS of coolers handy, with bags of ice, or

frozen, capped quart bottles in the bottom.  Use something heavy--for

insulation--and preferably light reflective--to throw over the coolers

when closed.  If serving from coolers, or for other uses, make nylon net

throws, weighted with fishing lures, to put over food to keep the bugs

away. Buy net in your shire colors.  This stuff washes well.


5. Use different implements--spoons, knives, spatulas--for different

foods. I'm really bad at this, grabbing my favorite spoon or knife and

using it over and over without doing more than a quick wipe.


6. Keep garbage bags closed--they draw flies.  Close and dispose often.

The smaller bags can go away faster than the huge ones.


We hope to have an article written by a food handler with a certificate,

if one volunteers, but this will get you thinking.  I know how the mind

gets 'tunnel vision' on the recipies and preparing them for a feast.



allilyn at juno.com, Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands, Pittsburgh, PA

Kingdom of Aethelmearc



Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 17:23:57 EDT

From: CONNECT at aol.com

Subject: Re:  SC - Reducing feast fees and cleaning spice grinders


Pardon me for jumping in, but I thought I'd share my experience at keeping

feast costs down.


I made a lot of phone calls, and explained to folks that I was in charge of a

fundraising dinner for a non-profit organization.


I contacted the wholesale produce market close to me, and arranged to get the

fruits and veggies (including some edible flowers) all at wholesale rates. I

talked with the best bakery in the state and got to buy huge loaves of bread

at wholesale rates. I talked to a local quality butcher, and got a very good

price on chicken breasts. I got wine at wholesale rates from a local chain of

gourmet wine/beer store. Just for asking and filling out a form, I got a $25

certificate from a huge grocery store chain, which offset about 3/4s of the

cost of the individual serving pastry shells I could only get from them. I

talked to a local bulk food store, and got a really great price on the bulk

almonds and dried fruits I needed. All this work meant I brought a three

remove meal for 100 in under the budget of $500.


Anyone can duplicate my efforts, as we all use the same Tax ID number. It just

takes some forethought and a little time.


Your humble servant,

Rosalyn MacGregor

(Pattie Rayl)



Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 10:54:33 -0400

From: "Groulx, Michelle" <MGroulx at NRCan.gc.ca>

Subject: SC - Peoples Perceptions (Was: Ending it-Ending It-OT-OOP)


I like the idea that someone posted about posting the information in the

event flyer ahead of time.  Here are some others I have come up with.  Post

the ingredients at troll, the kitchen, and in a pamphlet that could be sold

as a fundraiser (whole recipes for the feast--writing books is period, after

all). In addition, a note could be put in the event flyer to snail mail or

e-mail the cook before you even come out (or make your reservations) to find

out if the feast is alright for you.


And here I always thought that this was standard practise throughout the

SCA. I always have scads of ingredient lists around, both at the Gate and on

the tables themselves. I now (given technology) post ingredients

electronically for all and sundry to view way ahead of time. While I may

have the reputation of not catering too much to minority groups (ie

allergies, vegans) I sure would feel rude if I didn't at least give some

indication of the ingredients for people to vote with their feet or no.





Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 21:48:15 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - meat days and fast days - MIXED?


Which brings up the subject of leftovers. DO NOT ASSUME that the clean-up crew

knows what should or chouldn't be saved. And never assume they will save

anything that is left. Taking a few extra minutes after the feast to point out

what should be kept will save a lot of hard feelings and assure that

perfectly good food is not relegated to the dumpster.





Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 16:09:01 EST

From: Bronwynmgn at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Which books?


oftraquair at hotmail.com writes:

<< >From the cooks I was helping this weekend I was hearing bad things about the

site she has chosen. Something about a residential stove and all the burners

not working. But, Katherine stepped in to assure us that the kitchen is

entirely renovated and fully capable of preparing a meal to serve the 200 the

hall will sit. >>


Make a trip to see the kitchen.  Take careful note of the numbers of burners

and stoves.  Don't even think about making up a menu until you know what

cooking surfaces you have to work with.  Make sure everything works!  Also, if

your group doesn't have a lot of their own cooking gear, find out ahead of

time if you are allowed to use the pots/pans, etc - some sites allow this and

some don't.  Also make sure you can use the fridge, and how big it is.

Otherwise you may find yourself in a very sticky situation at the last






Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 14:05:25 -0500

From: "Jennifer Conrad" <CONRAD3 at prodigy.net>

Subject: SC - OOP WholeFoods Market


As a whole, Whole Foods Market is one of my favorite places to shop for SCA

related food and for everyday.  (Their dried strawberries are to die for!!!)

I also like that they sell their spices in bulk.  For feasts, this is great.

I figure out how much I need of each spice for each dish, and when I go to

buy the spices, I bag them as needed for each dish & write what dish it's

for on the bag.  I may get strange looks at the register, but it's alot

easier when putting everything together at the site. They are also the only

place that I've found pheasant and quail.(Year round!)





Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 01:13:51 EST

From: LtSpicy at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Baked Goods Was Shopping savvy for Feasts-revisited


Not too long ago I mentioned having access to a professional bakery.  This

could help immensely on providing fresh baked goods for a feast.

I worked for the owner as his bookkeeper for a long time, and thus have a

pretty good "in".  But others can do the same:

Typically a wholesaler bakery in a small town will only be in operation at

certain times of the day, with the place "dead" at times, perfect for my

Feast Head Baker.  They only operate from 11pm to 9am.  So I can use the

facilities (50lb doughmixer, walk in fridge, 6 plate rotating oven, etc...)

during the day to my hearts content.  I also know of at least 3 other local

bakeries that do the same, not to mention the several full time bakeries.  A

walk through the local phone book and calling could also get you access!


Lady Kinuko



Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 00:08:37 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Politically correct Guide lines


Some additions:


Do a rehearsal, not merely of individual dishes, but of the feast--a

miniature version for eight people or so. That way you get some idea of how

well balanced it is, what you are planning to make too much or too little

of, where some of the time crunches may be.


A while after a course is served, have someone wander around the hall

redistributing--taking a platter from a table where the people don't want

any more and transferring it to a table where the people have eaten it all

up and are asking for more. That reduces wastage, and makes your guests

feel as if they are being paid attention to.


If one of the cooks is at leisure at some point during the feast,

preferably the head cook, have him wander around the feast hall answering

questions etc.


Figure out which parts of the feast can be done in advance without

compromising quality


Sketch out a tentative time line showing when each scarce resource is being

used for what purpose--burners, ovens, large pots, whatever the things are

that you might, at some point in the process, not have enough of. That is a

way of spotting bottlenecks.


Have a contingency plan for what you will do if substantially more people

than you expect show up--an extra course of bread, fruit, cheese, for



Locate the nearest supermarket to the event, in case of emergency needs.






Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 21:50:17 EST

From: Aelfwyn at aol.com

Subject: SC - Northern Lights Feast


Thanks for those good thoughts for our feast yesterday. They made that big red

thing in the kitchen turn out to be one of those recently discussed

warming/holding ovens. Dinner was scheduled to be served at 6. At about 5ish

the Queen herself came to apologize and tell me that things with the

Pentathlon were running long and there were some awards for Court, etc. and we

probably wouldn't be eating until 6:30 or so. Turned out we were not able to

start serving until 8! That warming oven saved our dinner. It kept the roast

chickens, pork and beef from drying out and even kept the hardier veggies hot

without dryness. I'm sold and will look for one of these as a desirable

component of future site kitchens.





Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 10:55:43 -0500From: "Gaylin Walli" <gwalli at infoengine.com>Subject: SC - I have survived my first large feast10 things I learned from my first large feast. Cooked for70, fed 80....(1) Given the proper weather temperature, a '94 FordEscort GT serves as a perfectly acceptable refrigeratorfor non-meat items.(2) No matter how many you bring, you will always needmore knives, towels, serving trays, sponges, hot pads,storage bags....(3) New walking shoes are a poor choice of footwearfor 2 days worth of cooking. The old hiking boots wouldhave been a much better choice.(4) No matter how much you like or hate a recipe,other people will like or hate it more. You can'tplease everyone, but those you do please willwant the recipe.(5) Butchers do not understand numbers unless theyare listed in pounds. Order by pounds. Always. Checkyou order at the store. Then check it again.(6) Presentation of even a so-so dish can turn it intosomething spectacular. Fresh greens, herbs, and seedsprouts are your friends. I am now a believer.(7) Bring cash for last minute store trips. Employeesat food town get testy when you use a credit cardfor last minute low dollar purchases.(8) Guard your cast iron pans with your life. Kindsouls will foolishly try to WASH them. With soap.(9) A proofer can be used as a warming oven and is,in my opinion, the single greatest invention ininstitutional cooking kitchens, second only to theclosely tied large stand mixer and the industrialstrength dishwasher.(10) Bring clothes to change into after the feast.Without them you'll get caught covered in flour,ground meat in your hair, and bread pudding onyour hands and some fool will drag you up intocourt to give you an award just as you're taking along-awaited sip of some really good homemadewine that was kindly donated to the kitchen staff.It was a success. I took home two small ziploc bagsof leftovers and we only threw away one thing thatcame back from the tables. No one complained aboutbeing hungry. Can I go to sleep now? :)Jasmine


Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 08:38:20 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Kitchen Steward Panics, film at 11:00


> First. I keep getting told I'm underestimating the roast beef. I figured

> about a pound and a quarter for a table of eight, REMEMBER, there's other

> meat dishes.

> 1. What, in the lists estimation, is adequate to keep a riot from

> happening and yet allowing us to keep the leftovers to a minimum?


I tend to use a minimum of 4 oz. per person, so a minimum of 2 lbs per table

of 8.  If you serve the beef first, you will need more.  Carnivores will pig

out and everyone else seems to eat normally rather than pace themselves.


I like to serve a sweet dish before the first course.  The sugar helps

assuage the ravenous appetite and slows the tempo of the feast.  It can also

buy you 10 to 20 extra minutes, if things are not going well with the first






Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 09:55:28 -0400

From: "Peters, Rise J." <rise.peters at spiegelmcd.com>

Subject: SC - Order of presentation


Regarding the order of courses, my experience has been that if you serve the

beef in the first course, you will need a little more (and/or to present it

on a bed of starch, which is a good idea), but that everyone then goes into

the rest of the feast feeling fairly content.  You give them their beef,

they eat it, and then they're happy; they are psychologically satisfied; if

you serve eels or little pigeons or whatever in the third course, they don't

care. Giving them the beef up front makes them feel good about the whole



Conversely, if you give them chicken as the first meat, then you get that

"oh, not chicken again" reaction; it doesn't matter what comes afterwards,

they'll remember the chicken.


We've served saracen stew followed by roasted spiced chicken, and we've

served roasted spiced chicken followed by saracen stew, and the first feast

got better reviews than the second.  Small, statistically suspect sample;



Caitlin, in Storvik



Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 10:03:38 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Kitchen Steward Panics, film at 11:00


> >>I like to serve a sweet dish before the first course.  The sugar helps

> assuage the ravenous appetite and slows the tempo of the feast.  It can

> also buy you 10 to 20 extra minutes, if things are not going well with

> the first course.<<

> I doubt that you mean a dessert type item here; could you give us some

> examples?  I like the idea.


Actually, the items might be considered desserts in a modern context.  I

have started feasts with fruit filled brioche, an apple tart,  honey

sweetened apple cake and currant cakes.  I also try to have a loaf of bread

and butter on the table before the first course comes out.


In the future, I'm considering using panforte, wardens in syrup, or fruit

filled krapfen (the modern version is the Berliner).


The dishes are all items which can be prepared in advance, keep well, and

can be served cold.


> I've got a couple of 2 course dinners in the planning stage, unusually,

> which throws off my thinking.  It interests me to see the various

> reactions here as to the roast placement.

> Allison


With the Ansteorran carnivores, I think placing the beef later in the meal

works better.  However, one places the dishes where one must for the the

proper artistic effect.





Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 11:04:25 EDT

From: CONNECT at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - after feast thank yous


In a message dated 4/12/99 11:32:14 PM, memorman at oldcolo.com writes:

<< > The thank-you cards our mothers

> made us write are still nice.

> Lord Frederich Holstein der Tollhase


You are absolutely right!  I try (although sadly I don't manage it every

time) to send out notes to everyone who works in the kitchen with me.  A

little appreciation goes a long way towards motivation.


Elaina >>


I make up small gifts to hand out to people who help me. For the last event I

did, I made up red and white chocolate suckers in the shape of an elephant

(our baronial badge and colors). These went over very well. :)



Rosalyn MacGregor

(Pattie Rayl)



Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 22:15:35 -0400

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: Re: SC - First Feast


>        I am doing my first feast with-in a month. The hall will hold 100,

>but my shire advisers said to plan for 48. I am making meat pies and

>dumplings ahead and freezing them. But my real concern is what do I do if

>the morning of the event 50 more people decide to stay for feast. Do I run

>to the store and buy all the food over again and make every thing again.

>This point is making me real nervous. I will welcome any of your suggestions

>or horror stories (only if they have HAPPY ENDINGS)

>Anna OftderTurm


Hello! I agree with Adamantius.  Offer a limited menu to the late-comers.

Cut off the sign-up for the feast several hours ahead of time, giving

yourself enough time to send someone to the store, if necessary (but

sending someone to the store can be a disaster for your budget if you're

not careful) .


Some things, such as soups & salads, can be expanded easily.  I'd forget

about making dumplings, or other labor-intensive dishes.  Someone mentioned

ready-made pie crusts.  These can be good, if they're not too expensive,

for last-minute custard or quiche pies.


It's a good idea to keep on hand ingredients that will keep for a long time

if they wind up not being needed, such as eggs, rice, dry beans, root

veggies, etc.


Malasade is basically scrambled eggs on toast, & is a good easy last-minute

dish. Gelyne (hen) in broth is also easy & inexpensive, & will stretch

pretty far if you make it with rice instead of breadcrumbs.  Flavored rice,

Browne fryes (dark bread dipped in egg batter & fried), and Pokerounce

(spiced honey on bread, topped with pine nuts) are all quick & easy.


Something I like to do is prepare chardwardon (wine & pear sauce) or apple

moyle (applesauce) far ahead of time & can it.  That way I only open what I

need. There's a recipe around here somewhere for dry balls of mustard,

that can be mixed with vinegar? when needed.


Cindy Renfrow/Sincgiefu

renfrow at skylands.net



Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 11:05:29 -0400

From: "Peters, Rise J." <rise.peters at spiegelmcd.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Words of wisdom


Luveday asked:

> In July, my husband and I are giving a class dealing with being a Kitchen

> Steward for the first time.   What I would like to know from you good folks

> is what information/ tips/ hints/ etc., would you have liked to known before

> doing your first feast?


(1) Be good to your feet.  If your feet aren't happy, your day will go


(2) Allow more time for prep (chopping, etc.) than you think you will need,

by about 25%.  If you have time left over, take a rest and eat something.

(3) Snacks are your friend.

(4) A happy kitchen full of friends produces better food.

(5) A small 2-burner coleman camping stove should always be in reserve

against that moment when you need just one more heat source.  A coleman

stove works as well in a fancy kitchen, sitting on the counter, as it does

in a campsite on a picnic table.

(6) Someone other than you should do the bulk of the heavy cleanup.  Insist

on it.  Be prepared to stay around and give direction, but if you are in

dishwater at 11 p.m., there's something wrong.

(7) There is no such thing as too many serving bowls.



Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 14:16:54 -0400

From: Wade Hutchison <whutchis at bucknell.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - Words of wisdom


There are some pratical cooking tips that may not yet have been



Increase roasting/baking time for full ovens vs. home oven with a

       single dish at a time.

Explain how fast a large pot of starchy material will scorch on

       a gas stove!

Extra time to bring large quantities of water to boiling.


Bring adequate cooking tools if you're not sure the site has them -

some scout camps that we cook at only have liquid measures in

1 qt. plus sizes, so having smaller measuring cups and spoons may

be helpful.   Also some smaller pots for intermediate ingredient cooking.

I guess this could be summed up by saying you should know what's

available in the kitchen - and be prepared to bring anything else

you need.


Check and see if your shire or group has a 'kitchen kit' with

cleanup and cooking supplies that would be available.


Line up adequate helpers before the event.  Drop in helpers will

speed things up, but you shouldn't count on them!


-----Gille MacDhnouill



Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 14:48:06 EDT

From: Varju at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Words of wisdom


A few tips I can offer:


Make your first course, or even first two, foods that are served cold or can

be kept warm with little effort.  This makes it much easier if court runs

late or there is a major crisis because you have one less course to worry



Always bring extra paper towels, dish detergent, trash bags, oven mitts, hot

pads, dishcloths and dish towels.  There never seem to be enough of these

when you need them.


Try to keep a bit of money on hand to run out to the store if you find you've

forgotten something.  Also have a volunteer to do these sort of errands for

you so you don't leave the kitchen.


If possible pack all of the pots, pans, mixing bowls, spoons, extra clean up

items etc the  night before so you don't have to worry about them the day of

the feast.


Check around to find out if there is a place that sells bulk herbs and

spices. This can save you money and they are usually willing to order

anything you may need.





Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 11:29:18 -0500

From: LYN M PARKINSON <allilyn at juno.com>

Subject: Re: SC - accommodating at feasts


2 suggestions.  1--take a pencil to the feast.  If there are changes,

pencil it in or hand the pencil to a helper and say "Put 'dandelion'

beside the salad ingredients"


2--write 'purchased pre-made ingredients' beside a dish that has them.  A

recent cook did not know of an ingredient that is generally labeled

'natural flavor' in an item she used.  Bouillion cubes sometimes have a

mushroom base, or nuts, or spices that aren't listed.  If you tell us

it's got a purchased ingredient, chances are good we know about its

safety or lack.  Then we eat it or we don't.



allilyn at juno.com, Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands, Pittsburgh, PA

Kingdom of Aethelmearc



Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:22:47 -0600

From: "Brian L. Rygg or Laura Barbee-Rygg" <rygbee at montana.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Words of wisdom


Other bits that also come to mind are:

1. Take your microwave (mine is also convection)

2. Wash all serving dishes the night before

3. Bleach

4. Dish towels

5. Put your name on the bottom of personal pots and dishes

6. Hire (eat free) head dish person

7. Make sure you have all your medicine (have chronic illness and can be a

real b***h when hurting)

8. Eat and drink plenty of fluids (I always need reminding when cooking)

9. Have a head server to organize the servers

10. Have the honey and other butters made ahead of time (dished up ahead of

time is nice too)


See attached handout for Feastocrats that I did up a few years ago.

Raoghnailt Marie Béatrix de la Barbe

(Laura E. Barbee-Rygg)

rygbee at montana.com



Guidelines for Feastocrats


1.     Remember that you are working FOR the Autocrat.  Coordinate with

him/her on menu, feast fee, approximate number of people to be expected

(based on past experience plus a "fudge" factor), what kind of kitchen

facilities are expected, and this type of information.


2.     Some advice on how to set a budget:  Calculate the number of expected

diners and multiply by the feast fee -- 50 people X $5 =3D $250 (try not

to go over $225, just in case).  Don't forget that having Royalty show

up at your feast will increase the numbers by 15 to 40 people, depending

on the time of year and whatever else is going on.


3.     How to set a feast fee:  A feast is NOT a money-making proposition.  

You want to come out about even, giving fair value for the money paid.  

It is cheaper to cook for larger groups than for smaller ones -- a feast

for 50 can cost as much as one for 75.  Figure out what you would pay

for a meal in a restaurant (not McDonald's), and use that as a basis.  

Or you could decide ahead of time that you want to serve a special meat

or type of feast and go from there -- figure what the costs are going to

be and from that, set your feast fee.  The Autocrat might plan to

balance a high site fee by setting a low feast fee -- make sure you're

consulted, and that the fee will be enough to cover the necessary



4.     Pick an Assistant Feastocrat.  Line up servers as needed.  Let the

Autocrat know that you expect a cleanup crew.  Let's be realistic --

after all day in the kitchen, you don't need to be in there.


5.     Check out the kitchen facilities ahead of time -- you don't want or

need any surprises the day of the event.  Find out what dishes and

cookware you can use, if any, and if necessary bring your own (or borrow

what you need).  You need plenty of serving platters, bowls, and serving

utensils. If the kitchen is in a different location than the Feast

Hall, coordinate with the Autocrat about HOW the food is to be

transported (don't laugh, this happened to me).


6.     Be realistic in the amounts of food to be prepared.  Allow 1/2 to 3/4

pounds (8-12 oz.) total of PROTEIN per person -- meat (minus bones),

eggs, cheese -- and don't count any meat in the soup unless it is a

meat-rich stew.  Figure 1/2 serving of a vegetable -- approx. 1/4 cup

per person (the people who don't want any will more than cover the few

who want more).  "Fish is a vegetable."  Soup will stretch a meal.  

Don't go overboard on the sweets.  Sauce amounts AREN'T generally

multiplied by the number of times you are making the recipe (a little

goes a long way).


7.     Choosing a menu doesn't have to be hard.  Talk to experienced

feastocrats, look at ethnic or period cookbooks, and talk with your

local Cooks' Guild (if you are fortunate enough to have one).  TRY your

recipes ahead of time (Cooks' Guild is a good place to do this).


8.     Use in-season produce and meats to cut costs:  Winter squash in the

fall, turkeys & geese in the fall, ham in the spring (around Easter),

fresh fruit in the summer and fall.  Try to get your hunters to donate

venison, elk, or whatever else they've got for a period and FREE main

dish -- it can really cut costs.  [You can ask the Shire to sponsor a

deer tag and have a Shire member go out and get a deer for a feast.]  

This is also a good way to include fish in a menu -- have your local

fisherman clean out his freezer.  If you have a Shire baker, ask her/him

if they would bake the bread -- nothing eats up a budget faster than

buying bread (I've baked bread for 100, and it didn't take that much



9.     Set your menu to feed a set number and stick to it -- nothing is

worse than not having enough food -- and make sure the troll knows the

cut-off. If you can be more flexible, it is recommended to add dishes,

rather than increasing the amount of foods you are already preparing.


10.     Shop the sales for a month ahead of the feast, if you have storage

room. Check with your local meat markets about a deal on quantities of

meat -- don't forget that we are a non-profit group and many businesses

will give a discount.  Use foil pans for messy meats that can just be

thrown away to save time and energy.  We have a Shire pantry to keep the

leftover flour, sugar, spices, coffee, etc. from each feast -- make sure

that you get the list from me (or whoever has it) and don't buy needless



11.     Prepare as much of the food ahead of time as possible, space

permitting. Use any available refrigerator and freezer space Shire

members can spare.  Slice cooked meats ready to reheat and serve (beef

and ham).


11.     Start by being an Assistant Feastocrat FIRST.  I highly recommend

that your first feast is NOT your Shire's premier event unless you have

mundane experience in catering or cooking for large groups.  Start with

a smaller event and work up from there.



(for 40-50)


bread with butters (honeyed and/or herbed)


1st meat





2nd meat

       starch (noodles, rice)




Added dishes for larger numbers should include additional meats, cheese,

a vegetarian dish, fresh fruit, another dessert, and don't forget those

wonderful (but usually time-consuming) sotiltes (subtleties).


In Service to the Shire and the Dream,


Lady Raoghnailt Marie Beatrix de la Barbe



The Known World Handbook, 20th-year ed.


       Mistress Maire NiNuanain, OL, lecture and class notes from the

Universitas Atenveldtus A.S. XXVIII (1993).


and my own experiences as Feastocrat cooking from 40 to 100.



Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 08:30:56 PDT

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Words of wisdom


>what information/ tips/ hints/ etc., would you have liked to known before

>doing your first feast?



Make sure that you define your job. The very first weekend after you've

asked/been volunteered, sit down and make a list of everthing you think is

going to need to be done or purchased.  Form an opinion as to whether you

think each task is more easily doable by yourself, or more easily included

with similar autocrat tasks, or whether you or the autocrat need to assign

the task. Then discuss it with your autocrat. THEN start planning your






Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 18:10:49 GMT

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Feast Stories from 11th Night Investiture (LONG)


>One thing that really worked well for me was the notebook.


Oh, yes.  You gotta have a notebook!  My paperwork on the feast moved from a

spot in my daily notebook calendar thing, to it's own full-sized binder

months before hand. The idea was that my deputy could take the book and take

over if need be.  She had copies of the original recipes, but not all my

notes and expansions and lists and spreadsheets.  I happened to have the

kind of binder that let's you slip something into it to make a decorated

cover. That's where the event-flyer went so I'd also have that info on hand

if needed.


The only thing I had that you didn't mention was nifty, glare-free page

covers to keep spills off the recipes being used in the kitchen, important

as our ink-jet ink is not waterproof!!!




Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 12:24:05 -0800

From: "James F. Johnson" <seumas at mind.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Feast Stories from 11th Night Investiture (LONG)


Bonne of Traquair wrote:

> The only thing I had that you didn't mention was nifty, glare-free page

> covers to keep spills off the recipes being used in the kitchen, important

> as our ink-jet ink is not waterproof!!!


I had the covers at the site, I just never used them. I didn't cook from

the notebook, but from one set of recipes taped to the wall. The were

fine that way, as I never really touched them, and they never fell, it

just allowed me to scan them really quickly. The covers I had were the

glossy kind, as my original plan was to cover them before taping them up

(but I started off a little late....), and use a dry erase pen to check

off various steps in each recipe. In that specific regard (writing on

with a dry erase marker), the glossy covers do better, as they lack that

pebbly surface that discourages wiping the marker medium off. And the

glossies are easier to wipe and clean from most spills. The just catch

light glare really well.


Fortunately, my printers are laser types, but I have access to a colour

jet if I want.





Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 10:04:03 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Education-Public Consumption key


In a message dated 2/27/00 3:33:37 AM Eastern Standard Time, seumas at mind.net


<< The

performers are not waiting for the occasional curious person to take a

chance and come to the concert hall or theater, and pay for the

experience as well. They are going out on a mission of conversion. That

is what I advocate.

Seumas >>


In this, my friend, we have reached common ground. I really don't know how to

achieve this conversion other than by example. Local feasts in this area are

more often than not sold out weeks in advance and I can't think of a feast in

the last 3 years that still had onboard space available at the door.


Our shire (and several surrounding shires) limit onboard space to 80, 100,

125 or rarely 150 gentles. Ample room is provided when possible for off board

people to sit as close to the action as is possible either in the same room

or in and adjoining area. We have several cooks jockeying for the position of

Kitchen Steward so finding a person to be in charge is not an issue.


The various local kitchen stewards have varying techniques for planning and

presenting the feast (which always contains period dishes with a few notable



For instance I tend to include at least one major dish that is either

entertaining or unusual, a major meat in each course and fill in dishes of

vegetable, grain and fruit concoctions. No pre-feast experimentation is

carried out other than determining what quantities of what ingredients should

be purchased. I tend to work directly from the period recipes (rather English

translations) and permanent redactions are written down after the fact based

on actual preparation. Both the feasters and myself taste the dishes for the

first time in several hundred years when it is served.


Master Gille uses a combination of recipes previously redacted by others with

an occasional personal redaction. He tends not to use salt and pepper for

reasons that are vague to me. He pretests most of the recipes.


THL Thorstein uses all period dishes from 'famous' works and fills in with a

few 'traditional/ethnic' tidbits that may or may not be period. He tests all

recipes before the actual feast date.


Feasts are usually 3 courses with each course consisting of 3 to 5 dishes.

These courses are served after the initial service of loaves of bread,

cheeses, fresh fruit and/or vegetables and some sort of a broth/soup dish.

Each table of 8 is required to choose one person from the table to act as

server. Each dish is served family style with the main dish sometimes being

paraded through the hall and presented for approval at High Table. Special

dishes that do not appear on the tables of the attending nobles are always

served to high table. The ingredients for these special dishes are paid for

by the Kitchen Steward or from private donations.


The Kitchen Steward has total control over the content of the menu after

being informed of the event's theme by the Autocrat. Menu structure seldom

deviates from the theme. For instance, a recent event theme was Lady's

Champions Tourney. Since the pageantry of Burgundian tournaments came to

mind, the theme was middle eastern and this was a fun and laid back event, I

chose to present a period middle eastern feast as it might have been done in

a barbarian court. For Schola I presented a French Repast. Will's Revenge

feasts are often taken from Forme of Curye. Rarely are late period recipes

used by any of the local Kitchen Stewards.


For demos, St. Matha's Guild actually sets up a period cooking site with fire

pit and the other outdoor things associated with a military field kitchen.

This set up is rather small and portable and features a boiling dish of

something, a spitted creature of some sort, a table with samples of period

spices, vegetables and fruits, period cookbooks, charts, illuminations,

agricultural tools, etc. Period gingerbread and sometimes pasties of rabbit

or spinach and cheese are offered as tasting incentives.


Recently, we were invited to set up a display of medieval artifacts and

reproductions in a room at a local museum. Part of this display included a

cooking section. Cooking displays are a common part of the numerous school

demos we conduct each year throughout both the Lewisburg and Williamsport

school districts.


Seumus is correct. Education is the key. Making period cookery a high profile

item at events and demos is part of that education. Taking advantage of every

opportunity to focus people's minds and senses on period cookery is the key.

Uncompromising dedication to the study and presentation of period cookery is

the way.


al-Sayyid Ras al-Zib, AoA, OSyc, OKey

Guildmaster of St. Martha's Guild

Apprentice of Master Huen



Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000 11:39:12 +1100

From: Lorix <lorix at trump.net.au>

Subject: Re: SC - was mushroom allergies & food hygene rant


When I am cooking, I am very careful about the perils of cross-contamination particularly when I am cooking for others.  I make sure that all utensils are washed between the preparation of each dish so that I can assure my feasters that each course has only the ingredients that I have cooked in it.


<rant mode on, soapbox now being stepped on to ;->


On a related note, food hygiene is something that many people don't seem to think about.  It is amazing how many people will come into a kitchen and offer to help & don't wash their hands before wanting to start helping . . . it's got to a sort of joke status when I am cooking now because there is a chorus from all in the kitchen when someone walks in to "wash their hands".


Food hygiene is my pet obsession (particularly when cooking for others) and to combat the problems with some volunteers' personal hygiene, there is a general rule that _anyone_ whose hands are going to be in the food must wear the plastic disposable gloves provided.  In 99.9% my fears are probably groundless, but I prefer to take precautions to avoid that 0.01% ;-)


I vividly remember one feast I attended several years ago as a wayfarer.  As is my won't I wandered down to the kitchen to offer my assistance & after one horrified look inside abstained from eating most of the feast.  That was just prior to the first course when I saw the state of the kitchen, I didn't truly realise how bad it was till later when I had the 'pleasure' of cleaning the same kitchen, (it was the practice in that group that if you cooked, you didn't clean).


This kitchen had a lovely large stainless steel bench that ran right down the middle of the kitchen for food preparation.  It had various cupboards & benches all around the sides of the kitchen, 2 big steel washing sinks, an industrial dishwasher & an insinkerator.  From my point of view it was a dream kitchen to work in (I didn't mentioned the industrial oven ;-)


Preparation for the feast had obviously commenced at one end of the preparation bench & continued down the bench with each new course, judging from the food debris. There was vegetable peelings (and other 'waste' food parts) in little piles all along the bench & piled all over the floor.  In certain sections of the kitchen people appeared to have seated themselves to prepare the food & let the food peelings fall onto the floor rather than the bins available (and I mean mounds of slippery peelings just waiting to be stepped on).  Every conceivable space was stacked with dirty serving platters or food preparation utensils.  It was obvious that stuff had dripped off the discarded platters onto the benches & that rather than cleaning the surfaces, food had been chopped in amongst the mess.  


At the end of the feast, I had succumbed to the succulent strawberries served hulled with bowls of cream.  When I saw the kitchen, I truly wished I hadn't.


Legs of lamb had been served as the meat, but appeared to have been frozen when they went into the oven, because whilst burnt on the outside, they where uncooked past 2cm in the meat & hard/cold against the bone.  There had obviously been attempts made to carve some of the roasts at one end of the metal serving bench (before they were simply sent out uncarved & uncooked).  Because the floor was slightly slanted, so was the bench.  The meat had been cut directly onto the bench & blood had pooled & run down the center of the bench to the other end & the dripped off onto the floor.  What was extremely distressing was that the strawberries had obviously (the debris was there & so was the cut marks on the bench & in the dried blood) been hulled in amongst the blood.


I mention this only insofar as it is not enough that we consider food allergies, but we also need to consider food hygiene, cross-contamination issues, length of time food is left refrigerated, dangers of re-heating food & not heating it enough to kill bacteria, etc.  


Food poisoning might have been period, but we _really_ don't want to recreate it in the current middle ages.


<rant mode now off ;->





Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000 02:13:12 -0500

From: Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com>

Subject: SC - Not Killing yourself in the Kitchen


>Among the cook-ly types I hang with, we have a little tradition.


>When one of us is the Kitchener for an event, the rest of us are

>Dobermans. The one who's on the line for the event is physically removed

>(and with some of our over-achievers, physically can mean picked up and carried

>out) from the kitchen for at least one half-hour at mid-day and taken someplace

>quiet where they can have a real lunch served to them.  This has been

>extremely helpful to all of us, since cooks have a tendency to forget

>about themselves when they're hard at it in the kitchen.


> Wolfmom


        My late husband (Master Knikolos, who was originally from Trimaris, one

of Taly's proteges, btw) got me started bringing a prepared lunch when I

was cooking.  The first time he walked in with a Subway sandwich, I said

"But we have all of this food here!" to which he replied "And how much of

it is ready to eat right now?".  He was right, and having something in

the fridge to eat for lunch is now part of my routine, or part of the

pre-planning I teach to my students.  You are so right, it is easy to

forget to care for yourself when you are in the process of preparing a

feast (or autocratting, or any other large task).





Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 18:16:40 EST

From: allilyn at juno.com

Subject: Re: SC - Feast Fixin's


>> Another, similar concept is to portion out things like

butter and cold sauces/condiments into the small bowls or cups they will be

served in, and put them on trays in the cooler early in the day. Space won't

always permit that, of course, but it works nicely when you have the



More coolers for your little dishes, if you can do before.  Save washed

cans all the same size.  Set in cooler bottom, scatter ice around but not

up to the top of the cans.  Set trays on the cans, above the ice.  If

cooler is deep enough, put more cans and more trays built up in layers.



Allison,     allilyn at juno.com



Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2000 22:10:10 EDT

From: RichSCA at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Open/Closed Kitchens WAS: Feast planning/Administration


I do not think I am operating on the same definition of an open/closed

kitchen as everyone else.  But for me this is usual  :-)


I love to work in kitchens.  This is how I met "my" Peer, years ago.


Sometimes when I arrive at an event I stop by the kitchen to ask if they need

any help.  I have been told (nicely) "No, thank you.  We have our own kitchen

staff". It has been explained to me that many times households, groups and

others are "in charge" of preparing the feast and they have assigned all the

tasks to their group members and need no "drop-in assistance".  For me this

would be a "closed" kitchen.


Now if I drop by your kitchen to see if you need any help and you give me a

pile of onions and a knife then (to me) this is an "open" kitchen.  Open for

anyone willing to help to help.  


I find that many people WANT to help at events.  There is a friendliness in

the kitchen.  For this reason when I cook a feast I try to make sure that I

have "something" for someone to do if they ask to help.  Someone can watch a

pot to make sure it doesn't boil over or to run to the pantry and fetch

things if there is not actual cooking assistance I require.  Now I do take

care to not have the kitchen so filled with people that no one can move and

also try to limit the amount of non-working visitors in the area.  I am VERY

conscious of food health and safety and strive to make sure that my kitchen

staff will insure "safely" prepared food.  I always welcome a "non-busy"

Chirurgeon (with first aid kit) to "man" the kitchen and keep us company.  





Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 13:35:48 -0400 (EDT)

From: Morgan Cain <morgancain at earthlink.net>

Subject: Subject: Re: SC - Open/Closed Kitchens


As one of the many who started in the SCA by chopping things (explaining my original heraldry of a leek and a knife, crossed), and moved on as head cook for over a dozen feasts and helping at countless others, I have mixed views of open kitchens.  I do, however, totally oppose CLOSED kitchens because that discourages people from helping!  I have made a lot of neat friends, and whiled away many otherwise-boring hours, by wandering into a kitchen and offering to help.  I might get the chop-veggies job, and I might get to arrange things for High Table or roll pastry, and it might be anything in between.


With an open kitchen, I generally have some rules and require others to abide by them:


1) In the kitchen, you are WORKING!  No standing around idly talking -- that's why we have so much space in the hall.  (Of course, I would make an exception for a person who wants to hide in a quiet corner for a short time, if they asked and we could afford it.  Within an hour before service, not likely.)  I have thrown out of the kitchen someone who volunteered to help, and then spent the time walking in a circle nattering inanely.  Several attempts to get the person to either (a) work or (b) SHUT UP were unavailing, so out he went -- bodily!


2) People MUST adhere to rules of hygeine.  Long hair MUST be tied up or under a cap; flowing garments must be restrained.  Washing of hands mandatory, and if you fool with your face or hair, wash again.  (The occasional nose rub with back of hand may not be an issue for a chopper or stirrer, is for dough worker.)  Sick people not wanted, especially if sneezy or sniffly (but if it's an allergy and you wash hands after blowing, you're allowed; I make judgment calls, and have allergies).  I'll try to bring a squirt bottle of soap, or bars (this is a great time to use superfatted and "beauty bars" as hands get a lot of washing and every extra emollient helps), and rolls of paper towelling SPECIFICALLY for hand-washing needs.


3) Surfaces are to be washed as frequently as needed, or after every step in the process, whichever comes first.  Not only is this good hygeine, it speeds up the cleanup later.  This is also MANDATORY for sticky-sweet and floury items, as they can cause grief later if not cleaned up promptly (chisling off hardened flour-glue or sugar residue is tedious, and more so at 10:00pm).


4) I bring washing-up gear, to be sure that proper supplies are in place, unless I have cased the location beforehand and been assured about the supplies.  Having a couple backups never hurts; I run them on a separate receipt and keep if not needed.  These include bleach-containing and antiseptic products for washing counters.  Bleach solution is a must for cutting boards and countertops after meat was prepared on them, unless, at least for the former, you can put them into a sanitizer.


5) I try to have things for people to do at various levels, and ask them to understand and come back later if the only items going are high-experience ones, with chopping to occur later.  I don't mind if someone told to, for example, stir the apply moyse for forty minutes, asks questions about feast planning and the other things going on while they work.  I am also fairly broad-minded about skill levels, and don't assume the aged person can cook expertly any more than I assume a preteen is there just to please the parents by getting out from under their feet.  I do check for skill levels and may adjust for ability to reach the countertops or top of the soupkettle.


6) EAT.  I insist that the cooks and feast preparers EAT and DRINK as required. This might be on the run, it might be the "failed" tarte that browned unevenly or a spread of bread and cheese and fruit, but I have things set aside specifically for the kitchen crew.  There is no excuse for someone not eating all day just because they are cooking!  Now, if someone decides to cook because they have food problems and also refuse the munchies, and never told me about their problems, they had better bring some food of their own.  I try to provide a very general assortment of things for the cooking crew, and also items that don't require you to sit down and eat but can be handled with one hand while stirring with the other.


I also make it a policy to serve the servers DURING the meal, not one of those simple pre-feast meals some people use.  I am rarely hungry at 5:00pm when people insist upon serving this, and usually still busy with some other chore about the site.  So I miss supper and then am forbidden to eat during feast! With proper planning, the feast service allows time for the servers to eat the same food as all others have.  I do try to forbid them from sitting at main tables because that makes it harder to collect them for the next course, but try to have tables near the kitchen door for them to use.


YMMV, of course.


---= Morgan



Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 18:10:31 EDT

From: ChannonM at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re: Open/Closed Kitchens-Rewards


I have always tried to make my kitchen an inviting place. I ensure that I

have music and a copy of my recipes as a special hand out to the staff who

help. I ensure that everyone takes breaks regularly and when I notice someone

not eating, I buy their lunch.


In addition, when I am called out to be thanked during the feast, I in turn

call up everyone who helped from those who spent the day to those who carved

radishes for garnish, to the servers and give them a token of my

appreciation. One year I gave out flowers, another a pewter salt spoon, this

year I burned in a Celtic Cross on the back of wooden spoons (30 of them) My

fear is always that I won't have enough to hand out.


I have people who travel to assist in my kitchen from as far away as New York

(Baron Sean and Lady Illya) and Northern Michigan. I don't think it's because

I give them things though, I think they have a good time and feel welcomed

and appreciated.


That's what I want anyone who works in my kitchen to take home with them, the

warm fuzzy's :)





Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 18:30:21 -0700

From: "James F. Johnson" <seumas at mind.net>

Subject: SC - Staff rewards


RichSCA at aol.com wrote:

> What I would like to know is how does the various cooks on this List "reward"

> their assistant chefs, stewarts and servers.  Or do they?   (for this change

> of topic - please change the SUBJECT LINE to include the word "rewards" or

> something along that line.  Thanks.


For my last feast, I supplied chocolate (post period be d**ned! It was

in the kitchen, not the hall) and later gave each person (most not being

ardent cooks themselves) a choice of powdre forte or powdre douce in

small handblown glass bottles. Mistress Alys the Dish Goddess got one of

each. My hall steward got saffron, she being highly fond of similar

colours and someone who would use it.





Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 11:42:53 +1000

From: Black Jade <Black_Jade at bigpond.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Staff rewards


>> What I would like to know is how does the various cooks on this List


>> their assistant chefs, stewarts and servers.  Or do they?   (for this change

>> of topic - please change the SUBJECT LINE to include the word "rewards" or

>> something along that line.  Thanks.


For Coronet in September 1996 I provided a 5kg box of reject chocolate for

the Stewarding Team. I wasn't actually a part of it, but a lot of my

friends were, up to and including my husband (then boyfriend) who was

Baronial Reeve at the time.  It was used for everything, from first aid

situations to soothing frayed tempers  A papercut or slipped knife doesn't

look half as bad when you get chocolate for your pain, and it's a lot

harder to shout when you have some chocolate in your mouth.  It was the

best spent $25 in my entire life.  While the various people still had their

nervous breakdowns, at least it was done quietly without any really audible




Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 20:31:02 -0600

From: "Karen O" <kareno at lewistown.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Open/Closed Kitchens & rewards


For helping,  the married set that stayed with me all day,  I gave a bottle

(5th) of my home brewed Hazelnut Liquer.  The  Head Server, who is very new

& this was her 1st major event,  was given a bottle of peach chardonnay I

had brought to "share" with my staff.  My very lovely & efficient assistant

cook, I gave a jar of homemade chokecherry syrup  & a 6pack of beer I had

also brought  to share.  I have in mind another something for her.    I have

to think about a special something for  the fellow who came in and started

working & stayed til every dish was washed.  I hardly know him, and haven't

an idea what would please him.


   On the otherhand,  I have been generously thanked  in Court by Head

Cooks -- when I thought my work was miniscule.


Time to think about the review for last Saturday's Feast




Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 22:55:01 -0700

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - thank you tokens.


hey all from Anne-Marie

maybe I'm old fashioned, but I find a heart felt thankyou to each person

means more than any token or gizmo. I try really hard to make a point of

going about the kitchen, throughout the day, and making sure each person

knows that their efforts are appreciated by me.


Courts here run in the multiple hours. People are bored and tired and want

to go dance/drink/eat/fight/go home. The populace is not amused by the

kitchen head running the jillions of helpful staff through to thank them

individually, and I find that I ALWAYS miss someone, and then we all feel bad.


different people need different levels of strokes, but I find that a

sincere expression of gratitude, from me, to them, seems to go a long way...


- --AM



Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 09:22:26 EDT

From: DeeWolff at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Staff rewards


What a great idea! I usually provide chocolate and one year everyone got

Raspberry jelly I had made. I also gave out spoons at another one, but I was

stumped at something different. Thanks for the spices idea!!!






Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 11:51:45 EDT

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - thank you tokens.


acrouss at gte.net writes:


different people need different levels of strokes, but I find that a

sincere expression of gratitude, from me, to them, seems to go a long way...



   True--I still like the idea of doing tokens, at least for those who

helped in a major way, though. But a slight twist that I've done, and have

seen done, is to write thank-you notes to the main crew after the event is

over. Most of the time these are local people, or good friends from

out-of-town, so you generally have their names/address available. Mind you, I

*hate* to hand write notes, as my spelling is, ummmmm, very "period" ;-), and

my handwriting is pretty bad to boot. But it *is* effective--when I've been

on the receiving end I've had the warm fuzzies all day

afterwards.............. :-)


           Ldy Diana



Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 20:37:53 EDT

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - thank you tokens.


acrouss at gte.net writes:

<< different people need different levels of strokes, but I find that a

sincere expression of gratitude, from me, to them, seems to go a long way...



True...but just to be 'nice' at Schola I passed out a pot stick to each of

the main participants during the day as the 'mood' hit me. The sticks have

practical value in the kitchen and a nice momento to take home or add to your

cook's gear.


At the Crown Tourney that I helped out at, Adamantius gave each main player a

very long handled wooded spoon.  I still use it at every feast I do and it

always brings fond memories. Other 'token's could be scented soap, herb

plants, wooden spoons of any size are always great, a small favor to worn on

the belt I am currently eying the leg bones of the roc who feedeth her young

with elephants as a possible source for token material, the possibilities are

endless and need not be expensive.





Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 09:25:28 -0700

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: SC  Kitchen Crew management


hiya all from Anne-Marie

last night was our annual Baronial Banquet. For the first time I got to be

on the Hall Steward side (taking lessons from our 20+ veteran hall steward).

wow! what a rush!!!


what we have found works in the Madrone Culinary Guild:


1. preplan what dishes and pots and pans and stuff you'll need throughout

the cooking and serving. If you KNOW that you'll be needing that pot for

the paste en pot AND for the colliflowers in Egg sauce, make sure to tell

the people using them that they'll need to be used again. Mark it on the

recipe sheet.


2. Each recipe has its own sheet that is taped to the wall. A person comes

in and if they decide to do a recipe, they take it to their area where

they'll be. On that sheet is the expanded recipe with amounts,

instructions, what to use to cook in, what to cook on (stove? which one?),

and who the "expert" is for the final taste ok, questions, etc.


3. We also have a kitchen schedule on the wall. I do mine in an BIG excel

spreadsheet. Map out what dishes go into the oven or onto burners when.

Mark out time to clean the kitchen (I give us an hour before we even start

cooking to disinfect counters, rinse pots that have been in storage, etc).

Each dish is its own line item. Be sure you've included time to peel all

those carrots, slice lemons, etc. Be sure you've included PLENTY Of time to

bring water to boil (figure at least an hour for a big pot, more if you're

only got little wimpy coleman stoves. And dont forget that when you put

that 20 lbs of colliflower in, you'll need MORE time to bring BACK to a

boil...) Put on the schedule the job of washing that large skillet that

you'll need again, and the job of washing the serving trays as they come

back if you need to reuse them (its a VERY happy thing if you dont need to

do this last...the push of getting those last minute dishes out will take

all the hands you can use!)


as people come in the kitchen, tell them to wash their hands and look at

the kitchen schedule. If they're enthusiastic but not pariticularily

skilled, they can see that there's parsley to chop, or greens to wash, etc,

and take those on easily. If they know how to make a good emulsion sauce,

you can put them on those tricky egg sauces. Have them Cross the task off

the list (with the pencil you have taped to the wall with the schedule)

when its done, and put their initials by the dish they've taken on, so

folks know who to ask about it.


4. Make sure you have enough bodies for dishing up. The culinary guild here

prides itself on excellent period food, served HOT. Time things carefully,

and at the push to get the dishes out, make sure you have enough bodies.

Lay out the 18 plates on one table, and dish up. Have your garnish already

prepped so you can just toss on the calendula petals, or parsley, or lemon

zest or whatever onto each plate. when the plates are ALL done, have your

servers take them away!


5. This is important, and the import was stressed last night becuase we

didnt get to do this (and it made us lose our minds!) Know EXACTLY how many

tables yuou got, and how many people per table BEFORE the banuqet starts.

That is going to tell you how many serving dishes you'll need, and how much

food goes on each serving dish. Figure out what is going to be served on

what, and what spoons are going with which bowls BEFORE you need to dish

up.We did it at noon, for example, for a 7pm serve time. Make stacks,

counting out carefully. Make a list and tape it to the wall at the dishup

station so the hall steward can tell at a glance which dish goes into what

serving containers, and which spoons/etc goes with which (ie which is goopy

and needs bowls and ladles, what can go in basket6s, what can go on plates.

Think about colors too....dont put that brown stew in a brown bowl if you

can avoid it).


6. MOst importantly, the head cook CANNOT be the hall steward. She'll be

too busy fixing disasters, putting the final touch on the food, and tasting

everything for final quality control that she wont be able to handle server

questions and the dishing up, much less garnish. Ideally, you have one

person as hall steward, and a crew of about three or four (with at least

two people who know what's going on) for dishing up etc, and if you can

have a couple for Team Garnish, that's wonderful.


7. Try to line up dishwashers ahead of tiem. Get some for during the day

(we find that a crew of two or so suffices) as well as after the banquet

(that's when you need lots more!). Make sure they know that they'll be

doing dishes, and that you appreicate them very very very much! its a

grubby job, but some people really get into it. We had a Countess

Pelican/Laurel, a double peer from about 1500 miles away, the sargentry and

handful of enthusastic recruits pitch in at the last and it made a world of

difference to a bunch of very tired cooks. Enlist your queen or baroness to

recruit for you...they often enjoy an excuse to get their people to show

off how helpful they can be :).


hope this helps!

- --ANne-Marie, who's been head cook many many times, but is hoping to learn

how to be a hall steward now :)



Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 21:39:03 GMT

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - questions


>I've been toying with doing a feast with twice the dishes, half the

>portions. i figure that gives room to experiment and still feed

>people--unless they're finicky.  In which case, I don't care.



I do every thing I can to cut the serving sizes down so that people will

have room for all 16 to 20 items. For pies I use 8 inch pie tins instead of

9 inch.  For other recipes that need to be cooked in a 'table sized'

container, a local shop carries 3 x 4 inch by 2 inch deep disposable pans.  

Kind of the right size for a large single serving of lasagna, it sounds

small, but when there are 6 to 8 items per course, plus bread, this works

out. I buy smallish chickens or chicken parts, I send out slices of meat

when possible, rather than a full bird or roast per table of eight since

more than half always comes back.  I wish the barony hadn't purchased

standard, long handled serving utensils.  They are awkward at the tables

because they are so long, and the scoop size is too big.  Last feast, I

purchased silver and gold plastic teaspoons and sent them out with some

items. Also extremely ugly plastic serving spoon and fork sets.  Ugly, but

the handles and bowls were smaller and better suited to the task.





Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 17:52:33 EDT

From: allilyn at juno.com

Subject: Re: SC - questions


>> Very

important, what is the kitchen like?  You really need to plan the meal


the kitchen you're going to use, so you can deal with the numbers of


oven space, etc.  Either that, or come up with a tentative menu and be

prepared to be flexible if you find out that there isn't enough oven

space to

say, roast beef, and make pies.<<


Brangwayna is so right!  Buy yourself an oven thermometer and one of

those instant thermometers to stick in food.  post me privately for a

good, reasonably priced source.  


Take the oven thermometer to the site with you, and check each oven--with

ALL the ovens turned on at the same time!

Make sure you know how to turn on the ovens, especially if there is a

master switch to turn on for the day.  

Where is the fuse box?  

What size fuses should you have an extra one or two?  

Try to test close to the event, too.  One of our favorite sites had its

oven calibration go wonky between 2 events--lotsa trouble.


Check to see if each burner works, and all work at the same time--this is

because of gas flow or fuse blowing.  


Take a tape measure, and do a sketched lay-out of the kitchen, size of

counters, any tables and chairs, fans, etc. space between burners, etc.

Test the water and hot water.

Plan ahead where you will stash your gear, where work on each dish, can

you tape, prop or otherwise post the recipe above that workspace?

Where will your serving table be for the servers to pick up the bowls and

platters, and can you have a separate one for returned dirty platters?  


Is there a commercial dishwasher?  Do you know how to operate it?  Very

few modern sites come equipt with lepers outside to devour the trenchers.

If no dishwasher, is there a separate sink to be used only for dish/pot

washing, and has your autocrat gotten you a clean-up crew?  During the

day, too?  Is there a place for diners to wash their gear?  Can you set

up a clean-up station after feast?  NOT in the kitchen?


Are there sufficient garbage cans?  What size bags must you buy?  Where

is the dumpster?


List the appliances available, and be sure there are instructions

handy--deep well soup makers, electric slicers, huge mega-mixers, etc.

If you see lots of pots and pans, specifically ask if you can use them;

they might be locked away when your event occurs.


Walk thru the feast prep and see if you've got things set in your mind.

Preparation is essential, because there are so many things that can be

overlooked or go wrong on the day.  


When this is all done, it's a real confidence booster.


Allison,     allilyn at juno.com



Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 17:24:56 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Finally going to cook something period!!!


- --- Olwen the Odd <olwentheodd at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Begin with how many mouths will be in attendence at

> this dinner.  That is

> always the best place to begin.  From there, figure

> your budget (max) and

> then begin to flesh in the feast.

> olwen


Gee, I do the opposite.  I figure out what I want to

make, then I figure out how much it will cost to make

each dish and then, because usually the reservations

don't come until very late, I figure out how many I

will have to feed [and always include your freebies,

usually your head table, your cooks, servers and clean

up crew].  Yes, I do extrapolate a bit, because the

hall will only hold so many people.  But my budget is

never final until I know exactly how many reservations

and guests there will be.  And, yes, I usually add in

a couple of extra meals for those travelling royals

who don't tell you they are coming to visit your

kingdom until they show up at the event.  But I start

with the food itself first.  In my humble opinion, you

will only put yourself over budget or struggle too

much to keep within budget if you start with the

potential diners first and then work on the food.  I

have never had to struggle with my budgets.  I have

always come in under budget.





Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 23:18:25 GMT

From: ekoogler at chesapeake.net

Subject: RE: SC - Bad Feasts--Philosophically Speaking


> Even if you have tested them earlier in the week, test them again when you

> come on site.


> If you need the ovens, be sure you have an oven thermometer for each, so you

> can set them close to the appropriate temperature.


> Even that may not be enough.  My biggest fiasco occurred when I had four

> ovens fail in the space of 2 hours and was unable to finish the second

> course.


> Bear


Also, oddly enough, if the stoves/ovens are gas-fired, make sure that the

propane tanks (if they use such) are full enough to last through the

event...same/same for hot water heaters.  I've been involved in a couple of

feasts where the stoves died for want of gas.  


Also make sure that the hot water heater works properly...it's a real pain to

have to heat water on the stove!





Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 18:20:38 -0700

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: RE: SC - When planning a feast ....


At 2:00 PM -0600 10/24/00, Edgar, Terry wrote:

>Double check to make sure everyone gets each course served.  I was at a

>feast once where a whole table was missed for a whole course.  Appoint a

>"hall steward" to organize the servers.  Be sure to have a couple dedicated

>to serving the "high table".


Something I like to do is to have someone in charge of

redistribution. That means wandering around looking for a tables that

has only eaten half its serving of X and obviously isn't going to

have any more, and moving the platter to another table that has eaten

all of its X and, you suspect, would like some more. That not only

results in less wastage, it also makes people feel as though you are

paying attention to their needs.

- --

David Friedman

ddfr at best.com




Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 00:27:12 PDT

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - When planning a feast ....


Most of my advice is in the organizing rather than the recipe choosing and



Have a co-cook:

For me, having a co-cook has been essential. Beforehand, I bounce ideas off

her, divide up the advance work, get research assistance, get proof-reading

done, have an extra eye looking for bargains and generally feel she could

take over if need be.  On-site, she is the one to nag me about a break.  At

our last feast she elected herself cheif of sanitation police, keeping tabs

on people's hands (washed or not), hair (contained if long), the dishwater

(we had hot water problems, she made sure people stopped washing when out of

hot water), dishtowels (dry with clean towels not with damp towels) and

other such issues.



In advance, give copies of the whole recipe collection to those you KNOW

will be helping in the kitchen.  They probably won't study it before hand,

but at least you've given them the chance. Copies also to the autocrat,

reservationist and other members of the sponsoring group.  That many more

people will be able to answer questions about what's on the menu and what's

in the food. Give a couple copies to your hall steward so they might share

with any servers they have pre-commitments from.


For the kitchen: Print one recipe per page. In case your help left their

reading glasses at home, use the largest type size possible without making

the recipe longer than both sides of one page.  Put each recipe in a clear

page protector so your help doesn't have to worry about where they lay it

down. Have a second page-protectored set in a binder for your use or in case

something in the other set gets damaged or lost.



Label, label, label!  (Here's my method)

Buy two different colored brand new sharpie markers and a roll of masking

tape. Using one of the markers, as you pack, write your name on _every_

item from your own home that is going to the site.  Label every part of

items like the food processor and slow cooker and label any boxes that

things are packed in.  My girls tease because every spoon, knife, appliance,

handtool, the salt shaker, the honey bottle, a lot of storage containers,

platters, pans, you name it in our kitchen has a green "KLM", but I haven't

lost anything yet to SCA or PTA events.)


At the site,  put the roll of tape and the _other_ marker near the door.  

Direct everyone who is loaning equipment and tools to you to label same with

this other marker. (Job for kid old enogh to write: stop other tasks and do

this for people who must dump their stuff and go.)  After clean up,

unlabeled stuff vs your stuff vs loaned stuff is easily sorted out.


You cannot have enough dishtowels.  Go or send someone to the auto supply

store to get several bags of 100 percent cotton 'rags'. These are perfectly

adequate for drying dishes and counters, using as side towels, impromptu

aprons tucked into belts.  They are cheap enough that if any go missing, you

won't care.  But do establish a place for the clean up crew to dump them so

someone can take them home to wash them for next time.  A plastic garbage

bag is not a good place to put them even though, yes, it did keep the

cardboard box from getting soggy.


No matter how many of these inexpensive towels you buy, the towel supply

will be too small. To get more use out of what you have with out seriously

compromising sanitation: Set up a clothes line if you have a space. At

various times when during the day when dishwashing is  caught up, take all

the wet towels and dump them in hot soapy water.  Wring them out and dump

them in hot bleachy water. Wring them out and hang to dry. When dry, use

them for purposes other than drying dishes, such as wiping up spills and

messes or for drying hands. Reserve clean, unused towels for dish drying.  

(Toward the end, pots and pans and oven trays were dried with these used

towels. But my co-cook was gone by then so she couldn't get distressed.)


Serving dishes:

Plan for serving dishes when planning the feast. You may have to buy or

borrow bowls and platters and serving utensils and the sooner you know this

the better. Make a list (large type again) of what recipe is served in what

dishes with what utensil and what trimmings.  See that your head server has

this list and that you bring a copy to site.

On-site: the night before or early the day of, you or your head server  

ascertain that all the serving dishes are actually there, and are washed.  

Put in a spot they won't be re-dirtied. Put the list near where plating will

be happening.


Feeding the cooks:

Do not forget breakfast for yourself and those who come to the kitchen

early. I've been lucky to have a friend that brings bagels and cream cheese

for me.


I was also lucky that a woman in our barony saw it as her duty to provide

lunch to the cooks. She showed up at most events with a pot of lentil stew,

and stack of disposable bowls and spoons.


Provide snacks worth working for.  I always have at least 3 dozen generously

sized brownies, and some ginger or shortbread cookies. (The girls bake them

for me, I'd have at least another dozen if I did it myself, but it's worth

it.) These are given to short term help as a parting gift.  Longer term help

serve themselves when they want.  Keep a stash for the after feast

dishwashing supervisor to share out when that job is done.





Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 07:16:32 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Bad Feasts--Philosophically Speaking


> I assume here that you consult with the autocrat about the theme and

> time period of the event before you come up with a proposed menu.  Please

> say this is true Bear.  It was not stated, and it could be misleading to

> new, future, feast planners.


> Olwen


Themes, time periods, etc. should be determined before requesting bids.  The

cook must know whether the job is within their capabilities.


My latest feast, this was negotiated by asking the Baroness, "what do you

want?"   "Elizabethan."   I then went on to make a partial menu and a more

detailed analysis of the feast for the bid.  For various reasons, the event

planning was delayed and I got the bid in fairly late in the game, while I

was still chasing recipes (not something I recommend for inexperienced cooks

or autocrats).


In my case, the bid is usually detailed, so that everyone knows what I am

planning and can gather some idea about how I intend to proceed.  Once the

bid is accepted, I have command of the feast and the feast hall and

structure the entire performance to the requirements established before the



Do I listen to what others have to say?  Yes.  I don't have a monopoly on

good ideas.  Do I work with the autocrats?  Yes.  A good autocrat is a

facilitator and the easiest way to keep them aware of what is happening with

the feast is to use members of their staff in the planning and execution of

the various aspects of the feast.





Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 12:13:24 -0500

From: "Gaylin J. Walli" <gwalli at ptc.com>

Subject: RE: SC - portion control and planning


Olwen wrote:

>but you will find that there will always be lots of leftovers and toss outs.


Always? Hmmm. Sometimes not much. In all honesty when I cooked this past

spring, we gauged it so well, that the only thing we had to throw away

was a lot of cold pasta. I took home three pies, a gallon ziploc of gourmet

cheese, and some onions. Not bad for two feasts, above and below, that served

about 210 people overall. Sometimes I plan for extra food based on my

dish size and what me and my expeditor think will make a better looking

dish. In the case of the pasta, we knew the best way to serve one dish

was to use these lovely white trays we had. Pasta was set to be one of the

dishes and also a bed for the veal skewers (Platina's Meat the Roman Way,

from Milham) .... except for one problem.


Pressed into the plastic trays were these rather nice looking but wholly

inappropriate Thanksgiving turkey scenes of early Americana. Those

were the only trays we could use at the time so we had to figure out

a way to come up with a covering for the turkeys. We could have used

paper or cloth, and in actuality we'd planned to use a bed of greens.


But when shopping for the greens, not a single store had good looking

ones. They were all beyond the "refreshable" stage. So we improvised

on the day of. I had a member of my cooking staff in charge of pasta.

That was his only job. And I set him to figuring out how much we'd need

to cover those darned turkeys. We ended up having far more pasta than

we originally planned to serve in that course, but at least those darned

turkey's stayed hidden. :)




Iasmin de Cordoba, gwalli at ptc.com or iasmin at home.com



Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 21:15:43 EST

From: LadyPDC at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Feast review wanted


kareno at lewistown.net writes:

>>>     So,  Constance,   tell us about the feast!!  what did you do best?

>> what was not-so-good?

>> What would you do different?  tell us the menu, and such . . . .


>>     Yes,  I was there,  but I'll let you start the commenting


>>     Caointiarn


Well, I am still working on the "post-mortem" and will post more on it later

if you all really want to hear it.  But can pass along a few tidbits now for

future feast stewards.


1. Walk-in Refrigerators are kept at a lower temp than household types and

require extra time for defrosting frozen items.  Esp. when you are defrosting

20 full sized capons.  This one bit of lacking knowledge put the entire feast an hour behind and is a mistake I will not repeat in the future.


2. If you are going to serve deep fried fritters, either only do one type or start cooking them 2 hours ahead of serving time and keep them in a warmer.


3. Have back-ups on top of back-ups on top of back-up for your major jobs.

Even the most reliable person in the world can be prevented from attending

the event by something like a car accident (my primary clean up manager and

back-up server manager rolled her truck on the way down and I had no idea

what she had planned or who she had signed up)  (she is ok BTW).


4. The main thing that made the feast good was something we have seen on

this list before but it bears repeating.  Test all recipes in advance.  Most

esp. test them on people who don't like those sorts of dishes.  If you can prepare that dish so those people like it then everyone else will too.


5. Make a timing chart.  I had intended to do this but let it slip and that

is what caused the major problem with the feast as some dishes were started

too late while others were prepared too early.  MY fault entirely as I did

not have explicit instructions as to when the dishes should be started and

could not be everywhere at the same time.


The feast itself seemed to go over well if such can be based on comments from

the feasters.  The menu is listed below.


<snip of feast menu. See feast-menus-msg>


More later after I recover a bit more energy.


Constance de la Rose



Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 11:53:43 -0800

From: "rbutler_gg" <rbutler_gg at netzero.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Feast Prep Questions


> One of the first tasks of the cook is to check out the kitchen which is

> going to be used, even if you have used it previously.  Ovens go bad,

> utensils disappear, and things may not be as they were the last time it


> used.


Not to be paranoid, but check the kitchen frequently... Say, a month before

the event, two weeks before the event, the week of, and the day before if

you can...


Of course, this opinion comes from dealing with our site's kitchen.  Which,

on separate occasions, had no gas for the gas appliances, had no burners

working, had two stoves of which they both would only heat to 200 degrees.

But, luckily, the warming trays have always worked perfectly.


If you are suspicious of the kitchen, plan ahead for each and every thing to

break down.. <G>  It has saved many local feasts.





Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 09:42:57 -0800

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Bidding for Feast


>A precisely budgeted bid, with menu, planned expenses and cost recovery

>information is the only way to fly.


In my observation, the biggest overage problem is when the cook 'eye-balls'

amounts when shopping rather than having figured out the precise amount

needed. A little time with a calculator wil let you cut your purchases very

closely. Also, be realistic about serving sizes. Unless your feast is 'one

course' of apporoximately the same number of dishes you'd serve at supper,

then 'normal' servings are reasonable.  If you are serving the equivalent of

a major family reunion Holiday meal, with multiple meats, breads, side

dishes and desserts, you can go with half or three-quarter sized servings on

most items.  Be sure to have enough good-quality bread for the really hungry

to fill in the odd empty spots, meat is too expensive for that purpose.


I have in mind a particular cook back home who had, for instance, 20 lbs of

packages noodles leftover, in addition to the vast amount dumped from the

pot into the garbage after all the platters were filled to overflowing.

There are foods with hard to figure serving sizes, but the noodle packages

give a number of servings right on them.  I can't think of any reason to

have purchased 3 times the necessary amount besides making the purchase

based on guesswork rather than math.


Over and over I saw people buying too much of the really cheap spices and

dried herbs instead of stopping to add up the amounts on the recipes and

realizing that the total amount needed is not that much.  a total of 62

teaspons sounds like a lot, but it isn't really much more than a cup and a

half--which weighs very little so bulk buying would have provides fresher

spices/herbs and of a better quality too.  (We were lucky to have multiple

sources of bulk spices in Windmasters' Hill, as well as fresh herbs.  It

always pained me to see heavy use of dried herbs in a dish that would be

better with fresh.)


A lot of those who haven't cooked yet are overly worried about non-food

items. Again, if you don't over purchase, these aren't really an issue--but

many people over purchase for fear of running out.


I don't think it unreasonable for the cook to purchase cleaning supplies for

the kitchen itself, and expect leftovers to be used for site clean-up next

morning. (the autocrat should have their own stock of some items). For feast

of less than 100, the kitchen should have one large bottle of dish soap, a

couple or three bottles of all purpose cleaner, a bar of soap for

hand-cleaning, a new package of 'shop rags' to be used as towels and

multi-pack of paper towels: $25 at most. (and save the towels for the next

feast!) I take my bottle of bleach for pre-cleaning as so little is really

needed. If the site proves to be lacking in brooms, mops, buckets, I bring

my own and call for others to help on that count.  I also usually purchase a

package of hairbands and a package of food-handling gloves.


As it happens, I have had to purchase disposable foil cooking containers for

both feasts, and certain plastic serving pieces.  ('gold' and 'silver' bowls

and disposable serving forks/spoons).  As much as possible, I washed and

saved the serving pieces for future use.


For packaging leftovers, I purchase one large roll of plastic wrap, one

large roll of heavy duty foil, a box of gallon sized zip-locs, and a box of

small zip-locks and saved the unused items for future SCA use.


A good source of these items is from the one or two feasts prior to your

own. Ask each cook before hand for the leftovers of any non-perishable food

(that you can actually use), cleaning supplies, serving and packaging

supplies, for use at your SCA feast. Take an empty laundry basket or

rubbermaid container with you and be around and helpful during the clean up

phases. This is easier if you are already on the calendar, but if you have

been helpful enough, the cook probably will be glad to contribute.  And if

in your own group, I would think EXPECT to pass on the unused items.





Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 09:06:50 -0600

From: Mem Morman <mem.morman at oracle.com>

Organization: Oracle Corporation

To: "SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.ORG" <SCA-Cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Being a Cook


Part of being a cook is dealing with autocrats.  Here are some of the

basic points on which I refuse to compromise, and which I pass on

adamantly (no pun intended) to those I help to train.


The budget must be set per head eating the feast.

This means that I will not accept being told I have $200 to "do" the

feast and that has to cover however many people I am told on Saturday

afternoon are actually eating.  I need to know that I have $2 or $4.25

or $20 PER HEAD and that amount needs to be paid for each person for

whom a place is set - be it three year old or king and queen.  One of

the worst things, IMHO, that autocrats try to do is to foist high table

into the cook's numbers without agreeing to pay for them.  As a cook, I

don't care WHO pays for high table (the group, the crown, uncle

charlie's expense account) but if they are going to be served food then

they are heads in my budget.


I need a firm number of feasters by Friday noon for a Saturday feast.

I realized that some people do this differently - but I do not.  I shop

Friday evening for the majority of my groceries and prepare the food on

site. Before I shop, and before I make my final list of pots, pans, and

serving gear; I need a final number of how many tables of eight I will

be serving.


We need to agree, at least generally, on when the feast will be served.

I can sometimes put a feast forward or back an hour - but I need to know

if it's going to be served about 4pm or about 7pm and I need regular

updates on this throughout the day.  If feast time changes by more than

an hour then all bets are off.  The autocrat, the cook, and the reigning

nobility need to talk about and agree to when the meal will be served.





Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 12:45:10 -0400

From: "Phil Troy/ G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] professional cooks-- reality check wanted

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


[On dicing meat]


FWIW, most chefs of my experience will, if they see any need at all

for precision, cut the first chunk (or come back when the actual task

is set up with the hams unwrapped and the boards set up), leave it at

the top of the cutting board (i.e. the edge furthest away from your

belly) and say, "I need 1000 more of those." It tends to limit

portion-size sprawl near the end of a tedious job, to be able to

compare your work every so often to the sample piece.


Of course, we all know there are no tedious jobs in the SCA... ;-)





Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 21:32:28 -0500

From: "Phil Troy/ G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius at verizon.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Food for Fifty

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Also sprach tracey sawyer:

> Adamantius - can you supply details of that book?  It sounds like it

> should be available to all Feastocrats.....if it is still in print,

> that is..

> Thanks, Lowry


"Food For Fifty", by Grace Shugart, Mary Molt, and Maxine Wilson


Seventh Edition, copyright 1985 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., NYC.

ISBN 0 471-81104-1


Apparently the first edition is by Sina Faye Fowler and Bessie Brooks

West, published in 1937?


I bought this new for $31.95 in 1985. Newer editions (which may or

may not be any better) are quite expensive, I gather, sometimes as

much as $75 US, but you sometimes see copies on eBay for cheap.





Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 10:01:50 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

Subject: Re [Sca-cooks] Convivencia feast postmortem (LONG!!!)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Congratulations! Sounds like quite a effort for your first feast. A

couple of suggestions (which you probably realize by now, but I'll

make for others in that position):


Bring lots of thermometers, both oven thermometers and meat

thermometers. Use the oven thermometers before you have to sart

using the oven. I disovered this at a feast where one of the ovens

turned out to be either on full blast or off--no intermediate

options. The bread would have come out looking prettier if I had

realized this earlier.


My system for receipts, designed o make it very hard to lose them:

have an envelope magnetted to the refrigerator, into which receipts

are put; if necessary make notes on the receipt about what it was for

before you put it in. As each goes in, put the total from that

receipt on a list onthe outside of the envelope. At the end, add up

that column. The envelope never leaves that spot until I am handing

over my final accounts for the event.


Elizabeth/Betty Cook



Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 14:58:07 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: What would you do?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


When doing a feast, I provide a feast proposal with a general menu and

budget. If it is accepted, the document constitutes a contract between me

and the group  (I don't know if any of the officers realize this, but it

gives me grounds to sue in small claims court to recover any monies up to

the budget limit of the proposal).  I work funding directly with the

Treasurer. The autocrat has no real control over my operation and I

actively take control of everything surrounding the feast and put together a

crew to handle it.  Experienced autocrats (which are most of the ones I work

with) stay out of my way because I have a track record of profitable

successes and it is just that much they don't have to deal with.  I have

control, but I listen to all suggestions and I work with the autocrat to

ensure a successful event.


Any autocrat who tried to stick me with planned expenses because they

screwed up the budgeting for the event would probably experience the full

abrasiveness of my personality at a populace meeting.  An event is a group

function and the profit or loss of the event should be borne by the group

unless prior arrangements are made with individuals who will foot the bills

(Several of us in my barony have footed the money for an event and been

paid back from the proceeds).  Trying to gloss over their financial failings

by extorting money out of the cooks are the hallmarks of a liar, cheat and



At present, I'm working on a feast for 260 at a cost of $5/plate and a price

of $7/plate.  I expect to make between break even and a $200 profit.  If I

can do some creative purchasing, I may be able to increase the profit

margin. Since the barony has experienced some monetary losses earlier this

year, any profits from my feast will go to replenish the baronial  






> Boy howdy.  I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it.  Not ever again.  We

> had our feast budget cut in half this past year after we had done most of our

precooks and spent most of the money.  Both head-cooks were forced into

footing about $50 each as our 'donation'.

> I'm never doing a feast for less than $6 a head to spend again.  If your

autocrat will only allow you to spend $3 a head - kindly explain that you

can't even buy a meal at McDonalds for that price.  And most of the value

meals at McDonalds are almost $5 each.  And if he/she continues to insist on

$3 then serve soup, bread, and maybe a chicken and a cheap veggie - like

peas or carrots, and shortbread for dessert.

> Don't even bother trying to do make it into a three-course meal. It's

guaranteed to make you upset. You're a volunteer, not a freaking

mircle-worker. Especially when you are not allowed to shop for


> Kateryn



Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 19:21:18 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: What would you do?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Regards getting stuck by the Autocrat I think that I would present him/her

with a can of tuna fish and a loaf of Wonder Bread at the next populace

meeting and ask him to perform loaves and fishes.





Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 12:21:29 -0700

From: Maggie MacDonald <maggie5 at cox.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] mise-en-place

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


At 12:00 PM 8/26/2004,Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise said something


> For those of you who are familiar with the whole concept, advice on

> applying that sort of thing to SCA feast kitchens-- and advice on

> organizing your feast kitchen-- is what I'm looking to hear.

> -- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net


Yes. I am quite familiar with this concept, this condition, this

circumstance, and the outcome.


I've gotten almost organized when it comes to cooking at events these

days. At the start of the last feast that I cooked, I handed someone a

miniature roll of oddly colored duct tape, and had them apply a small

square of it to every item that I had within my 2 baskets of gear.  That

way (for the first time!) none of my gear got mixed in with the baronial

gear, or with the other assorted loaned items that came in.  (I've since

wondered if there wasn't a waterproof avery label dot that wouldn't

serve the same purpose).


I also take and organize ingredients by course/remove/whatever.  That way

all the onions that go with the soup are not mixed in with the onions that

go in the salad, etc.  These ingredients are then placed together in

baskets, and arrayed against the wall, on the counter, or whatever, in the

order of service.  There will probably be a central basket for stuff like

flour, sugar, salt, vinegars, the stock items that get used all over, but

hopefully that will be pretty apparent!  (make that list, check it twice,

thrice and four times before leaving the house).


At all times there are 2-3 copies of the menu, the recipes, ingredient

list, and the special notes available. One goes on the door of the kitchen

for the inevitable question askers, and one is for me to refer to while in

process. The ideal 3rd copy is on a clipboard/notebook for the helpers in

the kitchen to refer to in case I misplace my copy.


I'm sure there are even more gems, but that is what I've learned to do.

Separate ingredients and section them up in advance. Group them. MARK

EVERYTHING. Make lists of everything.  Hell, I've even had lists of







Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 16:51:55 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

        <adamantius.magistr at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] mise-en-place

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Also sprac Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise:

> but t seems to me that the concept of mise-en-place obviously could be

> somewhat adapted to SCA feast kitchens beyond that... certainly the

> chain of events at my feast that ended up making us switch the feast

> courses and nearly poison someone because the read the menu and drank

> lemon drink which they thought was sekanjabin, was partly because nobody

> could find anything and when they did find it, they moved it someplace

> else and we began the Great Spice and Equipment Hunt all over again.

> For hose of you who are familiar with the whole concept, advice on

> applying that sort of thing to SCA feast kitchens-- and advice on

> organizing your feast kitchen-- is what I'm looking to hear.


I confess to being one of those stupid people who don't tendto do a

lot of pre-prep; my background is more like, come in in the morning,

unpack, cook an absolutely fresh meal, clean up, go home (or back to

camp, I guess). Or some variation on this.


One of the problems I have sometimes encountered is misunderstandngs

between different people each requiring a certain ingredient, and not

necessarily willing to measure them carefully. So, the person

chopping ten pounds of onions, finding a bunch of onions (15 pounds)

in a bag, will chop all of them a certain way, and when the next

person comes along, looking for the five pounds of unchopped onions

they need for the pottage, they find none.


One solution is to pre-prep everything, or as much as possible, in

advance, separate out whatever is needed for different project and

label them appropriately. One method I've used is to set up sheet

pans or hotel pans on the shelves of a walk-in fridge (if you have

one, and room), and label those as mise-en-place for the pottage, one

for the meat sauce in the second course, etc.


Another possible aid is in conceiving a menu where many of your

ingredients can all be prepped in a certain way, cut to the same

size, etc. This makes it both expedient and necessary for the cooks

to measure a certain number of cups, quarts, or pounds of copped

onion, leaving behind what they don't need. Certainly it affects the

look of the finished products (sometime ask me about how this has

changed the appearance of Chinese restaurant food in, say, the last

20 years, reflecting both that expedience but also a decline in the

skills of the prep cooks, or at least their willingness to shred

things to 1/32 of an inch).


Another possible organizational aid is to create a combined shopping

list, ingredient list, and ingredients per dish with quantities,

list, n an Excel or other spreadsheet document. When I'm able to get

this done, I post it clearly in a highly visible location, like, say,

the front of the refrigerator door.

One feature of such a list is the ability to color code certain key

ingredients that you'll need in several dishes, so a quick scan of

the chart shows pretty clearly everything that calls for butter, and

how much is needed for each. While it's not a perfect solution, I've

had people tell me, "I'm really glad I spotted that you needed butterfor both the pastry and the soup, or I might have just grabbed it all

without thinking."


Now, it's great to be able to think in terms of restaurant

mise-en-place, with little bain-marie containers tightly wrapped in

plaswrap and labeled, but a problem the SCA cook frequently has to

deal with is a lack of dedicated space for SCA stuff (what does the

site caretaker _do_ with all that half-and-half anyway???). Another

is a lack of good-quality containers that fit well together in a

small space. Ditto an occasional tendency to buy the smallest,

cheapest possible plastic wrap, foil, etc.


Bearing all this in mind, my experience has been that the Excel

chart, the onions all chopped the same way, and dealing with that,

bringing a scale so nobody can say they couldn't figure out how much

was five pounds, is a pretty good compromise.





Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:13:41 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] mise-en-place

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- Maggie MacDonald <maggie5cox.net> wrote:

> (I've since wondered if there wasn't a waterproof avery

> label dot that wouldn't serve the same purpose).


Not that I have heard of.  However, I use

colored nail polish to mark my feast and

serving gear.  Some items that are at east

15 years old and still have most of the

nail polish on them.





Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 06:26:04 +0200

From: UlfR <ulfr at hunter-gatherer.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] mise-en-place

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Maggie MacDonald <maggie5 at cox.net> [2004.08.26] wrote:

> days.  At the start of the last feast that I cooked, I handed someone a

> miniature roll of oddly colored duct tape, and had them apply a small


I've used a regular (modern) Dymo style label tape on stuff. It actually

sticks to stainless steel through dishwashing (both hand and commercial

machine) and I've even had stuff put into the oven with the tape on with

no ill effects. If there wasn't a significant lack of Sabatier knives in

most of the kitchens we use I would most likely get a diamond pen and

mark those as well.


> At all times there are 2-3 copies of the menu, the recipes, ingredient

> list, and the special notes available. One goes on the door of the kitchen

> for the inevitable question askers, and one is for me to refer to while in

> process. The ideal 3rd copy is on a clipboard/notebook for the helpers in

> the kitchen to refer to in case I misplace my copy.


I print out three copies, and one version with the dishes, their names

and all ingredients. The latter gets posted by the gate (or some other

logical place) and I ask the gate-people to tell the guests about it,

in particular all the ones that are allergic to anything. Of the other

three copies one is my reference copy, one goes on the

wall/fridge/door/etc in the kitchen (all times gets written there), and

the final one (which is printed one recipe per sheet) gets put into

individual (A4-size) plastic pockets. That way I can hand the person

working on the cuskynoles the recipie (both the original and my

interpretation, with weights & volumes) can have it handy, in an easy

wipe off state.


> I'm sure there are even more gems, but that is what I've learned to do.

> Separate ingredients and section them up in advance. Group them. MARK

> EVERYTHING. Make lists of everything.  Hell, I've even had lists of

> lists.


I tend to designate places for things; that corner has the spices, there

are my knives, etc.


One day I will make a portable cabinet, like the ones that carpenters

used to have, with all the gear I usually bring on site in designated




UlfR Ketilson



Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 09:29:37 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

        <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] dealing with mundane cooks

To: jenne at fiedlerfamily.net, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Also sprach Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise:

> I'm looking for some suggestions. I have found that I'm having a hard

> time communicating well with cooks with extensive mundane cooking

> experience. This is a bit of a problem seeing as I'm dating one.  There's

> also someone who just popped up locally who a number of people who do

> medieval/renaissance cooking are having a bit of difficulty with. We'll

> call him Bobby of the East.

> Bobby of the East has a large quantity of ideas about how things should

> be done. Some of them are good (for instance, thinking about what you

> could use a period sauce on). Some of them (telling someone who was

> getting a roast pig done by their local butcher as part of their feast,

> that that was no better than sending out for Chinese...) are, well,

> difficult to cope with. There is definitely a protective armor of

> professional kitchen experience being used here, often as armored panels

> for a bulldozer.


I know there've been several responses on this topic already, but the

actual description of the problem given above is pretty vague, and I

suspect some faulty assumptions have been made somewhere along the

line. But anyway, here goes...


Jadwiga, you don't actually state that there's a problem with Bobby's

(sorry, when I hear "Bobby of the East" I immediately think of a

certain Joisey Dook) desire to emphasize his professional experience

over anybody's desire to do a good period recreation. What you do

state, more or less, is that Bobby's experience seems to be driving

him to try to exert control over kitchen situations. If indeed he is,

or has been, someone who has managed kitchens professionally, this is

at least understandable, if not always appropriate. He's someone for

whom bad decision-making equates with bankruptcy, unemployment,

homelessness, no braces for the kids, no GI Joe with the kung fu grip

on December 25th, and general fiscal mayhem. In short, something to

be feared. He has no concept of shires-that-oughtta-be-baronies with

comfy bank accounts ;-) (in case you missed it the first time, ;-) )

to cushion the group from the occasional logical mishap, and he also

probably is new to the idea that the primary goal of all this is to

learn, teach, and have fun doing it. What his view of historical

recreation in a kitchen setting is, is also an issue, but to me, it

seems a less important one as far as behavioral impetus goes. In

short, he means well, or at least, if it's all an ego trip, it takes

the form of feeling good because he helped your shire, so in the end

the effect is the same. He wants what's best for the group, and the

disagreement lies in what that is.


Now, I'm not defending his attitude (remember that guy at one of the

recent Southern Region War Camps who, when slicing mushrooms for

Sunday breakfast, must have assured a roomful of worshipful acolytes

of his professional status at least 18 times before I stopped paying

attention?), but I've seen that attitude before, probably will see it

again, and make an ongoing effort not to be guilty of it myself, so I

am perhaps in a good position to figure out a counter-strike.


The key is to make him understand that there are some important

differences between the typical SCA kitchen and a professional

kitchen. We don't pay our workers, and can't really have professional

expectations. Some of them are excellent, highly skilled, and work as

quickly and as well as pros, while others work like department-store

mannequins in somewhat dubious health and a philosophical uncertainty

as to the moral rectitude of this feast, hip-deep in cold oatmeal.

Some are there mostly to socialize. The point is that you have to use

your resources as best you can, preferably without hurting feelings,

and still get the job done without the yelling and the ability to

fire your employees and immediate replace them.


SCA kitchens also tend to be, well, unpredictable as to facilities

and equipment that actually work, and are often not well-designed for

the job at hand (since the temptation for designers to cut costs a

bit, and for site owners to figure it's okay to overstress the

fridges, etc., a bit if it's only a few times a year that it's really

being used, is almost overwhelming).


I could go on forever, but ultimately, the bottom line is that the

goal of a professional restaurateur and that of a cook in the SCA is

slightly different in some ways, and you need to convince Bobby that

you want, and in fact need (let's not quibble too much over whether

this last is strictly the truth) his help in doing a good job, but

clearly define your goal. For example, in the matter of the pig

roasted by the butcher, you can explain that this is not only common

period practice, but it'll be safely and well-done by a pro at a

reasonable price, and it will then leave other important kitchen

resources (such as ovens or grills, fridges, and most importantly,

extra hands) available for sauces, garnishes, serving, cleaning,

etc., and this helps assure better overall quality without deviating

from _the stated goal_ of doing a feast that is historically faithful

in its final state/end product.


In general, though, I'd say the thing to do is to ask his advice and

make him feel wanted, without yielding control of your kitchen to him

(which seems to me to be what this is all about). When he gives a

piece of advice, feel free to ask this question: "In what way does

this bring us closer to our goal?" If you want or need a hammer to

beat him with, that's it. Fight compulsive management with

management: if he can answer that question, fine. If he can't, do it

your way. I think this is the best way to make it clear this is not a

matter of professional dominance.


Another thing you might do is express things in as open-ended a way

as possible. Don't say to him, "What are we gonna do?", or even "What

should we do?" Say to him, "What would you advise?", or "We'd like to

consult with you on X." These are terms professionals are used to

hearing, but they're also fairly non-binding on you. You have some

freedom, then, in following part of his advice, while still making

your own decision.


I've been lucky in dealing with professionals myself, because most or

all of them that I've had to deal with (not to mention myself) have

had strong foundations in grunt-work before being given any

managerial position. It's not threatening for a real professional to

slip back into grunt mode when it's needed, and actually fairly

relaxing to know that it's not your head on the block, so to speak.

The trick, in Bobby's case, is to make him understand that you want

help and input from him, but that, unless he's specifically been put

in charge, this does not necessarily extend to management.


Oh, and you definitely want to hit him with the Larousse

Gastronomique, if all else fails.





Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 16:59:35 -0800

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Beverage experiments

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> It's really hard to ignore the people who invade your event kitchen  

> and demand to know where the coffee is.


If it makes you feel any better, it's a (variant of) a period

problem. Master Chiquart takes it for granted that at the enormous

feast he is describing there will be nobles who have brought their

own cooks, and will expect to be provided kitchen space so their

cooks can prepare favorite dishes for them.






Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 20:57:42 -0500

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Feast costs/budgets

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Hmmm.... Well, I guess you won't eat at one of my feasts then, I

> don't use written recipes very often.


There is a big difference between saying *you* don't need to test  

cook the particular recipes you are using, and saying that someone  

else must be a bad cook because she *did* test cook.


The first time I did a small feast, I didn't bother with written  

recipes.. and then I got sick and had to leave the site.  I've always  

had written recipes since then, even if its just my plans.





Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2008 00:35:54 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] kitchen tips

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


I agree with everything Margaret says here.  Especially with #2.  Test all the ovens and burners.  Make notes of which works and which doesn't work.

When negotiating for the use of the hall, insist that all non-working items be fixed _before_ the event.  Make it clear that the feast is an important part of the day's events and that if they aren't fixed, a reduction in the hall price will be expected.  One month before the event, call and ask if said items are fixed. If they say no, ask again when they will be fixed.  If they say yes, call one week before the event and ask for another walk through to test the items and pray that they are fixed as promised.  Make back up arrangements just in case.


I had one feast where the oven, which had been working, died right in the middle of cooking the feast.  The hall had a handyman on site, but he didn't show up to work on the oven until after the feast was over.  Fortunately, the second oven was still working and I was able to make some adjustments.




--- On Wed, 8/20/08, Gretchen Beck <grm at andrew.cmu.edu> wrote:


1. If you are going to use electric appliances (roasters, griddles,

fryers, mixers, or [god forbid] a microwave), check which outlets go to

which breakers ahead of time. Don't trust what the site says, don't trust

what the owner says -- test it yourself. A small portable fan is great for

this. It's a big help if you can lay out where to plug things in ahead of



(I confess, one feast where the breaker kept blowing on the roaster, and

the oven/stovetop was full, we finished the hoochee in the microwave -- not

something I'd recommend as a general practice, but it got the job done on

time without really affecting the taste)


2. In your walkthrough, test the ovens. Turn each one on and see how (and

if) it heats. If it has a pilot, make sure you know how to light the pilot

and turn on the oven. If there is more than one oven, turn them both on

together (I've been amazed with the contortions you have to go through to

get some site ovens to work properly -- better to know ahead than to end up

experimenting the day of)


3. Measure the insides of the ovens and count the oven racks. Don't rely on

your or the sites baking sheets fitting into the oven.


4. Parchment paper is your friend. Parchment paper is your cleanup crew's

friend. As is PAM.


5. Costco sells those little rubber kitchen mats at reasonable prices. They

can be the difference between walking and limping at the

end of the day.


toodles, margaret



Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 16:59:35 -0800

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Beverage experiments

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> It's really hard to ignore the people who invade your event kitchen  

> and demand to know where the coffee is.


If it makes you feel any better, it's a (variant of) a period

problem. Master Chiquart takes it for granted that at the enormous

feast he is describing there will be nobles who have brought their

own cooks, and will expect to be provided kitchen space so their

cooks can prepare favorite dishes for them.






Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 20:57:42 -0500

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Feast costs/budgets

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Hmmm.... Well, I guess you won't eat at one of my feasts then, I

> don't use written recipes very often.


There is a big difference between saying *you* don't need to test  

cook the particular recipes you are using, and saying that someone  

else must be a bad cook because she *did* test cook.


The first time I did a small feast, I didn't bother with written  

recipes.. and then I got sick and had to leave the site.  I've always  

had written recipes since then, even if its just my plans.





Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 11:43:33 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] First Feast Execution was Calontir's Jubliee


To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


<<< All of which begs the question that needs to be revisited every year-what

should the First Time Head Cook do, when awarded the Feast?

Besides joining this list and asking lots of questions <G>


Helen >>>


The first thing to understand is a feast is not about recipes and cooking.

It is an exercise in planning and logistics.  An average meal on time and in

good order is worth more than the grandest feast executed in a ragged and

haphazard manner.  At the same time, the food can't be badly prepared.  Bad

cooking is bad cooking and it will cause any feast to fail.


The first thing to do is to know the hall and the kitchen.  You need to know

the size of the hall, the type and sizes of tables and charis available.

You need to know what kind of cooking the kitchen will support and how many

people you can use without getting in each others way.  From this

information, plan the layout of the hall including access control and

service flow.  Layout and acoustics will largely dictate the type of

entertainment, if any.  Use your knowledge of the kitchen to plan the menu

and preparation.  Something that should be done, that I often neglect, is to

write down the information including menu and recipes and make sure copies

get to the site.


Plan for the kitchen equipment to fail.  The worst feast I have ever

presented occurred when four ovens failed in the three hours before the

feast and I didn't have some charcoal and a couple of grills packed away  to

cook the chickens.  A successful feast often has a belt and suspenders

approach to execution.


Do not hesitate to ask for help.  Listen to all ideas and be willing to

incorporate any that will improve what you are offering.  Take command of

your endeavor.  Make sure the autocrat, seneschal, B&B, etc. know the limits

and parameters in advance and make them agree and adhere to the plan.  This

tends to put a kibosh on the whole, "we need to add 50 people to the feast

three hours before it goes on the table" schtick, especially if the autocrat

believes you're willing to hand them the spoon and apron anytime the

autocrat breaks the agreement.


Read the Florilegium.  And of course, join this list and ask for help.





Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 16:24:59 -0500

From: "Gwen Barclay" <gwenb at cvtv.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] newbee cook attempting feast for the first

        time   indecember

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>




I want to be sure that people who are doing food estimates for the feasts know about the book, Food for 50.  It is an excellent source for quantities and yields of primary ingredients.  There are voluminous tables/charts etc. that are very useful.  One that I found useful was the yield of foods when prepared: 1 # rice = 2 1/2 cups cooked, as well as weight before cooking and after.  


The recipes are helpful as basic outlines which can be adjusted and updated...or would that be predated?  I could not get along without it in my job as Director of Food Service for a music festival, which feeds about 130 hungry students 3 meals a day, plus other special events.


The book was first published in 1937, with new additions every few years. The latest copy includes many current ingredients and dishes...such as fajitas! Not exactly Period, but interesting.


The book should be of help to beginners figuring out quantities.  It is available through Amazon, and was about $40 - 50 last time I checked.





Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 00:23:21 -0700

From: Patricia Dunham <chimene at ravensgard.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Regrettably Poor Royal Judgement

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


<<< For future eference, that's exactly why in most discussions of

kitchens for feasts, we all suggest having someone with a clue inspect

the kitchen first. Anything can be overcome, but it's a lot easier if

you have advance warning ;-) >>>


Even so...  The state of the kitchen as inspected, and as received

several weeks later may prove troublesome...  ca. 20 yrs ago my lord

and I did a Kingdom 12th Night, autocratting as well as organizing

the feast... we had two kitchens, both at church facilities.  We did

look at them, and assigned the bulk of preparation to a deputy at the

larger one, about 8 miles from the hall.  That operation went

wonderfully, the deputy was a mundanely-trained professional.

Transport was fun, but manageable.


The second, smaller kitchen was part of the hall facilities.  We did

look at it.  We explained that we would be cooking, and as the person

showing us around said nothing about any problem with the stove, we

assumed it was in working order.  Apparently we were naive.  I guess

we should have actually turned on all the burners, and brought our

own oven thermometer and heated up the oven?  They also told us the

refrigerator would be emptied out.


When we got there to do the on-site cooking, the refrigerator was 3

times as full as it had been on inspection, and there was no one from

the site available to deal with it.


And the stove turned out to have a malfunctioning oven, so the roast

duck was taking twice as long as it was supposed to!


We finally managed to get access to a second stove, that was working

-- in the rectory!, and limped through with the combination of both!


Not sorry to have THAT little surprise 20 years in the past!




Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 15:18:13 -0600

From: Michael Gunter <countgunthar at hotmail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 14th Century French Feast in January


People have mentioned a flowchart, which is a good thing, but also

make a schedule or such on a large whiteboard. Most of the time your

helpers are experienced in the kitchen and it helps for them to know

what is finished and what should be prepared next.




<the end>

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