Fun in the kitchen

Yay cooking!  This past weekend I got to play with our new hearth in the still-under-construction Elizabethan kitchen.  I'm making "A Meate Fried in Haste" or pancakes here on an entirely too hot grill.  I finally got heat right, just as I was finishing.  We had a good time at the event.  

Oh, look an update

It's been so long since I've done anything with this journal. I logged in and it's been exactly a year. This past weekend we went to Fort Frederick. I still love that event, but it seemed a little smaller in terms of vendors. There were a few woodworkers who were not there, and another selling stock and getting out of the business.

Anyway, I'm hoping to revive this space. I've started experimenting with cooking and period recipes again, so we'll see where that takes me.

Mud Muster

My weekend started on Thursday with a quick trip to Fort Frederick Market Fair. I just love this event. It’s a completely 18th century market fair, with loads of vendors selling fabrics, iron ware, copper ware, pottery and black powder things. It is a juried event for the vendors (I believe) Anyway, it’s where you can find better quality linens and wools. There are silks there as well, but you have to be careful with those as some designs are definitely 18th century. Carla and I scored some very nice linen for Jim for Pennsic, and some silk/wool blend for a special commission. I wish there was more of that one.

Then it was off to the Muster site to help set up on Friday. Friday was beautiful weather wise. All the tents were set up, the layout was just great. It’s a beautiful site and great potential. Bob and Harv had laid out the kitchen set up on the concrete pad so that Carla and I could get a feel for flow and arrangement. We came to the conclusion that the hearth/hob is too high, but boy was it ever nice to cook on without bending over. Greg brought a mucking huge iron pot that we used to heat water for washing up. That was a tremendous help.

Unfortunately the day of Muster dawned cloudy and overcast. A quick check of the weather had showers moving in much earlier than predicted, even predicted the day before. We soldiered on and started the event in the morning. There was pike drill, some skirmishing, and archery accomplished in the morning. Carla and I were able to get dinner on around 1:30 or so and afterwards, the rain compelled us all to stop the event. It was just too cold and wet to continue, especially since it’s supposed to be fun, not miserable.

We all retreated to Jen and Alan’s new place and eventually served the supper we were planning and sang some Elizabethan songs. It was fun! The new folks got to relax and there was socializing. Carla and I gave up around 8 or so (maybe later?) and retreated to where we were staying at Robert and Isobel’s place.

As we were just hanging out there talking with Robert, since he checked on the tents and all, the power went out. I can tell you, when the power goes out and its dark outside; it is pitch dark in the country. Robert knew where the flashlights were and we were set. No power meant going without any well pump or heat, but a bucket of water and some extra blankets for every solved those issues.

We cleaned up the site on Sunday, packing up the extras and bits we had brought down - pitchers, mugs, flags, benches and tables. It was rather a lot of stuff. Robert brings so much to this event; it was at least two pickup trucks full of stuff. The kitchen tent we used was a complete mud pit inside. Fortunately, that won’t be an issue once the real kitchen is finished. The tents used for the tavern had to wait a day or so to dry before they can be taken down, folded, and put away. Things were drying out well on Sunday, but the ground was too muddy to fold tents on.

It was a crazy few days, but rather fun as well. Now I really need to recover.

I have an amazing group of friends

This past Saturday, we set up an Elizabethan tavern at Dun Carraig’s baronial birthday. Everyone arrived around 8:30 am and had three tents set up in about an hour. Another hour later, there were tables, games, and other furnishings and we were set. The goal was to teach people games, songs, and show another way of having fun at events. We were hoping to attract anyone interested in Elizabethan re-enactment type stuff, ya know Gardiners, and in a non-intimidating way. I’m not sure we accomplished that, but everyone seemed to have fun and were interested in games etc.

It was a tremendous amount of work for a one day event, however. Bob brought two tents and an awning, six tables, various serving pieces, games, the drum, etc. A truck full of stuff. Carla and I brought 4 tables, 2 side tables and food and ways to heat food and drink, another truck full of stuff. Alan and Jen brought the common tent, and tables and benches, etc., another truck full of stuff. Everyone brought extra bowls and things and benches and just fun things to do. The servers were on top of everything, keeping folks fed and watered, and washing dishes. It was a tremendous job and very important for the overall success. It was genuinely a collective effort.

And it was amazing. I truly had one of those elusive moments of “this… this is perfect.” The tavern was pretty free of mundane things. Folks were sitting around tables, eating and talking, and having a good time. There was terrific interaction going on.

It made it all worth it.

There are things we may do differently, but it was fun.

To Feast or not To Feast

I started a FB comment about this, and realized I had more to say about this than a comment would do.

Staying for Feast at events. Why do we not stay for feasts anymore – or at least, not like we used to.

In Atlantia, we have LOTS of events. Too many in my humble opinion, but that’s a different blog post. Because there are so many events on any given weekend, I will choose the event that is closest to me. Unless it’s a super special event like Crown or Coronation, etc.

So I’m daytripping. That means anywhere from a 30 minute to a 2 and half hour drive depending on where the event is. Commute time has to be considered when figured out how long to stay, or if to stay for feast.

Feast menus are generally not advertised. It’s hard to find the menu to determine if you want to eat what is planned. This is very important for those with dietary restrictions. Obviously you need this information before paying for the event.

Paying for the event. Why on earth haven’t we, as the SCA, figured out a freakin’ online payment system for every single event????? I’m not alone in this, but in this day and age, I’m more likely to register for anything, the event, let alone food, if it’s online. Writing a check, finding an envelope, a freakin’ stamp, and getting it in the mail? That’s really doesn’t occur in my house. And you need paid reservations for feast planning.

This brings me to event schedules. Very rarely are they published, so it’s difficult to plan to stay for feast. Why can’t feast be before court, I’ll never know. But if court is at 5, dinner isn’t until 6 or 6:30 or later.

Feast or actually Dinner should be around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Events should be planned around that and not the other way around. But that’s my opinion. Our cooks have very little opportunity to show off their talents.

Feasts and the abilities of those who cook them have improved greatly over the years. I’m always willing to try, mostly because as a cook myself, I understand the planning, cooking, cleaning, and overall effort that goes into feeding 100 of your closest friends.

Our overall event structure hasn’t kept up with the way people attend events nowadays. We seem to be unwilling to change it. But we keep asking why it’s not working.


I guess it’s a part of life that everyone does. I don’t know. I want to reprioritize the things I do in my life, but I never seem to make any real changes. Or the changes go the wrong way :).

Last week I went to Honduras on a business trip. Not exactly the tourist destination these days, especially where I was going. The trip went well and now I have follow up work to do for the next month (or more).

The people were all very nice. On the 1 ½ hour bus trip you can see how poor some parts of the country are. But what I also saw was a willingness to do something to earn money. Not just beg, and ask for money, but do something. Trips like these make me very grateful for my education and well-paying job. It makes some of the whinging on facebook and other places seem so .... first world problems. I watched young men dig through trash in a landfill, pulling out anything that may have value, while the bulldozer was trying to put dirt over it.


Trips to poorer parts of the world always make me want to reprioritize things in my life and why I now have plans for a square kitchen garden for the back yard. I’ve always wanted one. Veggies, flowers, herbs. It will be a lot of work, but with a plan, it just may happen. I hope.

I want to step back on the shop sewing, or at least allow more time to get things done. I don’t want to stop doing it altogether, but really, I want to do my own things for a while. Four white cotton shirts are not it. But since the next shop set up is Holiday Faire, I think it can still be managed.

I know it all sounds selfish. Things I want to do, for me. I have the privilege of being able to be creative in my free time. And I do have quite a bit of free time. I’ve just filled it with things that maybe aren’t as important as I’ve made them.

I guess that’s part of it. I’ve been given a lot and I don’t want to squander it. I don’t want to wait for “next year” or “next time” either. You never know when you’ve run out of time.


Jim and I sort of detached ourselves from the world this past weekend. We went to Chambersburg and Gettysburg for the weekend, and had no set schedule for anything other than a nice dinner on Saturday. We didn’t completely unplug (we had our phones) but didn’t concern ourselves over anything either. It was quite a nice weekend. The decompression seemed to work as by Sunday evening, we both wanted to go to bed by 8 pm. Unfortunately we both needed to go to work Monday morning. Sometimes detachment is nice and serves as a way to reset.

I finished a commission this weekend and started right-placing the sewing room. I’ve started a new policy of cleaning up the sewing room after a largish project. The doublet commission qualified as that endpoint. After the slight flooding, I got the sewing room furniture back to where it belonged, but a lot of the ‘stuff’ that is typically piled everywhere still needed re-homing. It helps focusing on the next project when you’re not wondering where on earth ALL the pencils got to.

So now it’s on to a couple of new bodice sizes for the shop. Maybe I’ll try a doublet, but I’m not sure I can get that done before Ruby. We’ll see. After that, I’ll be tinkering with the Venetians pattern. That pattern has been my bane for many years. Maybe this time, I’ll conquer the fit.

So this weekend.

It was a weekend in which I learned just how well I’ve learned to keep my cool.

I also learned how much I’ve learned to push back and how to do so tactfully (not my strong suit).

I also learned to ask for help, but to be specific about that help.

I and everyone else came through the weekend relatively unscathed and still speaking. I’m still amazed.

There is soooo much going on right now. Carla and I have commissions to sew. We also have food to prepare for Mousehole along with the requisite gathering and packing of all the things. Carla has house renovations to prepare for as well. Just to add crazier to the crazy.

So I really didn’t have time to lose four, FOUR! pie plates. I needed two of them Sunday morning to make beet pie. Instead I have a bowl of shredded beets in my fridge. I have since found the wayward pie plates, but too late in the day to make the pie. So now I have to fit that into the schedule.
Things were accomplished this weekend. I finished one commission, started in earnest on another. I gathered a few things during the pie plate search. I made lists of stuff to pack, stuff by buy, and stuff to do.

Jim did a mad dash to the trailer to get the iron tables for serving. That saved me time, and allows me to walk during lunch instead of doing that dash. If I shop this evening after work, I can walk after work tomorrow. That may be key, since it may be rainy tomorrow.

I need to purchase frozen turkey now so that it can start thawing in the fridge.

And still more to do. And I want to go to Fort Fredrick Market Fair. Awesome 18th century market, but you know, linen is linen, as is wool, and a lot of ironmongery. If I take two days off, instead of just Friday, maybe it will all come together ....

Its been awhile ....

In this world of Facebook posts and instant response, I’ve neglected my blog. So be it.

I haven’t been idle, though, but when it comes to enumerating what I have been doing, it seems to fall short. There was mad sewing for Holiday Faire, a commission from Texas, and a trip to Jim’s family for the Holidays. Disappointing sales at 12th Night, a Gardners event in January, and then a business trip in February.

I made a doublet for Jim’s cadet/protege and it seems to have sparked interest for doublets in the shop. Doublets are a fitted garment, not lending them to mass production (such as we do). I’m working out Medium, Large, X-Large versions and see how well they sell. Ill-fitting garments are period, since purchasing clothing at second hand sellers was a healthy business. But making doublets are just more expensive in materials and time. There are buttons, and for fencing doublets, interlinings. Trim if desired. Will people pay a fair price? We’ll see, I suppose.

I have another commission for someone in Texas for a doublet. I’m tracking my hours, and the materials used (it’s a fencing doublet). I’ll use that as a baseline to establish a cost. I’ve already worked out some button variables and their costs.

But time zooms past like a fast zoomie-thing. Suddenly it’s April and another muster is in just a couple of weeks. A week and a half ago I slightly flooded the basement. I had to move everything out from that wall and pull up the carpet and pad to dry out. I’ve started putting things back, but I still have to fix where the leak originated from. It’s all been very frustrating as it set back some sewing I need to do. Next weekend is sewing and pre-cook for the muster.

Where does all the time go?

Oh Look! A Post

So it's been since May since I've posted anything here.  Let me tell you, it's been busy.  We finished the Governor's New Clothes in June and were able to take some awesome pictures in the rowhouse as well.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandys_pictures/sets/72157634272622472/  

Then we got busy getting ready for Pennsic.  There were all manner of little projects, put off from last year of course, that need doing and quickly. 

Then it was Pennsic, then two business trips. Suddenly its mid-September. Just before Pennsic I picked up an old dresser for Jim. Not in the best of shape, and definitely not 'fine furniture'. I painted it, and glued old maneuver maps on the drawer fronts. Which of course has meant a complete re-do of the spare bedroom to make room for it. Its amazing the amount of crap gets accumulated in 5 years. dresser

I think it looks pretty good.

Now its time to take inventory for the Company Store and start prepping for Holiday Faire. Lots of sewing to get done, but I think we're starting earlier. Maybe.