More food – Ham and barley stew, oatcakes with dulse

Oatcakes with dulse

Oatcakes with dulse

Ham hock with leek and barley

Ham hock with leek and barley

I have the last of the Christmas ham left, just the hock. Not wanting to cook in the heat, I decided to put it in the slow cooker as an alternative to the cookpot at the edge of the fire method.  I threw in two leeks sliced in rounds, one and a half cups of  pearl barley, a good pinch of brown mustard seeds and a small pinch of ground celery seeds. All Danelaw probable and totally acceptable for a meal today.

I am putting together some Anglo-Saxon recipes for a friend, and as it is late summer here and not quite growing season, I thought to make some oatcakes with dried dulse, ie using items from the stores.  Following a sourdough idea suggested by Elizabeth David in her book ‘Bread and Yeast Cookery’, I mixed a cup of rolled oats with some warm water and left it in a covered bowl for four hours in the warm kitchen.

I couldn’t find gluten-free oatmeal, so ground up two cups of ‘uncontaminated rolled oats’ in the food processor. To that I added the cup of oats set aside earlier, now mushy, three tablespoons (or so) of dried and shredded dulse, one egg and a good slosh of oat milk.  My reasoning was that while a chicken may be laying, the milk from cows or goats (if there were any) would be quarantined for the ill or for butter. It may also have to do with the dietary requirements of the person the oatcakes are destined for.

The batter was thicker than a usual pancake batter, more like an Indian besan flour pokhara batter.  I heated up my Le cruset pan to quite hot with a little olive oil (not having dripping) and dropped about half a cup of batter into the centre.

The  cakes rose a little and a re lighter in texture than I though they would be and the dulse not quite as salty. Next batch will have extra salt added.

I tried to spread some batter out and cook two or three very slowly to see if I could achieve a griddle baked crisp bread. The ten minutes or so each side wasn’t quite enough. More experimentation is needed.

This batch made 10 small oatcakes that will go well with rose hip mush, honey or lingonberry jam.  I should also add that a I made these oatcakes with oat milk, that they are dairy free and gluten free.


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Trying a stew

I don’t often make stews. It’s the sloppy texture and risk of having it catch on the bottom that bugs me. But….then….my local grocery had a new line of dried European mushrooms (even the brand Viking forest caught me). Tonight’s dinner is therefore mushroom stew.
In a heavy pot, soften a white onion and a leek (not chopped too fine as it will go too mushy) in your choice of butter, oil or dripping depending upon personal tastes. Add small new turnips, quartered and half a celeriac chopped into inch or so cubes. I threw in a good pinch of black pepper and some of the celeriac leaves. Then, once stirred together so the sweet oniony oil gets all over, add in the per soaked dried mushrooms, with the soaking water. Add in more water to just cover. Put on the lid and simmer until the turnip is soft. I’m serving this with spinach and sourdough bread. And maybe a lamb chop each if it’s not hearty enough and you aren’t vegetarian.

updated to add – I have found since posting this stew that celeriac is infact, a Tudor vegetable, being a type of celery selectively bred to achieve the large root bulb.  To take this stew back to it’s Danelaw roots, add in parsnips instead.

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Another project or two

I’m adding another project to my list – a leather quiver and hopefully two. I’m basing the overall concept on details and conjecture from the Scar boat burial and general leather work descriptions in Bender Jorgensen and the York Archeological Trust books. While I haven’t found my Scar Boat Burial book on the excavation, I have found the Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’s website – it’s in the links. And I found one detail I’d missed – eight arrows were in a bundle – and adhered in some way to the sword. Of course the shafts and feather fletching had decayed, only the arrow heads remained – so what was ‘adhered’ to the sword?
The second project is more modern – to learn to take better photographs and upload them here. I know I enjoy blogs with pictures, and learn from them in ways only words can’t do, so I shouldn’t do any less here on my blog.

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Still talking food

I gave a short talk to the Baronial Cook’s Guild on Norse/danelaw food. Now I have to write it up for here, because I mostly did it off the cuff. The main points were looking at the importance of seasonal availability and the short growing season (though it was warmer than the region is today), preservative methods, what were the proteins, starches/carbs, greens and fruits. The cooking methods are conjecture from the types of pots/pans/firepits/ovens found or identified as such.
Then we had fun making chestnut flour griddle cakes (some with blueberries). I made two versions as we had a gluten and dairy free member. I mixed two eggs and three egg whites (left over from another dish) into two cups of chestnut flour. I beat and then sort of whipped with a wooden spoon to try and get some lightness into the batter. I’m pleased to say it mostly worked. Chestnut flour is lighter in flavour than I expected, and not as sweet. The second batch had more chestnut flour and a cup of plain (ie not raising) flour and milk to make the batter, with an extra egg. This batch had more of a pikelet/flapjack texture and were quite scrummy (especially when cooked in butter, not olive oil).
One question bantered around the room, and to which we have no definitive answer, did the norse keep the chestnuts whole and then tried to shell and grind when needing the flour, or did they shell lots and then store the flour?


updated to add:  nuts stored in their shell will store better than ground nut flour, which can turn rancid within weeks from the natural oils. Of course.

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Food, glorious food

While I haven’t been blogging about Ragnhildr for a while, I have been working on some of her things. I’ve been lucetting cord for a variety of projects (mostly Kingdom and Barony), and some reading, but mostly I’ve been putting together another camp menu for Rowany Festival. I was only cooking for 8-12 this time, so I gave myself a challenge. I thought about the conditions under which Ragnhildr would be cooking in: limited pots, one long fire pit, a griddle pan. For my camp, I translated that to one BBQ plate, one frypan, two large pots (one with steamer, which I’m sure is a cheat) and two gas rings. I also limited myself to fresh seasonal food, except where the items may have been preserved – blueberries and cherries in this case.
I’m happy to say it all worked. As it happened, I was cooking for a ‘one-time’ camping household, so we all didn’t really know each other, but they all found out that they liked buttered baby turnips, at least tried the grilled fennel bulbs, and loved pickled pork.
The menu:
Chicken and leek, served twice (yes from last year), parsnip chips, pears in red wine
lamb chops, boiled barley, beans, green salad
pickled pork, buttered and smashed parsnip, carrot and cabbage, peas, sauerkruat, pickled onions, pumpernickel, speklass biscuits
english pork sausages, parsnip, cabbage, beans, fried onions, grilled fennel, pikelets (flapjacks) with blueberries and cherries
I’ll put the recipes up on the Food page.
I think to take this to the next stage, I’ll need to collect cooking items for over the fire – pots, trivets, tripods etc and see if I can cook over the fire.

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Food for thought

I did more research and less writing for the A&S comp for a feast menu, so didn’t get the competition entry in.  It does mean I’ll have more to add here, so I’ve created a new page for food, moving it from a general ‘project’.  I’m fascinated by sausages and cheese and want to learn to make both, and even want to pickle my sausages in the whey, as is thought to have been done in the Danelaw.

I see more textiles in my future though, with a request for 12 m of lucet cord (6x2m laces) and a request from a friend for a few 2m tablet woven belts and a bit of brocaded tablet weaving. More lucet cords in silk are also on the list.

I also want to get back to my wheel spinning – I’ve been able to get 14threads to the cm with a medium-fine wool from the greasy lock. Why so fine? It’s the average thread count for 9th century cloths. I’m planning to weave a piece of tabby to make  a Yorvik hood. To be honest, I’m not sure when that will be, but I’ve said it to make sure the goal isn’t lost.

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More questions

At an archery event today, I wondered if Fru Ragnhildr could shoot an arrow. Self nocked and fletched with goose feathers and a longbow of course, but what would her quiver look like? How many of the house-men/farm hands would use bow and arrow for farm defence rather than the more usual spear, sword and round-shield?  Now to find my Scar boat burial archaeology book because I think there was a quiver in that.

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