Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | September 25, 2009

Cooking Period

As the faire season draws to a close, I start to think of the last faire and cooking a Renaissance period meal to celebrate shared meals for the year.  I’ve been compiling a list of foods that are appropriate for the time period – Medieval through Renaissance.  I’ve been researching the recipes for the little piece of the world that my guild reenacts.  Scots/English.  Hmmm.  It’s a challenge.

There is something about learning to cook a new type of cuisine.  There is a sense of adventure for the serious foodie.  For my purposes, I have to look at the history of a food.  My guild is not super crazy about being 100% accurate, but I like the challenge of being as accurate as reasonably affordable and comfortable.  NO potatoes, vanilla, tomatoes, etc.  I also like the challenge of finding a food that we don’t typically eat in our mundane world.  I’ve been looking up “receipts” in a few cookbooks and on the internet, including Celtic Folklore Cooking (Joanne Asala), Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book (Hilary Spurling), Cariadoc’s Miscellany (David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook), and The Complete Book of Irish Country Cooking (Darina Allen).  (Ireland is just across the water from the area my clan comes from, so some of those old recipes would be appropriate.)

So the candidates are…

For dinner (lunch for modern folks):  will probably be an assortment of finger foods.  But I want to try making barley water for a beverage.  It used to be a traditional drink during harvesting, so it is just right for this faire.  And I’m thinking of looking for an old fashioned Chinese deli where I can find cooked pigs feet. Trotters are period food and the Chinese delis that I grew up visiting have white or pickled pigs feet.  (I prefer pickled – sweet and sour and salty.)  Yes, yes, I know Chinese style pigs feet wouldn’t taste like the traditional British snacks, but it ought to be a great prop for the guildyard!  The patrons would be sure to notice them in my little trencher at lunch time!

For supper (evening meal): a fruit stuffed capon, daryole (a cheesecake-like dessert), sloke – a seaweed dish- or watercress.  A guildmate is making a pork roast.  Of course the liqueurs will come out…tangerine, plum, cherry, peach.  Another guildmate makes some lovely Limoncello.  I’ll have to ask if she’s bringing raspberry.

Breakfast: I’ve noticed that breakfast over an open fire is THE best.  We’ve cooked bacon and sausages over exciting flames (all that dripping grease, doncha know?).  We’ve stewed fresh peaches and apples and apricots.  But I’m wondering what thing is period and Scottish besides oatmeal.  I’ve been wanting to try fresh baked scones over the fire.  I’ve got the recipe down for our oven version, but making them in a Dutch oven sounds intimidating.  All the things I can’t control!  In a pinch, we can make  Cock-a-leekie soup, using the leftover meat from the capon.  But then again, pan fried trout in the morning sounds amazing!

I’m looking forward to this last faire of the season.  I anticipate that the air will smell just right with wood smoke and crunchy leaves.

In case you’re interested, here’s my regular scone recipe:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4- 1 cup milk or buttermilk or sour milk (may need more if it is a dry day, less if it’s humid)
  • Nuts, raisins, currants, chopped apricots,  cinnamon, herbs, or 2 tblsp sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 450 deg.  Sift all the dry ingredients together into a extra large mixing bowl.  Cut in butter til mixture resembles cornmeal.  Make a well in center and add milk and mix with wooden spoon til most of dry ingredients are incorporated and dough is forming.  Now use hands to knead dough in bowl until rest of dry ingredients are incorporated.  Add more milk if you need it.  Don’t over knead.  Pat the dough into a thick circle in bowl, about 1 or 1 -1/2 inch thick.  Lift and place on baking sheet; don’t roll it out, just pat the edges to make them smoother.  With a knife, cut into 4 or 8 triangles, but leave as a circle.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until then have risen and are golden.   When you knock on it, it should sound a bit hollow.  Serve hot.





  1. You might try experimenting with the oat cakes I describe in the Miscellany, a conjectural recipe based on Froissart’s description.

    As you probably know, incidentally, chemical leavening–i.e. the baking powder in your scones–is modern. No reason not to use it, just as long as you don’t give people the impression that it’s a period recipe.

    • I’ll go look up the oat cakes, thanks! My scones recipe is definitely modern…perfected when living at 7000 ft elevation in Flagstaff. Thank goodness for baking powder! (Kitchen experimentation can be violent at elevation…especially when you grow up at sea level!) During reenactment I leave the baking to other folks. I focus on stews and veggies, etc. to feed the family at faire. (Can’t afford faire food often! Especially with teenagers!)

  2. Hey, I have a TON of great historical cookbooks and research stuff. Please call me and you can come over and read/research to your heart’s content…we’ll have a cuppah

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