Monday, March 3, 2008


It being close to festival and me being apathetic I decided to make cordials for March Guild meeting. Besides I've nearly run out of cordial to take to festival.

flavoured sekanjamins
I followed the I used Caridoc's recipe as the source. This is a modern recipe, but one I've tried before and found quite successful. I just wanted to play around with different flavouring agents, and different sugars.

Experiment 1: brown sugar vs white sugar
I made two batches to the above recipe, one with white sugar and one with brown. I kept some of the white sugar batch aside for experiment 2 and also added mint a portion of both batches.

  • The brown sugar batch was much richer than the white sugar.
  • The white sugar no mint batch was rather tasteless. The addition of mint made this nicer, to most opinions.
  • A similar quantity of mint in brown sugar was almost tasteless, so there was no big change between this and the plain brown sugar batch. More mint, longer soak times, or putting it in when hotter is probably required with brown sugar than white sugar.
  • There was no clear favourite of these 4 combinations amongst drinkers, with individual preferences playing a strong part, but white sugar with mint and brown sugar without mint seemed to have a slight edge over the others.
postcript: This page gives a quote describing the use of white and red sugar in sekajamin for different medicinal purposes.

Experiment 2: flavourings
There is some evidence for the use of flavoured cordials, some even using a sekajamin style base.

I added some random flavouing agents the sounded yummy:
  • orange juice & cardamon (this I've tried before and it was yummy)
  • licorice root
  • star anise & cinnamon
  • juniper berries
Based on the last batch of orange & cardamon, I'll wait a few months before I taste these.

See articles on this page and this manuscript for some more recipes on flavoured honey syrups. Probably more of them are for boiling the flavuorings into the mixture than adding them later, but this makes it harder to try lots of different flavourings at once.

Sekajamin simple
Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix it with two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya of this with three of hot water when fasting.
from an anonymous Andalusian cookbook (13th C)

This is noticeably different from the other recipie - it uses no water in the cordial concentrate. A ratl is about 460 grams apparently, but this is not important, as we really only need to know the proportions of hte ingredients. While I doubted such a small quantity of vinegar would actually dissolve so much sugar without burning, I was determined to try and was pleasantly surprised.

My interpretation of the day:
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup good quality white wine vinegar
  • Combine ingredients, stir, heat gently until sugar mostly dissolved.
  • Then boil mixture until a thick and viscous mixture the consistency of honey.
  • serve by diluting with hot water
I was surprised at how viscous the mixture became. Maybe cooking until quite so syrupy was not intended, but the recipe said a syrup, and I wanted to see how thick it could become. I don't think the comparison to honey would be lost on medieval Spanish people.

Diluted with hot water, the drink was good indeed. The ratio of syrup required to get a good taste was much higher than I expected, possibly around to the 5:1. This didn't work as well served cold because the syrup did not mix well. The syrup also settled to the bottom of a hot drink as it cooled, although maybe extra mixing would cure this. I think this recipe isn't missing any steps, although possibly the mixture may not need to be heated so long or concentrated so much.

For ease of later serving I further diluted this before bottling by about 3:1. This was still a quite viscous mixture.

postcript: The third recipie on this page clear describes that vinegar and sugar may be cooked together without water - but it adds water later.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Border Wars Feast Menu

Greetings Nicolette and the guild,

The feast menu was compiled from 'The original Mediterranean Cuisine' by Barbara Santich. Published by Wakefield Press in south Australia (I'm sure you must have it). Mine is falling apart from frequent usage. ISBN- 1 86254 331 3

Please note-
  • We didn't make the pasta, the was 'Latina spinach and ricotta agnolotti' (why bother when you can buy it).
  • The Ciabatta came from Baker's Delight.
  • All vegetable dishes had meat removed to make them vegetarian friendly and cooked with vegetable stock.
  • We add the almond meal to dishes rather than just using the milk as we find it is a great bulker.
A copy of the menu is below. It's such a lovely compliment when people want you're work.

Also planning to write an article for Cockatrice regarding SCA with some tricks I've picked up in the way from my years of working in the mundaneindustry.
Thomasina Freborn.

Border Wars Feast Menu.

Remove 1
"Di Limonia di polli", Chicken in lemon sauce.
"Casola de carn", Lamb casserole.
"De la foglie minute, et dei finocchi", Spinach/silver beet with herbs.
"Con fresche fave", Broadbeans/peas with mint and parsley.
"Rafioli commun de herbe vantazati", Ricotta and herb ravioli.
"Aros ab let de amelles", Rice cooked in almond milk.
Remove 2
"Pastizi de vitella in tegamo", Minced veal with prosciutto and currants.
"Potatage de calamars", Calamari with almonds, currants and pine nuts.
"Ciurons tendres ab let de melles", Chick peas with herbs.
"Alberginies..altra manera", Stuffed aubergines.
"Salsa a bolets", mushrooms with onions and herbs.
"Torta commune, Cheesecake.

Salubrious Soirees - Taillevent

Suth Gild Heal Cooks in conjunction with the Shire of Krae Glas proudly present the first in a Succession of Salubrious Soirees - Taillevent
Baroness Gwir verch Madog, continuing her obsession for Taillevent, has proposed a menu for the soiree based upon the 14th century work of The Viandier of Taillevent (Terence Scully edition). The choices for dishes come from menus set out in Appendix one of Take a Thousand Eggs or More (Cindy Renfrow), specifically, the 1387 feast for King Richard II by the Bishop of Durham (p. 336); Henry IV's coronation of 1399; and The Funeral Feast of Nicholas Bubwith, 1424, which sets out a separate menu of fish for the clergy.

The soiree will have a meat menu for the 'nobility' and a fish selection for those who will. In keeping as close as possible to the extant menus, the challenge of this feast is to cook all dishes it on an open fire without resorting to modern conveniences.

The purpose of this event is to challenge our cooks. They are given a budget, venue and 2 helpers. We ask that you come prepared to be in the mind set of a personage of the proper period. Event will be limited to 24 persons. Menu will be presented on request before hand.

Date: Saturday, 21st June 2008 beginning 5:00pm
Cost: $25
Venue: 2 Sherwood Road, Mt Waverley VIC
Event limited to 24 persons (bookings after 3 days are up to 12)
Bookings with payment a MUST to: Nicolette Dufay, 0413 518 151 or AuntieNic (at)
For further details on the Purpose of the Soriees see here
To view the proposal for event here

March Cooks and Brewers Guild

Attendees: Gwir, Professor Adrian, Teffania, Thorfin, Isobel, Adrienne, Saban, Gwynfor, Nicolette, Rudolf, Breana,(Peregrin and Ashley)

Most people today where working on festival preps, though we did get a bit of food cooked. Gwynfor was working on methods of keeping our food dry, Sabine and Isobel where sewing garb and Nicolette was just being administrative.

Mistress Adrienne remembered our topic and brought a wide selection of peppers for us to try. They included: Black Peppercorns, Green Peppercorns, Long Pepper, Tasmanian Pepper Berries, and one other (which I cant remember)

Mistress Adrienne also provided us with delightful beverages, derived from a White Lady, she called a Lady in Red.

I believed that Professor Adrian shamed Gwir into cooking and she then not only helped him with his Progees, but made Bubble and Squeek, a Peach Pie and Strawberry Tarts.

Professor Adrian had been wanting to try Progees for a while and they turned out to be a childhood favorite of Gwir's, so the two of them produced a delightfully filling platter of them, covered in bacon.

Teffania delighted us with varies trials of Sekanjabin, white sugar, brown sugar, mint, orange, to name a few.

This month I have added all the photos here. If and when the recipes get put up, Ill link them to this post. But I hope this will fix the problem with editing we had last month