Scratch that - it's been a busy three weeks, and will be until Saturday, when I can finally wind down from immediate obligations. We had a work weekend for Gardiner's Company at our place - digging in the fort and sewing things for sale - which was awesome, because everyone there was a friend, and people really took care of me, too. This past weekend was Holiday Faire (a large shopping event in the Kingdom of Atlantia), and I've basically been producing stock for the past six months, while I've been out of it on the sofa. This Thursday and Friday, we'll be joining other members of Gardiner's Company as we all volunteer at the living history fort at Jamestown Settlement and Museum in Jamestown (okay, technically Williamsburg, since Jamestown isn't an actual town anymore), Virginia.
I've been cooking like mad all day, as I crashed yesterday after spending most of the day shopping for ingredients for my yearly food display in the Governor's House in the Fort. We braved the crowds at Whole Foods (are the people that shop there self-absorbed, or what? I watched a woman block one side of the aisle with her cart, and then block the other side with her body as she and her two-year old discussed, at length, what cereal they should get. On the Monday before Thanksgiving, when the store was filled with more people than I can easily stand), and scored Lady apples (which look like the smaller pippin apples available in 1609) and some awesome cheeses (I love Whole Foods' policy of selling cheese offcuts cheap - I can't afford some of their cheese otherwise). We found everything else I needed at other stores as well, but it was a long day, and anyone who has had a multiple-store shopping day knows how tiring it can be.
Despite hitting my limit yesterday, I managed to get up and get cooking after 14 hours of sleep (when I say I crashed, I meant it). I now have Banbury tarts, a dysshe of turnips (with onions and sage), pease pudding (basically, solid pea soup - the kids love screaming at it), a baked flounder (whole, with eyes - a table is not complete unless something is looking back), mustard sauce and roast quail, a game pie (more on that below), bread sauce (ditto), and figgy pudding (yes, the one in the Christmas carol).
The game pie is an innovation for me this year - we bought a 6" springform cake pan, and I cut the pastry to fit it, giving me a straight-sided pie, which looks super cool and is period. I blind-baked it, with no idea whether it worked or not until it was done, but it turned out amazing. Perfectly browned sides. I was so happy. I got the idea from the Historic Recipes from Hampton Court Palace cookbook. It's a slender little volume, but it's helpful.
The bread sauce - the bread sauce is also from that book, but I took some liberties with the recipe (no non-period ones), and ended up with a killer bread sauce. I'm all about the sharing, so here's the recipe:
(Bread sauce is like a smooth creamy stuffing. It goes really well with chicken or rabbit.)
Laura's Bread Sauce:
6-7 stems fresh dill, snipped with scissors into little bits
1/4 - 1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp water
3-4oz fresh breadcrumbs (about 6 slices of bread)
1/2 cup stock, whatever kind you like
salt and pepper to taste
Put the snipped dill, butter, sugar, vinegar, and water in a small saucepan and cook on low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the breadcrumbs a bit at a time, whisking thoroughly with a fork to blend into the liquid. Once all the breadcrumbs are moistened, pour in enough stock to make the sauce smooth and soft. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add more stock, if you like it thicker (like stuffing), add less. If it's too thin, add more breadcrumbs. Allow sauce to heat thoroughly, serve warm.
I tried it on Bob, and he told me to write it down, so here you go. The key thing in all of this is that I am not flat on my back and crying with exhaustion, nor am I nauseous and headachy. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed, but the synthroid seems to be working.