[Sca-cooks] A&S Post Mortem (Long)

Michael Gunter countgunthar at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 11 10:33:55 PST 2008

It appears that handmade sausage is a major crowd pleaser
at A&S competitions. I put in a lot of work on every aspect
of my entry and felt all the dishes tasted pretty good. But
most people came by and just ate the sausage and mustard.
After a while I had to tell people they weren't allowed to 
have any sausage unless they tried the vegetables as well.
I also demonstrated the difference between sausage that
was ground and stuffed using a Kitchenaide and ones
done entirely by hand. The handmade sausages were the
clear favorite both for texture and taste. (One amusing
comment was that my handmade sausages were much
better than the "storebought" ones I had displayed.)
Part of the disparity was that I first ground the meat on
a coarse die, then mixed in the spices and cheese and
reground it on a fine die. The result was a very smooth
forcemeat. The hand minced forcemeat was more chunky
and allowed each flavor to be presented. I also think I
spiced the handmade sausage a bit better than the machine
The mustard was a perfect match for the sausage in that
it used several of the same spices. It had also been allowed
to sit for around a month so the flavors mellowed and merged
nicely. I soaked the seeds in red wine vinegar overnight then
processed them down, after mixing in the vinegar and spices
I pushed the mash through a strainer to give a smoother
consistancy. Then put everything in a mason jar to get to know
each other for a month.
The third most popular item on my display was my small mead.
It came out as a bit of a surprise to me in that the mead was
very light and a bit fizzy. I had expected it to be very sweet
and heavy but most of the sugar had been converted by the
yeast so the final drink had a hint of mead flavor but also that
nice yeasty beer taste. It was a bit like a very light beer with a
hint of sweetness and practically no alcohol. The biggest compliment
of the day was when several of the Laurels stopped by my table
to fill their mugs on the way to the Laurel Circle. 
The competition site was rather cold, being in an unheated gym so
with each passing moment my display got a little worse. I tried to
stave off total clamminess at the beginning by heating the earthenware
plates on the gas stove in the kitchen as the sealed food heated
in boiling water. For Gulf Wars I may purchase a couple of period
earthenware chafing dishes and hide small cans of Sterno inside.
My Slip Coat cheese came out as a surprise as well. I had expected
it to be rather smooth and creamy like a Brie. But the cheese was
air dried on a top shelf in our project room so it came out very hard
and crumbly like a Parmesian. The flavor was very intense, almost
like a feta. The nice thing about it was the indication it would be
a perfect travelling cheese. It would not go bad by just being tossed
in a sack. I just wonder if it could be called "Slip Coat" cheese though.
The manchets were very pale and the flavor was still a bit bland. 
I followed the instructions as much to the letter as possible so I
wonder if manchet was just that way. Some felt it wasn't cooked 
enough and that could be the case. Next time I won't do the "thump"
test and instead use a thermometer. They also may not have been
kneaded enough. I'm still learning.
The vegetables were very good, if rather ignored by the general
populace. Favas have a rather interesting taste which I'm not sure
I like too much. But the Makke was decent and a nice counter to
the rather intense flavored Boiled Salat and cheese. The peas 
provided a nice bridge between the two. Even cold the side 
dishes were good.
The Egredouce was tried by those I forced to attempt it. I really
can't blame folk for being hesitant as no matter how I try to make
it look good, it always seems to come out looking like a cow patty.
But the taste is worth taking the leap of faith. I wound up giving
what was left to Mistress Serena to take home.
The Stwd Capon encountered an accident when cooking which
the judges brilliantly figured out. One of the supporting sticks 
caught fire during cooking and gave the chicken a singed taste.
It was too late to make a new batch and the singe wasn't too
bad and so I hoped to credit the flavor that would be achieved
over a wood fire. It didn't fool the judges though.  :-)
The Capon and, to a lesser extent the manchet, were my only
real disappointments in my display.
I was very surprised and happy to see that I received the second
highest score in the competition, there were some awesome displays.
I was beaten by HL Suzanne by her scoring a perfect 50 for her
display on period pigments, inks and bookbinding. She gathered
acorns and processed them for ink, gathered feathers from around
her home to cut the quills, mixed the period pigments and made
a book displaying calligraphy and illumination using these. I have
NO problem losing to her.
The declared A&S Champion was Master Modius for his wine that he
made from grapes he had imported from a monestary in Germany that
traced the grape line back to the 1400's. The monks even scraped
the yeast from the grapes and sent that as well so he made as close
to a period wine as possible and from what I heard it would compare
to a $200 bottle of modern wine in taste and clarity.
I didn't expect any Peerage announcements to be made because the
King wasn't in attendance so I was a bit surprised when the Laurels
were called and Ly. Rhiannon was selected for elevation for her work
in Middle Eastern Dance. Once that was done I figured everything
was over and was about to leave. So I was caught flat footed when
they called me as well. 
When Her Majesty asked me how long I had wanted to be a Laurel
I replied that I have wanted to be a Laurel since before I became
a fighter because at my first fighter practice when I was whalloped
by a sword the first time my thought was, "Maybe I can be a Laurel
When asked when I wanted to be elevated I first said "Gulf Wars"
because I wanted you folk to be able to attend. I was soundly
voted down by several memebers standing around me so I let them
decide it will be at Steppes Warlord over Memorial Day weekend.
Personally I would be fine with them just tossing me a medallion
and asking what is for dinner. But my friends are having too much
fun planning embarassing formal affairs with me as the centerpiece.
Little Sprout
Shed those extra pounds with MSN and The Biggest Loser!

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