[Spit-project] Pennsic period dinner

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Fri May 11 02:11:44 PDT 2007

Ok, let's try 2005 and see what I can find from my MK Cooks List files
I only searched 2006 for the previous message.
Here we go:

Helewyse posted this as a note about her classes:

Tuesday 16th August noon-dinner: Italian food and ceramics part II practice: Hosted in a pennsic camp this is the companion class to theory.  Come prepared for cooking over the fire. We will be preparing the recipes discussed in part I. We will use ceramic pignattas, torta, testos, a tegame, dutch ovens, and a spit to roast, stew, simmer, and generally cook an entire Italian meal over the fire. This meal will then be eaten by attendees.  Class is limited to 12 people because of space considerations.  First come, first serve, located in House of the Lost Keys camp (directions will be available at A&S).  You may want to bring a camp chair we only have so many.  Fee of about $10 to cover food costs (we won't know how much to charge until we've gone shopping). Helewyse

That session in 2005 then generated this on 8/22/05

Scappi's "Opera", untranslated: $200
2 bags of miscellaneous groceries: $150
Hand-thrown, medieval Italian pottery: free

5 cooking laurels together on the first Thursday of Pennsic: priceless

I'm still recovering from the email deluge at work and still unpacking 
(will my hair *ever* stop smelling like woodsmoke? I've washed it 4 
times!) but I wanted to fire a warning shot across the bow of MK Cooks. 
Some awesome cooking fun was had at War this year, not only by myself 
but if I'm not mistaken by members of the Kingdom who participated in 
the Iron Chef competition that was held. I can report on the former, but 
not the later. Anyone participate this year want to speak up? I hear 
some people from Red Spears were involved, no?

Welcome home, everyone!   Iasmin, Tired But Happy List Mom

Here's the long report-- 8/22/05

Standard disclaimers apply here as I'm still riding high off probably my best day at Pennsic in the 20ish years I've been going....

So we get the email on MK Cooks about The Grand Plan (TM) to teach a class using hand-thrown Italian cooking pots and I thinks to myself "self, you needs to be learning to cook over an open flame someday." And in pure Iasmin fashion, I type said desire out loud straight out of my head and onto the internet. Helewyse, dear soul, sez "girlie, you come to my camp and I'll learn you good." cause she was learning too with those pretty pots and figured if one laurel could mess it up, well, five could mess it up right royally. 

Thing is, folks, we didn't mess it up. In fact, the only thing that didn't turn out as we expected was really the peach pie and that was just because we forgot the bottom crust needed air space to get a good crisp to it. 

I keep telling people the five of us were like the cast of a Mickey Rooney movie. You know the ones... "Hey, let's put on a play!" "Yeah, we can use my dad's barn!" "Cool! My mom can sew the costumes!" Me, Mistress Helewyse, Mistress Rachaol, Master Basilius, and Mistress Mary Celidh (who most of you don't know but she cooks for the Cognizenti camp at Pennsic for both weeks). 
We were a hoot. Two bags of groceries, plus a bit, and all of us at various times either clustered around those or around Helewyse's copy of Scappi (brave woman taking that brick of a book to Pennsic). "What can we cook?" "I don't know, do we have a recipe for kale?" "Sure, let me translate it really quick."

In the end, we cooked from 12pm to 8pm the first Thursday, trying out various recipes from Scappi and at least one other Italian manuscript so that Helewyse, Rachaol, and Basilius could teach the two Italian pottery (classroom and practicum) classes they'd scheduled but which didn't make it into the Pennsic book. We cooked way more than what would be tested in class, but all the dishes were fantastic. If I'm remembering the recipes we concocted correctly we did:

- pasta (they were more like gnocchi) in garlic walnut sauce
- kale fried in garlic and olive oil
- fried eggplant with sour orange sauce
- gourds in casserole in a cheese sauce (Rachaol grew the gourds and promised me seeds)
- stuffed, grilled pork rolls
- meat stuff, meat flavored meatwrapped in meat fat (venison roast stuff with bacon/pancetta and wrapped in a fat caul, spit roasted)
- caramelized onions (I couldn't stand the fat dripping into the fire unused)
- peach pie

My god it was all good. I think those were all the dishes, but Helewyse or Rachaol can speak up and let you know if I missed anything. Good lord, I'm hungry again just thinking about it. I'm not sure what we'd planned to do with most of the food. We sort of lost track of cooking and then I realized "Ooh, someone's got to eat this. I didn't think that far." The camp valiantly threw themselves on the food grenade with nary a complaint among them. And I think someone went to go get more people. Master Hroar, Baroness Alexandra, and I think her son, perhaps. I had to eat and run but there was still food being eaten when I left. And to the best of my knowledge, everyone's still alive and smiling, so it had to have been decent to them too.

Additions to this... I remember a fruit tray. And Helwyse made us lunch while we were cooking. We ate the cheese stuffed fresh, red, sweet peppers and fought over who got the last one. Oh yes, and there was scotch.  :)  I'm confident the dishwashing went faster because of it. 

And that, my friends, is how much trouble 5 cooking laurels and a copy of Scappi can get into in 8 hours. Rachaol? Helewyse? I'm still wearing rose-colored glasses from the day. Care to comment once you resurface from travel back to your homes?


Helewyse then posted on 8/23/2005 this write-up

OK, The house is still a disaster, wearing normal clothing feels odd but I'm 
awake enough to give a report.

The Thursday trial run was really a trial run.  We honestly had never made  
any of those dishes before.

The kale - simply boiled in water, drained and then dressed with olive oil  
in which garlic (lots of it) had been simmered.  Amazingly good, kale can  
be bitter but somehow it wasn't.
The peach pie - we used a pastry recipe that was forgiving of the heat and  
overwork (in fact the recipe calls for kneading the dough). Sadly we  
didn't heat the bottom enough to make it crispy.  What we did find out in  
the next weeks class was that ceramic pie plates make all the difference  
it cooked much better than a tin one in a dutch oven.  We had tried  
cooking it under a testo.  The testo failed most obviously in the first  
five minutes of cooking.  Right about the point that we were talking about  
pottery failure on the fire .  The lady who took our class asked when they  
failed, the answer was first time you use it and loudly.  As the loud  
crack happened just at that point.  So it ended up as a valuable lesson.   

Gourds in the spanish style - was cooked in a pignatta.  The interesting  
thing about this is that the original recipe calls for egg yolks to be  
added and the whole cooked for another half hour.  This led to a discussion 
 whether the end product should be an egg thickened sauce or more like an  
egg drop soup.  The result, when you cook with eggs and juice in a  
pignatta for half an hour you get thickened broth, not curdled eggs.   
Something we really weren't expecting.  In other words the recipe was  
correct for the heat source in use (coals) but would be wrong for a modern  

Pork rolls - oh my god the pork rolls, I have to find an excuse to make  
these for either a feast or a vigil.  Pork loin slices, pounded thin,  
marinated in vinegar salt and pepper (the second time we marinated with  
sour orange and if anything they were better).  Then stuffed with a  
mixture of golden raisins, garlic, parsley, fennel and an egg.  Rolled  
around the filling, wrapped in caul fat and then grilled.  I have to get  
me some caul fat, it made the rolls succulent and so good. 
The gnocchi - still haven't managed to master that particular recipe.  The  
original recipe calls for 12 oz breadcrumbs, 12oz flour, pinch saffron and  
oil bound together with water and then grated into boiling water to cook.   
Breadcrumbs are funky, one minute the dough is too stiff, next minute it  
is the biggest gluey mess you have ever encountered.  In the end we cut  
bits of the dough into the water, I would still like to master that  
recipe.  The sauce was pounded walnuts, garlic and breadcrumbs with water.  
 Great sauce and the gnocchi eventually kind of worked. 
The eggplant - soaked in water to remove bitterness, parboiled, coated  
with flour and fried in olive oil.  The recipe says you can use either  
sour orange juice or a sauce made of fresh basil, garlic and verjuice.  I  
wish we had had basil it is even yummier then. 
The venison - I had a whole leg roast brought from home (actually it was  
originally road kill, butchered by myself shortly after the accident).  We  
marinated it in wine, wine vinegar, rose water, grape must and spices  
(nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, salt), then rolled the slices of bacon  
in the same spice blend, larded it and wrapped it in a caul prior to spit  
roasting.  Oh yeah, it was good.  Once the fire was in the right spot we  
could add a pan underneath and do some onions.  

All in all we had fun, my camp used it as a boasting point for the rest of  

Hey we had five cooking laurels in camp yesterday, cooking dinner.  
What did they cook?  
I don't know but it tasted great.

We did create a heck of a lot of dishes but they forgave me anyway.   
The only down side was that only one person actually attended the hands on  
class in the second week.  It is our lesson for next year, make it shorter  
and get it in the book early.  We might just do a single dish.  I think  
that one of the problems is that the second week everyone is just so busy  
that 5 hrs is a lot of time to commit.   

Honestly I became slug like for the last four days of war, I was a little  
strung out and needed extended nap times.  The camp still ate well but  
cooking dinner every night for two weeks led to some dashing around at  

War was fun but as usuall I never did manage to do about half a dozen  
things I wanted to, or see half the people I wanted to.  Where did those  
two weeks go?  


Photo wise 

Eventually they published this link-- 

Michael of Safita (Calontir) sent me this link, scroll down and see soem 
very cool pics.


That leads to this


I think these may be what you want.


From: iasmin@

Helen Schultz wrote:
> No, that isn't the one I was thinking of, but thanks for this one... I think the one I am thinking of spawned this one last year, though <smile>.
>   Meisterin Katarina Helene
> Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu> wrote:
>   I would guess it's this set--
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/gaylin/sets/72157594244365196/
> (photos of a what kind of trouble a bunch of cooking laurels can get into at Pennsic)
> I thought Iasmin posted a description but I didn't find it.
> Johnna

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