[Spit-project] Long Member Introduction & Questions

Michael Gunter countgunthar at hotmail.com
Tue May 29 14:29:06 PDT 2007

Welcome to another on the list.

>Our gallant and gracious host, Gunthar has kindly remedied that.

She obviously never met me in person.

>- kebabs of spiced ground lamb (many recipes in period sources)
>- a "stew" of chicken with spices, nuts, and peaches (from a 9th C. recipe)
>- a Central Asian dish, manti, that involves pasta filled with greens
>in a yogurt sauce (from a 15th C. Ottoman recipe).

Well, make sure everyone you will be feeding likes lamb. Some folk
don't. If you make the lamb kabobs then make some others from
beef and/or chicken.

Since not everyone is as enamored over period cooking as we are,
make sure you have a couple of "easy" dishes for the picky eaters
as well. Make these recipes and serve them to your average modern
food eater and make sure they like them.

I know you are a long term cook and a lot of this sounds like pandering
to a newbie. But we all sometimes get lost in making a really groovy
meal and forgetting that not everyone wants something new and

Check the Crown's likes, dislikes and adventurous natures. Feed test
batches to normal folk to make sure it appeals to the common palate.
When attending a big fancy feast a diner can expect new stuff, but
after spending all day fighting, in endless meetings, walking all over
Pennsic and having to do all the stuff a Crown needs to do, the last
thing they want is to be given some awesome new dish that is totally
period but tastes weird when all he really wants is a slice of pizza.

I think the recipes sound groovy, but be sure to remember your audience.

>Given there there is a spit, and that V&V roasted a kid at a West
>Kingdom event last year, with the assistance of me and several others
>(and in 112 degree F. weather, whew!), maybe i should try roasting a
>whole lamb or kid, although it may be too late in the year for a
>young animal. If so, what else is good to roast on a spit? (not pork,
>of course)

Lamb is always good. And don't worry about doing a whole animal.
Boneless legs are the way to go. You can even find some already
in a netting and perfect for the spit. Also, you won't be spending
all day attending to it.

Poultry, sausages (either whole ropes wrapped around the spit or
individual links tied on with twine), thick roasts, steaks and chops
can be either skewered or tied onto the spits.

You can also spin roasts and birds from crossbars.

>I'm steering away from lentils, much as i love them,
>since they can sit a bit heavy in a hot humid summer.

I would disagree with this for two reasons. I love a cool lentil
salad with vinegar or lemon juice and oil, crisp veggies, and
fresh herbs.
Also, there is no guarantee that it will be hot. I've been rather
chilly at Pennsic as well as broiled.

And i'm trying
>to figure out if i can bring modern Persian flat bread, sangak, with
>me from the West coast, since i've no experience cooking bread. (this
>is a question: could this work? I don't know when the Royal meal
>would be..)

Well, I don't know about sangak, but one of the things I'm planning
on showing at my outdoor cookery class is how to make griddle breads
over the fire.

>I am toying with the idea of bringing some ice cream with me, 'cuz
>around here i can get things like: curry coconut ice cream,
>saffron-rosewater ice cream, orange flower ice cream with pistachios,
>pomegranate sorbet, etc.

I think that would be really nice if you could manage the transport.
The other thing you might do would be to make some syrups and
pour them over shaved ice. Yes, that was a common dish for the
very wealthy even in Roman times.

>I don't really know about the availability in the nearby town of
>things like: fresh cilantro, fresh mint, flat-leaf parsley, fresh
>dill (used in Persian cuisine), fresh or frozen fava beans, Chinese
>won ton or spring roll wrappers (for the manti), etc. Anyone have any

The local town is decent sized and there is a very good supermarket
not far from Pennsic. I think you can find most things (other than the
fava) there.

>- how long ahead of time to start the fire before i can bring to a
>boil a pot of water on it?

Depends on the fire and the amount of water.
A nice hot flaming fire will heat a coffepot of water in probably
15 -20 minutes. But a rolling boil is actually pretty difficult unless
you have a really good fire going. Regina can provide better info
than me on that.

>- how to judge when the fire is ready (down enough) to cook skewered
>meat? (yes, i don't do standard American barbecues)

The best way to judge meat cooking is to put your grill over coals,
not flames and hold your hand over the grill. If you can hold your
hand there for about 6 seconds but then have to pull away, that's
a good temp.
If you want to figure out relative "hand temps" then simply test at
home. Turn on your oven broiler and move the rack to where the
meat would be. Then put your hand in. See how the heat feels on
your hand where you would want to broil it there. Now translate
that to your fire.

>- does one move the coals around to create a hot spot and a medium
>spot and a warm spot to cook different dishes?

You control your heat by moving coals and/or distance from the heat.

>- should i be hanging pots over the fire or is setting them on a
>grill as good or better?

It depends on what you are doing. Liquid dishes like soups and stews
and such are better hung over and allowed to cook slowly.
Dishes placed on grills or such are mainly for hotter and faster cooking.

There is also indications that if you are working with pottery it is best
to have the pots in amongst the coals because the grill can cause uneven
heating and cause the pot to crack.

>Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)


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