[Spit-Project] A really great event

Saint Phlip phlip at 99main.com
Mon Sep 22 13:29:37 PDT 2008

I wasn't planning on going to this event, but Jaji said he needed some
help with part of what he wanted to do, so I loaded up a bunch of
clanky metal stuff, and I went. The event description is here:


and here:


Jaji had posted to the ek-cooks wanting some advice on roasting an
entire lamb over an open fire, and after some discussion, I agreed to
come do it for him. Not only did we roast the lamb, but we also cooked
the pot roasts in my big soup pot over another charcoal fire for the
feast. I'll let Jaji discuss the rest of the feast, which was, as
usual, excellent, not to mention the dayboard (I really wish you other
Kingdoms would make dayboards a standard part of your events- they're
a great idea, and an excellent way to train cooks who aren't
necessarily ready for an entire feast) by Alice and her crew.

We had to be a bit creative. The site rules said no open fires. and I
wasn't quite sure what we had to work with, or how we were going to
set things up, so I simply loaded a bunch of stuff that might be
useful into my pick-up truck, and away I went.

Got there, and discovered we had a more or less standard grill about 5
ft long, maybe 2 ft wide, that was usually used for frying hamburgers
(it was for a summer camp) but which was of the old style, where you
had notches for the grill itself that could raise it about 8 inches
above the fire. We also had a more or less standard portable fire pit
that looked something like this:


I had brough my big tripod, which is 5/8" round stock, each leg about
6 1/2 ft long, and we pounded the ring pieces into the ground, used my
stainless steel wire to bind the lamb onto a piece of 1/2 inch square
stock I had brough. Initially, Jaji split the pubic bone so we had it
leg side down, then later reversed it so it was back side down.
However, because of the distances involved, we weren't getting what I
felt was enough heat, and I initially tried tenting it with aluminum
foill, which didn't do much. We then tried pounding the ring pieces
deeper into the ground, and we couldn't do that because there were too
many rocks, and I eventually got the idea of getting my linen tarp:


and, with the help of some spare poles I had, placing it over the top
of the lamb to help trap the heat and get some convection going.
Interestingly enough, if you look at the Scappi picture of the field


there is also a roof over it, and I strongly suspect that it's not
just there to keep rain off of the food cooking, but also to help trap
some of the heat, although in this picture it shows an actual fire. I
suspect that that might have been a convention to indicate that this
was hot, and that their actual cooking was done over coals, as we were

Towards the end, we placed the lamb down on the grill to finish up, on
each side. In my opinion, I felt it came out perfect, but Jaji felt it
should be cooked more. If I do this again for him, I'll make it a bit
more well dome, by leaving it on the fire longer. When we checked it
with the instant thermometer, it said 150 in the leg, so we took it
off the fire and let it rest, wrapped in my linen tarp, to retain
heat. When it was time to be served, Jaji made a presentation of the
entire lamb, which was then carved in front of the guests.

As far as the pot roast went, if you look in the foreground of the
Scappi picture, you'll see another pot over a fire on a 4-legged stand
or trivet. This is roughly what we did, using the portable firepit as
a base. However, the distance was great enough that I didn't think
that we'd get sufficient heat to bring the water from cold to a boil,
so Jaji heated several gallons of water elsewhere, we filled the pot
with hot water, added the meat, and lidded, that was sufficient to
bring and maintain the water to a nice simmer, once we lidded it with
my Omigosh wok.

All in all, the cooking went very well. I was, however, somewhat
irritated to realize after everything was done, that had I though, I
had some chain that I could have used the hooks to bring the spit down
closer to the fire- but live and learn ;-)

The other part of the day was that there was some A&S going on. Here's
an accurate description:


I was particularly interested in the second challenge which reads as follows:

Challenge #2
To all who wish to take a challenge of a culinary nature pray heed!
Skill with a sword is mighty indeed but in battle is for naught
without a plan of attack. My challenge, therefore, is to present a
plan that will fulfill the following scenario: You, oh challenged,
have been out in the wilds in service to your master and his guests
during a hunting trip. You have just arrived at a new location and he
has commanded you to provide a last-day-of-hunting feast for 20 lordly
guests and their 30 retainers on the morrow. Assume a variety of fresh
meats (including fish and wild fowl) are available to you from the
hunt. You have at your disposal a site which features a clean river,
flat ground, plenty of fuel, experienced kitchen staff and your
master's butler, who will handle the serving. For the creation of this
plan, here are the rules:

Presentation should take about 10-15 minutes, up to 30 minutes if necessary.
You don't actually have to cook anything, though your challenger
certainly wouldn't turn any samples down that you are particularly
proud of. Extra points if it was cooked over a fire. Extra points if
you include serving proportions in your plan. Extra points if you have
actually cooked items over a fire at any time and can express an
opinion on their challenges.
Your recipes may be from any period or geographical location within
the accepted SCA range... but they must all be from the same
approximate period and be appropriate for your chosen geographical
Your plan should not include anything pre-cooked, but may contain
standard preserved supplies and spices as appropriate.
Your plan should include provisions (if necessary) for cooking
out-of-doors (i.e. in a fire pit) whenever you can.
Bring a copy of your recipes to share (one for me, one for you if you
need it). Please indicate what period and location each recipe is from
on each.
Use your imagination! How will you present your plan? I will accept
outlines, flow charts, pictures, drawings, paintings, live
presentations, hired poets or anything you can come up with! Tag-team
planning with a co-cook is also acceptable!
And remember... I am noted for rather an excess of personality so feel
free to have a sense of humor and fun! Please contact me to
pre-register for my challenge so I know who to expect at the event!

In Service to the Crown and Kingdom of the East,
Mistress Eleanore MacCarthaigh
Barony of Bergental
Mistress Eleanore MacCarthaigh

Now, I was very interested in this challenge, and had intended to work
on it in some detail, but as it happened, real life intervened, and I
was unable to do so. However, when I got there, and finally got the
feast stuff set up, it appeared that there was not going to be anybody
taking up the challenge. I decided that that couldn't happen. That
good lady had come up with a really great chaqllenge, and one thing
I've learned in the SCA is that if there's a really cool activity that
you want to see continue, then you need to support it.. So, I threw my
charcoal into the ring and made it knowne that I'd like to take the
challenge3, but needed to do so outside where I was cooking, if the
lady would be so kind as to accomodate me. Not only did she accomodate
me, but three other Laurels joined her, and I explained how I would
present such a feast. I did, however make quite clear that Jaji was
the cook- I was just the mechanic ;-) All four of them, while none
were cooking Laurels (that I'm aware of) were knowledgeable enough in
the field, so that when they asked questions to clarify something,
they were highly intelligent and useful questions. And, rather than
the 15 minutes or so that the challenge had specified, we were out
there talking for over an hour- it was a truly great session ;-)

They then went in to talk to the other person (people) who had
accepted the challenge, and apparently this was a very good
presentation as well. They told me later that the thing that they had
noticed about the two presentions was that each of us had taken a
completely different approach. Whereas I has focused on the mechanics
of what I would do to get such a feast done, the other presentation
had worked up a particular scenario, giving a specific time and place
and cookbook they'd be working from (I had also given a specific
cookbook- Anthimus) and had worked out their presentation using those

Anyway, I had felt it went pretty well, considering my presentation
was pretty impromptu. and I was rewarded by Mistress Eleanore- she
gave me a lovely little cast iron dutch oven, which was from her
kitchen, beautifully seasoned, about 8 inches in diameter. And I was
very surprised when Mistress Brede (sp? pronounced "breed") presented
me with a hand forged cloak pin, which looks to me like it was made by
TW, an excellent smith at Pennsic (I'll hafta ask him next War ;-)

This was truly a lovely event. Not a lot of people were there- I think
gate was about 85- but the people who were were there to share a good
time, good food and great conversation. I wish you all could have
joined us ;-)

Saint Phlip

Heat it up
Hit it hard
Repent as necessary.


It's the smith who makes the tools, not the tools which make the smith.

.I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary
notices I have read with pleasure. -Clarence Darrow

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