Thursday, 31 May 2007

Sometimes I Wonder Why I Bother!!

12 hours of my life wasted yesterday, waiting for my PC to render some of the video for this weekend........and after that it had errors in the final version and it refused to run!?!?!! Now admittedly I did get on with some other stuff....just not the computer stuff that needed doing, hence the lack of a post yesterday.

By way of making up, as well as the final few pictures from last weekend (I told you we didn't get the chance to take many), I've also uploaded this video to Youtube:

It is in its own way a bit of history as it's a heavily edited segment of a video taken in 1991 at the first ever live interpretation event at Hampton Court. You'll have to excuse the quality as it has gone from a 16 year old VHS tape to DVD then converted to a .avi file and then to .wmv before sending it to youtube.
It forms part of the display that we aim to project onto the kitchen wall this weekend as part of our 'Interpreting the Interpretation' weekend. The reason that we are doing this is that we do not have access to the modern kitchen that we store our ingredients in and wash up in, so are unable to do our normal 'thing'. So we thought 'how about showing people how we do what we do?'; in other words, if you visit the kitchens this weekend you'll see an exhibition of images of past cookery events - to show how we've evolved the interpretation over time. You'll also get a chance to see and handle some of the original artifacts that we have used and studied and then had reconstructed to try out, you'll also have the chance to get much closer to some of the items that we take for granted in our work and that normally would be out of the way on our side of the work area.
We will be cooking too, don't worry about that; however we will be in modern chefs whites (if they arrive in the post) and aim to cook a selection of recipes from all of the periods of cookery that we have done in the past - with a real aim to demonstrate quick, easy to prepare dishes that are eminently cookable in a modern kitchen, as well as preparing and practicing some of the techniques and dishes that we don't often get a chance to cook.

The final thing that you'll get a chance to see is some of the different clothes that we have made over the years. Usually you don't get much of a chance to see these close up due to the fact that we are wearing them, but for this weekend you can have a close look at the construction techniques used along with the fabrics and many of the small objects that we all carry in our pockets. Hopefully it'll prove to be an interesting event for all concerned......but I do have to stress the highly experimental nature of this weekends event.

Finally for tonight, the last installment of the photo love story!

forming the mix into balls, and then poaching them in water:

so that they are ready to go onto the spit:

And lastly....the amount of parsley that we used to get a good amount of green juice from:

....don't worry about waste though, we didn't use all of the juice that Barry and Jorge made, we saved the excess (I hope!) and aim to use it this weekend to try and make green comfits - sugar coated seeds.

Same rules as usual.....text only this weekend and pictures next week........TTFN

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Would You Adam And Eve It??

Despite the typical holiday weekend weather (rain, rain and more rain) it looks like we had around 2000 ticket sales a day each day this weekend!

The weather was really lousy on Sunday with the kitchen resembling the proverbial black hole of no photographs due to the lack of light. Also that day absolutely nothing of note happened hence the lack of a post that night, I'm pretty sure that you're as fed up reading 'and all the dishes made it to the table' as I am writing it.

Sunday was a little better light wise, so a few pictures were taken and I've put the first batch up on Flikr for all to see.
Until we get a 'proper' picture of Jorge - you tart - here is the best I can do at the moment:

He's on the right and is probably pondering whether or not he should have some more beef? (hence his comment about becoming part cow - by ingestion if nothing else). To be honest I never thought that he wouldn't be able to do the job, otherwise we wouldn't have asked him to join us and it was good to see that, as Helen has commented, he slotted into place right away and only the lack of grime on his clothes pointed to him being the 'new boy'. He has also brought some new ideas to some of the techniques that we were using over the weekend so he's not just a pretty face!

Plenty of video was taken for me to edit together ready for next weekend, but that can wait until tomorrow. I'll endeavour to post the best bits up for you to look at.....but will probably save the best until after next weekend........well, you never know, you might come to the palace and see it for yourselves and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise now would I?

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Baptism Of Fire?

Well, not really! Jorges first day 'front of house' was surprisingly busy for a Saturday. Pretty similar to the last Bank Holiday weekend as it happens......very busy very early on......and staying that way until the rains came at about 4.30.
So saying, he's not exactly new to all of this. We've known him for years and he's been on our list of suitable candidates for most of that time as he's done similar stuff as a hobby for decades now! He fits in well with the team (equally filthy minded tee hee), good with the public and posessing a good all round knowledge base........only time will tell if he truly 'meshes' with everyone else.

Apart from that, very little to report i'm afraid.....hopefully more tomorrow.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Status Report.......

kitchen is set up, food is in store, boys are ready to go.
Jorge the new bug is here and given the chance would be at work now, he's that excited! We're off down the pub to 'sedate' him as i think it'll be the only way of calming him down!

More news tomorrow boys & girls.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Standby For Action!

Bags are packed, menu is ready, deliveries are expected, charcoal and wax are there already.......lets get ready to cook!

We're all set now for this weekend of cookery, just got to get there tomorrow to start it all in motion. Next weekend is still somewhat of an enigma it must be said. the broad strokes are there, just the nitty gritty that's lacking at the moment.....not that I'm worried, as it will all come good on the day I'm sure, but that optimism doesn't help with putting the shopping list together - which is tomorrows main priority.

I've sent the final set of Roberts pictures from the last weekend to Flikr for you to see and we're now up to date and ready to take a load more this weekend. With the June weekend in such close proximity to this May bank holiday event the picture posting will I'm sure blur into one, but should at least tide you over until the July weekend (for those who don't know already we shall be cooking on the first whole weekend of each month this year)

I've a fair idea of some of the images i want/need to take to fill in some gaps, as well as some video that needs shooting for use next weekend. Tomorrow will see another test of our ideas for projection of images and video that we have planned for next week; preliminary tests on Wednesday were remarkably encouraging and if it all 'comes good' then it should be a pretty cool weekend.....but more of that next week.

As mentioned above, the new delivery of wax arrived a couple of days ago, so hopefully work on the fountain will progress apace (fingers crossed). New boy jorge is all set and raring to go, so a busy weekend of cookery, wax and training awaits us.

Usual rules apply - I'll blog when/if I can each night but text only until we get back due to the limitations of technology.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Not Much To Say....

....other than there are now a few more images at the Flikr account for you to look at should you wish, a few digital shots by me and the rest by won't be hard pushed to tell the difference.

Preparations for this coming weekends cookery are pretty much now in place, all the food is ordered, hopefully the charcoal that is on order will arrive.....along with the wax so that the boys can continue with the fountain.
This weekend will see our 'new boy' starting with us, Jorge....pretty much a baptism of fire I feel but apparently he's looking forward to a weekend of hard work and washing bronze pots !?! (don't worry, he'll learn)

Preparations for this weekend may be sorted out, but the following weekend (June 2nd and 3rd) is still a way off being sorted. We've got lots of grand plans, but little substance at the moment!
It's all very good planning a weekend showing how the interpretation in the kitchen is done, how it's all researched and how the work has evolved over the years, but that does mean an awful lot of things needs to be sorted out; so this week will see a lot of work being done to get this nailed down......images to be printed, labels to write and objects to sort out; as well as some video to edit, although this can't be done until early next week as some of it will be shot this weekend. Fear not though.... for those of you who can't get to Hampton Court for that weekend (most of you I'm guessing) I'll post the video up for you to see, along with many of the images that we'll be using .......along with the usual pictures of the weekend itself.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

What A Busy Weekend!!

It certainly seems to be that way, with views of the blog at record levels - Thanks to you all and I hope that you are finding something here that you like.

Another test of sorts here:

In theory, just place your cursor onto the image, left-click and hold down then drag the image huh? (sorry Robert, I doubt that you'll be able to see it....I'll show you at work next week)
I'm not sure how long this will be here for due to the bandwidth usage and the limit that's imposed by my hosting site, so enjoy. Hopefully in the future we'll be taking some more of different areas of the palace, possibly some places that you can't normally see.....but we'll see how it goes.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Photo Love Story

Why? Quite simply because we all loved how this recipe turned out!!


¶Take fayre buttys of Vele & hewe hem

and grynd hem in a morter, & wyth þe olkys of eyroun, & with þe whyte of eyroun; an caste þer-to powder Pepyr, Canel, Gyngere, Clowys powþer, & datys y-mynced, Safroun, & raysonys of Coraunce, an sethe in a panne wyth fayre water, an let it boyle; þan wete þin handys in Raw eyroun, þan take it an rolle it in þin hondys, smaller or gretter, as þow wolt haue it, an caste it in-to boyling water, an let boyle y-now; þan putte it on a Spete round, an lete hem rosty;

þen take flowre an olkys of eyroun, an þe whyte, an draw hem þorwe a straynowre, an caste þer-to pouder Gyngere, an make þin bature grene

with þe Ius of Percely, or Malwys, in tyme of ere Whete,

an caste on þe pommys as þey turne a-boute,

& serue forth.

To be honest, we were all fairly convinced that they would fall off of the spit in minutes and would never even get to the batter stage. So when they came off the spit, finished and looking like they did.....well we were stunned. The fact that several members of the public thought we had some apples in a bowl was just a bonus. It was so successful that I've put it on the menu again for the coming cookery weekend to make sure that it wasn't a fluke.
This time we'll be trying to make them a little smaller, less like modern cultivated apples.......and we'll aim to get more photographs of the process to fill in the blanks.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Later Than Planned.....

Finally finished sorting out the menu for the next cookery weekend 26th-28th May:

as usual I expect that the above image is a little too wide to fit comfortably here on the screen, but you get the idea I'm sure.
The more observant of you will notice a fair few similarities between this menu and the last weekends one, no you aren't mistaken it's all part of the grand plan so to speak.
The repetitions are recipes that we want to try again but with subtle variations to see what, if any differences those variations may make. So with the arbolettys for example we shall be trying it with a different cheese to last time, when we used Cheshire. Here is the recipe for you to have a look at:

¶Take Milke, Boter an Chese, & boyle in fere; þen take eyroun, & cast þer-to; þan take Percely & Sawge & hacke it smal, & take pouder Gyngere & Galyngale, and caste it þer-to, and þan serue it forth.

The poumes:

¶Take fayre buttys of Vele & hewe hem, and grynd hem in a morter, & wyth þe olkys of eyroun, & with þe whyte of eyroun; an caste þer-to powder Pepyr, Canel, Gyngere, Clowys powþer, & datys y-mynced, Safroun, & raysonys of Coraunce, an sethe in a panne wyth fayre water, an let it boyle; þan wete þin handys in Raw eyroun, þan take it an rolle it in þin hondys, smaller or gretter, as þow wolt haue it, an caste it in-to boyling water, an let boyle y-now; þan putte it on a Spete round, an lete hem rosty; þen take flowre an olkys of eyroun, an þe whyte, an draw hem þorwe a straynowre, an caste þer-to pouder Gyngere, an make þin bature grene with þe Ius of Percely, or Malwys, in tyme of ere Whete, an caste on þe pommys as þey turne a-boute, & serue forth.

were so successful last time that we are trying them again to make sure that our success wasn't just a fluke of luck!! I'll post some pictures of them later on (yes I know I'm a tease) but in the mean time I've sent a small number of other pictures to flikr for you to see.

The repetitions in the dinner menus are there not just to try variations but because those recipes are quite easy to prepare the day before and finish quickly before the meal time of 10.00 a.m. - bear in mind that we don't start work 'till 9.00 a.m. so there isn't enough time to cook a meal from scratch, yes I know that we could serve the meal later but you'll just have to read the earlier posts to find out why we don't!

Milke rostys is the one I'm looking forward to trying again the most:

¶Milke Rostys.
¶Take swete Mylke, an do it in a panne; take Eyroun with alle þe whyte, & swenge hem, & caste þer-to; colour it with Safroun, & boyle it so þat it wexe þikke; þan draw it þorw a straynoure, & nym that leuyth, & presse it: & whan it is cold, larde it, & schere on schevres, & roste it on a Gredelle, & serue forth.

It really isn't much of a dish to eat but I'm pretty sure that the hunch Robin had about how to cook it will prove to give good results and it's the technique in this case that is the more fascinating part of the dish.........well I think so at least. In the past we have had plenty of attempts at this recipe but it's always gone awry at the last stage:

larde it, & schere on schevres, & roste it on a Gredelle, & serue forth.

Robin now thinks that rather than cooking it on the gridiron over the fire as you normally might with the iron, you should use it to support the curd next to the fire and roast it ie: by using radiant heat. It really seems quite obvious in retrospect, but that's always the way with hindsight eh? That at least would reduce the chances of it sticking to the iron like crazy glue and then burning....well that's his theory anyway. Stay tuned to find out more in a week and half's time!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Where Are My Manners?

Having mentioned the influx of visitors to the site in yesterdays post I neglected to say
HELLO to you rude of me, for which I apologise. I hope that you enjoy the blog and continue to keep track of all the stuff that we do at Hampton Court Palace, feel free to ask questions should the feeling take you, I'll do my best to answer all comments and questions.

More pictures sent to Flikr today, the usual mish mash of stuff from the last cookery event, no 'stand out' images, just the general run of the mill stuff.

The wax fountain has reached a bit of an impasse until the new wax arrives unfortunately. Dave spent most of Saturday and Sunday either gilding the lions on the lower stage, or getting children to do it for him (guess who turned out to do the better job?) whilst Adrian did a lot of chatting to the public and sterling work in keeping the washing up under control. Come Sunday afternoon though, they decided to have a look at their previous handy work, the St George and the Dragon, to see how it was doing. To their surprise it was starting to sag a little due to the weight of the dragon and the mountain base was beginning to collapse.
This was in part due to the technique that they had employed to build it in the first place, out of several individual pieces 'welded' together - in all fairness they were learning as they went and pretty much as soon as they'd finished the mountain they said that they'd much rather have cast it in one piece.

Anyway, long story short.., whilst trying to shore the mountain and dragon up it all began to fall apart, which it turns out gave them the ideal opportunity to do as they had wanted to earlier and cast the mountain in one piece:

as you can see being done in the video.

As it turns out, the new mountain although much stronger than the previous version, was just a touch on the small side:

but at least with this new stable platform they can add to it to improve the look without the fear of it collapsing again too soon..........well that's the theory anyway, only time will tell.

Tomorrow sees me working on the menus for the next cookery weekend along with some more planning for the June weekend, so I should be able to let you all have a sneak preview soon....fingers crossed.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Back To The Usual Stuff

Having sorted out the car fiasco (Thanks Dad!) it's back to business.

Well what a week that ended up being, not just the car business but the sudden influx of visitors to the blog...I'm guessing it's thanks to Elise who visited us over the Bank Holiday weekend telling her friends about it, but I could be wrong.

A small number of images have been sent to Flikr from the last weekend, don't worry there are plenty more to come. These six are from the setting up before the cookery actually begins; you can see the 2 protective layers that we put down to protect the historic brick surface - the fluffy white stuff is furnace insulation and this is topped off with a mild steel plate. This combines to even the heat distribution over the whole surface of the bricks and cuts down on pesky hot spots which are bad for the historic bricks.
Other than that, you can see Robin applying some elbow grease to washing one of the table tops that is on continuous display, plenty of hot soapy water and Bob's your clean table ready for cooking.
You'll also see one of the ceramic cook pots that has been temporarily retired from duty due to the cracks that it has developed. The aim is to carry on cooking with it until it breaks then compare the breaks to archaeological originals to see if there are any matches, hopefully this may shed light on how the Tudor originals met their end. This however needs a little bit of time and concentration applied to it, so will take place on one of the more experimental weekends later in the year.

What else????

2 videos sent to youtube; the first shows Barry trying out his 'new' mincing technique:

It uses two knives much like a Chinese chef can see the same technique being applied in the Luttrell Psalter and we've also come across it in later illustrations (which none of us can put our fingers on at the moment!!). It's quite noisy but also quite effective, with two knives built for the job then it could be a winner although not for ALL mincing jobs I'm sure.

The other video shows another test of the wax fountain:

It's coming together quite nicely as you can see, just a few more tweaks and alterations to get all the nozzles to flow evenly.

As I said earlier, more images to come along with some video of the new mountain being cast for the St George and the Dragon model that Dave and Adrian repaired.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A Brief Hiatus!!

Normal service will be resumed soon folks!
Just in the middle of some personal stuff re a car break in and the bl**dy insurance company now choosing to write the car off over a bent door!!??!! so I really don't feel like posting at the moment.....sorry.

Photographs and stuff from last weekend to follow in a day or two if you'll bear with me.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

I'm Pretty Sure You Didn't Want To Do That!!

Another busy day today with over 2500 ticket sales and the kitchens full of people all day.
All the food went very well with fyllets en galentine and the fryed benes being the standout winners with everyone.....we're now reaping the consequences of eating all those lentils though!?!

Dave and Adrian have been at a bit of a loose end today, without more wax they really are at a dead end. However, whilst showing someone who had seen the St George being started the finished model the boys noticed that it has sagged a little and needed a touch of maintenance.

"Don't worry, we'll just lift it up a bit and put some chocks in underneath....she'll be right".........famous last words.
As they picked it up, the 'mountain' base collapsed into it's many constituent parts!! The upshot being that they have cast a new 1 piece base and will be spending tomorrow rebuilding the model.....still, should keep them quiet though.
Not to worry, inspite of a low battery i did get some photo's and video for you to see.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

1800 And Counting

Was todays ticket sales, which for a Saturday is pretty good. We had a kitchen full of people all day which kept our minds off of the fact that today we worked on 19 dishes!!
Admitedly, not all of them were for today and not all of them were full dishes...for example one of them was roasting the pork for tomorrows fyllets en galentine....but 19 none the less.

Plenty of pictures were taken and a couple of videos, one of the fountain being tested to check that all the nozzles work....but you'll have to wait until next week to see them i'm afraid.
There's not so much progress being made on the fountain at the moment as we are waiting for more wax to be delivered....that doesn't mean the chaps are slacking, just that the work is less 'visible' than previously seen from them.

That's all for now.....more tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

A Departure From The Norm!

will be the only way to describe the June weekend i think. For those of you who didn't already know, this year the Tudor cookery will be taking place on the first weekend of each month along with holiday weekends and between Christmas and New Year (forthcoming dates will be to your right as you read this!).
For the holiday weekends we will be running the kitchen pretty much as you'll have seen here in the blog - as part of the Palace wide Tudor experience, producing two meals a day ready for the correct Tudor meal times. On the other weekends the aim is to do something a little different, some experimental work, some investigative work and with the June weekend......a little bit of a retrospective:

You'd never believe we had so little equipment would you?

The idea for the June weekend is to give you the visitor an idea of how much the project has changed over the years, to find out what you see in the kitchen is based on, to get a hands on and close up look at some original artefact's as well as looking at some of the stuff we don't use anymore as research has made it redundant.

There will be a chance to see photo's from earlier years cookery events, like this blast from the past:

which I think is from 1996, when it would appear that we weren't expecting any visitors!?! that can be the only reason for us to have the tables so far forward into the kitchens.

The aim is to have the kitchen divided into 3 areas. The first will have photo's from our dim and distant past, along with some original artefact's, reproductions and other items for you to handle and get a much closer look than normal.

The second area will have some cookery happening in it, simple stuff from all the time periods that we have displayed in the kitchens......the sort of recipes that you can try at home probably, although I have yet to work that bit out.

The third area will have some of the historic clothes available for you to get a close look at, to see how they were made and more importantly, how they've fared over their days/weeks/month of use and as usual all the guys will be on hand to answer any and all you questions.
This will be your chance to see how things have changed from when we used to look like this paragon of youthful virtue:

Bless his cotton socks eh?

So if you're at a loose end over the weekend June 2nd/3rd then pop in to see how much things have changed. Don't forget as well that we're cooking this weekend - Saturday to Monday - as well as the next Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month so if you get a chance, pop in and see the kitchens in action first hand.

Text posts for the next few days boys and girls then I'll play catch up with pictures when we get back from the weekend.

Phew....Mamouth Posting

43 pictures just uploaded to flikr for you to enjoy...or not!
A bit of a rush job in choosing the pictures to send in order to get all of the Easter images posted before we take a load more this weekend. As usual, there is no real order to the pictures or any real reason behind which pictures I've chosen, but this selection does include my personal favourite from the Easter event:

Unsurprisingly it involves Dave and some early morning madness, but it does aptly illustrate what I love about the work we do.
Easter saw somewhere between 15 and 20 thousand visitors come to Hampton Court and to be honest, it felt at times like we had spoken to all of them, the extra work involved in having the dinner at 10.00 a.m., lots of washing up, hot weather yet despite all of this, everyone still manages to find time to arse about!?!
There aren't many jobs about where everyone that you work with actually enjoys going to work, admittedly there are times when we all struggle to get through a day, but all in all working in the kitchens is genuinely fun.

Hopefully this weekend will prove to be equally as good as Easter, if nothing else, we'll certainly be kept busy by the menu I've planned.

More later today...mainly to tell you all about the June cookery.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Better Late Than Never!

Sorry for the delay, I know I said that I'd post on Monday.......but I didn't, so there.

To make up for lost time there's a bumper crop for you to see over at Flikr, 18 of Roberts images from Easter, some cracking ones at that - including some up close and personal of the've been warned.

Also as promised, here are the menus for this coming weekends cookery (again a little wider than the blog can cope with, but you get the idea) :

'twas finalized last week and the shopping lists are in, so here's hoping it all works out this weekend.
The observant amongst you will notice that dinner has grown a little compared to Easter... hopefully we'll be able to cope, but I'm sure that you'll find out if we don't.

I splurged out today and bought myself a new camera....thanks to certain peoples generosity. This means I won't have to be reliant on Robin for his camera to take digital images to show you, but should mean that we get a greater ability to capture images as there should always be a camera about within the kitchen area.

More pictures tomorrow, and some info' about the June cookery weekend....somewhat of a departure from the norm as it happens.

As a sneaky peek and a bit of a clue to what June's this gormless git: