Sunday, 30 March 2008

More More More!!

Fourteen more of Roberts pictures from the Easter weekend are up at Flickr now, like this one:

The Kigs Beast

There's still plenty more to come in the next week before we venture forth and cook some more again, this time for the first weekend in April, which also coincides with the new 'Easter' schools holiday so we'll be cooking again at the end of the week as well (Saturday to Monday inclusive then Friday to Sunday inclusive), so there'll be plenty of opportunities for more pictures coming up......not sure where they're going to go as all my hard drives are now at bursting point with images from the cookery.....looks like it'll be time to archive off to DVD some time this week then.

So, what are we going to be doing next weekend then? ............

1st April weekend menus

should answer that!

Some recipes we've never done before.........along with some old friends.........which shold give us an interesting time I hope, along with some good stuff to talk to visitors about.......not too sure about

¶Soupes Jamberlayne.
¶Take Wyne, Canel, an powder of Gyngere, an Sugre, an of eche a porcyoun, þan take a straynoure & hange it on a pynne, an caste ale þer-to, an let renne twyis or þryis throgh, tyl it renne clere; an þen take Paynemaynne an kyt it in maner of brewes, an toste it, an wete it in þe same lycowre, an ley it on a dysshe, an caste blawnche powder y-now þer-on; an þan caste þe same lycour vp-on þe same soppys, an serue hem forth in maner of a potage.

but I've been wrong before!! This one looks intriguing too

¶Malmenye Furne.
¶Take gode Milke of Almaundys, & flowre of Rys, & gode Wyne crete, or þe brawn of a Capoune, oþer of Fesaunte, & Sugre, & pouder Gyngere, & Galyngale, & of Canelle, & boyle y-fere; & make it chargeaunt, & coloure it with Alkenade, oþer with Saunderys; & if it be Red, a-lye it with olkys of Eyroun; & make smal cofyns of dow, & coloure hem with-owte, & bake on an ovyn, & coloure with-ynne & wyth-oute; þen haue Hony y-boylid hote, & take a dyssche, & wete þin dyssche in þe hony, & with þe wete dyssche ley þe malmenye & þe cofyns; & whan þey ben bake, & þou dressest yn, caste a-boue blaunche pouder, Quybibe, mace, Gelofre; & þanne serue it forth.

But as usual, we'll have to wait and see how it all goes next week.....Now, off to sort through some of those pictures for you....

Friday, 28 March 2008

Another Lesson Learned.......

A brief post today to let you know that I've just uploaded some of Roberts pictures from last weekend for you to see, like this one here:

almond skins

Having looked through all of the first 2 days images there are some absolute corkers, especially the nighttime shots like this one:

dramatic night sky

The problem is/was.......DUST......yep, Robert forgot about getting dust on the sensor whilst changing lenses, made worse by the long exposure times, giving rise to some interesting U.F.O.'s in some of the shots! Given the time I'll see what I can do with Photoshop to get rid of the black spots in the middle of the pictures.
Still the lesson was learned and the next couple of days shots look to be dust free....which you'll see in good time.

As I say, just a brief post, more later I hope.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Flipping Fountain Flim Flam!?!!?

Well back home from the weekend and time to stick a few pictures and the like up for you to see I suppose.
First things first though, Dave and Adrian seem to have got a second wind with the wax fountain and what had turned into somewhat of an albatross around their necks has suddenly turned around and it's now all steam to get it finished......hopefully in the next two weekends (over April). The aim is to paint the decoration as well as to add decorative marbled wax plaques I believe, so no video of the finished working item as I thought there may be, instead there's this one for you to see

This is the culmination of the weekends work on the fountain I suppose, the wax Bacchus that sits on the top of it. In the video you can see the guys dipping the roughly shaped figure in red wax, they were attempting the lifelike pink hue of skin, but ended up with bronze........I'm not sure which is worst, Dave's football commentator stylings or Adrian's nipple fetish!?!

Only 4 pictures from the weekend from be honest I just didn't get much of a chance to snap away and when I did I'm afraid my heart just wasn't in it.....Robert on the other hand went mad for it.......over 3Gb of pictures crammed onto my hard drive now, just a matter of sorting them out and posting them up in tantalizingly small batches left for me to do. I've been playing around with some previous pictures and I put the results over at Flickr though...

polar panorama of the roasting kitchen

polar panorama of Baden-Powell kitchen

So how was the weekend then? Busy, mostly......cold, mostly and quite productive as not only did we have some success with a colour experiment thanks to Elise, we also came up with some conclusions and theories to do with food service and lent for the end of year report.....I'll let you all know when I've submitted it and it's been accepted.
I think that Elise had a good weekend........well she did keep coming back so that's a positive sign I think, she certainly took plenty of notes and pictures too, no doubt we'll find out from her if she had a good time or not when she returns back home. She very kindly gave us a bottle of mead to drink, which we did with the final meal of the weekend and jolly good it was too......thank you very much, you really didn't have to. We did spoil her a little on the Monday, letting her try some of the roast beef and the tarte owte of lente, the look on her face showed that we might have got those two right anyway ;-)

I don't like bank holiday weekends as they 'steal' a day from the week.....I still keep thinking this is Monday when it's not, so it's time for me to get my finger out and plan the menu for next weeks cooking......along with the shopping list, the meat part of which will need to be done by tomorrows close of I go then......

Sunday, 23 March 2008

It Snow Joke!

Blimey, loads of snow falling this morning when we got up.......good job it didn’t settle and a good job that it warmed up a bit today as about cold yesterday, everything and I mean everything went cold on the supper table within minutes and it made for a pretty miserable time as far as I was concerned.....the rest of the guys were more upbeat, but I just can’t push myself to eat cold fish.....eyuk!?!

Today was much more of a success I think, possibly because we were back to a meat based existence, possibly because it was warmer who knows but time really did fly today and we were nice and busy with lots of visitors that were fun to talk to.
Dave and Adrian have decided that this is it for the wax fountain and all the stops have been pulled out in an effort to get it finished by the end of tomorrow. Today I shot some video of them finishing off the Bacchus figure that sits at the very top........dipping the rough wax model into a red wax, coloured with alkanet, to smooth him off and give him what was supposed to be a ‘lifelike’ pink hue, although he went much more ‘bronze’ so their just as happy with that as he looks like a cast bronze statue now. Fingers crossed that after tomorrow I’ll be able to show you footage of the finished fountain in operation.

It was a meeting of the blog commenter’s today with Helen joining Elise in front of the tables for the proved to be quite handy as they ended up discussing the days recipes with each other and assorted other visitors giving us a nice little break from chatting for a while.......they also kept picking me up on the recipe selection I had made for the day.......ok so I meant to have written soupes dorroy rather than soppes dorre, well I knew which one I meant (even if Marc H says that’s not the case!) sue me eh!?!

Apart from that, not a massive amount to tell about today, we did try using chafing dishes on the table today, our newish ceramic ones got their first use.......and possibly their last as they now have dirty great cracks in them......oh well, at least they did the job though and the buknade stayed piping hot throughout the meal; not that I was too interested in that when there was perre, wardons in syryp and crustade lumbarde on the table, although Adrian and Ross managed to make great inroads into the wardons before I got there!

It looks like another clear night outside, so it’s off to find Robert now to see what new pictures he’s taking.........’fraid you’ll have to wait until Tuesday to see yourselves.

.........All change now as I've just managed to coax the technology into getting an internet connection....all the above was written for a mobile phone posting, but now you can have this

which is the video of the turbot roasting on Friday, I haven't processed todays video yet (read that as checked the audio for incriminating evidence) so that will come later on along with the pictures from the last couple of days.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Right Brassed Off!!

Damn the white heat of technology!!?!
Well as they say it's all gone Pete Tong with the posting today and I'm back to the mobile phone and the last pennies of call credit for this post. Fingers crossed that I can sort it for tomorrow, if not then I'm afraid you'll have to wait until I get home for pictures, video and witty banter!

Shame really as I'd sorted out video of the turbot being roasted along with some pictures of a small success that an idea from Elise resulted in. Still all in the fullness of time people eh!
Off for a consolation pint then I suppose......having left Robert out in the bitter cold that we've had all day taking pictures of the Palace by moonlight.......hopefully you'll see the results soon.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Fishy Fingers!!

Rammed to the gunwales is what we were today......absolutely rammed with visitors!! Well it turns out that because of the French president visiting HM the Queen at Windsor, it was shut to visitors (and will be all weekend) so we got all the coach tours that would normally have gone there......wall to wall non-English speaking students for the first few hours.

What did we do today? Lots of fish....roasting a turbot, crab and salmon stew and eel.........which was interesting shall we say!?!

The recipe was this one
¶Blanche porrey.
¶Take blanche almondes, And grinde hem, and drawe hem with sugur water thorg a streynour into a good stuff mylke into a potte; and þen take þe white of lekes, and hew hem small, and grynde hem in a morter wit brede; and þen cast al to þe mylke into þe potte, and caste þerto sugur and salt, and lete boyle; And set feyre poudrid eles in faire water ynowe, and broile hem on a gredren; and kut hem in faire longe peces, and ley two or thre in a diss togidre as ye do veneson with ffurmenty, And serue it forthe.

all seemed to go well, but we did botch the sauce due to not reading the recipe and too much talking to the public, so we forgot to grind the leeks up (oops!!), not that it mattered too much from my messes point of view as the finished dish tasted bloody awful..........just like eating mildew!?!?! The other mess reckoned that it tasted fine, so could have been our bowl, but even so a dismal failure taste wise as far as I was concerned.

The rest of the dishes? Let's just say I'll be glad when Sunday is here and we can go back to a meat based lifestyle.

A few pictures up at Flickr today, so pop over and take a look.

I did take some video of the turbot on the spit, hopefully I'll edit it and post that up tomorrow, but who knows. Just to reassure Doc that we are certainly taking lots of pictures and when we finish I'll sort through Roberts superior pictures and put those up for you all to see, until then you'll have to make do with mine I'm afraid.

Just a final note to say that regular viewer and commenter Elise has made it over for her annual visit to see the kitchens, camera and notebook in hand. I look forward to hearing what she thought of the weekend when we all finish.


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Upcoming Easter Eating.

As promised, here is the plan for this coming weekends escapades:

Easter menu's Easter and we're back to the wonderful world of fish and lent for 2 days......providing all the ingredients arrive.......still not had confirmation from one of our new suppliers which makes me a teensy bit nervous, still tomorrow will tell what happens and I'm sure that we're all man enough to cope with whatever is sent our way!

A few new (for us anyway) recipes for the first 2 days, then back to the usual meat feast for the last two.....which will also finish up all that we have in store in the freezer. Hopefully we'll also be able to sort out the next weekends cookery in the evenings as well as it's not too far away and I've got all the usual end of year paperwork to fit in between then and now as well.

Fingers crossed that we'll be able to post some pictures and if I remember that the camera is able to take video, some of that too over the weekend as well as the usual inane blabber.


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Uh Where Did That Come From?!

So much for posting yesterday as I'd mentioned in the last post.......sat down at 7.00 after dinner and fell asleep, apart from a brief spell to get up and go to bed, until today.....looks like the jet lag and lack of sleep on the last day kind of crept up on me there......still, lets make up the balance now eh!

Saturday was the day of our what turned out to be a packed house, 65 or so people had booked and I believe we topped out at 67 plus staff which was none too shabby considering the foul weather that we had (the storms that day were the ones that hit the UK badly early the following week). I was quite surprised by the crowd we had, some had driven for 3 hours to be there!! We had a stalwart of the Oxford food symposium with us and a fellow blogger too....nice to finally put a face to a visitor to the blog here! I think it went well, we certainly went on for long enough at least, still you'll have to check out the Hemyngton100's blog for an independent review.
After lunch Tony took us for a drive around the area, looking at other mill sites in the valley and giving us a taste of the local countryside, unfortunately this was curtailed a little because of the storm and a downed tree

fallen tree

Although it did give us an idea of what to do the next day, a genuine day off it appeared.

Sunday we visited the Winterthur estate, one time home of some of the Du Pont family (as it would seem most of this part of Delaware was at one time or another!) To have a look at the art collection......who knew it would turn into work and research as they have quite a nice collection of early 18th century ceramics which may well come in handy to know in a few years time!......It wasn't all laughs though as we felt honour bound to look at this whilst we were there

soup tureens!

phew it was a riot I can tell you!!

Monday came and it was time to leave Tony and the mill, a more gracious host we could not have had and as I mentioned before, I certainly came away from the Mill inspired by what Tony and the guys there have done and are doing.......outstanding.
A brief detour to Silver Spring outside of Washington DC to visit the Discovery Channel and have Thai for lunch with some old friends there, before driving back North to New York City.

I'm glad that we went, but I'd never recommend driving through the city.....ever!! Still we had to in order to get to the airport to drop off the car, phew, what a drive, well at least we managed to see all the sights, most of which we had never intended seeing (UN building, Brooklyn bridge etc. etc.). An interesting trip on the metro to Penn station and then a swift walk to our hotel, slap opposite Madison Square Gardens........perfect location, not such a perfect room, but a bed, TV, shower and toilet so it had all the important parts.

Tuesday was set aside to a brief chat at Bon Apetite magazine then a little sightseeing in New York. The weather was fantastically bright so we plumped for a trip to the Empire State building......and although I'd love to visit by night I think we picked the day to do it as our last day was distinctly overcast. Talk about a learning experience, the Empire State will show you just how good value a trip to most visitor attractions in the UK is. Designed for queuing that would put Disney to shame it was quite a shock to walk straight up to the ticket desk (via the now ubiquitous metal detectors and x-ray machines). $20 admission wasn't too bad, but all the way to the desk and all the way after it it is made very clear that unless you shell for the map you'll not know what you'll be seeing from the top, fair enough but I could have done without being told that my trip would be awful without the map.....and audio guide.....and photo opportunity....and so on. It's not out of the realms of possibility to give out a free map that pointed out the main views, with the souvenir map being much more detailed. Rant aside it was an absolutely fabulous visit (if somewhat great ape light!) with fantastic views of Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island....check out the pictures at Flickr, like these:

view from the Empire State long way down!

view from the Empire State

including some panoramic shots I managed to put together (hopefully viewable at pretty much full size, sorry about some of the aberrations in the pic's but they were only snapshots put together!- click on the picture then go to all sizes to download the full size pictures) The view from the top puts New York into perspective and on reaching Terra Firma again (floor 86 to ground in about 2 minutes....including changing lifts!!) we went walking around taking pictures of several other notable landmarks like the Flat Iron building and the statue to James Gordon Bennett.
That evening we visited Times Square again (Bon Apetite is there so we'd been already that day) and the camera saw sterling action again

taxi in times square Taxi!

Wednesday was a colder, gloomier day that was spent in the Metropolitan Museum of Art....again loads of pictures, mainly for research and not a lot of interest to your good selves. That night we flew home, arriving fairly tired I must say the next morning, safe and sound in dear old Blighty......and that as they say, was that!! Fairly condensed, but in the long run it's probably a blessing for you all.

So Easter is just a few days away and if I can find where I put it I'll post the plans for the food tomorrow for you all (I better be able to find it or we'll be like a proverbial turkey at Christmas........stuffed!)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

I'm Back You Lucky People!!

Why lucky I hear you ask! Simple really, thanks to a lack of internet access over the course of the recent trip States side you are being spared the bulk of the pictures that I took........I seem to have inadvertantly taken over 3.5 Gb of pictures over the week, so you can be thankful that I'm only going to subject you to the very edited highlights along with the briefest of written descriptions, with the Easter cookery fast approaching I'm well aware of the need to tell you all about that this week as well.

I personally had a brilliant trip and I came away from our visit to Greenbank Mill absolutely astounded at the educational and interpretative programming that they do there......there isn't a square inch of the site that isn't used for some teaching purpose, many of which are quite inspired and it really has shown me that any historic site that says that they can't come up with educational or interpretational strategies really isn't trying hard at all. Hats of to Tony Shahan and all the team at the mill because they really do knock a lot of sites I've been to into a cocked hat.

So what did we do on our trip? Well having landed at Philadelphia airport and found our rental car, we took the easy drive into Delaware to the mill where Tony gave us the golden ticket tour. It's been a while since we last met up with Tony, probably 2001 at an ALHFAM conference in Williamsburg and it was good to catch up again and see what he's been doing with the's well worth visiting their web page and seeing the results of a flood in 2003 and how they brought the site back from near disaster to where it is now by teaming up with local colleges and so on......but I digress. After the full works tour and a bite to eat in a local Italian eatery (location still a mystery due to jet lag and darkness) it was time for a nights sleep ready for what turned out to be a fully packed day on the Friday.

After a chilly night Friday turned out to be baking day, with the oven at the mill being fired for us to try out some of our bread recipes........which proved to be interesting to say the least. It was good to see that the problems that we've been having with bread and the early recipes wasn't just down to us being inept as we had limited success with our recipes at Greenbank. Although so saying, the bread looked like c*&£ on the outside, but was pretty even on the inside and not too bad to taste either. We learnt a lot and I hope to be able to put it into practice at work soon (more of that though when we get round to bread again). After bread we tried a tart, tartes owte of lente actually, it was a little spur of the moment so we had to make do with ingredients from the local Acme store.....I still can't work out what ultra pasteurized cream is, either it's pasteurized or it isn't surely.....the end results weren't pretty, mainly because we left the tart to cook in the cooling oven whilst we all went out to dinner, but at least it was edible.....more astonishingly so was the crust that had been in contact with the oven floor which I was expecting to be like concrete! An early night was in store ready for Saturday and the presentation that we were giving.

I'll leave you today with one of my favourite images from the first couple of days pictures

view over Long Island

Taken as we flew over Long Island heading towards Philadelphia.

Hopefully I'll have finished sorting out the rest of the pictures tomorrow and can regale you with more of what we did last week when I post tomorrow as my bed is calling me to sleep now!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Did You Miss Me?

Yes we're back in Blighty.........24 odd hours without sleep and slightly the worse for jet lag I finally get home to a stable internet connection and a nice warm bath!

A cracking week in the US and a successful one to boot, loads of PR work done, quite a bit of research for the future and a metric shed load of pictures taken, some of which may be of interest to you fine folks. As soon as I return to reality and sort through them I'll start regular postings again, probably tomorrow all things willing.


Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Fly Me To The Moon......

....well Philadelphia at least. Yes we head off into international airspace again tomorrow on a flight to the US for another brief visit.
This time Greenbank Mill in Delaware will be our primary destination to talk about some weaving work that they can do for us and then on to New York city for a spot of press and promotional work.....and hopefully a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art if time permits.
It does seem a little extravagant for the Palace to be sending us, but apparently the press benefits are well worth the costs just means that we pack in a lot to really make the trip worth while.

It's been a while since I travelled to the East coast, with all of the recent trips being to the Huntington library in Pasadena, I'm quite looking forward to it I think!?!
The bags are all packed as are several memory cards for the camera, just the laptop to go then it's ready for the off tomorrow morning. I have absolutely no idea if I'll be able to access the wonderful world of the Internet at all during this trip so things may get a little quiet round here. Just to let you know that if that turns out to be the case then normal service will resume (hopefully with a shed load of pictures as well) in just over a weeks time, otherwise you'll just have to put up with all of the usual inane rubbish.

The Easter menu is sorted so I'll let you know what we'll be cooking that weekend as soon as I get back to Blighty!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

It's Always The Way......

.....with these weekends, loads and loads planned, lots of reasons to take loads of pictures and do we? Do we hell!!
I've just uploaded the best of the pictures to Flickr, admittedly there are a number of others that are good quality, but to be honest they don't tell much of a story.......well not until Robert writes up all that he did this weekend with his bread making experimenting, so until then these sparse few will have to suffice I'm afraid.

The weekend was a great learning experience in terms of how to do these 'non kitchen' kitchen events, hopefully the next one that we do in 'whites' will have a lot of improvements that we learned from these two days.

One of the biggest questions of the weekend was to do with this recipe:

¶Tartes of Frute in lente.
¶Take Fygys & sethe hem wyl tyl þey ben neyssche; þan bray hem in a morter, & a pece of Milwel þer-with; take ham vppe & caste roysonys of coraunce þer-to; þan take Almaundys & Dates y-schred þer-to; þan take pouder of Pepir & meng with-al; þen putte it on þin cofynne, & Safroun þin cofynn a-boue, & opyn hem a-bowte þe myddel; & ouer-cast þe openyng vppon þe lede, & bake hym a lytel, & serue forth.

Specifically the bit at the end & opyn hem a-bowte þe myddel; & ouer-cast þe openyng vppon þe lede

I kind of left Robin to it, although did put my ideas to him and we ended up with a pie that looked like this

Tartes of frute in lente

Not sure if that's right or not although it's what I saw when I read the recipe to myself......though I'm not sure now!?!

Any thoughts?

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Mind Your Language!

Not a bad day today all things considered; although as I've commented on before, with these 'odd' weekends we do seem to get less made whilst talking so much more!

The biggest 'success' of the day was the recipe for

¶Flathouns in lente.
¶Take & draw a þrifty Milke of Almandes; temper with Sugre Water; þan take hardid cofyns, & pore þin comad þer-on; blaunche Almaundis hol, & caste ther-on Pouder Gyngere, Canelle, Sugre, Salt, & Safroun; bake hem, & serue forth.

Before we arrived I'd double checked on the medieval/Tudor meaning of the word thrifty because on first glance this recipe seems doomed to a sloppy ersatz custard with no setting agent!! As it happens thrifty means almost the opposite of what we would think today, the best way of thinking about it is 'fit for purpose' or 'suitable' so Marc H and I had a chat and decided to cook 2 versions. One with a wet almond milk and one with a much thicker paste type almond milk.....both with the lumps still in but one with much much less liquid.

So having had the paste cases blind baked

Marc then set about filling it with the stiff paste

The blanched almonds were then placed on the top with the spices and bingo it was ready for the oven.
The second case was then filled with the more liquid milk

and then spiced and 'nutted' in the same way. They were then popped into the oven and watched until they began to colour before being removed........then came the 'oh' moment as the liquid tart had set solid!!

It really was quite an unexpected result and to be honest we were both taken much so that we're going to think about doing it again on another weekend to make sure that we didn't have a freak accident!!
Pop over to the Flickr site to see some more pictures of both the variations being made. Hopefully more pictures to take tomorrow and a posting at the end of the day if you're lucky.