Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing you all the best for 2011.

With luck in the coming year I can shift this blue funk and keep you better informed than of late .

All the best and remember to drink responsibly tonight people....I may even allow myself a little drinky to celebrate the success of this event. An update will be forthcoming after the dust has settled, possibly a short one tomorrow too, but for now obscenely loud music calls to drown it all out!

TTFN and all the best

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Why So Silent?

You'll notice a dearth of detail about the Xmas event for the moment for the simple reason, it's not sorted yet and I prefer to get it right this time before giving you the nitty gritty....silly really, but that's how it is!

From our point of view in the kitchens, all is tickety boo, just the meal part to get 'right', but considering it's the first time this has been done like this for several hundred years I suppose it's not going too badly!! Fingers crossed by the end of tomorrow we'll all be sorted and I can give you the SP from our end....for now though, pop to the forum for a 'punters view' and look at the pictures and so on posted by Terry L.

I can certainly say though that it is mentally draining trying to get this event 'right'...sit down for 5 minutes and I drop off to draining in fact that I'll even let Terry's comment about me not working pass....I don't just 'supervise' you know....there is other stuff involved too!! ;o)


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone.

Fingers crossed for a successful event over the next week and an equally successful 2011.

All the best.


Friday, 24 December 2010

The Die Is Cast!

Right, that's it, I've done all I'm going to towards the Christmas's now time for the holiday, short and sweet though it be honest though I really can't recall Christmas' that have been longer than Christmas and Boxing Day so wouldn't know what to do if we had the time anyway.

All the ingredients that needed to have arrived have arrived.....or, after a short delay this morning, were collected and have all now been put away in the cupboards and fridges. Some things have been portioned up, like apples for the table, to save them being forgotten and lists of daily needs are sitting on the desk ready to get started.....there's probably loads more I could have done to prepare, but in the end, enough was enough and it'll all just have to come together on the day....which I have no doubt it will...still the nagging worry about the event though, given the amount of work put in so far, but isn't that always the way with something new?

That's probably all from me until we get to work on Boxing Day, though so saying I expect I'll pop up a seasonal salutation to you all 'on the day', both here and Twitter.

Don't forget, any questions then fire away, but do try to use the forum first and foremost as that's likely to get results/answers quicker than using the comments system here.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

On Tonights Menu We Have......

Finally it's finger out time and the promised update on what we'll actually be cooking over the Christmas event!
Now that all the plans are finally signed off and in place I have to say it's all looking rather good....I know I shouldn't count proverbial chickens and that, but the dress rehearsal for the 'upstairs' component looked really good and hopefully it'll all gel together to give a really good visit. Yes there are still a few niggles, but they're all behind the scenes things like the delivery dates of ingredients and the like....nothing major, but enough to keep us on our toes and add extra work that needn't really be there, still if that's all that goes wrong then I shouldn't complain.

So, the menu then. I should first explain that the menu I planned has had to take into account a number of added factors that we normally wouldn't have to deal with. It's not like it's a doddle at the best of times as it isn't a case of just throwing dishes together willy nilly...availability of ingredients, equipment and staffing all have to be considered as well as possible cost versus the 'return' of learning outcome/interest for the visitor....add to that the complete change of taking the food into the Great Hall, a conservation sensitive area containing priceless items from the Royal Collection and all the rules and criteria that go with that...which precludes the use of very liquid dishes or anything 'staining' like red wine or berries as well as the necessary rules about how food should be transported to and carried through the Hall...all of which meant that 'simple' was the way to go.
So as I said in the original post about the event, given all the factors to take into account, we shall be cooking a menu that ostensibly sticks quite closely to one of the two courses listed for the Kings meals in the diet lists contained within the regulations for the Royal Household set down at Eltham in 1526. Obviously, in order to cook and talk to the visitors, we aren't able to prepare the full menu (that and the fact that we don't have a fully staffed kitchen!) so I cherry picked dishes that fit all the criteria and will be interesting to cook as well, hopefully, as interesting to watch.

We'll be cooking the following menu on each of the 7 days, with only the potage of flesh varying in order to give us a little variety:


Cheat and Manchet breads
A potage of flesh
Lamb stewed & chynes of mutton
Gigot of mutton stopped with cloves
Roast capon
Roast pheasant
Roast beef

The Potage of Flesh will be:

Beef y-stywyd
Fylets en galentine 
To stew steaks of mutton 
Lange wortys de chare 
Stew after the guise of beyond the sea 
Autre veal en buknade

From our point of view, cooking a large and varied number of roast meats (all of which can be served pretty 'dry' to reduce the risk of spillage) will be a challenge...getting them all ready at the same time is the aim rather than cook one, then the next and not worry too much about it going cold as we would have done in the past....well, it was only us eating it, this time, with a 'client' things are different. As I've mentioned before this is the first step on a new ladder, so perhaps in the future the balance of dish types may change....who knows.
I intend to put the recipes that we'll be using for the potage's of flesh up on the forum, in the recipe area, so that you can see what we'll be cooking and ask any questions that you'd like about them's also an easy place for people to find them if they ask when we're actually cooking so that they can have a go themselves.

There's probably more to add, but I can't think what at this time, I'll post 'it' if and when I work out what 'it' is!


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Lock In!

Phew, another good day at the coal face, if somewhat cold...especially after the sun vanished at about 1.00 when the temperature inside dropped like a stone. Still, all warmed up now, thanks to a gift of a bottle of Woods 100 rum and a marathon Clint Eastwood DVD session....there's been a rather large function at the Palace tonight and the options were stay in all night or go out and stay out until midnight, so we plumped for the former and a pleasant evening it was too.

But what about the day? Well, Terry has it fairly well covered over at the forum (in the Cookery at HCP board)...much better than I can deal with using the tiny keys on the phone here. No we didn't do a vast amount, but we did more than enough to please the visiting brave souls that we had and keep ourselves busy, as well as some testing for Christmas and leaving enough spare time to warm up now and again.
Those that couldn't make it in to work due to the poor weather were missed, but rather they were missed than take risks with travel given the state of some parts of the country.

If you've read the forum post about the day, the eagle eyed will have noticed mention of a deer...more on that when I've got a proper keyboard....but it certainly proved fascinating for the visitors.
Tomorrow, much more roasting as a precursor/test for Christmas...2 chickens, a mutton leg and a beef rib joint, all to be ready at the same time more or less. A few bonus sausages to use up to clear space in the freezer....and give us a warming snack (not sure what flavour they are, but I'm sure that Mr P will have made them nice when he made them.....whenever that was!) we've storage space for Xmas, possible coleys for me to try aalong with some more deer butchery for Robin to finish up.

More news and details after the weekend. Keep warm!


Friday, 3 December 2010

Still Not Funny?

Spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening trying to work out what we will do over the weekend, but to be honest, until we know how many are in the kitchen and what we'll have to work with...snow may well scupper the deliveries, on the other hand it might not...there's actually little point in planning anything.
I've got a few ideas of what we can do so all I can do is take the weekend one proverbial step at a time.

Off to bed now and will keep you all updated as the weekend progresses....don't forget that the main page at has the latest posts from here, the forum and Twitter too so always a useful first port of call for those who don't use the RSS feed facility here.

An update about Christmas early next week now, once we've had the chance to mull some details over between us this weekend....and I promise I'll give you the menu then too.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

December Event Is Snow Joke!!

see what I did there??

Well the weather is taking its toll on the coming weekend already. So far three of the guys won't be making it as travel is impossible for them from where the live, could be more, but we'll have to wait and see.

So far (fingers crossed) all the main roads from my direction are clear, so as long as I can get out of our road it should be fine for me....but the forecast is grim for this evening too so we'll have to see what happens overnight.

All of this means that the previous plans for this weekend of cookery are pretty much not going to happen......if you make it in to the Palace as a visitor then you'll see stuff happening in the Kitchens, but what stuff I couldn't say at this time!! pop down for a warm up by the fire though, at least we should be able to offer that for certain (fire and heat subject to availability of course ;o) )

Keep an eye out on Twitter and the blog over the weekend to see how things progress....the forum too if I can, but posting to the forum via the phone isn't as simple as Tweeting or sending a blog update....conversely, comments to the blog are more difficult to manage and reply to via the phone, so may be best to stick any blog comments on the forum if you want a speedy answer.

Still, got this evening to sort stuff out and tomorrow to work out how/if to get to work....and find out if any more won't be making it.

Will post the Xmas menu later on, but that's it for now....


Ho Ho Ho, It's [Finally The] Christmas [Plans]

Snow, snow and more snow....there's a turn up for the books! All this white stuff that's covering the country (about a foot in the front garden) means that the meeting to sort out the niggles over the Christmas event has had to be postponed until the weather improves....which means not this week for certain. As this meeting won't be for a while, it's kind of unfair to keep the poor old kitty suffering in the bag and to be honest, any potential changes to the plans don't really impact on the bulk of what's planned for the kitchens, so I think it's safe to let the moggy free and spill about Christmas!

From a very broad point of view you could say it's business as usual for the event...people will be able to visit the kitchen where they will see a meal being produced ready for the latter part of the day and this meal will then be served and eaten using period manners in front of the public, the kitchens will then prepare for the next day and the whole thing will repeat for the 7 days of the event, 27th December 2010 - 2nd January 2011 (inclusive). But that's where any similarity to the past 19 or so years ends!!
For the first time at Hampton Court for a number of years (please note the intended lack of detail here) the Tudor kitchens will prepare and cook a meal that will be served in the Great hall for the 'King' to eat each day.

Interpretation work will begin within the kitchens at 10.30 each morning and from then until 4.00 the kitchens will be active, cooking the meal and available to answer any questions as would normally be the case. The meal we will be cooking is based on the 1st course of the supper menu for the King as specified in the Eltham ordinances. I've had to fettle and fudge a little to get a meal that will work as we simply don't have the requisite number of staff or the time to be able to prepare an exact copy of the meal each day....and we won't dwell on the fact that some of the detail in the ordinances regarding dishes and quantities is 'sketchy' at best. The meal will be the same each day with the exception of the potage of flesh, which will change each day in order to give us a little variety, both in work and in eating as we get to eat the same menu but unlike previous years this will happen after the Palace closes and you've all gone home.

Why the change?

Simple really, the aim of all the work at Historic Royal Palaces is to present to the public the most accurate picture possible of life within the Palaces under the various monarchs and in the case of the vast majority of the interpretation at Hampton Court this means showing life at the Court of Henry VIII. For the past 20 years, the one thing you'd have heard more than anything else come the meal time within the kitchen was the phrase "this is showing you what it could have been like when the meal was served within the Great Hall, we're only eating within the kitchen as we're currently not allowed to do it in the Hall itself". Well for a number of years now, the aim of the interpretation was to enable this to happen, ideally with large numbers of diners to give the required sense of scale and purpose, but for now we'll make do with one diner....and if I was a visitor I'd want that diner to be Henry VIII, handy really. So this year we're implementing a prototype plan to see if we can make it work, with the aim of building on the results for the future.
There are of course slight problems, not least the public opening hours which don't allow us to show the meal at the correct time of 4.00 pm, the number of visitors also mean that we need the meal to happen earlier to ensure that people can move about the Palace freely and are not having to be coerced out of the building in order for it to be locked for the night, something that has happened in the past with the meal in the kitchen (for some reason people just want to stay and chat!). So this year the King will take the opportunity afforded to him by his position as monarch to dine at his convenience and he will eat at 2.30 within the Hall, a meal that will last approximately 30 minutes, before he retires and leaves the Hall for other purposes. This means that the day for the kitchens runs a little like this:
Start cooking at 10.30 (having started work behind the scenes at 9.00)
Food begins to leave the kitchen by 1.50 pm, heading for the Hall.
The table is laid between 2.00 and 2.30 at which point the king enters and dines.
From around 3.00 the table is cleared and the team then goes back to work in the kitchens until 4.00 when we stop for a tea break and to allow the Palace to begin to close. We'll then finish clearing up when you lovely people have left and set up ready for the next day.

Now as I said earlier, we're a little shy on staff, so in order for this all to work there are certain things we won't even bother to try to do. So you won't see the table being laid as the Hall will be shut to the public while the table is laid and the food served...we simply don't have the staff, clothing or budget to do this 'correctly' in front of people yet, so the visitors will walk in to a Hall with a laid table, the King will then enter, sit and dine. Unlike previous years, you won't be able to get close to the diner to ask questions about the meal, not only would that never have happened, he's the King after all....and as I said this is designed to give a better idea of what happened at Court....and we're entering a huge 3rd person 1st person crossover's also part of the concessions laid down by the Conservation and Collection Care department and rightly so in my opinion. They have to ensure that there is no chance of food spillage in the Hall (it's one of the reasons this has never been done before) and keeping the visitors at 'arms length' is one of the rules...still, there will be plenty of other costumed people in the room to ask, or you could ask any of us in the kitchens too.

There's probably a ton of other things you should know that I haven't said, like what the menu is, but it's that time of the night when the brain is going fuzzy, so I'm away to bed now before it all degenerates into drivel....will have a re-read tomorrow and add details like the menu, as needed.
If you've got any questions then fire away....don't forget you can always ask at the forum, you'll probably get a quicker answer there as other team members can add their 2d more easily......and I can do that via my phone, which has problems in dealing with the blog site....but I'll leave that entirely up to you.



Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Time's Up! Please Put Down Your Pencils.

That's it, time is up, the survey has now closed!

Many, many thanks to the 200 of you who responded, I truly am very grateful for you taking the time to fill in the responses and humour me with this part of the project. Now all that's left to do is to analyse the results and see what's what....obviously that will take some time and will have to wait for a little while until this weekend is out the way and plans for Christmas are finally in the bag....and the cat is released to make some room!

When some of the data is sorted I'll let you all know and post some of the results so that you can see the fruits of your endeavours too. For now though, it's back to the grind and back to Christmas plans!!


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Call The Animal Welfare, Cat Stuck In Bag!

So, there I was all ready to spill about Christmas when a short email flops into the inbox at 6.00 p.m. which, for the moment, puts all my intentions to tell you the plans for Christmas on hold!?!

It's not a massive problem or anything serious...simply that proper procedure wasn't followed during the planning process and that's put a slight hold on things whilst we sort it out. I'd hate to tell you one thing was happening then have to correct it all next week if things have changed, I hope that you can see the reasoning I'm working with here. Hopefully, when people are back to work on Monday we can sort the little hiccup out and everything will be back on track, but for now, the cat has to stay firmly shut in the bag....sorry.


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Update Updated!

FYI, the forum is all back up and running...please sing out if you notice anything amiss after the software update..thanks!

Meeting tomorrow about the Christmas event so hopefully some news for you all after that.


Forum Software Update.....

I intend to run the update TONIGHT, 24th November after 22.00 GMT.

Please check the twitter feed for updates and progress if you find the forum unavailable after this time.

Thanks all.


It's Not What You Know.....

It's who you know....well so seems to be the case with Twitter, which since the little spat with @henrytudor8 (with his obsession about a 5 bird roast!!) and a follow by me of @tudortutor and @jonathonfoyle has seen my number of followers double to a modest 50 odd, most of which within a 6 hour period....ah the twists and turns of the modern social networking....don't think I'll ever "get it".

Meeting later this week about Christmas so hopefully I'll be able to blab after that about what's planned for this years event...which I'm both excited and terrified about in equal measure. News about December's weekend will come at the same time too.

Now away to bed as another day beckons working with Robert as an education session stand in.....I'd forgotten quite how tiring it gets doing the sessions.


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Remember Remeber....

...the 5th of November, it's the set up day for another weekend of cookery at Hampton Court Palace!
As you may have seen on the forum, this event could well be subtitled "operation use up the freezer contents" as that's pretty much the order of the weekend...clearing some space up ready for the Christmas event as well as the much needed stock could be a shock what's buried in the depths of the perma frost!!

There's not a massively complex weekend of cooking planned, although it does all work towards the Christmas event too, with timing tests as well as some planning attempts for some of the dish presentations as well to be worked on, so all in all enough to keep us busy, especially given the shorter working day now that we've moved to the winter opening hours.
I should be taking photos and generally recording stuff tomorrow (Saturday) so should be able to keep you updated through the day assuming the technology holds up, Sunday less so as Robert and I change places.

Other news, Ross rejoins us after a summer away and is ever keen to crack on with the job...especially as he's not tried roasting rib joint of beef before, so is keen to see how it differs from the way thick flank/knuckle went....he's got a bit of catching up to do in that respect, but it'll be interesting to hear his thoughts on the matter.

Bit of a late night tonight, much later than planned as it happens, so it's away for some shut eye now, then back to it tomorrow.


Monday, 1 November 2010

Guest Zone Q & A

Have now added a new area to the forum that allows you to post questions, comments or queries without having to be a full signed up member.....ideal for those of you that might not want to take the plunge just yet in terms of signing up...or for people who just want to ask the one question!

That area has some additional rules and notes which are specified in the sticky at the top of the board, please read it before posting.

That's it for now, some news about the last event and plans for the next soon.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Player Problem Solved!


The problem with viewing videos should now be a thing of the past (although you may need to clear your browser cache to make sure)
It was a 'problem' with permissions....basically unless you have signed up as a Gallery member, you didn't have permission to see the video...oops!

So rather than attempt to force you all to join up, which is never going to happen, I've changed the permissions for the video album so that anyone can view the videos.

Hopefully that'll sort the trouble out....just click on the thumbnail in the original post below to go to the video in the Gallery, then click on the play button to see the video in action. Any problems then please sing out!
another big thanks to Elise for letting me know that it wasn't working for you all....without being told about problems I can't fix 'em, so thanks again.

More video to come later on....


Player Problems!!!

Right so that plan didn't work then!

Will look at why the video doesn't work and update you all as soon as I can

Pea Pushing Post!

Finally! I managed to process the videos from the October cookery weekend, although I'm having hassle in uploading them at the moment due to slooow Internet speeds, so I've limited it to just one for today...fingers crossed a new day will bring a calmer Internet and easier uploads.

This is the first of the videos to go straight to the new video album at the Gallery, so you'll have to excuse any differences from video posts in the can't watch the videos here at the blog, you have to visit the Gallery, although that may change if I can suss out the code to play the videos here.

It's a nice simple video that just shows Robin processing the cooked peas for perre by passing them through a colander to turn them into a pulp and also to remove the hulls, the latter being the main reason for the process as mentioned in the recipe. Whether that's an essential part of the recipe today with modern pea varieties is uncertain, but it's an interesting thing for the public to watch and brings about the discussion of what modern food processors can and can't do.....without fail there will always be a number of people that suggest how much easier it would be with a modern food it happens it wouldn't as without a special attachment all that would do would be to beat the peas to a pulp, but still leave the hulls in the mix (not to mention the washing up of all the parts!!). If you watch the video, towards the end Robin washes the last of the pulp through the colander and squeezes the last bits from the separated hulls, which then go neatly into the bin.

The resultant mix is the water that the peas were cooked in along with the flesh of the peas, which can then be used to finish the dish off...or would make the base for a killer Georgian period soup, either way is a winner though.

For those of you wondering why use the pestle to start with before moving on to using his hand.....simple, the peas were still hot as they had only just come off the boil and although Robin is fairly heat resistant, even he doesn't like sticking his hands in boiling hot peas! Most of the early part of the video is him 'playing' with the peas whilst chatting to the public and letting them cool down to a stage where he can get stuck in and really do the bulk of the work with his hands.

So, with all that in mind, here's the video, click on the image to view it (don't panic if you can't hear any sound, there isn't was removed to protect the innocent)...

processing peas

Just to add, for a discussion of perre just pop over to the forum (CLICK ME) and have a look at the thread on vegetable feel free to join in the discussion!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Side Project #2

Recipe and Cooking Survey.

As part of the ongoing research into the use of the Historic Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace I would like to invite you to participate in a survey that aims to find how recipes are used in modern cookery.

The answers to this survey will allow us to compare modern recipe use with what is currently known about recipe usage in Henry VIII’s reign with the statistics collected being used as part of the final documentation for this research.

The survey is completely anonymous and no personal data other than that asked for in the survey is recorded. Although all answers given by an individual are linked together, no information about that individual is recorded.

When starting the survey you will be asked a simple mathematical question, this is simply to verify that a real person is filling out the answers and not an automated system.

The survey will run from 1st October 2010 until midnight 1st December 2010 so there is plenty of time to participate.

Please feel free to distribute this information and the associated web link to anyone that you think may be interested is helping out with this research, this survey is not limited to the UK but is regrettably only available in English.

Many thanks in advance for your participation. If you have any questions or problems then please get in touch via the survey site by emailing

The link to the survey:

Flip And Bother!?!?!

after last nights is always the way...I found quite a large chunk of side project#2 needing to be re written and now thanks to internet problems that's taking longer than I had hoped...the upshot being that it's not quite ready yet, so I can't update you at the moment.

It's really quite frustrating, but I assure you that this has to be correct before I can release it otherwise it's a pointless exercise. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it later today and update you then...assuming I can get decent internet access at work.

For now though, time marches onwards and fingers need pulling out so that I can get to work...late enough as it is!


Thursday, 30 September 2010

So What's The S.P. Then?

So the October event is virtually upon us and I'm only just getting round to updating the blog!!
Why the delay....forgetting a huge pile of stuff I was supposed to sort for Carter is one reason, having to suggest plans for Christmas with only a 2 day window is another....side project #2 is the third, but more of that later (not in this post, but definitely before I leave for the Palace tomorrow)

So they're the excuses....although posts to the forum have been made and that's taken up a fair amount of time this last couple of weeks....especially with the errors of the last couple of days, but fingers crossed those are now behind us (famous last words eh!). So far the forum is ticking along, doing what I'd hoped it would and more in the case of the things it allows the team access to...sorry, all hush hush stuff.....well some devastatingly witty banter and a team notice board anyway. Obviously it would be nice for a few more people to join up, but it's early days yet so plenty of time and room for more....equally it would be nice if you do sign up for you to pop a post in the introductions area saying hello so that we can get to know you....we don't bite, well most don't.

So with cookery just a day away, what's the plan for the weekend. Recipe wise, the idea is to cook the same dishes as last month, only this time perhaps we might actually cook more than we managed last time...the two invalids are not quite up to full strength, but we're certainly capable of getting the job done...unlike last month!
Why the same recipes? It's kind of complicated, yet also kind of simple too. There are many questions that need answering about how food was cooked within the kitchens at Hampton Court and within Henry VIII's Court in general and that's essentially what I'm working on research wise and have been for a year or so's what compromises most of the things I can't/won't tell you all about....well not until the work is done and published, so you will all get to hear, just not yet I'm afraid. Part of that work  uses the cookery weekends to test ideas and theories directly or indirectly connected with this research as well as cooking recipes to show people. This weekend is all about the difference between cooking with a purpose built stove and cooking within a hearth as would have to be the case if there were no stoves to use.

There has been a suggestion in the past that this is how all of the non roasted foods were cooked in the kitchens during Henry's reign, this weekend is to show that although possible it isn't practical, especially when we are thinking of the numbers involved...that's not to say it wasn't done, just that it was unlikely. Now it's perfectly possible that this thinking from us, that it's impractical, is wrong, but without trying we'll never's the one great advantage we have....having the actual cooking space to work in.
So over the weekend I'm expecting a lot of griping and moaning about 'what fool had the stupid idea of doing this' because there will be a lot more bending and lifting that well as a lot more washing up to remove the soot from the outside of the pots....I'd apologise to the guys now, but they wouldn't believe I was sorry, after all I've been looking forward to this for quite a while now.

It will involve a massive re-jig of how we arrange the kitchen, and a lot of pictures, so in theory if you can't actually get to come along and see what is probably going to be the only time we ever do this, at least you'll get to see the pictures....fingers crossed I may even be able to post some images of questionable quality up via Twitter as we go on the Saturday, which is when I shall be in modern clothes recording the work, then it's all swap round with Robert for him to do the same on Sunday, whilst I get to experience the discomfort that I think I'm going to be putting the guys through.

That's pretty much it really, I've still a load to do before I can leave tomorrow...including the last touches to the other side project, so I'm off to get that finished and will update you all before the end of tomorrow.


Monday, 13 September 2010

The Gallery......

A new addition to the 'empire' is now to be found at gallery!

Most of the blurb about it is written in the members area over at the forum, but for those of you who are reluctant to join in over at the forums (19 members, 106 useful and interesting topics containing 409 scintilating posts ;o) ), I'll repeat the info' here as well.....

"As part of the new hosting thing, I'm trying to start to tie everything that I've stuck onto the internet together under the same web

As part of that, there is now a Cooking The Books gallery at where all of the previous images posted are now to be found....there is also a button at the top left of the forum page that links there too and a reciprocal link at the gallery to return to the forum.

For the moment, future posting of event images will still go to Flickr as well, if nothing else for the larger number of viewers, but the new gallery will be the main focus for image storage in the future.

Linking the two areas (forum and gallery) together was a little more that I could manage for now, so currently they use separate logins and usernames, feel free to use new details or choose to use the same username as here...for security I would always recommend a different password for different sites, but your mileage may vary

Non registered visitors are limited to the viewing thumbnail and intermediate sized images, registered users can also see the full size image as well as make comments and rate images if they would like.

Members of the gallery can use the links generated for each picture to easily post images from the gallery in threads here at the forum.

For the moment that's pretty much it....apart from saying, pop over and have a look, see what all the various options do (most are available via the 'sidebar' which pops out when you select that option in the top left or there is also an icon on the right too).

Any questions, then fire away."

That pretty much covers it, so go and have a look and see what you think.


Wednesday, 8 September 2010


If anyone has been trying to register for the forum, but getting an error not found, or closed for maintenance, this "error" has now been fixed and registration now works correctly.

Some half wit forgot to change the link on the big 'register' button in the middle of the page to point to the correct web page now that the hosting has been changed.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Forum Back In The Land Of The Living!!

As of 03.58 GMT+1 7th Sept the forum is back online.....and yes I feel a plank!

There is a post there that asks, but I'll add it here too, please let me know if you find things missing or broken...I think I've repaired my stupidity, but need you all to check for me too.

For those who have yet to join, now is an excellent time to think about pop over, read the welcome board information and say hello! If you're at all worried, we don't bite and if Robert can overcome his worry about joining then anyone can do it ;o)



well....what did I say???

New opportunities to balls things up!

Working to restore what I seem to have destroyed, forum wise. Will update when I have more or indeed any news.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Finally...A Plan!

Having jigged the original plan for today around to take into account the need for light duties for 2 of us, the day went fairly well...not as productive as I'd have liked in terms of cooking, but enough to make the day pass quickly as well as the expected liberal doses of chating with some very interested parties.

The big problem for this evening has been in working out tomorrows work schedule...everyone wanted a change, within reason, back to their comfort zone, so after a bit of thinking Marc H and I think we've got a solution that will keep everyone happy in their work...although the proof of this pudding will remain to be seen until the start of the day tomorrow. At this time there seems little point in telling you all the full details in case it doesn't work out as planned, but I'll let you know what happens in the next post

Friday, 3 September 2010

I'm Liking This Forum Business...

as, although things could be described as slow in terms of people joining in, it is allowing members to chat amongst themselves and for information, pictures and the like of the cookery events to appear without me having to get my proverbial finger out and write something!

Again I have to stress that the forum idea isn't meant to replace the blog posts, but to add to the whole shebang and although I'm concentrating a lot on setting it all up correctly at the moment, the aim is that it ticks over in the future without needing a vast amount of maintenance from me....apart from posting there of course. As well as all of that, the other side project has been taking up valuable time this week...seemingly 2 steps forward 3 steps back...but I'm pretty sure that progress will be made very soon....some more additions to the whole and a spate of testing before I can reveal all, but hopefully it'll all be worth it....still, more of that another time!!

Last weekend went pretty well, yes Marc H and I overdid things....damn this recovery is taking a lot longer than I had thought it would...but all in all we held our own, taking shifts sitting down in the office or in the kitchen and doing as much talking as we could but as little lifting and walking around....I have to say that if it wasn't for the rest of the guys pulling our weight in regards to fetching, carrying, lifting and most importantly...washing up, then the weekend would have been a bit rubbish for our visitors, but as it was...success all round, not vast numbers inside...well there was the jousting to see...but those that did come chatted and in the main got the idea of the event's theme...if nothing else they went away with a few recipes or ideas to try which is all we could have asked for I think. As for the guys outside....suffice to say that the mini knights came back in on the last day virtually in kit-form as did Dave and Robert mentally speaking. Jorge managed to entertain in his bijou (it seems) tent, with several groups staying for ages, chatting about painting and what not...and occasionally working as the "lovely Anthea", keeping the scores for the jousting.

This coming weekend sees a return to the tried and tested recipes of old so that we can look at the physical side of the cooking...not so much the techniques, but the workload...fetching, carrying, lifting etc. Not prompted by our poor invalid routines I have to say, but for another research reason which for now I am not at liberty to pass on I'm afraid...but hopefully in the near future all can be revealed...for now, you'll have to make do with the reports from the coal face over the weekend and any images that we manage to capture.

Off to bed now ready for action tomorrow.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

All Change......Again!!

Right, all change time again.....I've thought long and hard and decided to stump up the moola for some paid for web space that will allow the forum a permanent home as well as some other new things I'm thinking of adding/changing in the near future.
The button on the right now takes you to the new address, but for your records the forum now resides at

If you get lost or confused then just remember is the portal to all things associated with this 'ere blog and all.
'proper' post tomorrow about the two weekends, last and next, but time to go and finish sorting out the new web home! 

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hang On......'ve actually managed to make less that they did last time when you two weren't here!! Was the comment from Howard the fire warder around 3 this afternon. Fair enough from what I've been told about the last event it would seem that his observation was correct.....we managed to make virtually no complete dish today.....but boy did we talk!

Perhaps tomorrow we might manage a little more? Certainly planning discussions in the pub would lead us to say that we have the ideas, the willing, the equipment and the ingredients to do so, but no promises I'm afraid.

Tune in tomorrow to find out more.

BTW a big thanks to all the guys for making/letting Marc H and I take it easy today...if we were to be 100% honest then we probably shouldn't be back at work this weekend because neither of us is truly up to the physical work..the talking isn't a problem, just all the other stuff which we're having to call upon all the rest to do for us....picking, carrying, fetching and so on, so thanks to the guys for helping us to get back to work.....and thanks to those regular visitors who expressed their concern too....honestly, we will take it easy tomorrow and Monday....promise.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Formula 3 eh!

What did I say....more F3 than F1??

Looks like that decision may well come to haunt me this weekend....perhaps the search for paid web hosting will start a little sooner than ecpected?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Barbecue Weekend!

So there I was trying to think of what to put in a new post tonight when what should flop into the inbox from Robert, but a mammoth posting about the last without further ado (but with a little judicious editing) I shall let Robert tell you all about it........

The first August weekend, and it was barbecue time! Lucky that the weekend turned out to be barbecue weather... not so lucky that we were down to six men. Especially unlucky for Marc H and Richard, who were invalided out owing to rather longer stays in hospital than either of them had expected. Both of them will be back next weekend, which is great news. What was lucky for the rest of us was that the weekend that they pulled a sickie was... barbecue time!

Often we are asked where the recipes we use can be found, and can they be made at home. Well they can, and done well, but without the obvious advantage we have of having a Tudor kitchen with an eight food spit and a range of charcoal stoves. Even without a Tudor kitchen, a lot of us do cook over charcoal; it's just that the kitchen has moved into the garden. If there is a man in an apron doing the cooking, either it's the Tudor kitchen, or it's a barbecue...

With that in mind, for August, we thought we would concentrate on small roasted dishes or ones cooked on gridirons. Thus, using only a tiny amount of lateral thinking, on skewers and, yes, on barbecues.

So, I was there, on the pad, with Robin and we were cooking cormarye and aloes of beef. This method of cooking was ideal for an under staffed kitchen, every ten minutes there was another thing cooking! It is interesting to go through complicated recipes, taking time to discuss them, and ending up with the finished dish... But this barbecue was great fun, it kept us on our toes, and it meant that most of the process could be viewed in one go.

Cormarye is great; pork slices marinated in red wine with coriander, caraway, pepper and garlic then roasted. One of our favourites, and prepared by Marc H the time before and frozen [Freezing is a great marinating method as the ice crystals that penetrate the meat take the marinade right to the centre and help to tenderize it as well...just make sure that you use the liquid to make a final sauce as freezing has the downside of releasing a large proportion of the minerals, vitamins and flavours from the meat itself! TC]. He didn't know of course that he wouldn't be there to cook it. Selflessly we cooked it for him, and ate it for him. Marinated pork wouldn't look out of place on a barbecue today, and that’s how we cooked our cormarye, on a grid over the charcoal stoves.

Stoves that were difficult to use on this occasion, as they were almost out all the time! What I mean is, unlike barbecues, our stoves are designed and made with efficiency in mind, and they have been made like that since Roman times. They have a tunnel to allow air in and ash out, which means that the cooks who originally used them didn’t have to keep stopping their work to empty the ash out, the air input also means that temperatures between 800 and 1000 degrees centigrade are easily achieved! Obviously, we like to show off our stoves, and how quickly they can boil a stew, or fry in a pan. This time we were cooking over embers, with only a few pieces of glowing charcoal in each stove, otherwise it was just too hot for barbecuing. Quite tricky, you have to keep your eye on it all the time!

The cormarye is fun to make, and feels modern, with the combination of pork and the spicy wine marinade. But this is a 'Forme of Cury' recipe, deep in the past. Our Tudor kitchen is at least two cookery movements past that. Perhaps pork became unfashionable; for whatever reason this tasty dish dropped out of the books for a while.

No such broken history with the other dish, 'aloes of beef', one of the few dishes that has an unbroken line from the late medieval to now.

At its simplest, an 'aloe' is a flat piece of meat, rolled up, with a filling and roasted, baked or stewed. An online search for beef or veal 'olives', the modern name, shows up a lot of examples and varieties. These may be summarised; beef, veal or mutton; baked roasted or stewed; with or without hard-boiled eggs and fruit. Broadly speaking, these categories have always defined the aloes/olives dishes.

On the barbecue weekend Robin was making the beef version and roasting them, not in front of the fire but over the charcoal stoves, and using metal skewers as mini spits, to show how suited they are to barbecue cooking; the answer; very much so!

We started with a familiar version from the fifteenth century; 'Allows de beef or de Motoun'

'Take fayre Bef... and kutte in the maner of stekys; than take raw Persely & Oynonys smal y-scredde & yolkys of Eyroun sothe hard & Marow or swette (suet) & hew alle this to-gedre smal: then caste ther-on poudre of Gynger & Saffroun... & lay hem on the Stekys al a-brothe ... then rolle to-gederys and putt them on a rounde spit & poste hem til they ben y-now: then lay hem in a dysshe & pore there on Vynegre & a lityl verious & poudre pepir ther-on y-now & Gyngere & Canelle & a few ylokes of hard Eyroun y-kremyd there-on & serue forth'

As we wanted to keep it simple, we left out the sauce, but I would like to make it sometime, as creamed hard-boiled egg yolks, vinegar, pepper and ginger sounds interesting...

The hard-boiled yolks used as the filling I thought was a bit odd, it looks good, but reminded me of when they were used in the fillings of some of the crustards and the like, didn't seem that useful somehow... Anyway, time to go to the 'Propre New Book' of 1545, as this is what we are concentrating on this year in the kitchen. 'To make a pye of alowes' so it's going to be the baked version. 'Take a legge of mutton and cutte it in thin slices, and for the stuffing of the same take percely tyme and saueri, and chop them small, then temper among them three or four yolkes of harde egges chopt small, and small reysyns, dates cutte with mace and a lytle salt, then laye all these in the steakes and then role them togyther' It then tells you to put them in the pie case, with a syrup.

So, much the same as before, but then baked and with fruit.
Let's go back, to 'Ancient Cookery', a collection of fourteenth century recipes. Here it is... 'Alaunder of beef'.
'Take leches of the lengthe of a spoune' that's useful... 'and take parcel and hewe smal, and pouder of pepur, and maree, and tempur hit togedur, and take lecches of beef, and rolle hom therin, and laye hom on a gridirne...' No hard eggs yolks or fruit, and it mentions a gridiron!

And the companion piece, 'Alaunder of moton. Take moton of the legge and seth hit tendur bi hitself, and qwhen hit is sothen take and braie hit in a morter, or hewe hit smal with a knyfe, and putte hit in a pot and boile hit with the same broth...' What, where are the rolls? Perhaps these recipes aren't as straightforward as they seem.

For instance, the normal definition of 'aloe' is the one given by Hieatt and Butler in Curye on Inglysch; veal birds, from the french for 'lark', this seems correct. Kitchiner in the 'Cook's Oracle' version uses a lark spit. However Austin (1888) quotes an early seventeenth century French/English dictionary; 'Aloyau de boeuf, A short rib of Beef or the fleshy end of the rib divided from the rest and roasted, a little piece of (roasted) beef, having a bone in it. Nowadays it translates as 'sirloin'. Austin was glossing 'Alowys' though...

The roll less mutton version also turns up in the 'Pynson' cookery book of 1500 as 'For to make Alawder de mutton... take the legge of motton and boyle tyll it be tendre by it selfe when it is soden braye the flesshe in a morter & alay it with the same broth...' The 'Napier' version, from a 1460's manuscript, similar to the one that 'Pynson' was based on, is much the same, of course. Interesting though that it is so alike the one from 'Ancient Cookery', 'seth' has been replaced by 'boyle', but the detail of boiling until tender, by itself is the same, does suggest they may have a common source. And what is strange is that the fifteenth century mutton recipe ' Allows de mutton' is what we would expect, rolling and hard boiled eggs and roast and all. Perhaps the 'Pynson' is becoming less useful the more we know about it...

Then the name changes to 'Olives', apparently (I have an old OED) the first usage was the english translation of Epulario from 1598 'To make Oliues of Veale or any other flesh that is lean', another from the same year '...that meate which we call oliues of veale.'. I would love to know if the first usage being from a translation is a coincidence. However I don't have a copy of the 'Epulario', (the translation is in print I believe), or know what the original italian word was... Can anyone help?

Once it becomes 'Olives', there is no stopping our dish, Gervase Markham in 1615 has two versions; the roast one; '...take a legge of veale and cut the flesh from the bones, and cut it into long thin slices, then take sweet herbs and the white part of scallions and chop them well together with the yolks of eggs' are these raw eggs...'then rowle it up within the slices of the veal, and so spit them and roast them' . Continues with a sauce made from verjuice, currants and spices.

And the other one, an olive pie '...take sweet hearbs as Violet leaues, Spinage, Sauorie, Endiue, Time, Sorrell... and if there be a Scullion or two amongst them, it will give the better taste; than take the yelkes of hard egs with Canell, Cinamon, Cloues and Mace... cut out long Oliues of a legge of Veale, roule up ...' The pie also has dried fruit, and a syrup made from claret, vinegar, sugar and cinnamon. And hard boiled eggs. And a whole load of butter... Interesting how the writer is so confident that you know what an olive is 'cut out long olives...', the aloe recipes explained what an aloe was.

Of course Robert May had a version, or three. The pie one has thyme, sweet marjoram, savoury, spinach, parsley, sage, endive, sorrel, violet leaves and strawberry leaves. The minced hard boiled eggs, of course, then currents, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, sugar and salt, raisins, gooseberries or barberries and dates, and that's before you put the olives in the pie; welcome to the restoration!

'Olines of Beef stewed and roste' is the rather confusing title our dish goes by in the household of Elizabeth Cromwell, or should we say court, because the book does! This is a strange book from 1664, restoration propaganda about the wife of Noll Cromwell, purporting, by publishing her recipes, to expose the... the... well not sure what they had in mind. Reminded me in a way of how people made fun of Mrs. Ceausescu, couldn't seem to work out whether she was too extravagant, or too parsimonious, in the end it was as if she was being criticised for not doing extravagance stylishly enough. And the olives are being drawn into politics, is it because it's beef not veal...

'Take buttocks of Beef, and cut some of it into thin slices as broad as your hand, then hack them with the back of your knife, lard them with small lard, and season them with pepper, salt, and nutmeg: then make a farcing with some sweet herbs, time, onions, the yolkes of hard eggs, beef suet or lard all minced, some salt, barberries, grapes, or gooseberries, season it with the former spices lightly and work it up together, then lay on the slices, and roll them up round with some caul of veal, beef or mutton, bake them in a dish in the oven, or roast them...' sounds rather nice, served on sippits with artichokes or potatoes, claret wine, and 'some sliced orange, lemon, barberries, grapes or gooseberries.'

So this is what the Cromwell’s were getting up to at Hampton Court in the 1650's, which is a bit strange as the above recipe is identical to Bob May's version from 1660...

I rather like this chasing a recipe forwards in time thing, but perhaps I had better stop now. Just wait until the Olive dishes hit the eighteenth century, I'm sure you can imagine what happens...

There is, in two days, another barbecue weekend, this time with Richard and Marc taking their rightful places in the kitchen. I, on the other hand, will be outside with Dave and Jorge, so anything can happen!


Thanks to Robert for that, so it looks like they found enough to keep themselves busy.....talking wise if nothing else....last event.

Pretty much as I mentioned the other day, its the same plan for this weekend and hopefully I'll be able to keep you abreast of things as the weekend progresses via posts here and possibly Twitter too...posts will have to wait until the end of the day as I'll be in costume working, but you never know I may be able to squeeze in the odd titbit here and there.

Don't forget if you are coming along on the weekend that there is a Tudor joust to see as well, twice a day, but I would also hope you appreciate that this is very much weather much as I would like to be able to say 'indoors if wet' that is, I am afraid, not the case!

This is also another opportunity to suggest the forum to you all....a small band of posters at the moment, but hopefully that will change in time...posts include 'TerryL' putting a load of images from the last year there that you might like to see (they are in the 'Cookery at Hampton Court' board) and 'digger' is doing sterling work posting links to online cookery and related books in German libraries over on the members boards...there are also starting to be some links appearing there to other websites and suppliers that may be of interest to readers of the blog.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Side Project #1

Have a little look to the right and you should see a button that will take you to the first of the side projects that have kept me distracted of late....a forum.

Why a forum? Well simply the suggestion was to have somewhere for chat, discussion and news that wasn't reliant too much on me getting my finger out and writing a blog post! Now I realise that the blog seems to be a fairly one way affair...lots of views but only the odd comment here and there, perhaps, the thinking goes, a forum facility would encourage a little more discourse. If nothing else, it will give the other team members who feel like contributing a platform to do so and to put their point of view across as well.

As with the Twitter feed, this is an 'as well' feature, not an 'instead of', so there will still be the usual inane rubbish here and via Twitter, but now with the added bonus of the forum arena too.

Pop over and have a look see, read the welcome posts which should help give you a few basic ideas and 'rules' then why not join up and introduce yourselves!

A few caveats and the like:

This is very much a trial run to see if it works or not...that's why the odd web sub-domain address, I'm trying this out with as little financial outlay as possible so am using a free web hosting service...if it takes off and become popular then expect to be notified of address changes and such like further down the road....because it is a free service, their customer support is more formula 3 than formula 1 shall we say and they have the occasional web outage...if you can't see the forum that's probably why and I'll endeavour to inform you via here and/or Twitter.

rules of the forum are simple...keep it clean, be nice, have fun!

I don't expect to have to moderate much, but if there is cause to do so moderation posts will be written in red to differentiate them from my own postings. Things we don't want are the obvious...personal attacks, flaming, junk posting....all the sort of thing that turns a forum into an unpleasant place to visit.

There are a number of measures in place to deter spam posting, but they won't be 100% effective I'm sure...if you see junk being posted, if it's anything like the junk the blog gets it'll be Chinese characters or trite platitudes that are html links to spurious web pages, then please report the post...there are buttons to report on every post or send me a PM or email via the forum.

When you sign up your first 3 posts are restricted and have to be approved by an administrator...well me really!...this is one of the systems to weed out junk posts, a little inconvenient I know, but worth it I think...please remember that although I keep unusual hours, I do live in GMT+1 so those of you in more distant climes (USA, Canada, Australia etc.) may have to wait a few hours to have your posts approved initially because I do have to sleep sometimes! will get an email from the forum when they are approved and posted. I will probably add a moderation team to help run the board and assist with initial posts, but details of that will come on the forum in the next week or so.

I think that's pretty much it for go and have a look, join up and say hello!


Friday, 20 August 2010


is what I've been....recovering from the stay in hospital, which has taken longer than I thought (still not up to full strength, it's amazing how much three little holes in your abdomen can set you back!), by a couple of side projects, but mostly with work.
With it being the summer holidays, people in the department are off on their jaunts which means that a lot more pre planning has to be done a lot earlier than usual.....the upshot being that the next three weekends are now planned and the shopping lists are in and approved, so fingers crossed I can now get back to the research, the side projects and of course the blog, which I am more than aware of having neglected again of late.

First things first..the side projects. At the moment they'll have to be a secret, one is strictly work related but both will I hope involve all of you in the near of them early next week if plans continue as they are at the moment.

Second, a heads up on the next weekend, the August bank holiday weekend... because I missed the last weekend, because it worked so well, because it is still barbecue season here and most importantly, because I had always planned it to be this way...we shall once again be looking at the recipes that I think would work well cooked on a grill/barbecue; in fact it will be the same recipes that I planned for the last event but as the guys were so short handed they didn't manage to cook.
On top of the cookery there will be another joust event happening in the East Front Gardens....Tudor period again unlike the one earlier this year...two competitions a day at 12.00 and 4.00, and remember that they are competitive, no pre staged black knight, Hollywood style hokum (no offence to our readers from the West Coast!). Plans are also in place for Jorge to be outside, talking about painting and the making of temporary items used at a joust...and Dave will be there too running the mini knights game...come along and join the combat before watching the 'real' thing!

Thirdly and in answer to Elise's question....what dishes are planned?

For the moment you'll just have to make do with the names and recipes will have to follow later on the list for talking about/cooking are...

Cormarye, Pompys, Samon rostyd in sauce, Sauce for peions, Wardons in syryp, Sauge, Aquapatys, Milk rostys, Alloes of beef, Chese tarts, Stekys of venson or bef, Browne fryes and Wardens in past.

To be honest I've no idea how many we'll get through, but that's the planned list that we have ingredients well as enough stuff to do a couple of other sauces and some of the dishes more than once.

Now I'll have to sign off as I'm starting to lose the plot..I'm writing this whilst working on one of the side projects too and now I'm getting a teeny bit confused with where I am with much for multi tasking!!
Will have to go back and read all the last posts to find out what I said I'd tell you but haven't


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Chinese Whispers, a second hand report on the action in the kitchens today, thanks to a brief phone call from Robin earlier this evening.
The plan for the weekend was to talk about cooking 'history food' at home today using a charcoal barbecue, because after all that's really what our charcoal stoves are...the idea being to give people a nudge this summer to try something that isn't just burgers, chops and kebabs....I despair at the lack of imagination we Brits have as a nation when it comes to using a charcoal grill to cook with. I'd sorted out a menu of dishes that can readily be cooked on a grill at home and when combined would make for a rather interesting summer party meal...especially when compared to the usual fare that ends up being cooked outside these days!!

Well obviously with me not being there as well as one other omission from the planned ranks due to illness that leaves the guys a little short handed compared to when the plans were put in place, so the last instructions were simple...use up the ingredients that can't be frozen easily and cook whatever makes your lives simple whilst staying within the remit of the theme.

So how has the day gone....quite well it seems, not that it should be a surprise in any way as the guys are perfectly capable of working without me being there. Apparently it wasn't too busy and they've all been chatting away nicely and keeping themselves occupied cooking some of the dishes that were planned...can't really ask for much more can you. They've also had a German magazine team round chatting to them and they'll be back tomorrow to take pictures, all part of a large article on the kitchens and the gardens I'm lead to believe...could be interesting and may well bump visitor figures along towards the start of Autumn, but who knows with these things.
I've been promised another phone call tomorrow at the end of the day for a final debrief which should help to confirm in my mind that we'll repeat this theme at the end of the month over the holiday weekend...unless something drastic happens between now and the end of next week when plans have to be in to fit around annual holidays within the department.

I'll post again tomorrow I think with stuff about the last weekend as I'm starting to drift off to sleep now!


Friday, 6 August 2010

And They're Off....

...well at least I can only assume that the rest of the guys are all set ready for this weekend of cookery as I'm sat here at home convalescing after the recent trip to hospital. It certainly feels more than a little odd being here knowing that I 'should' be at work, still the guys have the list of work that I had already planned and the ingredients to cook those dishes and I'm sure that they'll do more than OK without me there to nag them....and in all reality I'm not up to a full day of work stood in the kitchen at the moment...although some might say, no change from usual then.

I'm not expecting to hear from the kitchens this weekend (unless it goes monumentally wrong) so I won't be updating you on the progress, but I will aim to post tomorrow with the previously promised info' on the last weekend of cooking along with some stuff about what was planned for the next couple of days of cooking...but in all honesty I can't guarantee that what was planned is what will be actually cooked as the actual work load is up to the guys at the coal face so to speak.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

How To Drop That Pesky Excess Weight?

Easy...I lost a couple of ounces (not true value) by having unxpected keyhole surgery to remove my apendix on Tuesday!!

Not the update I was hoping to give you, so please be patient with me 'til I get home from hospital and get things sorted...probably after the weekend

Saturday, 24 July 2010

How Queer!!

No update at the moment, I seem to be sat here with a raging temperature, the room spinning and feeling like I'll be spending some time in the bathroom tonight....looks like I spent too much time making sure everyone was drinking enough stood in the sun and not enough time doing it myself...what a plonker.

Will post update when room stops moving so much.....oh and by the way, it is most certainly not booze related before you jump to conclusions =o)

In A Packed Programme Tonight....

Phew, what a day that was! Fingers crossed we've got it all sorted for tomorrow and anything that isn't can wait til the morning.
Everyone is looking forward to a packed event tomorrow and the beauty of it is that for a rare opporunity we get to see most of it too...fighting Turks and Hungarians, a tussle with a bodyguard, the King/Queen dining, a german ambassador who is actually German...the list goes on.

If it goes like it should it'll be a corking event, so expect an after action report tomorrow evening.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

PRO Progress

Well a top day spent at the National Archives today has seen me claw a little bit of that lost research time back....woo hoo!

Lots looked at, in the main to see how close a lot of the Victorian calendar versions of the documents are and to check if/what was left out....mostly not much as it happens, so I can be happy that the conclusions I'm drawing so far are based on reasonable evidence and not just based on incomplete secondary sources...all in all a great use of a day...and hopefully the first of a few as I still have a looooong list of documents I need/want to look at. All I have to do is get my eye in on reading the scratchy Tudor handwriting....I'll never complain about my doctors scribbles again!!

So, this weekend then, I suppose I'd better let you know what you're likely to hear from me....truth be told, not much until the end of Saturday and then possibly something on Sunday. Saturday is an all hands in period clothes event, so no chance to Tweet or post here...and no chance to take pictures for either Robert or myself.....Terry has threatened to pop along so fingers crossed he'll take a few and we might even be able to sweet talk him into using Roberts camera if he does show (although I know he had a lot planned for this weekend, so who knows if/when we may see him....drop me a line if you're reading this Terry, you know how to get in touch easiest)

Fingers crossed the weather holds for Saturday at least as it would be a real shame to have rain stop play...unfortunately there's no wet weather option that's much of a substitute for the planned shenanigans, so let's just hope it stays sunny....but cool...don't want to be stood in the garden with no shade in blazing sunshine now do we?

Afraid this has to be another brief post as I need some kip and the words on the screen are starting to look like a big black blur...not too conducive to sensible writing I feel.

More as and when over the weekend, should be able to Tweet some set-up details and images tomorrow fingers crossed.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Silence Is Golden....

but this is ridiculous!

Lots of things on my plate keeping me busy have meant letting it slide a little here...apologies, but I'm afraid that's the way the cookie crumbled over the last few weeks.
Just a quickie now to say that I am alive and there will be stuff forthcoming, especially as we're cooking this weekend and Saturday sees the flotilla event in full effect with Henry dining alfresco in the Privy Garden along with all sorts of stuff going on in the Palace until 10.00 at night!!

But for now, I'm only here whilst I'm saving a few references ready for a trip to the Public Record Office tomorrow to actually get on with the research that is now wildly behind schedule...perhaps the odd update via Twitter over the day, who knows?

Plans are moving ahead for future events, mostly because of departmental holidays taking people out of the supply chain loop for the bulk of August, so I have to get shopping lists for both Augusts and September sorted soon as plans are finalised I'll let you all know what's what.

That's all for now I'm afraid...long day tomorrow and this hot spell we're having at the moment is really not conducive to a good nights sleep.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Tell Me The Old Old Story!

Unsurprisingly, things took a little longer than I'd planned this evening...a phone call to Carter tends to do I've not got round to sorting out the images from the past weekend...still, will give me something to do tomorrow perhaps.

I have though found a video of Dave running the mini jousting game from June, so will pop that at the bottom of the post for your viewing pleasure.

I suppose that the weekend went well, but won't be too sure until I get a look at the picture we took....I know what we actually did, but the pictures and diary are a visible measure to show the boss in the future so it's always best that we have something to show, even if we did a lot more than we recorded.

Plans seem to have changed for the August Bank Holiday weekend and it looks like there will now be a Tudor joust on that far as I am aware it is planned to be similar to last years event, but with the kinks ironed and when I get details I shall let you all know...hell, it might even prompt me to sort out the pictures I took last year to show you...which I completely neglected to at the time. All that aside, it does mean that any plans I had for the cookery that weekend will now need to be changed in order to accommodate plans from the top....will have to wait and see what those plans actually are though!
I'm pretty sure that nothing will be decided until after the next weekend at the end of the month....if that goes well it may be that elements from that weekend will be 'recycled' for August, but at the moment who knows??

The plans for the 2nd July event are fairly set now (see previous posts for details such as they are), just the menu and shopping list to prepare then all the nitty gritty of moving furniture and so on to sort out on the day....and I mustn't forget that the first August weekend follows on pretty sharpish so need to get a shift on with ideas for that weekend too...possibly looking at some recipes that would work well for a modern summer barbecue?

Well, that's it for the moment as until the images are transferred I'm kind of at a loss of what to report from the past event...other than the was hot!!!

So for now, here's Dave doing what he does really really well....


Sunday, 4 July 2010

As Expected....

Robert and I will swap around tomorrow, so there will be a lot less 'tweeting' as I'll be in my Tudor clothes cooking away...or should that be sweating away?

Other than that there's not much to say at the moment....the guys did all that was planned and we spoke to lots of VERY interested people. A better report will follow when I've looked at all the images and remembered what we *actually* did !!!

Bed time now, more if the opportunity presents tomorrow.


Saturday, 3 July 2010


Time for the quickest update before bed now that I've got a mobile signal!

Had a chat with Robert and we've decided to split shift the weekend and have a day each recording and cooking, with Robert cooking tomorrow and me taking pictures and vice versa on Sunday.....what does that mean for you?
Simply put...more tweets during the day tomorrow, possibly with pictures of the guys doing their thing, along with (hopefully) a blog update late in the evening....then on Sunday, if time and visitors allow, a couple of tweets ans then a blog update, probably on Monday.

If all goes well then we should have some images and possbly video to share next week, if not then it might well be time to raid the archive once again!

More news, lists of recipes and all manner of updates tomorrow, signal and technology willing...


Thursday, 1 July 2010


as you may have seen on the Twitter feed, I'm fascinated by the number of people who have 'followed' then 'un-followed' a day or so one case within hours! OK so it's not hundreds, but when you only have 15 followers, you notice every one come and go.

Almost all of them appear from the name or bio or picture to be connected with food in some way...critic/reviewer/recipe 'creator' and definitely 'modern' food. I'm just fascinated as to the Twitter mentality of "follow....oh actually it's not for me, I'll un-follow" when surely watching their tweets for a while would tell you what you're gonna get and how frequently you'll get it.

I'd like to think that if you read through the Twitter profile that you might visit the blog and have a look at the sort of things you're likely to get....yes there's food stuff, but certainly in my mind that's secondary to the history stuff.

Simply put...I'd think it was obvious, if you read the drivel that I write here and on Twitter, what you were going to get...that's all it was about, not about ratings or numbers or undesirables ;0)

As it happens last month was a bumper one for visitors...a record 877 visits over the month, so thanks to all that came and more thanks to all that have 'stayed' as it were.....I can only promise you more of the same!!

Now on to other things.....

This weekend sees another blast of activity in the kitchens, sorry but I can't recall what we've got planned as the food conference has been totally all consuming for me for the last week...I'm sure I remember some roast mutton being on the plans as well as a couple of tarts and another go at the 'snow' recipe, using the pictures has been great for looking at where our versions have diverged from the recipe and although I'm not too worried about following the words to the letter (more about this in a future posting) there are certain things that can't be missed out and the concentrating on single recipes to record them along with the diary that we are keeping has been very useful in terms of future planning....but as you know I've said all this before!
I think that there are a couple of sweet cream based dishes too, but as I was saying to Carter earlier, I've had no confirmation about the shopping order, so who knows what's going to happen.

It's now back to business as usual and planning for the next few events now that the conference is out of the way. I seem to have been received well enough, well at least a few people got one of the points I was making (mainly about looking at the data being recorded today and asking if it's the right data for the future as well as for current business) and enough people asked enough questions for the organisers to be happy that they'd invited me.
I think it was worthwhile going from my point of view...even if a lot of the hardcore science went well over my head (I really didn't need to hear so much about alpha linolenic acid and long chain omega 3 additions to the meat output of the least I don't think I did anyway)....there was still some really fascinating stuff about climate change and the meat industry, dairy produce and a host of other stuff that I'm sure I won't remember until the proceedings are published.

Oh well, back to the Tudor kitchens now, should be there from midday tomorrow with posts and Tweets as and when I get the chance.....but as I can say, don't expect me to be producing a foodie review site any time soon ;0)


Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Conference Correspondence.

So sat in my hotel room here getting ready for the Langford Food Industry Conference, the subject of which is nutrition and climate change and how it effects the meat industry.
As I said via twitter, I fell as if I am very much the odd man out here as all the rest of the speakers are either connected heavily to the meat trade or are scientists working in the field of nutrition....then there's me!

The idea is that I am to put meat use into some sort of historical context.....but you could also consider me to be the lightweight 'turn' before the end of the day....yep, it's the graveyard slot as last speaker for me, so I've got to try and keep it snappy and have lots of pictures in my 25 minutes to keep people awake.

As I mentioned last night, apparently I came highly recommended by EBLEX after I did some work for them and a very brief talk a few years I'm certain that I was rubbish during that talk, so some people must either have very rose tinted glasses....or much lower standards than me because I wouldn't have recommended me on the strength of that performance!!

Still, that's all water under the proverbial and today is another talk, fingers crossed and I'll aim to get back to you with a report later today...all things willing that is.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

And There It Was....Gone!

Right, time's up!

That's long enough for my needs and so the poll has now been closed and removed from the earlier post.
Many many thanks to those of you in the UK who took the time to help out...I've not added up the figures yet to see how many of you voted, but percentage wise 89% of you that voted don't own a copy of Mr Oliver's book.

When I get the time I'll let you know what this was actually all about, until then I'll once again say thanks for helping out and get back to that lovely writing.


A Brief Respite From The Writing!

To bring you more writing......doh!

Not really an update, rather a quick post to say that although I'm up to my neck in writing this paper...yes, yes I know, should have done it earlier....I am still keeping an eye on things here as well....just don't expect much for the next few days and certainly nothing of any great length or for thoughts about the past weekend of cookery, at the moment you'll have to forget them...I know I have as meat and it's history is all that is now coursing through my head, having successfully supplanted all previous thoughts on chocolate.

I won't be putting much up here about the paper, even when it's finished as Nottingham University Press will have the exclusive rights to publishing, but I should be able to give you the gist of some of the points in it. Writing it is proving to be extremely useful in fleshing out the other stuff that I have been working on for the past year though, so even if it's driving me potty at the moment it'll all be good in the end.

Of course when it's all finished there's the Power-point presentation based on the paper to put together too....and all before Tuesday, so better get a shift on I suppose!

On top of all of this there is of course the small matter of next weekend's cookery event to look forward to. No great surprises in store, just more of the same plodding along and recording what we do sort of thing, but that has proven to be very rewarding of late, so in a way I'm quite looking forward to it. We shall of course endeavour to keep you all posted through the weekend....and I will probably do likewise for the conference that I have to present the paper at next Wednesday and Thursday too.....the Langford Food Industry Conference...though I don't expect the same scope for amusing pictures and anecdotes as we should get working in the kitchens!
Other stuff to sort out next week and weekend is of course the 2nd event in July...Henry's Honeymoon, or as it has been delicately renamed by a wag...the "jolly boat day"...need to run through the plans in person with the guys, not just via email...then try a couple of different thoughts out....more details as and when we get to sort them out.

So having comprehensively burned the candle at this end of the day, time for some kip I suppose.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A Little Help Please!

I would be extremely grateful if you could help out with the paper I'm writing by answering the poll question below.
Whilst I know that you are all probably happy to help, I only need UK residents to answer please. This is fairly important as the paper is about recipe use in the UK and how representative certain books are of cookery as a whole.

I will leave the poll active for a couple of days then lock or remove it as I am only after a very rough sampling, I'll try to change this post as well as update when I do that though.

Many thanks.

Once again UK Residents Only Please!

Do you own a copy of "The Return of the Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver?



Friday, 18 June 2010

Just A Quickie!

As promised, just time for a brief to be short as I've been burning the candle at both ends over the last week or so and it's all started to catch up with me now and joined up thinking is proving a little tricky tonight.

After a fraught week of computer problems I finally managed to get it all back up and working....but then had to crack on with finishing off the chocolate talk that I ended up giving yesterday at Kensington Palace. All in all it went fairly well, especially the tasting at the end with the chosen recipes of Chocolate Tart and Wine Chocolate taken from John Nott's "Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary" of 1733 going down a storm....even if my pastry was "far too thick", they still ate it all and what was left behind was eagerly claimed by the education department for "further tasting"!!....I certainly wasn't going to bring it home as I can now confidently saw that any desire for eating chocolate ever again has well and truly gone from me now.

I'm still pretty sure that the actual talk could have been miles better than I felt it actually was, but that's probably because I know what got left could also have been a little smoother if my remote control had actually worked, but then I guess that it will teach me to change the batteries or at least check them beforehand won't it? What I must do before I try to forget all I have crammed into my head about chocolate and the rise of chocolate and coffee houses in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is write up the notes that I made as I know that I won't be able to make head nor tail of the scrawl in a few weeks to try to forget it for now to make room in there for information on meat as I've still got one more paper to finish and another presentation based on it to create....and all before the end of the week, so I guess that I'll be pretty occupied with that...sorry if I don't keep you updated in the meantime, but it's a fairly major paper to produce and when I last was working on it I'd hit a massive mental blockage and got 'stuck', hopefully that will have shifted when I look at it again over the weekend and the words will come flooding out.

Today was a planning meeting for the 2nd event in July (the weekend of 24th-25th), well to be more accurate, the Saturday as that's the big event....called the flotilla event in meetings but with the title "Henry's Honeymoon" it's another river based event with the King and Queen along with two ambassadors arriving by boat and has a whole host of things planned for the day.
As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, lots of broad plans sorted out, but the nitty gritty still needs finalizing, so for now what's the broad idea?
Well, have a look at the HRP website for the roughest of ideas.... but from our perspective the aim of the game is to cook and serve a very simple (time and staff numbers limit this) meal for the King to eat in front of the public inside the Privy Garden sometime between 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. there are no set times for events during the afternoon...which include a couple of falconry displays amongst other things...with the aim to have a very fluid feeling to the day; because of that the food needs to be ready and waiting from 1.30 p.m. so we'll be starting early in the day, cooking the meal then serving the food out of the kitchens at around 1.15 p.m. The kitchens will then shut down along with the rest of the inside of the Palace (interpretively at least) and the whole team will decamp to the gardens to talk food and cookery with the public that are there.

The King departs by river again at 4.30 p.m (or thereabouts) and we'll then clear the food away and go back to complete the washing up and a well deserved pint! Sunday is not part of the event and will see a return to some experimental stuff...still not too sure what it will involve at the moment, but could well be looking at ideas of service and transportation of food and such like as well as cooking some recipes to record again.

As well as sorting that out there was time for a quick stock check to see what ingredients we are short of as well as a quick peruse of the freezer to check what needs using by the end of this weekend I should also have the final plans for the 1st July weekend sorted too...if I haven't then there'll be trouble as I HAVE to concentrate on the elusive paper next week....if this past week is anything to go by then possibly at the cost of a fair amount of sleep!

Thinking has now ceased so off to bed, will endeavour to add some more info' for you over the weekend....some images from the last weekend or two might be nice eh?

Friday, 11 June 2010

Misplaced Optimism!

Over two days lost to this stupid hard disk upgrade now....arrrrrrghhhh...!*?#@!

The good news is that the disks now seem to be working as they're supposed to, the computer boots up and all the programs are transferred over.
The bad news is that I am now trying to get the stupid machine to re-build some of it's file structure so that all of the data....including all the pictures as well as the talks and paper I'm supposed to be working on.....shows up where it's supposed to be so that I can actually access the data!

It's a 'simple' job that is just taking forever, with goodness knows how many re-boots to get it all working again....fortunately the phone still works so I can still keep you in the loop.

Before all this hassle was started by the disk failure, I had been looking through all of the images from the last two events and was trying to work out if the way I had been taking pictures was the right way to have gone....lots of tedious, step by step shots of just one recipe a day, with the odd shot here and there from the other recipes being prepared and a smattering of general great body of classic shots, just workmanlike drudgery. It struck me that whilst visually fairly boring, they are actually extremely useful especially when combined with the notes that we are trying to make as we go along...although we're not all on the same wavelength with that process at the moment with different people making very different styles of notes.

The pictures really do show where the recipes as cooked match or differ from the recipe as written...combine this with the notes for any salient information or reasons and we are getting the sort of records that will be really useful to us in the future....providing adequate time is taken to label the pictures that is.

Now then, looks like time for another re-boot....images and stuff from the last couple of events as soon as technology permits....


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

To Stewe Mutton

First off, many many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to complete the little survey in the earlier has proved to be most instructive, especially when combined with all the 'usual' information that I have...essentially, the bulk of respondents are new to HELLO! Hopefully you'll stick around for a bit or at least pop in now and then to see how things are ticking along, I can't promise much more than there already is, but hopefully that's interesting enough for you.

I've still got lots to sort out image wise, including a video if I can find where I put the memory card...but that's going to have to take a little bit of a back seat for a day or so as the talks I'm sorting out and the paper I'm writing need to take does sorting out plans for the July weekend and beyond...and add to that the pressing need to replace the main hard drive in the computer and you'll get an idea of how things are at the moment....hectic, still as I said before, all my fault for procrastinating too long!

For now though I've just stuck 22 images up on Flickr that document Robin making the recipe.....

for to stewe mutton.

Take a necke of mutton and a brest to make the broth strong and then scome it cleane/ & when it hath boiled a while take part of the brothe & put it into an other pot & put there to a pounde of reiysyns & let them boyle till thei be tendre then strayne a little brede with the reysyns & the broth altogether/ then chop tyme/ sauery/ and perseley with other small herbes and put in to the mutton then put in the streyned reyiyns with whole prunes/ cloues/ mace/ peper/ saffron and a little salte/ & if ye list ye maie stewe a chiken withall orels sparowes or suche other little birdes.

As is usually the way, Robin didn't follow the recipe exactly as written, both by intention and by mistake...although I don't really think it makes any great difference to the finished dish myself...and you have to remember all of this is done whilst engaging in witty banter/in depth discussion with the public....quite a lot of them again this weekend too, with talk of 3500 ticket sales in one day!

The process that he followed begins by discussing with Robert (in this case) and noting the ingredients needed so that they can all be collected together.

Recipe Conflab

The meat was then chopped into sensible sized pieces and placed in the chosen pot with sufficient water for the job

preparing the neck of mutton

preparing the breast

filling the pot with the mutton

and now the water

The liquid had the scum removed as it formed and was boiled until no more scum formed

the scum rises

It was here that Robin chose to depart slightly from the recipe, mostly because of time (it was near the end of the day by this time) and because of the amount of bones that were present in the neck.
Choosing to remove the meat from the bones

picking off the meat

he let the raisins soak overnight in the broth before returning to finish the dish the next day.
Rather than strain the boiled raisins and bread and add them back to the rest of the stock, he chose to boil the lot then pass it through a sieve...

chopping up the bread

chopping the herbs

straining the mix

I'm pretty sure that the decision to do this was simply a time constraint one....there was plenty of it and he wanted to kill time by passing the mix through the strainer whilst talking to all of our visitors....pretty much a relaxing afternoon I's certainly why he chose to use the wooden pestle for the job as using his hand to push the mix through would have taken far far less time.

After putting the mix back into a clean pot and then adding the final ingredients...the saffron, the salt, the prunes etc. and not forgetting the meat itself....although this seems to have been a waste of time as the flavour had all been extracted and put into the stock, the whole was brought up to heat before serving in a bowl.....the sparrows or other birds were left out as they are optional in the recipe.....and not exactly something we can get hold of to use today.

the finished mutton stewe

It certainly smelt good, but was far too fruity for my tastes....I don't 'do' the meat and fruit combo much any more having overdone it in the past. The rest of the guys tried it and the reception ran from 'hmm, not bad' to 'meh!'
I wouldn't say that we'll not bother doing it again as I'd like to see somebody else's interpretation of the recipe, but I think I can safely say it won't be for a while yet.

Hope that all makes some sense, there are a few different images at the Flikr page which will fill in any missing detail, so pop over and take a look.
As I said at the top, a new hard drive is on the plans for tomorrow, so as soon as that is sorted out I'll get on with sorting the other images and the elusive video too....don't get your hopes up too much for that though, it's only a quickie of Robert trying out a bit of an experiment in shredding chicken meat.