Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Lies I Tell!

So there I was telling you via Twitter that I'd post before the weekend....well it sort of turns out that would be a teensy weensy bit of a fib...unless you count this post?!?!

A long day at work in meetings about all sorts of things that have nothing to do with getting on and cooking (but very important none the less)means I'm getting very short of time and I've still got a pile of stuff to sort out before getting to the Palace for the food deliveries tomorrow update on last weekend I'm afraid, you'll just have to wait until after the Easter event...sorry!

As with last weekend I shall endeavour to keep you up to speed with the cookery as best I can....thoughts and 'facts' as close to them happening as I can via Twitter and hopefully a good blog post or two over the weekend to fill out the gaps.

If you were thinking of braving the weather this weekend (and the forecast is for a stinker I believe!) and visiting the Palace, do make sure you say hello and have a good look at what we are a meal each day, ready for 4.00 p.m.
There are some 'testers' being trialled through the Palace over this Easter event, can't say what at the moment as they are sort of hush-hush, but when everything comes on line properly I'll update you then...hopefully with pictures too!

Now, where did I put that list of shopping I had?.........

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Questions Questions Questions

Another day finished and boy was it surprisingly busy, a constant stream of people to chat with and Robin to abuse he he.

So the question is, this Twitter malarky, is it worth it? I'll say this, it's very odd compared to writing this old tosh...just posting single lines...I'm still not sure, although it does allow a much quicker transfer of information to all of you as there isn't the pressure of filling out a 'whole' blog post.
On future events where I will be able to work in modern clothes recording our successes and failures with a camera Twitter will allow a much closer to real time updating than I feel is the case with the main blog. Do any of you have any thoughts? What do those of you who have been following us for a while now think?
As always, all thoughts and comments gratefully received.

That's it for the moment, got to go and find something to eat as I've just realised I've not eaten since breakfast.....probably good for my middle aged spread though!!


Let's Get Ready To Rumble!

After a brief panic folowed by a quick chat over buckets of tea (and a confession that the fish error was his fault by Chris our manager!!) we've worked out what to do with our 'bonus' fish delivery and how we can deal with that AND still fit in all the other recipes that I had ordered ingredients nothing goes to waste....hooray.

The short version is that we will roast 2 turbot on the spit as we tried Easter before last, for those of you with long memories and we will have the gurnard that came with the simply poached as part of an ongoing experiment testing ceramic and metal chafing dishes (more should follow on this subject when we, or more correctly Carter and Pick finish their experimentation and testing).

As for details of the rest of the dishes, that will have to wait until tomorrow as it's now way past bedtime.

Friday, 26 March 2010

A Question For You All......

Is it just my PC or is the Flickr badge on the right that usually shows a selection of images only showing the same image in all of the little squares?

Replies would be appreciated so that I can try to fix it if it's not just me.

Thanks in anticipation.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Make Your Mind Up!!!

I've changed the little 'share this' buttons that I added yesterday for one that is more visually appealing...should do the same thing, so feel free to share away as before!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Few Additions.

You may have noticed a few little counters added to the bottom of each post. These, when clicked will allow those of you that so desire to share the magnificence of these ramblings with more of the digital community....go on, you know you want to....although you will need one of the respective accounts already for these to work, but I am reliably informed that this internet thingy is quite the popular social tool these days!

Hopefully it'll help to keep the momentum going and get us blogging and tweeting a bit more regularly than we have in the last year.

As with all these things, it would be nice to hear from you if you've had problems with any of the links, buttons, gizmo's or whatever here on the blog.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

We Created A Monster!!!.....

Well two actually, but that's what happens when you create the culinary equivalent of a cut 'n shut, you get 4 halves so you're gonna end up with two 'animals'.

As all of this took place in the dim and distant past (Christmas 2002) there isn't a great deal of pictorial evidence to hand....the height of technology that we had access to was a Sony Mavica, woo hoo, although you will also notice Robert taking pictures in some of the shots, whether he can find those slides and scan them I'm not sure, but I digress.

All of the pictures I have are now up on Flickr for you to see, they include this selection:

the 'ingredients'

can you see the join?'s sleeping!

the cockyntryce en repose

along with a few others....ahh that evening just flew by....or perhaps it was the beer?
The only other notable fact about that night of creation was that the custody warders learnt not to rifle through our fridges for snacks when we aren't about as those two staring back at them by torchlight were apparently NOT what they were expecting to find.

As to the finished results, well I have no pictures to show (Robert?) but it went really well. The beast was placed on the spit and a wire 'frame' added to keep the head, wings and feet in their correct positions, it was then roasted in front of the fire, with a batter applied half way through which hid all of the stitches, in fact it did such a good job that we had a devil of a time convincing people that it wasn't a real animal....I kid you not, they wanted to know what it was, why they'd not heard of one before and how it flew with those small wings as it couldn't possibly walk having no front legs!!! Even telling the truth they didn't believe us...amazing really.

We tried to shield the feathers by placing wet parchment sleeves over the wings, but that just shrank like heat shrink tubing so we took it off...with hindsight it was obvious that it would, but hey, we were young, I believe that they survived in some shape or form to the table in spite of this! If I remember correctly it stank to high heaven on the table but that was because of the turkey having its head still on and that was never intended by the supplier (we chose a turkey as it was the only bird that we could match girth with to the sucking pig) and boy was it bad....not enough to put us off, but bad none the less! Why I'm not sure as it was washed and cleaned, possibly just the smell of the brain over cooking, I really couldn't say and it didn't matter that much as it was the overall impression that we were aiming for.

Would we do it again? Possibly, but with a lot more planning that we did that time.....and having learnt so much about the roasting of meat I think it would be a great success....who knows, probably not this year, but never say never......even with all the fuss that meat and certain animals seems to generate, still at least it wasn't fluffy bunnies eh?

As for the peacock, grief that was even further back in time, possibly 1996, but that's just a very wild guess. I only have one picture of this:

preparing the peacock

There are possibly more, but not currently in digital form.

This was done in the 'good old days' when we weren't running the show and there were different team members involved, as you may notice....his name's Andy and he was a demon when it came to working with the dead animals.....a bit like Pick, but somehow more 'natural', although I think it was mostly down to practice with road kill!
The choice to cook the peacock wasn't ours, it was Peter Brears who ran things, we sort of just did as we were shown back then (my how things have evolved). Peter, bless him, knows a phenomenal amount about food and its history, he was just never too hot on telling us, or in fact anybody the references used, so Lois, to answer your question, it was sort of a generic peacock recipe that was used.....gut it, peel it, roast it, put the skin back on.
You will notice the candles in the shot, they aren't just for show, they were the light we were working too!! All of the prep' work was done after hours on the Christmas event we did this, as it was felt that it may generate complaints, so working by candle light Andy deftly removed the skin and gutted the animal. The next day it was placed on the spit with wire to hold the wings and legs in place as well as a long wire down the neck to hold it upright, it was then roasted until done and left to cool before the head was plopped onto the protruding wire and the skin dressed back onto the body. Again all of this dressing was done after hours for fear of offending the hindsight it was a stupid PR panic lead decision that should never have been allowed to dictate the state of play because so many interested people never got to see the finished dish...still live and learn eh?!

It looked absolutely amazing, just like you see in the manuscript illustrations, especially as this was by candle light and the feathers simply shone with colour as it was processed to the table for our assembled guests to try (which would have made it New Years Eve)....tasted just like chicken though!
We needn't have worried about the public comments, they ranged from "it's some kind of raptor" (meaning bird of prey, because of the claws) to "it's a velociraptor?? coool", but all were positive and all could see the reasons for trying the recipe out, they just couldn't see why they weren't allowed to have seen the whole fact the comments for this were almost repeated when we came to the cockentryce, but again the same squeamishness descended from above and the preparation work was to be done away from the public gaze.....shame really as I thing on the whole apart from those who are out specifically to be offended (and they are certainly out there) the vast majority would appreciate seeing the whole process behind such a bonkers recipe.

I would love to try the peacock again and the sooner the better, the only problem at the moment is sourcing the birds. When we did it last time it was easy, odd meat was in vogue and the world and his wife was selling peacock along with kudu steaks and, peacock seems to have vanished and I'm not too sure why. Still, always on the look out and when we can find a supplier then we'll be sure to have another go, but this time with more pictures for you all to see and with a more mature bird with bigger tail feathers that would allow us to display the tail all fanned out just like the manuscript pictures show...we can but dream.

So the weekend is nearly upon us, just a couple of days to go and fingers crossed with the new phone I'll be able to post or tweet almost as it happens (although you'd be right to believe it when you see it!!)


Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Blast From The Past!

A conversation with a friend (yes, I do actually know people that aren't connected with work....though not many) prompted me to look out some old pictures of a 'project' we did back at the Christmas event 2003/2003....when we were younger, thinner and had more the right places!!

I don't think I've posted them here before, may have done on the now defunct original blog pages over at Yahoo, so for your delight and delectation, the good Baron (Frankenstein that is) is happy to present the Purkey and Tig....

Purkey before cooking

Tig in the 'workshop'

a young man and his beasty

Oh the fun we had! Well it kept the two of us busy for that New Years Eve anyway.

Not sure if we'll try it again or not, all of that 'creation' business takes it out of you, but this coming year could be a good time to try. I think though that I'd rather have another go at peacocks, it's been a loooong time since we cooked one of those at the Palace and it would be nice to give it a go again, especially as we now can afford cameras to record what we do. More things to add to the list then....still if it keeps us off the streets?


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Trouble At T' Mill

It's been a bit of a rocky road at work for the past couple of weeks, which is why there was no follow up post from the last weekend....and we'll give Robert the benefit of the same excuse too! I can't really say much about what the problems have been, just that they concerned our office space and its future usage, so that's kind of been all consuming for a little while, nothing to worry about though as it's all sorted now and it's on with the show for the coming new financial year.

I've still not had final confirmation that our budgets have been approved, but we're all working on the assumption that in general everything that has been planned for the year will come to pass, well at least as far as you, the viewing public are concerned...I fear that we could end the year looking very much like a swan...all calm and serenity on the surface, but paddling like mad below the waves....still, only time will tell.

One more weekend of cookery is left in this current financial year and that should see us playing around with more new recipes from the Propre New Booke of Cokery of 1545. We'll then plunge into the new fiscal year and all that it holds with the Easter event the following weekend, so if you're in the area you'll have two bites of the proverbial cherry to pop along and see us in action.

What does the new year hold for us? Well it's a return to cookery on the first weekend of the month along with high days and holidays, culminating in a 7 day event over the Christmas holidays; there's an extra weekend in July to add as well, but truth be told I can't remember the exact dates at the moment and need to have a look at the wall planner in the office before I can furnish you all with the assured that I'll let you all know in good time for this as it is one of the main events of the summer, with the Saturday seeing King Henry VIII and his queen arrive by boat once again to be received by entertainment on the riverside, splendour and pageantry in the Privy Garden and a small al fresco meal as well...I believe that the day will also culminate with foolery and shows in Base Court as well as the possibility of fireworks (but don't quote me on that at the moment).

What are we planning for these weekends? Can't tell you at the moment as we're still in the planning stages, but what I can say is that the aim is to go a little more experimental than this last year, although what that will actually involve we haven't sorted out yet but I can promise a departure from the hum drum repetition that we've fallen into with all the events melding into one 'samey', 'normal' affair.....well that's the idea anyway!
Easter though will be a see of dull 'normality' with us cooking a meal to be served at 4.00 each day....this is to fit in with the rest of the Palace and to establish a baseline for the year to show the difference with the experimental weekends...or so I'm assured by our manager.
Don't forget, for those who haven't been to see us for a while, we've altered our working times in the actual Historic Kitchens and our days in front of you lovely people now run from 11.00 a.m. until 30 minutes before close of the Kitchens...this now means that we can get all the little planning and preparation jobs done much more efficiently and devote much more of our time in the public, rather than worrying about whether the bins were empty or the washing up liquid was in the right place.

Still, enough of this to sort out shopping lists now. More news as and when it happens either here or for passing thoughts...Twitter!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The White Heat Of Technology!!

Eagle eyed observers may notice that there's a new widget in the left hand column.....a Twitter thingy!

Yes, I've come over all hip (for hip read several years behind the times, was reticent up until now, may well delete it in the near future, still not bothering with that Facebook malarkey) and got myself a Twitter thing. To be honest I've no idea what it does or how it works, but all the blah promises the ability to post short notes as and when, so it may just kick me up the backside into telling you all some more stuff without feeling the pressure in having to write a weighty tome each time.

Who knows, it may even catch on in my little brain and you might hear some more from me....even if it's only in 140 characters or less.

As is the usual way of things, there will now be a flurry of posts bringing you up to date and promising more in the future, here's hoping I can keep that promise eh?