Who am I when I cook, am I the Hunter gatherer, the first farmer, the monk on an island, the copper miner, the miller,Gaelic chief, people of myths and legends, An Tain, the foods of Aisling meic coinne glinn, the illuminators, the fisherman, a Viking, a Anglo Norman, a slave, a servant, a king, a noble, a person, a warrior, a child, a person all who need to eat, live and die
At the heart of any cooking I do is the simplicity of the food, in Ireland through the ages in everyday lives food was simple in form, whether it is nut and crab apples picked from the trees and dried by the smoke of the fire. The shell middens where shellfish was primary source of food. The trout, the salmon or eel, cooked over fire, wrapped in rushes and mud in embers, in later times a pastry crust, poached in liquids or as stew with foraged greens and in time cereal. The cooks world is your oyster. Breads of cereal and a liquid, same cereal used as a pottage, porridge or gruel, all have one thing in common, cereal + liquid= food. With advance of time from Hunter gatherer to farmer, from queen stone to mill, from embers, fulacht fiadh, pottery and pots made from different metals cooking changed but the main ingredients did not
To have many names associated with food and given to me
I have many names given to me
Queen of the breakfast Meadhbh of nine cauldrons The fire lady The lady of the biscuit so you choose the taste of me that you like and I’ll will see what food I will serve you
This week, I visit Ireland fabulous example of a Tudor house, Ormond Castle.Now it was fabulous and I highly recommend a visit. As usual it is something small, or an interesting fact that usually piques my interest throughout my whole tour. What you may ask ?, it was not the plaster work, the long hall, the great fireplaces, but a spice box. It’s the significance of the spice box that appeals to me, where the spice came from, the trade and the route taken, the trader, the merchant, the household it was purchased for, it’s worth, more expensive than the equivalent weight in gold, the leaving of spices, the spice box in wills, ransoms demanded and paid in Spice. The food made and eaten by who? The questions are endless
Back to the spices, the Anglo Normans are credited at times with the importation of spices into Ireland, but we should not forget, the ecclesiastical settings where spices and herbs played huge part in there medicinal cures , the pilgrimages, the Atlantic motorway of its time. Wines imported from Spain, Portugal, Brittany and France all added to the arrival of spices in Ireland. Trade between the likes of Bristol from England where spices arrived to be re-exported and traded. My favourite story so far to be found in Flavin, S.2014 .148 tells the story by Giles Wigger of Antwerp that the master of his ship in 1576 was held for ransom by the Bishop Cornelius Brenner of West Cork who demanded732lbs of spice made up of nutmeg, cinnamon,cloves and pepper for his release.
Now so spices were available to the elite at any rate, spices are mentioned in the Account Roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity.
Thomas Butler of Ormond castle who provided us with the Tudor manor in Carrick on Suir was born in 1531 and died in 1614. He was sent to London and was said to be educated with Edward VI. From this we gather that he had acquaintance with Henry VIII, EdwardV I, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. As part of court, he would have tasted the exotic, the unusual, the trending foods at that time.
Sweet hippocras wine flavoured with cloves, pepper, ginger and sugar
We know that wine, good and bad, red and white, was available in quantity in the Butler household. The river Suir runs behind the castle, where trade from Waterford port travelled up and down the fast moving river Suir
Rosemary hippocras flavoured with sugar , cloves, ginger,nutmeg, bruised Rosemary
Spice comfit Almond paste.Marchpane,Gingerbread made with spices,and breadcrumbs.cracknels , French Biscuits,Short cakes,jumbals.
Rents were received usually around Easter and before Christmas. Rents included cereal, farm animals, cow, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs and fish. Thomas Butler liked hunting and it is said that there were Deerpark, fishing weirs, mills, hot houses for fruit along with very accessible trade. No doubt some of the food and spices travelled with him and any of his three wives in the spice cabinets or boxed
Delicate meats of lamb, kid and suckling pigs. To eat meat and fish accompanied sauce.
Roasts of venison served with frumenty are with cereal which in turn could be flavoured with spices. Roast of beef, mutton, goose . Heron and Swans.Roast capons gilded in egg yolk and spices.
Driedfruits and nuts were fashionable at this time, currants, raisins, dares ,prunes,almonds and walnuts.
Aloes of beef, venison, salmon, mutton. Filled with a mixture of dried fruit, spices, breadcrumbs mixed into a paste , Olives of veal.
Fresh fruit of apples, apricots, plums, cherries and pears , some eaten fresh or preserved in sugar as a a preserve or a jam that we call it today, A little spice added for good measure, Fruit pudding or stew was popular like applemoyse or fritters.
Compound salads of exotic dried fruits, nuts, herbs and greens, ger kind, capers, and olives.
Pickled edible flowers, salads of all of the above with a selection of herbs and greens from the garden.
The English housewife suggests sauce for every kind of poultry, meat and fish. Note that was published after the 16 th century
Do not forget that the best of breads were also served with condiments of salt and sauces, bread need to mop up the many different sauces of different colours of vivid green, whites, browns. Sharp sweet sour spices all combined to make a feast for the palette.A big tip, when beginning, cook food that you think you will like and eat.
So if you come to Ireland to visit our fair landsI suggest you follower the Butler trail. Along with Nenagh, all those on the Butler trail app are Tipperary.A visit to Kilkenny city is also a must
It is said that Thomas Butler 10 th Earl of Ormond like to hunt
Venison therefore would be easily accessed, along with salmon and eels, Fish poached in spices served with green sorrel sauce, serving of veal or Vension was showing status at this time in Ireland after all it was the noble lords and Earls who were allowed to hunt game freely according to Susan Beglane in Food and Drink Ireland, serving game at feast was ‘indicator of social identity and status’
Trout and green sauce, cooked Egg yolks mixed with spices
For some reason almond and their products was not not used to the extent it was in Britain. So have chosen just a sweet part use of almond in the list of food.
I could go on listing food all day, including the exotics, I will stop now , to sow my herbs and ground my spices, anther story, another day
Once upon time, it was norm to try and feed children porridge, feed adults porridge, feed the Knight, the lord, the squire, the monk, the Servant, the farmer . I could not abide porridge for over fifty years, today that changed. So a lot of medieval recipes call for addition of cereal such as oats, barley or wheat. so having purchased organic oats with their outer husk removed I left to soften in water overnight.
In this case I boiled them up with shAllots, garlic, parsley and thyme, as I wanted the grains for pottages and any medieval dish that calls for cereal.
Of course salt and pepper, taking the same ingredients I cooked off prawns, shallots, garlic, thyme, fennel and parsley still abundant in my garden on this February morning.
So now the real adventures again, wild garlic season is not too far away, a mussel or two or oysters would make a great seafood pottage
Leek, onion, wild garlic would create a full flavoured pottage with goodness of oats and barley. Now you may wonder why I don’t mention porridge, this too I will do in time but now will have fun with pottages.
The wheat grains sit in a mutton pottage, cooking in the slow cooker. When wanting to experiment the slow cooker is near as I can get to cauldron cooking on a really wet windy February day.
Veggie and oat pottages next.another story another day
Having a chest infection is a good excuse to start thinking about one of my main loves which is different flours, I have tried gramm, spelt, rye etc but my real love is stoneground flours, strong flours. My ultimate excitement is visiting a mill to buy flour
So this morning I made pancakes from Dunany fine coarse whole meal flour.Why you may ask, well let’s think about the type of flour available , if you were lucky enough th have wheat, it was probably whole meal but more likely to be , barley or oat maybe rye.Again we are back to the big question do you live in urban area, in a monastic settlement, in a town or city, near a castle etc, this may also influence the type of flour you have along with your economic status.
The batter needs to be thicker than white flour batter, that makes sense in general especially if cooking over uneven coals, to hold their shape. Tasty, with a nutty taste, suitable to serving like flatbreads with honey, cream cheese, analanns and tarsuns , fried onions, kale or leeks, wild strawberries, apples and hazelnuts, of course butter, fresh butter wrapped in wild garlic leaves, menadach a thick paste of butter, chopped herbs, and ground oats, juicy bacon, hard cheese, sprinkle of salt, morsel of fish or shellfish list is endless.
Then having reignited my interest in flour,my biggest ordeal in baking medieval biscuits, was normal flours meant that biscuits and cakes spread. So experimented with strong flours which worked much better after thousands of biscuits and cakes. Today reading a page by Oakden that even fine white flour was in fact 20% whole meal giving it an off white colour. This evening I made Shropshire cake, not Irish but the first biscuit I learnt to make. So taking a strong flour I miked with about 12% whole meal to each cup of flour,so using two different Irish flours, strong white and whole meal Flour which cereal is grown and made into flour. This year my flours will mostly include organic flours grown and milled by the farmers themselves in Ireland
Having made biscuits, thousands in last couple of years
1cup of strong flour with about 12% whole meal 1/2 cup of butter and sugar,shake of caraway seeds and slightly too much dash of orange blossom, but my kitchen still smells fabulous, I like cup measuring as it means my recipes can be done anywhere. It’s usually rose water but felt like a change this evening, mix dry, rub in butter and caraway, add usually capful of orange blossom and cap of water and bring together, make eight balls, flattened between the hands and bake at 150 Celsius for 15 minutes.
Using simple recipes that you really know inside out is key to making a n intelligent experiment, it’s how you tell, whether it works or not. Also learning about how cereal was farmed through the ages, so more reading coming my way, more baking, more archaeological cereal findings , so biscuits through the ages . Also experimenting with spelt so the gluten free people can too taste the fennel, smell and taste the blossom as they smack their lips
The biscuit verdict, buttery, crispy and flaky almost crumbly like any good biscuit, very good,
I have stone ground flour, both white and whole meal ordered along with oats and wheat grains for my pottages. I also going to be experimenting with different farm grown and milled flours from Ireland. Another story, another day
Ancient Ireland or Hibernian is described by Tacitus lying between Britain and Spain in 98Ad, where much trade occurred in the harbours. It is hard to imagine trade along such rough seAs, but trade and movement of people brought different races to Iteland, Hibernian,
Ireland ancient motorway of trade was the sea, the Atlantic Ocean,
We know trade in 12 th to the 14 th century include trade of wheat, oats , barley to England , Wales , Scotland.
To other places such as Spain, Portugal, Gascony, Aquitaine, wine country which means the import of wine back into Ireland, pottery through the ages have shown the import of wine into Ireland, Clonmacnoise ecclesiastical settlement was importing wine since the seventh century. A place of prayer, manuscripts and educators of noble lords and Kings, land of scholars, trade and knowledge of the outside world.
Salting of herring in particular encouraged the importing of salt to salt the large catches of herring off the coast of Ireland , herring was the main export to Chester in mid 15 th century from Ireland (O Neill, 1987.31)
Exporting of Ireland of fish caught in the sea includes, herring, hake, king, cod. Some fish may have been pickled in old wine. There must be a reasonable use of old wine as it was imported into Ireland. Wool was exported and bought by Italian bankers who either loaned money to monasteries or to the aristocracy . Imports were also influenced by where the Anglo Normans came from originally, so mixture of Wales, Normandy, the Low Countries. Some of the monastic houses were English, French but mostly a mixture of the Irish and the monastic orders.
So therefore people were travelling, crusades were happening and new food was circulating. We already know that Anglo Normans bought spices, rabbit and pheasant. Interestingly an argument can be made for cooking a little French, Anglo cooking , Flemish dishes and even Italian, people bringing a little bit of home influences with them. Entwined with the food grown by the Anglo Normans, monastic orders with their granges. So the fun part take a place in time in Ireland. Maybe their archaeological dig , in this case we also look at the influences and trade from the north , south and East depending on where they came from originally. The monks and orders travelled between mother houses, the Anglo Normans castle hopped between their properties just as Royalty or millionaires do today. This idea grew a spark one day when I realised after a visit to Ormond castle in Carrick on Suir and realised their was strong connections to Tudor England and its courts. It naturally follows that you can show trade and influential people moving between countries, that it will indeed have influence. The Trinity priory in Dublin served an almond and rice dish.
Even my own home town of Nenagh had two different monasteries in 13 th century, one under the patronage of the Butlers and only allowed The English to enter as monks into the Augustinian order. While Nenagh Friary was the chief house of the Irish Friars and under the patronage of the Kennedy’s. So this alone locally could provide me with two different styles of cookery. In the area also information regarding fish pools, ponds, weirs, mills request for a deer park by the Butlers. The Butlers also had one of their main Irish castle holdings here between 12 th and 13 th century. Cooking based on historical facts relating to an area could make for interesting dishes. The original butlers had high connections in Cantebury as the brother was a bishop. Lest we should forget visitors to monastic houses were treated to the best of food, and it goes the opposite way too, Irish , monasteries in continental Europe, French was one of the main languages spoken and used to record information in Ireland ,in order to join some of the Cistercian houses, you needed to be able to confess in either French or Latin. Another story for another day.
Kirwin, J. The Chief Butlers of Ireland
Mills, J. Account Roll of the Prory of the Holy Trinity Dublin
O, Neill,T. Merchants and Mariners in Medieval Ireland
Ryan, J. Ireland From the earliest times to 800 Ad
Got up this morning, going to event and at my work house , as I live between two houses, due to migraine which meant driving would be stupid yesterday
So a scramble to find enough garb , something to cover my hair,a mismatch of tunic and chemise but I will be dressed.
So now a few nibbles that are covid acceptable and medical acceptable for others. in other words not sharing dish but individual, not much in the press either.
Added a little glacé of orange blossom and powdered sugar with some water to about quarter of tray
I will display the ingredients
As it has unusual ingredients of coconut sugar, cap of sweet almond oil, water and half cap of orange blossom 100 grams of coconut sugar to 200 grams of ground almonds.
Now I will declare my substitute of coconut sugar, but am looking forward to making my normal marchpane with orange blossom.
The only other quick make was scones, not medieval but quick to make, easy to serve as people arrive who want a hot drink and something to nibble on, has become a tradition that freshly made scones still warm wrapped in a tea towel with butter will set you up for the day, more to follow on pancakes and fritters , maybe more experiments today.
Off to buy a wire mesh sieve two sizes and off to Event in Tubberclaire , the first in person event in side in the Barony of Eplaheimr hosted by one of our Tuathas , up to now we had practices and picnics outside another story another day
So this morning, I was wondering what I actually would write about, the garden gave the answer, fresh fennel, fresh raspberries, fresh parsley and freshly laid eggs and breakfast.
First experiment making a green or verte sauce,
Verjuice juice is made from crab apples, sometime sloes or a subistuite apple cider vinegar
In Ireland Verjuice is different as you can see, so crab apple season is here.
Washing parsley, cut and chop having removed stems, a little apple cider vinegar as substitute, had white wine vinegar so half and half, white bread ,coarse salt and pestle.
Two Anglo Norman Cullinary collections by Constance B Hieatt and Robin F Jones, another recommendation made by Christine Hildebrand gives me the style of cooking I need to endeavour using my lists of ingredients.
Almond milk is not normally used in cooking in Ireland, however there is a mention of almonds and rice in Trinity Priory roll mid 14 th century so using ordinary milk will have to do
Crab apple verjuice instead of wine verjuice
Honey instead of sugar
Make substitute based on what was available at that time.
Oil not commonly used in Ireland, so butter, lard, dripping
So next experiment is fritters/ pancakes
White pancakes, herb pancakes
So separate egg white and yolk, mix yolk with flour and milk
Mix white of egg , flour and salt
Mix white of egg, flour and wilted fennel,herb of choice, spinach etc in butter, water and salt
As you can see the green sauce is quite green, so make good to serve with fish, as a dipping sauce, without the bread a good salad accompaniment
So verdict as follows
White fritter cooked in butter, takes on the taste of butter, dip in honey mmm
Remember in cooking in Ireland through the ages salt and honeycomb were often served on the table as a Analann
White fritter,pancake cooked in oil insipid
Golden fritter Cooke in butter the winner hands down, rich in taste, while absorbing the taste of the butter
Perfect side dish for feast to use up egg yolks, up to now I usually made saffron custard, but golden fritters are perfect accompaniment to snowe and berries
I like the fennel and I have made both types, so one with almond milk and one with ordinary milk, I have to say I do like almond milk version
So in the name of science this morning , this is what left
So will finish with the link that started a renewed interest in cooking all Types of food in this case Anglo Norman,
Athlone castle video link, is for everyone but especially the beginner, Athlone castle heritage week, and heritage walled towns not only supported my interests but had me look at the different cultural cooking within the ages of Ireland, many rabbit holes to make a Warren, how beautiful that picture looks.
Another book definitely worth a purchase , thanks to Christine especially chapter about lodgings.
How do we know what food the Farmer, labourer, the garden may have had access to in sixteenth century Ireland, for this I am using food, livestock, bread and cake, fish , cereals, honey , poultry, beer that was used to pay their rent. This was known as rent in kind, this was also paid along with days of service for, sowing, reaping, saving and hauling cereal, turf and firewood, weeding, cleaning mill ponds, cleaning mills, and general service to their landlord.
I was asked at a class at Raglan, why a lot of recipes had no eggs, my reply the ordinary person in Ireland may have paid their rent using poultry. They may not have exactly what was deemed necessary to pay rent and would gather what they could give or sell to make up the shortfall. Whether the rent was to a lord, chief or monastery or king.
So there is written evidence of food rent, here is an example , it is a group of
22 cottages; 12 plough days, 12 cart days, 12 boon days, 12 weeding days, 12 hens; from every brewing of beer1 gallon of the better beer,12 cakes; a quarter of beef at Christmas, from each flock number 7 or more, 1 sheep and 1 pig, (White, 1943,194)
Other rent in kind includes turf, goat, pepper, wax, candles, honey, linen. If you live on the coast herring would be part of the rent as is salmon and eels as lots of said weirs were rented out or owned in part by others.
Cereal was an important part of rent in kind, pecks of corn and oats, beans, peas and barley (White1943 186)
For some tenants they just worked for the victuals and roof over their head.
A portion of butter was weekly rent between 3 rd of May and 4 th of September by the tenants a portion , a bigger dish of butter at Easter to the Franciscan house of Castledermot and a dish of eggs, more beer and cake for Easter celebrations.
This information is taken from a time where the Dissolution of Monasteries and Ecclesiastical lands by King Henry VIII in Ireland.
Life was changing yet again in Ireland and the lands that had not already been rented or sold by ecclesiastical houses and monasteries now came into the ownership of King Henry VIII.
So back to food, we know food consisted of pottage of cereals with vegetables and greens from the garden or fields, cheese and butter from the milk, cooking for the ordinary tenant was hearth cooking, so flatbreads, oatcakes, upturn pots for cooking cakes, breads,hard and soft cheese, puddings as in blood from the killing of pigs and sheep, according to a butcher I know, sheep blood makes the best black pudding., butter and milk of all types but that a story in itself. Unfortunately the poor tenant sometimes went hungry to pay the rent, their food remained simple, cereals, sometimes aided with fruit like apples and blackberries were often stable part of their diet along with brassicas and some salted meat and fish. The hen probably produced plus 50 eggs a year so not a lot of eggs available either. Fish played it’s part on days of fast and during lent. Even if the monasteries were abolished, customs and religion feasts were celebrated.
Having visited a number of monasteries and castles this Summer I thought ye might like to see who receive the rent in kind.
So to finish off the style of cooking for the ordinary tenant did not change so much and I hope that their pot was always full. The potatoe was coming and it was about to change the lives of the ordinary tenant, another day, another story
Lynch,B. 2010 Monastic Landscape of Ireland, America,Xlibris. UK
White,N.B.1943. Extents of Irish monastic possessions 1540-1541 from Manuscripts in public records office London:Dublin, The Stationary Office
Growing up near Nenagh where local castle was built in early 1200’s, by Theobald Walter 1st Chief Butler of Ireland. He arrived in Ireland with Prince John who became king John. The first Anglo Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169. The role of Chief Butler was to make sure should the Royalty come to Ireland, this family and their descendants were to feed the Royalty and provide the wine. In fact some of their wealth came from wine ,as they received 10% of all wine cargo value that arrived in Ireland up until a the 16 th century.
So now begins what the Anglo Normans influenced in Ireland
Well apples and nuts were mentioned in early Irish laws, but fruits such as pears, cherry and plums became part of the Anglo Norman secular and non secular orchards.
Fruit was usually cooked, so as composite in honey, wine and new herbs also known as spices. Pepper been a firm favourite, also ginger, cinnamon and
With the humours of hot and cold , fruit was considered cold so by adding spices and herbs made it more digestible.
The Anglo Normans bought the more regular use of Dovecote, warrens, deer parks and agriculture changes in crop and cereal growing. So rabbits, deer, doves, pheasants, more pork and capons as popular foods.
The addition of salt and pepper to food, capons cooked on spit and pork on grids flavoured with pepper, new herbs, fat and new herbs or spices.
Capon on a spit with onion and butter inserted in cavity with cavity closed. Basting in fats, and when cooked a sprinkle of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Capon is basted as to keep it moist, as in Ireland wild flavoured garlic butter was used to base the capon/pheasant/ chicken
Oatcakes, Salmon flavored with Salt-and pepper and honey , the Irish way, A good alternative method the Anglo Normans liked to cook fish in pot with wine, stock,new herbs/spices. White pancakes with wheat white flour and the white of eggs, with herbs from your kitchen garden cooked in fat made for delicious food between dishes,
Green vert sauces were served with fish, so taking herbs from the garden such as rosemary, parsley, thyme, fennel and chopping or putting in pestle and mortar, grinding it with salt, pepper, gingerand adding it to sweet white wines, verjuice from the grape or crabapple , new herbs and spices and reducing the mix over heat to make a green sauce, some fresh green Spring Onions can be cooked in the sauce.
So finding what the Anglo Norman. The food they brought to the table and cooking dishes in a manner or style of Anglo Norman. Food mostly cooked in pots on hot gridiron and griddles, spits and breads baked in ovens near the grounds of castles and monastery. The use of bread as trenchers, also wooden trenchers, mopping up the liquid food with bread and swallowing it down with wine.
Peas were preferred over beans, flavoured with garden herbs, salt and pepper, sweetened with some honey.
So if you have not guessed by now pepper was a firm favourite with Anglo Normans, pepper came in all shapes and sizes, long pepper cubebs, while salt came in blocks the both needed to be crushed either, pestle and mortar, a mill etc….
Holmes,U.T. 1952. Daily living in 12 th C as recommended by