Just good food history

Having read a easy book to understand Brehon laws, chosen because it was one of the few books of interest that I could find in wet and windy Clare this week. The book itself is Brehon laws The Ancient Wisdom of Ireland by Jo Kerrigan took my interested as grounded by the weather in Spanish Point. So instead I get to have fun reading and researching and most of all writing. A thing I have not done for a while, due in no part to post Covid exhaustion since the Summer. Getting through the day and work has been enough for the last number of months. The first kick came last weekend, following a visit to Country Choice Nenagh. This is one of my few blogs that entails todays food, folklore of food and the living food folklore. Just Magical after all we associate Halloween with magical powers, folklore, myths and legends.

Food of the highest order in Country Choice, from rare Dexter beef slices, (small cow like animals of medieval time), local beets, organic fruit and vegetables, local comb and runny honey, jams and chutneys made on site, the place is renowned for its Irish cheese selection along with other cheeses, a place worth visiting any day , his pride in sourcing food near and afar.

The Proprietor of Country Choice Nenagh Peter Ward and dicussion about two objects near me, the one at my shoulder a French Duck Press and further a long a Norther Ireland Harnen /Oat cake /bread dryer both beautiful pieces. I knew the later of the two but not the first. I promise to get pictures if Peter allows me when I get home. The duck press I thought might be a cheese press which we agreed was not a bad guess considering Country choice is famed for its cheeses near and afar.

So while I was there at least three customers came in the door, said word fruit to Peter and he directed them to the place in the long narrow shop,deli, restaurant. Not fresh fruit but dried and candied fruit. The folklore around the produce was living in front of my eyes. People in Ireland began preparing for Christmas by baking their Christmas cake in late October early November, in essence gathering the red and green cherries, currants, raisins and sultanas, candied peels of orange, lemons and limes, the barter of using whiskey that hidden in the back press for special occasions at home, or giving up on that idea and just buying the bottle of Irish whiskey to feed, moisten and preserve the baked Christmas cake until December and January. The same customers have been doing this since childhood at their mothers and grandmothers elbows. In essence if the fruit is all bought in for Christmas at this time, some can be used for the barnbrack for Halloween..

For those who don’t know Halloween originated in Ireland the Celtic tradition of Samhain. So really the Irish Ages at its best, marking the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. Dried fruit has come to Ireland for centuries, through the movement and settling of monastic orders, the Anglo Normans love of dried fruit which like spices displayed their wealth. The Trinity priory mentions figs and dates. Wine was imported by the monasteries and the wealthy , so dried fruits come from the same regions making it available to those who could afford it through the Irish ages.

Another conversation ensued , by four of us as customer was seeking molasses as it turned out to try in brown bread. The conversation discussed the merits of brown bread with the addition of molasses, treacle, beer or honey. Brown bread types has changed radically in last twenty years which include brown breads made with many different kinds of seeds and nuts, old type grains which may have been the norm in many centuries even if the bread was thicker, unleavened and coarser. The finish of this conversation was “why interfere with good brown bread recipe that your family loves in the first plac”e to which the reply was ” I am just trying to come into the 21st century”.

So to finish as the rain beats against the window , the wind howls, and the waves beats against the rocks in Co Clare tonight, remenber it is Christmas cake baking Season. So if you get a homemade rich Christmas cake from a friend of family member as a present at Christmas. Remember thay have spent two months looking after this rich moist Christmas cake covered in marizpan and icing, you smile and think to yourself, not only has a lot money gone into making it, but time and lots of love.

Thankyou to Peter and his customers who gave me a joyful half hour, sipping on hot beverage and providing a interesting food, food objects and folklore discussion. The Christmas cake will be opened for its first taste on Christmas eve, an another day and another story.

Maybe a Christmas present


A taste of me

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

Fish is. A firm favourite cooked quickly on a skillet or over coals wrapped in greens
With smoky taste of the peat or wood embers
The. Wheat cereal pottage
Lots of fun with three cereals this year, wheat, barley and oats
Verde sauce from the herbs of my garden
Maybe I ll offer you fresh beets from my planter outside the door
Me on rambles, seeking inspiration for food through the ages archaeologically and historically
Cooking in sigginstown oven thanks to Liz and Gordon
Grains, my fascination at the moment
All different of fires and cooking methods
The grower
The tuatha cook days with friends
The herbalist and gatherer

To have many names associated with food and given to me

Always the biscuit maker

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

Spices of life in Carrick on Suir

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

Ormond Castle Carrick on Suir

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.

Looking at the spices they were definitely easy to transport whole along the spice routes and across the sea
Because I am researching that the spices came to Ireland this lead to this purchase just more proof of what came to Ireland through I’ll gotten gains and trade see pg 38 concerning the above ransom

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.

The rabbit hole of books this blog has taken me this week, I promise it all adds up.
Now I know what food and possible spices were around all I need to find is some good recipes to use the spices involved

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.

For your first feast, there are many good suggestions to get you started.

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

Here is a link to find the app https://tipperary.com/itinerary/48-hours-on-the-butler-trail/

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.

A good book for food through the ages in Ireland

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

Grains and Pottages

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.

Basic ingredients
Adding the grains and some liquid from the oats

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.

Mutton and wheat pottages

Veggie and oat pottages next.another story another day

More experimenting with flour

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.

Whole meal pancake batter
Thicker batter
Getting there, completely experimental

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

Mixing the flours
Ultimate test
Didn’t allow the mixture to get cold in the fridge before baking, the ultimate test
Compare the before and after
Keeps their shape, not much spreading

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

Trade of food and drink

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,

Ryan, Map7

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

What to do when you didn’t get to your actual cooking press

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.

Guess what, a really good base for marchpane, orange blossom marchpane is definitely my new biscuit , it is gently cooked in an oven which is cooling down turned back to100 c and then turned off completely after 10-12 min

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.

Orange blossom marchpane

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.

Quick bake, mix in large saucepan, can be a bit like been on camp here, but that ok

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

Experimental medieval cooking

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.


Chopped but now needs the pestle
Taste nice,is sharp, looking forward to doing different tastes with it, so only need a small amount so that what I made and I have a big supply of parsley that has reseeded itself

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

Wilted fennel
White fritter
Frying now in a little oil as butter even with a dash of oil was starting to burn
Starting near the green sauce white fritter pancake cooked in butter,Gold fritter pancake, white fennel fritter, white fritter pancake cooked in oil, ordinary egg pancakes

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

Made white fennel fritters/pancakes for National heritage week and heritage walled towns for Athlone castle

So in the name of science this morning , this is what left

For my grown up son to nibble on later probably with Nutella but that is the modern world

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.

Video link

Another book definitely worth a purchase , thanks to Christine especially chapter about lodgings.


Yesterday I did a class forBards and Cooks known world, which allowed me to talk with passion about Food and Anglo Norman food and of course Ireland and places to visit, another day another story

Food of the ordinary people 16th century Ireland.

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.

Loved Fore Abbey
Holy cross Abbey a parish church today
Portumna Abby
Castles also received 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

All photos taken by me