Monday, August 29, 2011

A Synopsis of the Plot so far - or what I'm currently working on.

I just finished attending Laurel's Prize Tourney over the weekend, and had a lot of fun demonstrating how to make salt and flour using Iron Age technology.

If things work out with the spelt sourdough culture, I'll probably do a supported research paper on 'A Simple Loaf of Bread'. If the sourdough doesn't work out, I can still write the paper, but displaying it at a venue like Gulf Wars becomes problematic if I can't make good bread. Not so much at Kingdom A&S, since the paper is judged ahead of time - but still better to have the finished product for display and tasting.

Next on the docket is to make the cords for the Champions for our Fall Event. I need 8 ribbons, approx. 1 yard each (to go over armor/big guys heads). I want to play with a variation of Egyptian Diagonals for it, and I'll be pulling out the silk, I think - the Light blue looks really good with the navy borders, which will tie in with the Baronial Colors. While I have til the middle of October - I want to get the pattern down, and then this will be my movie watching project.

After the ribbon, I -MAY- think about an A&S Entry for the event. The theme is 'Lions' - and I have a few ideas, although nothing has 'gelled' yet. I could do a leather satchel with Celtic motifs that would include a Lion - I just need a Celtic Lion that would tie in with the other knotwork. I've been meaning to make a satchel in this style, so it would be a good exercise in leatherwork, which I haven't done in awhile. I could also do a small tapestry piece with a Heraldic Lion on it - but the charge is restricted in Ansteorra, so if I made one that was specifically a 'Lion of Ansteorra' - I couldn't use the pouch. Other than that - I've got nothing, in terms of a Lion project.

Pretty soon, I need to start the process of making my Static Entry for Kingdom A&S. I need a bit more information on the spices used, and then my goal will be to make Garum. For the uninitiated, Garum is the Roman Fish Sauce of choice - they put it in EVERYTHING, including fruit deserts, appetizers, meat dishes, etc. It's commonly thought of as 'Rotting fish sauce' - but really is fermented fish enzymes in a salt brine that create MSG, or 'umami' taste - a flavor enhancer similar to Soy Sauce, Worcestershire sauce (which has fish in it, too!) and the Asian fish sauces. The process is relatively simple: layer whole fish, fish guts, or chunks of fish (it needs the parts removed during gutting, but doesn't have to be in one piece) - with salt and herbs/spices. Put it in a container in the sun. The vast quantity of salt prevents bacterial action (rotting) while the enzymes in the guts start dissolving the fish from the inside. Eventually (about a week, although it can sit longer) - a clear liquid forms, which is strained off and decanted, and used as a condiment like soy sauce. Wine, vinegar, and other things were also added, but that isn't my plan. If I choose the right fish, it's even Kosher, which was a thriving trade in the Roman era.

Yes, it sounds gross. If it works, I plan on making a replica of a Garum pitcher found at Pompeii for display purposes, and set it out with some bread. I won't put it out unless it tastes palatable - can't scare off the judges, you know: freak them out, yes, scare them off, no. If it doesn't work, it may also become a supported research paper, with a section on 'This is how the first attempt failed'.

After that - who knows. I have the fishing net finished, but I still need to play with spinning cowhair for the foot-rope. I also need to play with lead and wood/cork for the weights and floats. Once that's done, the next project will be to go fishing in a coracle with net. Talk about a BIG project: I made the boat, made the net, cooked the fish, and ground the flour for the loaves of bread. 'An Iron Age Meal' :)

So I think that's it for now. Things can change quickly, however - I watched a YouTube video on tanning, and now I want to try that project again, using the new information I have. Luckily, I still have 5 dried cowhides in my backyard (Lucky?!?!) to experiment with. So that may be the next project on the list, once it cools down below 100 every day.

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