Thursday, June 27, 2013

Competition in the World of the SCA

In the SCA, I call myself a Skomorokh. This, alone, tells you two things. One, that I have a Russian persona. And two, that I like to consider myself a certain ilk of performer.

Most all of my enjoyment in the SCA hinges on two very specific things. Between my love of my hobbies (from performance, metal working, fiber, wood working, stone carving, archery, etc) and my love of my Russian research, I feel very well settled in what I enjoy.

I have done competitions before. The competitions I have done before were for very specific reasons. The main reason was for feedback. I am someone who is constantly learning. I love learning. And there is still so much I want to learn. So if I am getting feed back of 'you are obviously enthusiastic, check out this book' or 'have you tried doing it more like this? You might come up with the result you are hoping for if you do' or, best of all 'hey, I would love getting together with you and working on this', I am incredibly happy.

Competitions certainly have their places. And there are areas they make full sense in, such as in archery and fighting and fencing. These things have clear winners, clear point systems. Everyone watching can say, yes... that person hit the bulls eye.

Competitions, in period, were a way for preparing for war. So those three categories? It makes perfect sense for them to be competitions. But the arts? I would rather create than destroy. The arts were meant to give people a reprieve from war, even if it was in the manner of telling or depicting stories of battle.

Perhaps I am wrong, but from what I have read, there were not competitions in the arts. How, then, did a Czar or Great Prince of Russia choose who they wanted on their staff? They would say “I saw some fantastic performers in Novgorod last time I visited and I prefer them to the ones here in Moscow. Round them all up and bring them here so I can enjoy them.”

When you think about it, that is exactly what bardic competitions are. They are a selection of all the Skomorokh in Russia and end with the Prince shrugging and saying 'I prefer you'. No criteria is needed or met. The royal gets what they want, which is exactly how it should be. But no one is better than anyone else. For example, the Novgorodian Skomorokhi may have been more adept at tumbling than the Moscow Skomorokhi, but were not as big of a fan of singing. Perhaps the Prince hated music but loved pratt falls. He is getting what he wants. It is how it worked.

But, what happened when the Guslari fell from the courts because the use of a gusli was seen as satanic with the church coming in and linking the instrument to the warlocks of the Skomorokhi? There was an unspoken cameraderie as they joined in with the groups of Skomorokhi and learned their trades, taught them their stories and songs. They joined the troupes so that the art of the guslari was not forever lost. And, needless to say, there were still Princes that prefered these bylini that the Guslari told to the acrobatics of the Skomorokhi as, so stated the church, it was connected to evil. But by telling the bylini, the heroic stories of past deeds, it felt more courtly and less pagan.

Keep in consideration that the Skomorokhi were a troupe of performers with a wide variety of offerings from trained animal acts to courtly poetry to ceremonial pagan songs for the rites of the seasons. Nothing was a taboo for them. They would be in the streets doing puppet shows as often as they would be seen with a gusli strapped to their chest doing a little dance routine as they played. They wore masks to act out stories other Skomorokhi would tell and there are even stories of how particular Princes would get drunk and join them, with a mask, in dancing. Performance art, in Russia, was very much a free for all jam session as I seem to read it. Certainly troupes would perform together, but as with Commedia, there were certain routines that would be know between all the groups so that, if they met, they could act out these short 2 minute scenarios.

It was no wonder the Prince would prefer one troupe to another or one area to another. With such a well versed collection of things they would do, it was easy to have a preference.

To me, the SCA is all about working to perfect my persona. The joy of the SCA is picking a persona and researching it to the point of being them. I enjoy performing as Katrusha would perform. Swapping stories in the hospitality tent with Cariadoc was one of the most amazing moments of Pennsic for me last year. We both sat there as we were, Cariadoc and Katrusha, smiling and enjoying a chance meeting as we stopped in the shade enjoying the hospitality of cool drink against the morning sun.

I have spent a lot of time reading and playing around with Katrusha and learning more about her life, her history, her experiences. All of these things are important to me to be able to go to an event and be able to perform as she would perform. Yes, there are still aspects of me in her. My joy and excitement to learn everything even if it isn't Russian. But the classes I teach are things that excite and interest her and I do make sure to give them a Russian flair.

When it comes to classes, I prefer that my teaching style be more of a round table discussion. Yes, I have learned things and would talk your ear off about my findings if given the chance, but there is nothing more exciting for me than being able to have an actual back and forth with someone and learning where they went with their angles of research. I'm not an expert by any means and I truly and honestly believe that everyone has something they can teach. In a class setting, I enjoy going to hear other people, but I find sometimes I want to jump up and start gushing about how it all makes sense considering the findings I have read about. Even in a classroom setting, I still seem to be on the idea of jam sessions where everyone is able and willing to contribute. It is something I have really taken to heart.

I have found, when it comes to research, there are various fields of how people play it. There are those that love to share the information they find because it helps them to feel like they have grown and know a lot on their subject. There are those who hoard their information because they want to know a lot but they don't want to share it until they have finished whatever it is they are studying. There are those who adore picking people's brains, but because they are always asking, no one realizes how much they actually do know. There are those that, like me, enjoy jam sessions of teaching each other through a localized list or book group or various other manners. There is nothing wrong with any style in particular. They are all about learning, and learning is fantastic. Some are certainly more social, and some feel more competition related. People all learn and teach in different manners.

So, the three parts of the SCA that I am discussing today (because, lets face it, there is a lot that I haven't even begun to touch on with my journal entries), are classes, research, and competitions. All three of these things can bring someone up and encourage and inspire them, or it can level them to the floor. You can choose, through classes, to be rude and only talk about your research and discredit everyone else's (as either a teacher or a student), or you can encourage with other source ideas, admit that you are not an expert in the field. In research, you can claim only one book to be right, tell people how they are doing it all wrong per what you have read, or you can ask people where they learned what they did, perhaps looking up the book or maybe even share your research with them and do a sources exchange. You can create or you can destroy.

Competitions, though, are different. They are different because of the fact that, in a whole, a competition is preparation for war which in its own way means it is a cause for destruction. But you can inspire and create life through competitions if you know how.

When it comes to competitions (the ones where the main goal isn't for someone to pick a successor, because those make some sense to me), I feel there is no way to fairly judge something of this nature. People have been talking about 'high quality' recently, but the idea of high quality bothers me. Whose quality? Who is chosing what quality is? I have done a lot of research on my persona and on Skomorokhi and feel I could possibly judge what a *good* Skomorokhi performance would be (but being no expert in the field, I couldn't say if they are high quality or not), but I wouldn't. But typically, no one that is choosing the high quality performances, for example, knows what Skomorokhi are like or what they did. So, if they are not really well researched on different formats and styles (like someone judging dancing in modern days is very well researched on the form of specifics styles), how are they choosing what is high quality in any area of the arts? They are choosing what they like. They are taking on the role of a royal and deciding what will be best for the entire audience because what they like will be best.

That is not a very fair or equal way to chose any art in the least. So, as I have spoken a lot about Skomorokhi, now look at this on a level of bardic competitions. You have people who do not make it to a final round or do not win and take this as it meaning that they need to work harder, that they didn't reach that goal of being good enough. But, in reality, they simply were not what the judges liked.

How do you keep from doing that? Research. A lot of reading. And rubrics. Knowing that your opinion of a piece (“Oooh, harp is pretty!” “Oh damn, another skald? Bleh!” “I can't take another filk!” “Oh, this person can sing AND play guitar!”) has no weight at all in the competition. You watch the audience and view their reaction, not yours. And you watch the performer for technical things such as how they use their space, if they try and keep out of modern terminology, if they have a distracting mannerism like constantly saying 'um', how is their documentation, or even if they are dressed appropriately for the performance.. And even then, it still isn't a fully fair judging.

Why is that? What if I researched into a certain style of performance art and nailed it. It is, hypothetically, a style where someone is supposed to be physcially distracting with their movements and alternate between singing in various languages? What if I researched and that is exactly how a certain piece was performed, a very particular piece? There are people that are not going to like it. And on the rubric, the distracting movements would be seen as a flaw. Even with documentation saying I did everything right, there is still bound to be someone who said they did not like it and it was not appropriate for competition (I have had this comment about putting “mistakes” into A&S competitions as more of a 'look what I learned' instead of a 'I can make something pretty' and it does not go over well as some people are not interested in the learning process and more in the polished final product).

That is the problem with judging based on your likes. I can not think of a way to make certain that performances can be all judged fairly. You will also always have that desire in the back of your mind to judge based on previous pieces you have seen. Did you like it better or worse than the last piece of embroidery that you saw? Could you see this from across the room and decided it must get a good score because the table of scrolls took up three tables, so it must be more important than this one scroll that you are supposed to be looking at right now?

It is nigh on impossible to be judged fairly in this style of competition. It isn't like in heavy weapons where someone was hit. They felt it. They fall. Or archery where you shoot and it sticks in the target. What you like is not the same as what I like and what I consider quality is not the same as what you consider quality. It is as simple as that.

Would we be competing in medieval times for some kind of precious 'you the cook!' shiny? No. We would not. We are all there to entertain the audience. We share what we do with each other and teach people what we do so they can act out the story as we tell it or sing along in harmony. We are the fun that helps people forget about the wars and the plagues. When tournaments are going on, we entertain the populace that are not fighting during the day and the fighters at night. We do not need to compete with each other for who is the best. They *do* need to be able to fight and find the best of their ilk because they are our protectors. I want someone I know is going to hit a man coming towards me with his spear to protect me. And although, yes, I want a seamstress who is able to make me a dress that lasts longer than a month, arts and sciences are not a life or death situation.

Do these competitions promote excitement in the field and make people want to try it as well? For some, but not for all. New people who have just started are not always going to go to a competition where they are going to be judged, not given feedback, and then told 'well, these people who won should be inspiring you to be better.' The 'not giving feedback' is what I think hurts the most. And it can't be casual 'this is what I liked and didn't' feedback. It has to be inspiring feedback so people don't feel like quitting their craft from the get go. Not everyone is perfect their first time doing something. Tell them that you noticed they weren't keeping eye contact with the audience which makes it hard to draw them in. Let them know where they could go for more research into those styles of metal working. Introduce them to someone who would be excited to help them work on their spinning technique. Tell them you appreciated their enthusiasm in their craft. If there is some completely blatant anachronism, ask them where they researched into that particular styling because you thought it didn't come around until after period. You never know. You may learn something!

When I was new in the performance field, I was asked at my very first weekend long event to be in a bardic competition. And I did, because I loved to sing and I just wanted to sing for people with no care for the competition. And you know what? It was a positive experience. I didn't win, but I was given the grading sheet with my score and why I got the scores I did in each field by each of the judges. It inspired me to want to work more on the fields I was lacking in. I was also able to approach the judges and ask them to elaborate on issues.

When I was new in the metal field, I also put things into a competition. The reasoning for that was my desire to put out the entire craft, from start to finish, to maybe interest other people in trying the craft or, more hopefully, having people be able to give me feedback and other ideas of things to try. Because of that experience, I got some amazing feedback and a teacher that is as enthusiastic about teaching me as I am to learn.

So I am not saying, in the least, that competitions are a bad thing. I think that they can bring about some positivity. I think they can help to be inspiring. But by putting all of our gatherings into the one basket, so to speak, and not allowing for a more relaxed style of classes or research solariums or inspiring people to keep at their craft when you notice that perhaps they aren't as well polished as you would like them to be (perhaps all they need is practice), it can really hurt the community. People on the outside can see certain fields as being a very spiteful and vindictive pecking order instead of a rousing group of creativity minded individuals that they want to join, even if they have nothing to offer themselves. Because the mindset of the community leans towards competitions, we need to keep in mind that we should be creating instead of destroying. High quality is not a terminology we need to use to describe ourselves. Let your art speak for itself. Research. Inspire. Create. That is why we are here. To create a dream. Be kind to one another.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Recipes for Knowne World Dance and Music Symposium

Save for the cookies, baklava, and purchased items (bread, fruits, herring), here are the recipes from the event with some minor notes added for convenience sake.

Mushroom Caviar

Single batch serves 8.

12 oz of mushrooms, finely chopped (the more variety, the better the flavor)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 stick of butter

1 tbsp dry sherry

3 oz curd cheese

3 oz cream cheese

2 oz parsley

1 oz tarragon

1 oz marjoram

Saute the mushrooms and onions in butter. Add sherry and remove from heat. In a bowl, beat together cheeses and herbs. Stir in mushrooms, onions, and juices and beat until just combined. Chill overnight in a crock.

Notes: Use dried mushrooms for best varieties and just reconstitute and drain before starting the recipe.


Melon in Vinaigrette

Single batch serves 24.

1 honeydew melon

½ cup vegetable broth

¼ cup vinegar

1 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp mint flakes

¼ cup pomegranate juice (reduced)

¼ cup passum

Wash, open, and scoop melon. Cut melon in thin slices and place in a large bowl. Mix all other ingredients in separate bowl and pour marinade over melon and cover. Put in fridge and stir occasionally.

Notes: I had to look up passum, which is a raisin wine. I had to speak to a brewer to see what I could use that would be close or at least similar. They suggested a nice sweet sherry, so I used a cream sherry in its place.



A single batch serves 4.

½ cup of dried kidney beans

½ tsp of salt

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp finely chopped onion

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup fresh cilantro

Some pepper

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring an abundant amount of water for the beans to boil. Add the beans, remove from heat, and cover for ten minutes. Put back on the heat and bring back to a boil for ten minutes, while covered. Remove from heat again and keep covered for 20 minutes or until beans are the consistency you want. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Drain and pat the beans dry before adding to the bowl and tossing. Let sit for flavors to meld.

Notes: Can use one can of beans in place of the tried beans, but again, make sure to drain well before tossing. This dish is fantastic cold. But can also be room temperature.


Lotus Root Salad

Single batch serves 8.

1 lotus root

4 cups of boiling water

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

Peel and thinly slice the lotus root – keep it soaking in cool water to keep from discoloration. To blach, drain and lay the root in a roasting pan and pour boiling water over top. Let sit for five minutes before draining and patting dry. Meanwhile, combine all dressing ingredients. Sprinkle root with dressing and chill at least one hour before serving.

Notes: I find the longer it sits, the better it tastes, so I make it the night before the event for peak flavor.


Peas in Herb Sauce

Single batch serves 5

2 leeks

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cilantro

½ tsp cumin

10 oz frozen peas

1 tsp dill

1 tsp basil

¼ tsp pepper

2/3 cup vegetable broth

1/3 cup white wine

1 tbsp cider vinegar

Slice white part off leeks and mince cilantro. Cook leeks until soft in oil with cilantro and cumin Add rest of ingredients and set aside. Let sit as long as possible to blend flavors. Reheat and adjust spicing.

Notes: I served this dish cold and it was fantastic. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.



Single batch serves 15.

5lbs of meat (lamb, beef, whatever you prefer)

2 onions

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic

A handful of peppercorns

2 cups pomegranate juice

Layer cubed meat with onion and spices, the top layer being onion. Pour pomegranate juice over the meat. Let marinate before grilling.

Notes: Meat can be made ahead of time and frozen in the marinade – works fantastic. No matter how you need to cook it, it tastes fantastic: baked, grilled, kabob’d, stir fry’d, etc).


Azerbaijan Pilaf

Single batch serves 6.

½ cup sliced almonds

2 tbsp butter

1 cup rice

2 cup vegetable stock

½ tsp sesame seeds

¼ tsp ginger

¼ tsp salt

Pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add rice and stir until white and opaque. Stir in sesame seeds and then pour in stock, ginger, salt, and pepper. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Put in tightly covered dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender. Sprinkle almonds over top and serve.

Notes: I added the almonds in while cooking and also did it on the stove top instead of baking. As long as the rice absorbs the stock, whichever method is preferred will work.


Marinovannye Griby

Single batch serves 6.

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves

½ cup water

5 peppercorns

½ bay leaf

2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

1 lb mushrooms

1 TBSP vegetable oil

Combine vinegar, cloves, water, pepper, bay leaf, salt, and garlic in pan. Heat on high until boiling and drop in mushrooms. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove garlic and pour contents into jar, topping with oil. Marinate for at least one week.

Notes: I never take out the garlic because I like pickled garlic. I like using a variety of fresh mushrooms, if I can find them. I save the marinade for marinating more mushrooms later or using as the base for a salad dressing. You can make these any length ahead of time.


Vinegar For Meat

Single batch serves many.

3 cups vinegar

3 ½ tbsp. salt

1 celery root

2 parsnips

2 carrots

2 onions

Spices to taste (allspice, bay leaves, mace, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic)

Finely shred all vegetables. Add all ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil. Let cool and bottle.

Notes: Bottle with the veggies and spices in and strain later – adds to the flavor. Vinegar can be used to pour over cooked meat or marinade meat to be cooked later.


Dried Beef

Single batch serves 8.

1 oz black pepper

1 oz long pepper

½ oz mandarin peel

½ oz cardamom

½ oz grains of paradise

½ oz galangal

2 lbs lean beef

8 oz ginger juice

2 oz onion juice

50 grams of salt

Grind spices to a fine powder. Mix rest of ingredients. Marinate meat for two days, turning to cover evenly. Remove meat from marinade, drain well, then air dry for a couple hours. Arrange meat strips in single layer on fine wire screen or cooling rack in oven at 200 until meat is dry. Use two forks to shred meat into floss. Store in air tight container.

Notes: I used bamboo skewers to hang the meat in my oven to save space. It worked well. The spices seemed like a lot, so I experimented with a batch with spices, a batch wiped, and a batch rinsed. The rinsed is less peppery, the batch with spices has a lot more flavor. I did not shred the meat into a floss because I wanted easy to access jerky.


Kotmis Satsivi

Single batch serves 4

3 lbs chicken

½ stick melted butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ tsp salt

Pepper to taste

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp finely chopped onion

2 tsp tinely chopped garlic

1 tbsp flour

1 ½ cup chicken stock

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp parsley

¼ tsp salt

3 oz ground walnuts

Coat chicken in mixture of melted butter and vegetable oil. Cook in a pan on a rack, basting with butter oil, at 475 for 10 minutes on each side. Turn oven to 400, baste and season bird with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes, basting every 10. When done, pull out chicken and cube. In skillet, melt butter and add onion and garlic. Cook until soft. Add flour and make a paste before adding chicken broth. Boil until thickened and add rest of ingredients. Pour over chicken before serving.

Notes: Due to allergy concerns, I kept my sauce on the side. The chicken was moist and delicious and the sauce was a very nice compliment.

Cooking For My First Knowne World Event... AND LIVING TO TELL ABOUT IT!

A year ago, after a particularly wonderful sideboard at Crystal Snowflake, I was approached by Mistress Deonna and asked if I would make food for Knowne World Dance and Music Symposium. After she explained she didn't plan to have feasts, just two sideboards, I thought that would be fantastic. I was a little nervous on the idea of a feast with recalling the size of attendance at Knowne World Cooks and Bards (who did a feast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but of course had cooks who loved the kitchen helping out). So the idea of a sideboard seemed more palatable. And being a 4 day event (Thursday through Sunday) she wanted me to cook on the main day, which was Saturday.

That was a year ago. Because planning for Knowne World events should definitely be planned far in advance. But having so much time, I knew about it, and talked to people about it, but it never felt completely real to me.

I had a menu idea. A menu idea I thought would be good for the event. Salty things, vinegar things, cold things, refreshing things, protein. Everything that people working up a good sweat could want.

About two weeks before the event I was given a rough estimate of numbers and a budget. THAT was when I began to nervous. 150 estimated people? What if there was more? And I've never cooked for more than 50 before. This was three times that amount! As a sideboard that would need to constantly be replenished! Bad enough with 50 people, but 150?! As this point, I was certainly nervous. I wasn't certain if I was calculating things out correctly. I was all kinds of concerned about my math. I was picking brains of all kinds of people to figure out how much meat I should make versus everything else. The menu? That I was completely confident with, even if some nay sayer's tried to poke holes in my food theory.

Finally, after much weighing of the decision, I decide I would make about 80 servings of every recipe. That would leave me with 85lbs of meat (20 of it being made into a jerky like substance) to feed everyone with. Technically, I should have figured a way to maybe just 75lbs, in the thoughts of  8oz per person, but 80 servings was easier to calculate and I began working my way through making everything.

I started, of course, a week early by making things that needed long marinating times or pickling times. I worked more in snippets through the course of the week, but Thursday, a few more things were made and then Friday was kind of the wrap up before Saturday, where I only had to cook three dishes on site (one of them already fully prepped to cook).

 That Friday, I knew the event was already in full swing, so I figured I would stop by and bring my stuff over to the kitchen. I walked into the beautiful event hall, trolled in, and asked where the kitchen was so I could deliver the food.

I will be honest, my heart sank a little when I was pointed about 2-3 blocks away to a brick building in the distance and was given keys to unlock it. Mainly because I saw this beautiful church and was looking forward to doing a feast in there. But, you know what? I got over it. Which ever building I was in, the important thing was that the next day, I would be doing what I loved: feeding people. And so we drove those few blocks and got in that kitchen and started a light prep to prepare for what I knew was going to be a crazy day.

I didn't sleep much. I decided to make baklava. I didn't have to. I could have struck it from the menu (gracious knows there was enough food). I was already dead on my feet because of cooking since the previous weekend, but there was also this buzz of excitement that, even after the baklava was done and I went to bed, I tossed and turned most all the night, anxious about the morning.

At 7am I rose, triple checked that I had everything packed, garbed up simply, and headed out to be on site by around 9am. My dedicated kitchen staff, Mistress Brid and Mistress Siobhan, who have helped me at numerous feasts and sideboards now, were both with me as we assessed the situation, cleaned table tops, and got to work. Kathryn arrived later with beautiful dishes to make the food look amazing, fresh flowers for the table, some extra table clothes to give more color, and a happy disposition for helping out in the kitchen.

Our first concern? After almost an hour at 500 degrees (I am not kidding) the rice pilaf was not working. Time to change tactics and get it on the stove and cook it that way instead. And not use that one broken oven. Thankfully we had two.

Around 10:30, I decided the dancers who were taking classes in what would later be the lunching area deserved some treats. So I put out some dried beef, pickled mushrooms, fresh fruit, and bread with butter. Mistress Deonna had come around and cautioned me that lunch was not until 12:30 and I smiled. I had planned extra food in order that people would be able to replenish salt and protein levels through the morning until lunch. Mistress Deonna recalled why she had asked me to make the side board and thanked me once again.
In our final push, around 11am, Magnus asked if there was anything he could help with. I begged him into the kitchen to help out as my blood sugar had plummeted and, even with drinking much water and partaking in sugars and some protein, I was visibly shaking, incredibly pale, and the world felt like it was swimming around me. I persevered, though. Glass of water, plate this. Glass of water, cut this. Around 12:15 tables and chairs began scraping across the floor and I knew I needed to start getting things out on the tables. Hungry dancers and musicians were on their way.

The line of people was incredible. I made sure people would walk down both sides of the tables, but the masses swallowed the tables. I had to peek around things and for a full 45 minutes, I was back and forth to the kitchen trying to replenish dishes as they emptied. I made sure nothing was empty long. And while I was doing that, Kathryn, Siobhan, and Magnus were still cutting meat, frying meat, and getting things on plates. We were a well running clockwork machine.

When the masses cleared, I was barely able to stand any longer, but my persona needed to go to the tables and make sure everyone was well fed. Feeding people is one of my most passionate hobbies and it is important to me that every can, and does, eat. As things settled and my kitchen staff were finally grabbing plates themselves, I allowed myself to sit down.

The praise I received about the food was overwhelming. As I sit here now and recollect on it all, I don't think I gave the proper thank you's while in the state I was in, and I apologize for that. So, thank you. Everyone. So much.

Everyone was fed. Everyone enjoyed the food. I had one woman come up to me to thank me profusely because everyone in her house ate and was happy, and she had a picky household of gluten issues, vegetarians, and meat-a-tarians. Everyone in her family enjoyed things on the sideboard. The people from Renassonics hugged me because I knew about their lifestyle choice of being vegan and accommodated them without any insult. There was even a dessert option that they could eat: no eggs, no dairy. I was asked by two different people from two different places if I would travel and cook at other events. I was even informed I had groupies that were beginning to watch for my name as a cook at events so that they could come and enjoy. I heard there was a woman so excited because this was her first Knowne World event, and if she knew the food was this good, she would have come to more of them. I was told by a dancer I highly adore and respect that it felt weird coming to an event he loves and knowing he was looking forward to the food more than the dancing (and we all know how much he looks forward to dancing, so this was a huge compliment for me). Someone mentioned that the event could be a little chaotic (as many events are when you are trying to choose between lots of classes of fun), but the meal I created had such a harmony of exotic choices that all worked together so well in their simplicity that it was a refreshing break before classes began again. Even our lovely autocrat had nothing but praise, saying that she chose who she knew was competent and would put on the perfect meal for dancers, really knowing what it is they need and want in a meal.

I am certainly humbled. I have only ever been to one Knowne World event before. For some reason, having been asked to cook for one is the highlights of my cooking career in the SCA. I was honored. It really pushed me as a cook and I feel I rose to the challenge. I want to thank everyone that made this possible and especially thank Mistress Deonna for this incredible opportunity. All my staff, my clean up crew, and the people at the event who just wanted to lend a hand and washed a few dishes, I adore you all. You inspire me to be a better person. Thank you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Known World Dance and Music Symposium Sideboard

I've been busy. I will obviously put up the recipes as well as notes on each after tomorrow is over, but for now, here is the finalized and prepared menu. I certainly have my favorites.

Melon in Vinegar

Honeydew, vegetable broth, cider vinegar, pepper, mint flakes, pomegranate juice, cream sherry


Mushroom Caviar

Mushrooms, onion, butter, dry sherry, curd cheese, cream cheese, parsley, tarragon, marjoram


Vinegar for Meat

Cider vinegar, salt, celery root, parsnips, carrots, onions, allspice, bay leaves, mace, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic


Dried Beef

Black pepper, long pepper, cardamom, grains of paradise, beef, galangal, ginger, onion, salt


Marinovannye Griby

Red wine vinegar, cloves, water, peppercorns, bay leaf, salt, garlic, mushrooms, vegetable oil


Peas in Herb Sauce

Leeks, vegetable oil, cilantro, cumin, peas, dill, basil, pepper, vegetable broth, white wine, cider vinegar


Lotus Root Salad

Lotus root, salt, sesame oil, white vinegar, soy sauce, sugar



Kidney beans, salt, rice wine vinegar, onion, parsley, cilantro, pepper, vegetable oil


Kotmis Satsivi

Chicken, butter, vegetable oil, salt, pepper


Kotmis Satsivi Sauce

Butter, onion, garlic, flour, chicken stock, red wine vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne, bay leaf, turmeric, parsley, salt, walnuts


Azerbaijan Pilaf

Sliced almonds, butter, rice, vegetable stock, sesame seed, ginger, salt, pepper



Beef, onion, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, pomegranate juice


Cooling Water

Water, cucumber, mint



Filo dough, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, honey, sugar, lemon juice, rose water



Butter, sugar, flour

Some shortbread have anise, some have lavender, some have chocolate.



Flour, vegetable shortening, baking soda, molasses, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, clove, brown sugar

Fresh Fruit

Strawberries, grapes


Dried Fruit

Dates, plums


Bread and butter

Wheat, pumpernickel


Pickled Herring