Jilara (jilara) wrote,

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Sonora Update

I had the time of my life at the Sonora Celtic Fair. I danced my little brains out to Tempest, went to concerts by the Wicked Tinkers, Wolfstone, and some Scots band whose name I didn't catch. I also shot black powder, marched around, and did lots of period cooking. This time, we camped as a group with the "opposition" who normally plays the Parliamentarian enemy, combined into the "Free Artillery." Which is great, because those guys are a lot of fun (well, their other incarnation is Cardiff Rose, a swashbuckler group who's been trying to recruit me for a loooong time, so of course).

Relative to same cooking, I entered the "Cast Iron Chef" competition, but didn't win, place, or show in the field of eight. I don't care, and really didn't expect to, because it was great challenge, but I know there were lumps of egg white in my custard sauce, and the pie crust wasn't quite there. But that's not what did me in. The theme ingredient was honey, and the judges claimed they couldn't really taste the honey. Everyone else who tried my apple-raisin-honey pie with honey custard sauce said that they sure could. Comparing notes with the folks at the camp next door, who were after me in the tastings (I was 5th in line, and they were 6th), we formed the theory that the judges' sweets receptors had phased out by the time they got to us. We also noticed that the winning entry was what my neighbor called "honey pizza,) which used honey as a sauce, and looked like something featured on Food Network. In short, we were delivering 16th century food and presentations, but what was winning seemed to be 21st century, despite what claims were. I don't care, because my true reward is the enthused response of the guys in camp who got to eat the other half of the pie. I figure that it was distinctly worthwhile in that I found I can make a decent pie in a dutch oven using an earthenware mixing bowl for a pie dish, and can make reasonable custard sauce over a fire, approximating a double boiler with another bowl inside a cast iron pot. However, I still had a problem in that it took forever to thicken, then I got a few little hard bits on the bottom of the pan, though the lumps were few. Tastewise, it was a religious experience, and totally authentic in ingredients.

I also had fun on Saturday, doing food for lunch. I had two variations on a 1650 spinach pudding, one with eggs and one without. Then I did "Jacobin Pottage," another 1650 recipe, which got rave reviews. This chicken-and-bread dish I jokingly called "16th century stovetop stuffing." But wow, would it put any modern version to shame. Completely different spice balance, and the cheese stirred in near the end of cooking gives a wonderful buttery finish that can't quite be identified. It's a keeper! I'm always looking to establish how good totally authentic period food can be.

I can't recall the last time I had this much fun. We had a lot of socializing going on with some of the local boothies (the blacksmith also had a wonderful riveted iron cauldron, which I got for a reenactor discount, too), and after dark,the party camp seemed to be right down the way, with lots of music, and later on, bellydancing and fire juggling! One of the jousters somehow ended up in our camp, pulled in by Dale's hurdy-gurdy, a lady whom I found I had a lot in common with, including some SCA acquaintances. I was impressed with her jousting and competitive trailriding background, and she was impressed with my artillery and martial pursuits, so we had fun chatting.

Since there was no sleeping with the drums and dance and fire-jugglers still going down the way, the lady from the booth across the way from us pulled out her bocce balls, and we had a midnight bocce game going, using the "street" between the reenactors and booths. A good time was had by all.

All in all, one of the best weekends I've spent, marred only by Rosemary having snits over various problems she was having with the fair---but that's Rosemary. I gave her friendly encouragement to skip it in the future, and I think she's taking my advice. I hope.

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