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Recipe 5 – Potage Grenné

Cooking Vivendier

Thick, rich, and cheesy. Potage grenné is a bread and egg thicken cheese sauce. The original recipe is just for the pottage itself but going off of the surrounding recipes that were also thick pottages I served it with slices and sauteed pork tenderloin. This was a great dish but then it is hard to go wrong with pork and cheese.

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Recipe 4 – Cretonnee de pois nouveaux

And it was yummy to.

Cooking Vivendier

Cretonnee of New Peas is a thick creamy dish of peas and chicken. It is lightly seasoned and thickened with mild ingredients like white bread, milk and egg yolks. It is a bright spring green dish in which the peas are the star.

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Recipe 3 – Brouet Rousset

This was very tasty. And filling.

Cooking Vivendier

For the third dish I wanted to make a nice  hearty meat dish so I chose the Brouet Rousset. It is a thick dark sauce with onions and spices that can be used for any meat. I chose to use pork.

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Recipe 2 – Votte Lombarde

This was very yummy

Cooking Vivendier

This is the second recipe on my journey. Votte Lombarde is the 7th recipe listed in The Vivendier but I have decided to skip around a bit. This was an interesting dish. It is basically rich creamy and lightly sweet scrambled eggs.

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Recipe 1 – Barbe Robert

The first of many recipes in the journey of Lady Muirenne

Cooking Vivendier

I have decided to begin this journey with The Vivendier’s first recipe. This recipe is for a mustard sauce that in this case is used to cook chicken.

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Tudor Farm Series – Episode 3

2 months in and the crew has learn all sorts of things that will earn them money. Now they are doing the things that will keep them going… making bread and ale. Huge parts of the daily diet both bread and ale were main source of calories.

It is time to wean the piglets so that the sow can bread again. The piglets are taken to the forest to fatten up on acorns and undergrowth.

Ruth gets to work on the bread and ale by gathering wild yeast from the air and starting grain to sprout. The boys then take grain to a mill to grind. The grain is taken to the monastery to bake into bread.

The boys visit the monastery to learn about how they kept time and help to make a new bell using the lost wax method. Tom learns about bees, wax, honey and how the bees were kept. The wax is then made into candles for the monastery.

The crew also celebrates the longest day of the year, Midsummer, with all festivities of the age.

These activities and many others fill this episode. Enjoy!

Tudor Farm Series – Episode 2

It is the second episode and the farmers are learning to deal with the three most profitable animals on the farm. They are getting animals and the products from them ready for Whitsun market.

They are raising geese, sheering sheep, making cheese and to sell at the market. This episode goes into the processes of each venture. There is also a good bit of herbal information from a quick cold remedy to a salve for first aid when sheering the sheep. Ruth also makes some lovely cloth from wool that didn’t go to the monastery.




Almonds & Almond Milk: A Few Questions Answered

So I was asked questions twice in the past month about almond milk. How it is made, was it really used a lot, wasn’t it really expensive…. Here are my answers to those questions almond milk….

 1. How is it made?

Almond milk is made by soaking ground almonds in hot water and then straining out the ground almonds. The liquid left over is almond milk. I tend to do a 1:2 ratio of almonds to water. So if I want to 2 cups of almond milk I would need a cup of ground almonds. I bring my water to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in the almonds. I generally let the almonds soak until the mixture is room temperature. Then I use muslin and strain it to remove all the ground almonds. I also squeeze the ground almonds in the muslin to get as much liquid out of them as possible. Ta da! Almond milk!

 2. Was almond milk really used a lot?

YES! Almonds were grown all over England and other countries as well and almonds were used for many culinary tasks. Almond milk was hugely popular because unlike animal milk it can be used on non meat days and it has a much longer shelf life. Animal milk wasn’t used as just milk often because you could make better use of it by making it into butter or cheese which stored properly last much longer than milk.

3. Wasn’t it really expensive?

Compared to the amount of time and resources it takes to keep a animal healthy and producing a gallon of almond milk would have cost much less than a gallon of animal milk.

Beyond those questions I have a few other thoughts on almonds….

Almond Butter

Almond butter, like almond milk could be used on meatless days.

Curye on Inglish* has the following recipe for butter made from almonds.

 Botere of almand melk. Tak þikke almound melk & boyle it, & as it boyleth cast yn a litel wyn or vynegre, & þan do it on a caneuas & lat þe whey renne out. & þan gadere it vp with þyn hondes & hang it vp a myle wey, & ley it after in cold water, & serue it forth. 

Here is the translation… 

 Butter of almond milk. Take thick almond milk & boil it, & as it boils cast in a little wine or vinegar, & then do it on a canvas & let the whey run out. & then gather it up with your hands & hang it up a mile away, & lay it after in cold water, & serve it forth. 

You will notice that it says “hang it up a mile away“, this likely did not mean take it a mile away and hang it but that you should hang it up the amount of time it would take to walk a mile. So about 20-30 minutes will do.

Almond Meal

Almond meal is simply ground almonds. It is more coarsely ground than flour, closer to what we think of modern cornmeal being like. Ground almonds were used to make almond milk as the recipe mentioned earlier shows but it is also used as a thickener for pottages and sauces. I have a theory that most often the ground almonds used for thickening were not the fresh ground but were the leftovers from making almond milk.

I have not found described anywhere what was done with the almonds after they were used to make almond milk and it seems silly to think that they would have just gone to waste. The left over ground almonds could have been laid out to dry and would have kept in that form for a good long time as the nut fats would have been mostly removed. Without those fats the ground almonds would take even longer to spoil and would be more stable in a variety of temperatures.

This almond meal would still be able to thicken just as well if not better than the fresh ground almonds because once dried they would be little more than the pulp of the nut and would be able to absorb more liquid than the fresh ground and still full of fat almonds.

It is my conclusion that likely when you see ground almonds in a recipe where they are thickening a sauce or a pottage, unless the recipe tells you to grind the almonds fresh, they are probably the left overs from making almond milk.

So go forth and use almonds! (unless you are allergic that is)

* – Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

Tudor Farm Series – Location & Episode 1

The Tudor Monastery Farm is a 7 episode series filmed by the BBC. The series is filmed at Weald & Downland in West Sussex. Weald & Downland is an open air museum on 50 acres with buildings, saved from destruction, spanning the period c.1300 to the early 1900’s.
For more information about Weald & Downland visit their website at

This is the first episode. In this episode the trio of Ruth, Peter and Tom get right down to business learning what it took to run a successful tenant farm on monastery land.
Building a pig house, plowing with oxen, making tallow lights, using a tread wheel, and traditions of the Christian calendar which filled daily life with rituals are just the beginning of what they will learn and experience over the next 6 episodes. Enjoy!

Tudor Farm Series – Intro and 12th Night Special

Over the next 7 weeks I will be posting about a BBC program called the Tudor Monastery Farm.
I happened across this wonderful show last week and felt the need to share it with you all.

The BBC site describes the series thusly…

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold turn the clock back 500 years to the early Tudor period to become tenant farmers on monastery land.

But really that is just the beginning. this is a full immersion project with the three presenters living the life learning new skills, and using only what they would have had on hand at the time. They bring in experts to show them how to use different equipment and how their lives would have been structured during the time period they are recreating.

Ruth Goodman is brilliant! She has an extensive knowledge base in historic domestic practices, and Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold combine great insight and humor in such a way that the most menial of tasks seem interesting and even fun.

The first episode in the 7 part series I will be sharing is actually the last but as it is all about the 12th Night celebrations I find the timing too perfect to pass up! The episode follows the preparations for the Tudor 12 night, including the festivities and fasting leading up to it.
Here is the description on the shows site.

Today we think of Christmas as a relatively modern, post-Victorian celebration, but the Tudors took it very seriously indeed. For a start, they celebrated for the whole Twelve Days of Christmas, with many manorial rules stipulating that “villeins are to do no work” on the Lord’s land for the 12 days.

Christmas Day itself, rather than being the culmination of Christmas as it is now, was just the warm-up. The observance of Advent (a month of fasting) ended with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and kicked off 12 Days of non-stop feasting and merriment, which peaked on New Year’s Day and finally ended on Twelfth Night.

Ruth, Peter and Tom concentrate on three of the big Christmas feast days: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Twelfth Night. They make Tudor decorations, engage in festive revels and prepare Christmas feasting delights such as Boar’s Head, Shred Pies (the fore-runners of Mince Pies, made with meat) and Christmas Pudding.

Along the way, they turn their hands to falconry and archery, and make Tudor bagpipes. They discover the Tudor origins of Christmas Carols, the singing of which was known as wassailing, and find out more about the medieval forerunner of Father Christmas: the Lord of Misrule. This was traditionally a commoner placed in authority over his social betters for the festive period and tasked with directing the Christmas revelry – a figure so popular that even the King himself had one at Court.