Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cooking Over Fire in the Rain

We're in the Pacific Northwet, so the idea of an SCA event on a day which began with driving rain daunted us not. Loading up fire pits, wood, pots, pans, ingredients and selves (and boots - were were going to a horse farm) we descended on the site and set up a couple of pop-up shelters out behind the barn for some respite from the rain. Naturally, though, the fire had to be in the open. I got both fire pits going, even though the rain drenched the newspaper I'd planned to use before I could light it. Paraffin fire starters were a blessing.

Over the shallow fire pit was seared lamb for one lady's lunch and then the rest of the lamb and a bunch of herbs and vegetables went into a pot for a thoroughly modern, but very tasty, stew. A couple of quinces also got speared and cooked over that fire. I took over the deeper, hanging fire pit with a Norwegian wafer iron and a 16th century recipe. Since one of the ladies had brought quince paste, I chose to make soft, crepe-style wafers rather than attempt anything crispy in the damp.

The precipitation thankfully let up while I was doing the actual wafer making. I was already soaked, though, so the main benefactor of the break was the consistency of my wafers. I love rose water, I love the taste, the smell, and I thoroughly love the scent of rose water enhanced wafers cooking over a fire pit. I chose one of Peter Brears' recipes because it was my very first time with the iron, making pastry over fire, and a late-period recipe so I wanted something I could trust. I trust Brears to have extensive hands-on experience with his recipes and to describe the outcome in detail. I wasn't disappointed.

I chose the recipe from Banquetting Stuffe:
2 egg yolks
1/8 pint cream
1/8 pint rosewater
1/8 pint water
8 oz. flour
Slowly beat the flour into the liquids, adding sufficient extra water to produce a creamy mixture.

I also added two or three tablespoons of sugar and about a teaspoon and a half of nutmeg.

Things to remember: Keep the iron hot and well-greased. I used spray stuff because I didn't want to risk my fingers buttering the iron between wafers. Keep the iron hot. I did this by resting it on the fire while stacking the cooked wafers. If you want them soft, keep them cool; if hard, put them near the fire and let them dry thoroughly. They're good warm when soft, not so good when cool. Next time I'll dry them, or get a tortilla warmer. I like rose water, so I used only about a tablespoon of plain water. We're also Americans, so 'cream' is a choice of whipping or half and half. I used the latter. They tasted lovely.

I highly recommend people try something like this new and different at events. Cook over fire, do it in the rain, field-test a recipe you've never tried before. It's a lot of fun and you attract people.


Jake Vortex said...

Sounds like a lovely adventure.

Teceangl Bach said...

It was! While trying to not burn holes in your clothes whilst attempting to get rain-sodden wood to burn isn't for everyone, it was actually a great deal of fun and I have nothing but good memories. Of course, our period ancestors wouldn't have been so silly as to try that without putting something overhead, but we modern folks are silly enough that our pop-ups might not be fireproof, either.