Posted in Books, Cookbooks, Monday Musings

A Thyme and Place Cookbook by Tricia Cohen & Lisa Graves

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A Thyme and Place: Medieval Feasts and Recipes for the Modern Table

 

Remember back in April when I went to the book launch for Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom?

Lisa Graves has now teamed up with her best friend Tricia Cohen for a wonderful cookbook, A Thyme and Place: Medieval Feasts for the Modern Table. Tricia did the recipes, and Lisa did the illustrations.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting both Lisa and Tricia that day at the book launch. They are warm, funny, wicked smart, and talented.I would hang out with them anywhere, anytime. [They need to come West more often, however.]

 

Revive your inner period cook and master the art of gode cookery with thirty-five recipes celebrating festivals throughout the year!

Fancy a leap back in time to the kitchens in the Middle Ages? Return to when cauldrons bubbled over hearths, whole oxen were roasted over spits.  Common cooking ingredients included verjuice, barley, peafowl, frumenty, and elder flowers. You, too, can learn the art of gode cookery—or, at least, come close to it.

With gorgeous and whimsical hand-drawn illustrations from beginning to end,  A Thyme and Place is both a cookbook and a history for foodies and history buffs alike. Cohen and Graves revive old original medieval recipes and reimagine and modify them to suit modern palates and tastes. Each recipe is tied directly to a specific calendar holiday and feast so you can learn to cook:

• Summer harvest wine with elder flower, apples, and pears for St. John’s Day (June 21st)
• Right-as-rain apple cake for St. Swithin’s Day (July 15th)
• Wee Matilda’s big pig fried pork balls with sage for Pig Face Day (September 14th)
• Roasted goose with fig glaze and bannock stuffing for Michaelmas (September 29th)
• Peasant duck ravioli and last of the harvest chutney for Martinmas (November 11th)


FRIED PORK BALLS WITH SAGE CREME

This dish was adapted from an original, circa 1390, recipe:

Sawge yfarcet. Take pork and seeþ it wel, and grinde it smal, and medle it wiþ ayren & brede ygrated. Do þerto powdour fort and safroun wiþ pynes & salt. Take & close litull balles in foiles of sawge; wete it with a batour of ayren & fry it, & serue it forth.

– Recipes from “Forme of Cury”

For the meatballs:

2 cups uncooked ground pork

1 large egg, beaten

7 tablespoons panko

12 teaspoon allspice

14 teaspoon ginger

14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground saffron

1 14 teaspoons salt

4 fresh sage leaves, finely cut; plus a dozen sage leaves, whole

For the tempura batter:

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

12 cup seltzer water

Salt, to taste

Lard (can substitute canola oil)

12 whole sage leaves

For the sage creme:

2 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

34 cup mead

34 cup heavy whipping cream

For the meatballs: Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mold the mixture to form meatballs. Parboil meatballs for 10 minutes. Place meatballs on paper towel to cool.

For the tempura batter: While meatballs are boiling, create the tempura batter by mixing together the flour, cornstarch, seltzer and salt to taste. Mix until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Melt a hunk of lard in a heavy pan. After the lard has heated over medium to medium-high heat, take two forks and toss the cooled meatballs into the tempura batter.

Turn the meatballs gently in the lard until the tempura is golden. It does not have to look perfect … as long as it tastes good. When the meatballs are finished, toss the whole sage leaves in the tempura batter and give them a quick fry in the hot lard.

For the sage creme: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan. Toss in the minced shallots and minced sage. After the shallots are soft, pour in the mead and stir. Pour in the whipping cream and stir. Boil down by half until thick, on medium-high heat.

Garnish the meatballs with the creme and a piece of crispy sage.

VIRILE CHICKPEAS

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Zest (1 tablespoon) and juice of one lemon ( 14 cup)

2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 cup chicken stock

12 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 cup shredded cheddar

14 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in saute pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary to hot pan, cook until fragrant, then add the lemon zest (it smells sooo good).

Stir and add the chickpeas to mixture. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, spinach, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid is gone.

Remove from heat, add to a serving plate and finish with the cheddar and parsley.

BACON JAM

1 12 pounds thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large sweet onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 mission figs, chopped (optional)

12 cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed

12 cup apple-cider vinegar

14 cup honey

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons Drambuie or bourbon

18 teaspoon salt

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cover and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Check on the bacon with some frequency, giving in a stir each time.

After the bacon begins to crisp, remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat off when the bacon is fully crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Let the fat in the Dutch oven cool for a few minutes and then — hear us — save the stuff in a container for future cooking.

Leave all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Turn the heat back to medium. Add onions and garlic, scrapping up any delicious bacon bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until soft. After they are soft, add the figs.

Drop the heat to medium low and add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, honey, ginger, pepper and Drambuie. Cook for 10 minutes, just enough time for the mixture to start to get jammy.

Adjust the heat to medium for 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium low and add the bacon. Cook for 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add mixture to food processor and chop to desired texture.

All recipes ©2016 Lisa Graves and Tricia Cohen

On June 7th, the cookbook was released in bookstores across the country.

Be sure to follow Lisa and Tricia on their Facebook page as they Deconstruct History: One Bite at a Time.

Tricia Cohen grew up in a house with two kitchens, surrounded by family, food, and love. In her adult life, she continues to share her love for food with the community as a hostess, gourmet home cook, and sous chef.

Lisa Graves is the author and illustrator of the series Women in History, as well as the illustrator of The Tudor Tutor She is the creator of Historywitch.com, a site dedicated to illustrations of history’s most fascinating characters.

For Further Reading

Feehan grads’ ‘A Thyme and Place’ cookbook updates Middle Ages cuisine

Friendship helps ‘Thyme and Place’ cookbook authors get through family tragedies

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Literary Arts Series, Monday Musings, Quote, Writing

Mark Twain on Writing: “Kill your adjectives”

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Mark Twain, who read widely, was passionately interested in the problems of style; the mark of the strictest literary sensibility is everywhere to be found in the prose of Huckleberry Finn . . . He is the master of the style that escapes the fixity of the printed page, that sounds in our ears with the immediacy of the heard voice, the very voice of unpretentious truth.

Lionel Trilling, “Mark Twain’s Colloquial Prose Style”, from The Liberal Imagination, 1950

Mark Twain

Twain was often asked for advice on the art and craft of writing. Sometimes he responded seriously, sometimes not.  Here’s a piece of writing advice on from a letter he wrote on 20 March 1880 to a student named D.W. Bowser:

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

I often tell my editing clients one of my favorite pieces of advice he gave. Twain famously said:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” 


Bonus: “Give A Lick: Literary Postage Stamps” information for you philatelists! 

Mark Twain 44¢
(1835-1910)
Mark Twain
Issue Date: June 25, 2011
City: Hannibal, MO
Quantity: 50,000,000

Mark Twain is the 27th honoree in the Literary Arts series. “Our literary tribute this year rightfully honors Mark Twain, author of one of the greatest novels in American literature and the man whom William Faulkner called ‘the first truly American writer,’ said Postal Service Board of Governors member James H. Bilbray. “Mark Twain was a rarity, as he was one of the first writers to exploit the vernacular voice in his books, using the speech of common Americans,” Bilbray said.

Samuel Clemens’ family moved to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River when he was just a child.  Clemens developed a love for the river that would stay with him his entire life.

As a young man, Clemens met a steamboat pilot named Horace Bixby.  That’s when he decided to learn the craft, becoming one of the best pilots on the river.

As an author, Clemens took his pen name from his experiences on the water.  The Mississippi River is difficult to navigate.  To “mark twain” meant the water had been measured and was a safe depth.  In 1863, Clemens began writing as Mark Twain.

If it had not been for the Civil War, Twain may have remained a pilot who occasionally wrote newspaper articles.  But most business travel stopped along the Mississippi during these years, so Twain went back to writing.  His humorous stories of life on the river were a hit with readers then and remain popular today.

In 2010, the first volume of Twain’s autobiography was published.  It was his wish that it not be released until 100 years after his death so that he might speak his “whole frank mind.”  The volume offers a glimpse into the real Samuel Clemens – a man with strong political and social views who nevertheless entertained millions with riveting tales of life on the Mississippi.

More on the “Give A Lick: Literary Postage Stamp” Series

Dorothy Parker and John Steinbeck
Flannery O’Connor and Ralph Ellison
James Thurber and Ogden Nash
Bonus: James Thurber Cartoon