Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Excerpts: Angus Seeks Brian

Faith MacKenzie was a polished woman of middle years. She wore a pencil skirt, white blouse, and low heels. A smooth bob of blonde hair tucked in a polite curl behind one ear. She held her hand out confidently to Angus, as she offered him a seat in what had been Brian’s office. 

“I’m so sorry to be the one to give you this news,” she said, for the second time. She glanced around the office. “He was your friend. I hadn’t thought it might be hard to see....” She opened the door and ushered him back out. “Let’s take a walk by the shore, will we?”

From The Battle is O'er
Book Five of The Blue Bells Chronicles, due December 2017


Monday, October 10, 2016

Emplumeus--in More Modern Terms

Welcome to WCCO Mid-Morning Show viewers!

From my newly-released Food and Feast, (available on Kindle and in printhere is the modern rendition of Emplumeus.

You will need:

4 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 cups of water
2 cups of blanched almonds, ground well
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of saffron
2 teaspoons of rosewater

You will also need: mood music.


  1. Turn on music, get in the medieval mood
  2. Boil the water and add the apple slices
  3. Cook until soft
  4. While cooking, grind the almonds very, very well.  Not just well, but exceedingly so!  Like, if you have 7 boys, have them jump up and down on the almonds, and smash them to smithereens!  If you don't have 7 boys, try a mortar and pestle.
  5. Set the thoroughly, exceedingly well-ground almonds in a bowl.
  6. Strain the liquid from the apples into this bowl, over the almonds.
  7. Steep for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  8. While the almonds steep, chop the softened apples into small pieces
  9. Now, pour this almond liquid back through a fine sieve (because so-so will just not do), into the softened and chopped apples.
  10. Add sugar, salt, saffron, and rosewater, and simmer until thick

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Please search labels below for other posts on medieval recipes


Food and Feast is Live for Kindle!


It's been a long several months, along with an exhilarating, time-traveling past seven years!  Food and Feast is the result!  Tomorrow morning, I will be on WCCO TV's Mid-Morning Show, live with hosts Jason DeRusha and Kylie Bearse, making apple emplumeus on air.

WARNING: This is not a cookbook!  

Food and Feast, however, does contain over 200 recipes, modern and medieval, in original forms and redactions.  From Scottish pubs to survival food to American Midwest, all recipes are based on the scenes in the first four books of The Blue Bells Chronicles.  Enjoy re-living the journey, or come in and meet Shawn, Niall, and their amazing adventure.

Here be dragons--or at least fire-breathing roasts!

 Click the book covers for: KINDLE: $4.99 or  PRINT $12.99

Search the labels for related posts, including recipes from the book!
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Eating Medieval: Bough Cake The Best!


Food and Feast in the World of the Blue Bells Chronicles: 
a gastronomic historic poetic musical romp in thyme

For my upcoming book, which features over 300 pages of recipes, history, music, and poetry related to the scenes in The Blue Bells Chronicles, I have been making and sampling some of the recipes in it.

In the first episode of Eating Medieval: Bough Cake, I tried four variations, which got progressively better.  After I posted, just before having to leave for work, I managed to make one more try before I left for work.  Here's the recipe, and the results of Experiment # 5 below.


1-1/4 C. flour
3/4 C. ale or beer
1/4 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar or to taste

  1. Heat 3/4 cup ale or beer to lukewarm in a pan on the stove
  2. Heat one tbsp of beer to hot and partially crush saffron into it
  3. Mix with flour, salt and sugar, until smooth and thick
  4. Set aside in a warm place to rise, 30 to 60 minutes
The next step is:

Bough Cake::

dried fruit—apricots, apples, plums, etc

  1. Thread dried fruit onto a long, thin stick—fruit shish kabob!
  2. Coat with batter and roast over an open fire
  3. Spoon more batter over fruit as it cooks, until they are covered in a thick layer
  4. Roll bough cake in honey and spices
medieval, apple, honey, dessert, medieval history, food and feast
I mentioned in the previous post that I was a bit distracted.  So, really the Grand Experiment # 5 consisted of nothing more than--realizing I'd forgotten to roll the previous bough cakes in honey and spices.  So, with freeze-dried apples dipped in ale batter, this time I poured a plate full of honey and sprinkled in loads of cinnamon.  Probably all the homeowner's cinnamon.  He was stuck in bed with his new knee, recuperating, and couldn't stop me.

Had there been other spices--and had I not had to go teach--I would have experimented with a number of spices commonly used in medieval cooking--especially nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, which were the trio in Hildegard's Cookies of Joy--singly and in combinations.

I would have gone home for my insanely expensive saffron (yes, it's true, I made this recipe without the saffron called for--hey, I don't normally take saffron when on my way to deal with new knees).

I hope that some of my readers will try this with various spices and various dried fruits, and let me know the results.


waiting with baited breath!  


oh my gosh this was so good!!!!

I was in my happy place!!!


I nearly skipped work and just kept making and eating dried fruit rolled in bough cake and honey and spices.  But I figured sooner or later the homeowner would realize I'd eaten all his spices and get enough PT under his new knee to kick me out in retaliation, and so I would probably need the income in order to buy my own spices.  Only for this reason did I stop making and eating bough cake rolled in honey and cinnamon and go to work.  

All joking aside (which is probably just as well, as there's a reason I'm not a comedian), once again, I was confirmed in my growing belief that we are horribly mistaken in our notions of what our medieval ancestors ate.  We tend to think they had bland food, or food half spoiled whose rotten taste was covered by spices.

My research suggests that we are nistaken to think they ate rotten food in the first place.  But moreover, even when I have made the 'common' meals, the turnip pottage such as commoners might have eaten, the food has been delicious!

I encourage people to get together with friends and try some of these recipes--a medieval potluck of sorts!  Thanksgiving is coming up--what better time to try some unique and delicious new foods!

If you liked this post, you might like others with the 
Apple Muse
Apple Tart
Juselle Dates

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