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Make some medieval gingerbread

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My kids wanted to make a gingerbread house this Christmas. While the gingerbread was cooking and the smell of ginger and spices was drifting though the house, we had a look at the history of gingerbread which was really very interesting.

The idea is thought to have been brought to Europe by the Crusaders in the 11th Century, although the recipe then was quite different to the one we use today.

It was popular in medieval Europe at fairs and festivals where it was moulded and shaped into many things including toys for children, hearts, people, coats of arms and characters from the Nativity around Christmas time. Unmarried women would eat a gingerbread man in the hope that it would help her find a husband!

Shakespeare mentioned it in his  play Love’s Labour’s Lost  written way back in 1598. “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread.”

It is also said that Queen Elizabeth I used to give gingerbread men as a special gifts to her favourite knights and courtiers.

We adapted this Medieval recipe found here, which uses bread crumbs, honey and spices. We used ginger and cinnamon, but gave the saffron and powdered cymbalta online pepper a miss.

Medieval Gingerbread

You will need

  • 200g of honey
  • 3-4 slices of stale white bread made into breadcrumbs
  • half a teaspoon of ginger (or to taste)

First, put the honey into a pan and heat it until it boils. Add the spices while it is still warm, then allow to cool a little. Stir in the bread crumbs until you have a firm, sticky dough.

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You can then mould the dough into shapes or cut it into squares. The original recipe calls for it to be decorated with leaves and cloves.

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We also had a go at putting some into a mould inspired by these amazing moulds. I had a small silicone cake mould which we just pushed the dough into, then let in set in the fridge for half an hour.

What do you think? We liked them but I warn you they are very very sweet. Even my two boys could not eat a whole piece.

We also made some gingerbread men and hearts with our modern gingerbread recipe which were a bit more popular!

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But now when I eat one, I can picture myself back at a market in the middle ages…

 

Make some Roman Stuffed Dates

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These stuffed dates are a quick and easy thing to make for any Roman Feast. The recipe was written by Apicius, who wrote a cookery book in Latin some time between 300-400AD.

You will need:

  • Dried dates
  • Some nuts – walnuts and almonds work very well
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Some chopped pistachios or pine nuts to decorate.

Firstly, pull the dates apart and remove the stone from the middle. Put an almond or walnut piece where the stone used to be. Put the dates onto a piece of baking tray or heat proof dish.

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Next put the honey into a pan and heat it on a stove. Let the honey boil for a few minutes until it has reduced by half. You will need to get an adult to do this bit as the honey will get very hot. Take the honey off the heat and let it cool cytotec online buy slightly before pouring it over the dates. Sprinkle the dates with a pinch of salt before the honey sets.

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Warning: do not touch the dates until they have completely cooled. The honey will look and smell very tempting, but will still be very hot.

Sprinkle some chopped nuts over the dates before serving (optional). These would probably have been served as a dessert at a Roman feast along with fresh fruit like apples, pears and grapes, some nuts and cheese.

Why not invite your family to your Roman meal? You could lounge on some cushions on the floor while you eat with your fingers. You could get some entertainment too – how about reciting some poetry, watching some gladiators sparring, or just have a philosophical conversation about the meaning of life?

Enjoy!

 

Make some Roman Honey Cakes

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This is a recipe based on a very popular Roman sweet pastry which had the disgusting name of placenta (also the name for yukky afterbirth). It was like a lasagne made with a cheese and honey mixture layered with very thin pastry and baked in a pastry crust on a bed of bay leaves. We know this because Cato the Elder wrote the recipe down.

Our first attempts were based on this version, but it turned out very soggy and I could see why the original had a harder pastry crust.

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It also reminded everyone of sausage rolls because of the bay leaves, which was a bit off-putting for some.

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Next we tried making some little tarts using a spelt pastry case, but this was so crumbly they all fell apart. So finally we came up with this very easy recipe, which although is not entirely authentic, is probably enough to give you a taste of Ancient Rome (and is also quite yummy.)

Roman Honey Cakes

  • 1 x 250g xenical online packet of short-crust pastry
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • about 5 tablespoons of honey (according to taste)

First preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 12 hole tart mould with a little butter or oil.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until it is nice and thin. Cut out some circles using a pasty cutter or an upside down glass. Press a circle in each hole of the tin.

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Next, in a small bowl, gradually mix the honey into the ricotta. Keep tasting it until you think it has enough honey. Put a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of your tarts.

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Bake in the oven until golden brown – approximately 15 – 20 mins.

Drizzle with some honey and decorate with some chopped nuts or toasted pine nuts (optional).

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Wait until they are cool then try one!

These might have been served for dessert at a feast. You could put them on a plate with some grapes, figs and nuts and serve them at a feast of your own.

Make some Iron Age Bannocks

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I have been experimenting a bit recently with some recipes from different ages. Most of them have not gone down too well with the other members of the household. I think that we have got too used to the sweet and processed modern foods that recipes from the past can seem a bit bland or just downright weird (don’t mention the rose flavoured milk pudding.)

This one however actually got eaten. I had been looking for some Iron Age recipes. The evidence for what was eaten in the Iron Age in Britain is a bit sketchy and there are no actual recipes. Bread was a staple made with wheat or barley. It was eaten with soups or stews or cheese. Porridge was also a staple. Things were cooked in pots or stones directly in the fire, although there were also some ovens to cook bread.

A bannock is a round flat bread made of wheat or oats and made on a griddle. They were certainly part of the Scottish buy generic celexa diet in the middle ages and could well have been made in the Iron Age too.

Oat Bannocks

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • small pinch of salt
  • large pinch of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of hot / warm water
  • 1 tbsp of oil (or you could use meat fat which would be more traditional)

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Add the water and oil to the dry ingredients and then knead it all together into a stiff dough.

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Roll it out flat. Cut out a circle and score it into 8 pieces.

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Heat up a frying pan on the hob (get a grown up to help.) When it is hot place the bannock in the middle.

When it starts to turn brown, turn it over to cook the other side.

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When it is done you can break it into pieces, but let it cool a little first.

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Eat them with a soup or some cheese for a wholesome and healthy lunch.

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They were also pretty yummy with honey and some raspberries from the garden.

 

Make some Tudor sweets

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I’m sorry to say there were no Haribos in Tudor England. Can you imagine a life with hardly any sweet foods?

In Tudor England, if you were very rich, you might have got to eat some sweets made of Marchpane, which was made of almonds and sugar. Both of these ingredients had to be imported by boat from abroad and were very expensive. They also had be finely ground by your servants, before being mixed together with rose water.

The marchpane would then be made into flat discs and baked before being decorated with other marchpane shapes, confits (sugared seeds, spice or dried fruit) or, for very special occasions, with edible gold leaf.

It was moulded into some amazing shapes and it is said that Queen Elizabeth I was given a marchpane model of St Paul’s Cathedral. Someone else even managed to make a Marchpane chess set! You would probably give these sweets as gifts, or use them to impress guests when you had a feast.

 Tudor Sweets

Our sweets are made with marzipan – a modern cytotec 100mg version of Marchpane. You will need;

  • 1 pack of marzipan,
  • some icing sugar,
  • food colourings,
  • small cookie cutters,
  • edible cake decorations, dried fruit or nuts
  • small paper case
  1. Sprinkle some icing sugar onto the table to stop it sticking. Mold the marzipan into any shape you like – it feels very like play dough! We made some small balls to put in a paper case which we decorated with marzipan shapes made with cookie cutters. We also made a large disc decorated with a tudor rose, and had a go at making a chessman (but this was not so easy!)
  2. You can decorate your shapes by painting them with food colouring and a paintbrush, icing them or cutting out small shapes to stick on the top. You could also use sprinkles, dried fruits or nuts. We found some edible gold cake spray at the supermarket which we used to decorate our sweets.

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We would love to see some of your sweets and if you manage to make a model of St Paul’s Cathedral, please let us know!