Sing a song of Sausages, Roasting on the Fire

I spent the weekend over the border in the Kingdom of Ansteorra, attending wInterkingdom at the Barony of Northkeep (Tulsa, OK).  I think this makes over 9 years of this event in a row for me, without missing, and 4 or 5 years in which I was on the schedule to teach.  I started in the SCA in Northkeep as a high school kid showing up at populace, and I have always had a lot of affection for it.  Since my parents still live in town, this is an easy event to do (guaranteed crash space, where they don’t mind if you do a load of laundry and you know the bed you will sleep in).

The weekend got off to a slightly rocky start.  Friday, while making soup for the lunch tavern, I was experimenting with my parent’s brand new, Wustoff kitchen knives.  Finely crafted German steel, they are razor sharp…as I found our when I filleted the pad of my index finger on my right hand.  Ouch…It didn’t need stitches, but I will be rocking a band aid for the near future, and it’s going to make the end work for my KA&S entries interesting.  I wonder where my medieval thimble is?  The good news is, there was no blood in the soup. 

Saturday, the rocky streak continued, when I overslept my alarm.  I had planned on a nice, leisurely morning getting ready.  Instead, I did the 30 minute speed pack of soup, class supplies, and feast gear, threw on garb, and ran out the door.

I taught my first class in the morning, Intro to Sausage Making.  Both this, and the afternoon class, are new ones I have developed, and I am mostly happy with them.  Participation was initially light (one hands on participant, 3 watchers) due to people running on SCA time, and to people not really dressing for messy, hands on work.  It worked out all right though, as I had under-estimated how much casing I needed.  We only did one recipe, not two, and I used all I had brought.  When I next teach this class (probably in April), I will know to bring more.  I also ended up running through it pretty fast (I skipped a lot of the early lecture and moved sort of straight into the hands on, because people were cold), so I know I might be able to do it in an hour rather than two next time.  People seemed to like it, though, and the sausages came out well. 

Then it was off to inside, where I ended up helping the event staff with a maintenance issue, before helping serve on the lunch line.  The soup was pretty well received (Portuguese Chorizo and Kale), and the inn seemed to be a success.  After that, I took some time to sit and visit, before heading outside to start setting up for the second class, Intro to Open Fire Cooking.  I was fortunate to borrow a Roman Craticula or army grill, from my Laurel, who is made of awesome and win.  Here I am cooking on it last summer at Lilies.


(Photo by Dave Johnson)

This one was a bit more of a challenge.  I chose to do wood for the class, and I was having a dickens of a time getting it to light (in my rush to get out the door, I had forgotten to do a sweep of the parent’s yard for good kindling sticks, so I was making do with extra sausage class handouts and pieces of cardboard from the wood box).  I got it going well about ten minutes before class started, so we got to talk a bit about how sometimes the fire works with you, and sometimes, it laughs.  I covered different kinds of receptacles, fire safety, fuel types (or why briquettes are kind of a waste of your time), and grading the fire to cook.  By that point, I had enough white coals built up to get cooking, and set up the morning’s sausages into a shallow sautee pan with water to parboil.  This also let me demonstrate what while open fire cooking sounds sexy and exciting on paper, it’s kind of boring in person (hibachi this is not).  Soon, the sausages looked like they had parboiled nicely, and we moved them (regrading the coals) to finish on the grill.  At the end, I was able to reward my class group with tasty warm sausages (including my morning helper) and everyone seemed happy with the class.

Heading back inside, I had the grandiose notion to relax my way through feast.  However, the hall steward caught me as I came through the door, and asked if there was anyway I would consider serving feast.  My husband claims I am an easy mark, but the steward was a friend, so I have up my seat and served instead.  I also received the honor of someone commenting on my service by passing to me the “Hero’s Portion”, a custom in this barony.  The sitting Baron, or the Crown, if they are in attendance, give the hero’s portion to someone who inspires them.  They take a slice of the meat, and then pass it to one who inspires them, and so on, until the meat is consumed or the meal ends.  It’s a nice custom, and something we may wish to incorporate up here in the future.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  The classes went well, and showed where they needed tweaking.  I got to see old friends.  And there was great food.

Now to buckle down and get to work on documentation and production of my KA&S entries for Championships.