Friday, March 16, 2012


  1. Cite a "fact" you just made up and see if they believe it.
  2. Change the subject.
  3. Apologize for something random or tangentally related to the topic. Especially if that something makes you look good.
  4. Play dumb.
  5. Miss the point.
  6. Mis-state or misapply previous advice. Cite a secondary authority's misapplied advice.
  7. Try to find hypocrisy in your opponent. Even if you have to imagine it.
  8. Pretend you don't remember anything past 2 minutes ago.
  9. Confess to something. ANYTHING.
  10. Beg a secondary authority to call a hault to the person who is defeating you in an argument.
  11. Grunt
  12. Pretend to be wounded that someone could possibly disagree with you or find fault with your methods.
  13. Try to make them feel guilty for possibly scarring you for life and crushing your delicate self esteem.
  14. Cite endorsement by a secondary authority.
  15. Claim that EVERYONE agrees with you. Or if not everyone, at least your extremely limited peer group.
  16. Demand that the other party cite 5 people who agree with their opinion.
  17. Act surprised that anyone noticed that you haven't any idea what you're talking about.
  18. Underestimate your opponent. DRASTICALLY. Act offended if they act in any way but the one that you scripted for them in your head.
  19. Claim "you didn't know."
  20. Take all constructive criticism as either "jealousy" of your superior ... whatever... OR "hatin'." Avoid taking anything beneficial from the criticism.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Columella's Cheese - Redaction II

  1. Added 1/4 tsp LH100 (Choozit brand) and 1/4 tsp of Thermo C (Abasia brand) culture to 3 gallons of whole milk at 95 degrees F. Hold at temp for 30 minutes.
  2. Added 1.5 tsp of veal rennet diluted in 1/4 c water to the cheese milk and held at temperature for 45 minutes.
  3. When the curd is set, scoop into moulds and wait for the whey to drain out. Not all the curd will fit into the moulds immediately. I filled them and waited 15 minutes for them to drain and kept scooping more in on top.
  4. After draining for 15 minutes, the curd drops about an inch. I give it a stir with the knife, pulling it away from the sides of the baskets so that more whey can escape through the unplugged holes.
  5. After about 2 hours of draining and adding more curd, all the curd is finally in the baskets.
  6. As soon as the last of the curd is added to the baskets, the baskets are flipped onto a reed mat to drain for another 2 hours.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Markham's Cheese In Practice:

Everything starts out "normal" with this cheese... Which is to say that we have to do a couple of steps to bring pasteurized milk back to a state similar to the one that Markham's milk maids would have gotten from milking a cow and taking milk directly to the dairy.

  1. Heat the milk to about 90 degrees F. (Cow temperature less a few degrees that the dairy maids would have lost in transport anyway.
  2. Infect the milk with some cultured buttermilk. (mesophilic lactobacillus) These would have been native to the cow's teats and since the period milk wouldn't have been pasteurized, the bacteria wouldn't have needed to have been re-added. (Wait 60 minutes for the bacteria to get going in the new environment.)
  3. Here's where we start picking up the period steps. We add our rennet. I did not use Markham's rennet recipe, because I think it's nasty. I used double strength vegetable rennet. Not period, but chemically very similar to calf rennet, which I have also used. Very little difference in final product.
    Hand stirred curd.
  4. After 45 minutes, I cut the curd. After cutting it, I gave it 15 minutes to heal, and then I gave it a stir with my bare, washed hand.
  5. Then my instructions said to let the curd settle and press it to the bottom of the pot with my hands, and then scoop off as much whey as possible with a shallow dish. This seemed horrendously inefficient (typical non-cooking-person cooking instructions), so I placed a piece of sterilized cheese cloth on top of the curd, and scooped out the whey that seeped through the cloth. It's MUCH easier to do this way without losing curd. The picture shows what my curd looked like after I'd scooped off about a gallon of whey - which I set aside for a dessert experiment... (Chocolate brunost, per Deja's request.)
    Curd mass after light pressing
     by hand
  6. The next step involved carefully scooping the curd mat into the "mold" and pressing it under a light weight. I scooped the curd mat into a piece of cloth on a screen strainer, because I didn't have a basket to scoop my curd into as the initial mold. I folded the cloth over the top of the curd and pressed it gently but firmly with my hands. After about 30 minutes of fussing, the curd was much more firm and ready for the press.
    Mould lined with damp
    Mould with curd in the
  7. Then my directions say to turn out the curd into a clean cloth that has been dampened with cool water and press it in my big press. Here are the mould dressed with a wet cloth, and the curd in the great press:
    Curd flipped into a new
    dry cloth.
  8. Following these steps, I am meant to wait for 30 minutes, and then turn out the curd into a dry cloth and return it to the press. This cloth should be exchanged 5-6 times for a new clean, dry cloth in the next 24 hours, each time the cheese is flipped and returned to the press.
  9. Tomorrow, I shall return the cheese to the press in the mold with no cloth and leave it there for about twelve hours.
  10. After I remove the cheese from the final pressing, I need to rub it in salt and start the curing process...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Period Apples:

Rosemarion sent me some period apples from an orchard near her that specializes in them! Last night, I finally got 'round to coring and deworming them so that they can eventually be pressed into cider and made alcoholic.

The flavor of these apples was similar to that of a MacIntosh or crab apple, but less tart than the MacIntosh and sweeter than crab apple. The meat of the apples was a bit peculiar in that it looked in many places as though the core wasn't sure it wanted to be contained to the center of the fruit.

I took a picture, but sadly, the specks of oddness don't appear to be showing up very well. I ended up getting about 4, 1 quart ziplock bags and a bit extra cored and stuffed in the freezer. Freezing the fruit will break down the cell walls and allow me to extract more juice once pressing time comes. Miss Chelsea and I are investing in an antique fruit press/sausage stuffer, which I should be able to use to press the juice out of these apples once my primary fermenter is empty again.

The description on these lovelies per the orchard is as follows:
Calville Blanc d'Hiver (1598) Antique variety from France, where it was grown in the king's gardens at Orleans; one of the premier gourmet apples, still served for dessert in the finer Parisian restaurants; tart, strong, distinctive flavor

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I know! Let's make a tent!

As you know, I never have enough to do in my copious spare time as a new mother. Thus, I'll be making myself a new bedouin style tent for local camping. The reasons (And following that, design specs...) I am setting aside my pavilion are as follows:
  1. It doesn't fit in my car very well with it's 18, 6 foot long poles, weirdly shaped ridge pole, and square center pole.
  2. I can't put it up by myself.
So, I needed a tent that would do well in prairie camping conditions that wouldn't necessarily require the head space that Zig needs when he camps (because if he's coming, I'll have a bigger vehicle for the tent, AND someone to help me set up.) or the minimal footprint required from a tent used at Pennsic. Pennsic is the ONLY camping event I attend that has that kind of square footage restriction. I wanted something period, and something that would be relatively easy to make without a lot of tent making experience.

That's how I settled on the ouled nail (ooled nayal) bedouin tent design that Elizabeth and Krystal used for their tents. The tent will essentially be a giant rectangular tarp with one 4' long ridge pole supported by two 7' long two by two's and 16, 4' long wall poles. There will also be about 6 front and back door poles of various lengths from about 7' to 4', but I'll figure out those lengths when I "get there."

Above is an example of an ouled nail style tent. I intend to have similar striping in my canvas, only my stripes will be alternating white and pumpkin colored, and the pumpkin color will also be used for the tension bands (triga) that you see on the example tent in red.

Last night I cut my pumpkin colored sunforger. (I think they refer to this color as "khaki," but srsly... it's pumpkin.) I have the following pieces:
  • 3, 28"x330" tent panels.
  • 1, 12"x268" central triga band
  • 2, 8"x268" wall triga bands
  • 4, 12"x36" false triga bands
  • 12, 8"x15" stake bands (every wall seam)
  • 4, 4"x15" stake bands (outer edge)
I've held off on cutting the stake bands to length until the artwork that I've commissioned for this tent is delivered. Once I have it, I'll be able to figure out how long I really want my stake bands to be to fasten it to the tent securely, center the art, and have enough band left to attach the dowel at the bottom of the stake band. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Columella and Markham Cheese Process in My Own Modern Shorthand:

Columella Process
•After curd formation transfer curd into baskets to remove whey. (Similar to brie/camembert draining process.) Once sufficient whey has been extracted to make the curd more solid, press under weight.
•Remove from molds and rub with salt. Let rest overnight.
•Press under more weight.
•Rub with more salt.
•Press under more weight.
•After 9 days, rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Markham Process
•After curd formation stir “well” and “diversely.”
•Press curd to the bottom of the pan and remove as much whey as possible from the top. (Similar to Gouda curd mat formation.)
•Press curd into the mold, breaking up the curd mat with hands as you go. Press under a small amount of weight for a couple hours.
•Turn out curd onto a wet cloth and press under a greater weight for a half hour.
•Flip cheese into a dry cloth and press under a greater weight for 24 hours, changing the cloth 5-6 times for a new dry cloth.
•Press for 24 hours.
•Press for 12 hours with no cloth
•Rub with salt. And let it rest for 24 hours.
•Wipe down with a clean cloth, rub with salt, flip and let it rest for 24 hours.
•Rub down daily with a clean cloth and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry out too fast.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Plan, based on period cheese making techniques, and Lancashire legend:

So here's my initial plan for a peri-oid cheddar. According to legend, Lancashire cheese was produced in small batches of curd over a period of days. Early on, they were just using "left over" milk to produce cheese, so they didn't have enough curd each day to produce a single cheese. So the left over milk each night was turned into curd, and then after 2-3 days, the accumulated curd was combined into a single cheese and pressed. Based on my reading of the two previously displayed sources, this will work out for me because they didn't seem to be heating the curd after the cutting phase, thus a lot of whey would be left in the curd. Because they're also not salting the curd, the whey will have even more reason to stay in the curd. Thus, leaving the curd to drain over night in a basket will give me the dryer curd that I want, while not utilizing any "new" techniques. Additionally, from my reading, it looks like the curd pressing in both descriptions took DAYS. So my curd accumulation process shouldn't deviate in an unheard of way from the known-to-me "traditional" methods. The one "uneasy" spot for me here is that I haven't seen anything about milling curd in period literature.

I think this will be something that I will try out during the work week, and then on the weekend, I'll try doing a straight up 3 lb batch where all the curd is pressed as a single group, rather than staggered.