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still more hidden talents
So Wolfie and I may be cooking one dinner at Pennsic.  He wants to make stew; I think that stew rightfully should have bread of some description to go with it.  There are two ways to go about obtaining this bread.
  1. We could buy it.  Cop-out, IMO; stew is exponentially better with fresh bread. Warm preferably, but merely fresh is good too.

  2. We bake it.

Here we enter into a further decision tree: how do we bake it?  We could...

Use one of these.  I'm reluctant, because not only is it tiny (slightly less than 12" cubed) and therefore would only accept a small baking pan, but it just seems cheesy.  However, it's only $30-35 or so.  Or we could...

Use one of these: a cast iron Dutch oven.  I have every confidence that I could master baking in one of these bad boys; the issue arises around the cost.  I would rather not spend all day watching things bake.  Would it be better to have a larger, more expensive oven and bake everything at once, or a smaller one and commit to spending a couple of hours watching the pot, as it were?  I suppose, given that it only takes about 30 minutes to bake a loaf of bread, I could rotate them in and out fairly quickly, and thus use a smaller pot... but it also means keeping coals going for two hours or more.

I really like the idea of baking over coals with a Dutch oven; it appeals to the closeted authenticist in me.  But is it feasible?  I think I'll talk it through with Wolfie first, then Her Grace.  She may already own a Dutch oven, and save me the expense, in which case I'd just have to practice the recipe once or twice (aw shucks, fresh bread). 

The other upside to using a Dutch oven is that I could also bake goodies like brownies or cake in it, and that's never a bad thing at Pennsic. (...must remember to buy or make large apron -- Anna-sized aprons are too small...)

Ooh!  I just found a recipe for "Colonial Brown Bread" -- and it has no yeast!  (No fat, either, goldsquare, if you use a substitute for the buttermilk.)  I hate having to exclude someone because of diet, and it would be difficult to bake something different for my friend Eibhlin (she can't eat yeast), though I know she'd never expect me to.  And this just sounds tasty.

I really need a mood icon for "ambitious".

i feel: bouncy bouncy

17 trips or shoot the rapids
kathrynt From: kathrynt Date: July 4th, 2004 11:00 pm (UTC) (base camp)
There's another way, although it doesn't yield a big fluffy crusty loaf. Take a big stainless steel bowl along, roll your dough out into rounds like tortillas, turn the bowl upside down over the coals, and bake the flatbread draped over the bowl. This is how they bake bread on the go in Central Asia.
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 4th, 2004 11:22 pm (UTC) (base camp)
What a nifty idea! I'll hold that one in reserve. I like the Dutch oven best, because of the baking-other-things part, and I think we've more or less decided to get a smaller oven if Her Grace doesn't have one, and I'll get the full Viking housewife experience.
goingdriftless From: goingdriftless Date: July 4th, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I am so totally impressed with all of this. When I make bread, I use my breadmaker. :) When I go on my different sorts of campout trips... I eat trail mix and peanut butter. You continue to amaze me with all your.... talents!!
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 11:45 am (UTC) (base camp)
Hee! Have you seen my tent? (At the risk of bragging, we built it -- plans are here.) 14' diameter baby, and Wolfie and I sleep in a queen-size bed. We even have a real clothing rack. I'll have to remember to get some good photos of the interior.

Camping at SCA events is not like regular, pack-it-on-your-back camping, particularly at Pennsic (which is 2 weeks long; we're only going for week 2). There, we have a full kitchen with everything but electricity: hot and cold running water, double sinks, 4 burner stove (in a row, but still! 4 burners!), giant coolers to keep food cold... We also have hot showers in the camp, which is lovely beyond belief. (The people we camp with own 2 30 gallon propane-fired hot water heaters.)

I learned to bake bread when I was maybe 11, and my mom still has the book I learned from. It's got the best bread recipe I've ever had; I don't think I've ever had a loaf I mixed and kneaded myself fail. Can't say that about my bread machine; it makes soggy bread in the summer -- too much humidity in the baking compartment, I think. I do like my machine, but there's something viscerally satisfying about kneading the bread myself.

My campmates will likely think I'm insane to be willing to spend the day baking bread for dinner, but it'll be an interesting learning experience, and while I wait for things to rise and bake, I can maybe get in a little spinning. :-)
goingdriftless From: goingdriftless Date: July 5th, 2004 12:45 pm (UTC) (base camp)
That sounds soooo awesome! OOOHHH! Can I comeeee!!???!! :)

Please post pics!! I definitely want to see the tent. :)
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 01:41 pm (UTC) (base camp)
There are pics here:
and here

They're mostly of the parts of the tent, and not so much the tent itself. We get so busy doing things that we forget to take pictures!

Pennsic is a special thing, dear to the heart of every SCAdian. Wolfie and I went for the full two weeks, two years ago, and had a fabulous time -- it was his first Pennsic, too, and that made it even better. When we got home, it was utterly surreal, because I found I disliked wearing pants after wearing long, loose skirts for two weeks, and I felt almost claustrophobic with solid walls and a roof around me (though the wonderfulness of a private flushie and my own shower cannot be understated). I wore my hair up and covered for two weeks, both because it was appropriate and because it kept my hair cleaner and my head cooler (no sun beating on dark hair!); by the end of week 2, I was almost shocked that other women did not cover their hair appropriately.

Pennsic is many things to many people. For some it's parties, for some battle, for some (okay, lots, including me) shopping, or classes, or a chance to try to live as you might in a medieval village. It's a truly unique experience, because it does provide all those things, where other re-enactment gatherings might only provide a few of them, and not have nearly the tolerance for the "fringe element" that the SCA does (folks with less than period kit, who are only there to camp and party). It's not an event for beginners, though; 12,000 people in one campground can be overwhelming if you don't have a way to ground and people to rely on who will tell you when you need a break.

If you did actually want to get involved with the SCA, you live in the Kingdom of Atlantia, in the Barony of Storvik. You'd probably want to contact the chatelaine/castellan, who is the newcomer's contact.

This message brought to you by the SCA Assimilation Project.
cellio From: cellio Date: July 5th, 2004 06:34 am (UTC) (base camp)
If you're feeling industrious, you could use one of these.
perspicuity From: perspicuity Date: July 5th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC) (base camp)
easy bake brick oven!

tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC) (base camp)
I almost wish I could, but we're only going for a week, and I wouldn't feel right asking the folks there in week one to build it for me. Besides, this is just for one meal; no one else has ambitions about baking. I'm not that interested in period cookery, at the moment, and the rest of my household is understandably leery of period recipes (too many bad feasts as K&Q for Brion and Anna, I think).

That, and we simply don't have the room in our camp, what with alloting space from our allowances for the big dining and gathering tent and the kitchen and the showers. It's hard enough to keep the kids from running around the barbecue pit, never mind a wood-fired oven (that'd be a challenge the day I bake, since the grill would be going all day for my coals).

Thanks, though... I'll be sure to post what happens!
pantherwill From: pantherwill Date: July 5th, 2004 09:09 am (UTC) (base camp)
Is it wrong that I see "Dutch oven" and immediately start laughing my ass off?
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 10:49 am (UTC) (base camp)
I have no idea. Why is it funny?
pantherwill From: pantherwill Date: July 6th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC) (base camp)
The other meaning of "Dutch oven" is to pull the covers over your mate's head and fart.
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 6th, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Ah. Gotcha.

Go ahead and laugh at me, sweetie. It's good for ya.
esmerel From: esmerel Date: July 5th, 2004 10:40 am (UTC) (base camp)
MM, cast iron.

On the positive side for it, a good cast iron dutch oven is never a waste. You can use it for lots of things - I wouldn't have ever thought of making bread in one =)
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC) (base camp)
Exactly what I was saying to Wolfie.

We baked cake in one in Girl Scouts (I think it was a Dutch oven... I distinctly remember baking over a campfire). It was YUMMY.

I'm actually excited about trying this out; it's always good to add to the repertoire.
mariora From: mariora Date: July 5th, 2004 11:21 pm (UTC) (base camp)
one thing I remember about dutch oven cooking is that you put the lid on and put coals on top to even out the heat. :)

At an event last year that I was at a lady in our camp made yeast rolls in that coleman oven. It worked pretty good.

I think if it was me I'd go for the dutch oven though.

BTW...did the CD make it there yet?? I sent it out on Friday. (probably not there yet - I'm just impatient)
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 5th, 2004 11:39 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Exactly. Lodge even has a handy dandy chart that tells you how many coals on top and how many on the bottom for what size oven to achieve a certain temp inside.

We have 30 or more people to feed, several of them fighters; I would rather burn charcoal than run the stove long enough to bake bread for all of them. And there's that verisimilitude thing rearing its ugly head again...

No CD yet, but no mail Saturday or today, either. I'll be looking for it!
17 trips or shoot the rapids