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As I am lacking in TIME…

September 1, 2016

Today, I’m eyebrow deep in other projects connected to Scotland and just don’t have time to dig into grammar or look up words.  So here’s a taste of Scotland, at least, copied and pasted from my current manuscript, and as per my eating experiments today.

Also, as I’m now headlong into having my kitchen floor redone (speaking of food-related things, I’ll be much happier cooking when it is!), I may be missing daily posting in the coming week.

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The ‛girdle’ was a primary part of the Scots’ cooking equipment—for pancakes, oatcakes, crumpets, potatoes, and oatmeal scones—and on the campaign trail, perhaps the only cooking equipment. Even bread was baked on the girdle rather than in the oven. These breads—or bannocks—were unleavened, about the size of a dinner plate, made from barley flour or oatmeal. In later years, bannocks came to be made with wheat flour, yeast, butter, and dried fruit. Today, the name bannock means any baked item similar in size and shape to the original bannock.

Scotland’s staple cereal crops were barley and oats. Wheat didn’t grow well in Scotland, and so our ever-present wheat flour was…not so ever-present to them. So, for the nearest experience to what the Scots ate as they besieged Berwick, use barley or oats. I would strongly advise against camping out around Berwick’s city walls with a trebuchet while you do so, however. There’s such a thing as getting too authentic. That’s when the authorities get called.

As with virtually any recipe, there are many ways to skin a….no, I think that’s a poor choice of expression in a cookbook. There are multiple ways of making any particular meal.

The simplest oatcake or bannock is this:

barley or oatmeal a very little bit of water
  1. Mix your oats or barley with a little water until you get something like a dough
  2. Shape it into a flat cake and fry it on your girdle*

*Your medieval Scottish girdle, not your mother’s girdle. This would most likely upset your mother.

This actually works, and is fairly tasty! Add salt for a little more flavor—you will have to decide if your particular medieval regiment happens to have salt on hand. The fun of cooking is that you can take any basic recipe and do as you like with it. I decided my medieval Scots just might have access to parsley and fennel during a siege, as many medieval recipes use these two ingredients.

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