They have arrived, and are having their pre-planting drink.

These are from Baker Creek, with Old North Sea in the tall container and Scarlet in the smaller one. The stories behind them are nice, and they may be as close to the Renaissance strawberry mentioned in the UMASS Renaissance Garden as I will ever get. Alas, it’ll be next growing season before they can be tasted, but still. I just have to decide where to put them.

Hell, my asparagus bed is now 4 years old, and it still does not produce a whole lot. Out of all the roots I put in the ground, only 6 came up, and they are so randomly spread through the bed that it’s always going to be an interplanted bed. I certainly can’t spare that much space for six plants.

I have been watching One Yard Revolution lately, and I am so glad to find him. He has some lovely self planting beds, JUST LIKE ME! Sometimes, I think I am the only person who does that. I am going to have to clean up the self-seeding that occurred in the side yard a bit, though, as I want them to be a little more ordered, just for the sake of the neighborhood aesthetics.

Posted in Forest Gardening, Green, SCA | Tagged , ,

Restless, and photo collage documentation.

So, I was hoping to get my garden started. Not in this venue, but elsewhere, I have been busily bitching about how poor 2016 was for gardening, and I’d like 2017 to be better. There have been lots of lovely days upon which I could have gotten started, but the lovely days have never yet coincided with an opportunity to actually garden.

Yesterday: sunny and warm. Today: Rain and snow mixed. Such is my life.

Well, I confess, I did get about 3 minutes of gardening done. I managed to pull out the tomato cages, deconstruct the carlin pea tower, get red of some dead stalks, and find some things that re-seeded: oak leaf lettuce, salsify, collards, chicory, land cress. So I can start with the harvesting; there are plenty of baby greens to be had, and the jerusalem artichoke is not yet out of the ground, so I can dig some of those roots.

The strawberries are coming back, and the raspberries, gooseberries, and rhubarb are all growing again. The garlics, onions, bloody dock, alesfoot, creeping bellflower, lovage, dandelions, and probably a few other things are all poking around in the back yard and the gardens, so even if I don’t get anything in the ground during the early planting season, I will still have nice salads.

But none of that really gets seeds in the ground. I’ve decided that I have an entire 16th c garden with seriously unusual exotics in it, as the plants I have and the reseeding I allow have turned my garden plan full of regimented and contained beds into a sort of demented green delusion. The beds are going to be wild and woolly and I think I will plant a lot of garlic and onions around the sides of everything to keep out the rodents.

So, to amuse myself while the rain pisses all over my plans, I worked on another garden project I have been futzing around with for years.

Oh, yes, you know it’s all Scadian. You know it.

I have been working on a google photo album I am calling Plants for a Past (you know, like an unambitious version of the absolutely marvelous PFAF database) for people who might like to try growing a Renaissance kitchen garden.

It’s pretty unwieldy; I’d like to cut it down to a photo page per plant. SO I made a few collages. It’s going to be a while before all the plants I want to include are collaged and essayed (ha, I verbed those nouns!), but I did get SOME done. Here, I will show you:

By Elise Boucher/Merouda Pendray. Because you care about that, right? Broad Bean collage featuring a photo of the plant growing in my garden, the packet of seeds I used, and a period picture of the plant to demonstrate its availability before 1601.

The collages are like perfectly encapsulated pieces of shorthand SCA documentation. I showed you that I found the plant(Broad beans)in a pre-1601 reference, I showed you that I obtained a reasonable cultivar for that plant (Broad Windsor Fava [1]), and I showed you that I grew it successfully.

A&S documentation goes on about a lot of other things, too; it’s clear that when I am done with writing out this project, I will have written another free online book, to include one (possibly 2) transcriptions of 15th-16th C. garden manuals. But the collages are just about demonstrating what you might see in a 16th c. garden, and they don’t need all that.

Here are the other ones I got done:

By Elise Boucher/Merouda Pendray. Awesome, eh? Nasturtium, a New World plant that quickly crossed the ocean as “Indian Cress.”

Collage by Elise, Research on cultivar by Ruth Goodman. I just read her book. Carlin Peas, a pre-1601 cultivar of field-type pea.

By Elise Boucher, who masquerades as Merouda Pendray Tomatoes

I had a hard time limiting myself to just these three period references, because there are a surprising amount of pictures of ‘maters in the late 1500’s. I presume it is because they were exotic and pretty. Just as an aside, I chose this variety of heirloom tomato to represent the 16th C. tomato because it is delish and because it is Italian. The Italians were eating tomatoes well before the English.

Merouda me ficit! Good King Henry

MMmmmm Merouda me ficit! Scarlet Runner Bean, another New World transplant.

There you go. I only have about a million more collages to make.

[1] Martock is supposed to be an older cultivar that Broad Windsor, but I also have to keep in mind plant yield, Wisconsin versus English growing seasons, and availability, since the purpose of documenting my massive A&S garden project is to allow others to replicate what I did. Besides, go find Martock broad beans in your U.S. garden store or through a major online retailer that ships to the States. Go on. I dare you. Give up? Okay, I know what to do. Go join Seed Savers Exchange for 35 or so bucks and find someone who has some they can sell to you for a combined cost of about 6 bucks… Or use Broad Windsor Fava. 🙂

Posted in Forest Gardening, SCA | Tagged , ,

Death to 2016 II

Welcome 2017, and already you’re starting to look like a mirror image of 2016. This makes me sad.

I have reached about the end of my ability to deal with 2016, and if 2017 is just going to be 2016 part two, Imma hafta redefine my coping strategies.

The first thing I am planning on doing is making my Internet usage about what interests me and what I enjoy instead of about social media. I really preferred my Internet usage before the advent of Facebook. Facebook has not been beneficial. Blogging is dead, and the social media that has replaced it is vacuous and angry. I just don’t have enough life left to be involved in that. I have “broken up” with Facebook in the past, but it’s really hard it to end that relationship. It has definitely replaced almost all forms of social communication. If it isn’t Facebook, it’s snapchat, or instagram, or whatever the new thing is.

I feel like a decade of my attention has been swallowed by social media. It didn’t enhance my creativity. It didn’t improve my relationships. Hell, it did not even leave me a blog full of naval staring and the occasional decent piece of creative nonfiction. I started participating in Facebook in 2007, and I looked back at my initial posts; they were generally just little funny one-liners. At some point it became about sharing funny things that other people had shared with me. And then politics happened.

Politics is probably when it all went to hell. It was a fucking train wreck, and I could not look away.

Well, I don’t wanna play anymore.

As I said, it’s hard to break up with Facebook. At this particular point in time, I’m limiting myself to looking at it for about half hour every couple of days, mostly to see if there’s any news with friends and family, or if there is any events that I want to attend that have been announced on Facebook and no place else. Over time, I hope to develop a strategy for my news feed that works for me, instead of sucking away huge portions of my life and energy and interests. That is what Facebook is designed to do, after all. Oh, they don’t see it that way. It’s supposed to keep you in touch with your family and friends, and if they push a few products into the experience, what’s the harm? Whatever its wonderful intentions in its early stages, it’s now just another marketing tool. Like all marketing tools, it is supposed to manipulate you, and I just don’t want to be manipulated anymore. I’m done being used. I’m done with being used by giant corporations that want to sell me crap, and I’m done with political organizations that want to sell me outrage.

So, when I think about what interests me about the Internet, I find myself dragged back all the way to the activities I pursued in my earlier usage. I like blogging. And yeah, blogging is dead, nobody’s gonna hear this, blahdy blahdy blah blah blah, but that is okay. A decided advantage of this is that when I express my political opinions, nobody’s going to argue with me. I enjoy political discourse, but at this point in time, there’s no discourse, there is only a conversational equivalent of the battle of Verdun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

The Ninth of January, 2017.

I knew she was sick, but I did not know that she was that sick. Moraig has passed. That is an event that is worthy of the persona blog, don’t you think?

It is a new year, and I want new events for it. I want to stop fucking around on the internet. I never do anything useful any more. I just read shit. And if I was sitting in my living room reading fiction or biography or whatever, I would count that as time well spent, but I have not been reading such things on the internet. On the internet I pintrest and I look for recipes and other boring stuff like that. I mean, I like to cook, and canning has brought me a good deal of joy (and a ridiculous amount of work; only the fact that I can have things I would not otherwise eat keeps me going. I don’t waste my time with green beans and such; those are better frozen, anyway), but a lot of this time is spent on fucking mommie blogs, and I really dislike those. Or “Lifestyle” blogs.

Ye gods and little fishes.

Okay, can I talk for a minute about how much I dislike reading a lifestyle blog? I did not hate them, at first. They just seemed like a pretty way to share what was going on in a given person’s projectland. But then… The damn things fucked like rabbits and now there are billions and billions of these blogs, all full of people stealing each other’s recipes and claiming to have a genius hack for your ice that will totally blow your mind and change your life. And, ta-da, the genius hack is “use an ice cube tray” or some other banality.

And Jesus Hortense Christ, the ads. The blinking and blinking and the spinning and spinning and the script-failing and the script-failing: seizure inducing. Any second Kirk the Jerk is going to pop up on my screen and go bat shit crazy from all the spinning and blinking and script-failing.

Don’t get me started on the comment sections of these things.

It would be fair to say that these are not really blogs. They are really more a single-author pamphlet series published on the internet.

And I am digging through pages and pages of bad photography and ads to get to the two or three paragraphs of meaningful content, wasting my time all the while.

So I’m going to start thinking about the last place I was happy with my Internet participation, and start rebuilding from there. It’s easy to make a New Year’s resolution list. It’s even easier to fail to complete them. So I’m not gonna bother with a resolution this year. I’m going to have a plan.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ah, aging.

Me: Your hair is so beautiful.

Thorvald: Yeah, but there is less of it.

Me: That’s like saying my figure is beautiful, there is just more of it.

Posted in SCA | Tagged

A November Tuesday

Ed Note: Hillary has just been officially named the candidate for the democratic party. This entry is almost 10 years old. I resurrected it because, 10 years on, racists have no filters–they just open their mouths and use their fists. I pray that Hillary will win, simply because I read the memory recorded at the end here, and I believe firmly in the ending statement. Too, the bootheel is crushing us all, these days. I am still committed to living in a culture that does not have these awful problems. Floretta, my dear Floretta, is gone now, but even today, all these years later, I still hear her weep.

by Merouda – November 7th, 2006.
Filed under: Tagless.

Please remember to vote today. If you are in one of the several states voting on banning gay marriage, please vote to stop such ridiculous laws. The Wisconsin amendment is particularly heinous, in that not only does it try to outlaw gay marriage, it is also designed to strip away rights from just about anyone living in a “cohabitation” state. No more right to visit your partner if he’s ill–you’re not family. No more possibility of life insurance on your partner’s policy. And so forth. The Wisconsin law is pretty much designed to force those who can marry to do so and destroy those who can’t.

Wisconsin also votes on the death penalty today. Please vote against this as well. It’s not a deterrent, it’s more expensive than life imprisonment, it is not fairly imposed, and, in the name of all that is divine, it’s a cruel and unusual punishment–something that is Constitutionally forbidden. I can not understand the mindset that allows some of the people in this debate to condemn those who would strictly interpret the Koran and the inadvertent evils such things lead to while at the same time promoting some Old Testament justice as the only way to protect our people.

The other day, I was discussing these issues with a woman on my caseload–elderly, poor, black, ill. I mentioned this to her, let her know that one of the reasons I object to the death penalty is that it is far more likely to be imposed on a black man than anyone else. To my chagrin, this woman looked at me, grasped my hand, and began to weep. “You’re such a sweet girl,” she said.

And I sat in my car, after that visit, horrified. Horrified. HORRIFIED.

My ghod, I don’t want to live in a culture where people of color spend their whole lives so ground under the bootheel of wealth that the idea that someone of the majority race might see the injustice and desire redress is so foreign as to seem a fantasy.

1 Response to November Tuesday

  1. Oh, honey. I see those attitudes down here in the south and it wears me down so much. When are we ever going to cease to live in a culture of “us and them” and start to live as just “us”?

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged

The Travelling Lunch… er, dinner

Ed Note: This was originally published in a much earlier incarnation of this blog. It’s still useful, and so it is resurrected. I expect it needs a bit of updating, which I will get to in all my copious free time. For now, it stands as it is and is a reminder of what I was focusing on at that point in time. It’s also pretty fitting as an introduction to my own experiments with Actual Period Preserving Recipes.  How awesome is that? …. Well, maybe it’s indifferently awesome to most folks, but I think it is grand.

The Travelling Lunch

by Merouda – April 18th, 2007

One of the people I read on LJ brought this topic up. I have been working on a set of short articles about food for non-period cooks who are interested in at least presenting a bit of a more period table when bringing their own food to an event. This is still in its draft stage, but I’m putting it out now for reference as I see it as something that can be easily supplemented.

As far as carrots go, orange carrots are available in period. There are quite a lot of 16th c. genre portraits featuring lush displays of produce, and believe me, them carrots are orange.

Period-like foods from your grocery store.

Okay. You can’t cook, you need to eat at Pennsic or the tourney, you would like to eat something that is within the realm of possibility for your Persona. The answer: Careful selection in the grocery store.

Of course, there will be sacrifices: these things will all be prepared according to modern practices and tastes, so there will be ingredients or processing that you can’t really control as a part of your menu. But if cooking is not your thing and you’d like a traveling lunch that your persona will likely recognize, consider selecting from the following list of foods available at most mid-end* grocers. Generally speaking, the foods on this list can be eaten raw or purchased all ready prepared, requiring nothing but being put on a plate or into a goblet.

In making this list, I have avoided New World foods; some few New World foods (NWF) did make it to the European table by the end of the sixteenth century, but most of the frequently eaten NWF in the 21st century were not acceptable foods to most Europeans until after 1601; you are encouraged to research what foods were known and acceptable to your persona if you wish to include them. On the other hand, if a food has an Old World origin and was known in period but was not necessarily eaten everywhere on the European continent, I have included it here on the theory that your persona has the possibility of being introduced to it or that it’s sufficiently similar to what was available that it would be recognizable. For instance, cheddar cheese is a late period creation, but there is no reason to suspect that any culture familiar with cheese wouldn’t recognize it as a food source. Remember, the purpose of this list is not to define period foods specific to your persona, but to serve as a general guideline regarding what you can purchase at the grocer’s that will create a meal that might have been eaten somewhere in Europe before 1601.

High Proteins (Meats, eggs, legumes):
Pickled herring, sausages, smoked pork chops, smoked ham hocks, ham, rotisserie chickens, smoked salmon, hummus, canned pea soup, canned lentil soup, canned chick peas, canned broad beans, beef jerky, pickled and/or hard boiled eggs, cold sliced chicken, roast beef, roast pork (from deli; note that deli staff may be willing to slice meat into a chunk rather than individual slices, so do ask them for this service). Pickled pig’s feet. Head cheese/souse/brawn. Sardines in oil. Canned oysters. Cooked crab meat, lobster, or shrimp. If the deli section has no good meats available, canned salmon, canned beef in juice, canned chicken, canned ham will substitute.

Fruits, Vegetables, Produce
(note that most grocery store fruits varietals are not varieties that were available in period, although Golden Delicious may be descended from a late period variety, Golden Reinette. Fresh or dried fruits are easiest for the tourney lunch. It’s typically suggested that all oranges in period were like Seville oranges, but sweet oranges were available in a number of areas, so if you can find seeded oranges, you’ve scored! Vegetables are best purchased raw, pickled, preserved in oil. While modern cans of meat are the closest you can get to some prepared meats, period methods of preserving vegetables are still readily available and are the preferred choice.)

Apples, pears, grapes, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberry, cherries, apricots, dates, raisins, plums, prunes, figs, applesauce. Marmalade, jams, preserves, jellies for late personas. Double crust apple pies from the bakery section.

Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts (especially preserved in an oil dressing, as a substitute for cabbage buds!), olives, cucumbers, leaf lettuces, spinach, carrots, shallots, chard, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms, beets, cabbage, peas, artichokes (limited personas), garlic (please…. pickled, not fresh! and watch for the inclusion of tomato sauce), asparagus, onions, leeks, bagged salads that contain leaf lettuces and herbs (no iceberg lettuce).


Yogurt, milk, cheese–some period varieties are ricotta, white cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, brie, emmental, Gruyère, Grana, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Neufchâtel, feta–butter.


rice, barley, pasta, etcetera, are a little hard to buy prepared. You should stick with better breads, such as are obtainable from the store’s bakery rather than from the sliced-loaves sections. Also consider Ry-Krisp and other flat breads, or, if you’re willing and able to heat a cup of water, instant oatmeal or instant cream of wheat. Shortbread cookies–for dessert. Pretzels. Bagels.

Fats, condiments, herbs, spices, sweets
Olive oil. Mustards. Various vinegars, although I find balsamic most useful in this context. Honey. Ground horseradish. Candied ginger root. Salt. Pepper, sage, basil, garlic, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme. Note that leafy herbs, tossed with leaf lettuce (like Romaine) and dressed with oil or vinegar, makes a nice sallet with minimal prep. Modern pesto sauce works as a medieval green sauce, but the form you’ll find in the store usually derives from a 19th. c recipe. Candied citron and orange peels. Caviar. Pine nuts. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts.

Apple cider, beer, wine, (buy non-alcoholic beer, sparkling grape juices if site is dry). Herbal teas: Mint, chamomile, lemon balm,

(These are prepared dishes that are approximations and their inclusion on this list should not be understood to imply that they are period preparations. Salads & dips should be mixed in a dairy dressing (i.e., sour cream, cheese sauce, yogurt, white sauce), an oil dressing, or a vinegar dressing. Mayo and most modern salad dressings are post period. Note that if the dish contains turkey, maize/corn, green/red/chili peppers, tomatoes or potatoes, it’s not really what your looking for.)

Hummus. Rice or pasta salads as long as the salad is not dressed with a mayonnaise-based sauce (mayo is created in the 18th c.) and is without turkey, tomato, maize (corn), & potato. Oil-dressed coleslaw, rice pudding, dairy-based spinach dip, macaroni and cheese, mozzarella balls in oil. The deli I frequent makes a terrific “antipasto” pasta salad that can be adjusted for this purpose; it’s oil-dressed pasta, sausage, olives, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes. If I ask them to pick out the tomatoes, I have a reasonable meal; when I serve it to myself, I separate the pasta, olives, and sausage to separate piles and have what looks like 3 separate dishes on my plate.

Frozen Food/Cold Case Section and Partly Prepped Foods:
(This section can be mined for foods if you are willing/able to let things defrost, and perhaps do a little baking if you have something that needs just some time in the oven as a last step. Some of these things will also require careful presentation on your plate if you’d like to create something aesthetically appropriate as well as food-compatible. Like foods from the deli section, these are not necessarily period preparations, and their inclusion here should not be understood to imply that they are period dishes, only that they would probably be recognizable as food to someone familiar with pasta, cheese or dairy sauces, and chicken/beef/pork. Use this subdivision with caution.)

Quiche (minus, of course, NWF). Pot pies, but find one without turkey, potatoes, peppers, corn. The following Stouffer’s brand frozen entrees meet the “No obvious NWF” criteria and are presented as a list for your inspiration regarding foods that will fit even if imperfect: Chicken a la King, Italian Sausage Stuffed Rigatoni, Beef Stroganoff with Parsley Noodles, Salisbury Steak, Swedish Meatballs, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Homestyle Chicken & Noodles, Fettuccini Alfredo, Rigatoni Pasta w/Roasted White Meat Chicken. (Note that I am not endorsing Stouffer’s particularly, they’re just a brand that I’m sure is national.)

Frozen fruits and vegetables as described in the produce section; if veggies are purchased in a sauce, chose a cheese, or plain butter sauce. Cookie doughs: plain sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies. Bread doughs, if you want super fresh breads.

Examples of people eating outdoors. Late period art featuring cooks and a wealth of foods for visual reference. Also good for visual reference for baskets, jugs, barrels, use of cover cloths, et cetera. An English grocer’s period-type recipe pamphlet.

*Mid-end: Not as inexpensive or limited as Aldi’s, but not as wide-ranging as high end stores, and I didn’t even go in to gourmet or specialty shops.

Food folk are invited to add comments to the site, but remember, due to spam issues, nothing will appear until I have a chance to approve it.

Posted in SCA | Tagged , ,