Renaissance DinnerPosted on: June 20, 2010
Life in the woods wasn’t all work, we DID play on occasion! We had the perfect location for a costumed Medieval dinner party! Living deep in the woods, the clearing in front of the house was an ideal setting. A roaring fire pit roasted or heated whatever we wanted.
It was fun coming up with names and titles for all of my guests. I, was Lady Deborah, Pete was Lord De***ch, my son was Sir Jason, our knight. Then there was Prince Connor and his Wench (his wife), the Lady Susan and Constable Jerome (a judge), the Duchess Norene, and the Sorcerer …. And King Louie, Lady Susan’s French poodle.
I scripted invitations on the computer in old English writing, printing them out on parchment. Singeing the edges to give it a more aged look, I then rolled each one, tied it with a ribbon, and sealed it with sealing wax, pressing in my “D” for an added touch. The invites were fragile, and hand delivered.
The invite read:
The Lord D***ch and The Lady Deborah
Of M** Manor
Humbly request your presence at the
Feast of Harvest
On the Twenty and Third day of September
At the hour when the cock crows thrice.
The Fare Shall Be:
Succulent Forest Greens
Roasted Whole Corn
Breads and Sweets
Fine Wines & Cheeses
Please dress according to your Nobility
This was the posted menu:
!!FEAST OF THE HARVEST!!
Fowl & field stock
With newly plucked vegetables
Greens fresh from the forest floor
Grilled in husks
Unusually spiced & baked
Roasted Game Hens
Stuffed with garden herbs
Roasted Beef Tenders
Seasoned with secrets
Crusty Loaves of Fresh Breads
Wines & Cheeses
The table was set up: a piece of plywood balance on four bolts of wood. The ‘seats’ were bales of hay. (see attached picture) My son cut slices of wood (called cookies) and routed them out to create dinner plates, and I had enough wooden salad bowls to take the place of soup bowls. Utensils would be a single knife, and fingers. Pewter mugs for the men, silver wine challises for the women. The table was festooned with fresh cut fern fronds and wild flowers. Napkins were (new) sack-cloth towels, held down by a rock that I had written everyone’s name … each according to their invitation.
I requested that each female bring a vegetable from her garden as a contribution to the “peasant soup”. I did not designate what, but two brought carrots, one brought a potato and green beans. I added onions, and squash. To participate, I had them chop their own vegetable ..on a wooden board, with a meat cleaver. The stock was all the juices from cooking the Cornish game hens (the fowl) in the cook stove, in a cast iron Dutch oven, which is what the soup was then cooked in. Once the Cornish hens were cooked, they were moved to a different pot and set by the outdoor fire to stay warm and ready for serving. Bread had been baked earlier too, and wrapped in towels, nestled in baskets. A whole tenderloin was waiting for guest arrival, then set on the grill above the fire pit. Corn in husks that had been soaking over night in salted water, were laid directly onto the hot coals.
Just this week, I asked one of my guests (the red-haired wench in the photo) what she enjoyed most of that party, so many years ago. She started with ‘the peasant soup! It was really fun to chop and add, and it came out so good. Then she said, ‘but having just a knife to eat with was really cool! And it was fun to toss bread rolls down the table!’ and then, ‘the wooden plates were a great touch, and I just loved that everyone wore a costume…’ Guess she enjoyed the afternoon too!
Getting rid of the dinner remnants was not an issue. All the corn cobs were dumped out by the deer salt block, and the guys had great fun tossing bones over their shoulders, ala’ Henry VIII, into the woods for our nocturnal wildlife. As night fell, we moved all the straw bales up to the 8’x40’ porch, and continued our merriment with guitars, singing and more wine.
Oh, I’m in the green dress (with short hair!) and that’s my son Jason with all the damsels. We have discussed doing another dinner… and soon.