Monday, April 30, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 9: Gnome

Revisiting Rations, Part 9:  Gnome

What's this?  Looks like some sort of chicken nugget plate or something.  But hey, it's Monday, so it's time to get down to brass tacks.  Today, we discuss a ration fit for the diminutive folks with the pointy hats and fishing poles (okay, not really).  It's Gnomic food day!

What we have is a bowl full of what I'm calling pierogi roulette with some dilled cheddar cheese, an herbed mustard dipping sauce, and some mint schnapps.  Prost!


Let's start off with getting a fact straight:  pierogi is a plural word.  It's the plural form of pierog.  You don't order three pierogis, but rather three pierogi.  So what are they?

Well, they're little mini hand pies, basically.  They are a national dish of Poland and really quite good.  They can be filled with, well, almost anything, and these kind of are.  After making the pies/dumplings/ravioli/whatever you want to call them, you boil them, then fry them in butter and onions.  Traditionally, they are served with onions and sour cream, but we went a little different here (because I don't trust sour cream to last at all).

So, here, we have a pork, bacon, and leek pierog:

A potato, farmhouse cheese, and leek pierog (it's hard to get just a few leeks):

A mushroom and sauerkraut pierog:

A gingered sweet potato pierog:

And even a blueberry pie pierog.  This one has some cranberry and mulberry added as well:

These make handy, portable food, and while they are better fresh and hot, they can be munched on later.  The dough makes a handy barrier to keep everything nice and safe from any nastiness, and boiling and frying them helps to preserve said dough as well.

I should point out that these are seriously delicious.  This was a fun little ration to work on.

Herbed Mustard Sauce

Pierogi can be a somewhat dry experience.  There is a lot of dough and not a whole lot of moisture inside the delicious little dumplings, and as such they are nearly always served (in my experience) with sour cream (and sometimes applesauce).  However, we are focusing on rations and as such, I needed a sauce that would survive a day or so at room temperature.  Hence, this herbed mustard.  Chives, dill (of course), and a little bit of parsley were blended into one of my standard mustard recipes with just a little bit of honey for sweetening.  In case it's not obvious, someone (and I won't name who!) sampled a bit before shooting.

Dilled Cheddar Cheese

Disaster struck most of my cheese in the form of some weird bug that got into the waxed cheeses, causing them to spoil.  Oddly, the unwaxed cheeses came out fantastic and weren't touched by insects, so hey, there's an advantage.  In the future, any waxed cheeses are going to be sealed with plastic to prevent that from happening.  Lesson learned.  So, this dilled farmhouse cheddar is still going strong after months of aging.  It's hard, it's dry, it's crumbly, and it's delicious.

Mint Schnapps

It's the return of the cute little bottle!  Hint:  it's a Patron single-serving bottle, but it works wonders for showcasing liquers.  This is a neutral grain spirit that's been soaking up sugar and mint for a few months.  It definitely freshens your breath after a mustardy bite of pierogi, and it packs quite a punch, too.

How Long Will it Last?

Good question!  Here, the acidic mustard, the dried cheese, and the spirits aren't going anywhere as long as you keep them dry, cool-ish, and away from bugs.  The pierogi, of course, don't have quite the same shelf life, but they should easily last several days if one is careful not to break them open.  If you want to freshen them up, reheat with some butter and/or lard and they're delicious several days later.  Believe me, I've tried.

Also, oh my gosh I have my very first follower on this blog!  Thanks so much, and you know who you are!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 8: Orc

Revisiting Rations, Part 8:  Orc

Did you miss me?  I missed you!  Sorry about the lack of an update last week--between an illness (everyone is fine) and a car accident (everyone is fine), I really didn't have the time or the energy to get around to doing some fun cooking.

Oh!  And I got a new phone as well, so hopefully the pictures look better.

So, this little ration is focusing on those befanged greenskins themselves.  It's important to realize that Orcs, like every other species, need a functioning society to be able to survive.  They can't always be raiding and eating the dead, or else they would have been wiped out a long time ago.  Therefore, I have created a ration that, I think, meets them pretty well.

My inspiration here was to take Texas barbecue and give it a little Indian spin.  Orcs seem like the type to enjoy spicy food, and this is no exception.  Plus, in any sort of warrior society, those too old or injured to fight would, of course, be in charge of cooking.  Orcs love smoked pork, potatoes, rice, and cabbage--all easy to prepare and farm and capable of providing nutrition and (most importantly) calories.

This ration consists of a smoked pork tenderloin with loquat barbecue sauce over safflower-seasoned fried rice, a curried potato salad with cilantro-lime dressing, spinach and cabbage slaw with paneer, blackberry gulab jamun, and beer.

Smoked Pork Loin with Loquat Sauce

Orc Pitmasters have been passing down recipes for generations.  This particular tenderloin was first marinated with papaya and garam masala to tenderize the meat, then it was smoked over mesquite wood for about 6 hours, basting every 90 minutes with a sauce made of pureed loquats, hot peppers, paprika, and more traditional barbecue seasonings.  It's firey and a little sticky and smoked well through.  The fried rice is simple--just old rice fried in butter with safflower and a little garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.

I should mention that there is a loquat tree nearby, so I figured why not use them for something?  It provides a slightly exotic taste here, but you could easily use a standard spicy barbecue sauce.

Curried Potato Salad

Ask any Texan and they'll tell you that barbecue requires potato salad.  This is a little spin on that.  Potatoes are an easy crop to grow, don't require good soil, and, once harvested, will last a long time.  Perfect for Orcs.  Here, they are paired up with some carrots and peas, then sauteed with your typical curry spices until they're nice and tender.  Cilantro and mint was blended with lime juice and a little olive oil to dress the salad.

Yes, Orcs eat salad sometimes.

Slaw with Paneer

Another simple and hardy crop is the humble cabbage.  I've added some spinach for additional nutrition, then made a simple dressing of some mayonnaise, curry powder, safflower, and homemade paneer, plus a little bit extra vinegar for acidity.  It's nice and crunchy and I'm sure the Orcs would enjoy the side effects of a diet high in cabbage.  Hur, hur, hur...

Blackberry Gulab Jamun

This is going to take a bit of introduction.  Gulab jamun is a traditional Indian dessert which bears a lot of similarities to a donut hole, but is very different.  It is made predominantly from milk solids, which you get from boiling milk down over several hours, then rolled into balls and deep-fried.  Sounds like a perfect thing for a Pitmaster to have going while they're preparing the meat.  After the little balls are fried, they are dunked in a syrup containing rosewater and spices.  Here, we have elected to remove the spices and substitute in blackberry, as blackberry cobbler is a very common dessert had with barbecue.

I didn't take a picture of the beer.  Really, that mug doesn't lend itself to photographing due to the black interior.  It's beer.  It's good for you!

How Long Will it Last?

If stored in the syrup, gulab jamun will last for quite a while, and the pork is heavily smoked and should last for the weekend easily.  The acidity of the potato salad likewise means it's going to be fine for a weekend event.  Here, the issue is the slaw, but if you can pack it in an airtight container, you'll be fine.  If not, eat it first, because I wouldn't trust mayonnaise and fresh cheese to last more than a day or so at room temperature.  Still, that's not bad for an "on the go" meal.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 7: Norse

Revisiting Rations, Part 7:  Norse

It was requested that I do a Norse-style ration, and, to be honest, I portray a person of that culture in my LARPing, so this is somewhat near and dear to my heart.  What we have here comes largely from the Ribe Viking Center and some of these recipes are things I've been making since I first starting cooking for my LARPing.

What we have here is a smoked herring and slice of leg of lamb served with honey-dill mustard, "trail bread" with bacon and onions, goat cheese, gjetost (another type of goat cheese, basically), and, of course, mead.

The Meat:  Lamb and Herring

Yes, that's a whole herring (well, okay, it's gutted) and a slice of lamb.  These were salted to help dry them prior to smoking and were very lightly seasoned--after all, we have mustard for them.  These meats are dry and heavily smoked (I used apple wood here) so that they will last the weekend.

Honey-Dill Mustard

I need to get a better camera (and more serving bowls) if I'm going to keep this up.  Stay posted!  This is a whole-grain mustard made with mustard seed, dill, honey, red wine, and red wine vinegar, then ground in a mortar and pestle until it just comes together.  It's quite spicy and rather nice with the plain meats.  I might want to add a dash of horseradish next time, though.

Goat Cheese

This is, effectively, a slightly salted chevre and one I made in preparation for this ration.  It's good, but very distinct from cow's milk cheese.  Note that even though it's a full round, this is a very thin wheel (I didn't get much goat milk) and so it is what it is.


Gjetost is also known as Ski Queen cheese, peanut butter cheese, and probably a bunch of other things.  I got very hooked on it when I was hanging with a friend from Norway.  It is, effectively, the cooked-down whey from making goat cheese (if you do it with cow's milk, the result is called mysost).  Because this batch is homemade, it has crystallized somewhat and, as a result, isn't as smooth as the stuff you'll get at the store, but it's still delicious, and besides, you might as well use that whey!


I know, I know, you can't see the golden deliciousness in that mug.  This particular batch is Bray's One Month Mead, albeit aged for about 6 months now.  It is delicious and slightly sweet still (which is surprising given that this typically brews very dry).  It made a perfect accompaniment to the meal here, although I may have wanted another mug.  Or two.  Or just finish off the gallon and be done with it.

How Long Will it Last?

Okay, in this case, we have both seafood AND dairy to worry about.  Except we really, really don't.  The goat cheese is going to be the first thing to go bad, and that's assuming you let it get hot.  Keep it cool and dry and you'll be good all weekend.

A note on the mead:  if allowed to get hot, there is a VERY good chance that fermentation will restart, meaning that any bottle you keep it in might just become a foamy bomb.  So keep it cool and skol!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 6: Hobbit

Revisiting Rations, Part 6:  Hobbit


Okay, so I had to play around with images to make things work today.  Bear with me.

It's that time!  Time for another rations post.  This time, I have focused on what a Hobbit might take along the road for a couple days.  Please note, a Hobbit is not a Halfling, no matter what Tolkien might say.  Halflings are more slender, fey, and "wild" compared to the pastoral Hobbits.  But here, we have a good example of a delicious meal that will last several days and includes many things Hobbits are overly fond of.

The ration consists of a sausage wellington roll (that's what I'm calling it), blackberry scone with clotted cream, truffled cheddar cheese, an apple, and blackberry cordial.  Seeing as how Hobbits, described by Tolkien, are incredibly fond of mushrooms and seem to enjoy blackberries, I figure this works well.

Sausage Wellington Roll

This is my take on the traditional sausage roll.  I made a sausage from half pork loin, half bacon, hand-minced, then seasoned with Prague Powder, salt, white and black pepper, nutmeg, mace, and allspice.  This was then stuffed into a casing and smoked for several hours over apple wood.  The resulting sausage was added to a roll along with some mushrooms and shallots.  This provides a portable meal that's savory and really quite good.

And now, for the money shot...

See all that duxelles?  True, I didn't add any pate or parma ham or the like, but I wanted to keep this somewhat simple.  While Hobbits love flavor, their meals (as taken from the Hobbit) don't tend to stand on a lot of fancy preparation.

Blackberry Scone (with Clotted Cream)

It's kind of rare when I'm making one of these rations to come across something that makes me go "You know what?  I'll have another.  And another."  This scone recipe was one of those things.  It's s simple scone dough with the addition of some fresh blackberries, then split and filled with homemade clotted cream.  You could add some jam as well, if you wanted.

Truffled Cheddar Cheese

This is something I'm really quite proud of.  It came out amazingly, although it's super-rich.  I made a standard cheddar cheese, then added a small amount of truffle oil and a goodly portion of dried cremini mushrooms.  The entire cheese smells of mushrooms and tastes wonderfully, but man, it's rich.  I said that already.  This process took about three months and involved me waxing the cheese.  Believe it or not, it's actually really easy to make.

Side note:  you're not getting a pic or statement on the apple.  It's an apple.  It was yummy.

Blackberry Cordial

Just a small portion because this is both strong and sweet.  Equal portions of vodka and sugar are dissolved and then I added a bunch of fresh blackberries and stored for a month or two.  It's...  Not my thing, really.  Too sweet.  Seems like a hangover in a mason jar, honestly, but I'm sure quite a few people will love it!

How Long Will it Last?

Here we only have two components to worry about.  The cheese, being less salted and far more moist than others, will go bad within a few days (particularly because of all the spores in it--eat quickly) and clotted cream needs to be kept sealed and cool to avoid spoiling.  If you can manage those (perhaps don't unwax the cheese before time to eat and keep the cream in a mason jar), you're good to go over a weekend event.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 5: Wild Elf

Revisiting Rations, Part 5: Wild Elf

Looks good, doesn't it?  And yes, this is a hot meal (and a cold dessert), but let's get into it.

You see, I don't see Wild Elves as having taverns per se.  That sort of eating establishment just doesn't mesh with the way I view Wild Elves.  Your mileage may vary, of course.  So, instead of that, I made a "quick-to-cook" meal using whole ingredients that provides a very thematic and pretty darned delicious example of Wild Elf cooking.

And, for those of you playing along at home, a LOT of this comes from Townsends.  And yes, it is very heavily influenced by Native American cooking.

Basically, what we have here is a succotash or stew (it's hard to decide) with pemmican, parched corn, broken beans, acorn squash, onions, sweet potato, and carrot, alongside akutaq and a mixed berry wine.

Succotash (Or Stew?)

Here's most of the ingredients that went into the succotash.  There's pemmican in the bowl along with parched corn and lima beans that I ground in a mortar (to make this cook quicker).


Pemmican is a mixture of dried meat, dried berries, and rendered fat, all mixed up and delicious.  This particular batch was made ages ago and is still delicious and hugely high-calorie.  It is beef with blueberries and cranberries and then mixed with equal weight of rendered tallow.  I seriously love this stuff.  Pemmican can be eaten on its own, but it's better cooked with potatoes and onions in my opinion.

Parched Corn

So I wanted to do a Three Sisters-style meal, but I was worried about corn taking so darned long to cook.  The answer:  parch it!  I used generic popcorn, heated it slowly in a pot full of salt, then removed the kernels (popped or not) from the salt and ground them up.  This can be eaten on its own, or mixed with water into a gruel, but it's not the tastiest thing in the world.

Broken Beans

Same basic principle here.  I wanted to add beans to the meal, but wanted them to cook quickly.  Nobody's going to be impressed with a 2-hour cook time for a trail meal, after all.  I just ground up the baby lima beans until I was satisfied and called it good.


No weevils in this one (and yes, I checked).  Hardtack or ship's bisket is basically flour and water with perhaps a little salt, baked twice until it's as hard and delicious as a brick.  Here, it was broken up (with a hammer, seriously) and added to the succotash to form dumplings.


Acorn squash (this is a Three Sisters succotash), onion, carrot, and sweet potato.  Mostly orange, all delicious.


I couldn't show this in the original pics because I don't want to get my pretty cloth even more messy, but I used a little bit of portable soup to flavor things up.  This was made by boiling beef bones down to a gelatin, which was then air-dried.  Think of it as old-timey bouillon cubes.

Final Result

This was seriously awesome.  The butternut squash was simply delicious and the other veggies complimented it nicely.  The corn, beans, and pemmican became sort of "lost" in the broth, but provided thickness and flavor.  This is probably one of those recipes I'm going to do again.


Bright pink fluffiness!  This is really good as well, and very shelf-stable.  Akutaq is also known as Eskimo ice cream (or a dozen variations thereof).  It is a blend of fat (traditionally animal, but here I used Crisco), sugar or honey, and various meat or fruits.  I have used blackberries, raspberries, and some cranberry juice to make this.  While I prefer it cold, it's definitely edible at room temperature.  Also, it's got a TON of calories.  Keep that in mind.

Mixed Berry Wine

I swear the glass looked cleaner in real life.  This is a simple fermentation of a bottle of mixed berry juice drink.  It's lightly alcoholic and goes well with the succotash and akutaq.

How Long Will it Last?

So, this is going to be a fun little story.  I made the pemmican, hardtack, and portable soup last year and they're still good.  The akutaq will eventually mold if the fruits are exposed, but the fat will help prevent that.  Basically, the only risk is that your veggies will spoil, and they were chosen for being hard to spoil.  Unlike the other rations, this one requires active cooking, but it's safe to say you can keep it with you over the course of your typical LARP event without issue.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 4: Half-Elf

Revisiting Rations, Part 4:  Half-Elf

It's that time again!  And yes, that's a crab.  What the heck am I doing this time?  Well, let me begin by discussing how I view Half-Elves.

Your typical Half-Elf is going to be raised by Humans or by Elves, of course, and will likely mirror the culture they were raised in.  In cases of an actual Half-Elven community, the people are largely traders living in warm coastal areas.  As such, I have chosen a mixture of various coastal foods with a decent shelf life (but not as long as some of the others, so be careful here!).

Half-Elves also have a tendency towards lots of little dishes rather than one big thing.  After all, variety is important, as is hospitality.  It's sad that some of the best eating you'll ever do is in the company of Half-Elves.

We have soy-fermented blue crab, kimchi, rice, bolinhos de bacalhau, toasted bread with tomato and onion chutney, ginger beer, and, for dessert, chocolate salami!  Yes, this ration includes chocolate as well.  Aren't Half-Elves lucky?

Soy-Fermented Blue Crab with Kimchi and Rice

Look at this little guy.  Isn't he adorable?  Cleaned blue crabs were marinated in soy sauce with ginger, garlic, and several other spices for about 6 days.  Historically, they could be marinated at months at room temperature.  The meat is then served without any heating.  It is dark, somewhat gelatinous, and nice and spicy, meaning you're going to use a lot of rice with this dish.  The kimchi is a mixture of daikon, cabbage, green and yellow onions, and various spices left to ferment in the fridge for several weeks.  The rice is rice.

Inspiration for this dish came from Maangchi's cooking YouTube channel, which can be found HERE.

Note:  if kept stored in jars, the crab will last quite a while and kimchi is virtually indestructible in my experience.  Rice will go stale in a day or two and could well mold, but if you're going to have a pot and some fire, you can always cook it fresh.

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

One of my good friends lives in Portugal and told me I needed to use this in one of these.  Bacalhau is Portugese for salt cod and I'm assuming bolinho  means "little balls" or something.  Basically, these are a mixture of potatoes, salt cod, onions, and parsley, rolled into ping-pong balls, then breaded and fried.  They are seriously good and pretty darned simple to make as well!

I have to mention that my dogs went crazy over these.  You can't tell, but one of the bolinhos has a bite taken out of it!

Open them up and they're full of fluffy white goodness and yes, my camera was sucking today.  I'm sorry!

Tomato and Onion Chutney

This is one of those things that's perfect for adding a little bit of exotic flavor to your meal without taking a lot of effort.  Heirloom tomatoes were cooked down with vinegar and onions and a lot of spices to make something that tastes rather like a tikka masala sauce.  Spread on a piece of toasted bread, it's surprisingly good.  Also, it appears my Half-Elves like a lot of starch.  Huh.

Ginger Beer

I've been on a brewing kick lately, and ginger beer seemed like a wonderful way to counter all of the spice in most of these little dishes.  I made a ginger bug (see HERE for how!) and then fermented my own ginger beer from it.  The result is pretty strongly ginger and will really clean your palate between bites of crab and chutney.

Chocolate Salami

Wait, what?  Chocolate sausage?  This isn't actually salami, but it is chocolate.  Semisweet chocolate is mixed with chopped walnuts and crushed cookies, then rolled into a log shape and sliced.  It looks like salami, kinda (especially when dusted with powdered sugar, but that's too messy for my taste) and provides a sweet after-meal dessert.

How Long Will it Last?

Well, in this case, we're dealing with quite a bit of seafood so we need to be careful.  The salt cod will keep quite a bit, but the bolinhos are going to be better if they're eaten relatively quickly.  The crab, if kept stored in the marinade, likewise will last, but still it's shellfish and it scares me a little, so I'd try to eat it in a day or two.  If the chocolate is kept cool, it'll last as long as needed (which won't be long--it's chocolate).  Basically, this meal, properly kept, could be expected to be good for tomorrow's dinner, but I wouldn't push it far past that unless you know a lot more about food preservation than I do.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Revisiting Rations, Part 3: Dwarf

Revisiting Rations, Part 3:  Dwarf

Hey, it's time for another one of these.  This time, I've chosen to focus on Dwarven food, or at least what I consider to be Dwarven.

Please note:  all of these rations work wonderfully for Humans because, well, they're all Human food.  But still!

So, for this ration, I have chosen to go with a Cornish-style pasty, dilled cheddar cheese, leather britches, and beer (of course!).  Dwarves are miners, and Cornish pasties were typically consumed by miners, so that makes sense.  Plus, my Dwarves love cheese, and so it features heavily here.  Leather britches are dried, lightly smoked green beans (and seriously good).  But let's get into it.

"Cornish" Pasty

Here it is all opened up.  Rather than the traditional ingredients, I went with ham, mushrooms, sauerkraut, cheese, and mustard.  This provides a bit of a Germanic feel, which I find appropriate for Dwarves, and the ingredients will definitely last.  Plus, it's extremely energy-dense and portable, which is important for a "ration."

Dilled Cheddar Cheese

This was really surprisingly good.  I made a farmhouse cheddar and added a ton of dill, basically.  Salted and shelved, this cheese is almost non-perishable if kept dry.  And it's really stupidly yummy, but I love dill.  Plus, I like that I'm using some Scandinavian flavors in the mustard in the pasty and the dill here.

Leather Britches

These are surprisingly easy to make and seriously delicious.  Cut your green beans and string them up with needle and thread. Let them get some smoke and then hang them to dehydrate for, well, many, many weeks.  They take a seriously long time to cook, but even then they'll last several days, and the liquid you cook them in wounds up tasting like roast beef.  Cooked, this is the perishable part of the ration--everything else I would expect to keep for weeks.


I don't normally brew beer because I don't have an appropriately-sized vessle to use as a mash tun, so this is just a pint of Guinness in a two-pint mug.  I brew mead, wine, cider, and kvas on the regular, but I just don't want to do a syrup-based beer.  It doesn't feel right to me.  But Guinness is at least appropriately Dwarven, and you can substitute any high-gravity or dark beer here.  I didn't fill the mug all the way up because it was seriously early when I took these pics and I wasn't in the mood for several beers.  Deal with it.

How Long Will it Last?

Kept properly, I would expect this ration to be virtually bombproof.  I mean, eventually the crust on the pasty will mold, but if this is kept dry and the beans are uncooked, I would definitely expect this ration to last for a week.  The cooked beans don't have as much of a shelf life, but a day or two should be fine if they are kept cool and covered.

And one more shot, because I feel like it!