Fall 2017 brought great honor and excitement in my life when I was asked to serve on Her Majesty, Vukasin’s Arts & Science Guard. Instead of selecting members from marshaled activities, our Queen saw it fit to appoint members of the arts and science community to serve as her guard during the months that are typically reserved for A&S focus, this made a lot of sense. The members of the guard were selected from various backgrounds and fields and all the different regions of the Kingdom. I was appointed to the A&S Guard position for Cooking and Brewing. We were challenged to travel the Kingdom and be Her Majesties eyes and ears to find members of the populace who deserved recognition within our different fields of study. To indicate that we were part of her Royal retune we were given red baldrics with the badge of Her Majesty to be worn for the duration of her reign.
October had me already cast in the role of event steward leading a cooking-related A&S event within our Barony of Cynnabar called “Cook’s Symposium”. This is a rotating event that moved from the Grand Rapids (Andelcrag) area further down the state of Michigan (within Pentamere) as to attract other guests from out of state. We had a great success with multiple courses and topical tracks — from beginner to advanced courses. Her Majesty, Vukasin, also attended the event and offered us the honor of adding the words “Midrealm” to the event title. And, of course, everyone looked forward to Her own class about “Carving for Period Presentation.” The potluck feast at the end of this event was much fun. I had the distinct honor of quizzing the populace while waiting for the food line to go down.
November again brought a local event to my attention with Grand Day of Tournaments. While the event had me busy with more service-oriented rather than arts-focused activities — I did assist with a full day worth of pre-cooking for our lunch tavern for this event by assisting in roasting nearly 90# of chicken.
In December I traveled to the Barony of Red Spears in the Canton of Hróðgeirsfjörðr to assist in the kitchen of Mistress Helewyse DeBirkestad and her lovely apprentice, Vashty. Mistress Helewyse is known for her creative menu planning — and this was no exception. We had some great fun with a feast that followed the path of the plague and offered dishes from Italian, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines. There were some notable highlights and many lessons learned in this kitchen which included: Magrat making some plague rats out of marzipan; learning how to truss a roast from the Mistress herself; and being introduced to some the finest, most hardworking people in the Middle Kingdom. Oh…and the feast foods were OUT of this world delicious.
In early January the very first Tournament of Arts was held of which I both attended and displayed some of my newer research on period German mustards and sauces. There were so many wonderful A&S activities that day including multiple vigils for which I contributed some of these sauces! I also made a scroll for one of the Pelicans being elevated this evening but….we were talking about cooking!
In mid-January, I traveled to Winter Revel in Andelcrag to lend a hand with the feast at that event. Lady Morade had asked me to help by making a fruit compote at home — which I brought along. This was a very wintery and sweet, spicy side dish of dried fruits that were cooked down with red wine and spices. It made a wonderful complement to the rest of her menu. This site offers an extremely small kitchen and to say that the amenities are ‘rustic’ — is putting it lightly! These chefs had everything well in hand, though — and pulled off a great menu for a wintery event!
February means Val Day. And…while I didn’t do any period cooking for the event we had planned on attending. You can tell from these amazing cookies I made — but didn’t get to share! Sadly, the weather held us back and we were unable to attend the event.
In March, I was tasked with gathering items for Their Majesties to place in gift baskets as they traveled south to Gulf Wars. I sent six jars of homemade spicy mustard in three different varieties via courier to Her Majesty. I hope they kept the cooling spring rains at bay for some of the Midlream’s Royal Cousins and were well-received.
April meant regional Arts and Science competitions for local groups. Considering I was finishing up my first grad school year, my time was committed in the modern world, so I was unable to enter. I did attend the event and judged three beautiful entries, though. It is always an honor to attend an event and see all the great works that both experienced and newcomers are creating!
Rounding out my time as a member of the A&S Guard, I had the pleasure of attending Coronation in Ohio where I was also able to again serve yet another of the Midrealm’s finest chefs — Mistress Gwyneth. Her fantastic team cooked up a storm all day in the camp’s kitchen, which had some very strict rules. All members had to be Safety Certified, which personally I felt is just plain a good idea. I managed to take the 4-hours of online training the month before and was able to help out in this kitchen throughout the day and through feast service. You can learn a lot working under different chefs, and, again, this was no different! Here, I learned that teamwork makes the dream work and to cast your help into different roles where they excel and can shine. Mistress Gwyneth had all her duck in a row when it came to team organization and had multiple people set for each of their own perfect tasks resulting in a fantastic feast. I have also never seen so many at a seated feast before (100+)!
Morning court at this event brought the end of my time as a member of the A&S Guard. I had to surrender my Queen’s baldric back to Her — and in return, and much to my great surprise, I was given a beautiful scroll and the right to bear a portion of Her Gracious Majesty’s arms as part of my own through an Augmentation of Arms. I am now able to display Moravian GryphonI which is a Slovenian motif that Vukasin is fond. While I feel I could have traveled more were I not in grad school — I did manage to find some time every month while I “on guard” to help the populace with cooking needs, to learn new items myself, and to locate members who were deserving of recognition, and to showcase the art of cookery for Her Majesty. It was my most sincere honor to serve Her and the populace of the Midrealm in this capacity.