Numble pie

This post is about pie.
One might wonder how pie fits into the medieval hunt? Or if this is just a thinly veiled attempt to sneak in some foodblogging.

Well, pie this sort of pie, allegedly, has very much to do with the medieval hunt. I will have to say allegedly as my first hand sources are shady, unprecise and uncertain. We do venture into these not to well researched topics at time.. but we try to make it clear how and why we think it is interesting.

So, pie.

Pie was a common food in the 14:th century.

Pievendor in 15:th cent

Pievendor in 15:th cent

It was a way to preserve a dish, as well as a way to serve it in a selfcontaning bowl. Streetvendors sold pie as a snack for busy townsfolk. They came in big sizes, or smaller, cupsized, but they where all made as ‘standing crust pies’. The bread of the pie was not really meant to be eaten, even if you very well can, but its main purpose is to hold the stuffing. If the pie was made as a way to preserve, fat was poured the stuffing over and made to harden.

 

Numble pie, a hunters pie.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Humble pie’, this was a pie made of the ‘numbles’. Numbles where the innards of the animal and was considered the right of the hunter (in the same way the head was considered the right of the Limerdog).

There is scarce mentioning about this in medieval sources though. In the 1920 edition of “master of game”, the 15th Century huntbook, they say this in the appendix.

NUMBLES. M. E. nombles, noumbles ; O. F. nombles.
The parts of a deer between the thighs, that is to say,
the liver and kidneys and entrails. Part, and sometimes
the whole of the numbles were considered the right of
the huntsman ; sometimes the huntsman only got the
kidneys, and the rest was put aside with the tit-bits re-
served for the King or chief personage (Turb., pp. 128-
129). Numbles by loss of the initial letter became
umbles (Harrison, vol. i. p. 309), and was sometimes
written numbles, whence came ” humble pie,” now only
associated with the word humble. Humble pie was a pie
made of the umbles or numbles of the deer, and formerly
at hunting feasts was set before the huntsman and his
followers.

So…. in hunterreecreation reenacting at least, this pie is common. Therefore I wanted to make one for St. Eustace day.

The pies of the middle ages where of the kind we call ‘standing crust’. This is a bit different from the modern ones we do that requires a Shell to hold it.It was the first time i tried my hand at these standing crust thingies As a guide I used Jas Townsends great tutorial. So.. if you want you can just skip to that and have a look here….

…but if you decide to hear my ramblings on it I will continue.

How I did it

The crust of these pies are not really meant to be eaten. They just hold the stuff. This means they are not made to be tasty.

The key to standing crust pies are to melt the fat and the water together.

There are several options to fat in the middle ages. Suet, Lard, Butter and perhaps oil in some areas (i have no idea if oil works in these pies though…). Suet might be a suitable option considering it is a hunters pie. Lard might be a good choice as it becomes harder and is common in middleages.

I had both lard and butter at home. At first i was tempted to go with the lard.. as this kinda feels ‘old’. But Sweden was a major producer of butter during medieval times. Even exporting it. Copper iron and butter was the base of the economy, there is even a saying: Not for all the butter in Småland,  Meaning not to any price, no matter how high.
With this in mind I thought that butter might be the logic choice…

So, into a pot goes butter and water.

As this pie was supposed to be ‘humble’ i did not want to use pure wheat flour. Especially up here wheat was hard to grow and was considered a bit of luxury quite far up in history. I opted in on a mix, mixing rye flour as this was a common crop here then. It also gave a more rough texture to the dough.

The flour and fatwater was mixed with one egg and an extra yoke (the White was needed later…). No salt or other was used. Remember, this is not supposed to be a tasty dough…

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After being worked the dough was cut into three parts. these are the lid, the side and the bottom. The dough is quite pliable, resembling play-do in texture. when rolled and shaped.. it stays that way. This makes it very well suited for making decorations.

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The side was made to the size that I judged convenient, in a thickness that seemed self supporting. It was then glued to the bottom using the eggwhite saved from earlier.

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20150919_210010Some fitting decorations of the Eustace hart was cut and glued to the lid (using the eggwhite once again)

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Now the whole contraption was to be put into the Owen to bake. I used Jas trick of pouring rice inside. Even if this is nor a medieval method I didn’t Think it would add or subtract much in correctness really. The dry rice is poured in to support the sides while baking so they don’t collapse. after the pie is baked it is poured out again. The lid was baked on the side of the crust until I thought that it looked abit like it would be ready.

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When all parts where made, it was time to give the filling some thought.

I had already decided to keep it simple. I had a liver from a hart. I did not want to use what would then have been expensive Spices. So no salt or pepper. I did think thyme would be appropriate though, as this was commonly grown here. I also added an onion. I like onions.

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So.. liver from deer, thyme, and some unions. Thats it. I also added an egg later on as I needed something to hold it together..or so I thought.
I actually didn’t think it would be very tasty. I was fully prepared that this was probably going to be eaten by the dogs at the actual picknick since none would stomach my unspiced liver pie.

The filling was fried up as i didnt quite know if it would get hot enough inside the pirecrust. I was thinking that if liverpie didnt sound tasty, half raw liver pie sounded even less tasty.

After the filling was in, the lid was glued on with eggwhite and into the owen it went again. For… a while, until it looked good enough.

Sidenote

I also decided to try and make a smaller pie 20150919_210309of the leftover dough. To make this I just moulded the crust over a glass. After this I removed the glass and made a filling of red onion, white wine and cheese. This lil feller was then put in alongside the big gamepie. This size seems to have been common especially with the street vendors. its also a good size to have along for a snack when out in the forest. the standing crust makes it easy to pack.

The pies did not fall apart, fall over, or fall in on them self, as I half feared that they would. instead they hold up just splendidly and came out looking swell. I was not sure about the taste though (I was on the small pie as I had eaten some of its filling and it was awesome!). The smaller pie had expanded slightly and had a small gap between lid and wall, but this was mostly because it was stuffed to tight and that the cheese had bubbled up and out.20150920_000254

 

Eating the pie

Then came the big day. The pie was hauled out and set on a blanket for the gathering of the hunters. The lid was popped with a wooden spoon and a greenish mass showed up. I ladled on a helping onto my bowl and saw the dog looking at me very hopefully. Both her and I thought that her time to feast had come.

20150920_134336But it actually tasted quite good. The taste of liver was not that strong and the thyme really lifted the dish. The Dog got to eat the bottom of the crust eventually… but by then she had stolen so much other food she barely could muster any disappointment about not getting the whole.

In conclusion

It wasn’t very hard to do, and it also did not take long. It turned out tastier then suspected and I am sure I will do it again. Small pies might well be made for snacks on our outings, but maybe not with liver.
I recommend making this pie for your picknicks. Its easy to make, and easy to transport.

/Johan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The second feast of St Eustace

Foto 2014-09-20 15 56 57Summer is singing on it’s last verse. If you feel that you haven’t seen much activity from us this season, we hope to come to terms with that before it’s over. We have a few articles coming up and in a month from now we will be celebrating all hunters patron saint Eustace, just like last year. On his feast day the 20th September we invite our friends to a hunters picnic with fun and games in a medieval setting.

Foto 2014-09-20 15 54 50The concept of our St Eustace celebration is basicly the same as last year (more about that here). We will be having a feast for hunters outside, resembling “The gathering of the hunters” before a Great Hunt.

The Great Hunt was a big affair. To me it seems to have been highly regarded both as a sport and social event. It is this kind of hunt that most of the period huntbooks are concerned with. Many people and dogs were involved in a Great Hunt, so it had to be prepared the day before, if not several days ahead. “The gathering of the hunters” takes place where the hunters meet to coordinate and do the final preparatory work before the actual chase.

In the books we see this gathering described as a feast, and this is also how it is depicted:

Edward of Norwich, Master of game

[…] And also they that come from home should bring thither all that they need, every one in his office, well and plenteously, and should lay broad clothes all about upon the green grass, and set divers meats upon a great platters after the lord’s power.

And some should eat sitting, and some standing, and some leaning upon their elbows, some should drink, some laugh, some jangle, some joke and some play — in short do all manner of disports of gladness […]

c38_616Now, this was what we want! People eating, drinking and having fun! Encouraging others to get out, use their gear and have some fun is always on the agenda for us.

Foto 2014-09-20 16 34 38If you read our blog because you are in to medieval clothes or crafts but new to reenachtment and living history, our hunting picnic is a good place to start. It will probably never be quite this uncomplicated again: Instead of a crowd with curious tourists there will be other reenactors welcoming any novice. There will be no need to bring lots of heavy gear, no sleeping outdoors, no walking for miles in thin leather shoes. No fighting or actual hunting will happen, so no weapons needed. And weather is hopefully kind on us, at the least no snow expected this time of year. In other words – if you don’t know us to well but still read this, you are extra welcome!

An important ingredient of reenactment besides eating, drinking and having fun is the element of education. Learning new things about the subject at hand for reenactment, or sometimes passing your knowledge on to others. This is why we will be presenting our Hunting Games, a playful competition where knowledge about the medieval hunt is rewarded and hopefully also conveyed.

IMAG2527The competitors of last years Hunting Games was put to many a test as we in accordance with the medieval huntbooks sent them of in search of “fumes”,  fresh dung from animals in the area who might be interesting to hunt (more about that here). We also had them do a simple quiz on medieval hunting and divided into teams debate the question “Why do we hunt?”. The best use of classic rhetoric and medieval reasoning was deemed as a winner. For grand finale, the best of the best was set to challenge each other in sounding the hunters horn.10635871_10152625159850708_1425179991131912415_n But I must not reveal to much of our plans for this years celebration. So without further ado – I welcome you to celebrate the feast day of St Eustace, all hunters patron saint!

/ Emil

For further information, please check the Facebook-page for the event.

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The Lappvattnet hat

This time we will go slightly of focus for the blog but we just have to put some light on this rather extraordinary well preserved medieval hat.

In 1938 they found an old hat. Its was a ordinary felted hat of 18 cm height and a brim with a 46 cm circumference. The hat emerged when a bog was being diked out. The special conditions of bogs can keep textile, especially wool, in a very good condition for a long time. Time went by and it was delivered to the local museum in 1966 where it was dated to around 1600 somewhere, mostly based upon its shape. The hat was carefully conservated and mounted. It was placed in its natural shape and not as it might have been worn. It has a rather distinct shape for 17:th century hats. In 2014 some workers at the museum had started wondering if the hat might not be older  than this. A small piece was cut from the edge of the brim and sent for C14 dating. The test showed that it was from between 1310 and 1440, with a probability peak of around 1400. This makes it one of the best preserved medieval hats in Sweden, Scandinavia and possibly even Europe.

The northern reaches

Before we take a look at the hat, lets have a look on where it was found. The north part of the Scandinavian peninsula was at this time not part of any kingdom. Norway claimed some tax rights of the Sami people on the eastern sides. On the Baltic coast Swedish traders, so called birkarlar, where the only ones from Sweden allowed to trade with the Sami, a right they kept for a long time. Traders from Novgorod, the forerunners of the Russian empire, also came from the north to trade. The trade was almost exclusively with furs. Bisshunters (someone that hunts mainly for furs) and furtraders lived and traded here. The trade then moved over Stockholm, as this was a stapletown which all trade in the region had to go through. In Stockholm foreign traders would buy the goods and transport it out to the customers in Europe and the world. The area of Lappvattnet also had trade with the Norwegians, getting English goods from the Norwegian ports. This paints us a picture of a harsh pioneer frontier, but with connections to modern cities and fashion for those of means. The hat probably belonged to either a bisshunter or a furtrader. The name “Lappvattnet” means “the Sami water” Lapp, being an older term now considered derogatory. That the hat was found here, might implicate that the owner was part of the furtrade in some way.

The hat

The hat is extremely well preserved. As mentioned above it has a height of 18 cm and is slightly tapered to the top with a flat top. It gives a pointed look. Hat-maker and textile antiquarian Amica Sundström of the state historical museum thinks it was made on a stock, according to the surface of the hat. The brim is 46 cm wide. Over the brim we can see indentions from two cords. If these have been there as decorations or if they are marks from when the hat was made and tied down to the stock, is hard to know. Tying the hat to the stock under manufacture was not an uncommon practise. The hat is made from uncoloured sheepswool.

photo from Västerbottens museum

Photo from Västerbottens museum

A look at other brimmed hats of the age

The hat does not look like a hat most people think of as medieval. But if you imagine it worn a bit different, it suddenly pops out of the sources as not very uncommon at all. Especially around the turn of the century 1300-1400. Most broadbrimmed hats are shown with the brim turned up, sometimes decorated. While most are roundtopped, there are some that have a clear point. Especially Russians in western art are depicted in pointy hats. These hats are somewhat more pointy as a rule, but there are all manners between round and pointy.

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund. These hats are very pointed and the brim uppturned all around.

The above picture is mostly to show pointy hats in the Baltic region. Other pointy hats in manuscripts have a more defined brim. Like these two, non russians, that we might suspect has this kind of hat in a more fancy version. The brim is turned up in the front and back. Note this for later. rockar Johannes döparens huvud på ett fat

coupled hounds

Hats with a more rounded top, but also higher then what would be called a roundtop can bee seen on more ordinary men, like this berner (doghandler) in Livre de chasse.

Something that looks quite similar to the Lappvattnet hat can be spotted on a fellow in the background of a illumination. kortärmad rockThis pointed hat in a dark purplish hue could be worn with the brim upturned or not. the angle of the head makes it hard to judge.

Also this hat from Another copy of livre the chasse shares characteristics to the Lappvattnet hat. The brim upturned and a pointed top. blåhatt All these hats are not quite spot on on the Lappvattnet hat, being to pointy or not pointy enough. But they serve the purpose of showing that brimmed hats with a pointed crown are not foreign to the age. But this hat with a fancy band on also sports the flat top of the hat combined with a brim and a tapered crown shape. I think that the Lappvattnet hat could be worn in a fashion like this and have a very similar look.Suzanne och åldermännenAnd then we have these two weary pilgrims from 1462. Having almost identical hats to the one from Lappvattnet 1462

The brimquestion

So, now we have looked at different hats and seen that the model is not all that uncommon. I have been thinking that the hats brim would have been worn turned up. This is of course also reflected in the picture-material I have presented to support this. There is also examples of wearing the hat with the brim down. This is mostly seen on pilgrims and other pious persons, but it is a possibility. Now lets look at the hat before and after preservation. Foto av filthatt, Pnr 4925, 1968 001 (1)As we can see on the Before Picture (the topmost) the brims have a rather distinct upturn. Visible after some 500 years in a bog and 30 years above it. This curve could be from being in the bog, or from being badly stored after being taken up. But I find it quite possible that it is a upturn from its used days, based upon the pictures from the age showing that this is a very common way to wear it. The brim bears an uncanny resemblance to how the brim is used in the first pointy hats I posted above.

In conclusion

The Lappvattnet hat is a uniquely preserved hat for the common people. There is not many of these around, and the ones that are are not as well preserved as this one. If this was a hat for a more well positioned members of society it would probably have been dyed in some nice colour. That it is a plain undyed wool puts it in the lower layers of society.

We like to thank: Thank you to Västerbottens Museum for all the help they gave us. Especially Åsa Lundberg and Hillevi Wadensten. Also thanks to Amica at the state historical museum, textile antiquarian and hat reconstructor for some thoughts around it all. …and a personal thanks to Anna Söderström that pointed me towards the hat in the first place. You can read the museum report of the hat in Swedish here, pg 44 and 45. And the homepage of the museum is here, if you want to contact them. / Johan

A new hunter!

As followers of our Facebook-page already know, our pack has been reinforced with another hunter. Our new companions name is Basilard, he is a one and a half year old Irish wolfhound and was adopted by Emil.

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Basilard trying out his new medieval-style collar.

Basilard is not fully grown and much thinner than we want him, but already a big boy with his 56 kilos. Just like Johans Boudica and most other sighthounds, he is a bit reserved towards strangers at first. But as soon as he gets to know someone, he wants to get close and cuddle up, offers a big tummy to rub or a wet kiss – he is possibly the biggest lap dog in the world!

Basilard was “rescued” from a home where he did not get the love and care he should have had. Because of that, he came to Emil as a youngster and has a lot to learn. A calm, brave and warm personality, he is eager to please. When he spots a hare, you can tell Basilard wants to be a great hunter, but he is yet to early in his training to be allowed to run free.

Currently Basilard is busy making friends with Boudica and getting used to his new family, but he is settling in just fine and we have great hopes for him.

/ Emil

About the name – a basilard is a medieval type of dagger, almost a short sword characterized by its wide blade and H-shaped handle. It is both a good tool and a powerful weapon of some status, but one you keep close to you. I guess I’ll have to make one for myself now, for reference.

Exploring the medieval hunt

Welcome to our new blog!

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Emil.

We are two Swedish reenactors who decided a while ago to start exploring the medieval hunt, around late 1300, early 1400. Our reasons for taking on this stems equally from our love of outdoor adventure, a lust for wine and cheese by the camp fire and an ambition to learn more about the medieval world by experimenting and experiencing.

My name is Emil. I found my way to reenactment when I plunged into the Battle of Wisby project in 2011, after years of studying archaeology and practising historical crafts. I’m a born blogger and enjoy writing about our adventures almost as much as I enjoy outdoor life in historical clothing. My unseemly love for pretty things and the neat and tidy look of my 14th century outfit have sort of landed me in the well polished shoes of a young land owner. So, I have come to reenact the relatively wealthy huntsman, hunting for the joy of it more than anything.

Johan, my hunting comrade and co-writer on this blog is an experienced reenactor as the founding father of Albrechts gunners, 14th century company of Swedish gunners. He to has a genuine academic background and all sort of practical skills that is beyond my ability to rightly describe. Johan is reenacting the huntsmaster and doghandler, a veltraus. He wears the hunting horn that signals the different phases of the hunt and the great Irish wolf hound Boudica answers to him.

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Johan.

Hunting is an unusually grateful subject for reenectment since apart from other sources there actually are several contemporary handbooks on the topic preserved. These books feature both literal advice and guidance as well as amazingly vivid and detailed pictures of medieval hunters and their equipment.

Our task is to look at the material we can get our hands on and do our best to imitate and re-create what we see with techniques and materials used in the 14th century. Reenactment is learning by doing.

As a little taste of what is to come, here is a short film Johan made after one of our first hunting expeditions, I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you do, make sure to follow us on our future adventures while exploring the medieval hunt!

Yours truly, Emil