Home page of Helewyse de Birkestad

About me: I am a research scientist who moved to the US from England in 1995. Hobbies and interests : I am a member of the SCA and within that organization am interested in both period pottery and cooking being elevated for the same in 2004.  In addition, I garden, walk, mushroom (in season), read, sew and work
Favorite Links: a small selection of the websites that I find most useful 
The Midrealm
Marche of the Marshes
Middle Kingdom Cooks
Pottery Links:  these are my pages, mostly containing photographs of medieval pottery from museums or my own work (very out of date). 
Medieval Tiles
Medieval Pottery
Medieval pottery and recreations
My pottery

Renaissance Italian Cooking Links: One of the most under-utilized cuisines within the scope of the SCA is that of Italy.  Mostly this is because the majority of the cook books remain untranslated.  In late 2001 I started playing with translation of period Italian.  This quickly grew into a bit of an obsession and has led to the collection of many manuscripts and the translation of one cookbook and many more recipes from others.  The greatest resource to date is Bartolomeo Scappi, Opera dell’arte del cucinare.  Which is to all intents and purposes the Renaissance Italian equivalent of the modern Joy of Cooking with over 1000 recipes and 328 complete menus. 

Recent Updates: to make navigation easier I have recently organized the vast supply of information into six sections: 

Classes - class notes and hand outs from my many classes, these tend to be somewhat coherant and can cover a wide variety of topics, also here is an A&S entry on Biscotti
Feasts - Feast menus past and "some day"
Recipe Translations - from the comprehensive entire book of Libro di Cucina, to random translations from Scappi.  
Menus   - taken from Scappi
Bibliographies - Two Italian Bibliographies, one more updated than the other
Cheese things - Articles and translations related to cheeses and dairying

Little Morsels , Biscotti from 16th Century Italy - This document was originally prepared as a Kingdom A&S entry in 2003.  It contains the recipe in Italian, translation and redaction as well as notes on the importance of Biscotti in Italian meals.
Primo Servizio , the first course - these are translations from menus from Scappi.  An appendix to the above A&S entry, a first course menu from each month was given showing the ubiquitous nature of biscotti within the meal and their location within the day.
More biscotti - Nine recipes for biscotti, taken from four sources, Messisbugo, C. (1557), Romoli, D. (1593), Scappi, B. (1570),  and Turco, G. d. (1636).  Recipes in the original Italian with translation.  Prepared as an appendix to the above A&S entry. 
Introduction to Brewing - This was a class given locally, it covers a basic history of meads, wines, perry and cider, beer and ale, and flavored alcohols, complete with original recipes and sources.
Italian feast planning
- Notes taken from a class given at MKCC in December 2004.  Essentially a breakdown of menus showing how the Italian habit of serving two courses cold from a credenza is perfect for SCA feasts.
A time for change
: new world foods in old world menus.  This was the class I did for Pennsic 35 in 2006, discussing the spread and use of various new world foods (squash, beans, turkey, corn) and the lack of spread of the tomato into 16th century Italy.  If I got it right this should download a pdf file with pictures. If not you will get an error message.
It's an Offal time - I couldn't resist the pun, this is a copy of my class handouts for one of the classes for Pennsic 36.  Twelve pages of offal recipes, from nose to tail and all the bits in between.  There is a recipe for all of it.  
Salads from Scappi - My other class for Pennsic 36, a review of the many salads offered by Scappi in his meals and some research on how to put the salads together in a manner appropriate for 16th century Italy.  It isn't just about lettuce. 
Are you serving a feast or cooking dinner?  -  Class notes from a class given in March 2008 at Oaken Regional Cooks Symposium, contrasting the two styles of SCA cooking and giving suggestions on what things to avoid and what to work at.  A lot of links to other sources of information are given.
Italian Cooking ceramics - this is a PDF file with various pictures of cooking ceramics from Italy.  
Italian Renaissance Pastries - this is from a hands on class I presented at Spring RUM in 2008.  The translations and a guide to redaction are given, plus the results of our own experimentation in a two hour class. There are five different pastry recipes, a sturdy inedible one for pies, a layered one for tarts,  a rich one for cakes, a recipe which resembles croissant dough and a one that looks a lot like a choux dough.
Lost in Translation - a critical review of the Scully translatioon of Scappis Opera.  I was as excited as anyone else when the Scully translation of Scappi finally came on the market.  But woe is me, there are some problems with the translation, some minor one major.  Class first taught at Gulf Wars 2009. 
Fish for feasts - fish recipes from Scappi
Italian Pastries of the 16th Century - at the cutting edge of gastronomy

An Italian Feast   - In December 2002 I cooked my first major SCA feast.  I started by translating menus from Italy for the month of December and went on from there.  This page includes all the translated menus, the recipes and redacted recipes used for my feast.
Another Italian Feast - This feast was developed from nearly 100% period sources for the April 2004 Tournament of Chivalry, hosted by the Barony of Red Spears.
Feste di San Martino - My first feast in a number of years, prepared from original sources with very little in the way of financial constraints. Four courses, three major meats served including prime rib roast, and a documented new world squash dish, sadly this feast was cancelled as the site backed out at the last minute.
Harvest Days - I won a feast bid for Harvest Days, it is going to be a TOC (wait a minute so was the last feast I did back in 2004) I'm so excited. See what I came up with.


Rough Libro di cucina translation
- This is my first translation of Libro di cucina, a transcription of which is available on the web courtesy of Thomas Gloning ( click here )
Updated libro translation - This work has finally been completed in Jaanuary 2005.  Sorry for the delay.  This version consists of a polished English translation with comprehensive notes aiming to clarify many of the puzzling aspects of the recipes. 

Stuffed pasta recipes - A collection of fifteen stuffed pasta recipes from six Italian cooking manuscripts, translated to complement the above articles on cheese.
Hare with papardelle - translation of a single recipe, hare cooked in a black sauce served with pasta
Pesto like recipes - Here are two recipes from Scappi for sauces served on pasta that are similar, although not identical to, the modern recipe for Pesto alla Genovese.
Five stuffing recipes from 16th century texts - These five recipes including one for sausages have within them many options leading to nearly 8 varieties of stuffing for all meats. 
Lasagna - a search for the earliest recipes for lasagna in Italian cookbooks in order to refute the scandalous suggestion that the English invented this dish.
Poultry recipes with fruit - A selection of recipe from several 14th - 16th century sources originally tranlsated in response to a specific request.  Some interesting ways of cooking chicken and other birds.
Artichokes and Cardoons - These translations taken from both Scappi and Castelvetro relate to the presence of both artichokes and cardoons in Italian food of the 16th century.  There are recipes and menus taken from Scappi and descriptions of the vegetables from Castelvetro.
Period Italian Maize recipes - There are three recipes in Scappi which usse a grain referred to as "formentone" which has been identified as maize by Italian culinary historians.  Currently there is still some doubt about this identification. My doubts notwithstanding the three recipes are trasncribed and translated here.
Recipes for Roman macaroni, roast lamb and fruit soup - These recipes were originally translated for a cooking over the fire class that was to be given at Baron Wars V in May 2003.  The class was never held as no fire was available. 

Sambugado - This is a single recipe from Libro di Cuucina for an elderflower scented custard, complete with redacted recipe.
Pizza - when is a pizza not a pizza? When the recipe is 16th Century Italian of course.  Here are gathered and translated six pizza recipes from Scappi which range from a baklava type layered pastry to a rich fruit tart.  The name stayed the same, but the ingredients changed a whole lot.
Italian funnel cakes - Another recipe from Scappi, this time made for a desert revel in the middle of summer, it was easier to cook these on a propane stove at the meeting than heat up my house by baking.  And yes they really are funnel cakes. 
Strawberry pie - Two recipes for fruit pies are given along with a redaction.  This dish was originally prepared for a dessert revel in early 2003.
Rice dish - A recipe for rice in lent, three variations of the same dish are given within this recipe, the recipe is redacted as a sweet rice pudding type dish made with almond milk.
Persicata - A peach sweetmeat recipe taken from a very early 17th century Italian book and prepared for Pennsic largess.
Empty pastry - four recipes for pastry from Scappi's fifth book, these are pastry with no filling, which are worked into various shapes and then fried.  One of these recipes closely resembles choux paste and the directions state that it can be baked in an oven instead of being fried. 
Bagels, Brazzatelli, Taralli - the round bread found in many Renaissance Italian cookbooks that shares many features with the common bagel. This research was done in 2005 (I think) but got lost on a disk and was not webbed until 2007.
Twisted Bread of Milk and Sugar - A research paper for A&S competition written by Mistress Rachaol Makreith and posted here with her permission. This is the wonderful sweet rich bread from Messisbugo. 

Menus from the month of October - Translation of the entire section containing menus from the month of October from Scappi.  Originally translated for a class given at MKCC in December 2004.
Menus from the month of August - Translation of three meat day menus, two lean day menus, and a Saints day breakfast  from the month of August, originally translated in June 2002.  Both the Italian and english is given.

Bibliography - a list of all the cookbooks from 14th through early 17th century Italy available through inter-library loan, purchase or on the web.
Italian culinary manuscripts - a meta list giving 18 culinary manuscripts, which books they may be found in, a brief commentary on their contents, and any weblinks where available. 

On the nature of cheese - Translations result from all kinds of questions.  These four articles regarding cheese were translated in response to a question about what was meant by fresh cheese in so many of the recipes for stuffed pasta. 
Period Italian cheese - this is instructions for making an aged salted cheese taken from Gallo, Agostino Le Vinti giornate dell'agricoltvra et de'piaceri della villa.  The original Italian is transcribed and given along with the translation.
More Italian Cheese - more instructions for making rennet, cheese, ricotta and butter, taken from a 16th century "compendium of secrets" written by a physician.

Brewing Recipes: I've been brewing for a while, playing with wine, mead and beer.  I have quite a few recipes and thought that it was about time I shared them.
Long Mead - one of my first attempts at a spiced mead, started in August 2002 and now sadly all consumed
Peach Melomel - a lovely peach and honey concoction that actually underwent spontaneous secondary fermentation in the bottle to produce a lightly sparkling wine.
Plum wine - this took a while to make, it is seriously both alcoholic and sweet and luckily I still have some around.
Perry - my first attempt at a perry, while it nnever really sparkled the flavor is absolutely excellent.
Marshes Mead 2003 - this recipe was based on mead recipes found in Digby's closet and a single gallon was made at an A&S night.
Braggot #3 - A good brown honey beer, but don't followw the instructions for carbonation unless you enjoy bottle bombs.
Braggot #4 - Honestly this is more of a honey brown beer than anything else.  Still good though.  Made in 2004
Braggot #5 - the refinement continues, things just start tasting better and better.
Mead with hops #3 - This is one of the earlier prototypes of a recipe that I ended up using for "champagne" toasts at my own wedding, tasty and fast.
Mead with hops #4 - similar to #3 but still making bottle bombbs.
Mead with hops #5 - still trying to perfect the recipe, getting a lot closer now. No more bottle bombs, just a clean crisp taste. A real summer refresher.
Braggot #6 - a winters ale, this one is more of a truee historical braggot, rich with spices, a real winter warmer.  It has gone over well with all who have tried it.
Braggot #7 - another iteration, with slightly differennt spices, still a winner.