Brewing for Kids- A recap from Youth RUM 2015

This past weekend I taught one of the best classes I have ever taught in the SCA.
Down at the first Youth RUM I taught half a dozen kids how to brew beer and all about medieval drinks.

We covered:

  • Why they didn’t drink much water in the Middle Ages (and how the drinking water got polluted)
  • What “small beers” were, why they drank them, and why the 1% alcohol wouldn’t hurt them compared to common day beers their parents drank
  • How small beers were made
  • What root beer is made from
  • Why Sarsaparilla was exported from the new world to Europe in the 16th century
  • What yeast is and how it works.
  • What the bubbles are in soda and how much sugar really are in sodas (and why we should not drink them constantly)
  • How yeast farts out CO2 and pees out alcohol

imageIt was amazing to hear them recite back facts about medieval drinking and yeast. I especially loved the facebook posts from parents saying how their kids would talk about drinking beer and telling them all about yeast.
By donating 1 hour of my time for a class and under $40 in supplies I helped encourage the appreciation of a medieval art in the youth of our society… That was the most rewarding hour I have spent.
When was the last time you did something to help, inspire or educate the youth of our society to ensure the SCA will last till the next generation?

26 days and counting…..

As I start my first “Monday Update” I realize exactly how much I am relying on friends for help… I am also realizing I have a lot of friends and all of them are very talented.

  • Period appropriate water bottle – Not started
  • Period first aid kit – Being done by Baroness Brigid.
  • Period fire making devises ( candle, flint, steel and charcloth, fatwood, torches(wax soaked pieces of rope) )- On the schedule for next week
  • Period outfit – Fabric purchased, washed, and will be started tonight
  • Period boots – This will be the final one- JIC I run out of time
  • Period Cloak or jacket- Got the most beautiful wool while in Chicago. Will start on it this week
  • Appropriate headgear – On the list of items to do this week. Making an Angora Bycockett out of Fizz
  • Period Bag- Requested books from the library
  • Period Bed roll- Picked up a nice piece of wool in Chicago…however I think I might take my bright orange wool blankets as they are a lot tighter weave and warmer, and it is getting colder out.
  • Appropriate Knife- Requested research items from library and friends are working on this
  • Rope- Just need to purchase.
  • Bowl/Spoon- Started to research and will get some one on one instruction this weekend.
  • Preserved Food- One set of dried apples done, next up salting some lemons.

Apple a Day….

imageIn the midst of preparing for this pilgrimage, apple season happened.

For this year’s holiday gifts I wanted to make an apple pie mead (a spiced cyser of sorts) and a pumpkin pie mead ( a caramelized spiced melomel) . Luckily for me I had a really great friend who went apple picking and brought me back just a couple of lbs of apples.

I knew that I didn’t want to use all the apples in the mead ( I wanted it more mead like then cyser like), and I didn’t want them to go to waist, so I figured why not dry some to take with me on the pilgrimage.

imageI KNEW they had dried apples in period… well I knew in the fact that I assumed and I never really went looking for documentation of dried apples in period.

So while these apples were drying in the oven ( I really need to get a dehydrator) I went looking.

After searching around, asking for recipes, and digging through a couple of books, I found some examples of dried fruit in period.

Scappi, Chapter 292, 2nd book, page 56.: dried plums and cherries, dried currants or dried sultanas

Romoli, 5th book, chapter 52, page 150: prunes, raisins, dried peaches

Apples were common during the 14th century as listed in NUMEROUS recipes and even in the Canterbury tales when they spoke of an apple wine

image“I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape” – The Manciple’s Tale”

Therefore I felt it was a reasonable speculation that an individual during the 14th century who recently was working with an abundance of apples could probably have some dried apples on them.

As I don’t have a dehydrator I dried them in the oven. I cored the apples, but left the skin on, and then cut them into even rings. For the first batch I soaked them in lemon water ( it took 3 days to do 3 batches) and dehydrated them. After the first batch I put cinnamon & cardamom into the lemon water to give them a little flavoring. Next time I would put the seasoning in the water but also sprinkle some on top.

imageMy house of course smelled wonderful and Fizzgig ( my rabbit companion) ate the apple cores ( minus the seeds which are toxic to animals- they have arsenic in them)

I now have 1 food item on my list of items to pack- HOWEVER a note on dehydrated foods… They are a fabulous item to take with you as they pack small and light. As you eat them though they do absorb liquid in your stomach, so don’t really on them to much as you get a good portion of your water intake from your food and dehydrated foods don’t have any of their own water.



Don’t forget the walking aspect of a pilgrimage

Research is going at warp speed; items I can’t make have been commissioned, additional books have been requested through the library, and fabric has been pulled. However there is one very important thing I have not addressed so far.

On average I walk about 2 miles per day… I know this as my fitbit tells me so.

Yes I know we all end up walking more at events, and even more so at larger wars like Pennsic and Gulf Wars. However we don’t spend the majority of the day constantly walking or hiking.

If I want to walk a 10 mile pilgrimage in 5 weeks and 4 days ( eek!!!) then I need to add a little bit of walking into my daily schedules. (Historical fact, the pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury from the Canterbury Tales is somewhere in the 55-60 miles mark)

Slide 1Luckily for me Cleveland is filled with walking trails and parks, even in the most urban areas of the city. I headed to my closest park- Forest Hills Park and did a little jaunt around to get the lay of the land (and to ease myself into walking). This first time around I basically stayed on the paved paths. Now that I have a map of the walking trails and a better idea of the park, the location of the emergency call boxes, and a better idea of where to park ( Park on the Cleveland Heights side NOT on the East Cleveland side), I will start to explore off of the paved paths.

IMG_3999Why off of the paved paths? Because when I got a pilgrimaging I will most likely NOT be walking on a nicely paved path. If there is going to be any path at all it will most likely be a dirt path or even a deer path. I need to start getting used to walking on different terrains and different inclines.

Even though I was listening to an audiobook while walking, my mind got wandering about this upcoming project. I started to go over the list of things I still need to do, practice, make, or barter for. I figured out I should probably get all the stuff together that I want to put in my pack before making my pack; this way I don’t make it too big or too small. A simple and logical thought, but one I had not had before. Some might say a bigger bag is better, but personally I don’t want something larger than it needs to be due to the added weight and bulk.

IMG_3998I know that I should be walking in the shoes that I will be walking in, but I don’t know if I am making a new set or using the ones I currently have. If I am not using my current shoes, I really don’t want to wear them out. I figured I would get use to walking first and then start adding in the period shoes the last week of October.

While walking I also realized that I wasn’t carrying anything, and this will definitely change the way someone would walk the trip. Once I have my pack or bedroll ready I will start to walk with them to get use to their weight and size. Best part of this, is I might just look crazy enough to keep the other crazy people away.

IMG_4001The most important thing I learned from my first 2 mile hike, I need better socks! Oh My God! Yes I was wearing new tennis shoes (I didn’t own any tennis shoes and I really did not want to walk around in my work heels), but the light socks I had on were just not enough. By the end of the walk the back of my ankles were killing me and my feet were sore. Honestly I am surprised that my blisters were not worse this morning (I think that had to do with the fact that I walked around barefoot once I got home).

A “10%” Upgrade to My Persona

A lot of my friends who do medieval reenactment like to spend the winter month’s upgrading their kits…or at least planning to upgrade their kits.

I am the person who has a tendency to fall into the 2nd camp. I have great intentions BUT I end up making Halloween costumes, then holiday gifts, then I start prepping for Gulf Wars and well before you know it I am in camping season again and nothing has improved.

One of my best friends, His Lordship Justice McArtain posted a challenge to try to upgrade your kit 10%… Luckily for me, IF I can get everything on my list done it will be a 90% upgrade to my persona. Since I was already on the improvement track for my November pilgrimage, I went ahead and joined in.

My list of items for his 10% challenge comes straight out of things a medieval person should have on a pilgrimage. This list will probably be reposted a million times as I work on things. I figured the best way to keep track (and on track) is to do weekly updates every Monday on my status.

As I start my first “Monday Update” I realize exactly how much I am relying on friends for help… I am also realizing I have a lot of friends and all of them are very talented.

  • Period appropriate water bottle – Not started
  • Period first aid kit – Baroness Brigit, a fabulous aroma-therapist, is going to research some period salves that could be helpful and would be used by a medieval women in Europe during the 14th century.
  • Period fire making devises ( candle, flint, steel and charcloth, fatwood, torches(wax soaked pieces of rope) )- Still the most worried about this one. Started asking around to beekeepers for beeswax..I have regular beeswax at home, so I might just make things from that instead of the honey comb/wax.
  • Period outfit – Researching tonight
  • Period boots – This will be the final one- JIC I run out of time
  • Period Cloak or jacket- I HATE cloaks, and I know I should make one BUT I think I am going to make a wool over dress instead. I will use a bed roll tied with rope for the blanket instead of a cloak.
  • Appropriate headgear – Starting to research tonight.
  • Period Bag- Requested books from the library
  • Period Bed roll- Looking for good wool to use either as blanket or ground covering. Will make leather straps with buckles to keep it closed and on my back.
  • Appropriate Knife- I started this one first. With just about 6 weeks to go I am cutting it close for a universal knife that will be helpful on a pilgrimage, sharp enough to cut meet, and would be appropriate for a 14th century lady. As I don’t have any blacksmith skills I decided to go to one of my favorite blacksmiths- Tinker’s Fire . He makes ALL of my cast iron items for my camp. He is reliable, good, reasonably priced, and a good friend. I cannot recommend him enough.
  • Rope- Just need to purchase.
  • Bowl/Spoon- Another to do research… I also need to look for ones that can possible double as cookware.
  • Preserved Food- Will be dehydrating some apples, and need to start research ideas.

A recap of teaching at Penssic 44

Teaching at this year’s Pennsic was both a little bitter and a little sweet. I was set to teach 4 classes ( 2 brewing and 2 puppets).

My first class- A History of Drinking- Filled up for the 4th year in a row. Every really seemed to enjoy it, the information, and the samples. 2 of the students enjoyed it so much; they came back to my other brewing class to drop off bottles of wine and ale as a thank you.

While teaching, I am incredibly active…I never stand still, I move around, I demonstrate, I talk with my hands, I make eye contact, and I have even been told I bounce a bit. After Tuesday (when I got intimately introduced to a ballista) it was painful to walk, and I have to re-evaluate the remainder of my teaching schedule I found an assistant to help me carry items and pass out samples for my second brewing class ( Humors in brewing), so I figured I could make it through that one fairly easy. I ended up cancelling the 2 puppet classes because if it hurt to simply put pressure on my thigh through walking, I could only imagine how horrible it would be to try to teach an already active and physically demanding couple of puppet classes. I was looking forward to the class, so it was a bitter moment.

My Humors in brewing is often the hardest class to teach, but it is also one of my favorite subjects. The subject itself is DRY (pun intended) and I hate putting people to sleep in classes. Therefore, when I got a message from another brewer this morning, letting me know it was his favorite class he took all war, I was thrilled! It was also hard to teach as by the time the class rolled around ( Thursday Evening) I had full on bronchitis… Luckily I kept using myself as an example, and even figured out the humors of Chicken soip and peanut butter and jelly.


  • Brewing Class Excellence 2
  • Puppet Fail- 2
  • Ballista- 1

Teaching in the SCA Part 5: Class Description

Ok- by now you should have the name of your class and the scope of what you want to teach, the next super simple part is coming up with your class description.

Your class description is going to do 2 things

  1. Tell people what your class is about so they want to come to it
  2. Help you stay focused on your class’s scope when you are doing your class notes

You should have 2 class descriptions, one that is very small that can be tacked onto your class titles for when class descriptions are not published, and a more thorough class description.

Here are a few examples:


Class name Short Description Long Description
Funny Little Cordial Properties of humors in brewing Properties of humors in brewing. Covers the classification of medieval beverages and how to create a cordial based on a desired humor. Over 21 only.
History of Drinking Common Medieval Drinks History of drinks, how they affected society and culture. Includes samples and recipes of common drinks found in the Middle Age and SCA. Over 21 only.
Persona-Based Arts and Science How to easily incorporate your persona and research into your daily SCA activities. Don’t just let your persona stop with your name. Learn how you can easily incorporate aspects of your persona into your A&S projects, garb, and activities at events. Includes beginner persona information and more intermediate resources for the next step.
Putting the Right Foot Forward The first step to learning about buying or making footwear for the SCA Want SCA appropriate footwear, but don’t know where to start? Come learn the basic styles for different cultures throughout the SCA time frame so you can easily identify what footwear is right for you. Class notes will also include links and references for tutorials on how you make your own SCA footwear.

Between your name and the short description, a student should know enough about your class to be able to decide if they want to take it.

At Pennsic ( and hopefully a majority of events), class information is available online before the event so people can see what classes they want to take. This way they can plan their day accordingly. This is where you want the longer class description.

In the main class description ALWAYS include if there is a fee, size limit, age restriction, and what the student can expect to accomplish.

As I mentioned above, now not only does the student know what will be covered in the class, but so will you as the teacher.

For the persona class I know I need to include:

  • how to incorporate Personas into your A&S projects,
  • How to incorporate into your garb
  • How to incorporate into your activities at events.
  • Some intermediate resources for the next step.

That right there is the basis of my outline for my class ( meaning the next step is half way done)