Monday, June 25, 2007

They'll Make You an Offer Ya Can't Refuse

Congratulations are in order to Lord Corbin de la Rue and Lady Ysabel de Saincte-Croix, who joined the Meridian Order of the Blade at Border Raids!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

May the Schwartz Be With You

You end up doing all kinds of incidental Arts and Sciences projects. This one started when I decided to prepare Tandoori Chicken for our cooking night at Pennsic. Naturally I wanted to do at least one test run instead of making it “cold” for the event, so I set out to acquire the ingredients.

One of the main ingredients in the Tandoori marinade is yogurt. Alas, Lord William seems to have a problem digesting cow’s milk, so Fjorleif and Juliana set out to the international groceries in search of a goat’s-milk-based yogurt.

No luck.

Undeterred, we bought some goat’s milk and some yogurt with live cultures and set out to make it ourselves. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has some nice instructions on the process.

Stage one was to mix the goat’s milk and some non-fat dry milk in a double boiler and heat it to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This stage reportedly changes the milk proteins to keep the milk from separating into curds and whey later in the process.

The next step was to rapidly cool the milk down to about 115 degrees, a temperature at which the bacterial culture that converts milk to yogurt can thrive. Once there, my lovely assistant Juliana blended some of our “starter culture” yogurt into the milk.

With the milk “inoculated”, we put it into the oven for six hours at about 110 degrees for the microbes to have their way with the milk. This turned out to be the most tedious step in the process, as I had to check the oven every ten minutes or so to try to maintain the correct temperature. The thing doesn’t even have a 110 degree setting on its dial. The temperature actually wandered quite a bit between 100 degrees and 150 degrees in the oven, but I think the milk/yogurt itself stayed pretty close to 110.

In any case, the yogurt seemed to have set reasonably well after six hours, and I transferred it to the refrigerator to cool down to the 40 degree range, which would deactivate the microbes.

This process was difficult enough with a modern stove, oven, double-boiler, refrigerator, and so forth. My mind boggles a bit at how much more complicated this must have been centuries ago when yogurt was discovered. Of course, much of this process can probably occur naturally given the right conditions; we’ve just applied science and technology to make it more consistent and reliable.

In any case, the test of the Tandoori will occur tonight, and we’ll find out how well we do as yogurt makers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Irony Alert

"The west is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'sir' title."
-- Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's religious affairs minister, on the knighting of Salman Rushdie
OK, you're offended by the notion that "Westerners" think of Muslims as extremists or terrorists, so you try to refute the claim by suggesting that a bomb attack would be a good idea?

He didn't just shoot himself in the foot; he emptied the clip! Is he really so stupid that he doesn't see how his comments reinforce the stereotype of the extremist, terrorist Muslim? Or maybe he was foolish enough to think no one over here in the West would notice?

Please tell me there are some Muslims out there who believe this guy just did them a great disservice.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another Chapter Down

Diverse reasons or introductions to bring thee the better unto the knowledge of they weapon.

As I may have mentioned before, I'm slowly transcribing The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence, a fencing manual written in 1617 by Joseph Swetnam. I managed to complete chapter six today, which is largely a treatise on why Swetnam has chosen what to include in the more technique-oriented portions of the manual, which will come later.

One point of note in this chapter is that knowing everything about fighting isn't necessary for most people. A sound knowledge of one weapon -- and the appropriate guards and attacks for it -- is sufficient for most people. He essentially paraphrases the notion that it's better to do one thing well than to do several things poorly.

I can agree with that sentiment, which is why I generally don't spend a great amount of time trying to learn the styles of other period fencing instructors like Fabris, Capo Ferro, Di Grassi, etc. I'd rather get this particular style down well than dabble in a broad assortment of techniques that may not even complement each other well. It's nice to know about them for when I face them on the field, but I'm not going to try to incorporate them into my own fighting unless they're obviously compatible.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Slow on the Writing

Yes, I let the weblog slide for a week. I spent most of last week going to programming classes. Hopefully, within a few months, I'll have an MCAD certification, but spending another five hours in class after going to work all day leaves little time for bloggery.

On the SCA front, I have placed an order with Darkwood Armory for a new sword which I should have in time for Pennsic. I'm also dabbling with a couple of dance reconstructions, and I may just decide to teach them at Pennsic if I can get them down to my satisfaction by then. One of them, Villanella, is already known in the SCA, but the other, Contrapasso Nuovo, will pretty much be a new contribution to the SCA repertoire, I think.

Upcoming events for me include Back to Basics and the Royal University of Meridies.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kingdom Arts & Sciences 2007

I didn't publish anything about the Kingdom A&S event before going because I really had nothing to say before the event. I haven't completed any dance reconstructions or other projects lately that I would consider ready for competition, so I figured I would just have it be the first A&S event at which I worked purely as a judge.

In actuality, I didn't even end up as a judge. There were no dance entries at all this year (something I shall have to rectify before next year), so there was no call for a judge with my particular expertise. This left me with no serious responsibilities, which is an infrequent but pleasant condition for an event.

I did find my self pressed into service to help organize a vigil, since my apprentice brother, the Honorable Lord Gareth O'Gwynned, was elevated into the Order of the Laurel at the event. In addition, our good friend Lady Ciara was also elevated, and our fencing buddy Sirona joined the Order of the Argent Rapier, so this was a very good event in many ways.

To finish things off, Lady Andreva Rigaldi organized an excellent ball for us on Saturday evening. Naturally, the ball that was scheduled to start at 8pm didn't actually start until 10pm, since court started late, ran long, and then we had a long feast, as well. Still, we had an excellent time dancing the evening away -- as well as watching some excellent music and dance performances between sets -- before finally falling into bed around 2am.

Following this event, I have a new entry in my link bar: Greet's Middle Ages. Greet is a lady from the far south of the kingdom with whom we had a wonderful time at the event. More lovely dance partners for me is always a good thing. Despite her site actually being a weblog, I've listed it under SCA sites instead of Bloggery.