I did some cooking in secret. Let me show you.
I finally made the Renaissance Stock.
That enabled me to make some delicious Italian Pea Pottage with duck breast and bacon.
And also Velvet Soup with Grapes (roommate approved!)
Adorable (yet oddly un-delicious) Citrus Tarts made an appearance.
And absolutely disastrous Cornish Game Hens with Sage (I cooked them upside down accidentally, so they were half raw).
Also, all sorts of non-Shakespeare food! Pork bo saam, grilled peaches, beer-can chicken, cherry pie and cherry upside down cake, corn hash, successful compost cookies... the list goes on. Even my parents and girlfriend are beginning to suspect I know to cook.
But, dear friends and readers, I think it is time to confess that this blog is done. I've enjoyed the project greatly - the cooking, the writing, the response - but it's time to bring it to a close.
Let me tell you why.
The first reason is cost. I didn't find work this summer, and with the budget tighter than usual I couldn't afford to keep up the pace. Constantly buying unique, perishable ingredients is kind of pricey. On the other hand, turning a pork butt into carnitas or bo saam, or roasting a whole chicken, costs little more than the price of the meat. But even without the summer budget issues, things were about to get expensive. Just in the meat chapter we have two five-to-six pound legs of lamb (~$35-42 each), one rack of lamb (~$16 for one pound), and a four pound venison loin (~$60, from internet research). I'm not even including the veal, or the ten pound prime rib roast, which would have to come from Whole Foods and cost god knows what. These prices aren't that awful, but in each case I'm probably doubling the cost with other ingredients. That's also before side dishes. And, as I learned from the Tuna Sallet and Cornish hens, sometimes I mess these recipes up so badly that they need to be thrown out. In counterpoint, that 6 pound pork butt I'm turning into a week's worth of meat? That's like, twelve bucks and the cooking process is "make meat small, put meat in pot, apply fire". That same $12 would also net me two whole chickens.
I'm not claiming I'm a frugal person, but that's a lot of money I can spend on beer, other cooking, and buying food on campus because I completely forgot to take the Tupperware with my lunch out of the fridge.
The second problem is the Fysshe. Seafood is a thing that I largely avoided for most of my life, and while a few things never went away (tuna ftw!), the rest had to be worked back in to the diet. At this point, most fish are great, with salmon being the major outlier along with other very fishy fish. Shellfish is hit or miss; I prefer the bivalves to the GIANT SEA BUGS, and shrimp are particularly troublesome. So what do we have left to do in the Fysshe chapter? Right off the bat are two salmon recipes, one crab, and two lobsters. There's a cost issue with the lobster as well, but mostly it's the fact that a) I wouldn't have any idea if it was cooked right or not, and b) I might make the dish only to realize I didn't like it. The Salmon in Pastry is also particularly fun. It involves making and chilling pastry dough ahead of time, trying to shape the dough into a fish for presentation, then filling it with salmon and oysters, then trying to get it covered with more dough (after making pies, I know I will have trouble here), cooking it, and then throwing the whole thing out because ugh, salmon.
Third, and maybe most importantly, I'm not totally wowed by what I'm getting out of this cookbook. The dishes are slightly on the finicky side, which makes them very presentation-worthy but also a lot more time-intensive than they need to be. The last step of many recipes is "add verjuice," which means that seasoning is very tricky - the last step is basically covering half of the flavors with vinegar, so you don't actually know what it's going to taste like until the last second. And while there are some amazing success stories, like the Flounder with Dried Plums, Foolproof
So there you have it. I've really enjoyed my time here. There are two recipes I found in slightly-off-period texts that I plan on making in the future, but otherwise I'm packing it in. I'd like to take up another project, but at the moment I don't know what.
The last thing I wanted to do is thank all of you, the readers. What a short strange trip it's been. I'm glad you were along for the ride.
"I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks."
Image courtesy of: SnapKnot - Los Angeles wedding photographers