Recipe: Skewers and Greens

For the second day of Melee at Cardiff Castle I wanted to cook something quick and simple.  I was inspired by “To the King’s Taste” (Lorna J. Sass 1975). Fresh summer vegetables are a frequent item in 14th century menus but there aren’t often recipes involving them as these dishes were too simple to be worth recording.

I used fresh carrots (found in the market by another member). These beautiful colours would have been usual to medieval people; orange carrots only became popular in the last couple of hundred years.

Beautiful purple carrots. Before the enclosure and improvement movements in agriculture in the 18th century vegetables were grown in many more varieties that we use today.

I chopped the carrots and put them to boil in a big pot over a fire of split logs with a little flame and a lot of embers to boil gently.  I added salt to the water as with the group working outside all day a little extra salt is necessary.

While the carrots were cooking I started the meat. The sources suggest trimmings from preparing larger joints and offal be chopped very finely . As I was short of time I cheated (this may be a recurring theme) and used 1.6kg of beef mince.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, herbs and about two level tsp of Poudre Douce, a mild spice mix. Every good chef would have their own version of this popular seasoning but it often contained cinnamon, ginger, grains of paradise, nutmeg, sugar and galangal.

Kneading the mince helps it stick together on the skewers and mixes the seasoning in.

The meat was kneaded and shaped into sausages to put on the skewers. I soaked mine overnight so they didn’t catch fire.  To cook the meat I put the bakestone over a fire of hot embers to heat up and used a little butter to grease it and check the temperature. When it was sizzling I put the first batch of skewers on to cook.

Hiding your camera under a pot and taking pictures when there are no public around to see is an imperfect way to make a blog post. This is the cooking set up for the meat; I was unable to get pictures of the veg.

I added 1kg of frozen peas to the carrots and simmered them while I prepared the second batch of skewers.  Once the first batch were browned all over I swapped the second batch on to cook, drained the veg and added spinach, rocket, butter and pepper to it. I put a lid over the veg and knocked the fire down to let it steam in the heat from the pan until the meat was done.

A portion each of meat and veg; tasty and very filling.

I served it up as fairly as possible to the twelve we had in camp on Sunday and everyone said they enjoyed it very much.

Show report: Grand Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle – 13th & 14th August

Another old favourite this weekend at Cardiff Castle’s Grand Medieval Melee: a show Garrison have been attending for many years. As usual, we had a wonderful time demonstrating crafts, clothing, arms and armour, and even had authentic music provided by one of our members. Have-A-Go archery was also a great hit with the public. Thanks so much to everyone who came along and made it such a special show for us.

NB: Garrison are going to be super-busy over the next couple of weeks. Please drop in and see us at the Newport Ship Open Day on 20th August, or at Caerphilly Castle on 28th and 29th August. See our event page for more detail.

Show reports: Summer 2015

Garrison have had a busy summer with events at Cardiff, Chepstow and Caerphilly Castles. Please see below for details and galleries for each show!

Chepstow Castle May Show – 30th and 31st May

We took part in a late-May show in Chepstow Castle, offering fourteenth-century cooking, armour, clothing and crafting displays. Photos are below, and for more information about our cookery please see our ‘Salt Dough Salmon’ post.

Joust! at Cardiff Castle – 19th, 20th and 21st June

One of Garrison’s largest annual events took place at Cardiff Castle’s Joust!. We provided displays and demonstrations of fourteenth-century armour, crafts, clothing, cookery, and blacksmithing. The event also featured an incredible jousting display from The Knights of Royal England, along with storytellers, falconry, a children’s dragon parade, and various traders. See Garrison’s pictures from this event below.


The Big Cheese Festival – 25th and 26th July

This was the first year the group attended Caerphilly’s long-running Big Cheese cultural celebration event. Set in and around Caerphilly Castle, one of South Wales’ largest medieval castles, it featured huge numbers of stalls, street entertainers, a traditional funfair, falconry, and dancing, along with Living History encampments from ourselves and many other re-enactment groups.

Cardiff Castle Garrison provided our own Living History camp with weapons and armour, blacksmithing, cookery and craft displays. See below for our pictures.


Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle – 15th and 16th August

Another of Garrison’s biggest annual events took place at Cardiff Castle’s Medieval Melee show. This featured Living History encampments and archery displays from fifteenth-century re-enactment groups, circus skill demonstrations, plus appearances from many traders.

We provided a cookery, weapons and armour, and craft display along with have-a-go archery for the public.

We’re still taking part in Beaumaris Castle medieval festival on Anglesey over the August bank holiday weekend (29th, 30th and 31st August), and will be pottering along to Caldicot Castle show on 5th and 6th September.

Upcoming shows: 2015 spring and summer timetable

We’ve been busy booking some shows for next year (2015) and are please to announce the following events:

Joust! at Cardiff Castle

Date: 19th – 21st June 2015

Detail: Weekend long show at Cardiff Castle, with a special opening on Friday 19th for local schools. Garrison will be providing a full living history camp with cooking, weapons and armour, and craft displays, and there will be a jousting display by the Knights of Royal England and various other attractions provided by Cardiff Castle.

Opening Times: 10.00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Cardiff Castle, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 3RB

Grand Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle

Date: 15th and 16th August 2015

Detail: Weekend long show at Cardiff Castle. Garrison will be providing a full living history camp with cooking, weapons and armour, and craft displays, and there will be various other attractions provided by Cardiff Castle.

Opening Times: 10.00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Cardiff Castle, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 3RB


Show report: Grand Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle – 16th & 17th August

Cooking display by the Garrison
Cooking display by the Garrison

We have had a very enjoyable weekend at Cardiff Castle taking part in the Grand Medieval Melee; it’s one of the biggest shows of the year for us and we had a great turn out. We were lucky that the Welsh weather, which had been pretty miserable all week, smiled on us and we had lots of sunshine.

Garrison gave several public demonstrations, including cookery, arms and armour, fourteenth-century crafts and clothing, and archery open to the public.

We all had a really great time, and thank you to all of the public who came and had a chat with us and to our lovely members who put on a brilliant encampment and manned the have-a-go archery.

Upcoming show: Melee at Cardiff Castle: 16th and 17th August

A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment
A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment

Cardiff Castle Garrison are exited to be involved in Cardiff Castle’s Grand Medieval Melee event this weekend (16th and 17th August). We will be showcasing a large living history camp with craft, blacksmith, weaponry, armour and clothing displays as well as have-a-go archery for members of the public to test their archery skills. We will also be providing a number of talks over the weekend on various aspects of medieval life.

There will also be various other displays taking place, from period combat for children to take part in, falconry, and  thrilling story telling as well. If you’re free this weekend head along to Cardiff Castle between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m; we’d love to see you!