How to Redact a Recipe

Steps:

  1. Select a recipe.
  2. Obtain a translation (if needed).
  3. Re-write the recipe using modern spellings.
  4. (Optional) Refer to other peoples' redactions and to similar dishes.
  5. Write down your baseline ingredients and amounts.
  6. Note any ingredient substitutions.
  7. Start cooking and take notes regarding the cooking process.  Be sure to include things like times ("Cook onions until transparent, about 35 minutes").
  8. Note any adjustments to baseline amounts.
  9. Figure out number of servings.

An example (provided by Maredudd Angharad ferch Gwenhyfar):

  1. Select a recipe.

  2. The recipe is "Syrup of Lemon" from An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century p. A-74. 
    The original recipe is: "Take lemon, after peeling its outer skin, press it and take a ratl of juice, and add as much of sugar. Cook it until it takes the form of a syrup. Its advantages are for the heat of bile; it cuts the thirst and binds the bowels."
  3. Obtain a translation (if needed).

  4. Not needed here; Charles Perry has already done the work.
  5. Re-write the recipe using modern spellings.

  6. Also not needed; this is generally required when transliterating from the Old English where there are a lot of non-standard characters and spellings. 
  7. (Optional) Refer to other peoples' redactions and to similar dishes.

  8. I see this step as being the "study" of the recipe. Here you start investigating and making decisions.  Duke Cariadoc has redacted this recipe in his Miscellany. His notes read as follows:  "This we also serve as a strong, hot drink. Alternatively, dilute it in cold water and you have thirteenth century lemonade. All three of the original recipes include comments on medical uses of the syrups."  He does not give quantities in his redaction because the ratio of lemon juice to sugar is pretty obvious.  There is no direction as to how to serve it - hot, cold, full   strength, or diluted - other than Cariadoc's suggestions. If I reference the "Syrup of Simple Sikanjabîn (Oxymel)" recipe from the same text, I see that the directions include a syrup to (hot) water ratio of 1:3, so they probably diluted at least some of the syrups. So it's plausible that we can dilute "Syrup of Lemon" for drinking. 
  9. Write down your baseline ingredients and amounts.

  10. Based on the recipe, I'm going to combine sugar and lemon juice 1:1, and boil it until it becomes the consistency of syrup. I also want to dilute it for drinking.  So here's what I decide upon:
    - Juice some lemons. Measure the lemon juice. 
    - Use the same number of cups of sugar as lemon juice.
    - Dilute to taste with cold water, probably about 1:3.
  11. Note any ingredient substitutions.

  12. None. 
  13. Start cooking and take notes regarding the cooking process. Be sure to include things like times ("Cook onions until transparent, about 35 minutes.")

  14. I juiced the lemons, and measured the lemon juice (I don't remember the exact measurements; I was working with *a lot* of lemons). (BTW, if you have a lot of lemons to juice, invest in an electric juicer.)  I put the lemon juice in a 3 quart saucepan. Looking in the pan, I observed a lot of pulp. Now, the recipe calls for a syrup, and I don't think of a syrup as being "pulpy", so I decided to strain the pulp out of the lemon juice. I re-measured the clear lemon juice, replaced it in the pan, added an equivalent quantity of sugar, and heated the mixture. I let it come to a low boil, and cooked it until it thickened to a syrup. I don't remember how long it took, because I didn't write it down. And in this case, your altitude will have an effect on how long it takes. I'm in Denver [editor's note: elevation 5,280 feet].  I put a tablespoon of the syrup in a small bowl and added 3 T. of cold water. Pretty strong. I diluted it again, and I finally settled on a syrup to water ratio of 1:8. That's pretty easy, and was very easy to dilute out at the site for 125 people. 
  15. Note any adjustments to baseline amounts. 

  16. Well, the ratio of syrup to water changed, but that's about it.
  17. Figure out number of servings.

  18. Decide on how much of the stuff you're making will feed one person; divide the total quantity by that number. A "glass" of water is 8 oz. So I figured a serving of Syrup of Lemon to be about 8 oz. However, I also know that in the SCA, we usually have mugs that are bigger than that - I know mine holds two 12 oz. cans of soda, (OK, it did before it *broke*), so this isn't a big enough serving. Increase the serving size to 16 oz. (one pint), and a quart will serve two, a half gallon 4, and a gallon 8. If my math is correct. 

    This is a really simple example, but I hope it demonstrates each step adequately.



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