Thursday, June 25, 2015

More Syrup of Lemons

Well, the Syrup of Lemon was so popular that I am making more. This time I am adding some extra lemon zest to cut the sweetness a little.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elizabethan Coif Refurbishment Project

I have several Elizabethan coifs which are now too big for me, so I am gradually working on cutting them down to size and making a few changes to them.

One of the coifs that needs refurbishing

The only difficult thing about Elizabethan coifs is getting the pattern right for the wearer's head. I have found it to be purely a matter of trial and error. Playing around with paper and calico mock-ups before cutting your "good"fabric or starting your complex embroidery is definitely worth the time and effort.

In that spirit, I have been playing with patterns, and decided to make a simple coif which I hope will suit my face more than the old styles I have used before.

After working out my pattern, I cut the 'test coif'out in two layers of pre-washed white cotton voile.
I zigzgged the edges to reduce fraying, and sewed the two pieces together ("bag" fashion), leaving a small section along the bottom edge unsewn.

I turned the fabric right side out and whip stitched the bottom edge shut. Then I ironed the coif. I turned about a centimetre of the bottom edge up and did a small stab stitch to hold it in place to make a channel to thread a gathering cord through.

The next step was to put the two cheek pieces together by folding the coif down the middle vertically. 
I sewed the top edge together about two thirds of the way along with a whip stitch.

The last unsewn section of the top seam was then gathered with a tacking stitch. This is to allow a bit of space for braids or a bun at the back of the coif.

I confess, at this point, I completely forgot how to proceed. I have made several of these over the years and remembered that the gathered section is sewn up and then strengthened with buttonhole bars radiating out from where the gathers start and end (where my finger is in the picture above.) I needed a bit of a refresher on where to place the bars, but I couldn't find the book I needed. In the end I did three buttonhole bars radiating out from the centre to secure the gathering.

I will have to do this step in a bright colour next time to demonstrate the technique, because you really can't see the detail in this photo.

Once the gathers at the rear were done, I added some commercial bobbin lace with small stab stitches.

After that, I went through and did a little stitch on the edge to make sure the lace was sitting nicely.

I threaded a lucet cord (made by my friend Heather) into the casing, and the project was finished. I am quite happy with the fit, although I  may make the next pattern a centimetre longer at the bottom to cover my hairline. At least now I know which direction to head in with the coif refurbishment project!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lemon Syrup

Having a respiratory infection, and lots of lemons, I was pleased to try this recipe:


"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."

Recipe from 'An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century' found at

Some quick Googling revealed that 1 ratl is approximately 468g.

I used 2 large lemons and 11 small lemons. Juicing these produced about 750ml of juice, which I added to a saucepan with the same amount of sugar.  I also threw in about a tablespoon or so of lemon peel which I peeled with a vegetable peeler. (I tried to avoid peeling off any of the bitter pith.)

I then brought the mix to a light boil, stirring regularly, and then let it all simmer until the mixture was no longer cloudy and thickened up a bit. After it had cooled, I strained the syrup to get a nice clear consistency. I ended up with around 700ml of undiluted cordial syrup.

I had hoped to try this syrup with hot water, but it was just so delicious and refreshing with cold water that none survived for a hot water taste test! I will certainly be making this recipe again for mundane and SCA use. If you like sweet/sour tastes, I think you will really enjoy it.