One Medieval Mess

This is a sponsored post. Which means Nuffnang paid me to write it. Every thought and comment in it though, are mine. I agreed to write it because I actually use the product I’m talking about. Just so you know!


Really, I can make some mess in the kitchen. And as part of the Finish Quantum ‘We Love Messy Meals’ campaign, I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with our particularly favourite messy meals.

Finish are asking Australians to submit photos or videos showcasing family, home and messy mealtimes. The Australian public will vote for the family who they think can best challenge Finish Quantum and the winning family will earn themselves $25,000 and will star in the next Quantum Finish TV ad.

If you do a lot of cooking from scratch then you know that cracking open a bag of bought pasta and pouring on a jar of bought sauce creates way less dishes. But oh where is the fun in that! (And probably won't get you an entry to this gig!)

One of my great joys in life is making medieval food. Recipes in translation give me goosebumps. I love love love the idea that these are recipes often written down in account books or household management books because they were someone’s favourite. Or the town standard. And that five or six hundred years ago people were sitting around eating this or something similar. Even if I lost you at goosebumps, you’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool, right?

Here’s what I made tonight. (Yes, for fun!)

Trout and date pasties. Roast chicken. Mutton in beer. Posset. Green omelette. Bread. Cheeses (didn’t make those! One day though… a cheesemaking course is top of my Christmas list!) 





Some of this was Tudor, which is right at the end of the medieval period. (Sixteenth century as opposed to Eleventh.) We drank wine, not ale, and we included meat which implies we are wealthy. The grown ups ate off wooden trenchers that at some stages of the Middle Ages were made of bread and gradually became wooden or metal and ultimately the melamine plates the kids ate off.

We used no forks. I read once that Eleanor of Aquitaine brought forks back with her from the second crusade, which would have put forks in France (and then possibly England) in the early twelfth century. But there’s no clear record of them in use until they’re recorded in the household effects of a noblewoman in the sixteenth century.

So, no forks. Fingers!

One day I’ll find the perfect eating knives, dagger-like, but we settled with the IKEA kind.




And oh yes we can make a mess.

Quite apart from the mess on the table and hands, there’s pots that the mutton in beer has stewed in for two hours, there’s pastry rolling boards and bread rising bannetons. Baking dishes and empty jars of butter – luckily there was a commercial block in the back of the fridge. (Yes, the bottle of wine to the right is an unsubtle reference to Rollings Reliable! With apologies to anyone who does not get the Anne of Green Gables reference.)



The trout pasties were the biggest hit. An unfamiliar combination of trout and fresh dates chopped finely with ginger, cinnamon and butter, wrapped in a shortcrust-type pastry. Totally delicious.

The Mutton in Beer tasted great too. It was mutton cooked in brown ale with sliced onions, then seasoned and served on cubes of bread. It’s from A Proper Newe Book of Cokerye translated in “Tudor Cookery, Recipes and History”. 




Let me say up front: I have a dishwasher. (Other than Adam, who is, in the role, spectacular.)

We are renting this place, and it did not come with a dishwasher. We put it in. Because I’m that dependent on it. I can cope with the house being a bit of a muddle. I can even cope with the kitchen being a bit of a muddle (which it frequently is.) But I need to know I can stack that wonderful modern piece of machinery and in the morning it’ll all be clean.

In the Middle Ages they scrubbed the pots with sand. They washed dishes with water and rags. But the firewood for the warming of the water needed to be carried. The water needed to be hauled. Imagine cooking dinner and then getting onto that. Sheesh.




So when asked, I was quite happy to talk about Finish Quantum dishwashing tablets. Mainly because I can honestly say the dishwasher and its fabulously updated dishwashing tabs are some of my favourite modern inventions.

Also, there’s a really fun campaign on right now.

You too can have fun creating messy meals with your family! Maybe something other than posset. Enter photos and videos at for the chance to win $25,000 and have your family star in the next Finish Quantum TV ad! Get in quick as there isn’t much time left.

At our place, the dishwasher-stacker got the remainder of the dark beer used to cook with so he was happy. He was also rewarded by not having to try the posset which was a warm drink, made with eggs cooked in milk and poured over warm beer, sprinkled with cinnamon and ginger. Mmmm, spiced curdle anyone?

And hands up who prefers having a dishwasher to scrubbing out pots with sand after carrying all the wood and water into the kitchen from who knows where? ME!!!

Hooray for the twenty-first century!



9 Comments on “One Medieval Mess

lily boot
October 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

This looks like our kind of feast – I adore all of the effort you’ve put into the recipes and history! And I get the reference – tee! hee! hee! It’s also my favourite winery – mostly because I am utterly seduced by their wonderful labels! This particular one makes me feel as if I am in a Miss Marple novel – bit of a way -away from Avonlea I know. We have a story book – can’t remember title or author – where Edward Longshanks was described as receiving a fork as a gift from a European diplomat – and used it to comb his hair whilst eating with his fingers. Oh! And we too are renting, and we too put in a dishwasher, and we too love our dishwashing tablets – definitely the modern cooking muma’s saving grace 🙂

October 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Yep, there you go, separated at birth obviously!! Thanks Lily xx

October 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Its a short cut from there to kindred spirit. Cheers! xx

Charley @Secret_Water
October 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm

well i better get a move on and get some shots of our current kitchen post mealtime (no dishwasher) before we move out in 2 weeks. I reckon I spend at least an hour and a half every day washing up. The kitchen is the size of a galley and whilst pregnant we perfected a game of human tetris to allow each other past! I am currently dreaming of a two drawer dishwashing scenario that can be loaded twice daily. I think you should add a mediaevel (just realised i can’t spell it!) restaurant next to the farm shop?! In Cornwall where I grew up we had “Meaderies” but the food wasnt really authentic mediaevel, just the locals ripping into a “chicken in the rough” with no cutlery!

International Woman of Mystery
October 14, 2011 at 1:09 am

*Sigh*. I miss the dishwasher from our last place. However, I have a pretty fantastic view out of the kitchen window…which is good because man, do I spend a lot of time at that sink!

This is a lovely post. Nice work. And wow, your bread is perfection! Oh bugger, just remembered I was supposed to be whipping a batch before bed to rise overnight. And it’s past my bedtime already.

October 14, 2011 at 6:28 am

Yum! Can we please have the trout recipe? And the posset- but only to read, I wont even pretend I’d try and make that!
We moved and inherited a slimline dishwasher- thought I would hate it, but it’s quite good. I’ve just swapped from tablets to dishwasher liquid, so I can be really frugal with it. Reading Apron Stringz old archives, about not really needing soap at all, but I’m not that hard core. Dishes are yucky, and I love my machine!
Lauren is just discovering the joys of being spoon-fed. I am all about letting her finger-feed herself, but then there’s yoghurt (which I really am going to start making myself, one day, really!) and it’s so yummy, and she loves it, but holy moly do we get into a mess! My problem now is the laundry- washing machine just isn’t coping well enough with mooshed banana and stuff.
Another thought- my friend Richard always wanted 2 dishwashers, so when one is clean you dont have to unload it, just use it as a cupboard, take things out as you need them, stack dirty stuff into the other, and repeat. Is he a genius?!! Hasn’t done it yet, though, I’m sorry to say.

October 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

Sue, you can get two drawer dishwashers that wash independently!

knutty knitter
October 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

A large chunk of my mess is on holiday with grandma 🙂 I have to say that I adore my dishwasher and hope to never be without one. (and yes, I too read and loved the Anne books).

Good luck with the competition

viv in nz

October 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Wow! who’d have thought Rollings Reliable actually existed? Much excitement.


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