Before supermarkets and corner stores provided the bulk of the food, humans grew their own in the backyard. Many also grew herbs to enhance the taste of their baked and cooked goods. Although times have changed, I keep several pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill to use in soups, scrambled eggs and other dishes. It’s fast, convenient and inexpensive.

herbs

Given that the Castle Keepers series takes place in an archaic time, it’s no surprise potted herbs grace the windowsills of many homes, including that of Alaura of Niamh and Bronwyn Darrow.

When Liam Jenkins visits, he makes note of this.

Chapter 13, Scene 2

“Liam.” Alaura nodded her head towards the kitchen. “Let’s allow them to talk. I’ll get you a drink of water.”

He lifted Isla by the hips and squeezed past her to follow Alaura down the short hall. The compact, eat-in kitchen was perfect for a small family: two parents, two kids. It was similar to his dwelling when he was young. It even had a pot of herbs on the windowsill. He pushed the memories from his mind; he didn’t want to think about that time.

Alaura poured a glass of water from a pitcher kept near the back door and offered it to him.

“Thank you.” He took a sip and remembered the flavour of Maskil water. It tasted sweet compared to that in Wandsworth.

“It’s good to see you well.” She leant against the countertop, and her gaze swept around the kitchen.

“I was surprised when Isla told me you were livings here.” He took another drink. “I thought you’d have moved to Petra or another place.”

“I like Maskil.”

“And Bronwyn.”

“I can’t deny that.”

“I thought you were only friends, but Isla knew. She told me so, but I didn’t believe her. I mean, you pushed him into the lake.”

She laughed. “She’s perceptive, and that was an accident.”

“She is. It’s like she can read my mind.”

“She knows your history?”

He shrugged. “She knows me. She trusts me.”

“She still likes you?”

“I still like her.”

 

I recall years ago many realists complaining about fantasy stories in which people travelling by horseback ate stews and soups made from scratch over the fire. While I somewhat agreed with them, I didn’t fully agree with them. You see, I make soup all the time and while I’m not riding all day and building a fire to cook it, I know how to make it, and I’m certain it’s possible to do while travelling. All that’s required is the right circumstances.

A pot of soup feeds many mouths, and it doesn’t cost very much. All the goods (except one, the meat) can be carried without refrigeration and can remain edible for many days. The meat, however, will only last a few hours in hot weather unless it was first frozen and packed to keep it cold. On the other hand, meat is easily kept frozen for long-term storage when travelling in cold weather. Regardless of the weather, meat, such as rabbit, partridge or other animal, can be caught and cooked when needed.

(more…)

Family Christmas meal

The table with only the three youngest kids. That’s me with a fork in my mouth.

I come from a large family. Let me size it up for you. I’m kid number 10 of 11. My parents have 29 grandkids. While my mom’s family is small (she has only 4 siblings), my father’s family is immense. He has 16 siblings and almost all of them had at least 2 kids. To say I had many cousins doesn’t do it justice. We live in the same province as my dad’s family, so we visited each other often.

At my family’s peak, we had 12 people living in a small (think very small) home. Mom was an excellent cook, and everything was made from scratch. We were a boisterous bunch, and we weren’t forced to eat in silence. By the time I got into double digits, some of my older siblings were married and had kids of their own.

My siblings, their spouses and their kids came to my parents’ home for Christmas day. That meant the kitchen table was always full and we filled the living room and flowed into the hall and closets to find a place to eat when the eating time came.

(more…)

Travelling Food

At the moment, my characters in Healing Stones (Castle Keepers Series: Book 4) are travelling through Yikker Wood. They left Inglenook about two weeks ago, and they won’t reach a settlement to buy supplies for another three days.

This means they must carry all their food in packs or saddle bags on their horses. They could hunt, and they may resort to that, and they’ve picked mushrooms along the way to add to their dwindling supplies.

Starting Out

For several days after they left Inglenook, they ate biscuits, bacon, eggs, bread and meat, but those perishable goods are gone after 14 days. This is the point where I scramble to find food for them to eat, so they won’t starve.

(more…)