Feast Weekend review (pic heavy)

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Dave Budd

Gold Trader
Staff member
Jan 8, 2006
2,817
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Dartmoor (Devon)
www.davebudd.com
The weekend just gone I ran a 'Feast Weekend' course, now this isn't intended as a plug for my courses, but I was so impressed by the people that came along that I wanted to share our experiences with everyone!

The aim of this weekend was to make a selcetion of eating and cooking equipment, finishing with a hearty feast. We met up on saturday morning in the sunshine and headed into my dark and very damp woods (it's been raining nearly non-stop for the last week down here!) where people could set up their tents and have a cuppa before starting. The group was small, but a wonderful cross section of ages and experiences was present.

The first things on my list of utensils were Turkish style kebab skewers, forged from mild steel using the Iron Age forges. This involved making a decorative finial for the handle and pointing up the shaft before flattening. We opted for a simple yet elegant spiral on the first and a twisted loop on the second. These little beauties took us to lunchtime at which point the hot metal was replaced by a kettle and a brew went on (as well as some loverly sweet bits courtesy of two of the students).

After lunch we set to on the second useful tool: a fork, this could've been a toasting fork or an eating fork, but everybody opted for the former. These were more complex than the skewers, involving hot cutting and forging of the tynes before any twisting and shaping of the handle ends. (The forging photos are on SWMBO's camera and I need her cable to transfer them, so they will be edited in later)

The weather wasn't the best with the skies opening up into heavy showers all day, but due to the huge beech trees around us, it was pretty dark most of the time anyway. In fact we were often suprised how early it was as the light levels made it feel like twilight all day long! Before people disbanded to get cleaned up, we had a firewood gathering session to make sure that we had something to burn despite the the rain (this fiewood pile will keep me going for some time to come, thanks guys ;D). We spread out and gathered wood hanging in the trees, then piled it up under the workshop tarp. Once cleaned, we went to the farm next door for a slap up roast dinner. The food there is very good indeed and I particularly like the puddings (though I shouldn't have had a second helping!). After this we retired to the group shelter for a drop of sloe gin and a natter before bed.

Unsuprisingly everybody slept well saturday night, and were raring to get on with the next items on the list: wooden spoons.

I furnished each student with a small birch log and demonstrated how to safely cleave it and axe out the blank of their spoons, before moving onto the finer work of carving with knives and spoon hooks. I've found that if people are left to choose their own knives, they often use relatively large blades, which I find clumsy and dangerous when carving spoons (except for certain parts where the length is handy). So I layed out a selection of small carving knives and spoon carving hooks (all my own work of course ;) )

The group chopped and whittled away merrily until lunchtime and all seemed to be working along the ladle route it seemed! One student was particularly efficient at axe work, so made two huge ladles including one that resembles a ballet shoe. This was hard work for those not used to axes (especially after swinging hammers the day before) but everybody managed admirably and has finished a well carved piece. The spoons were still too moist to sand, but that's something that people can do at home. The beuaty of birch is that it's co soft, you can continue carving even once its dried and seasoned. So if anyone feels there is work left on their spoons, it's not too much hard work to sort it out.

feastweekendsm.jpg

feastweekendsm1.jpg


After a lunch break (one of the forges being used as a camp fire to keep spirits up and the damp out, aswell as cooking and boiling water) we set to our third material: rush. We used English rush to weave place mats that could be used as a plate (assuming you didn't want gravy with your food! :D ). These mats are simple enough to make when you know how (a friend of mine regularly teaches 9 yr olds to do it), but this was only the 3rd I'd made in 5 years! I had a quick refresher a week or so ago, so we were OK on the day :) few! ::) This was the most sedate project of the weekend, but was made more tricky with tired hads I suspect. Again, everyone rose to the challenge and produced very professional looking mats!

feastweekendsm2.jpg


During the morning my other half (Charlotte) dug a small fire pit in which we would cook some meat for our feast. This was lined with stones and a fire built up in it. Once the fire had been burning for a couple of hours and the rocks good and hot, we placed the meat inside and back filled the pit. Sealing in the heat ;)

feastweekendsm6.jpg


All of the making was finished by 5pm and we could concentrate on food preparation. But I thought we should go on a foraging trip and see what we could find to eat! Now this is where I have a BIG hole in my knowledge :-[ Also I hadn't been able to get around the woods for a scouting over the last few weeks, so I had no idea what was out there! ::) So, armed with that great little book (Food For Free) as a back up ID guide, we went for a stroll. We managed to walk around some of the woods before the next shower and we would have to reveal our amazing free food.

Unfortunately the ony plants that we could ID fell into the following catagories:
Useful plants such as good wood, firelighting, first aid, cordage,etc
Poisonous plants such as Hemlock and Foxglove
Edible plants that were not in season such as beech, hawthorn, brambles, roses (though there were some flowers, we had no salad to add them too!)

So we had no fresh wild food this time :mad: Before I run this course again, I will have had some learning in this area! ;D

Still, nevermind. We had lots of other grub to eat ;)

We pulled the benches around the fire and started our meal with a vegetable soup made by my other half. It was hearty and tastey, served up to us with the use of one of the ladles made earlier. I placed some charcoal on the fire to turn it into a BBQ and while the others were assmbling kebabs of meat and veg, I uncovered the pit roast!

I had two parcels of meat in the pit, cooking away for about 3 1/2 hours. At the moment my freezer has a number of unmarked plastic bags with a variety of cuts of meat in them, ranging from prime beef steak to venison and even badger! (there are a few bunny skins and a deer head in there too ;D) So once I had carved the two pieces of 'mystery meat' I dished a little up to everybody and had them guess what it was 8) Guesses for the first one mostly hit on venison, it was infact a nicely cooked piece of mutton. Mystery meat number 2 was known to me before I put it in, but I thought best not to tell people ;) The very dark, gamey meat was carved and consumed eagerly. Guesses were mostly for beef or maybe goat. It was infact the hind leg of a badger! :D It was actually very nice and people came back for seconds!!!

The kebabs were cooked and consumed, then the forks were employed to toast marshmallows. Lots of marsh mallows :D We had some food uneaten, so I have a donated rhubarb cruble for tea tonight ;D People gradually broke of and packed up before leaving for home, nicely full and content.

feastweekendsm30.jpg


It was a really good weekend and we all had a lot of fun. The people on the course were all very good students and exceptional company, so thankyou everyone! No body broke anything or had any major disasters with their work and the wet weather didn't dampen spirits. I'm definately doing this again!

And the final products!
feastweekendsm40.jpg


close up of the ladles!
feastweekendsm5.jpg
 

Jodie

Native
Aug 25, 2006
1,561
8
51
London
www.google.co.uk
I really want to read this. But I can't because of the gremlin that seems to stretch
the text out when a photo is added...

Any chance you could add in an 'enter' ("carriage return") after courses, on the first
line and then press enter when the text lines up at that point thereafter so that it fits
on the page? It sounds a really interesting course and write up but I know I'm missing
a couple of words at the end of every line.

Thank you :)
 

Biddlesby

Settler
May 16, 2005
972
4
Frankfurt
With firefox it is easy just to view the central frame. Perhaps the new explorer does this, they have copied a lot of firefox's features.
 

Glen

Full Member
Oct 16, 2005
618
1
58
London
I really want to read this. But I can't because of the gremlin that seems to stretch
the text out when a photo is added...

Any chance you could add in an 'enter' ("carriage return") after courses, on the first
line and then press enter when the text lines up at that point thereafter so that it fits
on the page? It sounds a really interesting course and write up but I know I'm missing
a couple of words at the end of every line.

Thank you :)

What I'm doing for now is.

Select the text, copy, open text editor ( notepad will do ) paste, and read from there.
A little painful but it works.
 

Dave Budd

Gold Trader
Staff member
Jan 8, 2006
2,817
231
42
Dartmoor (Devon)
www.davebudd.com
Sorry, I wrote it in a different forum and then copied it here. I didn't think it would be a different width (the other fora I use don't have advert bars down the side)

I found that if you click your mouse to get a curser (or highlight a word) in the text, you can then scroll left and right with teh arrow keys as you would on a slide bar if there were one at teh bottom of the screen. Sorry I can't work out how to make it work properly :huh:
 

decorum

Full Member
May 2, 2007
5,064
11
Warwickshire
I sometimes have the same problem - not all posts have all the words visible. Usually I can solve this by stretching the page to the right and if that isn't enough I then stretch it to the left to make it a full width page. Hope this helps and I'm not just suggesting something that people already do.

An excellent read too Mr Budd! :) :thanks:
 

JonnyP

Full Member
Oct 17, 2005
3,833
29
Cornwall...
What a superb idea.....Like the sound of that, people working for their food, but making useful tools too. Nice one Dave...
 

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