Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Holidays

Free Course to Learn about the History of Britain’s Castles & the Foods Prepared in Them Since the Time of Henry VIII

It is no secret that I love British movies and television like Downton Abbey, Masterpiece Theater, and just about any British crime show.  British period dramas like the Borgias, The White Queen, Victoria, The Crown, Elizabeth, and The Tudors are the epitome of costuming and cinematography. The Brits seem to have mastered the art of fine dramatic programming, and because of its palaces and its history of royalty, England has managed to preserve much of its fairy-tale like aura and magnetism. I should not be surprised that my favorite cooking programs come from England, too, but the best of the British cooking programs is not actually on television. It is part of the University of Reading’s free programming, and it can be accessed on YouTube or better still, through a free MOOC offered by FutureLearn Here.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting Is More Than A Cooking Program. Because It Involves Footage from the Castles of five British Monarchs, It Is A Flavorful Way to Step Back Into England’s Royal Past.

“From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:”

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court
  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London
  • George I at Hampton Court Palace
  • George III at Kew Palace
  • Victoria at Kensington Palace

Hampton Court Palace of Henry VIII

Interior Hampton Court Palace

Chapel at Hampton Court Palace

In all honesty, I don’t normally watch cooking programs. I simply do not normally like them, but I am fascinated by history, and I loved the way that A History of Royal Food and Feasting brings British history to life. The free class is designed to be enjoyed over five weeks, but I completed the entire course in a weekend. Here is a sample of what the course offers and a bit of what I learned about Henry VIII, his palace at Hampton Court, and food during his lifetime.

Kitchen at Hampton Court Palace – 36,000 square feet

Henry VIII’s Kitchen may have contained as many as 55 separate rooms. There were boiling rooms and even rooms for preparing the laundry in the kitchen area, which filled 36,000 square feet.

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While studying about each of the monarchs and their kitchens, participants in the class are provided with numerous videos and recipes and recipe cards.

Ryschewys close and fryez

Recipe for Ryschewys close and fryez: A Small, Fried Fruit Pie

Ingredients: to make 12

For the filling:

  • 3 dried figs
  • 3 chopped dates
  • A table spoon of currants
  • Half a teaspoon of mace
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of canelle

For the paste:

  • 100g (3.5 ounces) flour
  • A dessert spoon of sugar
  • A pinch of saffron dissolved in half a teacup of water


  • Pound the figs in a mortar
  • Add the dates and currants and pound some more
  • Finely chop, grind and mix the spices – should be balanced, so if you can smell one stronger than the others, add more of them to compensate
  • Add the spices to the dried fruit and mix thoroughly
  • Make a paste from the flour, sugar and saffron water
  • Roll out the paste as thin as paper – a little goes a long way in this recipe
  • Cut out small circles – about a teacup size
  • Add a small amount of the fruit mix – about half a tablespoon
  • Damp the edges of the paste with water and close forming a pea-pod shape
  • Shallow fry in oil (or in a deep fat fryer) for a couple of minutes or until golden brown
  • Serve warm, sprinkled in sugar

Tart Out of Lent


Ingredients: to make 6-8 portions

For the filling

  • 100g (3 ½ ounces) Cheshire cheese
  • 150ml (¼ pint) cream
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • 30g (1 ounce) butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the pastry case

  • Any high butter pastry, such as shortcrust, will do
  • Egg yolks for glazing


  • Chop the cheese and then pound in a mortar
  • Add cream, egg and butter and mix together to make a thick cream (about the consistency of Cottage Cheese – add more cream if too dry, more cheese if too wet)
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Make a pastry tart case, about 25cm (10inches) diameter – you can use a tart tin if easier – and thin pastry lid
  • Fill with cheese, cream, egg and butter mixture
  • Put on pastry lid – seal and glaze with egg yolks
  • Bake at 220°C/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes or until golden
  • Allow to cool a little and serve

Recipe for Tart Photo Credits Future Learn Here:


Misconceptions about Foods Served at Henry VIII’s Court

  1. Henry VIII’s kitchen staff did not use spices to hide the taste of fouled meat. Serving 600 -1200 people twice each day, food rarely had time to sour, and if that happened, it would not have been used. Henry VIII’s kitchen only served the finest of foods, and spices were used as an expensive garnish.
  2. Beer was not drunk because fresh water was not available at Hampton Court, where fresh water was piped from the springs at Coombe Hill, which was three miles away.
  3. Henry VIII was a dainty eater and the only one who had a fork at meal time. Eating at Henry VIII’s court was not a crude and rowdy affair.

Code of Manners for Meal Time at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court

Sit not down until you have washed.

Undo your belt a little if it will make you more comfortable; because doing this during the meal is bad manners.

When you wipe your hands clean, put good thoughts forward in your mind, for it doesn’t do to come to dinner sad, and thus make others sad.

Once you sit place your hands neatly on the table; not on your trencher, and not around your belly.

Don’t shift your buttocks left and right as if to let off some blast. Sit neatly and still.

Any gobbit that cannot be taken easily with the hand, take it on your trencher.

Don’t wipe your fingers on your clothes; use the napkin or the ‘board cloth’.

If someone is ill mannered by ignorance, let it pass rather than point it out. 

– recorded by the Dutch Writer, Desiderius Erasmus, who published his De Civitate in 1534-

This is a mere sampling of what I took away from the free MOOC A History or Royal Food and Feasting. The next class starts November 8–just in time to begin thinking about what you will prepare for your holiday meals. Although I have participated in numerous free MOOC learning experiences, this was my favorite. It should appeal to almost everyone. Register at FutureLearn Here.


Volunteer to Increase Your Joy and to Become Part of a Community

Recently, I volunteered to teach art to people who are suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. In several ways, that was an eye-opening experience. Most of the students had never drawn or painted before, and I was not teaching a group of true artists. The ones who had drawn before were limited by the effects of Parkinson’s. In a nutshell, I was teaching art to a group of people who could not succeed by the standard that I had understood before that time, and yet, the program was a success. Everyone, including me, benefitted. The greatest benefit was the building of a community.


One day, I stood back and watched the interaction of the students, as they were painting. They were laughing and making constructive suggestions for each other and praising each other’s efforts. For a few minutes each week, my students who had Parkinson’s were removed from their disease and they moved into a more supportive and happier place. They moved into a brighter and more hopeful community.

I did some research and saw a great article that assures us of the importance of community. The article is primarily calling people to the action of volunteering; but it does offer insight into the importance of community–the result of peoples’ coming together, in a positive way.  I’d like to share that:

A Sense of Community: Increase Your Joy…

“In today’s light-speed, electronically connected world, we are bombarded daily by social media, text messages, email, voice mail, snail mail, tweets, event invitations, and somewhere among those, we try to find a little mental down time to keep our sanity.

“How is it, that with all this social and personal interaction going on, so many of us are experiencing a palpable emptiness and lack of connection that is hard to pinpoint? …

“It’s logical that community connection and the feeling of giving back are essential ingredients in our everyday sense of joy and well-being. It’s also probably safe to say that human beings have a natural instinct, even a need, to help one another. But,

…with busy work schedules, home life, and the convenience of social media to keep us “posted” on what our friends, acquaintances, and even our frenemies are up to, we are fooling ourselves into thinking that we have enough social and community connection in our lives, when the truth for most of us is that we’re sorely lacking.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristi-blicharski/community-service-in-los-angeles_b_859589.htm

This year, I am teaching two classes at my library. I am paid a small amount to teach those classes, but the money isn’t what I’d normally expect. The pay is something else entirely. Through teaching both of those classes, I have found myself in two other communities.


One of the classes that I teach now began as a memoir writing class, but it has evolved into more of a writing group than a class, and the camaraderie in that assembly is almost like group therapy. Every member of the group shares what they have written during the week, and afterward, everyone else comments and relates to each other.  Everyone, including me, is uplifted. During this past week, one of the member’s mother died, and the member called me. The only way that I know this person is through the writing group, but somehow, she felt close enough to me that she wanted to contact me about something painful that was happening in her personal life. When we become members of communities, we find people who care.

Image result for laura ingalls wilder cookbookThe other class that I am teaching is the Life and Writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part of my own writing is memoir, and I am exploring the way that my own family lived during the frontier period of history. My reading and preparation for the Wilder class have enriched my understanding of life in the late 1800s, and that is part of my pay for teaching that class. Another part of my pay is sharing and learning from the other people in the group.

I have especially loved learning about the foods that people cooked on the frontier, and since I grew up in the southern part of the Midwest, my own family cooked many of the same foods as the Wilders did. Thanksgiving is coming soon, and I no longer live in either the South or the Midwest. People eat differently in the Northeast than they do in the South, and I become especially aware of that fact during the holidays.

People in the North eat stuffing with their turkeys. People in the South eat cornbread dressing with their turkeys. In fact, people in the South eat a lot of foods that are prepared with corn meal, and that is not true in the North.

Image result for thanksgiving across the lake

Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I live a thousand miles away from my own family now, and during previous holidays, I have felt very lonely for my family and for my traditions. Last fall, I painted the above scene on Thanksgiving Day. I felt that everyone but me was somewhere else, having fun–they were across the lake, where life was bright and cheerful and merry. This year, I have decided to prepare a big, Southern Thanksgiving meal for all of the people that I am teaching now. These people have become my family away from family, and this year, I am bringing the light and the happiness to my side of the lake.

Before I began teaching these classes at the library and before I found new communities for myself, I had no one to share my Southern Cornbread Dressing and Chicken and Dumplings, but this year I do. Now, I have a new family in the North, and I found that family because I gave of myself and my time. For the first time in my life, I am understanding the cliché expression, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

 ©Jacki Kellum October 22, 2016


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