Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Pirate Queen is Spotted on the Horizon...

I just want to thank everyone who made Queen Elizabeth's birthday so very special for me (and her!)
I now have more than 600 followers, which is the best birthday gift I could have asked for, on behalf of her Majesty, of course!

Queen Elizabeth and her legacy live on in me, and in all of you, forever, and her birthday is a special day to call attention to her life. Thank you for being a part of that with me!

Did anyone try the Marzipan recipe I posted? If so, please send me pictures of your creations so I can post them on this blog! (see email address to the right of this post)

This week, I will be very preparing for two shows I am doing on Saturday the 17th with two of my brilliant co-workers, on the "Real Stories of Women Pirates". One of us will be portraying Anne Bonney, another will be Rachel Wall, and I will be....(drum roll) Grania O'Malley! *surprise surprise*

Grania O'Malley seems a natural choice, given that she is Elizabethan (although no doubt she
would never have referred to herself as a subject of England!) and I have long been drawn to her courageous, exciting life since my mother read me a picture book about her when I was young (thanks mom!) 

The dates of her long-life almost exactly mirror Queen Elizabeth's own, Grania being born in 1530 and dying in 1603, Elizabeth of course being born in 1533 and dying the same year. The fact that Grania and Elizabeth met, negotiated terms, and parted with a new found respect for one other is just the icing on the cake to Grania's story.

  1. An artistic rendering of Grania O'Malley's audience with Queen Elizabeth I. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

My Irish accent is almost at performance quality, although I will keep working at it until the last possible moment to get it right. I have to fight my tendency to slip back into an aristocratic London accent on certain words! By Saturday I will (hopefully) have it down!

Pictures will be shared, probably on Tuesday, with perhaps a mini-article on Grania herself!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Confections Fit For a Queen!

Take a look at the birthday platter I prepared in honor of Queen Elizabeth I's 574th birthday...
Pictured are marzipan Tudor roses, "ER" medallions, crowns, and my attempt at a Phoenix bird. I am sure my candy-crafting skills will improve with time! 

The marzipan is made from the recipe I posted on the 5th, and I also made sinfully delicious vegan cupcakes from The Kind Diet cookbook. My co-workers and I will be enjoying these birthday goodies tomorrow!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Her Majesty's Marzipan

What do you give a queen for her birthday?

Marzipan, of course!

Marzipan is a confectionery delight made of sugar, almond paste, and more sugar! It had its hey-day in Tudor-Elizabethan times, served as one of the many delightful desserts at a court feast.

The beauty of Marzipan, other than its taste, is that it can be molded into any shape you can imagine, and also tinted with vegetable dies (or the modern equivalent, food coloring!) The Tudors ordered up miniature ships made of marzipan for their tables, or castles and cathedrals, or anything else that they desired!

For my own celebration of Queen Elizabeth I's birthday, I will be making Marzipan, upon other things. I wanted to share my recipe with you all in case you feel inclined to do the same! Keep in mind you can also buy pre-made Marzipan (Danish company Odense Marcipan is available at you local supermarket here in the states) but you will still need to make the glaze and do the coloring and shaping yourself! Also, if you are vegan, like me, or even vegetarian, this is one of the few historically accurate Tudor foods that you can actually consume without having to modify the recipe!

Her Majesty's Marzipan

1 8-ounce can     almond paste
1 1/2 tablespoons     light corn syrup
1 1/3 cup sifted     confectioner's sugar
                 food coloring

2 tablespoons    light corn syrup
1/4 cup     water

Step 1: In a medium bowl, by hand, knead the almond paste , then pour in light corn syrup and continue to knead.

Step 2: Add the sugar gradually, continuing to kneading until the ingredients are completely mixed together.

Step 3: Cover mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to shape.

Step 4: Tint the Marzipan by kneading in food coloring as desired, then shape.

Step 5: To prepare the glaze, combine corn syrup and water in a saucepan, mixing well. Bring water to a boil, stirring until the syrup has dissolved.

Step 6: Brush the marzipan with the confectionery glaze and let it dry overnight on waxed paper before refrigerating in an airtight container.

This recipe makes enough to shape about three dozen small marzipan figures.

Tomorrow I will be posting pictures of my creations-Granted, I know my artistic limitations and will not be attempting to replicate Westminster Abbey or anything of the sort, but there will be a Tudor theme!

Perhaps if any of you try it at home, you can share your pictures with me and I will add them to the site! I would love to see them!

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On this Day in Elizabethan History:The Death of Elizabeth's "eyes", Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

On this day in Elizabethan history, September 4th, in 1588, not long after England's momentous victory against the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth's I joy was eclipsed by the death of her oldest, dearest friend, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Leicester was undoubtedly her true love.

The Earl of Leicester c. 1564. The portrait is attributed to Steven van der Meulen, but this has been disputed. Leicester's Coat of Arms is depicted twice in this portrait, surrounded by the Colar of the Order of St. Michael, and the Garter. Leicester received the Order of St. Michael in 1566, so it was certainly added to the portrait after it was initially completed. 

Robert Dudley had been sick for quite some time before he passed. In his final years of service to his queen, he was commander of the English forces in the Netherlands from 1585-1587, with a brief return home from fighting with the Dutch against Philip II (who else?) to support Elizabeth in the crisis concerning Mary Queen of Scots.

Dudley's tactics in the Netherlands were scrutinized by his enemies, but he had done his best given the complex situation at hand. Shortly after he returned to England, the Earl of Leicester served as Elizabeth's "Lieutenant General" at Tilbury.

"In the meantime, I leave my Lieutenant General in my stead, whom never a prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject..." (Excerpt from Queen Elizabeth's Tilbury Speech, 1588)

A sketch from life done by Zuccaro in 1575 of Queen Elizabeth I. This sketch is part of a pair; the Earl of Leicester was also sketched by Zuccaro in preparation for full-scale portraits for Leicester's Kenilworth celebrations. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, sketched in his armor by Frederico Zuccaro in the spring of 1575. This sketch is part of a pair; Queen Elizabeth I was also sketched by Zuccaro in preparation for full-scale portraits for Leicester's Kenilworth celebrations.Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

After the victory, the Queen recognized her dear friends rapid decline in health, and she urged him to retreat to the country, and drink the "healing waters" at Buxton, in Derbyshire. Leicester never arrived at his destination, prematurely dying at his estate in Oxfordshire.

Upon hearing the news, Queen Elizabeth was understandably beside herself, and she locked herself away in her apartments for days on end. The letter the Earl had written her only days before his death did not leave Elizabeth's side. She scrawled "His last letter" on the note, and kept it close in an ornate box beside her bed. It would remain in that place, holding an almost sacred value until her death 15 years later.

A scan of Leicester's last letter to the queen. You can see where Elizabeth I scrawled "His Last Letter" on what would be the exterior of the folded letter. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

His Last Letter

I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pain she finds, being the chieftest thing in the world I doth pray for, for her to have good health and long life.
For my own poor case, I continue still you medicine and find that (it) amends much better than any other thing that hath been given me.
Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty's most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot.
From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my journey, by your Majesty's most faithful and obedient servant,

R.Leicester (Leicester drew a pair of "eyes" over his name, alluding to the queen's nickname for him)

Even as I had writ thus much, I received your Majesty's token by young Tracey.
(Before the letter was set, Leicester had received a gift from his queen!)

Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester died the Queen's most trusted confidante and oldest friend. In addition to his devotion to his "Bess", Leicester was a avid reformer, who did much to financially and militarily aid Protestants at home and abroad. He also was an investor, a collector, and a patron of the arts, even establishing his own theatre company in 1559.

He was buried at Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary's in Warwick, by his biological son, who died in early childhood.

R.I.P. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. I have no doubt you and her Majesty are enjoying each others company where you are now, together!