Please join me in welcoming Gina Conkle, author of Georgian and Viking romance (with a foray into contemporary romance with WAITING FOR A GIRL LIKE YOU releasing just last week)! Gina, so glad to have you visit today.
Thank you, Alyssa, for hosting me on your blog. I’m sharing one of my adventures—eating like a Viking. Last summer my family took a dip back in time with my Viking garden and Viking recipes.*
We learned a lot. One point of interest: Vikings ate a lot of kale. Another interesting point: Reading about seasonal foods and how the Vikings solved those problems.
The Cheese Alternative
Dairy products were the midsummer answer to food shortages. By spring, regular Viking folk would’ve plowed and planted their fields. Winter stores of dried and pickled veggies and whey treated meat would’ve dwindled. Fresh fish would be the answer in some places, but even large schools of herring don’t pass through southern Scandinavian waters until summer’s end.
Enter Cheese Lovers
Milk products from goats or cows would’ve been the protein mainstay, but the wise farmer made sure the kid goat and calf gets their fill first. People got leftover milk to drink and make into cheese. Yes, even hearty Viking warriors guzzled milk. Here’s a snippet from the Sagas:
Tables were brought forth and they were given food: bread and butter. Large boxes with skyr** were also placed on the table. Bard said: “I regret much that I have no ale to offer you, though I would have liked to.” You will have to suffice with that which is here. Olvi and his followers were very thirsty and drank the skyr. At that Bard brought out some buttermilk and that they drank as well.
The process is like making mead: a little labor intensive at first with well-timed follow ups. This is how I made my Viking cheese.
~ 10 cups whole milk in a pan and cook on medium heat (stirring it often) until the milk reaches 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 deg. F)
~Stir in 1 tbsp. of rennett, cover the pan, and let this mixture sit for 30-40 minutes.
~When you lift the lid, you’ll see a lumpy white-ish, yellow-y mass with watery edges. That watery liquid under the coagulated mass is whey.*** Grab your ladle and remove all the whey into a separate container. Nothing’s wasted. Vikings used everything.
~Now here’s the interesting part. You keep pressing the curds (even punching them!) to get the last of the whey out and to form your cheese. I tried punching my cheese, but a flat wooden spoon worked better.
~ Cover your cheese with a plate, a pan lid, whatever works, and let it sit for 6 hours.
~For 3 days you’ll turn your cheese over once in the morning and once in the evening, patting it with a little salt and wrapping it in fresh cloth. Keep the cheese at 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees F).
~Days 4-28 turn your cheese twice a day like before, wrap it in a clean cloth, but NO salting. At the end of the month, you’ll have fresh Viking cheese. My cheese turned out like a crumbly version of mozzarella. I’ll have to keep practicing to perfect a firmer block cheese.
*This “Eat Like a Viking” adventure started when a history writer sent me a link to this book, An Early Meal. Two historians studied seven Viking archaeological sites for clues to what Vikings ate and how they prepared their foods. It was nerd-vana for me.
** Skyr (pronounced skeer) is a type of Icelandic yogurt that seems to be catching on worldwide now. Cattle and goats were scant in Iceland’s early days. The prized animals were a sign of wealth, thus, consuming their milk was preferred. By the late tenth century, horse was actually a favored Viking meat.
***Whey is the thin watery part of milk. Vikings used it for meat preservation among other things. Vats big enough to hide a man were commonplace on Viking farms. In fact, there’s one saga tale of a Viking warrior on the run. He’s being chased and ends up on a farm. One of the women agrees to help by hiding him in a vat of whey.
And now a bit about one of Gina’s Viking romances, To Find a Viking Treasure.
Survival’s in his blood
Rough-souled Brandr’s ready for a new life far from Uppsala, but the Viking has one final task —protect the slave, Sestra. Her life’s been full of hardship…until she learns the location of a treasure.
Saving others is her purpose
With war coming, stealing the enemy’s riches will save lives, but only one man can watch over Sestra —the fierce Viking scout, Brandr. The two have always traded taunts, now they must share trust. Passions flare as secrets unfold, leading one to make a daring sacrifice that changes everything on their quest To Find a Viking Treasure
Gina Conkle writes Viking and Georgian romance, with a recent foray into contemporary romance. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.
Find Gina online!