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Some Useless Info on...Medieval Grenades

Some Useless Info On…Greek fire and Medieval Grenades.

I was reading an article about a medieval hand grenade that was found by a worker at a power plant in Israel.

He found quite a few relics on the job site, some dating back 3,500 years, and when he passed away, his family them over the Israeli Antiquities Authority (thank you for doing this, family!)

Made of heavy clay, the grenade held what’s called Greek Fire.

We’re still not entirely sure what Greek Fire was made of–there may have been multiple concoctions–although we do know there was naphtha, and likely quicklime, pine tar, and/or a few other ingredients like sulfur and/or pitch and/or saltpetre. And maybe some phosphorous for good measure?

It’s a sticky liquid that basically attaches to whatever it hits, burns on contact with water, and is basically impossible to extinguish.

(If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, think Wildfire!)

Greek Fire was around a long, long time ago. It was first recorded in 673, when it was launched from Greek ships via tubes mounted on the prows. They devastated the Arab attacking fleet.

It was was applied to arrows and other weapons too.

Can you picture a thousand fiery arrows sailing up over your castle walls, or through the front line of your army?

The grenades themselves were in use from the 1000’s right up to the 1600’s. Because…why stop?

They worked really, really well. It was a lethal combo–a liquid that basically adhered, and caught fire, and could not be extinguished with water, and often not even by smothering. In which case, you just had to wait ’til it burned itself out.

As you can imagine, it was popular in naval battles, where they’d toss the grenade at enemy ships and watch them burn.

(Editorializing Note: How did the Humans ever make this far?)

Anyhow…this grenade was embossed & the clay was decorated (image above).

I can’t help but ask: Why???

I know, right? I’m here for the truly pressing questions.

But still…why?

Would they take the time to decorate a weapon that’s going to explode on contact? Pride of craftsmanship? Was it made for some other purpose by a potter and bought/conscripted by the military for weaponry? Did it have some affect on the trajectory/speed of how the grenade would travel once thrown?

Honestly, I don’t even think this counts as a Useless Info post.  It’s more of a Useless Questions post.

If anyone have answers, fire away!  If not, enjoy the questions.

K

Some Useless Facts About Medieval Mistletoe

Useless Trivia About Medieval Mistletoe

In the way back oldie times, mistletoe was a controversial thing. It’s part of old Norse mythology, which was not really so very Christian. It was used in Celtic festivals and ancient Roman festivals, and was all pagan-ed up. 

As you might imagine, a lot of religious people were Bothered by this and Did Not Like It.  It conjured bad vibes when used as a decoration during Christmastime, especially in churches, on what was becoming a pretty holy day.

This disdain continued through the ages, because….people. Martin Luther and John Calvin hated mistletoe because of its pagan, pre-Christian history, and the Puritans basically said, “Talk to the hand, mistletoe.”

But a lot of churches didn’t actually care about the Bothered Folk.

For almost a thousand years now, at York Minster, the Dean of the cathedral has placed a spring of mistletoe on the high altar, where it stays for the 12 days of Christmas.

Back in the middl ages, the mistletoe came with a “decree of peace and pardon” at the city gates–which lasted as long as the mistletoe remained on the altar.

Anyone estranged or exiled was to be welcomed home, and people were supposed to refrain from starting lawsuits each other during this holy time.

Wow. Nice, yes?

As far as the kissy-face part of mistletoe…the original custom was that one berry was picked from the sprig, & only then could a person be kissed. When all the berries had gone, no more kissing.

That has story potential, no??

And in the ‘seriously?’ pile of mistletoe trivia…the name is a combo of two Anglo Saxon words: ‘mistel’ (meaning dung) and ‘tan’ (meaning twig/stick) So, it seems what we have developed is the tradition of stealing kissing beneath a poopy stick.

Isn’t history great?

I Have Cookies!

Okay, actually, I just have a recipe for cookies. But still. COOKIES!

But it’s not just me, it’s over 30 other historical romance authors!  Yep.

More on that in a sec…

Since we’re all about history here…can you imagine a time before there WERE cookies? Does that sentence even make sense??

I say not.

As far as what we can document, the earliest “cookie” type cakes date back to 7th century, in Persia (modern day Iran.) 

So the next question, obviously, is: My LORD, what did the poor 6th century humans do??? 

Tbh, I’m pretty sure they had cookies.  Sweetening & some kind of shortening was the thing. 

Since honey is as old as written history (think 2100 B.C.) & sugar cane was discovered about 500 B.C., you can breathe a sigh of relief.

As for butter…the ancients had cookie-lovers covered.  From Hindus offering ghee–clarified butter–to Lord Krishna, to pagan Romans using it medicinally (swallowed for coughs or spread on aching joints) to biblical butter (a food for celebration), butter was basic. As it should be.

You may begin to be a bit worried about the other main ingredients in the recipe I’m sharing today–peanuts & chocolate.  

Never fear. 

Peanuts originated in South America, and for as long as there’s been pottery (35oo years) there’s been peanut-shaped pottery & images of peanuts on said pottery.  There’s even some evidence the ancient Incas made peanut butter.  Sadly, the medieval English kitchen wouldn’t have had peanuts. So sad.

As for chocolate…that has a 4000 year history. The Aztecs believed cacao seeds were a gift from the god of wisdom, and the seeds were used as a form of money. I think they were onto something!

Today, luckily, all these cultures & timelines have converged to give us sugar, peanut butter, and…chocolate kisses! 

↓↓  And this is my favorite thing to do with them!    ↓ ↓

 

Onto the recipe.

Bonus: I also suggest some VARIATIONS.  Quick, read on.

But remember what I said above? 

YOU CAN GET MORE COOKIE RECIPES! 

From historical romance authors! 

Plus a chance to win a grand book-ish prize!!

Because this is a romance cookie hop.

 

For all the nuttiness & obligatory emotional masochism of the holidays, you have to admit, there are some silver linings.

Such as romance cookie hops. 

Details on the hop & how to find the links are at the bottom of the post. 

Now onto the recipe.  I also made it downloadable in pdf if you wish.  Download. Bake. Eat. (the cookies, not the download)

PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOM COOKIES

PREP:

  • Take out ½ cup butter and warm to room temp
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Unwrap your Kisses. A great job for little hands

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1¼ cups flour*
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar*
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • All the Chocolate Kisses In The World. Or about 36.*

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375 if you haven’t yet
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, & salt in bowl
  • In another large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed about 30 seconds (less if you have an amazing mixer, mechanical or humanoid, such as a medium-sized child or full-sized spouse.)
  • Add peanut butter and both sugars to mixing bowl. Beat about fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg & vanilla to bowl. Beat to combine.
  • In your hand, roll dough into 1 inch/tablespoon size balls*
  • Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet
  • Bake 8-10 min, until edges just beginning to brown. Don’t overbake. Remove when they feel ever so slightly underdone.
  • Immediately press a Kiss into the center of each one. Be gentle.  The warmth from the cookies will start melting the kisses almost immediately, so it’s a fragrant, slightly gooey mess.
  • EAT THEM ALL RIGHT NOW.

Just kidding.  It’s the holidays, people. Save one cookie for each absent family member and if Santa visits your house, one for Santa. You can eat the rest.

I promised variations, so here you go.

Variations:

·       *Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead of white.  I know, right?  But try it.

·       *Use coconut sugar instead of white sugar. It has a more…caramel-y flavor, & you might like it here.  

·       Mix up your Kisses!  (Awww…)  Use dark chocolate, the swirly white-and-milk kind, caramel filled, or any other variation! 

·      *Experiment to see the size cookies you want. Smaller means more Kiss on each cookie, larger means…more cookie.  See what you like best. Just make sure all the ones on any particular cookie sheet are the same size.

To Freeze

You can freeze the raw dough.

·       Mix all ingredients & roll into balls as above. 

·       Optional: Coat in granulated sugar.

·       Place balls on a tray and freeze for about 2 hours or until outside is no longer tacky.

·       Transfer to freezer bag or a container with a sealable lid.

·       Store for up to six months. 

DOWNLOADABLE RECIPE

 

SIGN UP FOR KRIS’S NEWSLETTER! 

If you like epic adventures, big bad alpha heroes, and the clever, strong women who turn their worlds upside down, you’ll love these stories! Dive into these super hot, big adventure, banter-filled historical romances.  

I only send the newsletter when there’s book news readers care about. A few times a year, tops.

Sign up & immerse yourself in a bygone era of chivalry, honor, and a rollicking fun HEA!

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Check out all the other recipes!
HISTORICAL ROMANCE COOKIE HOP

The holidays are swirling around us: ribbons, gifts, parties, cards, sweet treats! We know you’re busy, so we want to help by sharing our favorite holiday cookie recipes with you. 32 historical romance authors gifting you with 28 delicious holiday cookie recipes!
 
And to make it even more special, one lucky hopper will win a $150 gift card AND 32 historical romances! Woot! A whole winter of Highlanders, Dukes, Knights, Pirates, and more! 

Follow these four easy steps:
* Hop to each link, listed below, which will take you to a historical author’s FB page, web site, or blog. While you’re there please like, follow, or sign up for a newsletter if you would like to stay up to date on our new releases and author happenings.
* Discover a new cookie recipe on each site.
* Collect the name of the cookies from each listed author, and e-mail the total list to Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com when it is complete.  The list must be turned in by midnight on December 15th. Please put Cookie Exchange List in the subject.
* One grand prize winner, of a $150 gift card and 32 digital romance books, will be selected randomly from those who collected and turned in the name of all the cookies. The winner must respond within 24 hours to claim prize and we will announce the winner hopefully by December 16th.

Easy, delicious, and fun! Thanks so much for hopping along!

Readers start your ovens. 3 … 2 … 1 … Let the cookie collecting begin! And have a fantastic holiday season!

If you’re following along, the next author in the hop is https://www.facebook.com/TaraKingstonAuthor/
 
If you’re being rebellious and skipping around (clever lass), here are ALL THE LINKS

Lara Archer http://laraarcher.com 
Katharine Ashe https://katharineashe.com/extras/cookies-fit-for-a-prince/
Lori Ann Bailey http://loriannbailey.com/christmas-eve-cookies/  
Tammy L. Bailey https://www.tammylbailey.com/   
Katherine Bone https://facebook.com/AuthorKatherineBone/  
Liana De la Rosa https://www.facebook.com/LianainBloom/
Elizabeth Essex https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.essex.37/
Tina Gabrielle https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle
Virginia Heath https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/
Piper Huguley http://piperhuguley.com 
Julie Johnstone https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliejohnstone/
Kris Kennedy https://www.kriskennedy.net/Blogsm
Elizabeth Keysian https://elizabethkeysian.com/
Tara Kingston https://www.facebook.com/TaraKingstonAuthor/
Eliza Knight https://eknightauthor.com/2018/12/cookie-exchange-hop/ 
Elizabeth Langston http://www.elizabethlangston.net/holiday-hop/
Jeannie Lin http://www.jeannielin.com/blog/
Diana Lloyd https://www.diana-lloyd.com   
Nicole Locke https://www.facebook.com/NicoleLockeAuthor
Alanna Lucas https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlannaLucas/
Deb Marlowe http://www.debmarlowe.com/historical-holiday-cookie-hop.html
Madeline Martin http://www.madelinemartin.com/blog/
Heather McCollum https://www.heathermccollum.com/kitchen/
Maddison Michaels https://www.facebook.com/MaddisonMichaelsAuthor/
April Moran https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAprilMoran
Kate Parker https://www.facebook.com/Author.Kate.Parker/ 
Emma Prince https://www.EmmaPrinceBooks.com  
Vanessa Riley http://vanessariley.com/blog/2018/12/04/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-cookies/
Ava Stone http://www.avastoneauthor.com/ava-s-scandalous-oatmeal-cookies
Jennifer Trethewey https://www.facebook.com/jennifertretheweyromance/
Victoria Vane http://www.victoriavane.com/blog  
Harmony Williams http://hwww.harmonywilliams.com/xmas-hop   

 

You can also find ALL THE COOKIE LINKS HERE.
And also ON FACEBOOK HERE.
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