Mincemeat has never been part of my personal Christmas traditions. I grew up in Harrisburg, PA, with a maternal grandmother who was PA Dutch and very poor for most of her life. The first time I had it, I think was after I’d moved to Los Angeles and it was from a jar. Because I was curious.
It was gross.
It was super sweet and that was all I could taste. But, I’m not one to give up on a food until I’ve made it myself. Plus, I know that mincemeat has its roots in Medieval Europe. I like a lot of medieval dishes, so I thought I’d see if I could find something that was low-carb/no sugar and create something magical.
I was not prepared for my back to spasm, then put me out of commission for 5 days. Yes, that’s right, 5 days.
I started learning fire fans for another project I have. And I am used to shooting archery–or, at least, was used to shooting archery every weekend for 4-5 hours, in the Before Times. It’s a lot of the same muscles. My fans weigh about 7oz each. So, I was practicing for only an hour a day for two days. I woke up Friday morning and my back between my shoulder blades was tight, but I didn’t think anything of it–but, it was tight enough that I didn’t want to risk injury practicing fans. By the time dinner rolled around, my shoulder area felt like knives were being driven into it, and my ribcage felt like it was being pulled apart. I took two Tylenol to reduce inflammation, went to bed; I’d be fine in the morning.
But I was not fine in the morning.
Nor was I fine the next morning.
Friday to Saturday, I ended up sleeping on the cold, hard tile of the bathroom. Why? Because a) it was the only place I could comfortably lie down that my back didn’t instantly hurt, and b) this pain is so intense it makes me nauseated, so being near the toilet was ideal. But, because I didn’t sleep well, the pain intensified…and Saturday to Sunday, I also slept on the bathroom floor. Between about 6pm Saturday and 6pm Sunday, I had taken 10 Tylenol, 2 Naproxen, 1 Cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxer), 1 Gabapentin, 5mg Hybrid, and 10mg Sativa. None of it worked. Monday, I had to go have my blood work re-done from my RA appointment two weeks ago. I took some Tylenol so I could drive and function and I was feeling somewhat better, but still not even 50%. I expressed to my nurse that I was pretty confident the results would be the same because of the pain I was in. This video was shot Monday afternoon and all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. I still have to make the tart shells. That night, I took a Percocet and a hot bath so I could sleep.
Tuesday, I woke up feeling somewhat okay, but when I moved, all of the pain came back to my ribs and diaphragm and I spent Tuesday in bed. Wednesday was somewhat better. I filmed the other video that day and felt pretty good. I was wearing real clothes and was pretty happy–except that also included a real bra and that did not make my back happy. I ended up taking a couple Tylenol and switching to a sports bra. Today, I just started with the sports bra and I’ve been pretty comfortable.
Which just means I may film a Part 2 video this weekend to show you how to make the tart shells for your mincemeat pies! Excitement!
So, back to mincemeat.
Originally, mince meat had actual meat in it. It was a way of preserving the meat. It was a combination of sweet and savory flavors, usually a mix of spices and dried fruits such as figs and dates, in a very thick crust called a “Coffin.” The coffin was usually tossed because it was just a vessel in which to cook the meat, fruit, and seasonings. One of the earliest recipes for a mince meat tart can be found in a 14th Century book “Forme of Cury” and is a recipe for Tart of Flesh (c. 1390CE).
By the Victorian era, the meat ingredients for mincemeat pies began to disappear and the pies focused, instead, upon the fruits and spices. They also shrank in size from being the type of food one would use to feed a family to a more individual treat.
Fun fact: According to the Chicago Reader, “Canned mince pie filling during Prohibition-era Chicago saw its alcohol levels spike to more than 14%.”
If you like boozy foods like I do, this is the recipe used for this video (and the potential “Part 2” video when I make the crusts). I used a chayote squash instead of the apple and I opted to use blackstrap molasses because I much prefer the slight bitterness of blackstrap.
What are your favorite mincemeat recipes? Have you tried any from the Medieval period? Let me know in the comments below! If your a Patreon supporter, then hit me up on the Discord!