The Bardic Chef: Make-Ahead Ingredients

There are many modern ingredients in recipes that you can just buy at the store, pre-made and in handy little tubs or jars. This isn’t the case for D&D, of course. If Prianna has a wagon set up for food storage, a bag of holding, a restaurant to work out of, or some sort of home, she will make many of these things ahead of time to use when the need arises.

Potato Yeast Starter (for breads)

Use water from boiled potatoes. For every 1 ½ cup of water, add 1 tablespoon of sugar, and enough flour until it makes a stiff base. Cover and leave overnight in the kitchen while it’s still warm in there. It should bubble the following morning. To dry it out, spread very thin on a baking stone, cover with cheesecloth, and allow to dry out. Crumble and keep in a tight jar. Last longest in ice boxes or cellars.

Apple Cider Vinegar

For every gallon of water, add 1 cup of sugar. Fill container with apple peels, cores, and scraps from pies and other recipes. Pour the sugar water over the apples until covered, then loosely cover with thin fabric. Keep in a warm, dark place for two to three weeks, stirring every few days, and skimming the scum off the top as it forms. Strain scraps from the liquid, set aside for another few weeks. Save the gelatinous “mother” blob that forms as a starter for the following project.

Wine Vinegar

Using the “mother” from the other vinegar, and the remaining wine from the bottom of the casks. Three parts wine to one part “mother” gelatin, allow to sit, covered with thin fabric, for a month in a warm dark place. The new “mother” can be transferred yet again.

Yellow Mustard

1 cup of mustard seeds, 1 cup of white wine, 2/3 cup of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar. Combine and let stand for three days. Mash and blend until smooth, and add a spoonful of water at a time until you reach desired thickness. Store in a tight jar. Can keep from 4 – 6 months if kept in an ice box.

Brown Mustard

1 cup mustard seeds, 1 cup beer, 2/3 cup water, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar. Combine and let stand for three days. Mash and blend until smooth, and add a spoonful of water at a time until you reach the desired thickness. Store in a tight jar. Can keep from 4 – 6 months if kept in an ice box.


Mix two eggs, two egg yolks, a teaspoon of salt, 1 ½ tablespoons of mustard, 1 ½ tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 cup of oil. Whisk thoroughly, and quickly, until you feel like your arm will fall off. Switch arms, do it again. Continue until it becomes the desired thickness. Adjust flavors/seasonings as needed. Use immediately, or store in icebox for six days maximum.

Tomato Paste

Use ten pounds of tomatoes, core and quarter them all, and remove seeds. Place in a pot and boil, stirring now and then, until all are juiced and then boil for 30 minutes more. Food mill the tomatoes, return to pot and simmer until reduced down, taking about an hour. Oil a baking sheet and spread the puree over it. Bake on a low flame for thirty minutes, stir puree, and respread very evenly. Bake for three more hours, every 30 minutes repeating the stir/respread method. Allow to cool, then put in a jar, covering the rest with oil to preserve it well.

Corn Syrup

Take one cup of sugar and ¼ cup of boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves. Snap 4 ears of corn into thirds and boil the corn in a pot full of water. Reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Pull out the corn cobs, strain all corn from the water, then add 4 ½ cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook at a medium heat until it resembles a soft ball, then remove from heat and let cool.


Combine gelatin with ½ cup of water and whisk. In a saucepan, combine other ½ cup of water with 1 ½ cups of sugar, syrup, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat for three to four minutes. Uncover and cook on low heat for ten minutes more. Remove from heat immediately. Mix gelatin, syrup mixture, and whisk at a feverish pace, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Mix ¼ cup of sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, grease a 13 x 9 pan, then coat with the cornstarch mixture. Pour sugar gelatin mix into the pan, dust with more cornstarch, and allow to sit for 4 hours minimum.

Heavy Cream

For a single cup of heavy cream, combine 2/3 cup of milk and 1/3 cup melted butter. Whisk briskly until combined.

Vegetable Rennet (For cheese-making)

Dry thistle flower heads, pick off the stamens, and grind up the dried stamens with a mortar and pestle. After gathering 5 tablespoons of this powder, add water water to the powder and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain off the liquid, what’s left is the rennet. 

This can also be done with nettles prior to seeding. Fill a pan with 2 pounds of nettles and 4 cups of water, simmering for 30 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of salt. Strain plants from liquid.

Cottage Cheese

Bring 2 ½ cups of milk to a boil, and once bubbles form remove from heat. Add ¼ cup of white vinegar. Allow to cool completely. Line strainer with multiple layers of cheesecloth, strain mixture. Set whey aside for other uses, but the curds have formed cottage cheese.

Ricotta Cheese

Boil 2 quarts of milk with 1 cup of heavy cream, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add in 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, reduce to low and simmer, stirring constantly until it curdles. Line the strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl, and pour cheese in. Allow to drain. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

Cream Cheese

In a pot, heat 4 cups of milk on high until it rolls to a simmer. Reduce to a medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, one spoonful at a time, every minute or so to slowly curdle the mixture. Stir constantly. When the mixture separates into curdles on top and liquid on the bottom, remove from the heat immediately. Cover a bowl with a cheesecloth-covered strainer, pour mixture into strainer, and let it cool like that for 15 minutes. Transfer the curls into a mortar and pestle, and mash until they form together into a smooth paste. Add a teaspoon of salt to taste. Mix in other flavors at this point if doing so. Store in a chilled area.

Mozzarella Cheese

Using one cup of water, stir in 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice. Separate ¼ cup of the liquid, and add ¼ teaspoon rennet to it, then mix. Pour one gallon’s worth of milk into the pot and stir in the lemon liquid. Add rennet to the mixture, count down 30 seconds, then cover and allow to sit for five minutes. If the mixture is still liquidy, give it another five minutes. Cut the cheese into a grid pattern, then put back over medium heat, stirring slowly as it separates from the whey. Remove from heat and stir further for five minutes. Heat a large pot of water and pour the curds into a strainer nestled in the water, and allow to sit for five more minutes to form together. Sprinkle salt over the cheese and squish to incorporate. Stretch and fold curds until it tightens, gathers, and takes a glossy sheen. Make a ball with it.