Cher de Bellevue, OP

  • Cheryl Feinstein
  • Passed March 1992

Mistress Cher was a unique person, a paradox of personality: Opinionated and open-minded, blunt as a brick and sharp as a blade, petty in unimportant ways and greathearted in all that was important. She reveled in being correct and her opinion was not to be disputed; yet she could listen and accept that possibly,

just possibly
, she might be wrong and admit it. The loves of her life were the SCA, her friends, and other people’s children. Her loving spirit far outweighed her peculiarities. She was generous with her knowledge and enjoyed the study of heraldry and all its intricacies.

Cher enjoyed fine food and was quite the cook and feastcrat, but due to a childhood bout with double pneumonia, her sense of taste and smell were limited and as such, she could sometimes only taste very strong flavors such as garlic (LOTS of garlic!!) She thus had a great appreciation of strongly flavored foods, which leads to a few stories:

“The Pigs of Sauron”

Cher was going to be Feastcrat for the barony’s 12th Night “Feast of St. Benét” and decided to make roast suckling pig. She purchased the piglings, scalded and scraped, but ungutted. She brought them home, emptied them, and started fixing the stuffing. The stuffing was a combination of two period recipes that called for prunes, walnuts, and lots of chopped pork entrails, sort of a hog-haggis. Cher set about boiling the pig bits and preparing the rest of the meal. That night, the hall was decorated, the tables set, and the food was read to serve. Cher had been keeping the pigs concealed for dramatic effect. At last the moment arrived and the suckling pigs were brought to the head table. All conversation ceased as the platter was set down and everyone got a look at the unfortunate things.

Cher hadn’t thought to truss them into place, oil the skins, or remove certain items. The heat of roasting had drawn the piglets into fetal positions, mouths gaping wide to show off impressive browned tusks and blackened tongues. The eyes had burst, leaving brown-crusted sockets while the ears and tails were burned to nubs. The garlic-charged stuffing, blotched with dark lumps of prune and unidentifiable chunks, had expanded quite a lot and burst from the sewn-up cavities and wherever else it found a weak spot. After several moments of silence, the Baron quietly suggested that it might be expedient to take them back to the kitchen to carve them. “The Pigs of Sauron”, as they were promptly named, were eaten, but only after they’d been reduced to unfrightening gobbets.

“The Soup From Hell”

Elizabeth and I, at this particular time, shared a house with Cher and another roommate, Kerri. Cher had caught a case of the sniffles and, worried that it would turn into something worse, she decided to fight it with food. She would make soup! Earlier that afternoon, Elizabeth and I had spent a lovely day walking about town and it was early evening before we started for home. We were about six blocks from home when we began to noticed the weird smell, something familiar, but vaguely unpleasant. As we got within four blocks of the house, the smell became more and more prevalent. At two blocks, we began to cough. Our eyes were beginning to water and burn as we turned into the yard and we suddenly realized (with appropriate horror) that the miasma was coming from our house.

We staggered in to find that Cher had made soup. With garlic. And red chilies. And more garlic. And ginger. And even more garlic. And black pepper. And lots of garlic. And liver. And, amazingly enough, garlic. It was like walking into a wall of stink. It was

tangible. Cher was sitting on the floor in the living room, spooning the toxic waste out of a large bowl. “Hey guys!” she wheezed, “There’s soup on the stove if you want any. Help yourselves!” We clawed our way outside and were sitting on the porch when our other roommate, Kerri, rode up on her bicycle. She looked at us, looked at the house, looked back at us, and got back on her bike and rode off to spend the night with her boyfriend across town. We got out our camping gear and spent the night in the yard.

In spite of these (and a few other) excursions in culinary terrorism, Cher could cook some things very well. She was Jewish and could prepare traditional Jewish food that would have made any kosher deli weep with envy. She made a noodle casserole,

lokshen kugel, that is addictively wonderful and her bread-and-butter pudding is fit to be served in paradise. –

Cher’s Lokshen Kugel (Noodle Pudding)

  • 1 pound of noodles, cooked and drained*
  • 1 8-oz pkg of cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 pound of cottage cheese.
  • 3 beaten eggs. *
  • ½ cup of sugar.
  • ½ cup of raisins. *
  • ½ cup melted butter. *
  • 1 tsp vanilla.
  • ½ tsp cinnamon.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 11” x 7” x 2” pan. Combine cream cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, and sugar. Blend well. Stir in fruit, butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the noodles and mix well. Pour into pan and bake 35 – 40 minutes or until done (You’ll know when it’s done. It’ll firm up). Let stand at least 20 minutes before serving.
  • Serves 8.

Mole’s notes:

  • *Cher used egg noodles. I like using shells or farfelle. You could also make this using lasagna noodles and layer like lasagna too!
  • *For a low-fat version, use fat-free cheeses, egg substitute, and a fat-free butter substitute.
  • *Fruit: I like using chopped apples, raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, etc. and about a ½ cup or so of chopped nuts: walnuts, pecans, etc.

Cher’s Spiced Bread & Butter Pudding

  • 1 loaf of sliced white bread, crusts removed.
  • 1 pound of butter, softened.
  • 1 pkg asst. dried fruits.
  • 1 small box (approx. 8 oz.) raisins.
  • 1 small box (approx. 8 oz.) currants.
  • 4 Tbsp ground cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp ground allspice.
  • 2 Tbsp ground nutmeg.
  • 1 Tbsp ground cloves.
  • ¾ cup sugar.
  • 5 eggs.
  • 2 cups of milk.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Butter the sides of a 9” x 13” baking or casserole pan. In a bowl, thoroughly mix all fruit and spices and set aside. Line the bottom of the pan completely with slices of bread that have been liberally buttered on both sides and trimmed to fit snugly. Sprinkle a layer of the fruit/spice mixture over the bread. Top with another layer of buttered bread, then fruit/spices, etc. continuing to alternate until the pan is full and topping with a final layer of fruit/spices. Beat the eggs to a froth in a, large bowl, then beat in the milk, cream, and sugar. Pour, a bit at a time, over the bread, making sure the liquid reaches the bottom of the pan. Let the pudding rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to absorb the liquid. Cover the pudding with a lightly buttered piece of foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 30 minutes longer. May be served hot or cold.

Cher was dedicated to her study of heraldry and worked tirelessly to assist the members of An Crosaire to design their arms and badges. She carried this dedication to the Kingdom level and many of the arms being used in Trimaris today benefited from her assistance. She worked very hard at events and often seemed to be everywhere at once. It was not uncommon to see her hard at work after the event was over as well, usually helping to clean the kitchens or mopping floors in the hall.

In personal life, she was equally dedicated to doing her best. She worked for many years at the University of Florida and was a valued employee. As mentioned earlier, she had a great affection for children, especially the really little ones and had infinite patience with them. She would have been one of the world’s best Mothers if she had the opportunity and often displayed this quality in her dealing with her friends. She was always full of energy and was on the go 24/7.

That was why her announcement to the Barony of her cancer was such a blow. She had been having headaches that were growing steadily worse. The diagnosis of brain cancer was shattering, especially when it was revealed the surgery wasn’t an option. In typical fashion, she stubbornly refused to go without a fight and submitted to the chemo and radiation treatments without complaint. Unfortunately, it was too late and she slipped away all too soon. Her memorial service was well attended, not only by the SCA, but also by her friends in the Gainesville Gay and Lesbian Alliance, from the University of Florida, and from all the people in the community who’s lives she’d touched. Her parents came down from Long Island, New York, for the service and were at first appalled, then amazed by all the stories we told about Cher and how much she meant to us. No feelings were spared and the tales of Cher’s goofups and triumphs were told in equal number and with the same affection. She was cremated and her ashes scattered on the graves of her grandparents and sister in New York and along the beaches of Long Island as she wished.

Mole (Baron Elom Eikinskjaldi )

 

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