Archive for June, 2007

As promised …

Colin Firth, the winner of the Mr. Darcy battle will have his photo placed on my sidebar. Now here is a question of a different sort. Which photo of Colin as Mr. Darcy you would like me to place there? Please leave a comment of which you prefer. A, B, C, or D. I will make up my mind in a month using your suggestions. Thank you!

Choice D

As for Matthew MacFadyen fans, fear not. As you go through my blog, you will see plenty of photos of Mr. MacFadyen. I would like to showcase Lady Jane’s favorite photo of Matthew and Keira Knightley. It is stunning.

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The Janeites on the James meet every other month or so. This past time I brought my new stash of four Jane Austen resource books and showed them around. One elicited a laugh the moment the Janeites saw it: Jane Austen for Dummies.

“Let them laugh,” I thought, handing it around and keeping quiet. Sure enough, the first Janeite, the youngest among us, opened the book playfully. As she leafed through the pages, she became thoughtful. “This is good,” she declared, keeping the book a long time.

“Hah,” I thought. “That shows ’em.” At the end of the evening one of the Janeites borrowed the book, and all declared they were going to order it as soon as possible. The majority of us have graduate degrees, and all of us can only be described as discerning females, so this was no mean feat.

The contents in this book alone are worthy of praise. In addition to a clear and concise organization of thoughts and topics, the author, Joahn Klingel Ray, PhD, writes with much authority. The book is an outstanding addition to any Jane lover’s library. Dr. Ray is an English Professor at the University of Colorado and the President of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Believe me when I say: She knows her stuff. The book is rather large to put in one’s purse, so I would bring The Jane Austen Handbook when traveling. But for reference at home, I would turn to this book as well.

My rating? Three Regency Fans. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or google the name to purchase this fabulous find.

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Mansfield Park

So Sorry, As of July 25, These Full Videos Are No Longer Available on YouTube. However, here is a YouTube clip summary of all three ITV Jane Austen specials for Jane Austen season.

Portsmouth Woodcut from Jane Austen Society Australia

ITV videos of Mansfield Park are available on YouTube. Click below for the first video, then look for parts 2-18 in the YouTube side bar.

“If Rushworth didn’t have 12,000 pounds a year, what a stupid fellow he’d be.” Edmund to Fanny in Mansfield Park 2007 ITV movie.

My Critique: This is a very disjointed and dark version of Mansfield Park. Only individuals who have read the novel can follow this plot. Click here to read the review by Gallivant, who sums this screen version up best: It isn’t very flattering but unfortunately I agree.

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In November, I wrote about the scullery maid, a young girl or woman who occupied the lowest rung of the servant class. Her domain, when she was not hauling wood or water up steep stairs, was the scullery, where she labored from dawn until dusk.

The scullery, a room adjacent to the kitchen and with a door that led outside, was typically used for washing laundry, cleaning dishes and utensils, scrubbing pots and pans, preparing vegetables, and performing simple cooking tasks that aided the cook and kitchen maids. Herbs hung from the rafters, and big open sinks made of stone stood against the walls, such as in the photo above of the scullery at Harewood House.

The scullery floor was tiled and had a drain to drain water. Because of the heat and steam of cooking and washing, the room itself was cut off from the larder or pantry, or any other parts of the house that stored food. The scullery also needed to be near the kitchen yard, coal cellar, wood house, and ash bin, as these were the rooms that the scullery maid was most apt to use in performance of her duties.
You can find a description of a scullery and kitchen of Fota House, a Regency Style house in Ireland, here. And see the basement annex to the Regency Townhouse in Hove, East Sussex here. One can view the kitchen in a virtual tour, but not the scullery, which I suspect sits adjacent to the kitchen and coal bin.

A scullery maid held no rank in the servant hierarchy. She was at the absolute bottom. Mrs. Beeton, in her excellent Book of Household Management, writes in 1861:

The cook takes charge of the fish, soups, and poultry; and the kitchen-maid of the vegetables, sauces, and gravies. These she puts into their appropriate dishes, whilst the scullery-maid waits on and assists the cook. Everything must be timed so as to prevent its getting cold, whilst great care should be taken, that, between the first and second courses, no more time is allowed to elapse than is necessary, for fear that the company in the dining-room lose all relish for what has yet to come of the dinner.

Indeed, not all was hopeless for the scullery maid, as depicted above by Giuseppe Crespi in 1710. Mrs. Beeton continues:

The position of scullery-maid is not, of course, one of high rank, nor is the payment for her services large. But if she be fortunate enough to have over her a good kitchen-maid and clever cook, she may very soon learn to perform various little duties connected with cooking operations, which may be of considerable service in fitting her for a more responsible place. Now, it will be doubtless thought by the majority of our readers, that the fascinations connected with the position of the scullery-maid, are not so great as to induce many people to leave a comfortable home in order to work in a scullery. But we are acquainted with one instance in which the desire, on the part of a young girl, was so strong to become connected with the kitchen and cookery, that she absolutely left her parents, and engaged herself as a scullery-maid in a gentleman’s house. Here she showed herself so active and intelligent, that she very quickly rose to the rank of kitchen-maid; and from this, so great was her gastronomical genius, she became, in a short space of time, one of the best women-cooks in England.

Sculleries and the duties of the scullery maid remained essentially unchanged for centuries, as these 1910 images of the scullery at the White Lion Inn attest.

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My dear Lizzie,

The battle has ended. It was touch and go for a time, but then my most ardent admirers voted en masse and I pulled ahead once and for all. However, lest you think I am gloating, I believe my opponent is a worthy young man. MacFadyen has not enjoyed my years of fame and fandom, and yet he gave me a good run. I salute him. As for Ms. Place, she has learned this lesson: Do not mess with a Firth or MacFadyen fan.

Ever yours, Darcy

P.S. For your amusement, I enclose this word search puzzle. Click on the words to print out a larger version. Oh, and my dear, please be aware the words can go forwards, backwards, and diagonally both ways.

Lizzie, my love,
I concede only because I must. My time will come. Wait for me.

The other Darcy

The ending vote was: Colin Firth – 64%, Matthew MacFadyen, 36%. However, the total vote was 1,218 votes. This is an enormous number of votes for a casual blog. Thank you for participating.

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A gentle reminder …

… that voting ends at midnight EST U.S. The Battle of the Mr. Darcys has been raging for almost one week and it has been a fierce one. However, I believe that during this process many die hard fans have come to admire both actors and their portrayal of our dashing hero.

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Antonin Careme: Chef Extraordinaire During the Regency Era

Antonin Careme, 1784 – 1833, was regarded the world’s first celebrity chef, and was credited for creating haute cuisine for the kings and queens of Europe. He made Napoleon’s wedding cake, souffles flecked with gold for the Rothschilds in Paris, and meals for the Romanovs in Russia using such esoteric ingredients as rooster testicles. On January 15, 1817, Antonin supervised the meal served at Brighton Pavilion for the Prince Regent, which included over 100 dishes.

In High Society, Venetia Murray writes:

At the Pavilion, and in other grand households, dinner was still served a la fracaise, which meant that the majority of the dishes were arranged in the middle of the table: the people were supposed to help themselves from the nearest dish and then offer it to their neighbours. If, however, someone fancied one of the other dishes, which might well have been placed at the opposite end of the table, he had to ask a fellow guest within range, or one of the servants, to pass it. It was therefore impossible to sustain a conversation because someone was always interrupting and the servants were always on the move. (p. 182-83)

The chances of the Prince Regent’s guests getting the exact dishes they wanted on the menu would not have been great. At best they would have received a random sampling of such dishes as:

Les poulardes a la Perigueux, La timbale de macaroni a la Napolitaine, La fricassee de poulets a l’Italienne, Les galantines de perdreaux a la gelee, Le petits poulets a l’Indienne, La cote de boeuf auz oignons glaces, Les escalopes de volaille aux truffes, Le vol-au-vent de quenelles a l’Allemande, La brioche au fromage, Les canards sauvages, Les genoises glacess au cafe, Les sckals au beurre, Le fromage bavarois aux avelines, and de petites souffles au chocolat.

Here is one of the recipes Antonin used for the extravagant banquet at Brighton Pavilion. (Illustration above: Banquet Hall at Brighton Pavilion)

Les Petits Vol-Au-Vents a la Nesle

Brighton Pavilion and Chateau Rothschild

20 vol-au-vent cases, the diameter of a glass
20 cocks-combs
20 cocks-stones (testes)
10 lambs sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
10 small truffles, pared, chopped, boiled in consomme
20 tiny mushrooms
20 lobster tails
4 fine whole lambs’ brains, boiled and chopped
1 French loaf
2 spoonfuls chicken jelly
2 spoonfuls veloute sauce
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
4 egg yolks
2 chickens, boned
2 calves’ udders
2 pints cream
sauce Allemande
salt, nutmeg


Crumb a whole French loaf. Add two spoonfuls of poultry jelly, one of veloute, one tablespoon of chopped parsley, two of mushrooms, chopped. Boil and stir as it thickens to a ball. Add two egg yolks. Pound the flesh of two boned chickens through a sieve. Boil two calves’ udders — once cold, pound and pass through a sieve.

Then, mix six ounces of the breadcrumbs panada to ten ounces of the chicken meat, and ten of the calves’ udders and combine and pound for 15 minutes. Add five drams of salt, some nutmeg and the yolks of two more eggs and a spoonful of cold veloute or bechamel. Pound for a further ten minutes. Test by poaching a ball in boiling water — it should form soft, smooth balls.

Make some balls of poultry forcemeat in small coffee spoons, dip them in jelly broth and after draining on a napkin, place them regularly in the vol-au-vent, already half filled with:

a good ragout of cocks-combs and stones (testicles)
lambs’ sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
lobster tails
four fine whole brains

Cover all with an extra thick sauce Allemande.

Learn more about Antonin Careme

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