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Archive for the ‘Regency food’ Category

Amongst herbs to be eaten I find gourds, cucumbers, coleworts, melons disallowed, but especially cabbage. It causeth trouble-some dreams and sends up black vapours to the brain . . .” – Richard Burton, 16th century

Cabbage was first introduced in Great Britain by the Romans. In ancient times the Greeks revered it for its medicinal qualities, and it was well known in the Mediterranean region, where it spread out to other parts of Europe. The vegetable was cultivated as food for man and cattle and consumed mainly by the poor,  for this hardy plant could be grown in the vegetable garden in temperate climates for long periods and harvested into early winter. White cabbage, used for boiling, braising, and stewing, was distinguished from the red cabbage, which was mostly used for pickling. From the 14th century and on, European peasants consumed cabbage in the form of soups and stews, which nourished them through the long winter months. It wasn’t until the 18th century that cabbages began to make their appearance on more aristocratic tables.

Cabbage’s long lasting quality made it a valuable and nutritious vegetable staple for long sea voyages. One imagines that Jane Austen’s sailor brothers ate a great deal of cabbage while sailing.

In his journal for July 1772, Cook gives the following account of the provisions placed aboard the Resolution and Adventure…Biscuit, flour, salt beef, salt pork, beer, wine, spirit [distilled alcohol], pease [dried peas], wheat, oatmeal, butter, cheese [hard], sugar, oyle olive [olive oil], vinegar, suet, raisins, salt, malt, sour krout [sauerkrout], salted cabbage, portable broth [dessicated soup], saloup, mustard, mermalade [marmelade] of carrots, water…” – Sailors & Sauerkraut: Excerpts from the Journals of Captain Cook’s Expeditions All Pertaining to Food With Recipes to Match, Barbara Burkhardt, Barrie Andugs McLean & Doris Kochanek [Grey’s Publishing:Sidney BC] 1978 (p. 23)- The Food Timeline

High in vitamin c and anti-inflammatory properties, this cruciferous vegetable was not only nutritious and helped to fight scurvy, but an apocryphal story states that during Captain Cook’s first voyage, members of his crew were saved from gangrene by doctors who applied poultices of cabbage to their patients’ wounds.

At the time, cabbage was called a ‘cabbage cole’ or ‘colewort. ‘By the mid eighteenth century, an array of different cabbages was grown, and as one anonymous writer put it:

‘There various Kinds of this Plant are endless to describe_’ The common White Cabbage, Sugarloaf, Pontefract, Battersea, Red Cabbage, and the green and White Savoy Cabbage’ [Anon (1744)].

1770 creamware teapot. Image @Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge

Cabbages were grown in family gardens in raised beds, near the door for easy picking, and protected from damaging winds by a fence or hedge and mulch. Recipes for cooking cabbage were included in early cookery books, however, one defies the modern cook to be able to follow Hannah Glasse’s charming recipe for beans ragoo’-d with a cabbage (at least I would have a difficult time.)

TAKE a nice little cabbage, about as big as a pint bacon ; when the outside leaves, top, and stalks are cut off, half boil it, out a hole in the middle pretty big, take what you cut out and chop it very fine, with a sew of the beans boiled, a carrot boiled and mashed, and a turnip boiled,  mash all together, put them, into’a sauce-pan, season them with, pepper, salt, and nutmeg, a good piece of butter, stew them a few minutes over the fire, stirring the pan often. In the mean time put the cabbage into a sauce-pan but take great care it does not fall to pieces; put to it four spoonsfuls of water, two of wine, and one of catchup ; have a spoonful of mushroom-pickle, a piece of butter rolled in a little flour, a very little pepper, cover it close, and let it stew softly till it is tender; then take it up carefully and lay it in the middle of the dish, pour your mashed roots in the middle to fill it up high, and your ragoo round it. You may add the liquor the cabbage was stewed in, and send it to table hot. This will do for a top, bottom, middle, or side-dish. When beans are not to be had, you may cut carrots and turnips into little slices, and fry them; the carrots in little round slices, the turnips in pieces about two inches long, and as thick as one’s finger, and toss them up in the ragoo.

Cabbage tureen, mid-19th century Jacob Petit Porcelain. Image @Christie's

By 1773 the cultivation of cabbage in England was sufficiently commercialized to make it a criminal offence to steal or damage growing crops of cabbage, whose price had dropped by half since the 1730s. Chefs and cooks used cabbage to make ragout and pudding, or stuff it with meat. In the 16th and 17th centuries warm milk was added to make cabbage cream that was left to mature before being presented at dinner tables.

Red cabbage was prepared and sold as a pickle. Newspapers advertised the sale of cabbage seed, where it was defined as flat sided, green savoy, hellow (probably a misprint for yellow) red, Russia, sugar loaf, turnip, yellow savoy and Yorkshire. (Simone Clarke – British History Online.)

Still life with cabbage, James Peale

“The time has come…to talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing wax–of cabbages–and kings–And why the sea is boiling hot–And whether pigs have wings.” – Lewis Carroll

Mrs. Beeton’s STEWED RED CABBAGE (19th century)

INGREDIENTS – 1 red cabbage, a small slice of ham, 1/2 oz. of fresh butter, 1 pint of weak stock or broth, 1 gill of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoonful of pounded sugar.

Mode.—Cut the cabbage into very thin slices, put it into a stewpan, with the ham cut in dice, the butter, 1/2 pint of stock, and the vinegar; cover the pan closely, and let it stew for 1 hour. When it is very tender, add the remainder of the stock, a seasoning of salt and pepper, and the pounded sugar; mix all well together, stir over the fire until nearly all the liquor is dried away, and serve. Fried sausages are usually sent to table with this dish: they should be laid round and on the cabbage, as a garnish.

Time.—Rather more than 1 hour. Average cost, 4d. each.

Sufficient for 4 persons.

Seasonable from September to January.

Hannah Glasse’s 18th century Recipe for Pickled Red Cabbage declares this dish to be useful only for garnish:

To pickle red-cabhage.

SLICE the cabbage thin, put to it vinegar and salt, and an ounce of all-spice cold cover it close, and keep it fer use. It is a pickle of little use but for garnishing of dishes, sallads, and pickles, though some people are fond of it.

Years ago, my then husband and I spent an outrageous sum of money eating Bubble and Squeak at a chichi Mayfair restaurant in London. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this costly (to us) side dish consisted of the humble potato and cabbage, a dish invented by Maria Rundell in 1806.

Maria Rundell’s recipe for Bubble and Squeak.

Boil, chop, and fry, with a little butter, pepper, and salt, some cabbage, and lay on it slices of rare done beef, lightly fried.

In both the following receipts, the roots must be taken off the tongue before salted. – A new system of domestic cookery: formed upon principles of economy, and adapted to the use of private families, Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, 1808

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Gentle readers, this poem in a mid-19th century children’s family circle book perfectly describes the long and arduous day of an ordinary family cook.

The Discontented Cook. Image @Forrester's pictorial miscellany for the family circle edited by Mark Forrester, 1855

Oh, who would wish to be a cook,
To live in such a broil!

With all one’s pains, to cook one’s brains,
And lead a Life of toil?

“Tis, Stir the pudding, Peggy,
And give those ducks a turn;

Be quick, be quick, you lazy jade!
Else one or both will burn.

An hour before the rising sun
I’m forced to leave my bed,

To make the fires, and fry the cakes,

And get the table spread.
‘Tis, Stir the pudding, Peggy,

And give those ducks a turn;
Be quick, be quick, you lazy jade!

Else one or both will burn.

The breakfast’s scarely over,

And all things set to rights,
Before the savory haunch, or fowl,

My skill and care invites.
‘T is, Stir the pudding, Peggy,

And give those ducks a turn;
Be quick, be quick, you lazy jade!

Else one or both will burn.

And here I stand before the fire,

And turn them round and round;
And keep the kettle boiling —

I hate their very sound!
‘T is, Stir the pudding, Peggy,

And give those ducks a turn;
Be quick, be quick, you lazy jade!

Else one or both will burn.

And long before the day is spent,

I ‘m all in such a toast,
You scarce could tell which’s done the most

Myself, or what I roast!
‘Tis, Stir the pudding, Peggy,

And give those ducks a turn;
Be quick, be quick, you lazy jade’.

Else one or both will burn.

From Forrester’s Pictorial Miscellany for the Family Circle, 1855

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If I had only read Kim Wilson’s Tea with Jane Austen many years ago, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. Yes, gentle readers, I spent hours researching the history of tea and how and when people in the Regency era served it only to find that most of the information had already been gathered in this book.

Tea With Jane Austen at the Morgan Library & Museum gift shop. Image @Jane Austen's World

Kim published her slim but informative book in 2004, two years before I began this blog. It is now in its second edition, and rightly so. The author has included almost all the facts and social customs about tea that a Regency romance author or Jane Austen fan or 18th- and 19th-century social historian could want.

Image inside the book. Copyright 2011 Frances Lincoln Ltd

I read this slim but fact-packed volume in two sittings the first time around, and have since read it twice more. Each time I have been DELIGHTED. Kim includes information about the Austens; a short history of tea; mealtimes and the hours they were taken by both simple folks and the gentry;

A sample page - Making the Perfect Cup. Click on image. Copyright 2011 Kim Wilson

tea served in the home and outside of it; tea served in the morning and at a grand ball; the best way to prepare tea (or how the English do it); the health benefits of tea; shopping for tea; recipes for tea treats (including one for Mr. Woodhouse’s gruel!); and the difference between high tea and low tea (and why so many of us use the terms wrong).

One of the many charming quotes sprinkled throughout the book. Copyright 2011 Frances Lincoln Ltd

If I have any fault to find with the book is that it’s too short. Thankfully, Kim Wilson also wrote In the Garden with Jane Austen, a book I shall review at a later time. I give Tea with Jane Austen five out of five china tea cups. Order the book here: Frances Lincoln, UK; and Amazon.com US

5 out of 5 tea cups

Binding: Hardback, 128 pages
ISBN: 9780711231894
Format: 215mm x 165mm
40 colour and 45 b/w illustrations

BIC Code: BGL, WBX
BISAC Code: BIO007000
Imprint: Frances Lincoln

More About Tea

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Gentle Readers, I am spending July 4th with my family. We will picnic, eating a variety of collations, both hot and cold, and enjoying time with our extended family, including mothers, fathers, children, nieces and nephews, grandparents and great grandchildren.

Box Hill, view from the train. Image @Tony Grant

Because I am a Jane Austen aficionado, I am reminded of Emma’s picnic on Box Hill, which couldn’t be further from the closeness that my family will feel on the day we celebrate America’s birth.

View from Box Hill, Emma 2009

The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma’s thoughts all the evening. How it might be considered by the rest of the party, she could not tell. They, in their different homes, and their different ways, might be looking back on it with pleasure; but in her view it was a morning more completely misspent, more totally bare of rational satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollection, than any she had ever passed. – Emma, Jane Austen, Chapter 44

No one was quite satisfied with Emma’s planned outing, least of all Miss Bates, Mr. Knightley, and Emma. The Eltons wandered off bored and disappointed, and Miss Fairfax keenly felt the insults that Emma and Frank Churchill hurled her way.

Box Hill, Emma 2009. Fabulous view.

Yet Box Hill was a beautiful location, with a view that wouldn’t quit. It is still a tourist destination, and a place that offers peace and quiet to those who would enjoy its beauty.  Unlike Emma, I am prepared to enjoy my picnic with my family. Happy July 4th, all!

 

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Gentle Readers: To celebrate the 3 millionth visitor to this blog, I will be giving away Tea With Jane Austen, a delightful and informative book by Kim Wilson. Deadline: The contest will end the moment my blog meter records 3 million or July 4th, whichever comes first! Contest Closed! Congratulations, Sherry, and thank you ALL for participating and leaving such excellent questions!

All you need to do is leave a comment and a way for me to reach you. Please address this question: If Jane Austen came over for tea, which burning question would you want to ask her?

Thank you all for visiting my blog and for making it such a joy to meet you online.

Page 16 of Tea with Jane Austen. Image @Amazon.com

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Gentle readers,

Summer means long, lazy afternoons lounging in the yard or by the pool side, grilling meats like hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs. The hamburger has had a long tradition.

In 1802, the Oxford English Dictionary defined Hamburg steak as salt beef. It had little resemblance to the hamburger we know today. It was a hard slab of salted minced beef, often slightly smoked, mixed with onions and breadcrumbs. The emphasis was more on durability than taste. “ – Hamburger History 

Sailors from Hamburg, Germany, crossed the Baltic Sea regularly and returned with a taste for the minced raw beef dishes served up in Russian ports. The German haus-frau’s interpretation of these Baltic dishes was to fry or broil the patties. And voila! The Hamburg steak was born. By the late 1700’s the British knew them as Hamburg sausages.

Enter Hannah Glasse and her famous Art of Cookery book, which featured a recipe for Hamburgh sausage.

Hannah Glasse's recipe for Common Sausages

“By the mid-18th century, German immigrants also begin arriving in England. One recipe, titled “Hamburgh Sausage,” appeared in Hannah Glasse’s 1758 English cookbook called The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. It consisted of chopped beef, suet, and spices. The author recommended that this sausage be served with toasted bread. Hannah Glasse’s cookbook was also very popular in Colonial America, although it was not published in the United States until 1805. This American edition also contained the “Hamburgh Sausage” recipe with slight revisions.” – History and Legends of Hamburger 

By 1834, the menu of Delmonico’s in New York City advertised a Hamburger steak. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today the humble hamburger is popular the world over due to the marketing genius (or avarice?) of McDonald’s and other fast food chains.

18th c. Sausage shop. Image © Wellcome Trust

Image description: Two men are working with knives and cleavers as another makes sausages, a woman has come to buy and is holding some money in her hand. Coloured etching. A pork-butcher’s shop: two butchers are working with knives and cleavers as another makes sausages, a woman has come to buy and is holding some money in her hand. Coloured etching, 18-. 19th c.” – Wellcome Trust

More on the topic:

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Happy Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas, everyone! I leave you with this post about Plum Pudding as I celebrate the occasion with my favorite people in all the world – my family. May this season be a truly special one for you. And thank you for visiting Jane Austen’s World.

In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Stir-Up Day is the name traditionally given to the day on which Christmas puddings are made in England.

Banned by the Puritans in the 1660s for its rich ingredients, the [plum] pudding and its customs came back into popularity during the reign of George I. Known sometimes as the Pudding King, George I requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast when he celebrated his first Christmas in England after arriving from Hanover to take the throne in 1714. By 1740, a recipe for ‘plum porridge’ appeared in Christmas Entertainments. In the Victorian era, Christmas annuals, magazines, and cookbooks celebrated the sanctity of family as much as the sanctity of Jesus’ birth, and the tradition of all family members stirring the pudding was often referenced…Poorer families made the riches version of plum pudding that they could afford…Even workhouse inmates anticipated a plum pudding on Christmas Day.” – Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History, Andrea Broomfield [Praeger:Westport CT] 2007 (p. 150-151)

Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent, is considered the final day on which one can make the Christmas fruit cakes and puddings that require time to be aged before being served.

The Christmas pudding is traditionally “stirred up” on Stir-Up day day. All family members must take a hand in the stirring, and a special wooden spoon (in honor of Christ’s crib) is used. The stirring must be in a clockwise direction, with eyes shut, while making a secret wish. Source: The Customs and Ceremonies of Britain by Charles Knightly. London:Thames and Hudson, 1986, p. 211.”
The Folklore of World Holidays, Robert H. Griffen and Ann H. Shurgin editors, Second Edition [Gale:Detroit] 1998 (p. 679)

Stirring the Christmas pudding. Image@LIFE magazine

In past times the words “stir up”…reminded people to begin preparing their Christmas puddings…Children chanted a rhymed verse on that day that mixed the words of the collect with requests for special Christmas fare…Thus, the preparation of the Christmas pudding eventually became associated with this day. Folk beliefs advised each member to take a turn stirring the pudding, and ace that was believed to confer good luck. Another custom encouraged stirrers to move the spoon in clockwise motion, close their eyes, and make a wish.” – Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations, Tanya Gulevich, 2nd edition [Omnigraphics:Detroit] 2003 (p. 741)

Cook making Christmas pudding, Cruikshank

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding!- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

A boiled Plum Pudding – Hannah Glasse (18th century recipe)

TAKE a pound of suet cut in little pieces not too fine a pound of currants and a pound of raifins storied eight eggs half the whites half a nutmeg grated and a tea spoonful of beaten ginger a pound of flour a pint of milk beat the eggs first then half the milk beat them together and by degrees stir in the flour then the suet spice and fruit and as much milk as will mix it well together very thick Boil it five hours – Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery made plain and easy, p. 137

Rich Plum Pudding Recipe, Lady Godey’s Book, December 1860

Stone carefully one pound of the best raisins, wash and pick one pound of currants, chop very small one pound of fresh beef suet, blanch and chop small or pound two ounces of sweet almonds and one ounce of bitter ones; mix the whole well together, with one pound of sifted flour, and the same weight of crumb of bread soaked in milk, then squeezed dry and stirred with a spoon until reduced to a mash, before it is mixed with the flour.

Cut in small pieces two ounces each of preserved citron, orange, and lemon-peel, and add a quarter of an ounce of mixed spice; quarter of a pound of moist sugar should be put into a basin, with eight eggs, and well beaten together with a three-pronged fork; stir this with the pudding, and make it of a proper consistence with milk. Remember that it must not be made too thin, or the fruit will sink to the bottom, but be made to the consistence of good thick batter.

Taking up the Christmas pudding

Two wineglassfuls of brandy should be poured over the fruit and spice, mixed together in a basin, and allowed to stand three or four hours before the pudding is made, stirring them occasionally. It must be tied in a cloth, and will take five hours of constant boiling.

Carrying the plum pudding

When done, turn it out on a dish, sift loaf-sugar over the top, and serve it with wine-sauce in a boat, and some poured round the pudding. The pudding will be of considerable size, but half the quantity of materials, used in the same proportion, will be equally good.

Presenting the plum pudding

The following articles about plum pudding were published in 19th century periodicals and in a more recent blog:

Colonel Hazard’s Plum Pudding (In which the Colonel proves that plum pudding has impressive staying power.)

Colonel Rowland R. Hazard of electric railroad fame tells a story which gives the plum pudding a new dignity. Several years ago, the colonel suddenly decided to run over to England to make a holiday call on relatives there. It was a few days before Christmas, and just as the colonel was starting for the steamer, a Christmas package arrived for him. He had no time to examine it then, and left orders to have it kept for him. He did not return to New York for two year.s When he did get back, the package was brought down from the garret. It proved to contain a plum pudding that his English friends had sent him. It was as hard as a rock, but Colonel Hazard ordered it to be cooked, and he declares he never tasted a more perfect plum pudding in his life. He is inclined to think that good plum pudding, like the wheat found in the old Egyptian mummy cases, would keep all right for a thousand years. –  New York Commercial Advertiser – Good Housekeeping, Vol 5, Hearst Corp, 1887

Plum Pudding

The secret of making plum pudding light and digestible lies in properly preparing the suet, mincing the currants, and boiling a sufficient time. Puddings made with breadcrumbs are lighter than those made wholly of flour; and a mixture of the two makes the best pudding. Plum puddings may be made some time before Christmas, and, having been boiled, the cloth must be opened out, but not taken off the pudding, and dried. Wrapped in paper, and stored in a dry place, puddings will keep good for several months, and only require to be boiled for an hour at the time of serving.  – Household Words, A weekly journal, vol 2, 1882. Charles Dickens

Christmas pudding on a hook. Image @eons

This pictorial article in eons explains the various steps in making a Christmas pudding.

Surprises Inside Plum Pudding

Plum pudding is well known for the silver coins and small objects hidden within the pudding to be found by the eater. Common objects were the silver coin for wealth, a tiny wishbone for good luck, a silver thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage or an anchor for safe harbor. These items have migrated from plum pudding to bridal shower cakes, oddly enough…- Gram’s Recipe Box, Plum Pudding

Sources for this post:

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