This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Alaskan Whale Stew & Other Delights

Alaska Whale Stew     (Serves 347,161)

1 x 52 ton blue whale
948 lbs tinned tomatoes
7326 lbs potatoes
2276 lbs carrots
104 lbs sat
52 gallons tabasco hot sauce
1896 lbs onions
927 lbs celery
76 lbs black pepper

Place whale in pot with tomatoes.   Cook at 300 degrees (gas mark 2) for four hours.

Add potatoes, carrots, salt, hot sauce, onions, celery and black pepper and simmer for 36 hours.

If you care for hare in your stew add a 2 pound rabbit.

Anonymous     Recipe taken from "Recipes from the Rectory & The Rest"   -  circa 1970's/80's sold in aid of a church roof restoration project.    Apparently every couple getting married in the parish was presented with a copy of the book (the rest of the recipes are all very standard).

Perhaps slightly more palatable:

Paradise Pudding (1830)

If you'd have a good pudding
Pray mind what your're taught
Take two pennyworth of eggs
When they are twelve for a groat.

Take of that summer fruit
Which Eve once did cozen
Well pared and well grated
At least half a dozen.

Six ounces of bread
Let your maids eat the crust
The crumbs must be grated
As fine as small dust.

Six ounces of currants
But pray pick them clean
Lest they grate in your teeth
You know what I mean.

And if you've a mind
To be clever and handy
Put in good lemon rind
And a large glass of brandy.

Six ounces of sugar
Won't make it too sweet
With some salt and some nutmeg
To make it complete.

Three hours let it boil
Without peeps or flutter
And then serve it up
With some good melted butter.

Adam tasted the pudding
T'was wondrous nice
So Eve cut her husband another large slice.

Taken from Recipes from Wrawby, a Lindsey (Lincs) Federation of WI's book, 1937.

Batchelor's Nightcap

Take one bottle of whisky.  Remove cork.   Pour contents into cut glass tumbler.  Half fill.   Add water to taste and consume immediately!

This one was taken from 'Hunting Cook' compiled by Rosemary Eustace.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

A Note of Sadness

One of the problems about getting so involved with these m/s recipe books is that I feel as though I almost know the women who wrote them.

I can see how they start out so enthusiastically using their best handwriting, etc.    Recipes abound, interspersed with recipes for soothing babies suffering from wind, croup and the like, as well as how to treat sore breasts - presumably from breastfeeding.

Over the many pages the handwriting slowly changes and evolves, often becoming shakier, entries dwindle.

The tan-coloured book (right next to the blue)  has a high quality binding  and extremely beautiful handwriting within.    

It was begun in 1851 and was used for many hundreds of recipes and receipts, then in 1917 it was briefly used for a few dozen entries by someone else.

The entry which caught my eye today, was the penultimate one entered by the original owner, C Cooper.

Nourishment when nothing else will stay in the stomach

The white of an egg. well whisked.  then add a tablespoonful of cream to a tablespoonful of brandy.  😟  

It always makes me think of my mother, she died about 25 years ago, from stomach cancer.   It seemed a particularly cruel fate for someone who really enjoyed her food, to go.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Royal Sauce for Plum Pudding & a Kitchen Supper for 60 Persons

Plum Pudding, Christmas Pudding, call it what you will, we never eat it on Christmas Day, we simply don't have the stamina these days.   

There is, of course, the perennial question of what to serve with your Plum Pudding, our preference is for custard, but I know a lot of people prefer brandy butter, cream, or even rum sauce.     Rich and heavy pudding made even richer?  No thank you,  I'll stick to a well made custard sauce, our digestions can cope with that, but each to their own.

One of my old handwritten recipe books gives this recipe, dated December 1862, a note says that it was given by Lady Cagley's Cook.

Royal Sauce for Plum Pudding
Beat a 1/4 lb butter to a cream then add by degrees 3 oz of very fine loaf sugar.  When well beaten add 1 glass of wine and 1 of brandy.   It should be sent up in a boat and should look like thick whipped cream.

Sounds like a version of Brandy butter to me.

The same book gives a recipe for Christmas Puddings - vast quantities of them.

3 lbs flour
10 lbs currants
10 lbs raisins
3 lb bread crumbs (2 loaves)
4 lbs suet
1 oz candied peel   I wonder whether this was supposed to be 1 lb?
2 oz allspice
2 lbs sugar
1 1/2 dozen eggs
Milk to mix
1/2 pint Brandy

Boiled for 9 1/2 hours in basins.

Why such a large quantity?   Well this was a vicarage cook and my did they know how to feed large numbers of people.

Kitchen Christmas Tea and Supper - 60 persons present

Elder Wine
56 lbs Beef cooked for 9 hours - properly done(!)
1 Joint of Cold Pork
15 Puddings
2 Tarts
6 Loaves
3 lbs Butter
Plum Loaves
3 lbs Sugar
1/2 lb Tea
1 Pint Cream

Dining Room Tea - 25 Persons

Portion of above, plus
Cold Tongue
1 Pint Cream
1 lb Sugar
Bread and Butter

The above quantities were more than sufficient with regard to Meat and Pudding.   Bread, Tea, Sugar and Cream just about right.

The book was written by a cook at a vicarage.  Luckily for me, the name of the parish is mentioned once, so by the magic of internet and sheer curiosity, I have  managed to find some photographs of the vicarage in question as it is presently up for sale.   It is a big old place with enormous rooms, Grade II listed.

It gave me quite a thrill to be able to look at photographs of the old kitchen and dining room where the writing, cooking and eating took place, way back in 1848!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Books, Books, Books

As this is my 'kitchen' blog, here are some of my new books.    They are all rather battered and worn with not a single high-gloss photograph between them.  Exactly the kind of recipe book I love. 

They are not as old as some, the oldest one dates to 1930's, but the recipes within are much older.  Some have hand written notes, splashes and splodges, which all add to the charm, in my opinion. 

Before Christmas I bought a copy of Nigel Slater's new book, The Christmas Chronicles.   I have flicked through it and no doubt it is an excellent read, but somehow it doesn't call to me in the same way as these books.

Enjoy Boxing Day.   

Left-overs for us, surely the best part of the Christmas Feast...and we certainly won't be visiting the sales.   It is a day for extra-long walks with the dog and then a guilt-free hour or two spent reading by the log fire.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Parsonage Cottage Kitchen at Christmas

The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy Christmas.    Simple things, like getting out the Christmas china,  baubles and decorations for the tree, and some of my mother's favourite old cake decorations.

My helpful Kitchen Angel - a rather large, golden, papier mache cherub - also makes an appearance.  She has been watching over my festive kitchen cooking for almost twenty years and has more or less ensured that everyone is well fed and happy.

Today has been a happy, pottering kind of day and I have made mince pies, shortbread, tomato and garlic bread, regular white bread, English muffins,  and I have a large pan of red cabbage with cranberries and apple gently cooking in the Rayburn.

I had fairy lights a-twinkling, carols and Christmas hits playing on the radio.   Bah humbug! you may say, but I enjoyed it.

These days we host a Christmas Day breakfast party for the family, which means that by around midday peace descends upon Parsonage Cottage.   We could go out to eat with the family, but we enjoy this small oasis of peace and quiet, after years of hosting enormous Christmas Day lunches.     

We'll settle down in front of the fire for a quiet afternoon

punctuated only by the demands of the cats or the need to walk the dog.   My husband will tuck into his very favourite Christmas food - turkey and piccalilli sandwiches and I will indulge in a smoked salmon sandwich - as we watch the Queen's Speech and then dip into our new books.    Bliss!

Merry Christmas, however you celebrate it.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A Nut Loaf for Nutting Day

September 3rd was traditionally known as Nutting Day, which is when children would go out into the local woods to collect hazelnuts.

Nut Loaf

6 oz/175 g butter
6 oz/175 g caster sugar
3 eggs
8 oz/225 g self raising flour
1 oz/25 g ground almonds
3 oz/75 g mixed chopped nuts
2 tablespoons milk

To Decorate
4 tablespoons apricot jam
3 oz/75 g walnut halves
3 oz/75 g whole brazil nuts

Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3

Beat the butter and caster sugar together, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the flour with each egg.
Stir in the ground almonds and chopped nuts with the rest of the flour.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk, to make a soft consistency.
Turn into a buttered and lined 2lb/1kg loaf tin and bake for 1 1/4/1 1/2 hours.   Turn out on to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Warm the apricot jam and pass through a sieve.  Brush half on to the warm cake and decorate with the nuts.  Brush with the remaining jam and leave to cool.

The cake is light and moist, beautifully textured with the chopped nuts.   Will definitely make this one again.

Recipe found in A Calendar of Feasts Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, published 1987.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Recipe Book Cover Fun

As well as making and baking plenty of food and cakes, this summer has also featured a bit of fun as I played around with echoing some recipe book covers.

The most fiddly bit is getting things set up at the right levels, varying heights so that the photograph looks good, rather than slavishly following what is on the cover.   Just go for the spirit of the cover and suddenly it becomes very easy and it is surprising just how many 'props' are to be found around the home.

I hope you have had some summer fun.

ps Plenty more book cover art can be found over on my Parsonage Cottage blog.