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.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Primrose Vinegar, Cowslip & Rhubarb, too.

My old recipe books continue to delight me, on so many levels.    

When I did my recent spring clean of the pantry I was surprised when I saw just how many varieties of vinegar I had in there...and this isn't the lot, there are three other bottles which I forgot to put out.

They do all get used, some for culinary purposes, others for cleaning.

So I really shouldn't have been surprised to find that there are so many recipes for vinegar in my old books.   I don't just mean for the pretty, or fancy, varieties, either.

Many households used to brew their own vinegar, but I was surprised at how large some of the brews were.  

I found this recipe in the parchment-covered book in the blue slip-cover,  which you can see in about the centre of the header photograph.

To Make Vinegar

To 7 pints of rain water put one pint of pyrolignus ascid (sic) and it is ready for use immediately.

Mmmmn, not sure I fancy that one!   Please don't try it at home.

Sugar Vinegar

To one gallon of water put 1 1/4 lb of the coarsest brown sugar you can get and 1/4 oz of hops.   Boil this 20 minutes, when cold put in a little yeast and work it 3 days.  Then put it in a cask and let it stand till fit for use.   Keep a bit of paper pricked full of holes over the bung hole.

...sounds a bit more wholesome although the instructions are a little vague.

We have been enjoying our home-grown rhubarb for the last few weeks, I'm not sure that I would want to put it to this use while it is so young and tender - but give it a month or two and I probably wouldn't mind.

Rhubarb Vinegar

Get a good bunch of rhubarb to a gallon of water.
2 lbs of brown sugar and 1 lb of treacle.   Let it boil 20 minutes then strain it.   When cold work with a little barm.    Stir it two or three times a day for 3 or 4 days.    Put into a barrel and store in a dark place.

Excellent Vinegar

Boil 6 gallons of water and put in a tub, let it go quite cold.  Get a quantity of rhubarb, peel it and cut in small pieces.   Measure 11 quarts and then bruise well in a mortar.  Put it into the cold water and let it stand 24 hours, stirring occasionally.  Strain it through a sieve into another tub and to 6 gallons of liquor put 8 lbs of moist sugar, stirred in well.

Put all into the barrel and the
 ...looks like Mother? perhaps,  with it.

The barrel must not be quite full and over the bung hole stick with barm or paste a double piece of brown paper full of small holes.

Set in the cellar for 12 months.

It has been a marvellous Spring for primroses, the old railway line has absolutely masses of them growing on the banks this year.

Even so, I think we would struggle to pick enough flowers to make the next recipe.

Primrose Vinegar

Take 6 lbs lump sugar and boil it in 16 quarts of water, take off the scum.   When cold add three tablespoonfuls of yeast and 8 quarts of primrose flowers and stalks.    Let it stand 4 days.  Then put altogether into a cask with a little isinglass.  Keep it in a warm place till sour and then bottle it.

Final recipe for today, Cowslip Vinegar.

Boil 20 quarts of water ( a quart = 2 imperial pints) and 6 1/4lbs of very coarse sugar for 10 minutes and when cool, work it as you work beer (sorry, I don't know what that means!)   Put 5 1/2 quarts of unpicked cowslips and a tea-cupful of yeast.  Let it work three days, then strain it and put it in a cask.   Put a paper over the bung-hole with holes pricked in it, and expose it to the sun and air for three months and then bottle it.  The above makes 5 gallons.

Please note that I have not tried any of these recipes so cannot vouch for them.   

I also have the old recipes for Raspberry Vinegar, Blackberry, Camp, Cucumber, Elderflower, Gooseberry, Mint, Chilli, Tarragon, Celery, Lavender, and Garlic Vinegar - and there could well be more I haven't discovered yet.    I'll post some of them at a later date, but if you want a particular recipe please do let me know.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Magic of Fresh Yeast!

The Easter holiday has arrived - Grandson Number 1 is off school today and spending the day with me.   His parents (both teachers) and sister don't break up until this afternoon.    

In between walking the dog, feeding the hens and checking for eggs, we have been building lots of lego projects, and watching an episode of his favourite programme.  

We have also fitted in some Easter baking, of course.    I used fresh yeast to make these hot cross buns which I don't think he'd ever seen in action before.   He was very impressed by the way the yeast fed on the warm milk, water, sugar and flour and became a big, lively, bubbling mass.   It was worth the extra effort just to see his face.

Hot cross buns - I followed Ruth Mott's recipe from her 'Favourite Recipes' book.    I was a huge fan of the Victorian Kitchen series - and an even greater fan of Ruth herself.

The weather looks as though it is going to be rather typical for a Bank Holiday weekend, cold and wet.   No surprise there.

So I intend to make the most of it and spend the weekend reading.   I have a large stash of books which are simply begging to be read...  of course that doesn't mean that I will be granted the time to read, somehow I think the grandchildren will be spending rather more time here than at their own home!

This is what we did last Easter Sunday - an Easter egg hunt in our little woodland, no doubt we'll be having another one this year.   This young lady takes her handy sniffer-dog along to help.

This is what my grandson and I are having for tea today - lemon drizzle cake with white chocolate topping.   We both love this version.

One thing I should have mentioned in my previous post is that the lemon flavour really develops if you can leave the cake in a tin until the next day.    It does call for self-control, but it really is worth it.      The recipe is exactly as before, just substitute white chocolate for dark.

 'Happy Easter' from Parsonage Cottage.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Lemon and Chocolate Cake

I had several tired-looking lemons in the fruit bowl, so I abandoned my plan to make a chocolate and orange cake and made these instead.   A kind of lemon drizzle cake with a thick layer of chocolate icing on the top.   The sharp lemon worked to balance the richness of the chocolate, it was definitely moreish.

I am still knee deep in my lovely old recipe books, immersing myself in reading about the cooks of old, so I would love to be able to say that this recipe is from one of my old books...

...but no, I found the recipe in Josceline Dimbleby's Complete Cookbook from 1997.

Chocolate-topped Sharp Lemon Cake

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
1 rounded tsp baking powder
pinch salt
175g self raising flour
3-4 tbsp milk

Preheat ove to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4.   Prepare a 19-20cm square tin with parchment.

Cream the butter and caster sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly.  Add the grated lemon rind.  Sift the baking powder and salt with the flour and fold into the mixture.  Stir in enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.   Spoon into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes, until springy in the middle.

Remove from the tin, prick all over with a skewer.  Dissolve the granulated sugar and the strained lemon juice in a pan, bring to the boil for 30 seconds.   Pour the hot syrup all over the cake, slowly.  Leave until cold.

100g dark chocolate
25g butter

Melt the chocolate, add the butter and stir until melted together.  Cool slightly.  Then pour it onto the top of the cake and spread it around.    When the chocolate has set, cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

I added a little finely shredded candied lemon peel, just because I love the colour contrast.   So there you have it.   Quite a sharp lemon cake with a chocolate topping.   Very nice it was, too.

I'm still not convinced that orange and chocolate wouldn't have been even nicer.   Next time, perhaps.

I managed to get my hands on some fresh yeast today.   I don't have a problem with using the dried stuff, but every now and then it is nice to use the really old fashioned methods again, so once more I shall be using my mother's old recipe for bread.

Somehow it never matches up to the magnificent rolls and loaves which she used to make - or is that simply a trick of the memory?       No, her bread really was wonderful.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Quick Cottage Loaves

We usually have a snack lunch, a sandwich, yogurt and fruit.   This morning I realised that I had forgotten to get a loaf out of the freezer.    No problem!     In fact it was the perfect excuse to try out a recipe which caught my eye a couple of weeks ago.

Baking Powder Rolls

1 lb flour
1 flat teaspoonful of salt
2 teaspoonfuls baking-powder
1 and a half gills of milk and water*

*  Eeeeek!  Way back in the dark ages, I remember learning about gills, think, brain, think...it turns out that a gill is 5 fluid ounces (of course) or approx 150 ml so I made it 225 mls for this recipe.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder, mix well together.   Add milk and water, mix to a soft consistency.    I found that I had to add almost another gill of milk and water to achieve what felt like a good dough.

Lightly knead for a few minutes, divide the dough into six portions and make six small cottage loaves bake in a quick oven.   I made a rather poor job of shaping the loaves, but hey-ho.

I had let the Rayburn get to the low end of roast - I suppose that is probably the equivalent of about 220 C.

They took about 25 minutes to bake, but that will vary according to your oven.

I lost 3 cottage loaves because I tripped over a little cat, Millie, as I was turning from the stove.   She didn't budge, even as small cottage loaves were raining down from on high.   She simply sat there looking at me as though I were to blame.

Of course I said "There, there, little cat.   Are you alright?".

The wild birds and the hens received their unexpected bounty with delight.    Mr Pheasant is getting stuck in there, too.  At least they didn't go to waste.

Back to the rolls, though.   The texture is definitely somewhere between scone and, perhaps, soda bread.   Very nice.  We had a slice of strong cheddar and some pickle in ours, but I'm sure they would be delicious with most things.

Considering that they are almost as quick and easy to make as scones, I would definitely make them again.

Thank you to whichever Victorian cook wrote down that particular recipe.

ps  I have already made a second batch of the cottage loaves - how can flour and water turn into something so good?   These are set to become something of a favourite in our household.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Parsonage Cottage Pantry

Following my recent but of spring-cleaning fever, Parsonage Cottage pantry is clean and tidy,

flour bins have been cleaned and checked, food rotated according to best before dates, etc.


All the glassware has been taken out and washed, pots, crocks, and the very large serving dishes, ditto.

I managed to persuade myself that Max and I really do not need 7 dozen glasses, no matter how many assorted sizes and shapes they come in.     I reduced the number by half, which still leaves us far too many but some of those belonged to my parents and I am reluctant to get rid of them.

I was feeling quite pleased with how spick and span it all looks.

Then I saw this...

It is the list of preserves which one of the cooks had in her pantry, at a vicarage in Derbyshire, 1850.

Preserves    1850

44 lb Strawberry Jam    42 pots
9 lb Strawberry Jelly     16 pots
20 lb Raspberry Jam     20 large pots
8 lb Raspberry Jelly      18 pots
8 lb Redcurrant Jam      7 large pots
4 lb Redcurrant Jelly      7 large pots
14 lb Blackcurrant Jam  9 large pots
5 lb Preserved Currants  6 pots
4 lb Preserved Ginger      3 Bottles
2 lb Lemon Jam                6 pots

A very impressive list.   I imagine that being the cook at a country village vicarage would involve lots of catering for large groups of people, there are certainly some large parties listed, along with the list of foods prepared to feed everyone.

I went back to look at the preserves in my pantry...

..one lonely jar of orange marmalade.  


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Kringles - a recipe from Kent

I found this recipe in a book which was published over a hundred years ago.  It contains almost 1100 recipes which were gathered and collated from very old family recipe collections, many dating back to the seventeenth century.

I was drawn by the unusual name, Kringles.

Luckily the hens are laying well or I wouldn't have attempted it...


Beat well the yolks of eight and the whites of two eggs, and mix with four ounces of butter just warmed, and with this knead a pound of flour and four ounces of sugar to a paste.    Roll into thick or thin biscuits, prick them, and bake on tin plates.

That is it, no further instructions, it was down to common sense and baking experience.

The huge number of egg yolks made for a beautifully rich yellow dough, it looked like marzipan.

I used half the dough to make plain biscuits, the other half I made in the shape of a shortbread round.

I baked them in a moderate oven and this is how they turned out dull on the outside, still rich and yellow on the inside.   Similar to shortbread, very pleasant, but next time I make them I will make a few additions.   Almost anything would add a little interest - vanilla, lemon, almond, raisins, choc drops, grated lemon zest, orange zest, some ginger...just something to make them a little more exciting.

My granddaughter had no problem in deciding what she wanted to do - icing and smarties.   I made a zingy lemon glace icing, just icing sugar and lemon juice, it added the kick which I felt was lacking before.

Like most children, she likes nothing more than rolling up her sleeves and playing about with a rolling pin and some dough.

I popped a few into an old tin so that she could take some home to share with the rest of her family.

So that's Kringles - the Kentish version.

Next time I'll be making a Preserved Ginger Cake if I can resist eating all the ginger in the meantime.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Old English Cider Cake

I couldn't resist trying this old recipe.   Two reasons really,  I like the idea that it is an English recipe, and I like cider.   Mind you, the recipe only called for a teacupful of cider, which left two thirds of a bottle going spare...

...I managed to resist, otherwise I would have ended up feeling like this.

Cider Cake

Beat 4 oz butter and 4 oz sugar to a cream.   Add two well beaten eggs and 4oz  flour sifted with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and half a grated nutmeg.    Pour one teacupful of cider, beaten to a froth, and mix thoroughly.   Stir in another 4 oz of flour and mix well.   Bake for 45 minutes or until it is cooked.

Once again, minimal instructions about baking - I baked it at 180 degrees and it took about 55 minutes before I was completely happy with it.  You know your own oven.

Don't worry, it made a standard-sized cake, the serving platter is enormous.  I bought it in Ireland several years ago; it reminds me of the many happy holidays we spent in and around Crookhaven, West Cork.   Surely one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I couldn't wait to sample it.   I was intrigued by the use of nutmeg, but it really worked.   For the sake of experimentation, I'll use cinnamon next time, see which we prefer.   The cake was voted a success and didn't hang around long.   I will also experiment with the cider, find the perfect one for us.

It was exceptionally nice when served with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

I have had to increase the amount of exercise I do each day - all these baking experiments are having a ruinous effect.   Still, what a way to go!

Added 18 March 2016:   This cake is rich and moist,  keeps well and the flavours develop.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Aunt Nelly's Pudding

I was looking for an easy pud and came across this recipe for Aunt Nelly's Pudding.    The name sold it to me, so did the simple ingredients.

The recipe was in the big black volume with  1840 embossed on the spine which you can see in the header photograph.

The ingredients:

  • 3 oz bread crumbs
  • 3 oz suet
  • 3 flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoonful syrup
  • Treakle (sic)
  • little sugar
  • One tea spoonful essence of lemons
(Boiling milk is also required but that is not listed.)


Pour boiling milk on breadcrumbs (?how much), mix well together, a mould well-buttered, pour all in and steam for two hours and a bit.

I decided to put the syrup in the bottom of the buttered basin, then pour the mix on top.   I covered the pudding bowl, tied it up and lowered it into a pan of boiling water.   This is where having the Rayburn comes in handy, it is always on anyway, so it doesn't feel as though it is costing a fortune in fuel bills.

The texture was definitely a little doughier than the steamed puddings I am used to, I assume that is down to the use of breadcrumbs in the mix.

Once I had made a large jug of custard to go with it, the pudding was soon demolished by the family.

Thank you Aunt Nelly, whoever you were!

So from a rather homely pudding to something quite different.

Stuck in a back page of the book is a list of the food served for a meal at Croxton Hall around 1850.

  • Round of Beef
  • 4 pheasants
  • Cold Beef Pie
  • Pigeon Pie
  • Other Pies
  • Stewed Beef
  • Boar's Head
  • Ham 


  • Kedgeree
  • 4 pt Grouse
  • 4 pt Pheasants
  • Broiled Chicken & Pheasants
  • 1 dish Potatoes
  • Sausages on Potatoes
  • Hot Cakes
  • Cutlets
That was above stairs.

The servants were given a round of beef and a shoulder of mutton! 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sweeping the Chimney & Cleaning the Stove

The weather today has been pretty terrible, rain, rain and more rain.  

The road leading out of our village has a very large pool of water across it which catches out the speeders and the unwary.    Even our little woodland has a stream of water cascading through it - the first time I have ever seen that in the ten years we have been here.   Wet, wet, wet!

A good day for staying indoors and tackling some of those horrible jobs, like sweeping the chimney and cleaning the flue and stove.    It is one of those filthy jobs which means we have to dustsheet the kitchen furniture and move all the pots and pans from around the stove.

It's not a pretty sight!

Everything gets cleaned from the chimney, down and all the soot and mess is swept through the stove and into the ash tray.  We remove the stove top, clean the tricky bits down the back, sweep, clean and clean some more, taking care not to stir up a soot cloud.    It is dirty work.  We share the job, after all these years it is pretty routine.

It is always a relief when the job is completed and the Rayburn is gleaming inside and out.

It's even more of a relief when the rest of the kitchen has also been cleaned and the dust sheets are shaken and put away until next time.

I can't deny that sweeping the chimney is a chore, cleaning the innards of the stove is tedious and dirty work, but it is all worth it.   This wonderful stove heats the radiators throughout the house, provides endless hot water, and best of all - it is a cooker.

In the Boot Room I have an electric oven and a gas hob - mainly for use during the summer - but I don't enjoy using them.    Nothing compares to the peace I feel when I cook on the Rayburn stove, it simply feels right, for me.   It may not be pretty, but I love it.

Of course I have to link this in with an entry from one of my old recipe books...

Yesterday I came across a recipe for 'Blacking' - presumably for stove blacking, although I suppose it could be for shoe and boot blacking.

12 oz Lamb (sic) Black
12 oz Treacle
3 oz Oil Vitriol
3 oz Salad Oil
2 Pints Vinegar
2 Pints of Beer

There were no instructions, presumably they were all mixed together and used on a very regular basis, once any rust and dirt had been brushed from the stove, then the blacking would be applied and rubbed with a soft cloth.

That 's one job we don't have to do because the Rayburn is enamelled and easy to wipe down.

I smiled when I saw that the next recipe in the book is 'For the Head Ache'.

Grate some horseradish very fine, put in a muslin bag and lay over the temples tie loosely with a handkerchief.

Horseradish is said to be good for all manner of things, as well as for serving with roast beef, so perhaps I'll give that one a go.

Monday, 7 March 2016

..and beat for nearly an hour.

My first foray into the world of these old recipe books.

It is a plain and wholesome Ground Rice Cake; it was light and lemony and went down a treat.  

Judging by the colour of the sponge cake, which really is as yellow as those lemons, I would say our hens have definitely been eating their spinach.  It is one of their favourite daily snacks.   Happy, free-roaming hens make wonderful eggs.

All of the books have at least one recipe for rice cake, some have several versions.  

In the end I eliminated the one which required the use of 11 eggs,  far too extravagant for an experiment, and opted for this one (by C Cooper of Westwood Lodge, 1851) because it calls for just four simple ingredients.

Rice Cake

1/4 lb of Ground Rice
1/4 lb loaf sugar, finely powdered 
4 new laid eggs, take out half the whites
Lemon peel, cut fine (I grated mine)

Beat the eggs up fine, then add the sugar, give them a good beating, add the rice, beat them all up for nearly an hour Butter your pans and send them to the oven immediately.

Beat for nearly an hour?  I'm not quite that devoted to experimentation.   I used my Kenwood Chef and reduced the time to 10 minutes.  

Other than that, I followed the instructions, even though it felt really wrong to add the rice to a wonderfully light egg and sugar mix, then beat on.    I felt that I wanted to gently fold the ground rice into the mix, to keep the air inside.

Of course, the mixture collapsed, and it took a lot of beating to re-inflate it - but I'm pleased to say that the cake was almost completely devoured by the family this afternoon.  They loved the texture and the way the lemon flavour came through.

The recipe gave no instructions about what temperature it should be baked at, nor for how long, so I popped it into the oven for 40 minutes and hoped for the best.   The Rayburn was showing an oven temperature of 150 degrees but it dropped to 140 for most of the time.

It is a wood-fired Rayburn and is temperamental, to say the least, but today it performed magnificently.   I thought the wood-fired stove was more authentic, after all, the cooks of old didn't have the luxury of electric/gas ovens and temperature control dials.

It was a little strange baking a cake without having the usual guidelines, oven temp, timing, size of tin, etc.    I suppose we have every last detail thought out for us these days, everything is made easy.  

'Til next time.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Sitting Comfortably? Then I'll begin...

...which is easier said than done.    I am spoilt for choice with these books,  there are so many things I would love to share with you.

Of course there are lots of recipes for soups, pies, puddings, cakes and so on, but that's not all. there are tips on how to clean kid gloves, how to clean silk, preparing the washing, cleaning all manner of utensils and then there are the cough medicines, the wound dressings, salves and creams, lotions and potions.  

A mind-blowing collection.

I had to remind myself to take a deep breath, take my time.

I have decided that every now and then I'll make one of the recipes - I am vegetarian, so it won't be a meaty one, although I will sometimes post a meat meal recipe for you.  

Cakes, biscuits and puddings will probably be as far as I go in actually trying out the recipes, with perhaps some of the summer drinks and the pickles and preserves, if I think anyone will actually eat them.

If you have any obscure recipe which you have been searching for, send me a message and I scan through the books to see if it is written down anywhere.

Today I thought I'd share this:

School Dinner and Teachers' Teas
August 27th 1849
Children 180
Teachers 35

118 lbs Beef
23 lbs suet
2 loaves  
5 stones flour for puddings
Bread for dinner - 15 loaves

40 lbs fruit
10 lbs sugar
1 oz spice
60 eggs
7 lbs butter
6 lbs loaf sugar

2 dozen Tea Cakes

Milk and cream
8 gallons of beer

The cost for this meal came to £8.  11s.    3d.   (about £8.57)

This detailed list is a random page in one of the books, a little further on there is something similar for the year 1853.   There is no mention of why it is there.   Mysteries abound, I'm so happy that someone took the time and trouble to write it all down, for whatever reason.

More next time.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Duties of a Cook + a Housemaid (named Barlow) circa 1899

As you can imagine, these lovely old books came with lots of extra pages and snippets tucked in here and there.   Most of them are additional recipes, many of which were passed on by friends.

However, there are  five pages of instructions for the Housemaid and the Cook; detailing what their duties werre on any given day of the week.   Interestingly, there are two slightly different sets of instructions.   The paper sizes are different and so is the handwriting, although the duties are similar.   Possibly a young, newly married,  housewife was being advised by her mother in drawing up instructions for the servants, I'll never know.

Whatever the answer, I find them fascinating, a little glimpse into a middle class home of the late 19th century.

Housemaid Barlow


  • Tidy Drawing Room and Dining Room.
  •  Set Breakfast tables and get breakfast ready.
  •  After, turn down beds, open windows
  • Clear breakfast and wash up then to and finish upstairs.

  • Get the laundry clothes ready.
  • Go into kitchen and help with the washing till lunch.
  • Set lunch and clear away, wash up.  If the washing is not quite finished help 
  • till it is done.
  • Fold clothes that are dry.
  •  After dinner fold clothes and mangle.


  • Before breakfast do the Drawing Room
  • Clean the boots
  • Set the breakfast table.
  • After breakfast do the bedrooms.
  • Iron clothes.

  • Turn the bedrooms out.

  • One week the Drawing Room is turned out, the other the Dining Room so that each room is turned out once a fortnight.
  • Before breakfast clean grate and fire irons well (cover furniture with dustsheets)
  • Cook and housemaid help each other in finishing room after breakfast after the housemaid has finished the bedrooms.
  • Clean stair rods once a fortnight.

  • After breakfast clean Bath Room, landing, cylinder closet and stairs.
  • After lunch wash salt cellars, knife tray, shelves, etc.

  • After breakfast dust spare room, clean pantry, get dessert ready for Sunday, plates, mats, knives, forks, etc.

As for the Cook, her duties were outlined as being:

  • Washing day, Light kitchen fire, wash.

  • After Breakfast, sweep and dust passages.
  • Clean the front steps
  • Clean brasses/name plate every day.
  • Iron.

  • Clean attic
  • Clean kitchen
  • Clean dark closet.

  • Help clean dining room and drawing room.
  • After lunch clean back room downstairs and cellar.

  • Clean kitchen range before breakfast
  • Afterwards, wash breakfast things.
  • Take up kitchen carpets
  • Clean fender and Betty and put them in back room.
  • Swill yard.
  • Clean steps and passage.

  • Clean hall and front steps.
  • Put clothes to steep for washing on Monday.
N.B.  Brass plate and bell, etc, to be cleaned every day.
Bake Tuesday and Friday.
Clean tins.

They certainly expected to get their money's-worth from their servants!  

My Old Recipe Book Collection

One of my bookshelves is full of old recipe books.   I treasure them so much more than the modern, glossy, photograph-heavy ones of today.

Quite a few of them are thick, handwritten tomes.  The earliest dates from 1840 - the year Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.   The handwritten books often show several different hands as the books were passed through different generations, or perhaps the family cook retired and another took her place.   Mystery women, to whom I am so very grateful.

Tucked in amongst them is the recipe book begun by my mother with occasional additions by me.   I cherish this one most of all.

How did I come by all these lovely books?   I just happened to be in an auction house for the purpose of bidding on something entirely different when the first one in my collection came up for sale.  It cost me the princely sum of £30.00.    After that, I kept my eyes open for others.

I hope you will join me as I trawl through these old treasures and the delights they have to offer.

Old recipes, household medicines and remedies, cleaning products, wines, beers, yeast recipes, knitting patterns and household routines are some of the many topics covered.

Tucked into one of them were notes for the Cook and the housemaid, detailing their duties for each day of the week...and goodness, were they expected to cram a lot in!

More next time.