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.
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.
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.