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Apricot Ice Cream

Apricot Ice Cream

Ice Cream, as we know it, was a relatively new invention in Jane Austen’s day. Enjoyed in Italy and France in the 17th c, the first recorded English recipe was published in 1718.

Recipes featuring fruit not available until early summer were, no doubt, a treat reserved for the wealthy, who could afford to buy their ice and keep it cool in ice houses, until wanted. If you did not have access to ice in the summer, you could always visit the local Pastry Cook for a variety of sweets, including ice cream. Molland’s, in Bath, was one such establishment.

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In Jane Austen’s, The Beautiful Cassandra, her heroine “…then proceeded to a Pastry-cook’s, where she devoured six ices, refused to pay for them, knocked down the Pastry Cook & walked away.” Slapstick comedy does seem to have been the name of the game in Austen’s early work. Mr. Punch would be proud. The following recipe for Apricot Ice Cream is taken from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, and is based on one first printed by Hannah Glasse in her Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1755.

Apricot Ice Cream

To Make Ice-Cream
Pare and stone twelve ripe apricots, and scald them, beat them fine in a mortar, add to them six ounces (more…)

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Lemon Water: A Refreshing Drink

lemons

Lemon water may be the staple complimentary drink of American restaurants, but the drink actually has British origins.  A recipe for Lemon Flavored Water (A Refreshing Drink) appears in Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell’s New System of Domestic Cookery, surprisingly, perhaps, under the heading “Cookery for the Sick”. There are, however, many benefits to drinking water with lemon, especially when made, as Mrs. Rundell suggest, with warm or hot water.

For a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of drinking lemon water you will definitely enjoy this article from our friends at Positive Health Wellness

Lemon Water

One blogger even went so far as to suggest 10 Medical Benefits to Drinking Lemon Water, including clear skin, fresh breath, system cleansing properties, weight loss and even enhanced hydration, among others.  During the summer months, it can be difficult to drink as much as is recommended (at least 8 8-oz glasses a day). With so much to recommend it, I’m surely inspired to try one of these Regency recipes to perk up my routine. Continue reading Lemon Water: A Refreshing Drink

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Orange Cream

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The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles’ dine here to-day, and I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.
-Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 30, 1808

By Jane Austen’s day, oranges were no longer a novelty, though they were certainly an expensive delight. Orange Marmalade, also known as Dundee Marmalade, was developed in Scotland and so popular that, by 1797,  James Keiller and his mother Janet opened a factory to produce “Dundee Marmalade”,a preserve distinguished by thick chunks of bitter Seville orange rind. The business prospered, and remains a signature marmalade producer today. Martha Lloyd’s household book contains a recipe for “Scotch Marmalade” and the Austen’s were known to bottle their own Orange Wine.

There are no reports of sweet oranges occurring in the wild. In general, it is believed that sweet orange trees have originated in Southeast Asia, northeastern India or southern Chinaand that they were first cultivated in China around 2500 BC.

Continue reading Orange Cream

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Knit a Pineapple Purse

pineapple-reticule

pineapple purse

The Pineapple Purse:

This  Pineapple shaped reticule resides in the Kyoto Museum’s 1800-1810 collection. In describing this bag, the museum comments,

This small bag (called “reticule” at that time) was elaborately and three-dimensionally knitted into the shape of a pineapple. Motifs of pineapples and other exotic articles associated with the tropics became popular because of the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Joséphine, the then fashion leader, who was from the Island of Martinique.

It is absolutely charming and amazingly, the instructions for a similar looking reticule appeared in  The Lady’s Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting Netting, and Crochet Work by Mrs. Jane Gaugain in 1841. Those instructions have been reproduced below, though recently, a new, updated pattern for this purse has been created from the original pattern. The updated pattern and photos of the completed project can be found here: http://www.gancedo.eu/content/pine-apple-bag

KNIT A PINEAPPLE PURSE:
This pinapple purse is knit to imitate the natural colour of the fruit as much as possible, still keeping the bag as bright in hues as consistency will permit. The top part is worked in four shades of green, of seven rows each, commencing with lightest, and working in succession to dark. This represents the leaves. The centre, or fruit part, is worked in shades of yellow, down to (more…)

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Mr. Collin’s Garden

kitchen garden

 

“…the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him (Mr. Collins) either at work in the garden, or in reading and writing, and looking out of window in his own book room, which fronted the road.”
Chapter 30 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A vegetable garden and small orchard were a necessity for a country parson. The produce provided food for his table and helped to stretch a modest income. In Pride and Prejudice, we are also told that Mrs. Collins encouraged this occupation in order to gain a respite from her loquacious husband.


When Mr. Collins gave Sir William, Elizabeth, and Maria a tour of his garden, Jane Austen is silent as to what they were shown. Indeed, why bore her contemporary readers with a list of well know plants that would hardly forward the plot of her romance. At a distance of some 200 years, we may well wonder what plants might have grown in Mr. Collins’s garden.

Apple orchards have been a part of English gardens, since medieval times. If space was very tight, the trees may even have been espaliered to the garden walls. Sweet eating apples must come from grafted trees, since all apple seeds produce only tart apples. Grafting was well understood, since medieval times. Apples provided easily stored fruit for eating, cooking in tarts, and for ciders. In 1658, John Evelyn, the (more…)

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Plant a Regency Kitchen Garden


I consider the kitchen garden as of very considerable importance as pot herbs, sallads, and roots of various kinds are useful in housekeeping. Having plenty of them at hand, a family will not be so likey to run into the error, which is too common in the country, of eating flesh in too great a proportion to health.

Samuel Deane, 1822


Cottage gardens, like those at Chawton combine flower and vegetable plants with happy abandon. Tomatoes and beans share space with Blackeyed Susans and Delphinium. Herbs grow with wild abandon among the borders and fruit trees and bushes are planted for beauty as much as fruitfulness.

On larger estates, specific tracts of lands, often several acres, were given over to the cultivation of all the “sallads and green things” to be eaten by the family over the course of the year. Cold frames, green houses and hot houses allowed for more exotic fruits and longer growing seasons. Specialized buildings, like Northanger Abbey’s Pinery allowed pineapples and other unobtainable fruits to be grown at hand.

Here, behind fences or walls, to deter both human and animal theft, the gardener would culitvate all manner of vegetable, herb and useful flower. Considering that most of what was eaten on the manner throughout the year came from these crops, it was a job of no mean importance.

Many of the fruits used in the daily housekeeping would have also (more…)

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Snapdragon

Snapdragon


“Christmas gambol: raisins and almonds being put into a bowl of brandy, and the candles extinguished, the spirit is set on fire, and the company scramble for the raisins.”

Francis Grose
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811)


Snap-dragon (also known as Flap-dragon, Snapdragon, or Flapdragon) was a parlour game popular from about the 16th to 19th centuries. It was played during the winter, particularly on Christmas Eve. Brandy was heated and placed in a wide shallow bowl; raisins were placed in the brandy which was then set alight. Typically, lights were extinguished or dimmed to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The aim of the game was to pluck the raisins out of the burning brandy and eat them, at the risk of being burnt. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) describes it as “a play in which they catch raisins out of burning brandy and, extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them”. According to an eighteenth-century article in Richard Steele’s Tatler magazine, “the wantonness of the thing was to see each other look like a demon, as we burnt ourselves, and snatched out the fruit.” Snap-dragon was played in England and the United States, but there is insufficient evidence of the practice in Scotland, or other countries.

The liquid used in Snap-dragon was typically brandy, although similar flammable liquors could (more…)

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The Cost of Living in Jane Austen’s England

Vulgar Economy

The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles’ dine here to-day, and I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Godmersham: Thursday June 20, 1808

Regency CurrencyThe cost of postage had risen in 1784 as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that the increases would be on the mail instead of a tax on coal. The income from letters was used to boost the funds of the Government, and the prices were raised again in 1797, 1801, 1805 and 1812.

During the wars against France (1793-1815) the income was regarded as a tax levied to help the war effort, but once Napoleon had been defeated, there was a backlash of feeling against the high rates. By this time, it was often hard to decide if it was worth sending a letter at all: the cost of a letter could be as much as a day’s wages for a working man. It became a matter of importance to get around the cost in one way or another. For instance it was cheaper to send a letter from London to Scotland by the coastal shipping – 8 pence instead of by road which cost 13½ pence (more…)