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Boiled Pudding: The Vicar’s Treat

Mrs. Cassandra Austen (mother of Jane Austen) was known to have a sparkling wit and a fine aristocratic nose (which she was pleased to have passed along to her children). She also had a wonderful sense of rhyme. Not necessarily poetry, but fun light verse. The following is a recipe she submitted to her daughter-in-law Martha Lloyd for her Household Book. As Mrs. Austen was the wife of a clergyman (the Rev. Austen was pastor of Steventon Church) one can well suppose she would know what to feed one.

A Receipt for Pudding

If the vicar you treat,
You must give him to eat,
A pudding to his affection.
And to make his repast
By the Cannon of Taste,
Be the present receipt your direction.

First we take 2 lbs. of bread,
Be the crumb only weigh’d,
For the crumb, the good wife refuses.
The proportions, you’ll guess
May be made more or less,
To the size the family chuses.

Then it’s sweetness, to make;
Some currents you take,
And sugar, of each a half pound.
Be butter not forgot,
And the quantity sought
Must the same with your currents be found.

Cloves & Mace you will want,
With rose water, I grant,
And more savory things, if well chosen.
Then to bind each ingredient,
You’ll find it expedient
Of eggs to put in a half dozen.

Some milk, don’t refuse it,
But boil, as you use it,
A proper pint for it’s maker.
And the whole, when complete,
[Shall be ready to eat]
With care, reccommend the baker.

In praise of this pudding,
I vouch [it] a good one,
Or should you suspect a fond word,
To every guest,
Perhaps it is best
Two puddings should smoke on the board.

The two puddings-yet-no!
For if one will do,
The other comes in out of season;
And these lines, but obey,
Nor can anyone say,
That this pudding’s without rhyme or reason.
 

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