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What Would Jane Drink? – Coffee in Jane Austen’s Work and World

By Rudy Caretti Tea or coffee? It’s one of the great British dilemmas… Despite our image as a nation of tea lovers, the numbers tell a different story. According to a report by Mintel Coffee UK, about 70 million cups of coffee were sold each day in Britain in 2008. Another report released in 2012 showed that almost every adult in the UK drinks instant coffee. This accounts for about 74% of the population that enjoys coffee. Today, one can find a café in every town with a wide range of different coffees to choose from. People enjoy their coffee while waiting for the train, at the numerous coffee houses, and in their homes. In Jane Austen’s day, tea-drinking was very much the preferred activity, though coffee certainly features in her novels. Miss Bates in Emma was in no doubt as to her preference: “No coffee, I thank you, for me — never take coffee. A little tea if you please, sir, by and bye…” But it is drunk with appreciation in Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and –on no fewer than six occasions – in Pride and Prejudice. Britain’s first coffee shop was established in Oxford in 1650. Its name was Angel and was owned by a Jewish entrepreneur called Jacob. Oxford’s community known for its experimental culture and scholarly interests; their coffee houses would later be termed as penny universities. Two years after the inception of Oxford’s coffee houses, London acquired its first coffee house in (more…)
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Fines Herbes in April: Adding Flavor to your Pot

One of the joys of April is the appearance of green and growing gardens after the chill of winter. In her quintessential guide to English cooking, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse offers a round of up all the dainties one might expect to harvest this month. She does not offer hopes that one has a garden or tips for growing the garden– these are already assumed– she merely states what might be found in the garden. Estates and even cottages relied on their gardens for fresh produce throughout the year and the lack of a garden was one annoyance of city living.

In her book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse offers an overview of the kitchen garden, month by month.
In her book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse offers an overview of the kitchen garden, month by month.

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Martha Lloyd’s Whooping Cough Cure

whooping cough cure

Martha Lloyd’s Whooping Cough Cure

With Whooping Cough (Pertussis) reaching epidemic levels in recent years, a push to promote vaccination against it has received renewed publicity. As part of the DTP and DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) dose, we now have the ability to avoid these illnesses which were, in Jane Austen’s time, without prevention or cure. Though that’s not to say that there weren’t whooping cough “cures” which were recommended, as you’ll see below.

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In some countries, this disease is called the 100 days’ cough or cough of 100 days. The incubation period is typically seven to ten days with a range of four to 21 days and rarely may be as long as 42 days, after which there are usually mild respiratory symptoms, mild coughing, sneezing, or runny nose. This is known as the catarrhal stage. After one to two weeks, the coughing classically develops into uncontrollable fits, each with five to ten forceful coughs, followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound in younger children, or a gasping sound in older children, as the patient struggles to breathe in afterwards.

Fits can occur on their own or can be triggered by yawning, stretching, laughing, eating or yelling; they usually occur in

martha
Jane Austen’s friend, Martha Lloyd kept a household book chock full of remedies and recipes.

groups, with multiple episodes on an hourly basis throughout the day. This stage usually lasts two to eight weeks, or sometimes longer. A gradual transition then occurs to the convalescent stage, which usually lasts one to two weeks. This stage is marked by a decrease in paroxysms of coughing, both in frequency and severity, and a cessation of vomiting. A tendency to produce the “whooping” sound after coughing may remain for a considerable period after the disease itself has cleared up.
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Rendering Lard, the Regency Crisco

While researching Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, I found many recipes that called for lard or suet (the beef alternative). It was often not immediately clear whether or not the authors were talking about straight, diced lard (like the kind used for adding fat and flavor to drier cuts of meat, as in “larding your roast”) or rendered lard, however a trip the local living history museum helped put my questions to rest. A basic rule of thumb when looking at period recipes, if it goes into the food (larding your meat, dicing it for mincemeat, etc.) you are talking about lard straight off the meat, often with tiny bits of meat still attached. If you are using it for frying or in pie crust, basically anywhere you might substitute modern Crisco or solid shortening, use rendered lard.

800px-HomelardAccording to Wikipedia, “Lard is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered forms. Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished; however, many contemporary cooks and bakers favor it over other fats for select uses. The culinary qualities of lard vary somewhat depending on the part of the pig from which the fat was taken and how the lard was processed.

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“The Poultry Yard: The Management of Fowls”, Regency Style

duck isolated on whiteIt seems as though everywhere you go today, there are articles, advertisements and public service messages about using, growing or purchasing locally grown produce, dairy and even meat. On my suburban street alone, three families have set up hen houses, and free range chickens are becoming almost as common a sight as cats and dogs around town (of course, it wasn’t until my neighbor added a rooster to her brood that we really began to notice just how farm like our neighborhood had become!) With the local Tractor Supply offering adorable chicks and ducklings for sale each spring, the idea of starting your own brood seems simpler than ever. After all, what’s not to love? They eat kitchen and vegetable scraps, and in return provide unending fresh eggs and the occasional fryer.

I will admit, even I was swept away in the furor of home farming and could not resist the adorable ducklings for sale. Knowing that my sister in law intended on setting up a hen house that summer, I thought that the sweet little Mallard ducklings we found would be a fantastic present for her April birthday.

We only planned to get six.

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Regency Cold Cream: Preserve a Pristine Complexion

“How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy,” she cried; “I never in my life saw any one so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have known her again.” However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned — no miraculous consequence of travelling in the summer. -Pride and Prejudice Regency ladies, such as Caroline Bingley fancies herself to be, were fastidious about their complexions. The following recipe for “cold cream” would have been a common enough recipe with women spending literal fortunes each year on commercial cosmetics (such as Gowland’s Lotion or Sperry’s Lavender Water) as well as their own home-grown recipes. Cold cream is used not only to clean the skin (especially the face) from cosmetics, dirt and grime, but if left on over night, it will soften the skin, as well. It is also often used on the hands. The ingredients listed here are not too hard to come by when you consider that white wax was white beeswax and spermaceti— an oily product of the Sperm Whale, is easily substituted with Jojoba oil– a naturally occurring plant oil with curiously similar properties. Cold Cream. —Take 2 ozs. of oil of almonds, one half oz of spermaceti, 2 ozs of white wax and one half pint of water; melt (more…)
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A Good Salve for Sore Lips

He had frequently observed, as he walked, that one handsome face would be followed by thirty, or five-and-thirty frights; and once, as he had stood in a shop on Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them. It had been a frosty morning, to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of…. Such scarecrows as the streets were full of! – Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion When it’s cold and windy out, it is hard to keep one’s complexion looking it’s best. One help is chapstick- to protect your lips from getting dried and cracked in the bitter winter months. Have fun trying this month’s vintage recipe!! A Good Salve for Sore Lips Take an oz of beeswax; put it into an oz of good salad oyl, melt it over a fire and clour it with alkemy root [Alkanna Tinctoria]; when it has boiled and is of a fine red, strain it and drop in three pennyworth of balsam of Peru. Then pour it into the bottoms of teacups that it may turn out in cakes. From Martha Lloyd’s Household Book. Submitted by Mrs. Fowle   Making Your Own Chapstick Mix equal parts of beeswax, sweet almond oil and cocoa butter in a small microwave safe dish. Place in the microwave on high for 30 second intervals until melted, stirring in between each time to help melt the beeswax. You (more…)
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Avoiding the Tan: Regency Skin Creams

“How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr Darcy,” she cried; “I never in my life saw any one so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have known her again.” However little Mr Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned — no miraculous consequence of travelling in the summer. – Pride and Prejudice Regency Misses went to great lengths to avoid (horrors!!!) exposure to sunshine and the associated tans and freckles. If bonnets and parasols didn’t do the trick, there were, of course, always these “tried and true” recipes for removing any acquired blemishes. These are reprinted from The Mirror of Graces, published in 1811. Fard [This useful paste is good for taking of sunburnings, effects of weather on the face, and accidental cutaneous erruptions. It must be applied at going to bed. First wash the face with its usual ablution, and when dry, rub this fard all ove rit, and go to rest with it on the skin. This is excellent for almost constant use.] Take two ounces of oil of sweet almonds, ditto of spermeceti: melt them in a pipkin over a slow fire. When they are dissolved and mixed, take it off the fire, and stir into it one table-spoonful of fine honey. Continue stirring till it is cold; and then (more…)