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Neat’s Tongue

Perhaps one of the most famous recipes in literature begins, “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–“. This is, of course, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but when I came across the following recipe in Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, it seemed as if it might fit right in to the list of inedible ingredients. “Cold Neat’s Tongue”, as it was called, was suggested as an appropriate side dish for a supper party in 1807,

Hot suppers are not much in use where people dine very late. When required, the top and bottom, or either, may be Game. Fowls. Rabbit. Boiled Fish, such as Soles, Mackerel. Oysters stewed or scalloped. French Beans. Cauliflower, or Jerusalem Artichokes, in white Sauce. Brocoli with Eggs. Stewed Spinach and ditto. Sweetbreads. Small Birds. Mushrooms. Potatoes. Scallop, &c. Cutlets. Roast Onions. Salmagundy. Buttered Eggs on Toast. Cold Neat’s Tongue. Ham. Collared things. Hunter’s Beef sliced. Rusks buttered, with Anchovies on. Grated Hung Beef with butter, with or without Rusks. Grated Cheese round, and Butter dressed in the middle of a plate. Radishes ditto. Custards in glasses with Sippets. Oysters cold or pickled. Potted Meals. Fish. Birds. Cheese, &c. Good plain Cake sliced. Pies of Bird, or Fruit. Crabs. Lobster Prawns. Cray-fish. Any of the list of sweet things. Fruits. A Sandwich set with any of the above articles, placed a little distance from each other on the table, looks well, without the tray, if preferred.


The lighter the things the better they appear, and glass intermixed has the best effect. Jellies, different coloured things, and flowers, add to the beauty of the table. An elegant supper may be served at a small expense by those who know how to make trifles that are in the house form the greatest part of the meal.

The Hereford Bull was undoubtedly a common sight in Austen's Day.
The Hereford Bull was undoubtedly a common sight in Austen’s Day. Exports of this breed began in 1816.

 

I, for one, though, could not imagine what a “Neat” was, let alone how to prepare it’s tongue, hot or cold. Continue reading Neat’s Tongue

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A Recipe for Lemon Cream

lemon cream

A Recipe for Lemon Cream

The origin of the lemon is a mystery, though it is thought that lemons first grew in Southern India, northern Burma, and China. A study of the genetic origin of the lemon reported that it is a hybrid between sour orange and citron.

lemons

The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. The lemon was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola on his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as an ornamental plant and for medicine. In 1747, James Lind’s experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding lemon juice to their diets, though vitamin C was not yet known.

By Jane Austen’s lifetime, lemons were not an uncommon household item and many recipes in both commercially published cookery books and private collections, such as Martha Lloyd’s Household book, call for the fruit. The following recipe for lemon cream is fairly easy to replicate and offers a light and refreshing custard like dessert.

Lemon Cream
Take a pint of thick cream, and put it to the yolks of two eggs well beaten, four ounces of fine sugar and the thin rind of a lemon; boil it up, then stir it till almost cold: put the juice of a lemon in a dish or bowl, and pour the cream upon it, stirring it till quite cold.
Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, A New System of Domestic Cookery; 1806

iStock_000023663150_ExtraSmall

 

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Regency Head Colds and Care

Regency Tea


She is tolerably well…she would tell you herself that she has a dreadful cold in the head at present; but I have not much compassion for colds in the head without fever or sore throat.

Jane Austen to Cassandra, February 8, 1807

 

Imagine a time before Sudafed and Benedryl. A time when there was no Tylenol Cold and Flu or Robtussin. What would you do if you caught a cold? Read through Jane Austen’s novels and you will see everyone from Miss Bates to Mrs. Bennet worrying and plotting about catching a cold. Beyond chicken soup, most people would be forced to grin and bear it, but even then, Regency apothecaries had their cures.

Dr. Twiton’s Recipe for a Cold:
Take volitile salt of ammonia 32 gms– salt of Petre 40 gms. Put them in a marble mortar to a fine powder, then add one oz of Syrup of Balsam and on oz of oyl of sweet almonds, add 6 ozs of pump water. The whole of the above will make four draughts, one of which should be taken three times in 24 hours and to the night one add one dram of paragoria.
-From Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

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Brawn: A favorite Christmas treat

On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard, in spite of all the noise of the others.
Persuasion

Christmas celebrations wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t pull out all those favorite recipes year after year. For some people it’s cookies and cakes, for others a particular bread or main dish. The Georgians were no exception and their celebrations called for many party foods- traditional favorites that could be made ahead and brought out to tempt company. Whether it was the Austen’s “Black Butter”, White Soup or the famed Christmas Pudding. Another favorite dish was Brawn or, served cold, Souse. This dish, now commonly called Headcheese, was made from pork and bones spiced, boiled and set to cool in molds. The result, turned out on a board, was similar to today’s Jell-O and was served with mustard.

Brawn
To a pig’s head weighing 6 lbs. allow 1 1/2 lb. lean beef, 2 tablespoonfuls of salt, 2 teaspoonfuls of pepper, a little cayenne, 6 pounded cloves. Mode-Cut off the cheeks and salt them, unless the head be small, when all may be used. After carefully cleaning the head, put it on in sufficient cold water to cover it, with the beef, and skim it just before it boils. A head weighing 6 lbs. will require boiling from 2 to 3 hours. When sufficiently boiled to come off the bones easily, put it into a hot pan, remove the bones, and chop the meat with a sharp knife before the fire, together with the beef. It is necessary to do this as quickly as possible to prevent the fat settling in it. Sprinkle in the seasoning, which should have been previously mixed. Stir it well and put it quickly into a brawn-tin if you have one; if not, a cake-tin or mould will answer the purpose, if the meat is well pressed with weights, which must not be removed for several hours. When quite cold, dip the tin into boiling water for a minute or two, and the preparation will turn out and be fit for use. Time- from 2 to 12 hours. Average cost, for a pig’s head, 4 1/2 d. per lb. Seasonable from September to March.

Note-The liquor in which the head was boiled will make good pea soup, and the fat, if skimmed off and boiled in water, and afterwards poured into cold water, answers the purpose of lard.

From Mrs. Beeton’s Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book; 1865

A Modern Interpretation of Brawn

1 Pig’s or Calf’s head
1 Large Onion, Quartered
4 Whole Cloves
6 Celery Tops
4 Sprigs Parsley
1 Carrot
1 Bay Leaf
12 Peppercorns
Cayenne Pepper
Sage
Nutmeg (optional)

  • Clean head, removing snout and reserving tongue and brains. Scrub well and palce in a large kettle. Cover with water; add onion, stuck with cloves, and tongue. Tie celery, parsley, carrot, bay leaf, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and drop in kettle. Add salt.
  • Bring to boil, skim carefully and simmer slowly about 4 hours, or until meat is tender and falls easily from the bones. Remove tongue from water after it has cooked 1 1/2 hours.
  • Lift head onto large platter. Strain and reserve liquid in kettle. Remove all rind from head; cut the meat and the tongue, skin removed and excess tissue from root end, trimmed, into tiny pieces. (Some women like to put the meat through a food chopper.) Place in large bowl.
  • Drop brains into a little of the cookin liquid; simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Remove, drain and add to meat and tongue. Season lightly with cayenne, sage and nutmeg. Toss to mix well.
  • Pack mixture inot 9x5x3″ laof pan or mold, pressing firmly. Pour 1/2 c. cooking liquid, cooled until lukewarm, over mixture. Cover pan or mold and put weight on it. Chill at least 48 hours before using. Slice to serve. Makes 18 1/2″ slices or 8 servings.

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The Spices of Life

 

The kitchen-garden was to be next admired, and he led the way to it across a small portion of the park.
Northanger Abbey

“Season the gravy very high,” advised Thomas Jefferson in a household recipe for beefsteak pie. Such instructions sound a bit vague to modern cooks, but the colonial kitchen-master no doubt understood how to proceed.

A recipe might state, “first make your coffin,” referring to the fact that “pyes” were baked in rectangular, narrow pans (“coffins”) similar to our loaf pans. The British adored their “pyes”, and of course when they settled in [America], whenever feasible, prepared comforting foods reminiscent of those served in merrie old England.

Favorite pies included those containing plovers’ eggs, sparrows, robins, pigeons, pheasant, turkey, veal mutton, pork, “leman” rind, and dates.

A smaller version of the pie was the “pastie” or “pasty” or “fried pie” or “turnover.” These portable pies were handy (and tough-crusted enough) to slip into a saddlebag for journeying, and added variety to other travel fare like journeycake (or johnnycake) and corn bread.

When preparing savory colonial pies and pastries, the cook had but to step outside to the nearby herb garden to gather savory, rosemary, marjoram, sage, thyme, chives, garlic, onions, etc. In winter, dried herbs hung from the kitchen rafters ready for use. To add flavor and fat to the dry, lean meat of venison, elk, and moose, sugared racoon fat was utilized.

Other colonial flavor enhancers included an abundance of imported nutmeg, ginger, vinegar, and wines. Moreover, the basic flavor of olden-times meat and fowl was more distinct than much of that served today. After all, the fat hen destined to be the prima donna of the chicken pot pie had actually seen the light of day, eaten tasty earthworms and grubs, and known the attentions of a rooster.

Some food critics claim that early American foods were heavily spiced and seasoned to disguise rancid meat and dairy products, and old, dried-out vegetables and fruits. Though there were periods when hot weather did cause food to spoil quickly, and seasons of long winters when the stored root vegetables began to wrinkle from age, colonial meals were not normally dismal repasts of poor-quality foods disguised with herbs.

The prosperous colonists actually ate an enviable diet — home-grown, “organic,” whole foods; no chemicals, no peculiar-sounding additives. The preservatives used were natural, like salt, vinegar, and particular herbs. (Sage and rosemary are natural preservatives, and mustard seeds also inhabit the growth of mold, bacteria, and yeasts.)

In “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse (1796), a recipe is represented “For Captains Of Ships” which is also billed as “very useful in Families.” This concoction is a heady mixture of ale, anchovies, shallots, mace, cloves, pepper, ginger, and mushrooms, and is entitled “To make Catchup to keep twenty years.”

No nasty added nitrates or nitrites in that list of ingredients! The colonial family was able to enjoy a nutritious diet, most of which was produced on their own land, the result of individual expenditures of time, energy, skill, and attention. That hearth-baked, steaming pot pie had not hibernated in the local supermarket’s frozen food section, or suffered the abuse of a crowded check-out line food conveyor belt and the crushing constriction of a plastic grocery bag. Its experience was very personal and loving.


For Captains of Ships: To Make Catchup to keep Twenty Years
Take a gallon of strong stale beer, one pound of anchovies washed from the pickle, a pound of shallots peeled, half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of cloves, a quarter of an ounce of whole pepper, three or four large races of ginger, two quarts of large mushroom flaps rubbed to pieces; cover all these close, and let it simmer til it is half wasted, then strain it through a flannel bag; let it stand til it is quite cold, then bottle it. You may carry it to the Indies. A spoonful of this to a pound of fresh butter melted makes a fine fish-sauce, or in the room of gravy sauce. The stronger and staler the beer is, the better the catchup will be.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy
Hannah Glasse, 1796

According to the authors at About.com, the word ketchup is derived from the Chinese ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce. It made its way to Malaysia where it became kechap and ketjap in Indonesia. Seventeenth century English sailors first discovered the delights of this Chinese condiment and brought it west. Ketchup was first mentioned in print around 1690. The Chinese version is actually more akin to a soy or Worcestershire sauce. It gradually went through various changes, particularly with the addition of tomatoes in the 1700s, and by the nineteenth century, ketchup was also known as tomato soy. Early tomato versions were much thinner and more like a soy or Worcestershire sauce. F. & J. Heinz Company began selling tomato ketchup in 1876. By the end of the nineteenth century, tomato ketchup was the primary type of ketchup, and the descriptor of tomato was gradually dropped. Catsup and catchup are acceptable spellings used interchangeably with ketchup, but ketchup is the way you will find it listed in the majority of cookbooks.”

 

This article by Patricia B. Mitchell was first published as part of her “A Fork in the Road” column in The Register and Bee, Danville, Virginia, Sunday, March 3, 1991. Paticia Mitchell is the author of numerous period recipe cookbooks when she’s not managing the Sims-Mitchell House Bed and Breakfast. Copies of her various cookbooks can be purchased from her website: www.foodhistory.com. Please contact the Mitchells for information on international shipping.

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