Posted on

Create a Household Book

2875651
Martha’s book was prepared into a history/cookbook in the 1970’s. Other recipes were adapted for both the Jane Austen Cookbook and Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends.

As most Austen fans know, Jane Austen’s dear friend, Martha Lloyd shared a home with Jane, Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen and, after Jane’s death, married her brother, Francis Austen. Martha must have been a special lady, and because of her time spent with the Austen ladies, we have an enduring record of many of their favorite meals. Martha, like many other women of the time, kept a “household” book, full of favorite recipes, both her own, and ‘borrowed’ from friends. This book, a simple blank notebook at first, has become a permanent record of the tasty trifles enjoyed by Jane and her family, along with fleshing out foods mentioned in her novels and letters.

Martha’s careful collection of everything from Pease Soup to Bootblacking provides the fan and cook alike with rare insights into the Austen family’s personal lives. The original book is held at Chawton House by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.

A glimpse at Martha Lloyd's Household Book from the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.
A glimpse at Martha Lloyd’s Household Book from the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.

Why not consider adapting your own family’s favorite recipes into a keepsake book of your own? One Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive just such a book from my sister-in-law. It is not only the precious repose of “secret” family recipes but also the keeper of memories, as each page reminds us of Christmases, Birthdays and other celebrations from days gone by.

For my own daughters, I have started a cookbook apiece, customized with whatever recipes they would like to take with them to their own homes one day. The recipes vary by child and include everything from kid friendly Mac & Cheese to Rice Krispie Treats, Brownies and “Daddy’s BBQ Pork”. It has become a family joke that new recipes are rated on whether or not they would want them “served at their wedding”. Winners get lined up for inclusion in the book (along with the date added).

Susan Branch's "To My Daughter with Love" is a great way to start a collection for your own child.
Susan Branch’s To My Daughter with Love is a great way to start a collection for your own child.

A purpose built book is not necessary, however, as any blank book or even recipe card box will do, but while you are at it, why not make it something special with drawings, photographs or memories associated with each entry?

Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book. Her greatest joy is the time she is able to spend in her home with her family (1 amazing husband, 4 adorable children and a very strange dog.)

Posted on

Preserved Ginger

When Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra of the holiday visits they enjoyed (endured?) in 1808, she included a delightful word picture of one of their guests. As the letter is dated Tuesday, December 27, we can assume that Christmas was the previous Sunday and the visit occurred on December 22. It gives a glimpse into the Austen’s dining and entertaining menu while they lived in the Castle Square neighborhood of Southampton, before moving to Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, the following July.

Our evening party on Thursday produced nothing more remarkable than Miss Murden’s coming too, though she had declined it absolutely in the morning, and sitting very ungracious and very silent with us from seven o’clock till half after eleven, for so late was it, owing to the chairmen, before we got rid of them.

The last hour, spent in yawning and shivering in a wide circle round the fire, was dull enough, but the tray had admirable success. The widgeon and the preserved ginger were as delicious as one could wish. But as to our black butter, do not decoy anybody to Southampton by such a lure, for it is all gone. The first pot was opened when Frank and Mary were here, and proved not at all what it ought to be; it was neither solid nor entirely sweet, and on seeing it Eliza remembered that Miss Austen had said she did not think it had been boiled enough. It was made, you know, when we were absent. Such being the event of the first pot, I would not save the second, and we therefore ate it in unpretending privacy; and though not what it ought to be, part of it was very good.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Castle Square, December 27, 1808

Continue reading Preserved Ginger

Posted on

Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell – Domestic Goddess

Mrs Ketelby Rundell

Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell – The First Domestic Goddess

As the following directions were intended for the conduct of the families of the authoress’s own daughters, and for the arrangement of their table, so as to unite a good figure with proper economy, she has avoided all excessive luxury, such as essence of ham, and that wasteful expenditure of large quantities of meat for gravy, which so greatly contributes to keep up the price, and is no less injurious to those who eat than to those whose penury obliges them to abstain. Many receipts are given for things, which being in daily toe, the mode of preparing them may be supposed too well known to require a place in a cookery-book; yet how rarefy .do we meet with fine melted butter, good toast and water, or well-made coffee! She makes no apology for minuteness in some articles, or for leaving others unnoticed, because she does not write for professed cooks. This little work would have been a treasure to herself when she first set out in life, and she therefore hopes it may prove useful to others. In that expectation it is given to the Public; and as she will receive from it no emolument, so she trusts it will escape without censure.
-A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Ketelby Rundell

The following biography of Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell (or Mrs. Rundell, as she was known) appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine* in 1829, just a year after her death. Mrs. Rundell was famous for her runaway best seller, A New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded upon the principles of Economy, and Adapted to the Use of Private Families, which was first published in 1806 by John Murray. (Murray also published Jane Austen’s second edition of Mansfield Park, along with Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. )

Now regarded as the first “Domestic Goddess“, predating the perennial favorite, Isobella Beeton, by nearly a century, Mrs. Rundell modestly claimed that her book was not only essential to the “modern” middleclass housewife (rather than “professed cooks”– note, the difference that a generation makes here between this Hannah Glasse’s 1747 work, which was directed at servants: “…few servants there are, that know how to roast and boil to perfection.  I do not pretend to teach professed cooks, but my design is to instruct the ignorant and unlearned (which will likewise be of great use in all private families) and in so plain and. full a manner, that the most illiterate and ignorant person, who can but read, will know how to do every thing in cookery well.”) but a gift to the public. She filled it’s pages with recipes for everything from “Good” Coffee to Bubble and Squeak, along with copious notes about servants, ‘There is a great deal of time, precious to their families, wasted by well meaning and virtuous women in running after charitable institutions, whilst their children are suffering from neglect, or abandoned to neglectful servants…’ to healthy eating, ‘We all of us, and at all times, consume more food than health or prudence would warrant. What gives trouble to one man to digest would maintain three in comfort’, to maintaining linens and setting your table.

 

Mrs. Maria Eliza Rundell (1745–1828), writer on cookery, born in 1745, was only child of Abel Johnstone Ketelby of Ludlow, Shropshire. She married Thomas Rundell, partner of the eminent firm of Rundell & Bridges, silversmiths and jewellers, which was long established on Ludgate Hill, London. The firm supplied snuff-boxes to the value of 8,205l. 15s. to foreign ministers at the coronation of George IV (Gent. Mag. 1823, ii. 77).

While living at Swansea in 1806 Mrs. Rundell collected various recipes for cookery and suggestions for household management for the use of her married daughters. She sent the manuscript to the publisher, John Murray (1778–1843) [q. v.], of whose family she was an old friend. He suggested the title ‘Domestic Cookery,’ had the work carefully revised by competent editors, among whom was Dr. Charles Taylor, of the Society of Arts, and added engravings. It was published as ‘A New System of Domestic Cookery’ in 1808, and had an immense success. From five to ten thousand copies were long printed yearly. It became one of Murray’s most valuable properties, and in 1812, when he bought the lease of the house in Albemarle Street, part of the surety consisted of the copyright of the ‘Domestic Cookery.’ As the earliest manual of household management with any pretensions to completeness, it called forth many imitations.

In 1808 Murray presented Mrs. Rundell with 150l. She replied, ‘I never had the smallest idea of any return for what I considered a free gift to one whom I had long regarded as my friend.’ In acknowledging a copy of the second edition, Mrs. Rundell begged Murray not to think of remunerating her further, and in the preface to the edition of 1810 she expressly stated that she would receive no emolument. But in 1814 Mrs. Rundell accused Murray of neglecting the book and of hindering its sale. After obtaining an injunction in the vice-chancellor’s court to restrain Murray from republishing the book, she in 1821 placed an improved version of it in the hands of Messrs. Longman for publication. Murray retaliated by obtaining an injunction from the lord chancellor to prevent Mrs. Rundell from publishing the book with any of his additions and embellishments. On 3 Nov. the lord chancellor dissolved the injunction against Murray, but gave right to neither party, declaring that a court of law and not a court of equity must decide between them (Gent. Mag. 1821, ii. 465). After long delay, Mrs. Rundell accepted Murray’s offer of 1,000l. in full discharge of all claims, together with a similar sum to defray her costs and expenses (cf. Moore, Memoirs, v. 118, 119). The book was translated into German in 1841; the sixty-fifth English edition appeared in the same year.

Mrs. Rundell died, aged 83, at Lausanne on 16 Dec. 1828. Her husband predeceased her. Other books by Mrs. Rundell are: 1. ‘Domestic Happiness,’ 1806. 2. ‘Letters addressed to Two Absent Daughters,’ 1814.

 


 

A more detailed account of Ketelby Rundell’s life can be found at The Historic American Cookbook Project. Additional information can be found at the Cambridge Library Collection Blog.

* i. 94; Allibone’s Dict. ii. 1890; Smiles’s Memoirs of John Murray, i. 90 et passim, ii. 120–5.]

 

Posted on

18th Century Cookery Books and the British Housewife

I am sure that the ladies there had nothing to do with the mysteries of the stew-pot or the preserving-pan”
James Edward Austen-Leigh, writing about his aunts, Jane and Cassandra Austen, and grandmother, Mrs Austen, when they lived at Steventon Rectory.

18th century kitchen servants prepare a meal. Image @Jane Austen Cookbook

In 1747, Mrs.Hannah Glasse wrote her historic The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, an easy-to-understand cookbook for the lower class chefs who cooked for the rich. Her recipes were simple and came with detailed instructions, a revolutionary thought at the time.

The Art of Cookery’s first distinction was simplicity – simple instructions, accessible ingredients, an accent on thrift, easy recipes and practical help with weights and timing. Out went the bewildering text of former cookery books (“pass it off brown” became “fry it brown in some good butter”; “draw him with parsley” became “throw some parsley over him”). Out went French nonsense: no complicated patisserie that an ordinary cook could not hope to cook successfully. Glasse took into account the limitations of the average middle-class kitchen: the small number of staff, the basic cooking equipment, limited funds. – Hannah Glasse, The Original Domestic Goddess forum

Until Mrs. Glasse wrote her popular cookery book (17 editions appeared in the 18th century), these instructional books had been largely written by male chefs who offered complicated French recipes without detailed or practical directions. (To see what I mean, check Antonin Careme’s recipe for Les Petits Vol-Au-Vents a la Nesle at this link.) Like Jane Austen, Hannah signed her books “By a Lady”.

Mrs. Glasse had always intended to sell her cookery book to mistresses of gentry families or the rising middle class, who would then instruct their cooks to prepare foods from her simplified recipes, which she collected. “My Intention is to instruct the lower Sort [so that] every servant who can read will be capable of making a tolerable good Cook,” she wrote in her preface.

Frontispiece from William Augustus Henderson, The Housekeeper’s Instructor, 6th edition, c.1800. This same picture appeared in the very first edition of c.1791and it shows the mistress presenting the cookery book to her servant, while a young man is instructed in the art of carving with the aid of another book.*

Hannah’s revolutionary approach, which included the first known printed recipe for curry and instructions for making a hamburger, made sense. In the morning, it was the custom of the mistress of the household to speak to the cook or housekeeper about the day’s meals and give directions for the day. The servants in turn would interpret her instructions. (Often their mistress had to read the recipes to them, for many lower class people still could not read.)

In theory, the recipes from Hannah’s cookbook would help the lady of the house stay out of the kitchen and enjoy a few moments of free time. But the servant turnover rate was high and often the mistress had to roll up her sleeves and actively participate in the kitchen. Many households with just two or three servants could not afford a mistress of leisure, and they, like Mrs. Austen in the kitchens of Steventon Rectory and Chawton Cottage, would toil alongside their cook staff.

The simple kitchen at Chawton cottage. Image @Tony Grant

At the start of the 18th century the French courtly way of cooking still prevailed in genteel households. As the century progressed, more and more women like Hannah Glasse began to write cookery books that offered not only simpler versions of French recipes, but instructions for making traditional English pies, tarts, and cakes as well. Compared to the expensive cookbooks written by male chefs, cookery books written by women were quite affordable, for they were priced between 2 s. and 6 d.

Hannah Glasse's practical directions for boiling and broiling

Publishers took advantage of the brisk trade, for with the changes in agricultural practices,  food was becoming more abundant for the rising middle classes. Large editions of cheap English cookery books by a variety of female cooks were distributed to a wide new audience of less wealthy and largely female readers who had money to spend on food. Before Hannah Glasse and her cohorts, cooks and housewives  had been accustomed to sharing recipes in private journals (such as Martha Lloyd’s) or handing them down by word-of-mouth.

Female authors tended to share their native English recipes in their cookery books. As the century progressed, the content of these cookery books began to change. Aside from printing recipes, these books began to include medical instructions for poultices and the like; bills of fare for certain seasons or special gatherings; household and marketing tips; etc.

By the end of the 18th century, cookery books also included heavy doses of servant etiquette and moral advice. At this time plain English fare had replaced French cuisine, although wealthy households continued to employ French chefs as expensive status symbols.  In the mid-19th century cookery books that targeted the working classes, such as Mrs. Beeton’s famous book on Household Management, began to be serialized in magazines, as well as published in book form.

A Regency family at meal time

Before ending this post, I would like to refer you back to James Edward Austen-Leigh’s quote at top. In contrast to what he wrote (for he did not know his aunts or grandmother well), Jane Austen scholar Maggie Lane reminds us that housewives who consulted with their cook and housekeeper  about the day’s meals still felt comfortable working in the kitchen. She writes in Jane Austen and Food:

“though they may not have stirred the pot or the pan themselves, Mrs. Austen and her daughters perfectly understood what was going on within them…The fact that their friend and one-time house-mate Martha Lloyd made a collection of recipes to which Mrs. Austen contributed is proof that the processes of cookery were understood by women of their class.”

You can buy Jane Austen inspired cookery books online at our Jane Austen Gift Shop! Click here.


Vic Sanborn oversees Jane Austen’s World , a blog that takes up so much of her spare time that she no longer cooks. Instead, she  tries out exotic fusion dishes in restaurants around Richmond, VA, where she lives. She also manages to gain weight through the culinary efforts of her friends and family. The one cook Vic would most like to meet in history is Antonin Careme; Mrs. Glasse is a close second.

Posted on

Rice Pudding

She had not advanced many yards from Mrs Goddard’s door, when she was met by Mr Elton himself, evidently coming towards it, and as they walked on slowly together in conversation about the invalid…they were overtaken by Mr John Knightley returning from the daily visit to Donwell, with his two eldest boys, whose healthy, glowing faces shewed all the benefit of a country run, and seemed to ensure a quick despatch of the roast mutton and rice pudding they were hastening home for.
Emma

It is not by accident that Jane Austen mentions the little Knightleys hastening home to Hartfield in anticipation of Rice Pudding. Indeed, it is one dish Mr. Woodhouse would have been sure to have approved of for his grandchildren. Throughout history rice pudding has been recommended for the young, the old, and people of all ages with stomach ailments.*

According to Alan Davidson (Oxford Companion to Food, 1999) Rice pudding is the descendant of earlier rice pottages, which date back to the time of the Romans, who however used such a dish only as a medicine to settle upset stomaches. There were medieval rice pottages made of rice boiled until soft, then mixed with almond milk or cow’s milk, or both, sweetened, and sometimes coloured. Rice was an expensive import, and these were luxury Lenten dishes for the rich. Recipes for baked rice puddings began to appear in the early 17th century. Often they were rather complicated…Nutmeg survives in modern recipes. It is now unusual to add eggs or fat, and rice pudding has tended to become a severely plain nursery dish. Nevertheless, it has its devotees.

Rice first made its way West by way of India. While used as a thickening agent rather than ingredient in most recipes, Cooks eventually came to see its potential beyond that of medicinal use or starch. Writers at The Food Timeline offer that “Rice pudding was a popular dish during Shakespeare’s time. The Bard himself alludes to it’s making at a celebratory feast in A Winter’s Tale. Food historians generally agree the first puddings made by ancient cooks produced foods similar to sausages. Medieval puddings (black and white) were still mostly meat-based. 17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts & sugar) and were typically boiled in special pudding bags. The “pease porridge” most of us know from the old nursery rhyme was most likely a simple boiled pudding of pease meal. By the latter half 18th century traditional English puddings no longer included meat. 19th century puddings were still boiled but the finished product was more like cake. These puddings are still traditionally served at Christmas time.”

In 1803, Susannah Carter offered this recipe for Rice Pudding in her cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, or, Complete woman cook; wherein the art of dressing all sorts of viands is explained in upwards of five hundred approved receipts, in gravies, sauces, roasting [etc.] . . . also the making of English wines. To which is added an appendix, containing several new receipts adapted to the American mode of cooking. This title is updated from her earlier work, simply entitled The Frugal Housewife and printed in 1765. An American Edition was printed in 1772 on plates created by silversmith, Paul Revere. In 1829, American author Lydia Maria Child published a book with the same title. After a run in over Copyright infringement, Child’s Publisher was required to change it’s title in 1832 to the now famous, American Frugal Housewife.

Photograph by Michaela Kobyakov
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, rinsed and drained well
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a 3-quart covered saucepan. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove and then place, covered, in the preheated oven.
  3. Bake without disturbing or stirring for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The pudding will almost caramelize and become a pale golden color.5 servings

* The Food Timeline

Enjoyed this article? Browse our giftshop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk for Regency recipe books!