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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.

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

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To Make Brown Onion Soup

  …The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases’ last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; … Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Raffald, from the frontspiece of her 1789 edition of The Experienced English Housekeeper. Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow.  The rich flavor of the base is not due just to the broth, but to the caramelized onions (typically, the pot is full of sliced onions, which will shrink down to less than half the volume on cooking). Caramelization, in this case, is the procedure in which the onions are cooked slowly until the melting sugars approach burning temperature, becoming brown. Some recipes suggest a half an hour of cooking time, but many chefs and cooks allow for hours of cooking to bring out the flavors of the onions’ sugars. A penny bun or a penny loaf was a small bread bun or loaf which cost one old penny at the time when there were 240 pence to the pound. A penny loaf was a common size loaf of bread in England regulated by the Assize of Bread Act of 1266. The size of the loaf could vary depending on the prevailing cost of the flour used in the baking. The nursery rhyme London Bridge Is Falling Down has a version which includes (more…)
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Scotch Eggs

A Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg (with its shell removed) wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs or rolled oats, and deep-fried. The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738,but they may have been inspired by the Moghul dish nargisi kofta (“Narcissus meatballs”).The earliest printed recipe is the 1809 edition of Mrs. Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery. Mrs. Rundell – and later 19th-century authors – served them hot, with gravy offers many recipe variations for this Georgian treat, including the following: 8 hard boiled eggs, peeled Flour 1 lb. bulk pork sausage 3/4 c. bread crumbs 1/2 tsp. sage 1/4 tsp. salt Dash of pepper 2 eggs, well beaten Vegetable oil Roll each hard boiled egg in flour. Form a large, flat patty out of 2 ounces of the sausage. Carefully work the sausage around one of the floured eggs. Repeat with other eggs. In a shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, sage, salt, and pepper. Dip each sausage egg in the beaten egg and roll it in the bread crumb mixture. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a 3 quart saucepan to 360 degrees. Fry the eggs in the oil 4 to 6 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. You can find more Regency Recipes at our online gift shop. Click here. Photo by Sam Breach, Becks & Posh blog (more…)
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Easter Eggs to Dye For

“Mrs Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body. I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else; but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see — one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart — a very little bit. Emma The tradition of dyeing Easter eggs or eggs for Spring festivals goes back hundreds of years to the ancient Egyptians. In the Spring, they would dye eggs in bright colors and give them to friends as tokens of new life. Early Christians who avoided eating eggs during Lent would preserve them by boiling them. It is said that they dyed them red, using onion skins, in remembrance of Christ’s blood, shed for them. Boiled eggs are also a part of the Passover tradition. Later on, during the 16th century the tradition of exchanging eggs as Easter presents was in full swing and lovers would hand decorate special eggs with a variety of colors, gilt, wax and even paper for their sweethearts. We don’t know if Jane Austen ever decorated Easter Eggs. If she had, only the most natural ingredients would have been available to her. Here are some basic guidelines for transforming eggs into beautiful works of art: Canned produce will produce much paler colors. Boiling the colors with vinegar (more…)
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Steps to a Brilliant Complexion

Young ladies should take care of themselves. — Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion. Emma Throughout Jane Austen’s novels, a woman’s complexion, or lack there of is used as a measure against her over all refinement and good health. Both her gentlemen and ladies return to this topic time and again and it is one subject which can be used as a gauge in discovering our hero’s true intentions, whether they are love, spite or a desire to dissemble. Who can forget Mr. Darcy’s first dismissal of Elizabeth Bennet as “not handsome enough,” when his second was to notice “brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion”. A woman’s complexion was one of her chief assets during the Regency when fashion dictated natural beauty in the face of the previous generation’s excessive use of cosmetics. Even a girl without natural beauty, points out Frank Churchill, is improved by a good complexion. “Ladies can never look ill. And, seriously, Miss Fairfax is naturally so pale, as almost always to give the appearance of ill health. –A most deplorable want of complexion…Where features were indifferent, a fine complexion gave beauty to them all; and where they were good, the effect was — fortunately he need not attempt to describe what the effect was.” We later learn that he is disguising his true feelings and Emma, to whom the first was addressed, must now suffer through the recounting of Jane Fairfax’s beauty, “Did you (more…)
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A Wash for the Hair

Egg Whites (even in the form of Mayonaise) have long been used in conjuncture with hair washing to give a glossy shine. This receipt, from the Mirror of Graces, printed in 1811, makes good use of them. In a time when hair washing was at a minimum and pomades made of lard and grease were widely used, shampoo (a word which dates back to 1768) a soap especially for hair was a delight instead of the harsh lye soaps traditionally used. The term and service was introduced by a Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed, who opened a shampooing bath known as ‘Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths’ in Brighton, England in 1759. His baths were like Turkish baths where clients received an Indian treatment of champi (shampooing) or therapeutic massage. His service was appreciated; he received the high accolade of being appointed ‘Shampooing Surgeon’ to both George IV and William IV. During the early stages of shampoo, English hair stylists boiled shaved soap in water and added herbs to give the hair shine and fragrance. Kasey Hebert, a London entrepreneur, was the first known maker of shampoo, and the origin is currently attributed to him. Wash for the Hair This is a cleanser and brightener of the head and hair, and should be applied in the morning. Beat up the whites of six eggs into a froth, and with that annoint the head close to the roots of the hair. Leave it to dry on; then wash the head and hair thoroughly (more…)
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Let them eat Georgian [Cheese]cake!

georgian cheesecakeGeorgian Cheesecake: What came before? Our journey yesterday went off exceedingly well; nothing occurred to alarm or delay us… At Devizes we had comfortable rooms and a good dinner, to which we sat down about five; amongst other things we had asparagus and a lobster, which made me wish for you, and some cheesecakes, on which the children made so delightful a supper as to endear the town of Devizes to them for a long time. Jane to Cassandra 13, Queen’s Square, Friday (May 17) 1799 An ancient form of cheesecake may have been a popular dish in ancient Greece even prior to Romans’ adoption of it with the conquest of Greece. The earliest attested mention of a cheesecake is by the Greek physician Aegimus, who wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes (πλακουντοποιικόν σύγγραμμα—plakountopoiikon suggramma). Cato the Elder’s De Agri Cultura includes recipes for two cakes for religious uses: libum and placenta. Of the two, placenta is most like most modern cheesecakes, having a crust that is separately prepared and baked. It is important to note that though these early forms are called cheese cakes, they differed greatly in taste and consistency from the cheesecake that we know today. To Make Almond Cheesecakes Take 1/2 lb. of blanch’d almonds pounded small with a spoonful of orange flower water, a lb of double refined sugar, 10 yokes of eggs well beat. Add the peels of two oranges or lemons (which must be boiled very tender). Then beat in (more…)
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Baked Apple Pudding

I am glad the new cook begins so well. Good Apple Pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness. Jane to Cassandra 17 October, 1815 In 1660 Robert May published The Accomplisht Cook, which became the most important cook book of it’s time. Robert was a professional chef who had trained in Paris. Catering to the aristocracy, he introduced many new recipes at a time when English cuisine was just beginning to borrow from the French. One of his recipes, A Made Dish of Butter and Eggs, was gradually modified (the original called for 24 egg yolks!) into Marlborough Pie (or Marlborough Pudding), and taken to the new world by the pilgrims. This recipe soon became a Thanksgiving favorite and remains so, to this day. Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Sister in-law , kept a similar recipe in her Household Book. A Baked Apple Pudding (with Pastry) Take a dozen of pippens, pulp them through your cullender, take six eggs, sugar enough to make sweet, the rind of two lemons grated, a 1/4 of a lb of butter (melted with flour or water). Squeeze the juice of the two lemons, let the apples be cold before the ingredients are put together. Make a puff paste in the bottom of the dish, half an hour bakes it. Martha Lloyd’s Household Book Marlborough Pie 1 1/2 cup applesauce 3 Tbs. butter, melted 1 cup sugar, or to taste 1/2 tsp. salt 3 Tbs. lemon juice 1 tsp. lemon rind, grated 4 eggs, (more…)