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

Cookery for the Poor

Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather to prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise; and on the morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who lived a little way out of Highbury…Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses of the poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her patience, as from her purse. She understood their ways, could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those, for whom education had done so little; entered into their troubles with ready sympathy, and always gave her assistance with as much intelligence as good-will. In the present instance, it was sickness and poverty together which she came to visit; and after remaining there as long as she could give comfort or advice, she quitted the cottage with such an impression of the scene as made her say to Harriet, as they walked away,

“These are the sights, Harriet, to do one good. How trifling they make every thing else appear! I feel now as if I could think of nothing but these poor creatures all the rest of the day; and yet, who can say how soon it may all vanish from my mind?”

“Very true,” said Harriet. “Poor creatures! one can think of nothing else.”

“And really, I do not think the impression will soon be over,” said Emma, as she crossed the low hedge, and tottering footstep which ended the narrow, slippery path through the cottage garden, and brought them into the lane again. “I do not think it will,” stopping to look once more at all the outward wretchedness of the place, and recall the still greater within.
-Emma

Continue reading Cookery for the Poor