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Jane-O-Lantern: Picture Your Pumpkin Two Ways

The celebration now known as Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, one of the four Druid “Bonfire” festivals. Celebrated on November 1, midway between the Autumn and Winter Solstices, some scholars believe that it marked the end of the old year and start of the new. Samhain (pronounced sów-en) was not a god to be worshipped, but rather a term meaning “The End of Summer”. It was at this time that the harvest was brought in, preparations for winter completed, debts were settled and the dead buried before the coming winter. In the highly superstitious Celtic culture, it was also believed that at this time when “a new year was being stitched to the old” the veil between the present world and the next was especially thin, allowing the spirits of the departed, both good and evil to roam.

Because of this belief, October 31 became a highly superstitious night. Some used the opportunity to entreat the dead for guidance in the coming year. Others carried on traditions involving the revelation of one’s sweetheart or good fortune for the coming year. Towards the close of the evening priests and townsfolk, dressed as spirits would parade through the village in order to lead the wandering ghosts back to their resting places. Far from being a burning Hell, the Celtic “underworld” was a place of light and feasting, much more akin to the Christian ideal of Heaven.

As it was also the close of the year, the bonfire, kindled by the priests served an extra purpose. Each villager would let their hearth fire die out that night to be lit afresh by embers from the bonfire, symbolizing a new year and hope for prosperity. During the night of spooks and ghosts, homes would be lit by rustic lanterns carved from turnips (known early on as neeps) beets and rutabagas. Pumpkins would be used later, as they were brought to Europe from the New World in the 17th century. These flickering lights were set out in hopes of welcoming home friendly souls and chasing away the evil spirits who wandered that night.

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Orange Cream

The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles’ dine here to-day, and I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.
-Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 30, 1808

By Jane Austen’s day, oranges were no longer a novelty, though they were certainly an expensive delight. Orange Marmalade, also known as Dundee Marmalade, was developed in Scotland and so popular that, by 1797,  James Keiller and his mother Janet opened a factory to produce “Dundee Marmalade”,a preserve distinguished by thick chunks of bitter Seville orange rind. The business prospered, and remains a signature marmalade producer today. Martha Lloyd’s household book contains a recipe for “Scotch Marmalade” and the Austen’s were known to bottle their own Orange Wine.

There are no reports of sweet oranges occurring in the wild. In general, it is believed that sweet orange trees have originated in Southeast Asia, northeastern India or southern Chinaand that they were first cultivated in China around 2500 BC.

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Cloved Orange: A Regency Pomander

pomanderThe word “pomander” originates from the French “pomme d’ambre.” A common interpretation of this phrase is “apple of ambergris,” referring to the wax substance used as a base in pomander recipes. Others take the phrase to mean “apple of amber” or “golden apple,” as in the fragrant citrus fruits exchanged during holidays for good luck.

The pomander became popular during the Middle Ages when the black death and other ailments ran rampant. Sanitation during the era was lamentably lacking. The streets and even some homes were strewn with filth, bodily fluids and the discarded remnants of past meals. People thought that the cause of their problems lay in the resulting stench lingering about the city. The belief went that the pleasant scent of a pomander could repel the disease in the air.

Several recipes for pomanders survive from the era. To the base of ambergris, musk, civet, rose water, and other perfumes and spices were added. The mix would then be inserted into the pomander’s container. A pomander could be worn around the neck or waist. Many women attached them to their girdle.

Queen Elizabeth I holding gilded pomander attached to her waist. (luminarium.org)

Both men and women wore pomanders, most of whom hailed from the elite classes of society. Queen Elizabeth I is frequently depicted wearing one, as are other nobles and notables of the day. People took great pride in their pomanders. Simple pomanders were made of wood, while the most stunning examples were worked in silver or gold, studded with precious stones, and etched with intricate designs. Some pomanders were divided into sections, similar to an orange, into which its wearer would place several different scents.

As time wore on, the pomander began to take on the “golden apple” interpretation. By the 18th century, a pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Years. Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.*

According to Waverly Fitzgerald’s School of the Seasons, “By the 17th and 18th century the decorated orange stuck with cloves was often mentioned as a Christmas or New Year’s custom. In his Christmas masque, Ben Jonson wrote, “He has an Orange and rosemary, but not a clove to stick in it.” A later description of New Year’s in England mentions children carrying pippins and oranges stuck with cloves in order to crave a blessing for their godfathers and godmothers. ”

Make A Clove Studded Orange

The following illustration was provided by Stephanie Locsei of http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/. To complete this project, you’ll need an orange, enough narrow ribbon to wrap twice around your orange and tie in a loop, and a jar of whole cloves.

 

 

easy to make christmas decorations clove orange instructions

 


Pomander history from : Pomanders History | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5378191_pomanders-history.html#ixzz2EiEHIjWh

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Oranges and Lemons


On Twelfth night we had a delightful evening, though not so grand as last year…we played at Oranges and Lemons, Hunt the Slipper, Wind the Jack…we

had a very pleasant ball till 10, sometimes Mama, sometimes myself acting as the musicians.

Fanny Austen to Miss Dorothy Clapman
February, 1812

This is a game based around an old English children’s song, called ‘Oranges and Lemons’, about the sounds of church bells in various parts of London.

Various theories have been advanced to account for the rhyme, including theories that it describes public executions and/or that it describes Henry

VIII’s marital difficulties. Problematically for these theories the last two lines, with their different metre, do not appear in the earlier recorded

versions of the rhyme, including the first printed in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (c. 1744), where the lyrics are:

Two Sticks and Apple,
Ring ye Bells at Whitechapple,

Old Father Bald Pate,
Ring ye Bells Aldgate,

Maids in White Aprons,
Ring ye Bells a St. Catherines,

Oranges and Lemmons,
Ring ye bells at St. Clemens,

When will you pay me,
Ring ye Bells at ye Old Bailey,

When I am Rich,
Ring ye Bells at Fleetditch,

When will that be,
Ring ye Bells at Stepney,

When I am Old,
Ring ye Bells at Pauls.

There is considerable variation in the churches and lines attached to them in versions printed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,

which makes any overall meaning difficult to establish. The final two lines of the modern version were first collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the

1840s. Oranges and Lemons was the name of a square-four-eight-dance, published in Playford’s, Dancing Master in 1665, but it is not clear if this relates to this rhyme.

This is how the traditional version is played:

Two children form an arch with their arms. They determine in secret which of them shall be an ‘orange’ and which a ‘lemon’. Everyone sings the ‘Oranges

and Lemons’ song (see below). The other children in the game take turns to run under the arch until one of them is caught when the arch falls at the end

of the song. The captured player is asked privately whether they will be an ‘orange’ or a ‘lemon’ and then goes behind the original ‘orange’ or ‘lemon’

team leader. The game and singing then starts over again. At the end of the game there is usually ‘a tug of war’ to test whether the ‘oranges’ or

‘lemons’ are stronger. The game is similar to ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’.*

Gay go up and gay go down,

To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons,

Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull’s eyes and targets,

Say the bells of St. Marg’ret’s.

Brickbats and tiles,

Say the bells of St. Giles’.

Halfpence and farthings,

Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

Pancakes and fritters,

Say the bells of St. Peter’s.

Two sticks and an apple,

Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs,

Say the bells of St. John’s.

Kettles and pans,

Say the bells of St. Ann’s.

Old Father Baldpate,

Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings,

Say the bells of St. Helen’s.

When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,

Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,

Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chop chop chop chop

The last man’s dead!

(The arch comes down tapping one player)

 

 

 


 

 

*Instructions from Mamalisa.com. Other information from

href=”http://www.wikipedia.com” target=”new”>Wikipedia.com.

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Let them eat Georgian [Cheese]cake!

georgian cheesecake

Georgian 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 a mortar very fine, then mix them together. Then add 1/2 of a pound of almonds beat fine with orange flower water; 3/4 lb of a pound of sugar, and eggs (half ye whites), a little mace pounded, and a little cream; beat all together a quarter of an hour; bake them in a puff paste in a quick oven.
-From Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

Modern commercial “American” cream cheese was developed in 1872, when William Lawrence, from Chester, New York, while looking for a way to recreate the soft, French cheese Neufchâtel, accidentally came up with a way of making an “unripened cheese” that is heavier and creamier; other dairymen came up with similar creations independently. In 1912, James Kraft developed a form of pasteurized cream cheese. Kraft acquired the Philadelphia trademark in 1928, and marketed pasteurized Philadelphia Cream Cheese which is now the most commonly used cheese for cheesecake.

A Tangerine Georgian Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup Graham Crackers — Crushed
2 tablespoons Melted Butter
2 tablespoons Sugar

Filling:
2-4 eight-ounce packages Cream Cheese — Softened
2 tablespoons Tangerine Juice
4 Eggs
1 tablespoon Grated Tangerine Peel (or other citrus)
1 cup Sugar

Topping:
1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Tangerine Juice (or other citrus)

Combine first 3 ingredients thoroughly. Press into bottom and sides of 9″ springform pan. Bake 5 minutes and cool; (350 degrees F. oven). Turn oven to 250 degrees F.

Place 1 8-ounce package cream cheese and 1 egg in large mixer bowl; beat thoroughly. Repeat with remaining cheese and eggs, beating well after each addition. Gradually add sugar alternately with juice. Beat at medium speed for 10 minutes. Stir in peel. Pour into crust and bake 25 minutes. Turn off heat; let cake stand in oven 45 minutes and then remove.

Turn oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly combine topping ingredients. Let stand at room temperature. Gently spread over warm cake. Return to preheated 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Partly cool on wire rack. Refrigerate overnight.

 

*****
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Ratafia Cakes

Ratafia Biscuits or Cakes were an easy, popular cookie that used whipped egg whites for leavening and that baked up very light. They were a type of Macaroon and derived their name from the flavoring used in them. The word Ratafia means a cordial or liqueur, but remains of uncertain origin. Eventually, it came to denote almost any alcoholic and aromatic ‘water’. Flavorings varied widely, from the original ratafia of Morello cherry kernels to such herbs as Angelica. Some ratafias were distilled, others were made by infusion of spices, herbs and fruits in brandy or eau de vie.

Since the Regency predated scheduled afternoon tea, these biscuits were often served during the dessert course of a dinner to offset other sweets. The Georgian favorite, Syllabub, was commonly accompanied by Ratafia Cakes or Macaroons and the recipe maven of the 18th C., Hannah Glasse, suggests that they be used in place of cake in Trifle.

Ratafia Cakes
Take 8 fl oz: apricot kernels, if they cannot be had bitter Almonds will do as well, blanch them & beat them very fine with a little Orange flower water, mix them with the whites of three eggs well beaten & sifted, work all together and it will be like a paste, then lay it in little round bits on tin plates flour’d, set them in an oven that is not very hot & they will puff up & be soon baked.
Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

Ratafia Cakes
340g (12oz)/ 1 ½ Cup Caster (fine or powdered) Sugar
225g (8oz)/ 1 Cup Sweet Almonds
110g (4oz)/ ½ Cup Bitter Ones
1 teaspoon orange-flower water or orange liqueur
4 Egg Whites

Blanch, skin and dry the almonds and pound them in a mortar with one egg white. Stir in the sugar and gradually add the remaining stiffly whisked egg whites. Pipe the mixture using a small biscuit syringe [piping bag] on to cartridge paper. Bake the cakes for 10 to 12 minutes in rather a quicker oven than for macaroons. A very small quantity should be dropped on the paper to form one cake, as, when baked, the ratafias should be about the size of a large button.

Time: 10 to 12 minutes.

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Georgian Ices

Such was the information of the first five minutes; the second unfolded thus much in detail — that they had driven directly to the York Hotel, ate some soup, and bespoke an early dinner, walked down to the pump-room, tasted the water, and laid out some shillings in purses and spars; thence adjoined to eat ice at a pastry-cook’s, and hurrying back to the hotel, swallowed their dinner in haste, to prevent being in the dark; and then had a delightful drive back, only the moon was not up, and it rained a little, and Mr Morland’s horse was so tired he could hardly get it along.
Northanger Abbey

When we read in a novel about Jane Austen’s characters going somewhere to “Eat Ices” it’s easy to imagine that they are feasting on some kind of shaved ice and syrup treat, much like a sno-cone. In reality, “the quality was very high and the astonishing variety of flavours available in a Georgian confectionery shop would easily compete with that offered today in a modern Italian gelateria”, relates Ivan Day, Historicfood.com chef.

“While ice cream, or Ices, as they were called, had been known in England since the 1670’s, they were an exclusive dish that appeared only on the king’s table. The earliest printed recipe appeared in Mrs. Eale’s Receipts, a little work on confectionery published in London in 1718. It was not until the second half of the 18th century that ices become more widely available from confectioners’ shops set up by French and Italian émigrés.

Some varieties that are fashionable in modern times, such as brown bread and pistachio, actually date from this period. The first English recipes for these two flavours appear in a confectionery text of 1770. In the same book are recipes for ices made with elderflowers, jasmine, white coffee, tea, pineapple, barberries and a host of other tempting and unusual flavours.

When the ice cream had “congealed”, it was sometimes put into hinged lead or pewter moulds in the form of fruits, or other novelty shapes. The seams were sealed with lard and they were wrapped in brown paper before being plunged into the salt and ice mixture for about two hours to freeze hard. After being turned out of the moulds, the fruits were preserved in their frozen state in an early form of refrigerator known as an ice cave. Ice cream freezers in the traditional sense were not invented until 1846, when Nancy Johnson designed a hand cranked churn which worked much like those used today.

These fruits glacés were often coloured with edible pigments and provided with stalks and leaves to make them look realistic. Moulds in the form of citrons, pineapples, bergamot pears and apricots were popular. Some in the form of crayfish, asparagus, cuts of meat and truffles were also used. In France, rich custard-based ices known as fromages glacés were frozen in moulds in the form of cheeses. Fake biscuits and canelons (cigar shaped wafers) were also popular. Water ices and frozen mousses were made in a remarkable variety of flavours. Some of them included the alcoholic liqueurs of the day, such as the almond-flavoured ratafia and the spicy rossolis. In England, frozen punches were particularly popular. These were based on lemon, or Seville orange sorbet fortified with rum.

One of the confectioners who helped establish a taste for quality continental ice cream in England was an Italian called Domenico Negri. Two of his apprentices published recipe books later in the century, which both have large sections on ice creams. One of these, Frederick Nutt, whose The Complete Confectioner first appeared in 1789, gives thirty two recipes for ice cream and twenty four for water ices.”

Royal Ice Cream
Take the yolks of ten eggs and two whole eggs; beat them up well with your spoon; then take the rind of one lemon, two gills of syrup, one pint of cream, a little spice, and a little orange flower water; mix them all well and put them over the fire, strring them all the time with your spoon; when you find it grows thick take it off, and pass it through a sieve; put it into a freezing pot, freeze it, and take a little citron, and lemon and orange peel with a few pistachio nuts blanched; cut them all and mince them with your ice before you put them in your moulds.

Lemon-Orange Ice Cream

  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 Orange
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 Cup minced pistachio nuts

Put the lemon zest and sugar in a food processor and process until the zest is finally chopped. In a saucepan, mix the lemon sugar with 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and all milk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk briefly. still whisking the yolks, slowly pour in the hot cream. When the mixture is smooth, pour it back into the saucepan or into the top of a double boiler. Cook over low heat or over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a thick custard, about 15 min. Do not let the mixture boil. Place the custard in a metal bowl set over a larger bowl of ice. Stir until very cold and thick. Mix in the lemon juice. Whip the remaining cup of cream until stiff. Fold in the lemon custard. Add Pistachios if desired.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of the machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture in a shallow pan. Once partially set, scoop the ice cream into your mixing bowl and beat until smooth (not melted). Return to freezer and freeze solid.

Makes about 1 quart

Lest you think that ice cream cones are a modern invention, check out Robert Weir’s fascinating article on this timeless treat!

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Orange and Raspberry Shrub

The border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very proper for raspberries.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
February 8, 1807

The word Shrub comes from the Arabic word sharab, which literally means “to drink” (it’s also the same word which gave us syrup and sherbert). The first mention of this word in the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1747 and its meaning (beyond that of the “woody plant or bush”) is “any of various acidulated beverages made from the juice of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients, often including alcohol.”

Both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic (using vinegar) versions of these drinks are refreshing on a hot summer day. Commonly made in an orange, lemon or berry flavor and bottled, they would last all season long in a time before refrigeration. The presence of the brandy or vinegar added a bit of a bite to this non-carbonated, early soft drink and helped to prevent it from spoiling in the warm weather.

The following recipe is for an alcoholic, citrus Shrub, while Martha Lloyd’s recipe for Raspberry Vinegar could be adapted instead for a refreshing berry drink suitable for all ages.

Citrus Shrub
“Take two quarts of brandy, put it into a large bottle, and put into it the juice of five lemons, and the peels of two, and half a nutmeg; then stop it up and let it stand three days, after which add to it three pints of white wine; a pound and a half sugar; mix it, strain it twice through a filtering bag, and then bottle it up. This is a fine cordial.”
John Davies, The Innkeeper and Butler’s Guide, or, a Directory in the Making and Managing of British Wines, 1808

A Modern Version of Citrus Shrub (Alcoholic)
1 pint Orange Juice
Zest and juice of three lemons
2 Quarts Rum

Combine these ingredients in a gallon jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for three days.

In a large saucepan, mix 4 Cups sugar with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly to create a simple syrup. Add this syrup to the rum and juice mixture. Cover the jar and let the mixture stand at room temperature for two weeks. Strain the mixture and bottle.

Raspberry Shrub (Non-Alcoholic)

  • 4 cups fresh Blackberries or Raspberries, about 16 ounces
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • cold water
  • ice

Place berries in a non-metal bowl or pitcher; add vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap or lid; refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Strain mixture into a saucepan, pressing blackberries to extract all liquid. Discard solids then stir in sugar. Boil 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat and let cool. Store in a tightly covered jar or pitcher. For each serving, combine 1/4 cup of the blackberry concentrate with 1 cup cold water; pour over ice in glasses.

Makes enough concentrate for about 12 servings.

 

Other Raspberry Shrub recipes can be found here and if all this sounds like too much work, ready made shrub cordials can be purchased from Tait Farm Foods in a variety of fruit flavors including Cherry, Raspberry, Cranberry and Strawberry.

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