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Picnicking, Box Hill Style

picnicking at Box Hill

Picnicking, Box Hill Style

Two or three more of the chosen only were to be admitted to join them, and it was to be done in a quiet, unpretending, elegant way, infinitely superior to the bustle and preparation, the regular eating and drinking, and picnic parade of the Eltons and the Sucklings.
-Emma

Ah! The picnic- what other meal is so synonmous with summer? Drawing it’s name from the 16th C. French pique-nique which means “to pack a trifle” picnicking began as a kind of pot luck dinner where everyone brought a dish to be shared. The word did not appear in print in English until the early 1800’s. It appears in Jane Austen’s Emma, as the neighborhood plans an outing at Box Hill. Though the word picnic commonly refers to a simple outdoor affair, viewers of A&E’s Emma (1997) can see just how much toil and work was required by cooks and servants to provide for this “fine day.”

Picnicking soon became standard entertainment after organized hunts (a good idea of this can be seen in Gosford Park, 2001) and grew in scale and grandeur. One Victorian writer, Mrs. Beeton, whose Book of Household Management appeared in 24 monthly parts between 1859–1861 lists the following as a

BILL OF FARE
FOR A PICNIC FOR 40 PERSONS

A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf’s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.

Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household broad, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb, of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.

Things not to be forgotten at a Picnic
A stick of horseradish, a bottle of mint-sauce well corked, a bottle of salad dressing, a bottle of vinegar, made mustard, pepper, salt, good oil, and pounded sugar. If it can be managed, take a little ice. It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots, some lump sugar, and milk, if this last-named article cannot be obtained in the neighbourhood. Take 3 corkscrews.

Beverages
3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; ginger-beer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne à discrétion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained so it is useless to take it.

You can imagine the work required for such a event! By 1900 picnics had become smaller, portable feasts, such as we are used to today. No matter what the size, or occasion though, picnics remain a favorite way to spend a summertime meal, so grab a blanket and sandwich and let’s go!

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A Good Salve for Sore Lips

a good salve for sore lips

A Good Salve for Sore Lips

He had frequently observed, as he walked, that one handsome face would be followed by thirty, or five-and-thirty frights; and once, as he had stood in a shop on Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them.

It had been a frosty morning, to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of….

Such scarecrows as the streets were full of!
– Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion

When it’s cold and windy out, it is hard to keep one’s complexion looking it’s best. One help is chapstick- to protect your lips from getting dried and cracked in the bitter winter months.

Have fun trying this month’s vintage recipe!!

A Good Salve for Sore Lips
Take an oz of beeswax; put it into an oz of good salad oyl, melt it over a fire and clour it with alkemy root [Alkanna Tinctoria]; when it has boiled and is of a fine red, strain it and drop in three pennyworth of balsam of Peru. Then pour it into the bottoms of teacups that it may turn out in cakes.
From Martha Lloyd’s Household Book. Submitted by Mrs. Fowle

 

Making Your Own Chapstick

  • Mix equal parts of beeswax, sweet almond oil and cocoa butter in a small microwave safe dish.
  • Place in the microwave on high for 30 second intervals until melted, stirring in between each time to help melt the beeswax. You may do this on the stove instead.
  • Pour warm mixture into lip balm tubes or small pots and let harden overnight.
  • You can adjust the amount of beeswax if you are not happy with this formula; you may wish to use a little bit less beeswax if you are using the lip balm pots.
  • Walnut oil may sometimes be substituted for almond oil. It works just as well, and costs a bit less.
  • Ingredients may be bought on-line at http://www.lavenderlane.com/

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To Make Salamongundy

 

Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, worse on Friday, died on Saturday, buried on Sunday, that is the end of Solomon Grundy.
James Orchard Halliwell  1842

It can only be speculation to suggest that this popular children’s rhyme alludes to the English salad, Salmagundi. However, the connection seems likely to me, given this dish’s potential in the wrong hands.

What you might ask is Salmagundi, and why the strange name?

Salmagundi is a salad of lettuce, cooked meat, anchovies, eggs and other condiments. It became popular in the 1700’s, Hannah Glasse gives three recipes in her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747). She says of the dish, ‘you may always make a Salamongundy of such things as you have, according to your fancy’.

*Mrs. Glasse’s recipe is very similar to Henry Howard’s 1726 instructions in England’s Newest Way in all Sorts of Cookery, which suggests veal, pickles, sorrel, spinach, chives, horseradish, and barberries. Still others from Glasse use apples, cucumbers, celery, watercress, pickled red cabbage, and pickled gherkins for vegetables, and pickled herring, cold pork, duck, or pigeons for meat. Mrs. Raffald, The Experienced English Housekeeper (London, 1775) endorsed pickled herring and garnishes of butter in a pineapple shape. Dressings were usually oil and vinegar or lemon, and sometimes mustard.

 It’s easy to see that such permissiveness could allow the dish to become a bit of a dogs dinner; made on Monday, eaten on Wednesday, and you were dead by Friday?

 So Salmagudi is a salad, but that doesn’t tell us much about the strange name. The truth is nobody can be sure, but it’s pretty likely that it’s a corruption of the French term salmingondin, and this term itself may be taken from the Italian term salame conditi meaning pickled meat.

 Salmagundi seems to have fallen out of favor in the latter half of the 19th century, in line with a general rejection of all things French. This is unfortunate as it makes for a potentially pleasing salad.

To Make Salamongundy
Take two or three Roman or Cabbage Lettice, and when you have washed them clean, swing them pretty dry in a Cloth; then beginning at the open End, cut them cross-ways, as fine as a good big Thread, and lay the Lettices so cut, about an Inch thick all over the Bottom of the Dish. When you have thus garnished your Dish, take a Couple of cold roasted Pullets, or Chickens, and cut the Flesh off the Breasts and Wings into Slices, about three Inches long, a Quarter of an Inch broad, and as thin as a Shilling; lay them upon the Lettice round the End to the Middle of the Dish and the other towards the Brim; then having boned and cut six Anchovies each into eight Pieces, lay them all between each Slice of the Fowls, then cut the lean Meat of the Legs into Dice, and cut a Lemon into small Dice; then mince the Yolks of four Eggs, three or four Anchovies, and a little Parsley, and make a round Heap of these in your Dish, piling it up in the Form of a Sugar-loaf, and garnish it with Onions, as big as the Yolk of Eggs, boiled in a good deal of Water very tender and white. Put the largest of the Onions in the Middle on the Top of the Salamongundy, and lay the rest all round the Brim of the Dish, as thick as you can lay them; then beat some Sallat-Oil up with Vinegar, Salt and Pepper and pour over it all. Garnish with Grapes just scalded, or French beans blanched, or Station [nasturtium] Flowers, and serve it up for a first Course.
From Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, 1747

Jason’s Solomon Grundy
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
1 head of  Iceberg Lettuce
4 cooked (rare) pigeon breasts
4 cooked chicken thighs
4 peeled hard boiled eggs
1 lemon
4 anchovy fillets
4 tablespoons of Pickled pearl onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Finely shred the lettuce and lay on a platter. Julienne the meats and lay upon the lettuce. Thinly slice the lemon and lay this over the meat, then arrange the anchovies over the lemon. Slice the eggs and layer these over the dish. Scatter the onion and parsley over the ‘mound’. Just before serving dress the salad with a classic French dressing.

Adapted from Jason Campbell’s article on Salamongundy listed on Nicebites, and reproduced with their permission.

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