Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – Part Two
Instructions on how to dress Plovers, Cygnets, and Bullock’s Heart
Boiled Tongue with instructions on how to distinguish ox tongue from horse tongue, which is sometimes used by unscrupulous dealers.
These are some of the less appealing recipes found in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. I’m pretty sure in some areas you would get arrested if you hunt turtles, plovers or cygnets. One thing I can say about this large section of recipes. Mrs Beeton definitely believed in a diet filled with variety.
Getting past the nasties I was actually quite impressed with this section of the book. Mrs Beeton is a well-educated woman and punctuates many of the recipes with information on certain fish, the history of game animals, and general observations on hogs, calves, and sheep. She gives rich histories while using proper Latin terminology and hints on when and how to kill and dress these animals. It sounds barbaric until you realize that modern life has completely wiped out the need to do those unpleasant chores unless one is so inclined. One of the strangest discoveries was how much they fancied boiled meat. Even turkey!
Mrs Beeton uses a vast array of fruits and vegetables, breads, and soups. The most recognizable recipes were desserts of pies, tarts. and pastries. Because sugar was astronomical in price, they used what is known as loaf sugar. I looked it up and found some info here. There were drawings of molds and displays of certain dishes. They are gorgeous and look just like the ones I see in BBC productions of period pieces.
Sauces, vinegars, and other flavorings were very popular and probably could be suited to today’s menu. The section on beverages had lengthy instructions on how to make hot chocolate and tea. Her recipe for ginger beer and hot punch looked delish.
The chapters on cheese, eggs, and milk were very interesting, especially the part on what to feed chickens. Apparently if they are allowed to eat too many bugs, the eggs have a disagreeable flavor. Who knew? For some reason Mrs Beeton has dire health predictions for those who eat bread hot out of the oven. She feels it is to be left for a day before eating. Anyone nowadays who has made bread knows right out the oven is the only way to eat it!
I promised a recipe so here it is:
Ingredients: 2 1/2 lbs of loaf sugar, 1 1/2 oz. of bruised ginger, 1 oz. cream of tartar, the rind and juice of 2 lemons, 3 gallons of boiling water, 2 large Tbl. of thick and fresh brewers yeast.
Mode: Peel the lemons, squeeze the juice, strain it, and put the peel and juice into a large earthen pan, with the bruised ginger, cream of tartar, and loaf sugar. Pour over these ingredients 3 gallons of boiling water, let it stand until just warm, when add the yeast, which should be thick and perfectly fresh. Stir the contents of the pan well, and let them remain near the fire all night, covering the pan over with a cloth. The next day skim off the yeast, and pour the liquor carefully into another vessel, leaving the sediment, then bottle immediately, and tie the corks down, and in three days the ginger beer will be ready to use.
All this for a glass of soda!
Next part: invalid cooking, quotes from Florence Nightingale, and dinner menus for parties and family dinners. HInt: you would not believe how much these people ate!