Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – Part Two

Turtle Soup

Eel Pie

Lamb’s Sweetbreads

Instructions on how to dress Plovers, Cygnets, and Bullock’s Heart

Hashed Partridges

Boiled Tongue with instructions on how to distinguish ox tongue from horse tongue, which is sometimes used by unscrupulous dealers.

Hungry yet?

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:

Ginger Beer

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!

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management: Part one

 Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

 Isabella Beeton

 Oxford World Classics (2008) First published in 1861

 4 1/2 stars

It ought, therefore, to enter into the domestic policy of every parent, to make her children feel that home is the happiest place in the world; that to imbue them with this delicious homefeeling is one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.

   I am reading Mrs Beeton for the Victorian Literature Challenge and enjoying it immensely. There is no way I will be able to review this book in one go. It is simply too vast and varied to attempt that. Plus this gem is so rich in portraying knowledge of the Victorian home that it is difficult to take it all in. It’s fantastic!

     First, it defines the role of a mistress, which in those days referred to the wife.  Many subjects are covered from general good character to friendships to hiring servants. Reading this book showed how important interviewing potential servants was with honesty being the most important requirement. Domestic servants often lived in the family home and took care of the most personal aspects of daily living. I’ll define some of these fascinating roles later on but here the role to secure good help is tantamount to the job of mistress. Mrs Beeton included a table of Average Yearly Wages in order of household rank which would be a marvelous find for someone studying the Victorian period.

     Morning calls, visits of condolence, and giving parties were extremely important social functions.  Ladies conduct themselves with discretion, not overstaying their welcome, and most definitely not contradict a servant who says the mistress is not at home. Guidelines about giving successful dinner parties are outlined in great detail from the half hour before arrival to how carriages of guests are announced. It also covers after dinner parties, suppers, balls, and buffets.  I loved Mrs. Beeton’s sample of an invitation.

Mr and Mrs B—- present their compliments to Mr and Mrs A—- and will do themselves the honour of, (or will have much pleasure in) accepting their kind invitation to dinner on the 6th of December next.

     I’ve got to use that someday! Where manners are concerned, it is of the utmost importance that a guest feels comfortable, welcome, and in the case of a ball, never left out of the fun. It is this practice of kindness towards all and the various ways it is shown that left an impression on me. Mrs. Beeton is definitely still relevant today.

     Evenings at home consist of various games, needlework,  and other agreeable pastimes that are experienced as a family. The quote at the top is from this section. Being cheerful and not discussing horrible or controversial things while enjoying family time is one Victorian practice we can all take to heart.

     It moves on to the role of Housekeeper and the Arrangement and Economy of the kitchen. Drawings of various pots, pans, and the so-cool old fashioned stoves are on almost every page, including a list of items most mistresses will need. I never heard of some of them. There is a list of in-season foods by month and in the Introduction to Cookery a glossary of French terms like blanch, bechamel, and gateau. I did not know that casserole and caramel are also French cooking terms.

     I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Recipes and other interesting facts make up a sizeable portion and I will review that in Part Two.

Victorian Literature Challenge

Did I say I wasn’t going to sign up for any reading challenges this year?  Yes, I believe I did. Then I saw the Victorian Literature Challenge and couldn’t help myself. I love this period of writing! This is the perfect time to pick up some of my Persephones or give some of my treasured favorites a reread. This one is being hosted by Bethany over at Subtle Melodrama.

Many Victorian books written by women are slowly coming back into print and I’ve decided to concentrate on those this go-around. Ok, maybe I’ll pick up Bleak House by Charles Dickens. But that is it.  Here are the rules.

This challenge will run from 01 Jan 2011 – 31 Dec 2011.
Participants can sign up at any time throughout the year.

Read your Victorian literature.
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901. If your book wasn’t published during those particular years, but is by an author considered ‘Victorian’ then go for it. We’re here for reading, not historical facts! Also, this can include works by authors from other countries, so long as they are from this period.

Literature comes in many forms.
There are so many Victorian reads out there, including novels, short stories, and poetry. One poem doesn’t count as a ‘book’: pick up an anthology instead!

Choose your books.
List your books before you begin, or pick up titles along the way. It’s up to you! You can review them if you choose to, but it’s not necessary. If you don’t have a blog, that’s fine! Link to a Facebook, or a page somewhere where you can list what you’ve been reading. If you can’t link up, no problem – feel free to just comment and enjoy.
Spread the love.
Post the reading challenge on your blog – make your own post(s), or stick the button on the side of your page. The more the merrier, after all. Let’s build a big community of Victorian literature lovers!
Choose from one of the four levels:

Sense and Sensibility: 1-4 books.
Great Expectations: 5-9 books.
Hard Times: 10-14 books.
Desperate Remedies: 15+ books.

As usual I’m going with the lowest one to start, Sense and Sensibility. Not for lack of books, but lack of time.  They will all be women authors and either written at the specified Victorian Period or the authors will have been born and raised within that period.  I don’t have a list yet but these are possibilities:
Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton
Wives and Daughters or Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Victorian Chaise Lounge by Marghanita Laski
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Great New Reading Challenges!

And they actually overlap!  Nymeth over at Things Mean Alot  is enjoying her reading from this era and created this challenge so everyone can get in on the fun. It is supposed to be very relaxed so here are the rules:

  • Three months (April 18th – July 18th);
  • You’d only need to read a minimum of one book, though you’d of course be welcome to read more than one;
  • No need for a sign-up post or a reading list;
  • Just enter your name, read your book(s), and then come back and leave me a link to your post about what you’ve read.
  • I have many books in this category. You can find some online and I want to give a plug to Virago Press who publishes books by women from the mid-1800’s to today. They are beautiful books and I have found that shipping from the UK is quite reasonable and often faster than coming from the east coast. The 1930’s Mini Challenge is going to be fabulous!

    I will do a re-read of Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, published in 1936. I was blown away the first time I read it. Also I’l like something by Molly Keane or  The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West, which has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a long time.

    The Daphne Du Maurier Challenge is starting in May.  It is being hosted by Chris over at Book-a-Rama and will go on for almost a year to coincide with her birthday and day she passed away.  Jamaica Inn as well as the ever popular Rebecca will overlap this one nicely with the 30’s Challenge. I also have a copy of The House on the Strand that has been waiting patiently to be read plus a biography on Daphne Du Maurier , written by her daughter Flavia Leng.  I would really like to take a look at The Birds and Other Stories. Not everyone knows that the famous Hitchcock movie was originally her story.

    The rules are loose and cover a lot of ground:

    Dreaming of Manderley (Novels)
    Participants in this category will read 3 of Daphne du Maurier’s larger works, her novels or non-fiction. You can also count a collection of her short stories as one book.

    Don’t Look Now (Short Stories)
    Since this are smaller works, readers can choose 6 of her short stories to review.

    Inspired By… (Other works)
    This category includes works not written by du Maurier. She used books like Jane Eyre (Rebecca) and Wuthering Heights (Jamaica Inn) to inspire her own writing.

    Other writers were inspired by du Maurier:
    Mrs Dewinter by Susan Hill (Fiction)
    Daphne by Justine Picardie (Fiction)
    Daphne du Maurier: A Daughter’s Memoir by Flavia Leng (Memoir)

    Films are also encouraged.

    Dame Daphne (Combination)
    Maybe you can’t decide what to read or want to read a bit of everything. Participants in this category will read or view 3 from the categories above (2 short stories count as 1 book).

    I paraphrased a bit so go visit Chris at the link provided above for more details. If anyone from either the blogging or Facebook community wants to join in, you are more than welcome. You do not need to have a blog.  Just let Nymeth or Chris, or both know you want to join in and they will add you to their list. Have fun reading! I know I will!

    Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge

    A little late arriving but I decided to join the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge over from Stainless Steel Droppings. It looks like alot of fun and I need to read more fantasy, folklore, and mythology. I have some great ones right here on my shelves waiting to be read!

    Here are the rules:

    The Journey: This is really as simple as the name implies. It means you are participating, but not committing yourself to any specific number of books. All reading is a journey, perhaps none more so than reading fantastical fiction. By signing up for The Journey you are agreeing to at least read one book within one of the four categories during March 21st to June 20th period. Just one book. If you choose to read more, fantastic! If not, then we have still had the pleasure of your company during this three month reading journey and hopefully you have read a great book, met some interesting people, and enjoyed the various activities that occur during the challenge. It has always been of utmost importance to me that the challenges that I host be all about experiencing enjoyable literature and sharing it with others. I want you to participate. Hence, The Journey

    Quest the First: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time IV criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

    Quest the Second: Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

    Quest the Third: Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream OR a viewing of one of the many theatrical versions of the play. Love the story, love the films, love the idea of that magical night of the year and so this is my chance to promote the reading of this farcical love story.

    Quest the Fourth: Read two non-fiction books, essay collections, etc. that treat any one or more of the four genres covered in this challenge, and finally…

    Short Story Weekends: This quest involves the reading of one or more short stories that fit within at least one of the four genres during the course of the weekend. Ideally you would post about your short story readings on Sundays or Mondays, but this is not strictly necessary,

    Clear as mud?!?! You may participate in one quest or multiple quests, it is completely up to you and your reading whims!

    You do not need to have a blog to participate, nor do you have to do any sort of formal review of your books. For those who want to, there is the Book Review Site available for you to post links to any challenge-related material you read. This is a great way for all of us to discover new books and for you to potentially generate visits to your own personal site.

    I will probably skip around a bit since I have my essays chosen. I think this challenge will be alot of fun!