Thursday, April 8, 2010
Recipe or Receipt? To Roast A Pig's Head
I recently ran across this great old cookbook; it's undated but appears to be from the 1890's. The first paragraph gives you a peek at life for the lady of the house. "The mistress of a family commands daily a small realm of which she is queen. Let her rule with justice, meekness, and quietness....we should have fewer bad servants if they were all under the firm and patient training of an employer who understood what their duties really were..."
Further reading takes you to a section covering the "Duties of the Housemaid", "Duties of the Housekeeper" and "Duties of the Footman". The housemaid "is required to be a nice-mannered, respectable-looking woman. She should be a tolerably good dressmaker..."
The duties of a housekeeper "require early rising, both to get business over well, and as an example to the servants." As for the footman, he "is required to make himself generally useful, though, of course the number of men kept will diminish or increase his work."
The recipes or "receipts" are most interesting - here's a sampling of the titles:
To Roast a Pig's Head
Pie of Larks or Sparrows
Cottage Soup - A Very Cheap Soup
To Bake A Pig
To Prepare the Brains of a Lamb's Head for Serving Under It
To Fricassee Rabbits Brown
To Collar a Calf's Head
Are you hungry yet? Once we get past the meat section, things look a bit more "normal". Desserts look downright appetizing. I was going to try making the sponge cake until I read the directions:
The book concludes with "Useful Receipts for Housekeepers and Servants". Below are two which might be helpful in dealing with vintage garments.
"To Take Stains Out of Silk or Cloth"
Pound some French chalk fine, and mix it with warm water to the thickness of mustard. Put it on the spots, rub it lightly with your finger or the palm of your hand. Put a sheet of blotting, and of brown paper over the spots and press it with a warm iron.
"To Clean An Old Silk Dress"
Unpick the dress and brush it with a velvet brush. Then grate two large potatoes into a quart of water; let it stand to settle; strain it off quite clear, and sponge the dress with it. Iron it on the wrong side, as the ironed side will be shiny.