Tag Archives: Food

The Comfort of Soup

My post on the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog…

800px-dinner_at_haddo_house2c_1884_by_alfred_edward_emslie

It’s officially autumn (even though the temperatures do not reflect it where I live), and my menu planning is making a seasonal shift. As temperatures cool and winter approaches, a richer and more sustaining menu appeals. Soup is a favourite of mine for this time of year. An ancient dish, I suspect it evolved as soon as man figured out how to put edible things in a pot of water over heat. Soup is featured in virtually all culinary traditions and, of course, is a significant part of food history in Great Britain. As a history enthusiast, I enjoy reading details of normal life, including food, whether I’m reading fiction or non-fiction, as it gives an immediacy and life to the material.

Peasant fare, elegant fare, or invalid fare, soup was a staple of the British diet. Early cookery books don’t show as many recipes for soup as for other dishes. I suspect this is because it was assumed that individuals already knew how to make the standard daily dish for the household, made from local ingredients to personal taste. THE FORME OF CURY, a cookbook from c. 1390 (originally a scroll showing authorship by “the Chief Master Cooks of King Richard II”), contained some soup recipes designed to be served to the nobility. The names frequently included “soppes” or sowp” as the dish was served over bread. One was “Fenkel in Soppes” ….

To continue reading, please go HERE

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Filed under Cooking, Eliza Smith, England, Hannah Glasse, Mrs Rundell, The Forme of Cury, THE COMPLEAT HOUSEWIFE

A New Treasure

New Treasure 001

 

I do enjoy old books, especially cookbooks, so you can imagine how pleased I was to find The Virginia House-wife by Mary Randolph on a Friends of Library sale shelf, waiting to go home with me.  This little gem includes a facsimile of the first edition of Mary’s cookbook as published in 1824, with supplemental material from the 1825 and 1826 editions.  Historical notes and commentary by Karen Hess, a culinary historian, which is extremely useful.  Being particularly interested in English history, it is fascinating to see recipes typical to 17th and 18th century English cookbooks still in use.  Even more fascinating is seeing these recipes amended and adapted based on other culinary influences (French, African Creole, etc.) and ingredients available in the colonies as well as typically English ingredients.  An interesting note is the number of vegetables for which she has recipes.  Her recipes are organized by food type (i.e. Port, Bee, Vegetables, etc.) so her book is fairly easy to find one’s way around.  One rather confusing matter is the inclusion of grains, fruits, desserts and mixed dishes in with vegetables, but the index at the front is very clear so they are easy enough to find.  At the end is a section entitled “Dishes for Lent,” making it simple for cooks to find inspiration on what to cook during this religious season of year.  This is a delightful little book, and one I will enjoy using as a reference.  I may even attempt one or two of Mary’s recipe’s.

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Filed under Cooking, English colonies, Old books, recipes, Special treasures

Blog Hop-Mint Sauce: An EnglishTradition

The End of Dinner by Jules-Alexadre Grun, 1913 (Wikimedia Commons)

by Lauren Gilbert

Mint sauce has a long history in England, traditionally served with roast lamb. Mint sauce consists of mint leaves, finally minced, and mixed with vinegar and some sugar. This is very different to the mint jelly served with lamb when I was growing up in America. This type of “sweet and sour” sauce goes back to medieval times, and similar mint sauces were very popular in France and Italy where mint was more widely used. Traditional has it that, in an effort to slow consumption of lamb and mutton to protect the wool trade (less lamb eaten meant more sheep to shear), Elizabeth I decreed that lamb and mutton could only be eaten with bitter herbs. Mint is one of the bitter herbs, and cooks discovered quickly that it pairs well with lamb and mutton. Clarissa Dickson Wright considered mint sauce to be the last culinary link with the Crusades. At any rate, mint sauce has been a favorite condiment with lamb and mutton since the 16th century. As with any popular food product, mint sauce has been tweaked over the centuries. While regular mint sauce seems to be considered essential for lamb, other sauces have been devised for use with other meats, such as a gooseberry and mint sauce recommended for port and goose.

In 1200 ENGLISH RECIPES by Ethel Meyer, she took 2 T of finely chopped mint leaves, 1T of granulated sugar (American) or castor sugar (British), and 6 T vinegar. After mixing the mint and sugar, the mixture must sit for an hour; then the vinegar can be added added gradually, mixing well between each addition. (This quantity is recommended for 4-5 people.) This seems to be the basic recipe. Some add a squeeze of lime or lemon. Some use white wine vinegar; I found another using malt vinegar. Some specify spearmint leaves, while others go with peppermint. Several recommended that the finished sauce have the consistency of thick cream. As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe and can be easily adapted to personal taste.

Sources:

“20 Quirky Facts About British Food.” https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=interesting+british+food+facts

Love to Know. “List of Bitter Herbs.” http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/List_of_Bitter_Herbs

Meyer, Edith. 1200 ENGLISH RECIPES. Originally published 1898: Murray, London. Published 2010: Salzwasser-Verlag, Bremen, Germany. GoogleBooks: https://books.google.com/books?id=Sb5LF9ztzFgC&pg=PA199&lpg=PA199&dq=how+to+make+traditional+english+mint+sauce&source=bl&ots=xeAyxn309w&sig=0Mg9MmYR6OlWKVJHtlLrHdDrHog&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBDgoahUKEwj2j6f9xpfIAhWOuB4KHV9RA_U#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20make%20traditional%20english%20mint%20sauce&f=false

Dickson Wright, Clarissa. A HISTORY OF ENGLISH FOOD. 2011: Random House Books, London.

Image: Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f1/Gr%C3%BCn_-_The_End_of_Dinner.jpg/640px-Gr%C3%BCn_-_The_End_of_Dinner.jpg

Celebrating A New Release!

Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors, Volume 2
Edited by Debra Brown and Sue Millard

An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain’s castles, customs, and kings.

I am so honored to be included in this volume!

Purchase links:

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0996264817
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0996264817

Castles, Customs and Kings, Volume II

Castles, Customs and Kings, Volume II

Visit these fantastic sites in the Blog Hop (they are coming live at different times so check back if you can’t find it the first time!):
1. Whisky vs Brandy http://huntersjones.com/2015/09/29/whiskey-vs-brandy/
2. Hunting the Wren in Wales and Ireland http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/hunting-wren-in-wales-and-ireland.html
3. Archery in Tudor England http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8960148
4. A Curious Variant on Wassail http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8960621
5. 17th Century Marriage Day Customs http://www.shapingthefacts.blogspot.com/
6. Harvest Moons and Customs http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962474
7. 17th Century Medicine http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961953
9. A Quirky Look at the History of Nursery Rhymes http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962600
9. Animals on Trial http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961874
10. What was it like to live as a 16th century nun? http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962444
11. Historical Custom: The Flitch of Bacon Custom http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961380
12. Michaelmas in Medieval Britain http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962619
13. The Peculiar Custom of Electing Kings http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962286
14. Queen for a Day-of Bride Crowns of Gold and Myrtle https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/queen-for-a-day-of-bridecrowns-in-gold-and-myrtle/
15. Deadly Cat Customs http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/deadly-cat-customs.html
16. “Name that Member”: Weird Parliamentary Customs https://alwayswantedtobeareiter.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/name-that-member-weird-but-wonderful-british-parliamentary-customs/
17. Sweating with the Mohocks http://www.madamegilflurt.com/2015/09/sweating-with-mohocks.html
18. The Evil Eye and Vampires: Superstition in the Ottoman World http://www.kathryngauci.com/blog-06-feb-11-2015-evil-eye-vampires-superstition-ottoman-world/
19. Megaliths in the Popular Imagination http://mark-patton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/negotiating-with-unexplained-megaliths.html
20. Odd Medieval Celebrations http://lanawilliams.net/home.html
21. The Unusual Marriage Customs of Medieval Ireland http://empowell.blogspot.com/2015/09/polygamy-divorce-more-unusual-marriage.html

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Fruitcake for Christmas

Recently, I posted about my secret fondness for fruitcake, and my intention to make one this year. Well, I did it, and it was a success! I went through several cookbooks, searched on-line for a recipe, and finally selected Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake (find it HERE: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/free-range-fruitcake-recipe/index.html). I did not follow it exactly (some differences in the fruit used, the liquid used to soak the fruit, and the nuts) but the method worked extremely well, and the fruitcake is delicious! Moist, dense, spicy, packed with fruit and nuts. My husband, who ducks and runs when fruitcake is mentioned, tasted it and liked it. (He ate the whole slice!) Here it is:

Fruitcake! 001

I’m so glad I made this cake, and plan to make it again. Not only is it delicious, but it’s part of a tradition going back hundreds of years. From Eliza Smith’s “Plumb Cake” in The Compleat Housewife and Hannah Glasses “Rich Cake” in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy to fruitcake of today, the ingredients and methods are strikingly similar. Baking from scratch is a special pleasure, one I had almost forgotten as I do it so seldom. Friends and family, who knows what may be in that Christmas gift next year? Just taste it before you make that face – I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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Filed under Christmas, Cooking, Eliza Smith, recipes, THE COMPLEAT HOUSEWIFE, thoughts

A confession as the festive season approaches…

I was at the grocery store today, and found myself picking up containers of raisins and currents. I looked for dried cherries, but will have to look elsewhere for those, and a few other items. With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I have found my mind drifting toward … fruitcake.

Dare I confess? I really like fruitcake. Unfortunately, I rarely get to indulge because few people of my acquaintance will have a fruitcake anywhere in sight. If the subject comes up, it is met with either groans, laughter or (worst of all) the eyebrow lifted in disdain. Somehow, though, there is something about a cake full of dried fruits, nuts and spices that I really like (especially if a little good rum or brandy is introduced along the way).

Fruitcake of one kind or another has been around since the Romans. In my Georgian-era cook books, I’ve found a couple of recipes for different cakes with currants. However, my Fanny Farmer edition of 1896, and my great-grandmother’s 1894 copy of THE FAVORITE COOK BOOK have lots of recipes for fruitcakes of all descriptions. Apparently fruitcake was a specialty treat in the Georgian era and really came into its own in the Victorian era. They were a true special occasion cake, and were often used for wedding cakes. In fact, Fiona Cairns made a huge, tiered fruitcake for Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding cake (see it here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381944/Royal-Wedding-cake-Kate-Middleton-requested-8-tiers-decorated-900-flowers.html). Every culture seems to have some version of a fruitcake or fruit bread. There is no clear indicator of when or why it became limited to a primarily Christmas dish, but that seems to be the tradition today.

When I was a child, I can remember fruitcake being a holiday staple, always around but more of a grown-up treat (thanks to the alcohol addition!). Unfortunately, by the time I was old enough to appreciate it, it had become a mass-produced block and was considered unnecessary at best.

For the last several years, I have considered digging out a recipe and making one. Some of the recipes are quite complex and time-consuming. A few items like the candied citron and the neon-green candied cherries will definitely not be included. However, this may just be the year I go for it. I’ve already made a start on getting the ingredients together. Who knows, a home-made-from-scratch fruitcake might find a welcome this year!

(Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

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Tasty Summer Blog Hop-Lucinda Brant, Guest Post

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely and talented author Lucinda Brant, who will be posting her Tasty Summer Reads blog as my guest today. Lucinda writes Georgian historical romances with wit and adventure, and crimances (crime with lashings of romance). Her latest release SALT REDUX is the sequel to the internationally best selling SALT BRIDE, and is a 2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist. You can read more about Lucinda on her website http://www.lucindabrant.com And now for Lucinda…

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!
New release:
SALT REDUX: Sequel to SALT BRIDE
Jane and Salt—four years of Happily Ever After
Sir Antony Templestowe—four years of Exile
Lady Caroline—four years of Heartache
Diana St. John—four years plotting Revenge

The time has come…
How does a brother cope with life knowing his sister is a murderess? How can a nobleman have the life he has always wanted when a lurking evil consumes his thoughts and haunts his dreams? What will it take for good to triumph over evil?
For readers who enjoyed Salt Bride, the story continues…
2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist
http://lucindabrant.com/salt-redux.php

Salt-Redux-Cover-500x750

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty?
I drink coffee; lots of it! Making a cup of coffee gets me up out from in front of the computer screen. I have a Nespresso machine. I take my coffee black with one teaspoon of raw sugar. I usually just drink the coffee but occasionally I will indulge in a snack, usually a piece of the latest cake I’ve made – some faves are Zucchini and Carrot cake, Pear, Raspberry and Pistachio bread, Orange, Almond and Coconut cake.

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants?
I use an A5 20 ring binder full of notes for each WIP. I get dressed for work each day in my writing PJs. I buy my “writing” PJs from http://www.peteralexander.com.au which have funky designs for summer and winter. Ah, the life of the full time writer.

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it?
I’ve been cooking now for a long time, so don’t follow recipes but my taste buds! But I am new to making cakes. My daughter, who has moved out of home, was the cupcake and sweets maker. So I will follow a recipe when making a cake or dessert.

4) What is next for you after this book?
I’m currently writing book 4 in my Roxton series, DAIR DEVIL, which begins on the night before book 3 ends. It’s about a minor character in book 3 Alisdair (Dair) Fitzstuart, heir to the earl of Strathsay, and Aurora (Rory) Talbot, granddaughter of England’s spymaster general. It should hit the cyber shelves before Christmas.

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?
My books have elements of naughty, but if you mean the mechanics of sex, then no. But there is enough sexual tension to get all hot and bothered, that’s for sure!

And now for the really tasty part: the recipe!

Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Almond Warm Summer Salad
(sorry, but I don’t use precise measurements – but this is easy to do!)

About 20 Brussels sprouts topped and chopped in half
a quarter of cabbage (any kind) chopped
a big handful of dried ready to eat cranberries
a big handful of slivered almonds
Rice Bran oil to mix

Steam Brussels sprouts in microwave until tender but firm (but not mushy)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat with oil
Place in an ovenproof dish and heat in a moderate oven until Brussels sprouts have caramelized

Serve as an accompaniment to lamb, chicken or beef.

I have tagged author Prue Batten to carry on the hop. Prue Batten writes Historical Fiction and Fantasy. Her fantasy novel A Thousand Glass Flowers received a silver medallion in the 2012 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her latest book is the second in her Gisborne saga Gisborne: Book of Knights.

I’ll now have you hop on over to Prue Batten’s blog! http://pruebatten.wordpress.com/

Other Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop participants are:
Christy English http://www.christyenglish.com/2013/07/17/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

Anna Belfrage http://www.juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.com/ or http://www.juditharnopp.com/

Diana Russo Morin http://www.donnarussomorin.com/index.html

Nancy Goodman http://rakesroguesandromance.com/2013/07/11/welcome-to-the-tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

Lauren Gilbert https://laurengilbertheyerwood.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop

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Filed under Blog Hop, Cooking, Guest post, recipes, Romance, Writing

Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

First, I’d like to thank the lovely Christy English for inviting me to participate.

Here’s how the hop works! Each author invites up to five other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or WIP and a tasty recipe that ties into it! It gives readers the opportunity to add these awesome treats (and reads) to your to do list 🙂 I have invited the delightful Anna Belfrage and the wonderful Lucinda Brant to join in the hop. Anna will be getting her post and recipe up, so just click on her link below to see what she’s got cooking! Lucinda’s treat will appear here as she will be a guest poster on this blog, so watch this space!
Well, I guess I’ll start us off!

In 2011, my first book HEYERWOOD: A Novel was published. At present, I am completing A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT (working title-I’ve a couple of others in mind as well!), which I expect to be released later this year. Like the first, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT is a historical novel, set in the late Regency period. My heroine, Anne, is a young woman who falls somewhere between trade and Society, and has to find her way to her own happiness.

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? Not really. I tend to save my snacking for afterwards. If so sweet or salty? Both! I love chips and dip, nuts, pretzels, and vegetables with bleu cheese dressing. However, I also have a serious fondness for ice cream!

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? I do some outlining, but mostly I’m a pantser.

And are they real pants or jammies? That depends… If I’m working after I get home from my day job, I’ve got real pants on. However, there are those non-work days, when I may get up and go straight off to write in my jammies. (There have also been the odd middle-of-the-night forays!)

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it? I used to be religious about making a recipe as written first. Now, I read it and “take it under advisement.” I substitute herbs or other ingredients based on personal taste.

4) What is next for you after this book? My current WIP should be out sometime this year. A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT (working title) is my second novel. When this one is completed, several readers have requested a sequel to HEYERWOOD: A Novel, for which I have a broad outline and some notes already started. I also want to mention that the book CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors will be out on 9/23/13. This is an anthology of articles posted by some great writers on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, to which I have the honor to be a contributor.

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book? HEYERWOOD: A Novel would actually rate a 0-no naughtiness at all. A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT? Well, that’s still in process!

And now for the really tasty part:
Here’s the recipe! (Really two for one…) Parsnips, a root vegetable that resembles a white carrot with a spicy, sweet taste, is popular in England. This is a variation of a parsnip recipe; I have found many people are not that familiar with parsnips. They work well with carrots, which makes it a friendly combination.

Carrots & Parsnips
3 lbs (48 oz) carrots & parsnips, scraped & cut into pieces (approximately the same size)-this would be about 6 large parsnips & 6 large carrots.
Chicken stock or broth to cover, about 3 cups (24 fluid oz)*
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced (depending on your liking for garlic)
1 large shallot or ½ small onion , chopped
Salt & pepper to taste.

Put all in saucepan & simmer until tender but still with some body.
These are good as a side dish as is. Be sure to save the broth for soup or gravy.
*This could be vegetable stock or water, depending on personal preference.

Carrots & Parsnips in Rosemary Cream
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take above carrots & parsnips out of broth and place in 13” x 9” baking dish. Pour over about 1½ cups of heavy cream (about 1 inch deep, not quite covering the vegetables). Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary over the top (again to your taste-could be more or less). Sprinkle about ¼ – 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I prefer the 6 Italian cheeses that come already shredded together) over the top. Sprinkle on about ¼ cup to ½ cup fresh bread crumbs over the top, and drizzle with 1 – 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Bake approximately 20 minutes until bubbly, thickened & crumbs are golden.
Serves about 6. (Can be increased for more very easily.)
Be sure to save the broth for soup or gravy.

Note that, if you love parsnips, this is fantastic without the carrots-just increase the parsnips. If you’re not fond of parsnips, leave them out and go the other way… A wonderful side dish with chicken or pork; terrific at Thanksgiving!

LINKS TO OTHER TASTY SUMMER BLOG HOPPERS!

Christy English http://www.christyenglish.com/2013/07/17/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/
Anna Belfrage http://www.annabelfrage.com/Home/
Diana Russo Morin http://www.donnarussomorin.com/index.html
Nancy Goodman http://rakesroguesandromance.com/2013/07/11/welcome-to-the-tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

HEYERWOOD: A Novel available at Amazon.com and other fine book sites!

HEYERWOOD: A Novel available at Amazon.com and other fine book sites!

Castles, Customs, and Kings-coming 9/23/13!

Castles, Customs, and Kings-coming 9/23/13!

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Filed under Blog Hop, Cooking, summer, Writing