Wednesday 22 January 2014

January Lettuce and what to do with it...

We don't typically associate January with lettuce, but Chomel and Bradley's
Dictionaire oeconomique or The Family Dictionary of 1725 informs its readers that you can have lettuce in abundance in January by carrying out the following procedures.  Prepare beds for the lettuce seeds and then keep the seeds themselves in a bag of water for four hours before placing them in a warm chimney. The seeds should then be drained and heated 'in such a manner that they will bud'. 
Finally the seeds should be furrowed in their beds approximately two inches deep. It is then recommended that the seed beds should  be sprinkled with 'mould' and covered with straw to protect them from birds. Assuming the frost is unable to penetrate, the writers reassure that the lettuce leaves will be tall and wide enough to eat within ten to twelve days.
If you were lucky enough to achieve such abundant lettuce production in January, the following Victorian recipe for ginger lettuce - yes, ginger lettuce might be something you would consider preparing, if you have in excess of about a week to spare!

'Cut (the lettuce) in 1in or 2 in. lengths. Throw it into water; for each Ilb throw in a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper, and a little salt. Let it stand two days. Strain and wash in clean water. Clarify an equal weight of fine loaf-sugar. Take 11/2 oz. of good ginger for every Ilb, soak it in boiling water and slice it, boil with the sugar fifteen minutes. Pour it boiling hot over the lettuce, which must be well drained. Keep back the ginger, which boil with the syrup three times (at intervals of two or three days), and pour boiling hot on the lettuce. At the last boiling add the juice of two or three lemons. If the syrup is allowed to cool, it spoils the colour of the ginger'. 

(The country house, a collection of useful information and recipes, ed. by I.E.B.C, 1866:103)

Aside from some good early lettuce, you would no doubt have used these two items in the process of creating the above ginger lettuce recipe of 1866.

Glass juicer c.1888©Museum of Kitchenalia

19c Sugar nippers©Museum of Kitchenalia

Stick with us!

As my previous blog mentions, plans are afoot to relocate the Museum of Kitchenalia's current collection for public consumption. A book, which has been commissioned by a well known publisher is also in the process of being written; highlighting a selection of the objects themselves within the context of eighteenth and nineteenth century culinary history.

Over the coming months the Museum of Kitchenalia blog will be updated as regularly as possible with interesting stories and features. Please keep reading.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

The future for the Museum of Kitchenalia

Dear Friends. Apologies for the lack of recent posts or activity relating to the Museum of Kitchenalia. I have also received many requests for talks and queries relating to objects. The Museum is currently temporarily disbanded as I am on Maternity leave. We are also in the process of a relocation plan and looking to hopefully display some of the items within new business premises in the next two years within the South West region. We hope to be up and active again soon and hope that you will continue to support us and your interest in kitchenalia along the way. Thank you.

Monday 11 March 2013

Museum of Kitchenalia featured in Wiltshire Life Magazine

The April edition of Wiltshire Life Magazine includes a fantastic feature by Fiona Scott, on the Museum of Kitchenalia. Go and buy your copy from all good retailers and in the meantime read an extract here.

Friday 8 February 2013

Shrove Tuesday!

Shrove Tuesday!

Next Tuesday 12th is Shrove Tuesday, once also called Mischief Day and the last day before Lent, when any rich luxury foods were used up in the house like; eggs, milk, meat and butter, prior to fasting for forty days.
In Toni Arthur's iconic early 1980's book  All the Year Round,
she talks about all the different regional traditional dishes that were made on Shrove Tuesday like broth in Scotland, doughnuts in Hertfordshire, frying pan pudding in Lincolnshire and pea soup in Cornwall. But of course the most famous is pancakes!

Toni quotes an old West Somerset rhyme once recited in homes locally after eating pancakes:

Tippety, tippety tin,
Give me a pancake and I'll come in.
Tipperty, tipperty toe,
Give me a pancake and then I'll go.

Georgian cookery writer Hannah Glasse provides us with her own recipe of 1780, in which she includes several variations of pancake; those made with cinnamon, mace and nutmeg.
However her basic pancake recipe reads like this:

To make pancakes
'Take a quart of milk, beat in six or eight eggs, leaving half the whites out; mix it well till your batter is of a fine thickness. You must observe to mix your flour first with a little milk, then add the rest by degrees; put in two spoonfuls of beaten ginger, a glass of brandy, a little salt, stir all together, make your stew pan very clean, put in a piece of butter as big as a walnut, then pour in a ladleful of batter, which will make a pancake, moving the pan round that the batter be all over the pan; shake the pan, and when yo think that the side is enough, toss it; if you can't, turn it cleverly, and when both sides are done, lay it in a dish before the fire, and so do the rest'.
Hannah cautions 'you must take care they are dry; when you send them to table throw a little sugar over them'.

Objects from the Museum of Kitchenalia that might have been used to make this recipe in the past include

Two 'rat-tail' handled forks, both attributed to Daniel & Arter (Birmingham) c.1890 
©Museum of Kitchenalia

Pearlware Pottery Ladle mid 1800's ©Museum of Kitchenalia
Gill measure from the early 1900's©Museum of Kitchenalia

Monday 21 January 2013

Farmhouse Breakfast Week!

It's Farmhouse Breakfast Week! Visit to find out more.

There are many variations on the history of the cooked British breakfast, which really began to evolve in the 19th century. Mrs.Beeton cites anything from boiled eggs, potato bread, broiled mushrooms, to potted hare, broiled pheasant and partridge as dishes to be eaten at breakfast. And here is one of her recipes for fried ham and eggs:

'Cut the ham into slices, and take care that they are of the- same thickness in every part. Cut off the rind, and if the ham should be particularly hard and salt, it will be found an improvement to soak it for about 10 minutes in hot water, and then dry it in a cloth. Put it into a cold frying-pan, set it over the fire, and turn the slices 3 or 4 times whilst they are cooking. When done, place them on a dish, which should be kept hot in front of the fire during the time the eggs are being poached. Poach the eggs, slip them on to the slices of ham, and serve quickly. Time.— 7 or 8 minutes to broil the ham'.

According to the 1900 edition of British Popular Customs Present and Past, people from the Isle of Man (Manks) traditionally ate Sollaghyn for breakfast, which was a type of porridge.

Common-sense Papers on Cookery by A. G. Payne written in 1877 talks at length about the many variations of bacon and egg breakfasts and the benefits of adding sausages to the plate.

'The great advantage in making sausages at home
is, first and principally, that you know what is in
them; secondly, that you can flavour them to suit
your taste.'

To make your own sausages in the early 1900s you could have used one of these from the Museum of Kitchenalia
Post 1921 meat grinder
© Museum of Kitchenalia

You may well also have a cruet set like this on the table to season your breakfast.

Cruet Set circa 1890s
© Museum of Kitchenalia

And for the strong armed, one of these Marmalade Cutters would provide you with all the shredded citrus you need for your toast.

Follows & Bate, 'Rapid' Marmalade Cutter, circa 1920-1936 

© Museum of Kitchenalia     

Sunday 13 January 2013

Types of Kitchens

Whilst most of us associate the history of the British kitchen with those that we visit on display in large historic houses or dramatised in period dramas on television. There are many and varied kitchens to be considered. Such as those that can be distinguished between the wealthy and poor, the urban and rural kitchen as well as the armed service kitchens, the Hospital kitchen, public kitchens to serve the poor and the Workhouse kitchens as well as the commercial kitchens in restaurants, factory canteens and other catering establishments. 

The World War One German Prisoner of War camps in Britain  reveal interesting photographic archives, such as those documented at Alexandra Palace, London, some of which are available to view from the collections at the Imperial War Museum, like this photograph from their Air Ministry Collection.

The kitchen at Alexandra Palace internment camp, Imperial War Museum

These often forgotten camps; the main ones of which were located at Donnington Hall, Alexandra Palace, Dorchester, Handforth, Lofthouse Park and Eastcote are captured in comprehensive images in the 1916 'German Prisoners in Great Britain',published by Tillotson & Son Ltd.

The British Government's 1824 publication detailing regulations of Barracks, lists the contents of the Officers' Mess Room kitchen including:

One range
One fender
One shovel
One poker
One jack
Two spits
One iron or copper boiler

Basically the bare minimum was available to roast or boil food over an open range.

The Foundling Hospital was a Children's home for unwanted or deserted children, established in 1741. Now a Museum whose collections tell the story of the original Foundling Hospital.
A report for the Society For Bettering The Condition And Increasing The Comforts Of The Poor details the Foundling kitchen and its fittings that were modified in 1796 by Count Rumford; an Anglo-American Physicist and Inventor, who worked prolifically in the field of kitchen innovation. Best known for the Rumford Fireplace. The kitchen was 17 x 21 feet with two large Rumford iron boilers divided into economic double boilers heated by one small fire and a 5 foot 'roasting machine'. The kitchen at the Foundling became a benchmark for other public industrial kitchens for their ability to remain productive, safe, healthy and economical.