Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1889 ed.

Julia Childs, I learn from Julie & Julia (actually I read it when it was still just a blog) writes for the servantless American cook. Mrs. Beeton, in contrast, writes for the woman with not only a cook, but possibly a butler, a valet, a page, a lady's maid, a parlour-maid. Mrs. Beeton's classic "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management" includes recipes, but also tips and strategies to run a modern British household of the 19th century, ranging from how to throw a dinner party (we are advised, above all else, to keep within our means), to the legal obligations vis-à-vis vaccinations (children are required to be vaccinated, anyone other than a surgeon who performs a vaccination can be put in jail for a month). I can in no way do justice to the amazingness of this book, so I will leave you, gentle reader, with some quotes (all spelling as the original).

On the suitable menu for a luncheon for twelve
In the summer:
Clear Soup
Mayonaise of Salmon
Roast Chickens
Croquettes of Beef
Cold Lamb
Fruit Tart
Sponge Cake Pudding
Maraschino Cherry
Strawberries and Cream
Bread, Butter, Cheese, Biscuits, &c.

In the winter:
Red Mullet
Scalloped Oysters
Mutton Cutlets
Hashed Venison
Game Pie
Cold Boiled Beef
Mashed Potatoes
Stewed Celery
Apple Tart
Custard Pudding
Tipsy Cake
Bread, Butter, Cheese, Biscuits &c.

(I do believe the book has the recipes for all of the above, so if there is special interest in actually making one or many (or all) of these courses, let me know and I will share the knowledge.)

On the treatment of women servants:
Women Servants are specially likely to be influenced by their mistress's treatment of them, and yet we venture to assert that good mistresses are rarer than good masters, so many of the former lacking consideration for their servants.
On recipes for the Butler on how to fine wines:
There are various modes of fining wine; eggs, isinglass, gelatine and gum Arabic are all used for the purpose. Whichever of these articles is used, the process is always the same. Supposing eggs (the cheapest) to be used:- Draw a gallon or so of the wine and mix one quart of it with the quite of four eggs, by stirring it with a whisck; afterwards, when thoroughly mixed, pour it back into the cask through the bunghole, and stir up the whole cask in a rotary direction with a clean split sick inserted through the bunghole. Having stirred it sufficiently, pour in the remainder of the wine drawn off, until the cask is full; then stir again, skimming off the bubbles that rise to the surface. When thoroughly mixed by stirring, close the bunghole, and leave it to stand for three or four days.
On the treatment of hair:
The Germans, who are noted for the length and quantity of their hair recommend the following treatment:- Twice a month wash the head with a quart of soft water, in which a hadnful of bran has been boiled, and in which a little white soap has been dissolved. Next rub the yolk of an egg, slightly beaten, into the roots of the hair, let it remain a few minutes and wash it off thoroughly with pure water, rinsing the head well
On the perils of sweeping:
It is not an easy matter to sweep well, at any rate, if we may judge by experience; for when a broom is put into the hands of the uninitiated, more harm that good generally results from the use of it.
On Motherhood:
A mother's responsibilities are the greatest that a woman can gave, for with her rests not only the care of her children, for their daily needs of food, clothing and the like, but what is even more important, their moral training. No matter what good nurses and attendants she may be able to engage for her little ones, what pleasures, changes of air, model nurseries, toys and books she may afford for their benefit, she should still devote, ad any rate, some part of her itme to them; should be with them often, should know their individual childish tastes and faults, and strive by her influence, precepts and example to make them what she hopes they may be in the future.

This book is a treasure trove of greatness, from the advertisements for Cadbury's Cocoa Essence, Makers to the Queen on the inside cover, to the ad for Southall's Sanitary Towel's for Ladies almost 1700 pages later. I wish there was a book as all encompassing as this one relevant to my own life!!