The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, June 12, 2017

Historic Cooking: Moss Rose Cake, ca. 1948.

Orange flower water.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
I recently had a birthday, and as I have been doing for the past several years, I decided to make my own birthday dessert.  My family means well, but for most of my life they always got me those cakes from the grocery store bakery section, which always tasted stale and chemical-y, and I really dislike them; I would always be "forced" to take home the extra cake (usually about 3/4 of the cake, because my family doesn't love grocery store cake, either) because "It's *your* birthday cake", and it would sit in my fridge for over a week as I tried to get my housemates to eat some of it, but it would end up in the trash ... Despite the slight transgression of birthday protocol in making my own birthday cake, I would rather make my own; I like to bake, and when I bake, I get to decide what to make, plus, I know that it's freshly baked, rather than freshly taken from the freezer ...

Anyway, my niece is also a budding foodie and baker, and she bought me a vintage cookbook (ca. 1948) for my birthday a few years ago; the result of her purchase is that I try to have the cookbook with me when I go visit my parents' house, whenever my niece is also there, and we try to choose a recipe and bake it together.  She likes making cake (we made a Devil's Food Cake, before).  This time around, I decided I wanted something lemon for my birthday, and couldn't decide between a lemon pie -- like I made last year for my birthday -- or a sponge cake with lemon curd filling (but I haven't had good luck with sponge cake; last time the cake broke in half when I tried to get it out of the pan).  We thought this recipe sounded interesting, and as a bonus, you don't have to separate the eggs!  Here is the original recipe:

Moss Rose Cake
2 c. sifted cake flour 
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
½ tsp. almond extract 
1 c. hot milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together 3 times.  Beat eggs, add sugar gradually and beat until thick enough to hold a soft peak.  Add flavoring.  Fold in flour mixture in small amounts and add hot milk gradually, mixing quickly until batter is smooth.  Turn into lightly greased cake pans.  Bake in moderate (350°F) oven 30 minutes.  Makes 3 (8-inch) layers.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Historic Cooking: Capon with Oranges, 1596.

Orange slices.  Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.com
In the History of Royal Food and Feasting course last week, we took a look at the 16th century, and English aristocratic and royal food of Elizabeth I's court.  I was able to complete one of the suggested recipes: Capon with Oranges.  Here is the original recipe:

Take your capon and set him on the fire as before with marrow bones and mutton, and when you have skimmed the pot well, put thereto the value of a farthing loaf, and let it boil till it be half boiled. Then take two or three ladlesful of the same broth and put it into an earthen pot, with a pint of the same wine aforesaid. Peel six or eight oranges and slice them thin, and put them into the same broth with four pennyworth in sugar or more, and a handful of parsley, thyme and rosemary, together tied. Season it with whole mace, clove, and sticks of cinnamon, with two nutmegs beaten small. And so serve it.
-- Thomas Dawson, Good Housewife’s Jewel (1596).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Historic cooking: Fylettys en Galentyne, c. 1430.

Fylettes en Galentyne. Photo:
Elizabeth Urbach.
So, I signed up for the History of Royal Food and Feasting course on FutureLearn, again, in the hopes that I will be able to complete the recipe challenges/assignments this time around!  After all, it is the 3rd time I've taken it, and I get a few more done each time ... 


Week 1 focuses on the Tudors, and the court and kitchen of Henry VIII.  I made the Tarte owt of Lente during one of the previous runs of this course, and although I bought some cheese to try it again this year, it finally cooled off this week (first heat wave of the year! ugh.) that I decided to try another one of the suggested recipes, called Fylettys en Galentyne, from ca. 1430.  It is a kind of braised pork dish, and is really tasty, and something that makes your house smell really good!  My housemates kept coming into the kitchen to see what was cooking.

Here is the original recipe:

Take faire porke of the fore quarter, and take of the skyn, and put the pork on a faire spitte, and roste it half ynogh; and take hit of, and smyte hit in peces, and cast hit in a faire potte; and then take oynons, and shred and pul hem, not to small, and fry hem in a pan with faire grece, And then caste hem to the porke into the potte; And then take good broth of beef or Motton, and cast thereto, and set
hit on the fire, and caste to pouder of Peper, Canel, Cloues and Maces, and lete boile wel togidur; and then take faire brede and vinegre, and stepe the brede with a litull of the same broth, and streyne hit
thorgh a streynour, and blode with all; or elles take Saundres and colour hit therewith, and late hem boile togidur, and cast thereto Saffron and salt, and serue hit forth.
-Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, (Harleian MS. 27, c.1430 – Early English Text Society print, 1888)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 is up and running, and the 2017 Cat Rescue Tea Fundraiser was a success!

Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr (1804), from a painting
by J. Mund ca. 1904.  Wikimedia Commons.
Hello everyone!  I hope you've found a lot to be thankful for in this new year!

I am one of those people who didn't have high hopes for the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election (no matter who won), and I am also thoroughly sickened by the way Americans have turned on one another with the arrogance, entitlement (as if one candidate or the other -- and their ardent supporters -- "owned" the votes of all decent people), snobbery, and elitism that has been (to some extent) hiding under the surface of public life for decades. It is not the fault of one candidate or the other that these things have come to the surface -- it is the fault of the American people (in general) who are so wrapped up in our own likes and dislikes, needs and wishes, that we can't see that other human beings feel and think differently, and are no less decent or respectable for having different values.  Over many years, the American people -- of all political parties -- have thrown decency, neighborliness, and good citizenship out the window, and brought the political life of this country to this place.  It reminds me a lot of the state of political life at the founding of the United States, where political enemies ended their disagreements in pistol duels!

Since I believe that individual Americans have influenced each other in putting political ideals and goals above the needs of others (especially those who hold different opinions), I believe that the way out of this mess needs to start with the individual American.  This is not about ignoring reality and going back into our own personal "bubble", but it is about resisting the very real urge to "go with the flow" and bully others, under the name of "political discourse" or whatever the media are calling it.  A lot of good things have been happening, which have successfully brought together people of different political opinions and social values!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Soft Gingerbread from _The Bride's Cook Book_, 1915.


photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
 Since I've had this week off between Christmas and New Year's I've had a bit of time to do some baking.  There is construction going on in the kitchen, so I have to wait until the workers go home in the evening before I can clean up all the dust and grime, and cook anything; I've also been fighting a bad cold for over a week anyway, so I've been spending my time compiling historic Christmas-season recipes from all the files on my computer and the books on my shelves.  I haven't quite gone through them all, but some of the gingerbread recipes have begun to catch my eye.

I made the dough for some gingersnaps, and made 2 batches of gingerbread cake; one divided between small pans, to give as belated Christmas gifts to my family (when I see them), and the other in a loaf pan, for my housemates and I to eat at home. *I also have a plan to make some gluten-free cookies for my cousin and aunt when they come to visit, as well as a Twelfth Night or New Year's Cake, but more on that later*

Monday, December 26, 2016

A long-awaited update!

Me and two friends in 1920s
costume at the local Egyptian
Museum, September 2016.
Photo: Ann Morton.
Hello everyone in blog-land!  "I'm not dead yet!" as goes the line from Monty Python's _Holy Grail_ ... As you may have surmised, things have been changing around here, but hopefully I'll be settled for a good while and can get back to my cooking, costuming, and general historical nerd-ery.

I moved twice this year, once at the beginning of September, and again at the end of September/beginning of October.  I have mostly unpacked my things; still finding places to put things and working out what I need to add to my storage supplies so that I have a place for everything, so I still have a couple stacks of boxes waiting to be unpacked, or to be taken to my storage unit.  I think I have all my costuming and cooking supplies at the house, but the homeowners are doing some remodeling to the kitchen, so there is sawdust and paint and caulking and dropcloths everywhere, so I can't do much baking yet.  I did make two figgy puddings, from the recipe I blogged about here, so that's something at least!  I totally failed at getting my Christmas cards out on time, so yet again they will be New Year's/holiday cards, because I really need to let my family know my new address ...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Slowly catching up ...

photo from www.e-Cobo.com.
AUTUMN DAYS.  BY LOTTIE LINWOOD.
‘Tis Autumn time! the summer flowers
Have faded ‘neath its golden feet;
The birds have left their shady bowers,
And winds chime mournfully and sweet;
The maple boughs, whose folded leaves
Have whispered through the summer days
Like bright-winged birds, around the eaves
Are flitting in the sun’s pale rays;
I hear their rustling low and sweet,
As if an angel floated o’er;
They seem to me like friends I meet,
And love, then part forever more. 

The dreamy lull of limpid streams;
The azure haze that floats above,
Enshroud earth as mysterious dreams,
O’er all our spirits softly move. 
Spirit of dreams! oh, I would bless
Thy soft luxurious charms for aye,
And fold thee in my soul’s caress,
Now and forever till I die!
Oh, chide me not! the low wind rhymes,
Full many a plaintive trembling lay,
And I could listen to her hymns,
Till I had breathed my life away. 
-- from Godey's _Lady's Book_, October 1855. 

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)