The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, November 28, 2008

How did the Victorians use up leftover turkey? They made turkey hash!

"Turkey Hashed.
Time, one hour for the gravy.
Cold roast turkey; pepper; salt; half a pint of gravy; a piece of butter the size of a walnut; a little flour; a spoonful of ketchup; peel of half a lemon.
Cut the breast of a cold turkey, or any of the white meat, into thin slices. Cut off the legs, score them, dredge them with pepper and salt, and broil them over a clear fire a nice brown. Put half a pint of gravy into a stewpan with a little piece of butter rolled in flour, a spoonful of ketchup, some pepper and salt, and the peel of half a lemon shred very fine. Put in the white meat, and shake it over a clear fire til it is thoroughly hot, place it in a dish with the broiled legs on the top, and sippets of fried bread round it."
-- From Warne’s Model Cookery, edited by Mary Jewry, ca. 1891.

Emily Dickinson Thanksgiving poem

In a previous post, we read how Sarah J. Hale, the editor of the now-unpublished Godey's Lady's Book, encouraged all Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving every year, and to honor the holiday with literary works. Several Americans did so, including a few famous poets who are still known today. One poem that I always forget to associate with Thanksgiving is the one by Lydia Maria Child known as "Over the River and Through the Woods," although its official title is "A New England Child's Thanksgiving Day," or perhaps just "Thanksgiving Day." As in, "Over the river and through the wood/to Grandmother's house we go;/The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh/through the white and drifted snow."

A more famous poet after her death than she ever was during her life, Emily Dickinson, whom the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild remembered with a tea and poetry reading in her honor this past May, also left us with a Thanksgiving poem:

One Day is there of the Series
One Day is there of the Series
Termed Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrated part at Table
Part in Memory.
Neither Patriarch nor Pussy
I dissect the Play
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday.
Had there been no sharp Subtraction
From the early Sum–
Not an Acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room–
Not a Mention, whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto Such, were such Assembly
‘Twere Thanksgiving Day.
-- by Emily Dickinson

I find her work interesting, even if I don't always know quite what she's talking about!

On another note, regarding the mincemeat cookie recipe I posted a little while ago, you may need to read the ingredient listing on your mincemeat if you plan to make this recipe and have dietary issues. For those who don't know, mincemeat is a spicy, sweet, tangy mixture of dried fruits, citrus peel, sugar, vinegar, spices and (traditionally), alcohol and small bits of cooked meat. It is most popularly used to make pies and tarts. Some brands of store-bought mincemeat contain actual meat, and others don't; also, some mincemeat contains alcohol (rum or brandy) and some doesn't. If this is an issue for you, it may be safer to look up a recipe for mincemeat that fits your dietary requirements (or can be adjusted to do so) and make your own. The presence of meat or alcohol is not a necessary part of mincemeat, although it is traditional.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another addition to the tea table: Mincemeat Cookies

I felt the urge to bake yesterday when it was cloudy and raining, and I chose this recipe to use up the rest of the mincemeat in the jar (leftover from having made mincemeat custard tarts a few weeks ago). These are soft, fruity cookies, with plenty of flavor from the mincemeat. When making this recipe, I only had about 1/3 cup of shortening, so I used that, plus about 2/3 cup of butter, and the cookies are very soft and tender. I also used granulated white sugar, but brown sugar would be really delicious, as well. These cookies are really good with a nice cup of hot tea (and they're disappearing fast!).

Borden's None Such Mincemeat Cookies (from the label on the mincemeat jar)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortning
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup mincemeat

Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture, and beat until smooth. Stir in mincemeat. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in the large bowl, mixing well. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 12 minutes. Loosen from baking pan while warm and cool on wire racks. Makes about 48 cookies.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A nice holiday recipe: Pumpkin-Apple Pie

"Very Nice Tart.-- Boil apple as you would for puffs; and boil, also, an equal quantity of pumpkin, and mash them well together. Add a few currants, and sugar and nutmeg to taste. Bake with a light crust top and bottom. The pumpkin must be strained as dry as possible." from Godey's Lady's Book, January 1860.

I'm sure you could use prepared apple sauce and canned pumpkin puree and avoid having to boil and mash the apples and pumpkin yourself.

And for the "light crust" or pie pastry:
"A Light Puff Paste – American: One pound of sifted flour; one pound of fresh butter; two teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar; one teaspoonful of soda; a little water.
Work one-fourth of the butter into the flour until it is like sand; measure the cream of tartar and the soda, rub it though a sieve, put it to the flour, add enough cold water to bind it, and work it smooth; dredge flour over the pasteslab [sic] or board, rub a little flour over the rolling pin, and roll the paste to about half an inch thickness; spread over the whole surface one-third of the remaining butter, the fold it up; dredge flour over the pasteslab [sic] and rolling pin, and roll it out again; then put another portion of the butter, and fold and roll again, and spread on the remaining butter, and fold and roll for the last time." from Warne's Model Cookery and Housekeeping Book, ca. 1891.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Godey's Lady's Book Thanksgiving article (part 2)

Image from
"God has given to man authority, to woman influence; she inspires and persuades, he convinces and compels. For the last twelve years, the editress of the Lady’s Book has been endeavoring to bring about this agreement in popular feeling. We have used our influence, always, we trust, in a womanly way, and now we would render deep gratitude to God who has blessed our humble prayers and efforts, and express thus publicly our thanks to those generous men who have encouraged and accomplished our plans. We now leave the perpetuation of this good work, by the enactment of a statute in each State, to the good and patriotic men everywhere to be found, who love the Constitution and the Union.

Everything that contributes to bind us in one vast empire together, to quicken the sympathy that makes us feel from the icy North to the sunny South that we are one family, each a member of a great and free Nation, not merely the unit of a remote locality, is worthy of being cherished. We have sought to reawaken and increase this sympathy, believing that the fine filaments of the affections are stronger than laws to keep the Union of our States sacred in the hearts of our people.

Is it not fitting that from the heart of the Keystone State, this city of Independence Hall, the impulse of the new National Holiday should go forth? "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." This American festival adds the third strand to the cord that binds American hearts in nationality. The twenty-second of February, the Fourth of July, the last Thursday in November – these three DAYS observed, will make and keep us American citizens. Well did that patriot divine, Rev. Charles Wadsworth, exclaim, in his last Thanksgiving sermon – "Thanks be unto God for this American Pentecost! Never were the bonds of our beloved brotherhood so revealed in their strength! Never before did so many sister States keep lovingly together this feast of harvest. It is the gathering of the one great household with offerings of praise to the one common temple – the central Salem of peace – the God of love."

We believe our Thanksgiving Day, if fixed and perpetuated, will be a great and sanctifying promoter of this national spirit. Our whole people will then look forward to it – make preparations to honor and enjoy it. Literature will take her part and send her tribute of gratitude. We have received and read a number of excellent articles lately, and, what gave us particular pleasure, "A Thanksgiving Story," ... setting forth the sterling virtues and the happiness derived from family reunions, and the cultivation of fireside enjoyments. Let Thanksgiving, our American Holiday, give us American books – song, story, and sermon – written expressly to awaken in American hearts the love of home and country, of thankfulness to God, and peace between brethren. We do earnestly hope and pray that the last Thursday in November may be established as the American Thanksgiving Day. Then, on that Day, our citizens, whether in their own pleasant homes, or in the distant regions of Oriental despotism, would observe it – on board every ship where our flag floats there would be a day of gladness – wherever our missionaries preach the Gospel of "good-will to men," the day would exemplify the joy of Christians; and in our Great Republic, from the St. John’s to the Rio Grande, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, all our people, as one Brotherhood, will rejoice together, and give thanks to God for our National, State, and Family blessings."

Thanksgiving article (part 1) from Godey's Lady's Book, February 1860.

"Editor’s Table.
We may now consider Thanksgiving a National Holiday. It will no longer be a partial and vacillating commemoration of gratitude to our Heavenly Father, observed in one section or State, while other portions of our common country do not sympathize in the gratitude and gladness. It is to be a regularly occurring Festival, appointed by the concert of the State Governments to be observed on the last Thursday in November – thus made, for all future time, THE AMERICAN THANKSGIVING DAY.

Such is the happy inference we draw from the patriotic unanimity of the Governors in their last appointments of Thanksgiving. On the last Thursday of last November, the people of the following states held and consecrated this New National Holday: --
*New York.
*New Hampshire.
*New Jersey.
*North Carolina.
*South Carolina.
*Rhode Island.
Indiana. Mississippi.
Nebraska Territory.
Kansas Territory.
District of Columbia.
*The old states of the "Confederacy" that framed the Constitution and decreed the perpetual Brotherhood of citizens of "The United States of North America." Virginia, as a state, did not, we regret to say, participate in Thanksgiving; because Governor Wise had doubts concerning his official authority to appoint such an observance. But the Presbytarian Synod of the State, and the cities of Fredericksburg, Norfolk, and Alexandria joined in the Festival, which was thus sanctioned by a large portion of the people of old and honored Virginia. Next November, we hope, that State will have its Union Thanksgiving.

It will be seen from this list that the concert of public opinion is nearly unanimous. Indeed, we may assume that all the States approve this idea of a National Thanksgiving, because those that did not join last November have done so in years past. The late omission, therefore, was caused, no doubt, by forgetfulness. This leads us to suggest the necessity that the time of holding this New Holiday should be fixed by each State, making it the duty of the governor to issue his proclamation yearly for the last Thursday in November."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Victorian hair jewelry

This antique hairwork watch chain is from the Morning Glory Antiques website and it is the kind of simple item that my hairwork braid might become when it is finished. There is also a series of ads for commercially available hair jewelry, from a jewelry-making company, that Morning Glory Antiques has scanned and published on their website. It is really interesting to see all the different styles of bracelets, earrings, brooches, necklaces, watch chains, rings, cuff links and stick pins that could be made from or decorated with hairwork. I encourage everyone to look them up and see for yourself!

The hair extensions that I bought produce a braid that is about 5 inches long, not quite enough to go around my wrist; however, this watch chain is probably made of two hairwork braids or twisted cords, joined by the gold cylinder that is visible in the center. If I can find a similar fitting, I could probably make a similar hairwork watch chain! I found the toggle-type clasp easily enough at the craft store, so it will just be a matter of getting the hair to lie smoothly in the braid, and attaching it securely to the clasp, and I will have a nice chain for a vintage style pocket watch! In making my braid, I used both gel and hairspray on the unbraided length of hair to try and make it lie smoothly and keep the shorter hairs from sticking out from the braid. It sort of worked, but there are still little ends that won't stay in place and I still have to find out some way to fix them. I have seen hair art instructions in Victorian magazines, that call for boiling the finished hairwork in a solution of something, so I'll have to research it and see if I can re-create that. I also found some nice vintage-style lockets by Blue Moon Beads, that I will try to fill with a hairwork coil or something decorative and small.

Apart from the different varieties of braiding hair, there were the knotting and weaving techniques used to make lanyards, embroidery floss "friendship bracelets," and Japanese Himo (I think that's what it's called) braiding. All of these can be used with embroidery floss, ribbons, satin cord, or even strips of suede, to make interesting ties, necklaces, etc. The Japanese technique is especially interesting to me because it involves a simplified version of a Victorian hairwork table; instead of a large piece of specialized furniture, the Japanese braiding technique uses a flat circle or hexagon of plastic or cardboard, with numbered slits cut around the edges and a medium-sized hole cut in the center. It looks like you could even follow some of the instructions for Victorian table-work hair art, since the hairwork table seems to have only been a similar wooden circle with hole in the middle, attached to a floor stand. Something to think about.

Victorian Hairwork Tea and Workshop

Well, due to an emergency in the family of one of the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild members, the Victorian Hairwork Tea and Workshop has been postponed to another time, probably sometime in 2009. In preparing for the workshop, I did a lot of research on the topics of thread "friendship bracelets," cord-making, braiding and other similar handicrafts. I was able to start a "friendship bracelet" out of brown and tan-colored embroidery thread, and a simple braid -- eventually for a hairwork bracelet with a gold clasp -- out of brown hair (human hair extensions). I will post pictures when I finish these projects, but they have been interesting ones to work on!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Armistice Day Tea in honor of American veterans!

In 2006 I gave an Armistice Day Tea for the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild, and we had a wonderful time remembering and telling stories about the fathers, husbands, grandfathers and, in some cases, mothers and grandmothers, who had joined the war effort during World Wars 1 and 2, and the sacrifices made by those at home in support of that work. Armistice Day, November 11th, was a holiday established for the purpose of honoring the veterans of World War 1. Now called Veterans' Day, the holiday has been extended to cover all those who have served in the United States armed forces, during any war, but especially the wars since World War 1.

Digging through my grandmother's vintage cookbooks, and the others in my collection, was a really interesting walk through another time that is becoming increasingly relevant to our own. With our current economy going through a recession, and the nation at war -- although a smaller, if more drawn-out, one than World War 2 -- many habits of thriftiness and conservation that were widely-known and practiced during the 1930s and 1940s will be useful to us at the end of 2008. Having a "Victory Garden" is not so far off from the current fashion for organic gardening and the locally-grown-food movement, and finding new ways of using leftover food from previous meals is a useful addition to the habits of recycling that are urged upon us all. Our menu featured Cold Chicken Sandwiches and a simple bowl of winter apples, oranges and pears, as well as Cinnamon Bread from my grandmother's cookbook, and a few sweets like Hershey's chocolates (like those sent to "our boys" during World Wars 1 and 2) and old-fashioned ribbon candy. Here is the recipe for Cinnamon Bread that appeared on our Armistice Day Tea table:

Cinnamon Bread:
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Bake in shallow pan 30 minutes or in small muffin pans.
-- Olive U. Martin. (from Burnt Toast Recipes, ca. 1942.)

An easy, one-bowl recipe that makes a nice loaf of sweet bread, ready for slicing, toasting and serving with homemade jam or butter.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy November!

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween (if you celebrated it!). I didn't dress up or go out or anything, but there are a lot of kids in our neighborhood and we always give out candy, so I did do that. While baking some chocolate applesauce cupcakes. The original recipe was from the November 2006 issue of _Better Homes and Gardens_ magazine, and it was called Chocolate Harvest Cake. It became chocolate applesauce cupcakes when I discovered that I had no cooking oil in the cupboard and substituted some cinnamon applesauce for the oil, and didn't want to dig out my regular cake pans from the back of the cupboard.

They came out moist and "springy", with a good texture, but I'm not sure I like the applesauce flavor with the chocolate. I think I need to eat another one, in order to decide ;) I decorated some of them with caramel apple candy corn, to see if they would be a good addition to the November tea party. I think I need some frosting, instead of the powdered sugar glaze that I had, and then they will work.

Now to decorate the rest of the cupcakes (I have some buttercream frosting in the freezer) with sprinkles or red hots or more candy corn, and try them out with a cup of Assam. It has been raining all day, and while it's not been cold and miserable, I always feel like baking and having a cup of tea when the weather's like this. And the plus side is, the garden is getting watered!
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)