The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, May 27, 2011

Potato Flour Muffins -- a vintage gluten-free recipe.

Here is a vintage recipe from 1929 for gluten-free muffins!

Potato Flour Muffins
3 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup potato flour, or potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

Separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff and dry.  Beat the yolks until thick and lemon colored, then fold them into the whites.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together and fold into the egg mixture.  Lastly add the ice water and fold until well mixed.  Bake in greased muffin tins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.
-- from Magic Chef Cooking, ca. 1929.

Potato starch and potato flour can be found more easily than ever these days, not just at Whole Foods, but even at Target!  My local Target store now has a grocery section including a small baking supply aisle, with several gluten-free products. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cheery little May baskets!

Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Making Victorian-inspired items can require a lot of skill and time, not to mention money, but if you choose the right project, you can make something that's inexpensive and cute, in practically no time!  Well, if you consider 30 minutes "no time" ... Here's what you need to make a Victorian-ish May basket to hang on your doorknob:

an assortment of silk flowers
one sheet of fancy scrap-booking paper
12 inches or so of baby ribbon or other narrow ribbon
hole punch
wire cutters or sturdy craft scissors
roll of floral tape
Scotch tape/regular clear tape
ruler or compass (remember those from math class?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Day and spring traditions in the Victorian era.

Primroses.  Photo: Nikolay Dimitrov.
The Victorian era is famous for its nostalgia and love of sentimental customs. Many Victorian traditions have roots going back hundreds of years, often including veiled references to Medieval Celtic folklore and pagan deities.  In the Victorian era, May Day, or May 1, was the middle of spring, and was marked with a fair, parade, dances, and lots of floral decorations.  The traditional celebrations often began with “bringing in the May”, which involved getting up very early in the morning on May Day, and going into the country to pick flowers to decorate the town with, as well as make preparations for the parade and other festivities.  Women were also said to bathe their faces with dew from the grass and flowers on May morning, to preserve their beauty. 
Cowslips.  Photo: Nickolay Dimitrov.

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)