The Ladies' Tea Guild

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Invalid Cookery, from 1841.

Lemon balm.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Aargh.  Still fighting off this cold, or virus, or whatever it is.  Treating colds with chicken soup is a proven, old-time remedy, but Victorian cookbooks and household manuals are filled with other recipes and hints.  Some involve ingredients that are known to be harmful, or illegal (like opium!), but others are still in use today, albeit under other names.  Indian meal gruel is really polenta or grits.  Tapioca and rice pudding are still familiar, but we like them sweeter and with more flavoring than is called for by Victorian recipes.  Beef tea is basically broth.  Herbal teas are made by the same method today.

These recipes are from The Good Housekeeper, by Sarah Josepha Hale, 1841.

TO MAKE GRUEL.--Sift the Indian meal through a fine sieve; wet two spoonfuls of this meal with cold water, and beat it till there are no lumps; then stir it into a pint of boiling water, and let it boil half an hour, stirring it all the time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Victorian cold and flu remedies.
Unfortunately, there's a virus going around and I seem to have caught it!  I definitely have a sore throat and sinus congestion, and my modern cold medicine doesn't seem to be helping much.  Victorian household manuals are full of tips for "Invalid Cookery" and remedies, and while some sound horrible and even downright dangerous, this one sounds like it might actually work. Plus, it doesn't use any poisonous ingredients!

355. SORE THROAT.—I have been subject to sore throat, and have invariably found the following preparation (simple and cheap) highly efficacious when used in the early stage; Pour a pint of boiling water upon twenty-five or thirty leaves of common sage; let the infusion stand for half an hour.  Add vinegar sufficient to make it moderately acid, and honey according to the taste.  This combination of the astringent and the emolient principle seldom fails to produce the desired effect.  The infusion must be used as a gargle several times a-day.  It has this advantage over many gargles—it is pleasant to the taste, and may be swallowed occasionally, not only without danger, but with advantage.
-- from Inquire Within for Anything You Want To Know, 1858.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The 4th Annual Cat Rescue Tea Fundraiser in San Jose!

Tickets are now on sale for the
13th St Cat Rescue
Fourth Annual Tea Fundraiser
Saturday and Sunday
March 10th & 11th, 2012

$30.00 includes a full afternoon Tea
at a historic mansion & San Jose Landmark
Spend an afternoon sipping Tea for a Cause!
Please join us as we raise money for our very own 13th St Cat Rescue.
Spend an afternoon sipping tea in a beautiful
Victorian Mansion (new location for this year!)
located in the Hensley Historic District of San Jose.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

History for dinner: To Fricassee a Chicken.

Instead of a picture of Chicken
Fricassee, here is a picture of
one of the ingredients, lemon.
Image: www.public-domain-
I read a lot of old cookbooks and occasionally a historic recipe sounds great just as it is, and once in a while, there will be one that sounds easy enough that I actually make it (I avoid beating egg whites until they're stiff, for example).  Here is one that is easier in this historic form than it is in it's modern form: Chicken Fricassee.  What is that? It's basically chicken stewed or braised with herbs and vegetables in liquid (water, wine, or broth) and butter, so that it makes its own gravy, which is thickened with dairy and egg at the end.  You can serve it with rice or noodles, or by itself.

To Fricassee a Chicken.--Wash and cut the chicken into joints; scald and take off the skin, put the pieces in a stewpan, with an onion cut small, a bunch of parsley, a little thyme and lemon-peel, salt and pepper--add a pint of water, a bit of butter as large as an egg.  Stew it an hour; a little before serving, add the yolks of two eggs beaten up, with a tea-cup of sweet cream, stirring it in gradually; take care that this gravy does not boil.
-- from Early American Cookery: "The Good Housekeeper" by Sarah Josepha Hale (1841).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and The Young Lady's Toilette, from 1858.

Image: Simon Howden.

Tomorrow marks the day when England's Queen Elizabeth II equals her predecessor Queen Victoria in one thing -- a reign of 60 years!  Queen Victoria is the only other English monarch to live to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, and hers was in 1897.  The U.K. and the Commonwealth nations will celebrate this anniversary with speeches, a flotilla on the Thames, statue dedications, garden parties, and of course, lots of tea.  The Queen is scheduled to host a tea party for thousands of people at one point!  The festivities will continue through the summer, picking up frequency around the first week of June, which is the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation.  Whether you are a citizen of Great Britain or just a fan, why not take some time in the coming months to raise a cup of tea to Queen Elizabeth and the tact and intelligence that have kept her sanity intact doing government work for so long!

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)