The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, June 18, 2012

Picnic recipes from Godey's of July 1855.

Lemon balm at History Park,
San Jose, Ca.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Wow, the weather is really starting to heat up around here!  June is usually not a really warm month in this area, but I think we'll be breaking some heat records in the next few days or so ... This is when we should air out the house and get outside in the cool mornings and evenings, and then shut ourselves away from the heat in the afternoon with something cold and refreshing to drink.  To get a break from sodas, make some iced tea or tisane (you can make it by the pitcher and just keep it in the fridge all the time) or some lemonade, which are not only good for hot weather, but for the sick and invalids, as recommended by Godey's Lady's Book in 1855:


Spearmint.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
     HERB TEA.--Green, fresh gathered herbs are always to be preferred; but they may be carefully dried for winter use, and answer the purpose.  ... Take eight or ten tops of fresh gathered balm, sage, or mint, or a handful of cowslip pips, or marigold flowers, stripped.  Pour over them a quart of boiling water, cover the jug or teapot, and let it stand from five to eight minutes--not longer; then strain off.  Balm is the most cooling of these drinks--mint the most comfortable to the bowels--sage and marigold the most reviving--cowslip is composing--all are very wholesome.  Mint and balm together make a pleasant tea.  Spearmint is the most pleasant sort for tea, but double mint and peppermint are the most useful in bowel complaints.

     LEMONADE.--Very thinly shave the rind of two large lemons, not taking a morsel of the white pith, which pith should next be entirely removed, taking care not to break or cut into the fruit so as to waste the juice; cut the middle part of the lemons in thin slices (a silver knife is best for the purpose); from one ounce to two ounces of loaf-sugar.  Put these three articles (thin rind, slices, and sugar) into a jug, pour over them a quart of boiling water--let it stand a few minutes before using. ... Orange drink may be prepared in the same manner as lemonade, allowing two China oranges [sweet oranges] and one Seville orange [sour orange] to a quart of water, or three China oranges.  Half the rind will be quite sufficient.

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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)