Beautiful Days

I noticed the tree from more than fifty yards away.

In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t have ignored it had I tried.

Its branches stretched a canopy out over the road. Its leaves had already begun to fall, creating a fiery blanket of orange and yellow on the surrounding grass. And though I hadn’t thought this would happen on a simple drive to the office, I was suddenly enchanted. It was as if the earth had whispered on a last August breeze and I was convinced to pause and appreciate its song. With it, I began to think about the shift from summer to autumn. It reminded me that on mild mornings such as that one, change is right around the corner.

It reminded me of the gift of beautiful days.

As the weather becomes cooler and the days grow short, we’ll soon be drawn indoors for much of our memory making. There will be new smells, tastes, sights and sounds to enjoy – all gifts of the senses that remind us of our blessings and God’s provision through the seasons of the year. As crisp nights and foggy mornings make their first appearance on the landscape, we will pass from the relaxing sanctuary of summer to the lively colors of autumn.  And after all of the fun and frolic we’ve had in our August days here at Regency Reflections, we’re ready to move on and welcome the new season…

In the Regency years, autumn would usher in the enjoyment of tastes such as hartshorn, cranberry, and orange jellies (find tasty Jane Austen Centre at Bath recipes here), Barmbrack (a traditional Irish fruit bread), an array of harvest fruits (apples, pears, currants, apricots and grapes), mulled wines and spiced ciders, nuts, puddings, decadent trifles and warm, sweet confections. (Jam tartlets anyone?)

Can you smell the cinnamon? Perhaps taste the earthy nutmeg as it melts on your tongue? It would have been these new flavors that crossed-over into the harvest season to come.

The changing of seasons would also bring the last thrills of summer before the celebration of fall. Country dances would still be held outside (as long as the weather would hold) and many a Regency family would remain at their country homes through much of the hunting and holiday season, enjoying the great outdoors while the weather was still hospitable enough to entertain.  Young men might be sent off back to school and young girls, usually engaged in a less formal education, would be enriched in their own knowledge with lessons in music, drawing, dancing and language studies at home.

Leaves would still fall and the harvest was still celebrated.

There were still beautiful days.

Other than the fox hunting and hartshorn jelly of course, autumn in the Regency Era isn’t all that different from what we experience today. We’ve probably seen the children heading back to school. Vacations are likely over. It’s back to work through the week and relishing in the leisure on the weekends. Summer has passed and the harvest is here. And in the months to come, the authors of Regency Reflections will explore this beautiful season with you.

As seasons change, remember that memories of the fun and frolic in our summer days will warm the frosty nights to come. Remember that the God worshipped in the Regency Era is the same Father that orchestrates the transition of our seasons today. He creates the color of fallen leaves on our way to work. He generates the wind-whispers and the beauty in our changing days. And yes, His blessings are thoughtfully remembered as the harvest is brought in.

What will you remember most about the fun and frolic of your August summer days? What are you looking forward to celebrating in the new season ahead?

Welcome September, and may we find nothing but the gift of His beautiful days ahead.

~ Kristy

Throw Together a Tradition

Kristi here.

Ask people to list traditional English meals, and you’re very likely to get Shepherd’s Pie in the list right next to Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Yorkshire pudding.

Slice of shepherd's pie and a tomato
Slice of Cottage Pie. Note the meat and vegetables on the bottom layer and the potatoes on the top.

Shepherd’s Pie is really a particular version of a Cottage Pie. Technically, a Shepherd’s Pie should contain lamb or mutton while a Cottage Pie can contain the meat from pretty much any animal, though it usually contains beef.

Simply put, Cottage Pies are a mix of meat and vegetables topped with a heap of mashed potatoes and baked. My family has a recipe for one and lots of people make particular plans to have Cottage Pies for dinner and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make it.

What I find interesting about that, is that Cottage Pie was originally a thrown together meal used to eat up the leftovers and scraps.

Picture this: The family sits down to eat and the Mom starts dishing up dinner. She says, “Sorry about dinner tonight. I had to sort of throw together whatever I can find. I’ll plan better for tomorrow. I should be able to get to the market in the morning.”

(Yes, I know that is a very modern conversation, but you get the picture.)

Dad and kids tuck in and discover that this is better than the last three meals Mom made. In fact, it’s one of the best! Suddenly the concoction thrown together just so everyone could eat dinner and not be hungry is a family staple.

This happens in our house constantly.

Frequently dinner is a pantry clean-out. Grab a few cans, haul something out of the freezer, throw it together and you have some nourishment. It might be bizarre, but it’ll get the job done.

The other day I did this and ended up trying to remember what I’d done and what all I’d put in it because everyone in the family loved that meal. It is rare that all three of my kids clean their plate, let alone ask for seconds. We devoured this ultra simple meal.

The bonus was that it ended up tasting very similar to a dish my husband loved growing up as a child. His grandparents grew a very distinct type of bean on their farm and it was always served for the bulk of the Sunday afternoon meal.

Just like Cottage Pie, our thrown together meal is now a menu mainstay. It’s purposefully planned and ingredients are bought instead of it being leftovers and forgotten pantry lingerers.

We call it “That turkey and bean dish” right now. Eventually it will get a better name. Want to try it? I’ve included the recipe below.

Have you ever thrown together something at the last minute only to have it be a roaring success?

That Turkey and Bean Dish

Ingredients:

– 1 pound turkey sausage (the kind in the big links, either the horseshoe shape or the two long links.)
– 1 can french cut green beans
– 1 can whole kernel corn
– 1 can black beans
– Spices: Cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
– butter or margarine

Directions:

– Slice the turkey sausage into bite size pieces. (For me that means half-circles about a half inch thick)
– Brown them in a frying pan
– Sprinkle them with cumin and onion powder

– Drain the green beans and corn
– Drain and rinse the black beans
– Put them in a pot with some butter
– heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally
– Season with cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder

– Once everything has had a chance to simmer and brown, dump the bean and corn mixture in the frying pan with the sausage.
– Cover and let simmer about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Serve over garlic bread or mashed potatoes

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out for you. My family loves it!

All photos from WikiCommons.

Living off the Land: Localism in the Regency

A modern haul of local produce.

These days there’s a lot of talk about food localism: the practice of eating food that was grown close to where you eat. Enthusiasts of the movement often try to make their meals only out of food grown within 200 miles of where they live.

If I did that, I’d be without my two (okay, three!) cups of coffee every morning, but I admit that I see the appeal. I’m lucky enough to live in a region with community-supported agriculture (or “CSA”) groups, which means that our family largely eats produce that was grown only miles from where we live.

But families in the Regency took local eating to a whole new level, especially in the large country estates. These estates, formed hundreds of years before there were safe and reliable roads and trade routes, grew almost all of their own food out of necessity, and even in the Regency, when importing food was more feasible, many of these large estates still produced most of what they ate right there on the property.

What kinds of foods were produced on a country estate?

The food produced on an English country estate ran the gamut from meat to vegetables, wheat to fruit, dairy to game.

Estates supported large farms, which could grow grains and vegetables in their fields, while the more well-off landowners could also support greenhouses dedicated to expensive and rare tropical fruit like pineapples (a princely gift in those times!). Wheat was made into bread and also used for brewing beer.

Estates also were hugely concerned with animal husbandry. Cows provided the milk for on-the-grounds dairies, and they also provided meat, along with pigs and sheep. There were even estates with dovecotes that raised pigeons for the table – the nestlings, or “squabs”, were prized for their delicate meat. Large estates could also contain fishponds.

The extraordinary thing to modern eyes was not necessarily how much food was produced in the lands surrounding the great English houses, but how much of the processing of that food was done on the property. Nowadays, farms grow food and factories process them. But in the 1800s, the growing and processing was often done on the same property, with the cows being milked, the dairymaid making cheese, and the cook arranging the cheese dish all being owned or employed by the same family.

Further Reading

For a much more thorough overview of the food production and processing on an English estate, I recommend Christina Hardyment’s “Behind the Scenes: Domestic Arrangements in Historic Houses”.

And for a fascinating look at current localism, I recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell 

Waiting on God

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

I discussed this verse last week in the women’s Bible study class I teach at our church. It’s a rather commonly quoted passages of Scripture. While not necessarily as popular as John 3:16, I’d wager many a Christian has heard sermons on it before and had others quote it to them a time or two.

In some regards, the verse is probably overly familiar. We hear it so often we forget what it really means.

It’s a natural, human reaction to try rushing God rather than waiting for Him. The story of Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar (found in Genesis 16) illustrates this point perfectly. Sarah and Abraham had an unconditional promise that God was going to make a great nation from their offspring. At the same time, they’d been waiting for God to fulfill this promise for over twenty-five years.

And as you can imagine, after twenty-five years of leaving home and wandering around the desert,  Sarah got a little impatient. Instead of waiting on God, she decided to help move God along. So she gave Abraham one of her maids to take as a wife.

**Note this practice was common and acceptable in Sarah and Abraham’s day.

Now I have to admit that after twenty-five years of wandering around a desert trusting God, I’d be getting rather impatient for God to give me a son. Would I have behaved as Sarah did? Perhaps yes and perhaps no. I’ve never been in that situation. But I do know Sarah’s story illustrates this:

Waiting on God might be hard, but getting ahead of God will be disastrous.

Indeed, Sarah reaped a slew of negative consequences from her actions. Hagar got pregnant with Abraham’s child and lorded it over Sarah. Sarah then felt contempt and bitterness for Hagar and demoted Hagar back to her position as a maid. Rather than suffer such degradation at Sarah’s hand, Hagar ran away, and God intervened to save Hagar and her unborn child’s lives.

So as we look at the story of Sarah and Abraham and Hagar, and at the principles taught in Isaiah 40:31, we can all be reminded to wait on God.

Waiting on God might look different for each one of us, and it certainly looks different throughout the course of history. For example, for an unmarried Regency woman, waiting on God usually meant waiting for a husband that she would meet at any number London social events. For an unmarried woman living today, waiting on God might mean not getting married at all, or meeting your husband somewhere other than a London social event.

But the principle is still the same. Take a deep breath and WAIT ON GOD. You’ll end up with a much happier, easier life if you follow God rather than get ahead of Him.

** Both photos taken from Wiki Commons

Ostrich, Eels, Bone Marrow, and Heart – What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

Food during the Regency period was very different from what a lot of us eat today. If anyone read Ruth’s post on Monday and said, “I totally know how to jugg a pigeon” then they should contact us immediately. There are several Regency authors who would like to talk to you.

In the meantime, we asked our illustrious blog authors to share their worst food memories. We asked them,  “What was the worst thing you ever had to eat?”

Naomi Rawlings
Ostrich. I was traveling in South America at the time. 🙂

Kristy and her pretty plate of Eel
Kristy and her pretty plate of eel

Kristy Cambron
The worst thing I’ve ever had the displeasure of eating? Without question it would have to be eel. My husband and I honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico. I still remember the fabulous food on that trip – except that is, for the “lovely” plate of seafood we received at a gourmet restaurant. (It was plated so beautifully that we actually took a picture of it!) Unfortunately, the majority of the plate included a gray, rubbery, and horrid tasting main course which turned out to be eel. You bet I skipped right to dessert just to drown out the memory of dinner!

Laurie Alice Eakes
Horse meat in Europe. I was a guest, so couldn’t turn it down.

Kristi Ann Hunter
Bone marrow. I was at a restaurant in Switzerland on the edge of Lake Geneva. The plate was gorgeous and the food really good, but on the top of the steak were these little disks in the sauce. I thought they might have been mushroom slices or pieces of water chestnut, so I ate one. I nearly gagged. On our way out I checked the menu and sure enough, there was bone marrow listed in the description.

Large Moose Wading in Lake
Big animal. Big heart. photo: WikiCommons

Jessica Snell
I don’t know about the worst food. Maybe a better question would be, “What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?” My answer is moose heart. And when it was raw, I was able to stick my entire hand in one of the ventricles – those things are huge!

 

Ruth Axtell
I like all foods so can’t think of anything off the top of my head that I really gagged at.

Susan Karsten
The strangest food I have eaten, and enjoyed, is squid. It is also known by the name calamari. You can get it fried, or served in tomato sauce. I have had both and it was good. I would eat it again in a heartbeat.

Have you ever eaten anything that curled your tastebuds and your toes? Chomped down on anything bizarre or strange? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Regency Cookery

English Housewifery Exemplified
In above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions
for most Parts of Cookery

Elizabeth Moxon

published in 1764.

This cookbook precedes the regency by about 50 years,but I imagine many of these recipes (or “receipts” as they were called then) were still in use.

Scrolling through this cookbook on Project Gutenberg’s site, I found some interesting dishes including:

 HOW TO JUGG PIGEONS.

I wasn’t sure what ‘jugging’ meant. The dictionary has the verb, to jug, meaning stewing meat in an earthenware jug.

Take six or eight pigeons and truss them, season them with nutmeg, pepper and salt.
To make the Stuffing. Take the livers and shred them with beef-suet, bread-crumbs, parsley, sweet-marjoram, and two eggs, mix all together, then stuff your pigeons sowing (sic) them up at both ends, and put them into your jugg with the breast downwards, with half a pound of butter; stop up the jugg close with a cloth that no steam can get out, then set them in a pot of water to boil; they will take above two hours stewing; mind you keep your pot full of water, and boiling all the time; when they are enough clear from them the gravy, and take the fat clean off; put to your gravy a spoonful of cream, a little lemon-peel, an anchovy shred, a few mushrooms, and a little white wine, thicken it with a little flour and butter, then dish up your pigeons, and pour over them the sauce. Garnish the dish with mushrooms and slices of lemon.

 

This is proper for a side dish.

 

How’s this for a little deception, making a rabbit look like a partridge? The only thing is, I have no idea what they mean by cutting off a rabbit’s wings (cutting off its floppy ears?):

Kitchen Still Life with Hares, Fowl, etc. by Cornelis Jacobsz Delff
Dead Hare and Partridges c.1690 Jan Weenix

 

TO DRESS RABBETS TO LOOK LIKE MOOR-GAME.

 

Take a young rabbet, when it is cased cut off the wings and the head; leave the neck of your rabbet as long as you can; when you case it you must leave on the feet, pull off the skin, leave on the claws, so double your rabbet and skewer it like a fowl; put a skewer at the bottom through the legs and neck, and tie it with a string, it will prevent its flying open; when you dish it up make the same sauce as you would do for partridges.

Three are enough for one dish.

 

And for a little dessert:

AN APPLE PUDDING

Take half a dozen large codlins, or pippens, roast them and take out the pulp; take eight eggs, (leave out six of the whites) half a pound of fine powder sugar, beat your eggs and sugar well together, and put to them the pulp of your apples, half a pound of clarified butter, a little lemon-peel shred fine, a handful of bread crumbs or bisket (sic), four ounces of candid orange or citron, and bake it with a thin paste under it.

 

 

The recipe ends there. Perhaps a thin paste is a pastry shell?

 It would have been interesting to sample some of this fare.

 

Looking Well to the Ways of our Households, by Susan Karsten

An aspect of the Regency that is so different from today were the menus. Granted, we read much more about the meals of the wealthy than the poor, but it gets me thinking about managing the meals in one of those grand homes.

Just for fun, I have a passage for you from the The Poor Relation, by Marion Chesney, published in 1984. It gives us a taste of the type of menu expected for breakfast at a country house party:

“Amaryllis walked over to the sideboard, which was laden with cold joints, collared and potted, meats, cold game, veal and ham pies, game and rumpsteak pies, and dishes of mackerel, whiting, herring, dried haddock, mutton chops, rump steak, broiled sheep’s kidneys, sausages, bacon, and eggs.”

One more thing to be thankful for is that we don’t have to plan or prepare meals like this!

If you’ve read even a few Regencies, you’ll have come across the concept of young ladies being prepared for the marriage market. One way they prepared was by learning to run a large home and its staff of servants. Many rules operated in this arena, and the young lady had to master them all.

Today, we have other things to master, such as shopping, cooking meals, cleaning (oh, where are those servants?) and possibly gardening, a home business, home education and more. God still equips his saints and doesn’t give them more than they can handle, with or without servants. The following proverb applied then and does today:

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

It’s always amazing when we notice how God’s word is so timeless!

 

Interview and a Give-A-Way with Author Jamie Carie

Regency Reflections Welcomes Author Jamie Carie

We are so thrilled to welcome author Jamie Carie to Regency Reflections! Jamie, the author of the Forgotten Castles series, has stopped by to tell us a little bit about her upcoming release, A Duke’s Promise, which will be available September 1st.

Jamie is kindly offering a free book (Paperback or Kindle download) to one lucky visitor!  For your chance to win a book from the Forgotten Castles series, leave a comment on this post.

1. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your Forgotten Castles series.

It started with the idea of doing something similar to my second book, The Duchess and the Dragon, but with a Regency spin. I love writing about royalty from that time period! I also knew I wanted something adventurous with a mystery to solve. Then the characters took over, which is the best part.

2. Setting plays a very important role in this series.  Can you tell us what drew you to using castles in your setting, and more specifically, how you tied the setting to the time period?

I had the idea of three I’s – Ireland, Iceland and Italy as the settings. Each book takes place in one of those countries and features tucked away, crumpling and forgotten or fairy-tale like castles. I had a moments panic when I discovered that Iceland doesn’t have any actual castles but then I discovered the Dimmuborgir, black lava formations that look enough like a castle that they are called the Black Castles of Iceland. It was perfect for a creepy scene!

How I tied the setting to the time period? Having Alexandria grow up on a very secluded island in an old, crumpling castle gave me more leeway with her behavior in Regency England. She couldn’t be expected to be quite so strict in her role as a woman of that time because she was never taught the rules of society and hadn’t lived among the elite until she meets her guardian, the duke, and lives for a time in London. It was fun to see how she changed and grew over the course of the three books.

3. The book covers in the Forgotten Castle series are stunning.  Can you tell us about the design process?

Thank you!! I have to give all the credit for the gorgeous covers to Diana Lawrence, Art Director at B&H Publishing. Diana always gets the “feel” of my books and carries it so well to the cover designs. I only consult and there were very few changes that I recommended. Here’s the link to the making of the first cover – The Guardian Duke.

4. Tell us a bit about your upcoming release, A Duke’s Promise.

I am so excited to have A Duke’s Promise come out in September! God gave me an ending that took my breath away, tying up all the details and answering all the questions that are raised in the first two books. I can’t give anything away, so here is the back of the book blurb:

From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.
Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.

5. You have an amazing ability to weave the details of everyday Regency life into your novels.  If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite aspect of Regency life?

I love the gallantry of the men of that day and age. Men (the good ones at least!) were very protecting toward their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Gabriel, the duke who is Alexandria’s guardian, takes very good care of his family (even though some members drive him bonkers). He treats Alexandria like a princess. I love how he loves her – tender, sweet, hot, completely besotted but not a dolt – sigh! I think he is my favorite hero to date!

6. What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing a Regency?

Probably getting the “feel” (the cadence of the language and dialog, the perspectives of the characters, etc.) of the time period. I suggest reading lots of Regencies and absorb the tone before trying to write one.

7. Do you have a favorite Regency author?

I grew up reading Georgette Heyer which probably started my love of romance novels. Also Amanda Quick, Julia Quinn, Judith McNaught and LOVE Laura Kinsale!

8. Tell us a bit more about you.  

I’m a preacher’s daughter. I grew up in Vincennes, Indiana and my entire childhood was immersed in the Charismatic movement with Bible teachers like Derek Prince, Kenneth Copeland and many others sounding by cassette tape in the background. This upbringing was both wildly crazy when it came to some of the error of that movement but also deeply theological and Bible based. I’ve had a lot to sort out as an adult, I can tell you! I think God has used all this in my writing and I’ve learned to be thankful for it and proceed with the faith that He can make beauty from ashes. Here’s my short bio:

Born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, Jamie is the daughter of a preacher man. Road trips with her dad—to and from Bible studies across Indiana—were filled with talks of things beyond earth’s bounds – creation and the fall, God and Jesus and the rapture, the earthly walk compared to the spiritual walk, and how we are born for more than what we can see or touch.

The highlight of those nights was stopping at a truck stop in the middle of the night where her dad would spend a little of the offering basket on two slices of pie and a couple of Cokes. Nothing ever felt so special as a middle of the night slice of pie with her dad. And nothing could stop the writing pouring out of her.

Piles of poems, short stories, skits and song lyrics later, Jamie grew up and married. When her eldest son turned five she decided to try her hand at novels. Snow Angel was published and won the USA Book News “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third book, Wind Dancer, won Best Books of Indiana in 2010.

Jamie and Tony have been married for twenty-four years and live in Indianapolis with their three sons, a giant of a dog named Leo, and their new addition – a half Siamese/half Snow Shoe kitten named Luna.

If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”

9. How can readers connect with you to learn more about your other projects or get in touch with you?

Website: www.jamiecarie.com
Blog: http://jamiecarie.com/blog
Facebook: http:www.facebook.com/jamie.carie?ref=profile
The Forgotten Castles series FB Pagefacebook.com/ForgottenCastles
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/#!/jamiecarie
Email: jamie@jamiecarie.com

10. One last question:   Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility?

Pride and Prejudice! I’ve seen the movie at least a dozen times. I love Sense and Sensibility and Emma too though. Now, you’ve done it!! I’m going to be craving some Jane Austen and have to squeeze that into my schedule!

Thanks again to Jamie Carie for stopping by and sharing her story. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered it the giveaway for the winner’s choice of a book in the Forgotten Castles series!

Bride Cakes

The multi-tiered extravaganzas with frosting flowers and sometimes fanciful designs we now associate with wedding cakes are a Victorian invention, as are most of our modern wedding customs. That does not mean, however, that wedding cakes did not exist before Victoria and Albert’s 300 pound confection.

Cake at a wedding dates back at least to Roman times when a cake of wheat or barley was partially eaten by the groom, then broken over the bride’s head, followed by the crumbs being tossed into the crowd. This represented prosperity and fertility and good fortune.

In various forms, the custom continued through the middle ages and into our time of the Regency. Some evolutions took place along the way. Wheat poured onto the bride’s head replaced the cake breaking, though some evidence reports that an oat cake was broken over the bride’s head in Scottish weddings well into the nineteenth century.

In the Regency, bride cakes ranged from what sounds like what we recognize as fruit cake such as those passed around at Christmas, though much, much larger, to flour cakes stacked and held together with icing.

Stacking cakes was a more modern form of the “stack” a pile of wheat rolls piled high to represent prosperity over which the bride and groom kissed. Cakes replaced the rolls, but piling them together created the problem of keeping them piled, making sure they did not crumble away, and keeping them from going stale. Frosting them together seemed like a natural way to solve this problem.

Not too long before the Regency, bride pies became the custom. This was a savory, not a sweet pie. A glass ring was baked into this pastry, and the lady who received the piece with the ring was sure to wed within the next year, rather like the ring in a Christmas pudding.

Many cake customs had not died by the Regency. One that seems to have survived was the cutting the cake into small pieces to distribute through the guests. Young women took their pieces home to lay beneath their pillow. They thought this would help them dream of the men they would marry. Other brides carried this further and the piece of cake had to be drawn through the wedding ring as many as nine times before it would reveal the recipient’s future spouse.

Here is a recipe for bride cake from an 1818 housekeeping book by Elizabeth Raffald.
(Note: I have changed the s that look like f to a modern s for ease of reading.)

To make a Bride Cake.

TAKE four pounds of fine flour well dried, four pounds of fresh butter, two pounds of loaf sugar, pound and sift fine a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of nutmegs, to every pound of flour put eight eggs* wash four pounds of currants, pick them well, and dry them before the fire, blanch a pound of sweet almonds, and cut them lengthways very thin, a pound of citron, one pound of candied orange, the same of candied lemon, half a pint of brandy: first work the butter with your hand to a cream, then beat in yeur sugar a quarter of an hour, beat the whites of your eggs to a very strong froth, mix them with your sugar and butter, beat your yolks half an hour at least, and mix them with your cake, then put in your flour, mace’, and nutmeg, keep beating it well till your oven is ready, put in your brandy, and beat your currants and almonds lightly in, tie three meets of paper round the bottom of your hoop to keep it from running out, rub it well with butter, put in your cake and lay your sweetmeats in three lays, with cake betwixt every lay, after it is risen and coloured, cover it with paper before your oven is slopped *ip: it will take three hour* bakings

To make Almond-Icing for the Bride Cake.

BEAT the-whites of three eggs to a strong froth, beat a pound of Jordan almonds very fine with rose water, mix your almonds with the eggs lightly together, a pound of common loaf sugar beat fine, and put in by degrees; when your cake is enough, take it out, and lay your icing on, then put it into brown.

To make Sugar-Icing for the Bride Cake.

BEAT two pounds of double refined sugar with two ounces of fine starch, sift it through a gauze sieve, then beat the whites of five eggs with a knife upon a pewter dish half an hour; beat in your sugar a little at a time, or it will make the eggs fall, and will not be so good a colour, when you have put in all your sugar, beat it half an hour longer, then lay it on your almond icing, and spread it even with a knife ; if it be put on as soon as the cake comes out of the oven it will be hard by the time the cake is cold.

Food and Work

It’s no secret that America has a problem with disordered eating. In a land of abundance, food isn’t just fuel; it’s comfort, it’s reward, it’s entertainment.

I’m no exception to this trend, so this devotional is written from a place of weakness, not strength. But as I’ve been thinking about this month’s theme of “Food and Frolic”, I find myself meditating on St. Paul’s dictum that he who does not work shall not eat.

This verse comforts me because it reminds me what food is for. Food is a thing with a purpose. Food lets us work, and work is such a great good that it existed even before the Fall.

Working for some very sweet food indeed.

So in some ways food is a reward. It’s the proper end to a day full of employment. It’s the proper preparation for a day full of good work. It’s both a reward and a necessity. We need food to do the good things God has given us to do, and we are blessed with food after we do those good things. (Because, after all, if you plant the garden, you get to enjoy its fruits. If you put in the hours, you get the paycheck.)

I think this is why saying grace before our meals is one of the best correctives to the disordered American appetite. So many traditional table prayers contain within themselves a proper theology of food. My favorite is the very simple, “Bless, O Father, thy gifts to our use and us to thy service; for Christ’s sake.”  This to us, Lord, and us to You. Or, as I prayed regularly once upon a time, “Lord, please bless this food, and may I use the energy I get from it to serve You.”

Indeed. Amen!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell