First I’d like to start by saying Happy New Year and thank you. Thank you for reading my romances. Thank you for all the notes, tweets, and emails of encouragement. Thank you for telling your friends and aunties about by stories. You gave so many smiles this past year, on days where I couldn’t lift my head. The year of Lord, Two-Thousand and Sixteen was a very difficult year for me personally, loosing two important people in my life to cancer and heart disease. These two helped shape my life. I pray their influence continues. I know the love will.
Nonetheless, 2017 is a year of new beginnings. I am taking back power this year. My first battle is on salt. Yes, salt, sodium chloride. Those little delicious crystals are in everything. Why does the good tasting bread have to have over 150 mg a slice?
I digress. My goal is to improve my health, so I have to reduce the salt. Currently, I’m on salt punishment, and I am limiting my intake to 300 mg. Sadly, that means limiting my intake of the lovelies: Cheese, Bread, Ketchup.
Ketchup, that yummy sauce of wonderfulness can have over 150 mg of salt per a tablespoon. First, I can eat more than a tablespoon of ketchup on a small portion air-fried french fries. Secondly, why Hunts and Heinz, why?
I tried to drown my sorrows in Hunts’s salt-free ketchup. Ummm, no. Facing life with no ketchup was not an option so I decided to make my own. I did, and I am in hog heaven.
Vanessa’s Low-Salt Ketchup
1 Large can (28 oz) of no salt tomatoes, diced
1 Small bottle (187 ml) of Cabernet Sauvignon
Blend the tomatoes until smooth in a blender and add them with the cabernet into a sauce span. Simmer the two on low heat, almost boiling. Add the following:
1 Tbsp of Garlic Powder
2 Tsp of Ground Celery Seed
1 Tbsp of Ground Mustard
1 Tbsp of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp of Tomato Paste (This is the only salt of the recipe. The amount you add should be 30mg of salt.)
1/2 to 1 Jar (13.8 oz) of Pepper Jelly (This must be salt free.)
Add as much of the jelly as you want to your taste. It add a smokey sweet heat to the ketchup. Add black pepper to taste.
When the sauce has reduced by 1/3, use a stick blender and blend the sauce (the remaining 2/3) to make smooth the spices and any thickened bits of the sauce. Continue to simmer sauce for another 30 minutes. Cool the sauce then put in air tight containers. Keep in the refrigerator.
You have yummy low salt ketchup which is down to 3 mg of sodium per tablespoon. I love it. It was even great baked on trout.
Welcome to this 5th stop on the Wassailing Tour. If you’ve missed some of the others, please don’t hesitate visiting. Here are links to all of the Belles’ holiday wassailing stops, with different Regency era Christmas carols, dinner selections, beverages including wassail recipes at every blog hop.
16 Dec: Caroline Warfield: The Sixth Course, Jerusalem Artichoke a la Crème
18 Dec: Sherry Ewing: The Seventh Course, Mince Pies
21 Dec: Mariana Gabrielle: The Eighth Course, Christmas Pudding
Bonus Question for Belles’ Give Away: Which member of Lady Pendleton’s family suggested they sing “I Saw Three Ships.”
The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #5
Welcome to the 5th stop of the
Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour!
14th of December, 1819 Port Elizabeth Colony, South Africa
Precious Jewell swatted her brow as she stirred the huge pot of wassail swinging upon the hearth. It smelled better than it looked with the flecks of cinnamon swimming in the murky brown liquid. Anything had to be better than the ginger beer Gareth brewed at the blacksmith’s. The two were going to lug it here for tonight’s dinner which would be serve to all of the Margeaux’s crew.
Christmas in Charleston or London was cold, double shawl, stiff britches cold. This was so different. Most of the men Gareth captained were as new to this place as she. Would they like the spending the Yuletide here?
Stirring again, she shook her head. Men and beer. The crew would enjoy themselves.
Pour the water boiling on the ingredients, then add two spoonfuls of good yeast; when cold bottle it in stone bottles, tie down the corks. It is fit to drink in 48 hours– a little more sugar is an improvement; glass bottles would not do.
Recipe from: Martha Lloyd’s Household Book With thanks to the Jane Austen Society.
Combine all ingredients in a large pan. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat and continue simmering for 45 minutes. Ladle into cups or mugs and enjoy!
With a final stir, Precious wiped her damp hands with her apron. Her gaze went to the window. The bright green grass and distant palm trees and no snow didn’t quite look like Yuletide either. Well, this is what Gareth wanted and truthfully, she do anything to help him. How could love be so much, so overwhelming, so covering and smoothing all the scarred places.
“Precious, how are things in here?”
Speak of the devil. Gareth, and that deep voice of his, dared to enter her kitchen again. The second time in twenty minutes. Weren’t there some Xhosa to go chase, or something?
She turned to him, waving her big wooden spoon. “Things are as good as the last time you dragged in here. You’re probably ready to spout some more nonsense about English vittles.”
Folding his arms against his brilliant white shirt, he leaned against the door frame. “You sound a little perturbed, my dear. Are you sure nothing is amiss?”
“Nothing. Now go on.” She waved her hand to shoe him like chickens, but that dumb old rooster came forward.
Close to her side, he flashed that pompous, wonderful heart-in-her throat grin. “You seem a little on edge.”
Lowering her spoon, she released a sigh and turned back to her pot. “I know how to cook, you know. You’ve been eating well haven’t you? Don’t have to keep checking up on me.”
He stood directly behind her now, and lightly fingered her neck and gave a rub to her sore shoulders. “You do many things well, my jewel. But this is an English meal, and my men are looking forward to it. It’s a touch of home for them.”
“Do you miss London, Gareth?” Her pulse stopped moving. She could hear every creak of floorboards of the sailors gathering in their parlor. If he missed London, maybe he didn’t like it here, or maybe he had regrets. She stiffened and edged away. Tossing the spoon into her apron pocket, she picked up her oven paddle and went to the fiery brick oven. Sticking it into the hot box, she stabbed at her loaf pan and removed it. “Is that why you keep checking, so you can tell me you want to return?”
He followed and took the paddle and set the steaming loaf on to the table. “You’ve done well with the English Bread. The men will enjoy it, and the rest of meal. Collards and whatever else you’ve created. You’re food is always delicious.”
Recipe from The New London Family Cook; Or, Town and Country Housekeeper’s Guide, by Duncan MacDonald
Put a bushel of good flour into one end of your trough, and make a hole in the middle. Take nine quarts of warm water by the bakers called liquor, and mix it with a quart of good yeast; put it to the flour, and stir it well with your hands till it is tough. Let it lie till it rises as high as it will, which will be in about an hour and twenty minutes. Watch it when it comes to its height, and do not let it fall. Then make up your dough with eight quarts more of warm liquor, and one pound of salt: work it up with your hands, and rover it with a course cloth or sack. Put your fire into the oven, and by the time it is heated, the dough will be ready. Make your loaves about five pounds each, sweep your oven clean out, put in your loaves, shut it up close, and two hours and a half will bake them. In summer time your liquor must be lukewarm; in winter, a little warmer, and in hard frosty weather as hot as you can bear your hand in it, but not hot enough to scald the yeast, for should that be the case, the whole batch will be spoiled. A larger or smaller quantity may be made in proportion to these rules.
Precious laid a thin cloth over the bread allowing it to cool, but not dry out. “You didn’t answer my question.”
A smile kissed his lips, and he hummed a tune. What was it?
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Precious plodded back to hearth and started stirring again. The clove and cinnamon smell of the wassail wafted. It stung a little bit upon her weak eyes. And that poor her heart of hers had lodged right against a rib. It was probably the the only thing keeping it from falling out onto her freshly swept floor.
Gareth’s big hand clasped hers, and he spun her to him. “I have Christmas everyday with you and Jonas, but my men don’t. I just want to give them a special day.”
It was Christmas everyday, being loved by the good captain in Port Elizabeth.
Don’t miss the next stop.
Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.
Camy here! Sally Lunn buns or cakes are a famous delicacy in Bath, England, and mentions of it are in documents from the 18th century. Jane Austen may have had Sally Lunns with her tea when she and her family resided in Bath.
I scoured Google Books for any Sally Lunn bun recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries. I found several but refined it to the following recipe, which I also adjusted to be used in my bread machine. it’s a bit like brioche bread, and can be eaten with savory foods (I cut it in half and put turkey inside) or spread with jam or honey for a sweet breakfast bun.
Camy Tang’s Bread Machine Sally Lunn buns
3/4 cup warm milk
6 T melted butter
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2.25 tsp (1 package) yeast
Put the ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed. If after mixing it is too wet, add more flour until it is a light, sticky dough.
This recipe can be made in the bread machine on the regular white bread cycle, set for a 2 pound loaf.
Alternately, you can put the ingredients in the bread machine and set it on the dough cycle. When it has finished the last rising cycle, scoop the dough into well-buttered muffin tins (approx 14-16), filling each well about halfway. Let it rise until doubled, about an hour depending on the temperature in your kitchen, then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t become too brown.
What do you think? If you try this out, please let me know!
When the topic of Christmas and other holidays in regency genre books came up, I merely opened the hutch of my escritoire (regency for desk) and pulled out four collections (see below)
These are not CBA (inspirational) fiction, but rather ABA (general market, not inspirational, and probably a little racy).
I hope our inspy Regency genre grows to the point where collections like the above will be highly sought-after and we will have a chance to have a chance for our faith-filled novella to be published in such a collection.
What do you like best about Christmas-set fiction?
If you’ve done a significant amount of reading of regency fiction, you’ve come across a female character taking calf’s foot jelly to an invalid, usually someone poor. It was thought to be exceeding nutritious, but that is not necessarily true, according to my research. It was a thrifty, economizing concoction, made from a leftover part of a beef.
Calf’s foot jelly has two forms: sweet, common in 19th-century Britain and America, and savoury–called petcha, a standard of Ashkenazi Jewish cooking. Both dishes start with a long braise of split cow’s feet. The latter (for a sickroom concoction) adds garlic, onion, salt and pepper, and usually retains the meat that falls from the feet; the former (for a dessert) adds sugar, Madeira wine, brandy, cinnamon and citrus, and discards the meat. In both cases the stock is chilled until it sets, and the fat that rises to the top is skimmed.
The key component of both is collagen–a protein found mainly in connective tissue, in which feet abound. Collagen makes meat tough, but it also makes the same cut, after stewing, silky and rich. Smart cooks have long begged chicken feet from the butcher: they give chicken soup extra body. Hot, collagen imparts richness; chilled, it turns to gelatin.
To boil it down/summarize: Stock made by boiling a calf’s foot in water; which sets to a stiff jelly on cooling. It consists largely of water and gelatin, so is of little nutritional value.
Note: The New Female Instructor strongly advises against the addition of wine when the jelly is to be used for an ill person. Lemonade was often given to an ill-person along with barley water and tea.
To the readers, have you come across this, and wondered? To the fellow-Regency writers, have you ever included a character delivering this to a poor sick person?
If you’ve done a fair amount of reading in the regency genre, you’ll have come across a reference to Gunter’s. I’ve seen it mentioned as a place for a chaperoned daytime outing, and as a purveyor of catering for balls and banquets.
Studying up on the place, one learns it was founded way back in 1757 as “The Pot and Pineapple”. By the time the regency was in full swing, it was owned by James Gunter. The name was synonymous with the finest in treats., such as ice cream, sweets, and pastries.
Being inventive with ice cream flavors tempted more customers. Some extraordinary flavors from those days were jasmine, elderflower, and parmesan, among others. Gunter’s establishment lived on into the twentieth century, but is no longer in existence.
It touches me to know that today’s confectioners’ obsession with wild flavors is not unique to our lavish times. Researching some of our latest flavors in 2013 brought to my attention: ale & bacon, salted caramel, pear with blue cheese, lemon basil, and Marsala date flavors.
200 years from the heyday of the regency and we still crave our unusually-flavored ice cream.
What’s your favorite flavor? Most unusual you’ve had?
When I am reading about a heroine lost or frolicking in the woods, I love when an author surrounds me in the sights and the sounds of the wilderness. Yet, nothing can pull me out of this setting quicker than the majestic description of birds or flora… that wasn’t native to Regency England or worse not possible to be in the landscape because of the time of year.
But Vanessa, I’m world-building. Yes, that’s nice and freaks of nature do occur, but careless research or non-research is not world-building. Alas, it shouldn’t be.
Nonetheless, Vanessa how would anyone know? A bird’s a bird and the 1800’s was a long time ago. Yes, but there are resources that can help. The best place to start is the Time’s Telescope, a magazine circulated during the Regency.
From the Time’s Telescope a section called the Naturalist’s Diary details the weather, indigenous plantings, and of course fowls in the air.
In Regency England, September begins the transition to autumn and with it a change in vegetation and fowl.
“How sweetly nature strikes the ravished eye Through the fine veil, with which she oft conceals her charms in part, as conscious of decay! September is, generally, accounted the finest and most settled month in the year. The mornings and evenings are cool, but possess a delightful freshness, while the middle of, the day is pleasantly warm and open.” – from the Time’s Telescope
What birds are available during the month of September, well in 1817?
“Partridges (tetrao perdix) are in great plenty at this season of the year: they are chiefly found in temperate climates, but nowhere in such abundance as in England. Partridges pair early in the spring: about the month of May, the female lays from fourteen to eighteen or twenty eggs.”
Partridge are a short-tailed game birds, which are part of the pheasant family. Their feathers are primarily brown in colour.
“The sea- stork’s bill (erodium maritimum), on sandy shores.”
Sea storks are long necked birds, which are part of the crane family. They are typically heavy billed, large weighty birds with long necks and legs.
“The thrush, the blackbird, and the woodlark, are now conspicuous.”
Part of the Turdidae family, thrush are plump birds that often feed on the ground. The blackbird is a black thrush and if you have five and twenty you can make a pie. The woodlark is a short-tailed bird known for its melodious songs. It frolics in open grounds such as meadows rimmed with trees.
“The chimney or common swallow (hirundo rustica) disappears about the end of September. The congregating flocks of swallows and martins on house tops, but principally upon the towers of churches on our coast, are very beautiful and amusing in this and the succeeding month.”
Swallows and martins are also part of the passerine family. Swallows have fork-tailed feathers and martins have squarer tails.
“Many of the small billed birds that feed on insects disappear when the cold weather commences. The throstle, the red-wing, and the fieldfare, which migrated in March, now return; and the ring-ouzel.”
Throstle are part of the Turdidae family. The males are known for their airy melodic songs. Fieldfares are also Turdidaes. They often nest in colonies to protect themselves from predators. The male and female both feed the babies. The babies nest for a fortnight then are turned out. Can you see an author’s metaphor on this bird?
Red-wing’s are blackbirds. The males are glossy black with bright red and yellow bands on their wings. The females are brown and often mistaken for sparrows. More metaphor ideas.
This is a little primer on the birds of September. Nature was a big part of the Regency World, so I know I want to get it right. The Time’s Telescope is a great firsthand account of much more than birds. It’s also a good text on the natural surroundings of England. Many issues of the magazine are available in Google Books. When you read them, just be prepared for its folksy advice.
“All these birds feed upon berries, of which there is a plentiful supply, in our woods, during a great part of their stay. The throstle and the red-wing are delicate eating. ”
Nothing like good eats. I wonder if the author tried them in a pie?
My husband and I did not get to go on vacation this year. We have a 14 year old lab that literally doesn’t get around much anymore. We used to take her with us, but she cannot travel anymore, so our “vacations” are one-day adventures that don’t take more than six hours. One of our favorite “mini” vacations is to take chicken salad sandwiches, lots of chips and snacks, some fruit and whatever dessert I have on hand and drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a picnic nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
My friend and colleague, Kristy Cambron, did a marvelous post on many of the fêtes London was famous for during the Regency period. But I have always been fascinated by the al fresco luncheons popular during the Season. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines al fresco as “taking place or located in the open air.” Somehow al fresco sounds more…Regency….than an ordinary picnic.
And our simple chicken salad would never have done for an al fresco outing. No, no, there could have been as many courses as with a sit down dinner. One could have expected chicken pudding, a joint of cold roast beef (along with the tongue!) and/or pigeon or onion pie.
Cheese and fruit would certainly have been in the “basket.” Who could forget the scenes from Emma as they picked strawberries, eating some as they went, then feasting on them as they played the unfortunate game that created hurt feelings with both Miss Bates and Mr. Knightley?
But fresh fruit along with pastry biscuits with orange marmalade would have been the least of sweets for the palate. A nearby stream or creek would be keeping clotted cream chilled. There might be a plum cake, a whypt syllabub or several sponge cakes to round out desserts.
And libations of ale, lemonade, sherry, cider and claret would have flowed freely.
I confess that I often wondered at those attending these al fresco affairs. I believe the very young ladies and gentleman thought of the opportunities to outdo chaperones and snatch a few minutes alone. However, I picture the mature ladies and gentlemen more concerned with the neck cloths they spent so much time tying, wilting in the afternoon sun and the ladies worried their gowns might become creased. But perhaps most were not so fastidious as I imagine and enjoyed a picnic as much as my husband and I do, our only worry which backdrop to choose and . . . ants.
Oh my, do you suppose they had to worry about ants as well?
Sources Pictures from Miramax Film, Emma 1996 Picture from Jane Austen World.com
Wednesday, I shared some history of traditional Easter and spring cooking. Today, I am sharing a couple of old recipes for tansy pudding, as well as links to contemporary recipes for tansy pudding.
Again, tansy is a purifying herb. Used sparingly, it can be healthful. But always do your research on the effects of an herb before using.
Beat twelve eggs, keeping out four whites, a quart of cream, the crumbs of an halfpenny roll grated, a little orange flower or rose water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, a spoonful of tansy juice, half a pint of spinage juice, half a pound of sugar.
Butter your dish, and bake it.
The Lady’s, housewife’s and cookmaid’s assistant by E. Taylor, 1769
To make a Tansie the best way.
Take twenty eggs, and take away five whites, strain them with a quart of good thick sweet cream, and put to it grated nutmeg, a race of ginger grated, as much cinamon beaten fine, and a penny white loaf grated also, mix them all together with a little salt, then stamp some green wheat with some tansie herbs, strain it into the cream and eggs, and stir all together; then take a clean frying-pan, and a quarter of a pound of butter, melt it, and put in the tansie, and stir it continually over the fire with a slice, ladle, or saucer, chop it, and break it as it thickens, and being well incorporated put it out of the pan into a dish, and chop it very fine; then make the frying pan very clean, and put in some more butter, melt it, and fry it whole or in spoonfuls; being finely fried on both sides, dish it up, and sprinkle it with rose-vinegar, grape-verjuyce, elder-vinegar, couslip-vinegar, or the juyce of three or four oranges, and strew on good store of fine sugar.
The Accomplished Cook by Robert May 1660
Beat sixteen eggs very well in a wooden bowl, leaving out six whites, with a little orange-flower water and brandy; then add to them by degrees half a pound of fine sifted sugar; grate in a nutmeg, and a quarter of a pound of Naples biscuit; add a pint of the juice of spinach, and four spoonfuls of the juice of tansy; then put to it a pint of cream. Stir it all well together, and put it in a skillet, with a piece of butter melted; keep it stirring till it becomes pretty thick; then put it in a dish, and bake it half an hour. When it comes out of the oven, stick it with blanched almonds cut very thin, and mix in some citron cut in the same manner. Serve it with sack and sugar, and squeeze a Seville orange over it. Turn it out in the dish in which you serve it bottom upwards.
Original Receipt from ‘The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, And New Dinner-Table Directory’ of 1844
*The full text of the two recipes reproduced here are available for free on Google Books, as they are in the public domain.
Here are some links to contemporary tansy puddings. As you will notice, contemporary cooks add other flavorings and even sugar to counter the bitterness of the herb.
“Mince-pie..is as essential to Christmas, as..tansy to Easter.”
(Quoted from The Connoisseur’” Magazine in 1767, by http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/tansy,ortansypudding.htm)*
Besides the deep spiritual significance of Easter lies the cultural traditions that arise from every holiday and holyday possible in every culture. Most of these traditions center around specific foods. Yet why these foods?
One common Easter tradition is to serve ham. Yes, it makes a great deal of sense in that it’s easy to prepare for a large crowd; however, the reason why ham became a traditional Easter meal is that, after a long winter past harvest and slaughter, ham was one of the few meats still edible in the larder.
Likewise we have the lamb. The lamb being slaughtered and consumed holds numerous spiritual aspects with Jesus being the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins. It is also a Passover food. And spring lambs would have been abundant in a country like England awash in sheep.
I won’t get into the coloring and consuming of eggs at Easter. Eggs do symbolize life, which is the entire meaning of Easter—eternal life through the Resurrection; however, the coloring of eggs in spring holds its roots firmly in pagan culture.
One Easter tradition that seems to have died out—and with rather good reason—is the consumption of tansy.
Tansy is an herb with yellow flowers and lobed leaves that closely resemble ferns. Tansy holds some disputed medical benefits. And tansy is also a poison.
At first, tansy was eaten during lent to symbolize the bitter herbs. Later, it was baked into a pudding. I have found numerous recipes for tansy pudding from ancient housekeeping books, and included a couple in Friday’s upcoming post. These look rather like baked omelets.
Why tansy? For one thing, it was usually in leaf by Easter. More importantly, though, tansy is a purgative, a purifying agent. In small doses, it cleanses the system of parasites and other unwanted guests like bacteria. After a winter of eating salt-preserved and smoked meats, dried apples and root vegetables, people probably had collected a worm or two in their systems. (I know—ee-ew.) A slab of tansy pudding, and a body would feel far better. Two slices of tansy pudding, and a body would quite possibly be dead.
Be sure to come back Friday and see what it actually took to make the Tansy puddings.