This week - Laundry. See Chapter Four below.
MRS THORBURN'S BOOK OF
THE PERFECT HOUSEWIFE
Previous compendia on this important subject (one might even opine, this most important subject) have their place as documents for historical study but, worthy as they may be, they are not up to date.
My famous predecessors, such as Mrs B....., Mrs G..... and Miss A...., bless them, either did not have the great advantages that modern civilisation and human inventiveness have brought to today's housewife, or did not set out to provide a complete and comprehensive Work covering every aspect of the housewife's world, as I am doing.
Matters affecting the home and the family have progressed remarkably within relatively recent times, resulting in a growing interest among those classes of our society most influenced thereby; those, I may hazard, who have had the foresight and good judgement to allow themselves time to peruse this valuable material.
Of course, I have had to call on the expertise of others in the writing thereof. In no one person could reside such a mountain of information and guidance as this Work will provide, but every fact is scrutinised by me and, in all cases except where acknowledgement is made, every word is written by me to conform to my own view of what may be expected by my readers.
The six divisions into which the Work is divided do, I trust, reflect perfectly the requirements of those readers, whose gratification and education are my sole desires. Wishing to confine myself to matters of fact, I have not ventured into the vexed and greatly individualized territories of child-rearing, where so much controversy obtains, except occasionally to make minor recommendations as regards nourishment and entertainment.
I hope to add each week until a true cyclopaedia of the home results. Wishing all my readers a happy and successful home-making,
Chapter One - Cookery
A modest family range with oven, hotplates and ready supply of hot water all fuelled by the central coal fire.
The standard kitchen or Yorkshire range may be considered old-fashioned by some modern housewives, but we should not forget that it performs several useful functions. As well as the coal, coke or wood normally used as fuel, the range will also burn household rubbish. It heats the kitchen and, if properly set up with hot-water radiators, may even heat the whole house. It provides hot water for the scullery and the bathroom. Flat irons can be heated on it, and bread, muffins and teacakes toasted at its fire - and, of course, all the family's meals can be cooked on it.
To clean, many housewives believe that blacklead alone is sufficient, whereas a mixture of equal parts of blacklead, black boot polish and turpentine will enable a fine shine that will last much longer and so save labour.
For the larger family, cook and her scullery maid will find this type of range most convenient.
Cookers fired by gas or electricity can only perform the latter three functions, assuming they are fitted with a grilling attachment. Those fired by oil lamp cannot grill.
The advantage the cookers have is that of cleanliness. With no coal or wood to bring into the house and no ashes to take out, many housewives will prefer to have such a cooker and so have those other functions, such as hot water and room heating, performed by different means.
For those families with just an open fire, or an old range without a satisfactory oven, a Dutch oven offers the housewife the possibility of serving a roast with, indeed, most of the virtues of the true, open-fire roasting method but with some convenience. The Dutch oven fits on to the grate and has meat hooks above and a dripping pan below. If roasting a joint or a fowl, basting and turning should be carried out as if a spit was being used, but the cook is shielded from the heat of the fire as if by a screen.
This modern oil-fired cooker has three wick-burners to operate oven, plate and water heater.
Chapter Two - Make and Mend
There can be few more important duties within the realms of housewifery than that of mending. Many housewives regulate their week to include, as well as Monday for washing, Friday for baking et cetera, a day or at least an evening for those activities comprised in 'make do and mend'. Largely, her efforts will be concentrated upon clothes - her husband's, her children's and her own - but other light work may be undertaken, such as mending a worn or torn rug, ditto cushion or curtain.
Whether some of the heavier kinds of making and mending, perhaps involving the actual fabric of the house, devolve upon the husband, will depend to an extent on his capabilities in those fields. He may maintain that his skills lie in banking or the law, bringing home the family bacon as it were, and so he should not be expected to act also as carpenter or plumber, when experts in those trades, who come for advice to his bank or solicitor's practice, can be employed at modest cost.
The housewife, of course, does not have such choices for she must possess all the skills necessary for her role.
Chapter Three - The Housewife Yourself
Many women, and not only the younger ones, fail to see the connection between health and beauty, and so resort to artificial measures aimed at improving beauty while ignoring the simple rules of health.
The chief determinants of good health are diet and exercise. At least some of the latter should be taken in daylight outdoors; a brisk fifteen-minute walk might be considered the minimum for each day. Those women able to play outdoor games will benefit from muscular development, also the encouragement of perspiration, which is Nature's way of releasing noxious substances from the body. To make the most of this aid to beauty, it is well on returning home to rub or have rubbed the whole person with a massage glove and then to take a warm bath.
For those who do not take part in the fierce exercise of organised games, a habit should be cultivated of a ten-minute routine of bending and stretching, affecting all parts of the body, preferably immediately on rising in the morning. Another useful exercise is to walk around the room, and up and down the stairs, with a good sized book balanced on the head. The benefits of this in grace of carriage can be seen when visiting those countries where it is customary for the women to carry weighty burdens on their heads.
As to diet, variety and moderation are the key notions. It is as big a mistake to restrict diet to a few foods as it is to eat too much of any. Common sense will tell that a meal of meat-and-potato pie followed by chocolate cake is liable to give the digestive system a difficult task, while a cheese salad followed by fresh fruit will better enable the system to keep the blood healthy and so the complexion lovely to behold. This is not to say that pies and cakes must never appear on the table, rather that they should not form the great substance of the diet, but neither should one attempt to live on cabbage and apples alone.
The Complexion and Facial Beauty
One does not need the intelligence of Professor Einstein to see that certain basic precautions will go a long way towards ensuring a fine complexion. For instance, it would be a foolish woman who went motoring without a heavy veil and/or goggles, or did the housework - not a matter of itself inimical to beauty - without a dust cap and gloves. Incidentally, should the hands become rough and red from carelessness in this connection, smear a good cream from the chemist all over the hands at night, and go to bed wearing a pair of chamois leather gloves over the hands thus annointed.
Constant care of the teeth and hair should need no instruction, yet many women neglect their teeth and hate to visit the dentist, and many also seem to believe that brilliantine and other 'preparations' are an adequate substitute for washing and brushing.
A further matter often neglected is the regular cleansing of the nasal passage. This should be done daily with a warm solution of an antiseptic glycerine, using a proprietary douche or by improvising one's own method through use of the hand, cupped.
As to regular cleansing of the whole person, attention must be paid to that which is invisible. Science now tells us of our skin constantly renewing itself and sloughing off the old in tiny particles. These dead cells meld with various salty and fatty substances secreted by the pores and which, left to dry on the body, may produce a disagreeable odour.
Clearly, a proper hot bath with soap and a good loofah is a prime necessity, and once a week at the least. The quality of the soap here is most important, as too much bathing with inferior soap can lead to rashes and other unpleasantness.
The whole skin can be softened by the simple addition of a small muslin bag of oatmeal or bran to the bath water. If the facial skin is oily and prone to unfortunate blemishes, a simple remedy lies in the pantry: apples. Stew some whole fruit, put through a sieve, and massage the pulp into the skin. Leave for a few minutes before washing off.
A fresher and more youthful look can be given to the face by the use of egg white. Soak pieces of muslin gauze in fresh egg white and apply to the face. This is best done while lying down, so that the gauze will stay in place until it dries sufficiently to adhere. When dry, leave in position for ten minutes or so before moistening with water to remove.
Another treatment with the same objective uses lettuce leaves. Wilt some in a little boiling water - the outside leaves will do perfectly well - and drain well. When cool, apply to the face with a light patting motion and allow to do their work for twenty minutes or so.
Many women worry, often unnecessarily, about wrinkles and seek a cure. There can be no reversal of the ageing process but it can certainly be slowed and even halted temporarily by use of a really good wrinkle cream. Proprietary creams often make promises that cannot be kept, and so it can be a good plan to make your own cream, thus.
In a double boiler, melt 1 oz each of lanolin and cocoanut oil, 2 oz oil of almond, with half an ounce each of spermaceti and white wax. When all is combined, decant into a warm bowl and add a scant teaspoonful of Friar's Balsam and 1 oz orange-flower water. Whisk all together to make your cream, which will keep well in small jars. In use, be brisk and thorough when massaging the cream into the skin, which will help the skin absorb the goodness of the cream and so reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Now we come to the many sided question of cosmetics, or make-up. The true health and beauty proponent will say that no such aids are required if good health is maintained. Others might argue that a little artifice by candlelight can be advantageous or even necessary. Everyone can agree that the stark, dark slash of red across the mouth, where natural lips should be, is an abomination, while the use of theatrical black paints on the eyelashes and brows can only cause whispered accusations of moral turpitude behind the back of the wearer.
However, it must be recognised that pale eyelashes and unchecked brows can mar the beauty of a face. These should be trained and darkened by nightly application of castor oil, applied with a small brush as one might use for watercolour painting.
Regardless of the amount, if any, of make-up employed, the question of powder has only one answer. It must be the finest rice powder, sifted through silk cloth, subtly hued to enhance rather than colour the skin. Many women in the Far East, whence comes the powder, believe it to have a certain protective virtue against ageing.
If the occasion arises when a woman might wish to wear an off-the-shoulder dress but might worry about the whiteness of her shoulders and arms, there is a simple procedure to follow. Take a ripe tomato, cut it in half, and rub the skin with the cut side, massaging the juice well in. Let the juice dry on the skin, then wash off and apply cold cream. This can be done several times a day.
Regarding scent, if one has the slightest idea about the origins of the ingredients used by perfumery houses, and the complex and lengthy natures of the processes necessary to extract and refine same, one can never believe that a good scent could be had for little money. Even so, there is no justification for some of the prices charged by these same perfumers who believe that a mystical name and an exotically designed scent bottle will tempt the lady into a rash purchase.
The golden rule with scent is to find one that suits, stick with it, and use lightly. Too much scent, especially of a cheaper sort, can only presage social disaster.
Chapter Four - Laundry
Bleaches Linen, Bleaches Lace, Takes out Stains and leaves no trace.
Makes the Pots and Pans like new, Cleans the Chairs and Tables too.
Good for Cottager and Queen, Makes the whole world sweet and clean.
The first essentials have always been a good, sound dolly tub, dolly peg or posser, and a fully functioning copper. Modern housewives are, to some extent, replacing these with so-called 'labour saving' devices, although it is debatable whether or not labour can be saved while best quality of laundry remains. Boiling water on the stove is more laborious than filling a copper and lighting a fire beneath, and those homes that have one are fortunate indeed. Whether your dolly tub is of wood with metal hoops, or the modern zinc equivalent, one modern development, the metal (usually copper) perforated bell end on the dolly peg/posser, replacing the old wooden contrivance, is surely an improvement.
Washing machines generally imitate the plunging, swirling and stirring action of the posser and, by use of levers and other mechanical connections, can be believed to reduce the amount of hard work in washing and rinsing. The mangle remains as the only suitable way of removing excess water at the end of the process. Attempts have been made to power the mangle with an electric motor but results have not been entirely satisfactory.
For some housewives, the ordinary whitening qualities of soap and water, coupled with fresh-air drying (ideally in a sea breeze) are insufficient, and an extra process must be employed to secure an ideal whiteness. The chemicals and methods used by commercial bleachers are too difficult and, indeed, dangerous for home use, but some of the advantages of the professional trade may be gained by using a proprietary bleaching powder or bleaching soap and following the instructions given, or a ready-made liquid bleach.
Generally, only cottons and linens should be bleached as the treatment may be too harsh for other fabrics. The exception is a procedure using peroxide of hydrogen that is safe to use on cottons, linens, woollens and even silks.
The best place to do this is in the scullery sink but any large earthenware vessel will do. Make a solution of ten parts water to one part peroxide of hydrogen as it comes from the bottle, adding a few drops of ammonia. There should be sufficient solution to cover entirely the batch of newly washed clothes being bleached. After ensuring that all are completely immersed, place a board or other cover over the sink to exclude light.
Half an hour will be enough for the soaking, after which the clothes should be gently squeezed to remove most of the liquid, but not wrung out or put through the mangle. Hang the clothes in a cool, draughty place. As the clothes dry, so works the bleaching, but it will not be as effective if the air is warm.
Once the clothes are dry, wash them again as usual in soap and water, to remove all traces of the chemical.
Whitening with Blue
As part of the usual wash, a proprietary 'blue' is added to the rinsing water, which has the effect of removing any yellowish tinge which cottons and linens tend to acquire in boiling. The blue is a dried tablet, often sold inside a special bag, made from the pigment of ultramarine ground together with bicarbonate of soda, usually with glucose as the glue.
A dampened blue bag has acquired a reputation as a remedy for wasp stings, but it is really only the sodium bicarbonate, an alkaline substance, that counteracts the acid of the sting.
The first essential is to transfer the feathers from the pillows to a much larger bag, so that they will clean more easily, which you can make yourself from any old cotton sheeting. Undo part of the stitching of the pillow tick, empty the feathers into the larger case and sew up same. Raise a good lather in a hot tub with best soap and a little ammonia; thoroughly wash and massage your feather bag in this, then rinse in warm water and hang on the line as is. While drying, wash the pillow tick in the usual way and, from time to time, give the feathers in the bag a good shake so they do not stick together.
When the pillow tick is dry, ironed and aired, before refilling, turn inside out and rub dry household soap over the fabric, which will stop feathers from finding their way out.
If husbands or grown sons prefer their collars and cuffs to be extra stiff, ordinary starch needs to be ameliorated thus: to a tablespoonful of starch add a very little turpentine and mix to a paste with water, then dilute further with a cupful of water. Dissolve a scant teaspoonful of borax in a little hot water and stir into the mixture. When starching, rub the mixture well in. Before ironing, rub the dry collars, cuffs etc with a damp cloth to remove excess.
Rough treatment is of course anathema to silk stockings, so they must not be rubbed or wrung when being washed. Gentle but thorough squeezing is required, in warm, soapy water and again in the rinsing, and again to take out as much water was possible before drying out of the sun.
Of course there are many articles of clothing too delicate or in some other way unsuitable for the rigours of normal laundry, and effective methods must be employed to clean these. Furs can be kept in good condition by wiping frequently with a damp cloth but when cleaning becomes necessary, brushing in and brushing out hot bran will do the trick. White fur can be cleaned with cornflour, lightly rubbed in to a perfectly dry garment, then brushed out with a soft brush. When doing this, the housewife will remember to tie up her hair with a scarf or handkerchief and to conduct the process out of doors.
Silks, satins, net and lace can be cleaned with petrol. Simply use the fluid gently as you would soap and water, with light rubbing and brushing as required, and leave to dry in the breeze after a mild squeezing.
Coats and skirts can be spread out on a table and freely sprinkled with salt. With a piece of linen rolled up to make a handy pad, spread the salt to an even covering and rub it in, being careful not to roughen up the surface of the cloth. Brush out all the salt and you will find it has taken the dirt with it.
The shape of things to come? Here is the latest type of washing machine from America, with electrical motors that power the mangle and a paddle in the tub. Housewives in Great Britain can look forward to the day when such machines are available in this country, and affordable on the household budget.
Chapter Five - The Home
Chapter Six - Behind the Scenes
...including the most useful hints and tips for the happy housewife
It is becoming more usual now, where there are children, to serve the festive meal at some time during the day rather than in the evening, so that the entire family can partake. An additional benefit is that it allows the servants more time to themselves and to have an evening off duty.
The bill of fare is generally more modest than was once the case. A boar's head would now cause surprise, if not consternation, and few families will have baron of beef, turkey and goose together but rather one or the other.
A normal dinner might be a clear soup, a fish course of some kind, a roast turkey with the usual accompaniments and several vegetable dishes, a ceremonial pudding with lighted brandy, and a light dessert or sweetmeats. The fish course may be omitted and there is no need for a savoury course at the end.
A well furnished hamper, ordered from one of the great stores, can be a boon in the days following Christmas, when the housewife and her helpers may feel in need of a little rest from their labours.
If using bare candles, do not skimp on the quality of the holders. There is always the risk of fire but candles not properly secured to the tree are a quite unnecessary danger. Some families prefer to use the individual glass lanterns, each holding a candle, and some even go so far as having a fully electrified arrangement of coloured bulbs, but we cannot agree that the picture thus afforded is quite the thing. There can be nothing more charming, for adults and children alike, than to light up the tree candles, put out all other lights in the house, and bring in the children to see something that will stay in their minds' eyes for ever.
Gaily coloured paper chains and other bright decorations are not usual in the dining room, which should be decorated only with holly and mistletoe, and so the table decorations may assume extra importance. Each guest will hope for a cracker, naturally, and perhaps a personal sprig of mistletoe, and there should be an impressive centrepiece as a topic for discussion between courses.
It is not the best season for cut flowers but the hostess may have planned ahead and had orchids in pots ready or, if there is a clever artist in the family, a fanciful Christmas tableau may be constructed, with candles and artificial snow.
Several Christmas customs have become much reduced through our experience of war; Christmas cards, for example, are not sent in the numbers they were, and presents tend to be restricted to the children and close relatives, although it would be ill considered to avoid those small gratuities given to postmen, dustmen and grocer's boy. Of course, the children's presents become more lavish and splendid by the year, as the modern child is no longer content with the simple toys and games that pleased his parents and grandparents.
Christmas (or Birthday) Party Games
Baste the Bear
To be played indoors or out by ten or more children. One child is elected Bear, who sits on a stool and selects one other to be Keeper. They each hold an end of a piece of rope, perhaps two feet long, and the Keeper walks around to mark an invisible circle around the Bear, outside of which the other players take station.
When the Keeper says 'My Bear is free,' the game begins and the other players try to hit or tag the Bear while the Keeper runs around trying to prevent them doing so. At the same time, the Keeper tries to hit or tag one of the other players.
A player thus tagged takes the place of the Bear; the Bear becomes Keeper; the Keeper joins the others in the circle.
Suitable for boys, in which a challenge system operates as per conkers. A first pair are drawn by lot, and sit facing each other on the floor, knees up. Each embraces his knees with his arms, clasping his hands, and the referee threads a stick under the knee bends and across the inner elbows, so that the combatants cannot get up. The two then 'wrestle'; when one is rolled over, he is defeated and another challenger takes his place.
This game is not suitable for young children, but a combination of adults and older children often has hilarious results. Each player has a sheet of paper on which to write an adjective applicable to a woman. That word is folded over and the paper passed one along, whereupon each writes the name of a woman, folds over, and passes. The following stages are a verb, an adjective for a man, a man's name, a place, she said to him, he said to her, and the consequence was. An example might be:
Ravishing Ethel Murgatroyd taught Latin to boring Prince Rupert on the Isle of Man. She said to him "How much are your cod fillets?" He said to her "Do you come here often?" And the consequence was the invention of the horseless carriage.
When we say 'accident' we sometimes mean an occurrence that could not have been forseen and so not prevented, an act of God as it were, but more often we mean a matter in which there is fault somewhere, due to negligence. Thus a motor-car may knock a man down and injure him in what we term an accident, although it very likely could have been prevented by the driver, or the man knocked down, or the person responsible for maintaining the vehicle.
Liability here may be assigned by evidence, whereas some types of liability are set out in law. So, for instance, a householder must compensate a servant who suffers injury during and because of normal duties. Should the servant cause injury to another through negligence, the householder also is responsible, as he is for accidents caused by his wife's negligence. For example, the servant might be cleaning an upstairs window and in so doing drop water or, indeed, a bucket, on a passer-by below. The wife might do something similar while arranging flowers in a vase.
Insurance is available against such accidents and their consequences. It is not necessary to insure against accidents caused by the negligence of a child, unless said child is in the employ of the parent.
Accounts books ruled with columns and lines are easily obtainable from stationers, and may be used to make estimates of expenditure at the start of each year, as well as to keep records of actual household expenses.
These will generally fall into simple categories:
food - thus butcher, fishmonger, poulterer, grocer, greengrocer, dairyman
regular non-food - laundry, chemist, stationery, postage, periodicals
overheads - wages for servants and extra help, heating, lighting
occasional non-food - social, charity, household hardware, repairs, plants/seeds
sundries - anything else
Larger outgoings such as mortgage, rent, rates and so on are the province of the householder and so should not be included under the wife's everyday expenses. Bills from tradesmen etc, regarding those matters in the housewife's domain, should be checked immediately upon receipt and any errors notified, in person or in writing. Delay in so doing invites the assumption that the bill is correct and payment will be made in due course, which assumption may lead to unfortunate disagreements. Contrary to some wishful thinking, mistakes in a bill do not entitle the receiver to ignore it altogether; the accurate portion thereof will have to be paid.
The objective of good accounting clearly is to ensure that thrift triumphs over profligacy, but also to enable the housewife to see, if her spending is excessive, which items are the cause of the trouble.
Every household will have occasion to need a means of drawing together the edges of a cut or wound, or of affixing bandages. Various makes of Mead's plaster are obtainable at the chemist, which is of gauze and rubber with a patent adhesive and can be had in different widths and lengths. It is convenient in use as it is easily cut with scissors and does not need to be warmed up, as does the conventional home-made type, being strips of linen anointed with an adhesive composed of hard soap, lead oxide and resin melted and mixed.
To make an adhesive for general household use, take 4 oz of plain flour, ¼ oz alum and 1 pint of water. Stir briskly together and boil for a minute or two until thick. This paste will keep better if a few drops of carbolic acid and/or oil of cloves are added.
With some illnesses and conditions, such as pregnancy, hysteria and insanity, appetite can assume perverse characteristics, driving the individual towards idiosynchratic and possibly unhealthy foods. Indeed, the modern housewife suffering from no such circumstance may find it hard to resist the commercial clamour for her to embark upon a 'diet' that claims to perform all manner of miracles.
General loss of appetite, however, can be a symptom of a malady that requires the attention of the medical profession. Otherwise, a simple remedy may be tried, thus:
Tincture of Columba root - quarter ounce
Tincture of Cardamom - a few drops
Gin or Vodka - a dessertspoon
Sarsaparilla or Root Beer - to make up to half a pint.
This will make six doses, which may be taken a short while before meals.
Fortunately for us, the Good Lord has allowed freedom from this affliction to most women; if we do suffer hair loss, it is generally in old age and we can hide any embarrassment with a hat or wig. A gentleman, however, may find himself losing hair from a quite early age and, despite the assurances of his wife, mother or daughter, will insist that the process can be halted or, even, reversed.
Needless to say, the only remedies existing are those suggested and invented by men, for example:
a quarter pound of green soap dissolved in a similar quantity of methylated spirits, to which is added a dessertspoonful of oil of lavender, makes a shampoo that may be massaged into wet hair (that which remains) and the scalp generally. The lather should be left for a minute or two before rinsing.
Equally effective may be the solution proposed by the eminent surgeon, the late Sir Erasmus Wilson, which is not a shampoo but simply a concoction to be rubbed daily or twice daily into the scalp, thus:
equal quantities of oil of lemons, oil of sesame seeds, ammonia in strong solution, and chloroform, plus a quantity of oil of rosemary equal to all those together.
A further adversity to be suffered solely by gentlemen is barber's rash, which is an infection of the hair roots in moustaches and beards, usually ascribed to poor sanitation at the barber's shop. Whatever the cause, the remedy is simple and can be performed by the housewife on her husband or, indeed, mature son. Firstly, the hair in question must be cut as short as can be with scissors. Any loose hairs should be pulled out.
After a thorough washing with an antiseptic solution, a cream should be applied; any soothing, antiseptic ointment will do, although you can make your own with a little ammoniated mercury mixed with lard. When shaving becomes bearable again, razor blades must be sterilized in boiling water after use, and brushes soaked in a disinfectant.
One Hundred Recipes
Everyone in the family loves chocolate biscuits and to have them warm from the oven at tea-time is surely a treat beyond compare. To make, first gently warm 4 oz of grated, plain chocolate in an eggcupfull of water until dissolved. Meanwhile, cream 4 oz of margarine or butter/margarine mix with 6 oz sugar, preferably caster. Stir in two beaten eggs and the dissolved chocolate, and add 12 oz of plain flour, sieved. Stir all together with a light hand to make a dough, which can be rolled out and cut into rounds. These will require no more than 15 minutes in a medium oven.
We are all friends now in a peaceful Europe, and we must welcome visitors from abroad including their recipes. Rub 4 oz butter into 4 teacupfuls flour; add 4 oz sugar, 2 teaspoonfuls baking powder and a pinch of salt. Beat together 2 eggs with 4 tablespoonfuls of milk and mix well with the flour etc but do not knead.
Flead is little known in our modern day but it can be had on request from the butcher. It is the porcine equivalent of suet, which is to say the fat around the kidneys of a pig rather than those of a sheep. It can be rendered into lard but is better used fresh in the making of pie crust or cakes. It should be sliced up very small before mixing with twice its own weight of flour and a little salt, and thoroughly kneaded. It may be necessary to add water to bind the dough, and a little butter added will take your pastry into the luxury class. Rolled to a half inch thickness, cut into rounds and baked in a hot oven, makes Kentish flead cakes; otherwise, use as normal for a pie crust.
Having gone to the trouble of making a clear soup, with all the attendant skimming and straining, it is surely worthwhile taking one further step in order to serve a really special dish by adding savoury custard shapes. To make the custard, allow one tablespoonful of hot milk to one well seasoned, beaten egg and a little Tabasco. Stir together and place in a double boiler or small bowl stood in a pan of boiling water. The custard should set in about a quarter of an hour. Allow to cool, turn out, and cut into fancy shapes that can be put into each person's soup bowl or all in the tureen.
Mock Turtle Soup
The making of real turtle soup hardly occurs in ordinary households nowadays, partly because the process is most laborious and complicated, and partly because of the difficulty in obtaining a fresh turtle of a good size, one hundredweight or more. It needs to be this big because only then does the green fat, so greatly esteemed as the vital component of this king of soups, occur in sufficient quantities.
Preserved turtle is more easily found but cannot compare with the fresh article, when all parts except the intestines, but including the shell, the head and the fins, contribute to this, the ultimate soup. Another drawback for the ordinary household is the considerable amount of soup resulting, necessarily from so large an animal.
Most housewives therefore resort to that version favoured by Mr Lewis Carroll, the Mock Turtle Soup. For this you need to visit the butcher for half a calf's head and a piece of veal knuckle, bone in, say about two pounds. In a large stewpan, cover the head with water, bring to the boil, then discard the water. Add the knuckle, two rashers of bacon chopped, and vegetables thus: carrots, turnips, celery, leeks, onions, cover well with water (several pints) and place on the fire.
This needs to cook for several hours, topping up the stock as necessary. When the meat is tender, take the head and knuckle from the pan; when sufficiently cool, strip the meat from the bones and dice finely, reserving the tongue for another time. The stock must be strained and put to the fire again, with any scum spooned off. If a darker colour is desired, a little gravy browning may be added.
Finally, add a glass of sherry or more, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. Place a suitable quantity of the diced meat in a tureen and pour over the soup.
On some mornings, a housewife may find her husband not in the best of spirits, perhaps after a dinner at his club or a lodge meeting. While sympathy may not be in plentiful supply, an easily concocted remedy is often much appreciated. To make a Prairie Oyster, mix together in a small tumbler a dessertspoonful each of brandy and Yorkshire Relish, or Worcestershire Sauce, a teaspoonful each of vinegar (any sort) and tomato ketchup, and a good pinch of Cayenne pepper. Into this drop a whole egg yolk. This should be taken 'in one'. The brandy, functioning as a hair of the dog that bit him, may be omitted.
It is sometimes amusing at a dinner party to refer to those parties we had as children, featuring jelly and custard, by serving a more adult version of that much loved dish. Into a saucepan put the rind and juice of one lemon, a dessertspoon of redcurrant jelly, 12 oz white sugar, a wineglass of brandy, a bottle of claret, and 1 oz gelatine. Warm on a slow fire until the gelatine is melted, than bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Do not overboil or all the alcohol will be driven off. Strain into a mould and leave in a cool place until set.
For a simple lunch requiring little preparation, cut two large carrots into julienne strips and simmer in salted water for one hour. Add 4 oz spaghetti, broken into pieces and cook for another 30 minutes. Tip all into a colander and, while draining, heat 2 oz dripping over a hot fire. Stir spaghetti and carrots quickly into the dripping and serve immediately with a little grated cheese.
This is an excellent way for the thrifty housewife to use up left-over vegetables. First, fry some sliced onion and sliced apple in a little dripping, then add a cupful of milk. Make a paste of some curry powder (to taste), a good teaspoonful of flour and a little extra milk, add to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring well. Add your left-over vegetables cut into suitably sized pieces, heat all through, and serve sprinkled with desiccated cocoanut, in the centre of a ring of boiled rice.
The basic curry method is simple: fry cubes of raw meat or joints of chicken in good dripping, adding sliced onion and equal quantities of flour and curry powder (a tablespoonful of each would be a fair quantity for a family meal). Stir about for a few minutes, add stock; make cocoanut milk by soaking desiccated cocoanut in boiling water and add that. Cook the whole until the meat is tender and the sauce somewhat reduced, season to taste and to finish add lemon juice and redcurrant jelly, or some cooked rhubarb or gooseberries. Serve with Patna rice.
Curry Cakes for Breakfast
Mince or chop finely some left-over curry meat and mix with the sauce and left-over rice. If necessary to make into cakes, bind the mixture with a beaten egg. Fry the cakes to a golden brown; be careful not to over-cook or the rice component will go hard.
If you have left-over curry but no rice, cut some slices of bread about 2 inches thick and cut holes in the centre of each with a biscuit cutter. Beat an egg with a little milk and salt, and dip the slices in this. Fry on one side; turn over, add spoonfuls of curry into the holes, fry a little more and serve hot.
American Fruit Salad
This dish can look as well as taste good, so it is worth using a glass salad bowl for full effect. Line same with some bright cos lettuce leaves; place a layer of pineapple slices (fresh or tinned) in the bottom of the bowl, then add a 'wall' of orange slices around. Similarly, place banana slices to make another vertical layer; heap strawberries in the middle. To make the dressing, beat together two eggcupfuls of olive oil with one eggcupful each of vinegar, lemon juice and caster sugar, plus a teaspoonful of salt and half of that of white pepper. Dress the salad, shake more sugar over, and serve.
This dressing is little known outside of restaurants and chefs' kitchens, due to the perceived difficulty in making it. There is no need for concern when following this method. Mix together an eggcupful of olive oil and the same of sugar with a tablespoonful of made mustard and the same of salt. Beat six egg yolks and add to the mixture, with half a pint of vinegar and a pint of milk.
In a double boiler, or a basin stood in a large saucepan of boiling water, stir the sauce until it thickens, that is, until the egg yolks set the rest together. Serve cold.
Valentine's Day Salad
Take a large, cooked beetroot and slice thinly; trim the slices to heart shapes and allow to dry. Line the bottom and sides of a mould with the slices, and fill in with a mixture of vegetables and meat of your choosing that has been cooked up with stock and gelatine, so that it will set.
The argument will never be resolved as to which is better, a muffin straight from the oven or a muffin toasted. Regardless of that, any muffin should be split, with a knob of butter to each half, and the family may appreciate a subtle change from the ordinary muffin to this one.
Sift together 4 oz each of wholemeal and white flours with three teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Beat one egg with a half pint of milk, stir in half a teaspoonful of salt and one tablespoonful of caster sugar, add the flour mix and blend thoroughly. Stir in two tablespoonfuls of melted butter. This quantity should make 12 muffins. Butter your muffin tins and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until done.
Many housewives are reluctant to serve a pig's or calf's head whole, but are equally reluctant to discard such a good source of meat and nourishment. Brawning is the answer, being a way of cooking and serving the head meat in jelly. Another name for this dish is 'head cheese'.
Place the well-washed head in a pan large enough to accommodate it easily, and cover with water. Bring slowly to the boil, skim off all froth and scum that will rise to the surface, than add the following, cut up small where necessary: two carrots, two sticks of celery, one leek, sprigs of two or three different herbs, a dozen peppercorns, a few cloves, a teaspoon of salt.
Simmer all until the meat is tender. Take out the head, take the good meat therefrom and set aside. Place the bones and everything else remaining into another pan, and strain over the liquor. Boil hard for half an hour or so, then strain again into a bowl.
Meanwhile, cut up the meat into small pieces and mix with some similarly chopped cooked ham. When the liquor is cool, skim off the fat and reserve it. Place the meat in a mould and fill to the top with the liquor which, when cold, should set into a firm jelly allowing the whole to be turned out and served with salad garnish.
To be certain of a good jelly, warm the liquor after skimming the fat and dissolve a leaf or two of gelatine therein.
For an hors d'oeuvre to a dinner, or as a light lunch or supper, small moulds of dainty foodstuffs in aspic jelly are excellent. Larger items can be made with jelly moulds containing, for instance, cooked chicken pieces. Aspic is often made by boiling calves' feet but it can be troublesome to clarify, and so a simpler method may be preferred.
Place in a pan all together a quarter pint of dry or medium sherry, the same of wine vinegar or cider vinegar, half a pint of water, a tablespoonful of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, add a quantity of chopped vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot, and boil for ten more minutes. Strain the liquid through muslin. If not sufficiently clear, stir in an egg white, beaten, and strain again. To the resulting warm 'consomme' add two and a half ounces of French gelatine and dissolve.
Into small moulds - ramekin dishes will suffice - place chopped egg, prawns, capers, chopped ham or other food as desired, pour over the aspic and allow to set.
Bird's Nest Pudding (serves four)
Grease a deep, circular pie-dish with butter and place in it four apples, peeled and cored, their cavities filled with muscovado or other brown sugar. To a pint of water add two ounces of sago, a level tablespoon of white sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and bring to the boil. As it thickens, pour the sago mixture over the apples. Bake the whole in a moderate oven for an hour.
This wholesome pudding, so popular with children, is easily made. Take a pint of milk and, with a little of it, make a thin creamy paste of two heaped tablespoons of cornflour. Bring the rest of the milk to a simmering boil while adding two tablespoons of white sugar, a few drops of vanilla or almond essence and, if desired, a few drops of cochineal. Slowly add the cornflour paste, stirring the while, and cook for a minute or two until all is well thickened. A good tablespoon of cocoa may be substituted for the other flavourings.
Pour the mixture into a mould that has been rinsed around with water, and leave to set in a cool place. Turn out and serve with fruit, grated chocolate, etc.
Amber Apple Pudding
For children, few dishes can equal this in goodness and savour. Take the cores from a pound of sharp apples and put the flesh through a mincer. Add to that four handfuls of stale bread crumbs, the grated peel of a lemon, 2 oz plain flour, 2 oz castor sugar, a few grates of nutmeg, a good pinch of salt, and 4 oz of suet finely chopped (or for convenience use a prepared suet such as Atora). Beat two eggs and stir into the mixture. Add more breadcrumbs if the result seems too runny.
Grease a pint basin with butter, put the mixture therein, cover tightly with greaseproof paper and steam for three hours. Serve with custard.
Always check with your butcher that a cow heel has already been boiled to extract the neat's foot oil. To serve fried, first boil the heel an hour or two and, while still warm, separate the meat from the rest. Cut into neat pieces, to be dipped in beaten egg and breadcrumbs before frying quickly in smoking hot fat. A sharp tomato sauce goes well with this dish.
A good soup can also be made, by adding small handfuls of chopped onion and other vegetables to the heel stock, with salt, and whatever shreds of meat can be spared. Add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
Gut, clean and dehead your fish, and open it flat. Rub all over with salt and hang it in the pantry or other cool, dry place for a day and a night. Make a mixture of two parts salt with one part each of saltpetre and brown sugar, immerse the fish in it and rub in. After another day and night, drain and dry the fish, whereupon it will keep reasonably well. Use as you would smoked cod.
The technical term for cods' air bladders is 'sounds'. These are usually sold from salt and so need soaking and rinsing before use. Simmer them in milk diluted half and half with water for half an hour or so; discard the cooking liquid and serve the sounds with a parsley sauce poured over.
This is an excellent way to use up left-over meat. First, thicken some stock with flour and butter - a gill if you have a half pound of meat, a half pint if you have a pound - season, add a goodly dash of Worcester sauce or Yorkshire relish and a spot of mustard, and mix in your meat. Add sufficient breadcrumbs to make a stiff 'dough'. When cold, divide into balls, flatten, and shape into cutlets. For authenticity, a short length of cooked macaroni can be fitted to look like a bone. Coat the cutlets in egg and breadcrumbs and fry. Serve with mashed potato and peas.
Œufs au Cerveau de Veau
For a light lunch, make a quantity of parsley sauce in the usual way, then add a set of calf's brains, boiled and chopped small. Fry a slice of bread and an egg per person; serve with the egg on the bread and the hot sauce poured over.
Conger Eel in its Own Sauce
Although this fish may be seen on the slab all year round, it is best for eating in the Autumn. Cover with salted water and stew for half an hour. Strain off the liquor into a saucepan, add a similar quantity of milk, an onion cut small and a dessertspoonful of chopped parsley. Simmer for a few minutes, thicken with butter and flour, and pour over the fish to serve.
Calf's Foot Jelly
Wherever aspic is required, calf's foot jelly is the old fashioned, better but more laborious replacement, which can be either sweet or savoury. The basic method is to simmer two or three feet in plenty of water for several hours, perhaps as many as six; strained and with certain ingredients added, this liquor will make a fine jelly.
First, to clean the feet thoroughly, boil them in some water until the scum rises, strain, and rinse them in cold water. Place the feet in a large pan with half a gallon or more of water, bring to the boil and simmer, skimming off any scum that rises. When the liquor is reduced by at least half, strain, allow to stand, and take off the fat. In a cool place, the liquor will become jelly, when the last vestiges of fat can be scraped off.
Boil the jelly up again and add wine, lemon juice and spices. A dry sherry and a few cloves will make the basis of a savoury jelly; sweet wine or sherry, sugar and cinnamon should be used for a dessert jelly. If it is necessary for the jelly to be clear, boiling up with beaten egg whites should do the trick, followed by repeated straining through fine muslin.
Peel, core and slice half a dozen dessert apples, plus a couple more if small, and cook to a pulp with a little water, and sugar if necessary. Peel and core another eight apples and bake whole in a slow oven, sufficient to cook but also to keep their shape. When cool, fill the centres with strawberry or raspberry jam and arrange on an entree dish in the shape of a hedgehog. Use the apple pulp to finish the shape and fill in. Beat an egg white stiff, blend with two cupsful of icing sugar, and smooth this 'plaster' over the hedgehog. For spines, take 2 oz of flaked almonds and stick them into the plaster. Give your hedgehog a few minutes in a hot oven to brown the icing 'skin' and the spines. Serve warm or cold.