WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clinomania

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clinomania

I’m still waylaid by the croup, so I thought a visit to Grandiloquent Word of the Day would be diverting.

I was not disappointed.

Their currently featured word fit my situation perfectly. When you’re too sick and tired for Netflix, you really are tired. How pitiful.

Check out Grandiloquent while I take another swig of Elderberry Syrup. It’s not half-bad.

Grandiloquent Word of the Day ~ Clinomania.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lushey

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lushey

I hope everyone had a Happy Twelfth Night!

It’s a holiday that goes largely unnoticed in the United States, so in case you missed it, consider reading up on it and possibly practicing it a few days late. That way, you’ll be ready for it next year! And you won’t fall into the wassail bowl like this week’s word.

Twelfth Night by Isaac Cruikshank, 1807, British Museum.

Lushey

Drunk. Example: The rolling kiddeys hud a spree, and got bloody lushey ~ the dashing lads went on a party of pleasure, and got very drunk.

First came the ancient Roman holiday Saturnalia, the December celebration of the god Saturn, and making of all things debauched and merry. As little gods were gradually swapped out for one single God, the old customs centered around the winter solstice morphed into traditions and customs of a Christian nature, that of the birth of the single Savior. The ‘Birthday of the Unconquered Sun‘ became the Birthday of Christ by the Medieval era.

Twelfth Night festivities resulted in response to the 40 days of Advent the preceded Christmas. And what better way is there to break a fast than with tons of food, drink, and a bit of frivolous mayhem? The Advent fast would break on Christmas day; partying continued for twelve days and ended with a Twelfth Night feast the evening before January 6th, also known as Ephiphany.

True devotees of Twelfth Night fun would appoint a Lord of Misrule. It was his job to organize all the feasting and fun. Selection of the Lord was also part of the entertainment and entirely up to chance: a bean was baked inside a cake. Receive the slice with the bean and be crowned Lord of Misrule, you lucky devil. The Tudors even included a pea in their cakes, to be crowned Queen of the Pea. I’m not sure of her honors beyond that dubious title.

Traditional Porter Cake for Twelfth Night, made with Porter Ale, courtesy Historical Foods.

By the Regency era, beans and peas were replaced by silver trinkets and charms, and Twelfth Night traditions became purely secular in practice. The Victorians gilded the lily by wrapping their cakes in crowns.

I knew about the infamous Twelfth Night Cake, but not so much about the drinking. It’s time for recipes! And for authenticity’s sake, they’re metric!

Buttered Beere

Forget whatever Harry Potter drank. This here be Tudor buttered beere. The kind that puts hair on your codpiece. (That sounded better in my head.)

Tudor Butterbeer Recipe
(‘Beer’ means what today in the UK is called a ‘real ale.’ It is not a lager, or German-styled beer.)

Recipe Ingredients:
1500 ml (3 bottles) of good quality British ‘real ale’
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
200g demerara (brown) sugar (adjust to taste)
5 egg yolks (yolks only are needed)
120g unsalted butter (diced)

For The Chilled or Warm Milk Version:
1500 ml of chilled or warm butter beer (as above).
1500 ml of cold or warm milk to mix with the butter beer

Authentic Recipe Method:
Pour the ale into a saucepan carefully (without exciting it too much) and stir in the ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Gently heat this mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a low heat – the frothy ale will now clear. If this butterbeer is for adults then only simmer it for a few minutes on a low heat; for any younger adults, heat the ale like this for 20 minutes at 140C, (use a cook’s or jam thermometer). This will burn off almost all of the alcohol.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. You may need to make this drink for the first time and then decide on how sweet you like it (if it comes out too sweet for you, make it again using less sugar next time). However the amount of sugar stated is from the authentic recipe, (if later blending with milk, then it is the perfect amount).

Once the spiced ale is simmering, remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, stir constantly, and return to a low heat, (you must stir constantly) until the liquid starts to thicken slightly. Be careful not to let the saucepan get too hot again or the egg yolks will scramble and the sugar will burn on the bottom before dissolving. Simmer at this low temperature for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the diced butter until it melts. Then froth the Butterbeer mixture with a hand-whisk until it looks like frothy, milky tea – you can also follow the Tudor advice and pour the Butterbeer from serving jug to serving jug to froth it up (like Mr. Carson would pour wine from decanter to decanter to aerate it and let it breathe). Allow to cool to a warm, drinkable temperature, pour into small glasses or small tankards, and serve immediately.

Authentic buttered beere of 1588, served warm in small pewter goblets. Photo courtesy Historical Foods.

Traditional English Wassail

This is not hot, mulled cider. Let’s just get that misconception tossed in the rubbish bin straight out. It is hot, and it is mulled, but it’s closer to beer than any cider you’ve ever had. To be fair, we’re talking Medieval recipes here. Apples were involved, although more as a garnish. Slices of bread even factor into the ingredient list; original wassail had toast in the bottom of the pot, with hot wassail poured over.

Perhaps the association of wassail and apples came from the tradition of wassailing the apple trees, that of pouring leftover wassail around the roots of apple trees to ensure a good harvest the following year.

<insert your own joke here about how many people you know who ‘wassail their trees’ after a night of exuberant drinking at a party>

Lambswool (Hot Wassail)

1.5 Litres (3 x 500ml bottles or about 6 1/2 cups) of traditional real ale
6 small cooking apples, cored (Bramley apples)
1 nutmeg freshly grated
1 tsp ground ginger
150g (3/4 cup) brown sugar (demerara)

Ingredients for lambswool wassail. Photo courtesy recipewise.uk.co.

Preheat the oven 120C. Prepare the apples in advance and time it so that they are ready about half an hour before you want to put them into the Lambswool to serve. Core the 6 apples fully, getting rid of the pips. Lightly grease a baking tray, then place the apples on the baking tray about 6cm apart (they will swell up a little). Bake the apples for about an hour or so.

Now, while those are baking, grate yourself some nutmeg. In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan (they make the rockin’ world go ’round – still with me? Yes, it’s late and I should be in bed, and yes, I’ve taken my bronchitis cough syrup already.) with high sides, add the sugar. Cover the sugar in a small amount of the ale and heat gently. Stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved, then add in the ground ginger and the nutmeg. Stir, and keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in all the rest of the ale. Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle heat as you deal with the apples.

Take the baked apples out of the oven to cool slightly for 10 minutes. Break open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin. Either mash them with a fork or purée them in a food processor until smooth, but not liquid. Think thick, dry applesauce. Add the apple purée into the ale – which is now called Lambswool – mixing it in with a whisk.

Let the saucepan continue to warm everything through for thirty minutes, on a very gentle heat, until ready to drink. When warmed through, use the whisk again for a couple of minutes (or use a stick blender) to briskly and vigorously froth the drink up and mix everything together. The apple and light froth will float to the surface, and depending on how much you have whisked it, the more it looks like lamb’s wool.

Ladle the hot Lambswool into heat-proof mugs or glasses, and grate over some nutmeg (to taste, because a little goes a long way). Or, pour the drink into a communal bowl (with several thick pieces of toast in the bottom if you want to be completely authentic) to pass around if you happen to be wassailing the local apple orchard.

Traditional Lambswool Wassail. Photo courtesy recipewise.uk.co.

Cheers!

 

  • Slang term from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • You can learn a lot about Twelfth Night at the more specifically-titled A History of the Twelfth Night Cake.
  • The Guildhall Library Newsletter also tells much about Twelfth Night in a post entitled merely Twelfth Night Cake.
  • Find the Porter Cake Recipe at Historical Foods. A cake from the Tudor era made with 300ml of Guinness? Yes, please!
  • Here’s the link to the Buttered Beere recipe from 1588 from ‘The Good Huswifes Handmaide.’ There’s also a link to the 1664 version from ‘The Accomplisht Cook.’
  • The Lambswool Wassail recipe came from Oakden, and my brother’s kitchen right before we bid farewell to Auld Reekie. Yum-o.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Humbug

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Humbug

It’s finally the Christmas season, and I’m finally getting into the Christmas spirit. I’m not one who subscribes to Happy HallowThanksMas, and can’t abide the appearance of Santa next to jack-o-lanterns and horns of plenty. I’m perfectly fine with those who decorate their homes early; I’d just prefer not to be assaulted by skeletons and candy canes on the same end caps at grocery stores in September each year.

It’s also that time of year when I discover words that do not mean exactly what I think they mean. Bah, humbug!

Humbug

To deceive, or impose on one by some story or device. A jocular imposition, or deception. To hum and haw; to hesitate in speech, also to delay, or be with difficulty brought to consent to any matter or business.

Humbugging, or Raising the Devil by Thomas Rowlandson, 12 March 1800, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My association with the word humbug of course comes via Ebeneezer Scrooge of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), which has absolutely no relevance to the slang definition above. Mr. Scrooge’s exclamation ‘bah, humbug!’ is itself its own slang expression that conveys “curmudgeonly displeasure,” according to dictionary.com.

What I discovered, much to my surprise, is that humbug also refers to a confection. Wikipedia dates the first record of a hard boiled sweet available in the United Kingdom in the 1820s. And as any historian will tell you, by the time something shows up in the printed record, it has likely been in existence for many years; that means many of our Regency friends likely enjoyed a humbug or two.

The sweets are striped in two different colors, and were traditionally flavored with peppermint, although many varieties are available today. They can be shaped as cylinders with rounded ends, or tetrahedrons with rounded ends (rounded ends seem to be the common denominator here). The candy made its way into pop culture, having been featured in the televised version of The Adventure of the Six Napoleons by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When Dr. Watson offers Inspector Lestrade some of the sweets in the midst of an investigation, Holmes scolds, “Watson, this is no time for humbugs!”

That one time arsenic got into the humbugs

In studying 18th and 19th century England, one finds that arsenic gets into the darnedest things: clothing, beer, and now candy. In 1858, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning involved the accidental poisoning of over 200 people – and death of twenty – when sweets were accidentally made with arsenic. It sounds suspicious, until one realizes that the high price of sugar often lead distributors to cut the amount of sugar in half or thirds, and mix in cheaper substances to sell the product to the working classes. These cheaper substances, such as limestone and plaster of Paris, were known as ‘daft’ and, while not palatable, were perfectly safe for consumption.

An operator of a sweet stall in Bradford, known to locals as “Humbug Billy,” purchased his daft from a local druggist. Due to a mistake in labeling, and the fact that the powdered daft and arsenic powder resembled each, Humbug Billy left his supplier with 12 pounds of arsenic trioxide. Even though the finished confection did look different from the usual product, the mistake still wasn’t caught during manufacturing. Forty pounds of peppermint humbugs were produced; each humbug contained enough arsenic to kill two people.

Humbug Billy began selling his sweets that night. Within a few days, the mistake was known and deaths and illnesses were rampant. All involved in the Bradford poisoning were charged with manslaughter but none were convicted; it truly was an accident in every sense of the word. The Bradford poisoning scandal did lead to new legislation to prevent future tragedies. The 1860 Adulteration of Food and Drink Bill changed the way ingredients could be used, mixed, and combined. The UK Pharmacy Act of 1868 tightened regulations on the handling and selling of poisons and medicines by druggists and pharmacists.

 

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Need some humbugs? There are no doubt sweet shops on this side of the pond that make humbugs, but here are two I can personally vouch for across the pond: Jenny’s Homemade Sweets from Scotland (also try Edinburgh Rock and Puff Candy!) and Mrs. Beightons Sweetshop in Haworth, West Yorkshire (also try their yummy Lemon Bon Bons!).
  • Read all about Dying for a Humbug, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning 1858 at Historic UK.
  • If you’re a tweeter, be watching for the date of our #livetweet of A Christmas Carol at the end of this month. @JaneAustenDance and I live tweet various Jane Austen movies throughout the year, but thought Christmas called for this beloved classic. We simply cue up the movie, pop some popcorn, and all watch and tweet our observations together. It’s great fun!
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Crowdy

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Crowdy

Oatmeal seems to be one of those love it or leave it foods.

I happen to love it, but I grew up with a father who made it so thick it would walk over from the pan to your bowl, and barely boiled it long enough to take the rawness out of the oat. That’s how I “cook” and eat it to this day. Add in some butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and occasionally chopped fresh fruits such as apples, pears, or grapes, and I’ve made myself a treat for breakfast.

Don’t even get me started on the treasure that is steel cut oats. Yum-o.

I feel sorry for people who think oatmeal should be purchased in a ‘Quick’ version, or come in tearable brown paper packages. Blech.

Crowdy

Oatmeal and water, or milk; a mess much eaten in the north.

If, after that tantalizing definition, you find yourself in need of a recipe for that historical treat, you’re in luck! According to a 1889 June entry in The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend, Volume 3, “Famous dishes are not always palatable at the first taste.”

Sounds like a warning to me.

Crowdy is further extolled as a “delightful food if the intelligent traveller…brings to it an appetite keen as the east wind–a zest that can be acquired by a twenty mile tramp over the breezy, heather-scented uplands.”

In other words, if you’re tired and hungry enough, you’ll shove anything in your mouth.

June, 1889 entry, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend, Volume 3.

I love that one historical reporter called Crowdy a “nourishing winter dish, easily made and arguably a complete breakfast in itself, especially when prepared and eaten according to the approved receipt of my late reverend friend, the Author of Metres, addressed to the Lovers of Truth.” Those italics belong to the author of the quote, by the way. One wonders if the lateness of his friend might be due to poor preparation or improper eating the Crowdy. Which might have something to do with the next reporter’s account.

Another eyewitness to the wonder of Crowdy noted “Oatmeal well-stirred with boiling water was a ‘crowdie,’ [and] I am reported to have told my granny, ‘that’s what we feed our hens’ on the first time I saw it mixed!”

One man’s complete breakfast after a tramp through the heather is just another hen’s morning in the nesting box.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Kitchen Physic

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Kitchen Physic

I married a Texan and, as such, he’s hard-pressed to consider a meal a real meal unless there is meat somewhere in the midst of it. And bread, too…but that’s another Word of the Week.

Kitchen Physic

Food, good meat roasted or boiled. A little kitchen physic will set him up; he has more need of a cook than a doctor.

I stumbled across a fun book that satisfies the home cook and Austenite in me: Cooking with Jane Austen (Feasting with Fiction). In it, author Kristin Olsen couples a quote from Emma and a related recipe. I love it.

Copyrighted material courtesy Cooking with Jane Austen by Kristin Olsen, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2005.

Copyrighted material courtesy Cooking with Jane Austen by Kristin Olsen, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2005.

And to make this recipe in the 21st Century:

Copyrighted material courtesy Cooking with Jane Austen by Kristin Olsen, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2005.

 

I’m not including a recipe for applesauce. I figure we can use the Sauce recipe excerpted from the book above, Google a modern one for ourselves, or find our favorite brand at our local grocery store. If we are so inclined to roast our own stubble goose in the near future, that is.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly

Food is the theme for September. I probably should have waited until November or December, but by that time, it will be all things harvest, and kissing boughs and sleighs. Better to get in the nibbles now.

John Bull taking a Luncheon; -or- British Cooks, cramming Old Grumble-Gizzard, with Bonne-Chere by James Gillray, 24 October 1798, National Maritime Museum.

And, of course, the political satire of James Gillray.

Belly

His eye was bigger than his belly; a saying of a person at a table, who takes more on his plate than he can eat.

Substitutes for Bread; -or- Right Honorables Saving the Loaves & Dividng the Fishes by James Gillray, 1795, British Museum. Right underneath the title, it reads ‘To the Charitable Committee, for reducing the high price of Corn, by providing Substitutes for Bread in their own Families, this representation of the Hard Shifts made by the Framers & Signers of the Philanthropic Agreement, is most respectfully dedicated.’ 24 December 1795.’

From the British Museum description:

Ministers sit at a round dinner-table guzzling guineas, while through the window is seen a hungry mob. Pitt, in profile to the left, sits on the right, a large fish made of guineas on a dish before him, of which he shovels huge lumps into his gaping mouth; he sits on a ‘Treasury’ chest which is closed by a padlock inscribed ‘WP’. Opposite him on the extreme left, seated on the woolsack, is Loughborough, indicated by an elongated Chancellor’s wig in back view; he clutches a large bowl of ‘Royal Turtle Soup’, holding a large ladle-full of guineas to his mouth. The others sit on the farther side of the table: Grenville, next Loughborough, Dundas in the middle, Pepper Arden next, Pitt. Grenville stoops, putting his mouth on the level of his dishful of guineas. Dundas, wearing a plaid, gnaws a fish which he holds in both hands. Arden, between Pitt and Dundas, holds a lump of coins on his fork. Between him and Dundas are three bottles labelled ‘Bur[gundy]’, ‘Champaign’, ‘Port’. On the table are sauce-boats and small dishes full of guineas. Before Dundas are two glasses of wine.

At the near side of the table, between Loughborough and Pitt, is a group of three sacks on each side of which is a large wine-cooler filled with bottles. The central sack is: ‘Product of New Taxes upon John Bulls Property’. On its mouth rests a small basket of potatoes inscribed ‘Potatoe Bread to be given in Charity’. The other sacks are labelled ‘Secret Service Money’. Behind (right), three steaming dishes are being brought in, held high by footmen (their heads obscured): a haunch of venison, a sirloin, and a large bird. They wear, not livery, but the Windsor uniform, and the symmetrical pair immediately behind Pitt are probably the two Treasury Secretaries, Rose and Long; this is supported by Gillray’s ‘Lilliputian Substitutes’ (1801). On the wall are two placards: ‘Proclamation for a General Fast, in order to avert the impending Famine and Substitutes for Bread Venison, Roast Beef, Poultry, Turtle Soup, Fish, boild in Wine, Ragouts, Jellies &c. Burgundy, Champaign, Tokay, &c, &c.’ The heads of men wearing bonnets-rouges are seen through the window; they hold up a loaf on a pole with a scroll inscribed ’14 Pence pr Quartern’ and two placards: ‘Petition from the Starving Swine’ and ‘Grant us the Crumbs which drop from your Table’.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Elbow Grease (Revisited)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Elbow Grease (Revisited)

I once heard a pastor say he always took his wife out to eat each Sunday so she wouldn’t have to work on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of rest. It was evidently lost on him all the other people working in her place, from dishwashers to line cooks to patrol men keeping the streets safe for them to and from Cracker Barrel.

So, in honor of Labor Day in the USA, I’m taking a peek back at an earlier post for this holiday profiling portraits of the working class. Those who rarely had a day off, in honor of their labor or otherwise.

Young Woman Ironing by Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1800, Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Elbow Grease

Labour. Elbow grease will make an oak table shine.

The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Etienne Liotard, 1744-1775, Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden Germany.

A Lady’s Maid Soaping Linen by Henry Robert Morland, 1765, Tate Museum.

Her First Place by George Dunlop Leslie, late 19th century, Christopher Wood Gallery.

Apple Dumplings by George Dunlop Leslie, 1880, Hartlepool Museums and Heritge Service.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.