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Mrs. Isabella Beeton.


The Book of Household Management, by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, was published in 24 parts in 1859-1861, and then in book form in 1861. An immediate success, it has long been regarded as the quintessence of Victorian cookery. It has been published and republished in new editions which modified the original more and more; when the last edition appeared in the 1960's little if any trace of Mrs. Beeton's work was left.

Far more than just a cookery book, it contains all that was needed for a newly-married woman to face keeping house with confidence -- what kitchen equipment to buy, how to clean everything, what servants to have, what to look for in hiring them, how to raise children and cure their diseases, and much more. Throughout the book there are paragraphs describing all the plants and animals used for food, with illustrations of them in their natural habitat.

But it is the 1800 or so recipes which are the glory of the book. These range from the delicious, such as Raised Pie of Poultry or Game [i.e. the very traditional English game pie], or Truffles with Champagne, to the frankly unappetizing, such as Very Plain Bread Pudding, or Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes (Cost, 1 1/2 d. per quart.) From the elaborate like Nesselrode Pudding to the very simple such as Box of Chocolates (Seasonable at any time). Some of her ingredients are now unfortunately unobtainable, such as larks and barberries, but there are many recipes which would still be easily prepared and to the taste of modern palates. Try them and see!

Gems from Mrs. Beeton

Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties.

In private parties, a lady is not to refuse the invitation of a gentleman to dance, unless she be previously engaged.

FROM THE GROSSNESS OF HIS FEEDING, the large amount of aliment he consumes, his gluttonous way of eating it, from his slothful habits, laziness, and indulgence in sleep, the pig is particularly liable to disease, and especially indigestion, heartburn, and affections of the skin.

Cheese, in its commonest shape, is only fit for sedentary people as an after-dinner stimulant, and in very small quantity. Bread and cheese, as a meal, is only fit for soldiers on march or labourers in the open air, who like it because it "holds the stomach a long time."

The shepherds of Egypt had a singular manner of cooking eggs without the aid of fire. They placed them in a sling, which they turned so rapidly that the friction of the air heated them to the exact point required for use.

Independently of its invigorating influence on the constitution, porter exerts a marked and specific effect on the secretion of milk; more powerful in exciting an abundant supply of that fluid than any other article within the range of the physician's art; and, in cases of deficient quantity, is the most certain, speedy, and the healthiest means that can be employed to insure a quick and abundant flow. . . . The quantity to be taken . . . should vary from one to two pints a day, never taking less than half a pint at a time, which should be repeated three or four times a day.

Essence of Lemon will remove grease, but will make a spot itself in a few days.

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