Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Ale and Laundry

 Another bit of something for my friends in the Victorian world.
 First, because they felt that dandelion greens were probably getting past their first spring tenderness, and because Ken likes a cool one after all his haying; from A Country Cup by Wilma Paterson:

 Dandelion Beer

This isn't an historical cookbook, though it does claim to be 'Old and New recipes for Drinks of all kinds made from Wild Plants and Herbs'. (I'll have to rootle around and see if I can find parallel recipes in some of my period material.) But I have made the recipe and it worked and was a pleasant beverage. I'm not sure if I'd call it a beer, but it was nice.
 1/2 lb young dandelion plants
 1 gal water
 1 lb brown sugar
 1 lemon
 1/2 oz root ginger
 1 oz cream of tartar
 1 oz yeast

Wash the plants and remove hairs from the main tap- root. Boil them with the bruised ginger and the lemon rind (having discarded the pith) for ten minutes. Strain on to the sugar and cream of tartar in an earthenware jar and stir until dissolved. When lukewarm add the lemon juice and yeast, cover the jar, and leave in a warm place for three days. Siphon off into screw-top bottles and leave for a week before drinking.

 *I made this for a brewing contest that I'd decided belatedly to enter. I was looking for some kind of fast recipe. I had bought dandelion greens from Knob Hill Farms in Toronto, so sold as a salad green and probably without the tap-root. And I used ordinary bread yeast. I don't recall if I used 'screw-top bottles'. Even though this wasn't a highly active fermentation, I think I'd default towards something designed to handle pressure, just in case...

 And for Margaret, not a fair division by any means: from the Confederate Receipt Book, some recipes for soap.

 Pour twelve quarts of boiling water upon five pounds of unslacked lime. Then dissolve five pounds of washing soda in twelve parts of boiling water, mix the above together, and let the mixture remain from twelve to twenty-four house, for the purpose of chemical action. Now pour off the clear liquid, being careful not to disturb the sediment. Add to the above three and a half pounds of clarified grease, and from three to four ounces of rosin. Boil this compound together for one hour, and pour off to cool. Cut it up in bars for use, and you are in possession of a superior chemical soap, costing about three and a half cents per pound in ordinary times.


Soft Soap
 Bore some holes in a lye barrel, put some straw in the bottom, lay some unslacked lime on it, and fill your barrel with good hardwood ashes, wet it, and pound it down as you put it in. When full, make a basin in the ashes and pour in water, keep filling it as it sinks in the ashes. In the course of a few hours the lye will begin to run. When you have sufficient quantity to begin with, put your grease in a large iron pot, pour in the lye, let it boil, &c. Three pounds of clean grease are allowed for two gallons of soap.

 So far I haven't discovered soap recipes that make me feel competent to produce soap, though I have any number of friends who make soaps, and very nice soaps. I'll keep looking...


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Summery Drinks

Here's a few tastes for Margaret. She'd mentioned that the hot weather (when we've had some) made her think about refreshing drinks.

From Confederate Recipe Book:

 Apple Water.
 Take one tart apple of ordinary size, well baked, let it be well mashed, pour on it one pint of boiling water, beat them well together, let it stand to cool, and strain it off for use. It may be sweetened with sugar if desired.

and from Common Sense in the Household, by Marion Harland. 1879, some useful suggestions for what ails you:

 Herb Teas
 Are made by infusing the dried or green leaves and stalks in boiling water, and letting them stand until cold. Sweeten to taste.

 Sage tea, sweetened with honey, is good for a sore throat, used as a gargle, with a small bit of alum dissolved in it.
 Catnup tea is the best panacea for infant ills, in the way of cold and colic, known to nurses.
 Pennyroyal tea will often avert the unpleasant consequences of a sudden check of perspiration, or the evils induced by ladies' thin shoes. *
 Chamomile and gentian teas are excellent tonics taken either cold or hot.
 The tea made from blackberry root is said to be good for summer disorders. That from green strawberry leaves is an admirable and soothing wash for a cankered mouth.
 Tea of parsley-root scraped and steeped in boiling water, taken warm, will often cure stranguary and kindred affections, as will that made from dried pumpkin-seed.
 Tansy and rue teas are useful in cases of colic, as are fennel seeds steeped in brandy.
 A tea of damask-rose leaves, dry or fresh, will usually subdue any simple case of summer complaint in infants.
 Mint tea, made from the green leaves, crushed in cold or hot water and sweetened, is palatable and healing to the stomach and bowels.

 * I have read that pennyroyal will act as an abortifactant. Should I wonder if unwanted pregnancies are the result of "ladies' thin shoes"?


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cottage Beer

 Some friends of mine are playing around with living a Victorian life for a year. It came up in conversation that now they'll need to start making their own potables. Since I've already done a chunk of experimenting with that over the years, and have a goodly pile of historical cookery books, I thought I'd send some info their way. Perhaps some recipes for drinks, or food, with maybe a few handy household tips thrown in!
  So, Ken and Margaret, here's a recipe from The Cook Not Mad or Rational Cookery, 1831.

 No. 244. Cottage Beer.

 Take a peck of good sweet wheat bran, and put it into ten gallons of water with three handfuls of good hops. Boil the whole together in an iron, brass, or copper kettle, until the bran and hops sink to the bottom. Then strain it through a hair sieve or a thin sheet, into a cooler, and when it is about lukewarm, add two quarts of molasses. As soon as the molasses is melted, pour the whole into a nine or ten gallon cask, with two table spoonfuls of yest. When the fermentation has subsided, bung up the cask, and in four days it will be fit for use.

And here's another from Confederate Receipt Book, 1863:

Table Beer
 To eight quarts of boiling water put a pound of treacle, a quarter of an ounce of ginger and two bay leaves, let this boil for a quarter of an hour, then cook, and work it with yeast as other beer.

  I'll see what else I can come across to add a bit of variety to your fare!