Tuesday, 17 April 2012

16 June, 1888 - Answers to Correspondents - Housekeeping

All that's morbidly curious in me wants to know if the potato thing actually works. Anyone got a piece of silk lying around that needs "renovation"?

CATKIN:- does not appear to have blanched the sweetbreads before frying them. They should be trimmed and skinned, then put into boiling water for five minutes, and lastly into cold water for an hour. Many old-fashioned people prefer to parboil them in milk and water before using; and then, when nearly cooked, to take them out, press between two plates, and when cold to lard them, if desired. But for an invalid they are best carefully egged and bead-crumbed, and lightly fried. A good authority on such matters, ie, Mary Hooper, considers that a pair of good large sweetbreads, at three shillings, are of better value than a London chicken at the same price.

OLD BLACK SILK:- may be renovated with potato water, which is good also for all colours and kinds of silk. Grate five or six potatoes into cold soft water, allowing one large potato to each quart. Five or six quarts will clean two dresses. Wash and pare the potatoes, leave the mixture undisturbed for two days, then pour off the clear liquid only, and dip the silk into it, without rubbing or creasing it. Hang each piece of silk on a clean horse to drip, and then lay them on a clean cloth and wipe with a clean towel. Lastly, iron, if needed, on the soiled side, with a cool iron.

A YOUNG HOUSEKEEPER:- Cakes are often made heavy by constantly opeining the oven-door while they are baking. Do you mean the "flead cakes" which are made by rendering down lard? WE do not think much of a recipe is needful, as the quantities depend on the amount you have of the lard residue. The flour is rubbed well with the hand, and sugar to taste is added. Then the paste is rolled out, cut into squares or rounds, and baked in the oven."

Friday, 13 April 2012

24 March, 1888 - 'On Impulsiveness' by Lily Watson - 'The Impulsive Girl as fellow-traveller'

For previous parts of this article click the 'On Impulsiveness' tag below.

The Impulsive Girl as a fellow-traveller is at first slight alluring, but is to be avoided by all who value their peace of mind. A friend of mine was once going on a Swiss tour with two girls, A and B. A was a bight, ardent, impulsive creature; B was quiet, undemonstrative, and usually considered rather cold.

"My only regret," said my friend, "is that B is going with us. I am afraid she will act as a wet blanket. I don't think the most glorious prospect would rouse her to enthusiasm. While as for A, it is positively refreshing to see her delight. If she and I were only going alone together, it would be perfect."

"Do not be too sure," I replied oracularly.

"Well, of course we must make the best of B's society," replied my friend; and we parted.

Two months later, we met again.

Oh where could this be heading, Mrs Watson?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

24 March, 1888 - 'On Impulsiveness' by Lily Watson - 'The Impulsive Girl in her Domestic Relations'

For previous sections of this article, please click the tag 'On Impulsiveness' below. And for a series of articles on "district visiting" (that's what we call it when we go into the inner city to bestow charity upon The Poors) click here.

People who meet Miss Impulse only in congenial society are tempted to think she must make her home a very happy one. She is generally entertaining, for she says whatever first comes into her head; she is naive, bright and sparkling. They do not know that, even supposing her to be in the main a good girl, she is dreadfully trying to live with. Swayed by the feeling of the moment, she is either up in the clouds or down in the depths; chattering gaily on some absorbing topic, or dull and gloomy because she happens to feel dull and gloomy, and has never acquired the habit of considering anything beyond her momentary feeling. She is so very charming, when she is charming, that her friends feel it the more. When the Impulsive Girl comes down with a dismal face to breakfast, a chill falls upon the family circle.

Friday, 6 April 2012

24 March, 1888 - 'On Impulsiveness' by Lily Watson - Introduction

This is the first "OH GIRLS THESE DAYS!!" article I believe I've posted here. Others are probably available at the old Tumblr and when the 'Read More' button failed to work were probably the bane of everybody's dashboards. Oh well, that's why I moved to Blogspot. Big blocks of text are more the done thing over here.

But yes. Mrs Watson on the unfortunate phenomenon of the impulsive girl. Impulsiveness is bad. No manic pixie dream girls or toxic frenemies here, thank you very much.

"Sensible and cold-hearted!" exclaims Molly Gibson's stepmother, the former Mrs Kirkpatrick, in Mrs Gaskell's delightful story of "Wives and Daughters". "Now, that's a kind of character which may be very valuable, but which revolts me. Give me warmth of heart, even with a little of that extravagance of feeling which misleads the judgment and conducts into romance. Poor Mr Kirkpatrick! That was just his character. I used to tell him that his love for me was quite romantic. I think I have told you about his walking five miles in the rain to get me a muffin once when I was ill?"

"Yes," said Molly. "It was very kind of him."

"So imprudent too! Just what one of your sensible, cold-hearted, commonplace people would never have thought of doing. With his cough and all."

"I hope he didn't suffer for it?" replied Molly.

"Yes, indeed he did. I odn't think he ever got over the cold he caught that day."

Men that share the amiable weakness of the late Mr Kirkpatrick, who would risk making his wife a widow to gratify her passing whim, are not very numerous! But Mrs Gibson does not stand alone in her impression that to act upon impulse rather than judgment, is a very charming and delightful thing. And girls especially, whose emotional nature is vehement, and whose reason, for one cause or another, is not fully disciplined, are apt to fall into the snare of regarding the feeling of the moment, and that alone, as a sufficient motive for action. They have a horror, and rightly, or cold calculationg motives, and therefore fly to the opposite extreme of not having any reasonable motives at all.

These impulsive girls have, generally speaking, many delightful qualities. They are frank, affectionate, and generous, and one is apt to contrast them with the cold, selfish and undemonstrative, very much to their own advantage. Then comes the deduction "It is better to be impulsive than to act on judgment." A moment's thought of course would show that this comparison is by no means fair. The impulsive girl with her good qualities should be placed side by side with one who is also frank, affectionate and generous, but who has a sufficient share of judgment to guide her behaviour. Then the infinite advantage would be seen to lie with the latter.

Just because this "impulsiveness" which is a real danger presents a charming aspect when vaugely and indefinitely considered, it is worth while to look at it closely and see if its various manifestations are really to be admired. Since illustration is much more interesting than abstract lecturing, we will picture the "impulsive girl" in two or three characters; and if some of my readers have not met her in real life I should be very much surprised.

After the cut: The Impulsive Girl as a Friend

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

12 November, 1887 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

YOUNG GIRL: - At your early age (fifteen years) the less you read in the way of novels the better. Better be satisfied with history and travels, in the brief space of time free for recreation in the way of reading. In any case, we can only say in such matters, consult your mother. If she sanction your reading any particular work of fiction, well and good. She will probably allow you to read those in prose and verse by Sir Walter Scott.

RATTLE-CAP:- You are an infant in the eye of the law until you attain twenty-one years of age. If in the upper class of society you ought to be in the schoolroom, and go to bed early at your age (sixteen). If in a lower class you are old enough to be apprenticed to some trade, or to enter domestic service under an older and more experienced servant.

"YOUNG LADY OF TWELVE":- YOu should ride out with your father, or brother if old enough, or else with some grown-up lady. But your mother is the right person to decide such matters for you. It is not for you to take a stranger's opinion and to regulate your conduct. The name Mozart is pronounced as spelt. Beethoven as Bet-o-ven, Chopin as Sho-pain, the French for bread; the last syllable being nasal in the French style. If you do not speak that language, we cannot explain by writing. Inquire for the duets you require at a music shop.

8 October, 1887 - Useful Hints - French Stewed Steak, or Other Meat - How To Boil Rice as in India

French Stewed Steak, or Other Meat

The peculiarity of this method is that the gravy is always prepared before putting in the meat and vegetables.

Place in the stewpan two ounces of butter, and when thoroughly melted add a tablespoonful of flour, enough to absorb the butter, leaving sufficient moisture to stir easily about till it becomes a rich brown colour; this will take fifteen minutes. If you wish for a paler gravy, for what is called a white ragout, the mixture must be taken off the fire while it is still pale, adding three turnips sliced, two onions sliced, the steak at the top. The turnis to be laid at the bottom of the stewpan, then the onions, lastly the steak. No water - this is important.

Stew them until tender - one hour and a half or more - then take out the steak, strain the gravy from the vegetables through a sieve, take off the fat; mix it in a basin with a teaspoonful of flour, add pepper and salt, mix it all well together, then add the gravy to the vegetables; give it one boil up and pour it over the steak, and put the steak in the stewpan till wanted. Be careful to shake the pan occasionally to prevent the steak burning; flavour it to your taste.

How to Boil Rice as in India

Two quarts of water, one pint of rice, one tablespoonful of salt.

When the water is boiling throw in a tablespoonful of salt, then the rice, after it has been well washed in cold water; let it boil twenty minutes; throw it into a colander and strain off the water. When the water is well drained off put the rice back into the same saucepan, dried by the fire, and let it stand near the fire for some minutes, till required to be dished up; thus the grains appear separately and not mashed into a pudding. Excellent with a little butter.