Monday, 30 September 2013

15 November 1884 - 'How I Keep House On £250 A Year' by Mary Pocock - Chapter 2 'Our Christmas Week'

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Mary Pocock describes the clothes she makes for the poor, including how to make clothes for children out of unwanted dresses donated by friends. This Christmas special includes some recipes for holiday treats including alcohol-free mincemeat and pudding, and an ox-cheek that is both into a soup course for Christmas dinner and a breakfast dish. She concludes with some parlour games that can be enjoyed by young and old alike, because people had to play some kind of game before Cards Against Humanity, I guess. 

Part 1 of this serial can be read here.

Early in November I commence my preparations for Christmas. To begin with, I have a good deal of needlework to do for the poor, for as we only calculate to spend a small sum of money out of our income in charity, we have to give much time, as we like by the end of the year to make our gifts equal to a tithe, or tenth part of our income.

As  matter of fact, we always manage to do this, but it compels me to work for a couple of months before our drawing-room bazaar in September, about which I intend to tell the readers of The Girl's Own Paper; and again for six weeks before Christmas, besides what I do at different times during the year. For this Christmas I knitted little shawls, comforters and cuffs. We made some good, warm petticoats out of strong grey woollen stuff, to which we put grey cotton bands, and on each a large flat pocket of grey cotton, as they were intended for old women. We also made a lot of double (back and front) chest preserveers out of pieces of flannel, silk, or cotton, which we joined together, putting cotton wool between, and then quilted with the sewing machine. Then I was able to beg from friends some woollen dresses that were too shabby for them to wear. Of these we unpicked the skirts and draperies, and washed them in warm bran water; then had them mangled. We made the pieces up into suits for quite little boys, and into frocks and jackets for little girls. These garments would, I knew, wear very much longer than if they had been made out of new cheap materials, and gave great satisfaction to those who received them, for they looked quite new and fresh, and were adapted to those who had them, which is rarely the case when one gives an old dress away.

In September I plant my hyacinths; for then, if I am tolerably fortunate, I have some pots in bloom by Christmas. Last year I sent two or three pots to poor invalids, but for this purpose I chose those not quite in bloom, to give them the pleasure of watching them. I finished my work a week before Christmas. The next thing that claimed my attention was the mincemeat. This and the plum pudding I invariably make myself. The former should be made at least a week before it is required. The quantity I make lasts us six weeks or two months; the following is the recipe I use:-

Mincemeat:- Wash, pick and dry thoroughly in a cloth before the fire 1 1/2 lbs. of currant, stone and chop 1 lb. of Valencia raisins, blanch and cut into pieces 1/2 lb. of Valencia almonds, cut up 3/4 lb. of candied mixed peel, chop very fine 1 lb. of beef suet, add 1/2 lb. of brown sugar, 1 lb. of chopped apples (weighed after they are peeled and cored), half a nutmeg grated, the grated rind of two lemons, and the juice of four lemons. Mix all together, and chop in a bowl or on a board; only chop it for a few minutes, then put it in a stone jar, and press down as hard as you can; tie over, and put aside in a dry place that is not warm. Always stir mincemeat well before using it, as there will be most moisture at the bottom.

It must be remembered that mincemeat that has no wine or spirit in it is difficult to keep; therefore it is necessary to see that the currants are perfectly dry before they are used. To ensure the jar not being damp, it should be stood on the stove until it is quite hot, then allowed on the stove until it is quite hot, then allowed to get cold before the mincemeat is put in it. This quantity of mincemeat costs 3s. 6d,

Some days before Christmas I make some inexpensive soda cakes. These cakes are always better for being kept in a tin three or four days before they are eaten. The following recipe is for one cake:-

Soda Cake:- 1 lb. flour, 1/2 lb. brown sugar, 1/2 lb. clarified dripping or lard, 1/4 lb. currants, a good half-pint of milk, a small teaspoonful of carbonate of soda. rub the dripping well into the flour, add the sugar and currants, and if you have any lemon peel you can grate or chop it very fine and put it in; make the milk warm (not hot), mix the soda with it, then mix all together quickly and put in a warm tin that has been buttered; put into a quick oven immediately. When the cakes have been in the oven a short time, pull the damper out for a minute or two to let the steam out, but do not open the oven door until they have been in forty minutes. They will take from an hour and a half to two hours to bake. Cost of cake, not counting the value of the dripping, sevenpence halfpenny.

My plum pudding I made thus:- 3/4 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of Valencia raisins, 1/2 lb. of sultanas, 1/2 lb. of mixed candied peel, 2 oz. of Valencia almonds, 1/2 lb. of good raw sugar, 1/4 lb. of flour, 1/4 lb. of breadcrumbs, 1/2 lb. of beef suet, and the grated rind of one lemon. Prepare the fruit as for mincemeat, mix these ingredients well, then add six eggs (yolks and whites) well beaten. Next stir in the strained juice of two lemons; stir all well for fifteen minutes. With the raw sugar and juice of two lemons no wine or spirit is required. Well butter a tin pudding-mould, fill it and cover with a buttered paper, put the lid on (if there is one) and tie up in a cloth that has been dipped in water and floured.

This pudding, sufficient for a large party, must be boiled seven hours. A kettle of water should be kept boiling all the time so that the pudding saucepan may be filled up from time to time, as the water in it evaporates.

I always have a large ox-cheek at Christmas time; they are better then than at any other season. I ask the butcher to break the bones before he sends it.

I use it thus:- Lay the cheek for an hour in strong salt and water, then clean it thoroughly, using two or three waters, and put it to drain. Put in a stock pot a piece of butter the size of a walnut, any bacon rinds or bones you may have, three good sized carrots cut lengthways, a head of celery, or some celery tops, three blades of mace, four lumps of sugar, a bunch of sweet herbs, some parsley, a little basil, two bay leaves, a good teaspoonful of whole black pepper, the same of salt, two thick slices of bread that have been toasted slowly until they are dark brown, not black, an onion with four cloves in it, and an onion that has been baked a nice colour, and two pieces of lemon, out of which the juice has been taken for the pudding (see that there are no pips in the lemon, as they would spoil the soup). Add the ox-cheek, put the lid on the stock pot, and set the whole over the fire for a quarter of an hour, then add five quarts of cold water; when it gets to a boil take off the scum, keep the lid well down, and simmer the whole for four hours, or longer if the head is not quite tender. When quite tender take it out, remove the bones, and cut the meat in small square pieces, put half aside to be served in the soup; for the other half, mix together chopped parsley, sweet herbs, chopped lemon peel, black pepper, salt, and, if liked, a very little shallot; sprinkle this mixture over the pieces of head to taste, then place in a round cake tin; when full pour over one tablespoonful of the stock, and put a little pressure on the top. When cold turn out of the tin, and put a frill round. This is a very good dish, and is our standing breakfast dish for Christmas week.

The soup is strained through a sieve, and may be served clear with the pieces of head in it, or may be thickened with a little flour that has been well dried in the oven. Small forcemeat balls can be served with the meat in the soup if they are liked. If the directions have been properly followed the soup will be a nice colour, and a good flavour, and require nothing added to it.

Christmas Eve was a very busy day for us all; we arranged to make our dinners in the middle of the day off some cold meat. After the shopping was done, we had the rooms to decorate; holly was dear and red berries were scarce; but that did not much matter to us, as in the autumn we had had the opportunity of collecting a number of ash and other berries. They had kept very tolerably, hung on strings in my store cupboard, and we now mixed htem with box and other evergreens.

We had sent word to those of our poor friends for whom we had presents that we should be glad to see them if they would come in any time between four and six on Christmas Eve; so directly dinner was over we commenced arranging our presents on the dining table. There was our work - a few toys, a plant or two, destined to be sent to invalids and also a little tea and sugar for the same purpose. To each gift we attached a pretty card, with a motto or text on it for the coming year. These texts had been some trouble to select, as our endeavour was in each case to choose a motto that would be useful to the recipient of the gift. On the sideboard I had a large urn of hot coffee with milk, and some of my soda cakes, and each person was given a cup of coffee and a slice of cake - standing, of course - for we have not room to give a regular tea; a servant was in the room, and washed the cups as they were used. The little refreshment was a surprise, and gave pleasure, I think. Christmas morning the ground was so covered with snow that I wished we had some children in the house to follow the pretty custom they have in Norway of sticking up ears of corn on that day, to give the birds a breakfast.

I always give the servants their choice of having the Christmas dinner on the 25th of December or of having it on New Year's Day, when each, if she likes, may invite a relation; this year, as usual, they chose to put it off until New Year's Day. We were to dine at four o'clock, as out of the party of eight three would be children. Our dinner was quite simple:- Ox-cheek soup, roast turkey, Bath chap, stewed celery, spinach, brown potatoes, mince pies, plum-pudding, and, instead of sauce, boiled custards, and dessert after. Some neighbours had promised to come in in the evening. There being some children in our party we had some quiet games, such as "What is my thought like?" "Proverbs" and the "Traveller". as I do not think this game is as well known as the others I will describe it.

The Traveller:- One of the party personates the traveller, and asks for a night's lodging. His request is granted, and he is asked in payment to give some account of his travels. He complies and names in order the cities, rivers and mountains he professes to have seen, giving some account of the productions of countries through which he has passed, with the habits of the people he has seen. If he is detected in any mistake he is at once turned out of the lodging, and a forfeit is demanded of him; but should anyone accuse him wrongly of error he demands a forfeit from the accuser. The player who detects a mistake takes the traveller's place.

This was followed by one or two pencil games, such as drawing a pig or an elephant with one's eyes shut, or drawing comical portraits. These last are done by each player having a piece of paper, on the top of which he writes the name of another player or of a public character, folds the name back out of sight, and passes the paper to his neighbour who, without looking at the name, must draw a head and throat, fold the paper again, leaving only the throat visible, and pass it to the next person to draw a body. The papers are then folded and put in a basket; they are drawn in turn, and each player when he opens the paper must say why the portrait is like the person whose name it bears. Much merriment was caused by the opening of the papers. One player had drawn a hat in place of a head, so a gentleman appeared with his hat down to his shoulders; while a lady was apparently ready to race in a sack; and on a third paper a bald head and whiskers showed above the edge of a cask. After the games we had a little music. Gounod's "Nazareth" and his "Bethlehem" were sung, also the Christmas and several other hymns.

The day after Christmas Day I had arranged to have a large juvenile tea party, but when I invited the children I told them that they would each be expected before the romps commenced to do something toward the general amusement. My young guests arrived about three; we had one or two games to make them feel at home together, then each either recited, told a story, or played on the piano. I had brought down before they came a number of things that they like for dressing up in, so some gave their recitations in character. They next acted two charades; the words chosen were "hornpipe" and "corkscrew".

We had tea at half-past five, after which the table was pushed on one side, and romps and noisy games were declared for.

We began with blind man's buff, then, while some rested, we let the boys work off a little of their energy in a fettered fight, after which we played at the Zoological Gardens. This game is played like family coach, but instead of choosing a town each player says what animal he will represent; and when the keeper of the garden says, for instance, that the lion and dog will change cages, those animals must as soon as they gain the opposite chairs make their usual noise. This noisy game was followed by a cat's concert; for this each player chooses his own imaginary instrument, and plays on it his favourite tune; no two players must choose the same tune. Any player detected playing his neighbour's tune or instrument must pay a forfeit.

After this we cried the forfeits. Cups of chocolate and glasses of lemonade, with cakes and biscuits, were handed round, and my young guests went home, having apparently much enjoyed themselves. The next evening we finished our Christmas festivities by asking a few friends to come in the evening, without ceremony, and have a little music and a dance. The evening went off very well; our friends took coffee when they came, and sandwiches, cakes, grapes, prepared oranges, and lemonade were on the table in the dining room all the evening for anyone who liked to help themselves.

New Year's Eve I gave the servants 1/2 lb. of Valencia raisins, 1 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of suet, 1/2 lb. of sugar, a lemon, and two pieces of candied peel, telling them they could use two eggs, and make their pudding to their own liking as regarded milk, bread and flour. I ordered roast pork, apple sauce and vegetables for their dinners, and gave them dessert. They had - one her mother, the other her sister, coming to spend the day with them. We always dine out on the 1st of January, so they had only themselves to wait on. On Christmas Day I always send down a slice of my pudding and a mince pie for each of the servants, but I generally reserve my little Christmas gifts to them for the New Year.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

6 November 1886 - 'School Luncheons' by Phillis Browne

Phillis loses me when she says it shouldn't be sandwiches more than once a week and that you shouldn't repeat fillings more than twice in two months. 

The school arrangements of the present day are rather awkward for people who are accustomed to take their meals at old-fashioned hours. When I was a girl we used to be at school at nine in the morning, leave at twelve-thirty, return at two-thirty, and leave again at four; and our home lessons were a mere trifle. We went home to dinner in the middle of the day, and there was no difficulty about "satisfying the keen demands of appetite". But sometimes it rained unexpectedly, and on these occasions fortune was kind to us. A few minutes before it was time to start for home there would be a knock at the door, and a neat little maid would appear bearing a basket, with a message from mother to the schoolmistress, begging that we might be allowed to take dinner in the schoolroom.

Who can describe the delights of the feast? On the table generally used for slates and copy books the basket was solemnly opened. We never knew what was coming, but it was certain to be good, and best of all, it was certain to be a surprise. First there was the snowy napkin which was to serve as a table-cloth, then were the treasures underneath. The glory of the experience came, however, when plates and food were packed away, for then a "little recreation" was considered necessary before lessons were resumed; and the "recreation", as a rule, resolved itself into taking flying leaps over forms piled in extraordinary positions one on top of another, or alongside each other. I am afraid it is not a very dignified confessions for an elderly matron to make, but those impromptu gymnastics on forms are amongst the most delightful recollections of my childhood. The little girls of the present day practise calisthenics, and perform wonderful feats with ropes and giant strides; I hope they know something of the delight we used to get out of our deftly arranged forms.

As I have already said however, afternoon school is a thing unknown to the majority of the fortunate girls who attend our high schools and collegiate establishments. According to present arrangements girls reach school at half-past nine, and they remain till half-past nine, and they remain till half-past one, having an interval of half an hour between eleven and twelve for rest and refreshment. Then the pupils separate, and the elder ones go home with any amount of "home work" to prepare, while the younger ones remain at school to lean their home lessons with the assistance of the teachers. It is with the necessities of these young ones who remain that I am just now concerned. Very often dinner is provided for them at the school, and a few partake of it there under the superintendence of a teacher who is told off for the duty. It is my experience, however, that only a small proportion of the whole number of those who stay avail themselves of this opportunity. Either the price charged is too high, or conversation is too much restricted, or from some other reason girls for the most part prefer to bing food with them "for luncheon" and postpone a proper meal until they reach home.

Now it is a very bad thing for growing girls to go so long without a proper meal. Supposing they have to be at school by half-past nine, it is not unsafe to conclude that this means that breakfast is taken about half-past eight, if not earlier. Leaving school at four or half-past, it will not be likely that dinner or the "meat tea" can be enjoyed before half-past five. This long fast, broken only by eating an unsatisfactory "snatch" of some sort or another, is likely to be very injurious to health. Brain workers need really to  be better fed even than those who work with their hands, because brain-work is exceedingly exhausting. If it could be arranged that there should be half an hour's rest after food, so that study should not interfere with the process of digestion, why should not the "growing students" take a substantial luncheon with them, and partake of it when the morning lessons are over? Really this could be very easily managed. It only needs that there should be a little forethought on the part of the home authorities; that sufficient change of diet should be provided; that the luncheon should be freshly prepared day by day; and that a convenient receptacle for conveying it backwards and forwards should be procured; then every difficulty which could be urged against the plan would be conquered. Added to this there is the fact that children almost always enjoy food which his prepared for them at home more than they enjoy food prepared by strangers; as a regular thing, that is. There are to be bought nowadays very handy little tin sandwich cases with sides which fold down when empty, and so occupy very little space. A good deal may be carried in one of these tins, and it can be stowed away when done with in a corner of the book bag, and the weight will scarcely be felt. Better still is one of the small luncheon baskets which are to be seen in every fancy shop, and which cost but a few pence. A basket three inches deep, three inches wide, and six inches in length, could be made to hide away a most diversified repast. A knife and fork, with a single plate could be slipped into a strap in the lid, and there would be room for also a tiny flask, whatever solid refreshment was decided on, and also one of those dainty delicacies which serve to give piquancy and attractiveness to a luncheon. There is no occasion to limit a meal of this sort to sandwiches. Sandwiches are excellent when well made, and they can be varied to any extent, but when indulged in day after day, and week after week, they become monotonous.

If however sandwiches are to preserve their charm they ought not to appear more than once a week, and they ought not to be made of similar materials twice in two months. A sandwich is never so much appreciated as when it is a surprise, and it certainly lends itself to surprises more than any other preparation that can be named. There is no end to the ingredients, the combinations, the appetising morsels which can be introduced into a sandwich. Every sort of meat - tinned, potted and preserved, roast, boiled and stewed; every kind of fish, flesh and fowl, can be used for it; while cheese, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, curries and green stuff may be employed to lay between the thin slices of bread and butter which form its distinguishing feature. To make sandwiches good, all that is necessary is to bestow a little pains upon them. Let the bread be only one day old, the butter sweet and delicious, the meat cut up small, and the seasoning be judiciously and intelligently introduced, and there is practically no limit to the welcome changes of diet which may be presented under the general term - sandwiches. Beef sandwiches, ham sandwiches, veal and ham sandwiches, bacon, mutton, or game sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, sandwiches made of anchovy and hard boiled eggs, of curried rabbit and Parmesan, of curried shellfish and Parmesan, of small salad, of sliced tomatoes, of mushrooms, of roast fowl, lettuce and filleted anchovies, of roast game, shred celery and Tartare sauce, of cooked fish, lettuce leaves and Tartare sauce, of cold meat and thinly sliced cucumber of gherkins, of roast game, tongue and aspic jelly, of the flesh of lobster and mayonnaise, of hard boiled eggs and a very thin sprinkle of finely shred tarragon, of potted hare, potted ham, or any potted meat, of cheese, of devilled ham, of cold asparagus, with a suspicion of mayonnaise, of brawn, of shrimps, of foie gras, of Geman sausage or caviare and brown bread and butter, are a few varieties which may serve to suggest others.

Tinned meats of all descriptions are much approved and largely patronised by individuals who pride themselves on their capacity for "putting up a bit of luncheon in half a minute". Tinned meats are all very well for a change, no one values them in their proper place more than I do, but it should be understood that they are abused when they are employed constantly. For growing girls who are using their brains fresh food is imperatively required, and one of the chief reasons why these luncheons are to be recommended is that they afford a means of furnishing wholesome and nourishing provisions. Yet it must not be forgotten that when fresh meat is not to be had, tinned provisions are to be accepted with gratitude; and it is always wise therefore to keep a supply on hand.

Trifles made of pastry are always acceptable for occasions of the kind named. Small meat pies, if nicely made, are both appetising and wholesome; the great point to be observed with regard to them is that they should not be dry. Yet it is evident that if liquid gravy were put into them, accidents might be expected, and therefore gravy which will jelly when cold should always be provided and poured in when hot through a hole left in the pastry for the purpose. Small meat pies can be made of every sort of meat, poultry and game, the chief detail to be looked after being the seasoning. In making trifles of this sort, girls should forget that nothing is more effectual in preventing insipidity than a tiny scrap of onion. "Yet onion is objectionable to many people". Of course it is when introduced in large quantities or in large pieces, but if used in very small quantities and chopped until it is as fine as dust, then sprinkled over the meat, it would dissolve entirely, few would suspect that onion was present, and yet there would be no danger that the pie would be tasteless. A little piece of onion the size of a thumb-nail, chopped as small as possible, would be sufficient to flavour two small meat pies four inches in diameter. And a pie this size would be quite large enough for a purpose such as this.

Some time ago I gave a few hints as to the best method of making raised pies, therefore I do not need to repeat them now. I may remind girls, however, that one encouragement connected with the attempt is that small pies are much more easy to make than large pies, and that there is small fear of failure in connection with them. Equally acceptable will be meat patties, Cornish pasties, mushroom pies, sausage rolls, etc. Hard boiled eggs, too, are much liked by some people, and if fresh when cooked they make an agreeable change. It is scarcely necessary to say that one or two slices from the breast of a chicken or duck will always be welcome on an occasion of this sort, of pains be taken to keep these meats from getting dry.

To an impromptu meal of this kind a simple "sweet" forms a most agreeable conclusion, and really, when one comes to experiment in this direction, it is astonishing what a variety of luxuries can be cooked and conveyed in a cup or small basin, holding little more than half a pint. Perhaps it may be helpful if I give recipes for a few of these trifles. Before doing so I should like to suggest that in packing the luncheon basket a little fruit, fresh or dried, should not be omitted. Fruit is not only agreeable; it is, when taken in moderation, most wholesome. It cannot be regarded as particularly nourishing, but it is very cooling and refreshing, it assists digestion, and it possesses in a high degree the power of counteracting any harm which may arise from the use of preserved and tinned meats. It is almost inevitable that when school luncheons are provided for any length of time, preserved provisions will enter rather largely into their preparation.

When preserved provisions are taken there is always a little danger of skin complications, and fresh fruit is the antidote for this condition. Therefore fresh fruit should on no account be disregarded. When fresh fruit cannot be had, dried fruits, such as raisins, figs, dates and French plums, are almost as valuable, and they are more nourishing. Raisins, indeed, are most sustaining, and a celebrated physician said recently that when he expected to have any specially exhausting work on hand, he took a bunch of muscatels and found they did him more good than a glass of wine. It is not at all an uncommon thing also for parents who are anxious lest their daughters should become faint and weary, through going too long without food, and who cannot arrange to provide them with a well-packed luncheon basket, to make them form a habit of putting a large bunch of table raisins into their pockets, with the intention that these should be nibbled during what is called the interval, that is, the short period of rest which is allowed at most schools during the morning. The fruit thus enjoyed proves most invigorating. To gain the full benefit which belongs to raisins it is necessary that the skin and seeds should be rejected, because they are indigestible, and are apt to produce disorders of the bowels, while the ripe luscious pulp is free from these dangers. It would be well if parents could be convinced what a valuable food the raisin is. As for dates, their nutritive value is shown by the fact that they form the chief food of the Arabs; while prunes and figs are used for their laxative tendency. Compotes of all sorts of fruits and stewed Normandy pippins may be easily introduced into the luncheon basket, if put into a wide mouthed well stopped bottle.

Now for two or three recipes:-

Baked Custard Cup:- Boil the third of a pint of milk and pour it upon a beaten egg. Add sugar and a little flavouring, turn the preparation into a buttered cup, and set it in the oven in a shallow tin filled with boiling water. Let it bake gently till firm; then take it out, and when cold pack it in the basket. A couple of tablespoonfuls of stewed fruit poured into a small bottle is an excellent accompaniment to this cup.

Cabinet Cup Pudding:- Soak a teaspoonful of gelatine in a dessertspoonful of water. Make a little custard as above, with the third of a pint of milk and one egg. Prepare a small mould by plunging it into hot water, afterwards into cold water. Take two savoy fingers and four ratafias. Split the savoys in half and place them perpendicularly round the mould to line it; break up the ratafias and put them also in the mould. Dissolve the gelatine, stir it, when cool, into the sweetened and flavoured custard, and pour this gently over the cakes. The mould should be turned out for eating.

Rice Cup:- Press warm rice, boiled with milk till well soaked and stiff, into a buttered cup. Fruit syrup, stewed fruit, or sugar will be suitable as an accompaniment. Ground rice, boiled in milk and mixed with a teaspoonful of dissolved gelatine, makes a good rice cup.

Apple Mould:- Soak a small teaspoonful of gelatine in a dessertspoonful of water. Pare a couple of good sized baking apples; core them, cut them into quarters, and put them with a small strip of thin lemon rind, into a gallipot. Set this (covered) in a small stewpan, with boiling water to come halfway up the jar, and let the apples steam until they fall. Lift out the lemon rind and sweeten the apples. Dissolve the gelatine, beat it up with the fruit, add a lump of sugar and one or two drops of cochineal, and turn the preparation into a damp cup. When cold and stiff it is ready.

Coffee Mould:- Soak a teaspoonful of gelatine. Dissolve this and stir it into a third of a pint of very strong clear coffee. Boil for a minute or two, add sugar, and when cool a little cream. Put the preparation into a damp cup. One or two drops of vanilla may be added if approved.

Apricot Mould:- Soak a teaspoonful of gelatine. Take two halves of apricot out of a tin of the preserved fruit. Crush them to pulp with the back of a spoon, and mix with them three-quarters of a cup of cream or milk. Add sugar to taste. Dissolve the gelatine, mix it, when cool, with the apricot and mould when cold.

Apple Custard:- Bake a large apple, remove the skin and core, and beat the pulp with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour the third of a pint of boiling milk upon one egg, add one lump of sugar. Put the apple into a cup, pour the custard over, and set in a small baking tin half full of boiling water, to bake till the custard is firm in the centre.

Bread Cup Pudding:- Soak one or two scraps of stale bread in milk to soften them entirely. Beat them with a fork to a smooth, soft pulp, add a slice of butter, a spoonful of moist sugar, a little vanilla essence, a few currants, and one beaten egg. Three parts fill a buttered cup with the mixture and bake till firm.

A little well flavoured jelly, broken up and put into a cup, will always be a welcome addition to a repast of this description. The same may be said of tartlets, turnovers, cakes of all descriptions, lemon cheesecakes, etc. Fruit juice, sweetened agreeably and formed with a spoonful of dissolved gelatine, supplies a very delicious sweet. When a pudding cream, or tart is being made for the family, it is very easy to take out a portion and cook it separately in a small glass or jar, to be used for the school luncheon next day. Some girls would enjoy a morsel of cheese and a sea-foam biscuit as a relish. A little trouble spent is well worth while. We should not hear half so many complaints about over-study and over-pressure if girls attending school had a good luncheon in the middle of the day; and before mothers and elder sisters make up their minds that a girl is doing too many lessons, and that the teacher must be asked to excuse a portion thereof, they ought to consider whether they are doing all that is possible to furnish the young student with food which will give her strength to make the most of the precious opportunities for improvement which will be gone all too soon.

One important detail connected with school luncheons must not be forgotten. It is that the luncheon basket or sandwich tin must be kept sweet and pure. It ought to be scrubbed out frequently, and every day as soon as it is brought home it should be emptied, cleansed, and put, wide open, in an airy place to prevent its becoming close and musty. If crumbs or little pieces of fat are allowed to work their way into the crevices, there will surely impart an unpleasant stuffy odour to the food which is upt into the basket afterwards and the annoyance will not easily be got rid of. Unless scrupulous cleanliness be observed in everything connected with the preparation of food, delicacy and refinement must be regarded as entirely out of the question.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

1 November 1884 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

FLORENCE AMY:- Unless you mean to accept a man's proposal of marriage, you ought not to accept any ring from him. If you do, he has a right to consider that his attentions are received with favour. Your second question is one that we have ceased to answer. Refer to our indexes.

T.F.J.:- The bride's family provide the wedding cake and breakfast; but of course the bridegroom may present the cake should he particularly desire to save her family as much of the expense entailed.

VIOLA:- Your mourning for an intended mother-in-law should be slight; not crape, as it is only "complimentary". An engagement ring is not usually worn on the wedding-ring finger; but if worn there from individual choice it should be removed before going to church.

GRAN'S PET:- We are quite sure that we should appreciate "granny' also, if we had the pleasure of knowing her; and all you say about your converse over bygone times and friends of her former life interested us much. May she be spared to you long and may you find some good friend to comfort and be a companion to you when she is take home to "the better land".

NINON STANLEY:- An early walk is desirable; but you should never go out fasting. If you cannot get your regular breakfast so early, get a cup of milk and a piece of bread-and-butter, and then you will neither come in exhausted nor be so liable to take infection of any kind, nor blood-poisoning from any bad odour. A plain face, with a bright honest expression, is far more attractive than one that has only regularity of features to recommend it.

PETERIS AQUILINA:- Your letter is indeed melancholy. We should recommend a simple iron tonic, sea bathing, or a tepid sponge bath, followed by a good rubbing afterwards, plenty to eat, spending your days as much possible in the open air. Change of scene will do you more good than anything else. LEave off reading and study and do not worry yourself about anything.

FISHWIFE:- 1. All fish do not sleep, and goldfish are included amongst the ever-waking ones. Tench, carp and minnows do sleep, and the various species of the wrasse. 2. Apply ammonia or sal volatile to the mosquito stings

Friday, 27 September 2013

4 October 1884 - 'How I Keep House on £250 A Year' by Mary Pocock - Chapter 1

 Vol.6 of The Girl's Own Annual contains a series of essays by Mary Pocock, a regular contributor to the paper during this time, outlining in careful detail how she runs her small middle class household, consisting of "two ladies and one gentleman, all young, and all water drinkers" (remember the GOP was published by the Religious Tracts Society and was therefore fairly pro-temperance) and two servants both under the age of twenty. In this first installment of a twelve-part series Mary Pocock outlines her annual expenditures and sensibly opines that yes indeed women should worry their pretty heads about financial matters, and gives a brief breakdown of inland revenue. She explains that as far as her household is concerned, the convenience of two servants - there's always someone there to answer the door, for example - is worth the expense, she prefers having young servants - the "girl" is fifteen years old and earns £5 a year - and they get meat or at least eggs on Sundays. She concludes with a sample of a typical weekly menu (I can't decide what breakfast option horrifies me more, cold bacon or stewed eels) and a rundown of the weekly grocery bill.

Seriously, anything you could want to know about the day-to-day running of a small urban middle-class household in this era is here in twelve chapters, pretty much. 

To see all chapters of this essay, click the 'How I Keep House on 250 A Year' tag.

When I commenced housekeeping it was not with the idea that to be a housekeeper it was only necessary to know something of cooking, and be able to order a dinner. I had definite notions of what it was most profitable to buy, etc., but as much of my knowledge was theoretical, I had a great deal to learn practically and though, of course, no one person's housekeeping could exactly suit another, I hope that my experience may be of use to those who, like ourselves, have but limited means, but who do not mind taking a little thought and trouble about their arrangements in order to have a really well-regulated house.

I must premise that we are three in a family, two ladies and one gentleman, all young, and all water drinkers; we rent a small house (of which the landlord does the repairs) in a suburb of London within four miles of Charing Cross.

We keep two servants, the elder is twenty, the younger fourteen or fifteen years of age. When I began housekeeping I debated with myself as to whether we should have one or two. One would be more economical, but then we like to dine late, to have our dinners nicely sent up, and to be waited on at table, and we should neither of us cared to have stayed in or answered the door when our domestic went out; so I decided that my economy should be exercised in some other direction, where it would interfere less with our comfort, especially as I calculated that with two servants I could have all the small things and the table napkins, kitchen cloths, etc., washed at home and so reduce the laundress's bill considerably besides saving the linen. How we do the washing I will tell my readers in a future article.

The question of servants decided, I took a pencil and paper to make an estimate of our probable expenditure, doing my best that the items should be commensurate; but there were so many things to put down, that the task was not an easy one, and I am sure that many will be surprised at the number of things that have to be paid for besides food. The following is a copy of my estimate:-

Rent, per annum - £40 / 0 / 0
Inhabited house duty - £1 / 10 / 0
Parish rates (rated at £35) - £7 / 10 / 0
Water rate - £1 / 16 / 0
Pew rent - £3 / 0 / 0
Fire insurance on furniture, etc. - £0 / 10 / 0
Gas - £4 / 0 / 0
Coals - £9 / 0 / 0
Wages, cook - £14 / 0 / 0
Wages, girl - £5 / 0 /0
Entertainments - £12 / 0 /0
Extra expenses during the summer holiday - £12 / 0 /0
Wear and tear on house linen and crockery - £3 / 0 /0
Charities and subscriptions - £5 / 0 0
Newspapers, periodicals, stationery, etc - £2 / 14 / 0
Chemist - £2 / 0 / 0
Fifty-two weeks' board and washing at £2 8s. a week - £124 / 16 / 0

Total: £247 / 16 / 0
Balance for sundries - £2 / 4 / 0
TOTAL - £250 / 0 / 0

It will be seen that clothes have not to come out of the £250, which, however, covers all other expenses. There is nothing put down for medical attendance; all I can say is that should we be unfortunate enough to have illness in the house we must that year do without entertainments; and perhaps it even might happen that we could not all take a summer holiday.

It would appear from my figures that scarcely any margin is left; this is not quite the fact, for there is a sum put down for entertaining, but there is no reduction made for our being out sometimes, so that, in truth, I always have at the end of the year a small balance from the £2 8s. put down for board and laundress.

With regard to the second, third and fourth items in my list, I often hear ladies say, "Oh, I know nothing about rates and taxes". But why know nothing about them? A housekeeper should know everything connected with her house, and be able to tell whether the charges are right or not; they are, too, like most things, very easy to understand when once explained.

The inland revenue, generally called "Queen's" taxes, are collected once a year. They are: - the income-tax, which is so much (variable from year to year) in the pound on the rent, and has to be paid by the tenant, but the rent being the landlord's income, he is bound to allow the tenant, on the production of the receipt, the amount back out of the following quarter's rent. The inhabited house duty, which is always ninepence in the pound on the rent, is the the tenant's tax.

These two are paid by every householder; the others are special, such as a horse, carriage, using armorial bearings, under which head comes crested notepaper, or wearing a ring with a crest on it, licence to keep a dog, etc.

The next are the parish rates. Houses are generally rated somewhat below the rental, except in cases where the rent is below the value of the house; this frequently happens where have been for a long time in a house and the neighbourhood has improved; the house is then assessed at the fair value. The parish rates are collected twice a year, and vary a little; all particulars are given plainly on the papers themselves with the rateable value, and anyone who will read them through will find no difficulty in understanding them.

The rates vary very much in amount in different towns and parishes, being much higher where there are many poor; then, too, some country towns and parishes have special tithes and rates. The water rate is collected twice a year, and is four per cent, on the rateable value, with an extra charge for special services.

Some of the water companies know give particulars on the back of their accounts, from which one may easily calculate what the bill should be.

My readers must now see that they will altogether have five tax or rate papers sent them every year.

I always have young servants. I do not at all mind having to teach them; when I engage a fresh servant for the kitchen I inquire if she likes cooking, which is of far more importance than the little she may chance to know; the same with the younger servant. I would not take one who did not like waiting at table, for I find it is almost impossible to teach them things they do not care for. With young cooks I find it answers best to tell them how to do things, making them repeat to me the instructions, so as to find out if they have really understood me; then in a week or two, when they may be supposed to have mastered some of the rudiments of cooking, I lend them recipes and I must say that I very rarely have anything spoilt.

As account book I use Letts's "Housekeeper enlarged". This contains a tradesmen's summary, by which I am able to see how much each article of consumption has cost during the year, and to know on what I may spend a little more or must spend a little less the next year. It also contains a register for gas, taxes, etc. I enter my receipts and expenditure daily, and have no sundries; everything is put down separately.

I go down into the larder every morning directly after breakfast and see what is required, but I do not then say what will be for dinner, for I always go to the shops, see the meat and other things weighed, and pay for them. By doing this I am sure that I am better served. I do not say that the butcher actually charges me less, but that he trims the meat better, so I have not so much skin and bone to pay elevenpence a pound for. The reason for not ordering dinner before going out is that prices vary very much from day to day, and though one might like to have chickens or salmon, either would do as well on a day when it was plentiful as when it was scarce and consequently dear.

I have no bills except the milkman's and the baker's, and these I pay weekly. There is a basket hung by the back door, in which are two books, one for the baker, the other for the milkman. In these they write down daily the bread and milk taken. I look through them every week and by them check the weekly books. On my return from marketing I go to my store cupboard (in which I always keep a white bib-apron and a pair of gloves) and give out what is needed for the day.

Though I have a store cupboard with a great variety of things in it, so as never to have to send out for anything, I do not keep large stores. Storerooms sometimes lead to a great deal of extravagance - people are so apt to forget the cost of what is in the house. I know a housekeeper who, to be economical, orders her grocery in large quantities once a quarter from stores. I think she would be astonished if she calculated how much it cost her a week. She is careful in most things, but, having it in the house, she does not think whether it is better to give sago at 2 1/2 d. a pound for kitchen puddings, or Rio tapioca that cost 6 1/2 d. a pound; and so with many other things.

I am frequently asked what I "allow".  I order in certain quantities of things, and I expect them to last; but I do not ever say to a servant that I "allow" so much, and if they asked me for a little more of anything, if they were on the whole careful, I should give it. I neither allow beer nor beer money, but sometimes I have been asked for a little coffee. I give out every Saturday, for the two servants, two pounds of moist sugar and half a pound of tea; out of this they often bring us up two cups in the afternoon. They have a pound of butter a week, as much treacle as they like, and usually we all eat from the same cheese; soap, soda, matches, wood, etc., are also given out each week. We use about a third of a pound of yellow soap (exclusive of washing) a week, and a bundle of wood has to light two fires.

I neither allow meat breakfasts nor suppers in the kitchen, excepting Sunday, when they have eggs for breakfast, or at any time that I want something finished. They frequently have soup or such vegetables as marrow or haricot beans for supper. I find they like it, and it costs no more than cheese. Baked potatoes and stewed onions also make good suppers for them.

The following list of our meals for a week will give an idea of how we live. There is no gentleman at home to lunch; we are not great meat eaters, and often prefer soup of pudding to meat in the middle of the day. It is the rule that whatever soup or pudding is made for the kitchen dinner comes upstairs first, whether we want it or not. This is done to insure its being made, and being properly made, for sometimes cooks are negligent over kitchen cooking, and badly made things are probably wasted.

On Sundays we always have a joint and dine early. The servants dine after us.

SUNDAYS:- Breakfast: Fried cod and boiled eggs. Dinner: White onion soup, roast leg of mutton, cabbage and potatoes, baked apple dumpling, small water melon. Supper: Sardines, stewed spinach, and home-made tartlet.

MONDAY:- Breakfast: Sardines and curried eggs.  Midday dinner: Cold mutton, potatoes, treacle pudding. Late Dinner: Whiting, pudding, some slices of underdone mutton fried in paste and breadcrumbs and served with tomato sauce and mashed potatoes, boiled lemon pudding.

TUESDAY:- Breakfast: Fried bacon and remainder of sardines served on toast. Midday Dinner: Pea soup, cold mutton and potatoes. Late Dinner: Haricot beans stewed in gravy, roast fowl, boiled bacon (piece of flank) and cabbage, ground rice souffle.

WEDNESDAY:- Breakfast: cold bacon. Midday Dinner: Baked haddocks and potato pie made with the remains of the cold mutton. Late Dinner: Palestine soup, chicken croquettes (made of the pickings off the fowl bones), beef olives, potatoes rubbed through a sieve, macaroni cheese.

THURSDAY:- Breakfast: Cold bacon and remainder of croquettes or beef olives made hot. Midday Dinner: Pudding made of neck of beef, ox kidney, and Jerusalem artichokes. Late Dinner: Soles au gratin (with mushrooms), roast ribs of beef, stewed carrots and potatoes, fried jam puffs.

FRIDAY:- Breakfast: Stewed eels. Midday Dinner: Potato soup, cold beef, and baked potatoes. Late Dinner: Boiled haddock and egg sauce, cold beef, salad, and potato balls, baked currant pudding.

SATURDAY:- Breakfast: Fishcakes (made of the remains of the haddock and egg sauce), and eggs au plat. Midday Dinner: Remains of the beef stewed with carrots, potatoes and onions, bread pudding with plums in it. Late Dinner: Macaroni soup (made from the beef bone, etc.), scrag of mutton, haricot, pancakes.

I must append the result at the end of the week. I regret that space does not allow me to give the copies of my bills in detail, so I must give the totals.

Butcher (and fowl) - 17s. 6d.
Fishmonger - 14s. 2d.
Eggs - 1s. 6.
3/4 lb. fresh butter - 1s. 1 1/2d. 
1/2 lb. cooking do. - 0s. 7d. 
1 lb kitchen do - 1s. 2d.
1/2 lb. kitchen tea - 0s. 9d.
2 lbs. kitchen sugar - 0s. 5d.
1/2 lb. tea - 1s. 0.
3/4 lb. coffee, 9d., 2 oz. chicory, 1d. - 0 10d.
Milk bill - 2s. 3d.
Bread - 3s. 6d. 
Flour - 0s. 7d.
Bacon and cheese - 3s. 0d.
Greengrocer - 3s. 6d.
Used from stores, grocery, etc. - 2s. 8d.
TOTAL - £2 4s. 6 1/2d. 

Add to this three shillings to be paid the laundress for things sent out, and the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER will perceive that at the end of my first week I had 5 1/2 d. in hand out of the £2s. 8s. allowed for housekeeping.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

May 1912 - The 'Titanic' editorial by Flora Klickman

I have a gap of years in my collection of the GOP, and then I have the 1911-1912 volume. Editor Flora Klickman has a monthly page, and usually it's about what she's cross-stitched lately, or thoughts she's had about life she'd like to share with her girls. The May 1912 Editor's Page was all about this thing that happened the month before. You might have heard about it. There was this ocean liner, and it sank. Flippancy aside, I can't imagine the impact this event would have had on the average reader of the GOP, and it's only in hindsight you can think about all the seismic cultural shifts that were around the corner for everyone, but girls and young women especially.

So. Here is Mrs Klickman's editorial on the sinking of the 'Titanic' and what she believed it meant for "her girls".

Just as I sat down to write my notes for this issue, the news was brought into my office of the awful tragedy of the Titanic. Like tens of thousands of other women, I cried unrestrainedly as I read the details, even though I had no relatives on board. The horror and terror of it all comes with especial vividness to those of us who have often crossed the Atlantic, and seen with our own eyes the cruel, deadly icebergs that defy all man’s efforts to combat them. All that I had intended to write this month has been forgotten in the sudden stupefying tidings of this frightful disaster.

After hearing every available item of news, and listening to experts discussing the affair from every point of view - till I feel I have been through it all myself - there are two words that stand out above all the rest of the cabled data - words that have impressed themselves indelibly on my mind and have taken on a totally new significance, words that I think I shall remember as long as I live - that short command


Do we at all realise what these words stood for to those thousands of human beings on that ship? Do we comprehend all that was implied in that brief order and in the instant acquiescence on the part of the men? I wonder!

For some time past a section of womankind has been agitating and clamouring to be placed on a footing of absolute equality with men; the question of women’s “rights” has been their constant topic of discussion; and man’s “unfairness” to the opposite sex perpetually enlarged upon.

But what of women’s rights in a crisis of this sort? What about equality when there was a pitiful insufficiency of boats? What about man’s “unfairness” to women when things suddenly resolved themselves down to the bare question of a life for a life?

Whose was the life to be given, and whose the life to be saved?

Supposing men had taken women at their word, and had placed them on an equality with themselves, where would those women have been in a hand-to-hand struggle for the lifeboats? And, still more awful to contemplate, how would their children have fared? For it must not be forgotten that when women step down from the higher plane assigned to them by Anglo-Saxon manhood and insist on being treated on a level of absolute equality, they will have to fight for their children’s lives as well as for their own. The woman and the child must always go together, with - or without - the man’s strength behind them; this is one of Nature’s irrevocable laws.

Because of the centuries of Christian teaching at the back of him, the Englishman of today (and with him I include the American) has elevated the status of woman to an extent unparalleled in any other era. She now has entire liberty in every department of life; she is free to come and go as she pleases to work, to play, to trade, to possess, to study, to preach, to earn, to spend, to rule, to do anything and everything she likes, as a matter of fact.

The Englishman has given a woman all this; but he has given her a great deal more. He has striven to shield her from the brutal side of life, and bear for her the brunt of the outside world strife; he has placed her in a position of highest honour because of her lesser strength; he has reverenced her for the spirituality and goodness which he instinctively believes is inherent in every woman - a belief which eventually the woman he loves either strengthens or undermines. He has, in short, placed woman far above himself in his esteem; and from being a mere slave or chattel he has raised her, literally, to the position of ruler.

And what has been the outcome? What form has woman’s gratitude for her emancipation taken?
In return for all this, certain women have filled the air with shrieks of denunciation, indulging in orgies of female hooliganism that would be a disgrace to the women of a savage tribe - and all in support of a wild insistence for equality, equality! One of the grievances of these women is the fact that men did not reply at once to their demands.

But the reply has come at last, and in no uncertain terms. In that supreme moment, when the choice lay between life and death, between sacrificing the woman or sacrificing himself, the Englishman instantly and unhesitatingly made his decision -


And in doing, his actions demonstrated, as no mere words could ever have done, that he still held a woman’s life in higher estimation than his own, and had no intention of lowering her to his own level. Whether we women are worth so colossal a sacrifice is a point each one must answer in her own soul. But that those men ennobled their race by their deed is beyond all question; while their heroism is further witness to the stupendous Living power of Christianity to lift nations out of the slough of brutish selfishness, impelling men, irrespective of rank and riches, to follow - even though it be afar of - in the footsteps of the One who laid down His life for the salvation of others.

A pathetic interest attaches itself to the article we are publishing this month “How a Newspaper is Produced”, which is probably one of the last things Mr Stead wrote. I received it on April 4th, only a few days before the famous journalist set out on that tragic voyage in the ill-fated Titanic.

While there were some views entertained by Mr Stead with which a large number of us did not agree, his sincerity was indisputable, his fine qualities were legion, and his genius was colossal. So far as the article we are now publishing is concerned, it deals with a subject on which Mr Stead was an undeniable authority. He had edited newspapers himself, and knew everything about their production from practical experience. I had intended to ask him to add a paragraph to this article dealing with the enormous expense a newspaper is put to in sending out special correspondents in time of war. But - he never saw the proof. It goes to press without his corrections.

10 October, 1885 - Answers to Correspondents - Housekeeping

ALICE:- Washing at home is, of course, the cheapest plan; and in addition you have the comfort of not being stinted. For a small family of two or three persons, you should wash every fortnight or three weeks, having a washerwoman in. She would probably take two days only if your servants did the folding and hanging out and helped in the ironing. 2s. and 2s. 6d. is paid by the day, the latter for ironing. A washing machine and a wringer simplify matters, and save in soap and time. About a bar of good old soap, four pennyworth of soda, and a quarter of a pound of starch would be enough. The clothes should be put in soak overnight.

TROUBLED HOUSEKEEPER:- The handles of knives may be cleaned with a rather thick mixture of whitening and water, left to dry and then rubbed off, or with common salt well-rubbed on with a damp cloth. Wash off and rub up with a leather. Salts of lemon is sometimes used also for stains.

BRIDE IN SEPTEMBER:- The refreshments for a wedding in the afternoon are arranged exactly as they would be for an afternoon "at home" - the wedding cake in the centre of the table, hot coffee and tea, iced coffee and lemonade, fruit, cakes, bread-and-butter, and ices, if you wish to have them.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

22 February, 1886 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

W.R.:- had better try to find some occupation, interest or amusement that will take her out of herself, and make her think of other people. She should take plenty of exercise, and bathe in tepid water every day; abstain from sitting up late at night and from reading novels.

OLD COTTONBALL:- A person is a bride whether married in church or at a registry office. In country neighbourhoods a bride is said to be considered one till some other bride comes within the year.

GORSE FLOWER:- had better induce a friend to give her lessons. A raw egg beaten up with sugar is said to give the voice strength, also gargling with salt and water.

A CONSTANT READER OF G.O.P.:- If the doctors cannot help you, we fear we cannot. Cod liver oil might do you good. Such glandular swellings are not uncommon, and they are very generally painted with iodine. Ask a doctor whether it will succeed.

SALLY COOK:- We do not think you are wise in praying so much for a husband, however lonely you feel. Marriage is a more serious undertaking than you are aware, and certainly we cannot tell you how to gain the young man you wish for very much. If you already  have a comfortable home, be contented with it, and thankful and if you have a widower father let it be your business in life to be a help and comfort to him in his comparative loneliness. This is your obvious duty.

PEGGIE:- If your husband died without a will, leaving you and one child, the estate would be divided in one third to wife and the rest to the child. His sisters have no claim on it.

A REBELLIOUS ONE:- There is no necessity for being awkward because you are tall. Be careful how you hold yourself. Never stoop, keep your head up and your chin well back, and take pains in walking well. Perhaps your brothers are envious of your height. If not strong, lie down for some time daily to rest your back, and always be thankful that you are not a poor little dwarf. We thank you for your kind letter. Your handwriting is neat and fairly good.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

27 February, 1886 - 'Dress: In Season and in Reason' by A Lady Dressmaker

There seems but little to say about new styles or ideas in the month of February. It is too early to think of getting new things, and our winter dresses are not sufficiently worn to need repair, and yet, with the increasing light, they will show wear in March, so it is worth our while to try to be prepared in time for anything that may happen. I feel sure that, to be dressed with economy and taste, all women need much provision. The extravagant woman or girl is always unprepared.

Black seems more generally won than anything else just now for gowns both out and indoors, and black velvet or velveteen skirts with black silk over-dresses seem popular. Coloured velvet skirts are also worn with black silk, and there seems no doubt that this old and well tried friend has once more returned to favour. Dark blue and very dark shades of green are liked for walking gowns and yellow in all shades is liked for the evening, a mixture of yellow and black being used by married ladies, and yellow and white by young girls, white nun's cloth with yellow satin or sateen, or thin white silks and thin yellows mingled.

Woollen materials continue to be the most popular, without doubt, for daily use. Rough woollens are more in favour than serge and diagonal cloths, and they are known under the all-containing name of boucle, a kind of knotted weaving thrown up to the surface on all kinds of smooth woollens, such as vigognes. The newest cloths are rough also, and there seems no doubt that this style will be continued throughout the year. But, as I have already said, very stout people must beware how they indulge in it, as these rough coarse surfaces undoubtedly increase their apparent size. Some of the new cloths are in light shades of stone-colour, drab, and Swede, but I do not think them suitable for winter-wear, and I prefer infinitely the dull red of the hues called terracotta or tomato, and a pretty copper colour which in some shops is called chrysanthemum. These make war looking dresses, and wear better than the lighter shades. The weaving of these clothes is not what is generally understood by that name, for it is not smooth nor fine, but coarse and rough, and very like the consistency of horse-cloths.

In tailor-made gowns I see that all kinds of Scotch materials are in favour; tweeds, cheviots, and the coarse Orkney cloths and velvet skirts are often used with them. Some new woollens are woven with a mixture of silk, the latter appearing in the shape of large stripes. These will be popular in the spring, I feel sue. One of the most wonderful materials of the present winter is plush with lace stripes in it, which seems an unsuitable and foolish mixture.

And now I must devote a few words to the newest way of making up gowns, so that my industrious girls may have an idea how to proceed with any dresses they may desire to make up early in the spring; and for this purpose I shall also select one of the newest shapes of bodices for the pattern of this month. It may be braided or not, as desired, of course. This bodice can be cut also as a round basque by leaving the same length at the sides as at the back and front, in which case it may be finished with two rows of machine stitching at the edge. I hear it said that we are to return to very long basques again with the spring, so long as to allow of pockets being placed in the long straight flaps in front.

Very large mantles are not much used as they were, except for warps in bad weather. The short jacket and the short mantle with sling sleeves seems to be the prevailing fashions, and I see no change likely to be made during the spring, except perhapsto the lengthening of the ends of the mantles in front. There seems an increasing liking for a small mantle to match the woollen dresses, and this will probably be a feature of the spring fashions. The backs of all the small mantles are plain and simple, and are tied into the figures at the back, the edge being turned under, not trimmed. This new small mantle is called the "Bernhardt", and it will probably be selected as the pattern for next month. It is admirably suited for making mantles like the dress, is very easy to make and takes little material and a very small amount of trimming. A pretty clasp may be placed at the neck. The new way of putting the trimmings on mantles is to trim the fronts, neck and sleeves, and not round the edge. It seems as if everything would be worn. Paletots, ulsters, redingotes, and coats are all used indiscriminately - an excellent thing for those who are not well enough off to change their mantles very often.

The illustration depicting an out of door scene gives nearly all of the novelties that are to be seen at present. In long cloaks the sling sleeve is the most popular shape, and the illustration shows one made of a plaid tweed, and one of diagonal boucle cloth, the latter having bands of velvet placed on it as a trimming.

The short mantle on the front figure has the new square ends in front, and the figure with her back to us wears a cloth mantle trimmed with grey astrachan, and a toque of the same.

The indoor scene gives one of the new striped dresses, and a gown with full pleatings in the front. On the extreme left a pretty evening dress is shown, made of lace,velvet and "rosary" jet beads. This is suitable either for a new or the re-making of an old dress, and would be easy to manage at home. The figure at the back shows a gown trimmed after the new method, with bands of velvet, put very closely, so as to allow only a small bit of the original materials to be seen.

It will be noticed that there is little change in dressing the hair, the only thing I remember being that young girls seem to like the Cotogan plait, which is made by plaiting all the hair together at the back and turning it up, tying up the end with a ribbon at the nape of the neck.

There seems to be little change in the shape of bonnets. All are small, many of plain felt edged with fur, and all the crowns are very much cut up at the back to show all the back hair. With this style of course the coils of small braids look the best, and where nothing by the way of hair dressing is achieved, the effect is anything but lovely, and a girl who cares for her appearance had better wear a hat. The newest bonnets have the brim cleft in two over the forehead, and all the trimmings placed there, generally of feathers, or a large pompon of cock's plumes. Grey bonnets and hats are much worn with black dresses. Flowers are hardly seen as the trimmings to bonnets or hats, and ribbons seem the all-prevailing thing in millinery.

All the hats seen are high, and the trimming is put on as high as possible. These seem to be no new shapes at all, save one with a high crown, and the brim turned up to each side, like a "boat-shaped" of the old days.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

22 February 1886 - Answers to Correspondents - Cookery

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CIS:- is wise in not permitting anyone to "cook her goose" for her; but we think she might contrive to accomplish that feat for herself by the aid of a shilling cookery-book; or by asking for a hint from any old "goody" within a stone's throw. After being well plucked, singed, drawn, and trussed, which the poulterer will do for you, stuff it with sage, onion and potato, well mixed. Cut the thin outer rind from a small lemon and place it in the stuffing that the white skin left upon it may absorb what is objectionable in the onion flavouring. When the goose is dressed, remove the lemon before serving. Fasten a greased paper over the beast, and roast neck downwards, basting well during this roasting. A small bird will require about one and three-quarter hours and a large one from two to two and a half hours in roasting. Serve with good gravy and apple sauce.

ANGLO-INDIAN:- Dhal is made in England by putting one pint of split peas into one pint of boiling water or thin stock. Boil for five hours slowly till the peas be soft and pulpy, and add more liquid during the boiling if required.  Add a dessertspoonful of curry powder, two small onions cut up and fried, two ounces of butter, a little pepper, and three cloves. The peas should be boiled for some hours before they are wanted, and then warmed up with the other ingredients mentioned. In India this dish is served with boiled rice, as you do curry. We do not know a more nutritious dish, nor one more appetising than dhal.

E.C.P.:- Clear the broth in which beef has been boiled, and then boil it quickly, no lid being on the saucepan, and remove the scum as it rises. When reduced to about a quart, turn it into a small stewpan and boil it again, but more gently, till it becomes a thick syrup. Take out a little in a spoon, and if it set like a jelly it is ready. When at this stage it is in danger of burning, and then is spoilt, so be careful. Then place it in a dry jar and it will keep for a considerable time. When required, dissolve it by standing the jar in a saucepan of boiling water, half way up it. Glaze may be ready-made in skins, although we think it inferior to a good home-made preparation. Another plan is to soak a spoonful of gelatine in cold water, and then dissolve it in twice its bulk of strong brown gravy.

POLLY:- To make potato cheesecakes, take one pound of mashed potatoes, a quarter of a pound of sultana raisins, a quarter of a pound of sugar and butter, and three or four eggs. Mix well together and place in patty-pans lined with puff or flaky paste.