VINTAGE COOKERY BOOKS…

Before 1800, housekeeping books tended to be handwritten collections of recipes and instructions tried and tested by the household cook. By the 1850’s they were developed into books for ‘adult women’, in particular for your brides who were setting up home.

They were intended as work manuals, they were without lavish photography or even set in fine bindings but if you can get hold of one from a book shops they will amaze you. They tell us about the lives of the women in the past from where you can see social change and the disappearance of domestic servants.

Mrs Breton’s Book of Household Management, which was published in 1861 was a huge success and sold 60,000 copes in its first year and two million by 1868. Of course with no television at that time these books were inspirational.

By the time Helen Simpson wrote ‘The Happy Housewife’ in 1934 modern appliances were starting to pop up everywhere, not only helping with the housework but also removing the servants of that time.

In ‘Keeping House’ with Elizabeth Craig (Collins 1936) she said ‘ I have no use for elaborately decorated or furnished homes or for elaborate meals. The simpler the home, the simpler the housekeeping.

Some of these vintage home books can now fetch a lot of money at auction. A book published in 1687 ‘The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closit of Rarities’, by John Shirley sold at Sothebys for £1,625. So, if your great aunt or grandma are still alive and have some old cookery books make sure they don’t end up at the tip.

Even the National Trust ‘Manual of Housekeeping of 2006’ sold 10,000 copies in 2006 and is now being reprinted !!!

BREW MONDAY 2020…

Brew Monday 2020 is run by the Samaritans.

When it’s cold and grey outside, getting people together to connect over a warming cuppa and a good conversation helps to make us feel better and manage the ups and downs of life.

Have a Brew Monday any Monday this January or February, or a day that’s good for you.

And by using your get-together to raise money for Samaritans, you’ll help give people having a tough time somewhere to turn when they need to talk.

Kick start the New Year with a morale boosting workplace get together. Having a Brew Monday helps pick people up, let’s colleagues get to know each other, and is a lovely way for employers to show they care about wellbeing.

Keep it small or make it big. A Brew Monday is a good excuse to invite over neighbours, or parents after the morning school run. Or just to get friends together you haven’t seen for a while, for a really good chat.

At school. At the gym or the rugby club. In the village hall or the church. Introduce people to each other, make new friends, feel your community enjoying itself. On a Monday, or another day. Whatever works.

It costs just £5 for Samaritans to be able to answer a call for help from someone struggling to cope with big, difficult feelings, who may feel so alone.

A donation to Samaritans for a lovely cuppa and a piece of cake – or two – can bring warmth to someone at the toughest time of their life.

It can even save their life.

Imagine what a Brew could do.

7 QUICK TIPS ON BAKING CAKES…

  1. When baking shortbread cookies, substitute half of your plain flour with cornflour. It gives them a really nice taste.
  2. Before icing a cake, sprinkle the top with some flour, this will stop the icing from running down over the edges of the cake.
  3. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.
  4. Don’t crowd the oven with Baking tins. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven or be placed over or under each other on the racks.
  5. Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.
  6. Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the grease line. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.
  7. To test for doneness in cakes, quick breads and bar cookies, use a toothpick inserted in the center. The toothpick should come out clean and dry or have only a few crumbs clinging to it.

For more great tips on baking check out my book on Amazon.

A Little Book On Tea, Cake and Chocolate: TEA pairings, TEA and chocolate, TEA and its health benefits plus over 100 tips on BAKING cakes.

UK’s PRIME MINISTER’S RECIPE FOR CHEESE ON TOAST…

With so many celebrity chefs in the UK, you would not expect the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to come up with his recipe for the typically British favourite of ‘Cheese on Toast’, but apparently where he was the Major of London he came up with this recipe.

Well he did and his method is quite simple, ‘Cover toast with slabs of cheese. Grill until it gets all nice’.

I think I can make that one Boris…

7 OF THE BEST WAYS TO STORE YOUR TEA…

  1. It’s best to transfer both loose tea and tea bags from a cardboard or paper packet or tub into an air-tight container.
  2. Tins and caddies with tight-fitting lids are good as they can keep out smells and humidity which can affect the tea.
  3. Storing the jars in a dark cupboard will mean the tea will keep well.
  4. You should never keep it in the fridge as there is always the chance that water will get into the packet.
  5. You should always be careful with flavoured teas, as the added flavourings can be very powerful and easily taint other teas nearby.
  6. For loose tea, it is essential that you check that the spoon or scoop that you use is completely dry.
  7. If there is even a drop of moisture on the spoon, the humidity introduced to the interior of the packet or caddy will have an effect on the quality of flavour.

GROWING YOUR OWN TEA…

We are not talking about herbal teas either, but real tea: Camellia sinensis. You don’t need a large garden to grow your own tea, a planter on a balcony would work just fine.

‘You could try growing Camellia sinensis in a greenhouse, or in a pot that you can bring indoors during cold winters.

The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.

A great site with all the details on growing your own tea is ‘Guide to Growing Tea’, and you might be able to get seeds at your local nursery or try online at Amazon.

From that plant, you could make black, green or oolong tea. Fascinating stuff and for all us tea lovers, its another thing we can try growing in the garden.

BEAUTIFUL DANISH PASTRY IN SKAGEN, DENMARK…

We had a recent one week’s cruise to Bruges in Brussels, Copenhagen and Skagen in Denmark and Oslo in Sweden. The weather was beautiful apart from in Oslo where it was dull and damp but that certainly didn’t spoil our visit.

Our first port of call was Bruges where we could easily walk to from the ship and where we were determined to have some of their famous moules frites.

Our second port of call was Copenhagen where we were told before we embarked that eating a meal in Copenhagen was very very expensive so we decided to just have a drink then go back to the ship for lunch. We had a lovely boat ride around Copenhagen, which was stunning.

Our third port of call was Skagen also in Denmark where we were taken to a little village with lots and lots and lots of little coffee shops and restaurants but this time we decided we would have a Danish Pastry and a cup of tea.

It was the nicest, lightest danish I had ever had and was worth every penny to pay for it. I loved Skagen and it’s quirky interior shops. Our final port of call was Oslo, the home of the troll which was another expensive stop but well worth walking around the town and the views as we left Oslo were something I will never forget. It seemed to go on for ages with little island after little island and yellow painted houses and ski lifts. I would love to make a visit back to Oslo as I felt out of all three it would make a great place for a weekend break.