Posts Tagged ‘housekeeping’

365 Days Draw to a Close…

December 1, 2010

Although it’s been a little while since I’ve posted (finishing up a job in Germany, moving to Canada, setting up a new business, etc. have kept me rather busy), Mrs Beeton and Household Management are very often in my mind.

x

x

Over the last year, as I’ve tried a multitude of her wonderful (and not so wonderful) recipes and tips, I’ve drawn quite a few conclusions about Victorian England and the art of running a household in general.  Here are a just a few of them:

1. That English food is ‘rubbish’ or ‘sub-standard’ (as many people I’ve spoken to seem to unhesitatingly think, even if they’ve never tried it) is a fallacy.  English cooking often gets bad press, as far as its image goes.  But reputation in this case has very little to do with reality.  Perhaps there was a time when it wasn’t as inspirational or interesting as it could have been (I suspect the 1970s, but I could be wrong), but the lingering perception amongst the general public is really quite unfair when compared to reality.

2. That England has lousy cooks.  Again, I don’t know where this general idea comes from, and nor do people I’ve spoken to when pressed to back up their claim with an example.  If television is anything to go by (in the 21st century alone, think Rick Stein, Keith Floyd, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Worral-Thompson, Delia Smith, Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre-White, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, Gary Rhodes, etc. etc. etc.), then the great English cook is alive and lustily kicking.

3. That running a household is something easy and effortless – ‘just a woman’s job’.  If my other half was fond of joking about this a year ago, he certainly isn’t now. What’s more, for those women and men who choose to make housekeeping / home-making a full-time job (and even for those who do it in addition to raising kids and working outside the home), I say ‘bravo’.

xx

As I finish my year of running my household with the reassuring guidance of Mrs Beeton, I feel I’ve come away from this adventure with a richer kitchen repertoire, a broader range of household tactics, and a whole lot more self-respect for my roles as Head of Finance, Head of Cooking, Head of Cleaning and Head of Procurement.

Thank you, Isabella Beeton.  It’s been an absolute pleasure.

x

Advertisements

Mrs Beeton and the Art of Early Rising

June 4, 2010

Waking early has always given me an inexplicable sense of calm and order.

x

x

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always awoken at the first glinting hint of dawn, if not before.  In the past, I generally stayed up until nearly midnight, quite happily surviving on 6 hours of sleep or a little less.  I can’t say I always fly out of bed trilling and tango-ing gleefully (especially in the shivery chills of winter), but it always feels somewhat, oddly right to arise while the world still slumbers.

x

x

These days, I’m still an absurdly early riser (even when our three cats don’t mew wake me at 4.40am, like they did this morning, begging to be fed.  I was away on a solo cycling holiday for 4 days until yesterday, leaving my boyfriend in charge of their two ‘wet’ meals a day.  But, as he’s a guy who snores louder than an erupting volcano and can – indeed, has proven that he can, will and must – sleep through hailstorms, cat fights, being poked, jabbed and hollered at, as well as frenzied vacuuming, the poor little dears had to wait until at least 8am to be fed.  No doubt they’d have hot-lined the RSPCA if they could).

x

x

4.40am, thankfully, is not the usual time I’m up.  My alarm is generally set for 5.45am (6.30am on Sundays), although I more often than not awaken a few minutes before the alarm pings me out of bed and causes my boyfriend to grunt and roll over in his sleep.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to, I don’t seem to last the distance in the evenings as long as I used to (I don’t think it has anything to do with age, I’m only 33!).  With a full-time ‘official’ job, and a full-time job at home (I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that cleaning, cooking, taking care of family / pets /household etc. is more than a full-time job, leaving precious little time for hobbies or other forms of relaxation.  And I don’t even have children yet!).

x

I’ve also recently noticed that a glass or two of wine after dinner is enough to have me crawling desperately into bed, with barely enough time left to clean the kitchen, tidy up the living room, put away the cats’ bowls, fold the dry laundry, set up for the morning, pre-prepare the coffee maker, put out my clothes for the morning and other assorted pre-bed activities).

x

x

And yet, I don’t think I really mind.  Too much. Who was it that said ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’?  Everything I do is my own, instinctive choice.  My boyfriend is usually stunned and peskily delighted (“Ha!  I actually got up before her!”) when I very, very infrequently stay in bed a bit longer.

Interestingly, here’s what Mrs Beeton had to say about early rising – especially for the ‘mistress’ (or hausfrau, homemaker, housekeeper, housewife, serving wench, domestic slave or whatever else we like or tend to call ourselves!)

x

EARLY RISING IS ONE OF THE MOST ESSENTIAL QUALITIES which enter into good Household Management, as it is not only the parent of health, but of innumerable other advantages. Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well-managed. On the contrary, if she remain in bed till a late hour, then the domestics, who, as we have before observed, invariably partake somewhat of their mistress’s character, will surely become sluggards. To self-indulgence all are more or less disposed, and it is not to be expected that servants are freer from this fault than the heads of houses.

x

Aside from the comment about sluggardly domestics, her advice still rings true today.  At least, I feel it does for me.  There’s not enough time in the day for everything as it is.  Even in the 21st century, early rising seems – to me – essential for some sense of order in the household, no matter the size.  Not to my boyfriend, however, who is at this very moment snoring lightly, wrapped cosily in both his own blanket and mine, too.

x

x

On balance I think, even if I had the choice to stay in bed later, I probably wouldn’t.  For, to quote Mrs Beeton (quoting ‘The great Lord Chatham’):  “I would have inscribed on the curtains of your bed, and the walls of your chamber, ‘If you do not rise early, you can make progress in nothing.’”

x

Mrs Beeton’s Advice for the Mistress of the House: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/01-chapter1.html#3

A Simple Use for Cold Potatoes

March 27, 2010

Following a horrifyingly high electricity / gas ‘corrected’ bill from our provider (who, it seems, heartily took the recently harsh winter into account when re-calculating people’s ‘average’ electricity consumption, and used this as the basis of the revised fixed monthly payment – meaning that we got a 110% increase to our monthly estimate), I’m on an energy-saving mission.

Off goes the 6-8 hour a day PC use in our household.  Out goes cooking every day.  Out goes the heating switch, unless vital.  Showers are being shortened.  Appliances are being unplugged unless in use.  Our cats are becoming readily-available sources of warmth (they seem rather startled but pleased at the sudden increase of permitted lap sittage).  My boyfriend’s face is getting longer and longer as I come up with more energy saving ideas.  I’m beginning to feel rather Victorian already.

In keeping with this new approach to energy efficiency, I managed to have 5 different dishes going simultaneously in the oven last night.  And I even used the residual heat once the oven was switched off to dry some old bread for use as breadcrumbs.

To use up some cold potatoes, I, rather conveniently, found a recipe for ‘How to use cold potatoes’ in Household Management.

x

INGREDIENTS – The remains of cold potatoes; to every lb. allow 2 tablespoonfuls of flour, 2 ditto of minced onions, 1 oz. of butter, milk.

x

It’s a quick and simple recipe.  Simply mash the potatoes, add the other ingredients, and pop the mix into some small pie moulds and slide them in the oven.  In 25 minutes, little potato pies are ready for consumption.

”Bit bland, isn’t it though?” commented my ever-so-slightly disappointed boyfriend as he reached for the salt.

True, I silently admitted.  Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, a dash of salt and pepper in the mix before baking it is highly recommended, to make it more appealing.

But, as far as economy and simplicity go, this recipe is absolutely perfect.

Now, where are those cats…?

x

Cold Potato Recipe (Recipe 1141): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/25-chapter25.html#1141

Day 29: Head Fakery at the Dinner Table

December 16, 2009

Tonight is Vegetarian Night (sorry, ‘’Meat Reduced Night”).

Or, it was supposed to be.

With heavily-sighed reluctance, my boyfriend recently agreed to eat two meat-free meals per week,  so we can eat the same main dish together sometimes.  I use ‘’meat reduced’’ rather than ‘’vegetarian’’ as a bit of a head-fake term.  Not that it fools him much.

I had it all planned out – stuffed Butternut Squash, roast veg and a mushroom sauce on the side.  Usually, if he doesn’t get too involved in the preparation (cue locked kitchen door and refusal to answer any statement starting with ‘What is that…?’ or ‘’Are you going to do it like that?”), then he’ll give most things a try.

Then came the proverbial spanner.

“I’ll be home soon – I finished an hour early,’’ came his unexpected call.

Scheiße (shit).

I was pretty ravenous already and knew he would be too.  Unless I came up with something quickly, I could see myself being persuaded to order a pizza.

I lunged for Household Management and began panic-scanning the soup recipes.

Potato Soup (Version 1)

INGREDIENTS – 4 lbs. of mealy potatoes, boiled or steamed very dry, pepper and salt to taste, 2 quarts of stock (from recipe no. 105).


Luckily I’d sent him on a detour to the local building centre to buy a new kitchen tap and to check out some shelves, gaining me some valuable minutes to get the soup on and rescue  Meat Reduced Night.

Naturally, that ol’ spanner hadn’t yet finished clunking round the works.

B: “Just calling to check how much I should spend on the shelf.”

Me: (gasping slightly as I dashed about the kitchen) “Happy to leave that up to you,” (chopping frantically at the potatoes and shooing away our greedy black cat)

B: “€15 or €17…?” he pressed.

Me: “The cheaper the better.  Up to you.  See you soon!”

Hang up the phone.  Push cat off bench.  Attempt to fill saucepan with water.  Forget tap is broken.  Water sprays out, drenching my face and top.  Cue swearing.  Phone rings.

B: “Wasn’t there something else I was supposed to get?”

Me: “No no,” I trilled with false calm, “I think that’s everything.”

2 minutes later, I got him off the topics of shelf pros and cons and off the phone.

Hasten to finish soup and get the main course on.  Shove cat off bench again.  Open cupboard to get something.  Half the contents crash out.  Cue more swearing.  Forget tap is broken. Again. Water sprays out, drenching my face and top.  Again. Cue swearing.  Again.

Just as his keys were inserted into the key hole, the soup was miraculously done.

Taking inspiration from one of the soup variations listed under the first recipe, I tossed in a piece of wholegrain bread to bulk the soup up and give it a healthy boost.  I told him about it but didn’t give specifics. Another bit of head-fakery on my part, as my boyfriend despises non-white bread (‘’fruity bread’’).  Well, he never asked me what type of bread I put in…

We enjoyed the soup.  Simple and (barring distractions) super quick.  I added some oregano and a dash of cream to finish it off before serving.

As for my boyfriend’s reaction to the main dish, well, you probably don’t want to know.

Potato Soup Recipes: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/06-chapter6.html (Recipe 145 – 47)

Day 27: How Not to Go Insane Over Household Spending (Part 2)

December 14, 2009

It’s 10.53pm, I’m utterly knackered, and all I want to do is get everything ready for the morning and crawl under the covers of my warm, ever-so-slightly cat-haired duvet.  Bliss.

But there’s something that’s been looming over me for the last few days: something that simply won’t be shooed away by sighs of weariness and attempts to ‘’think about it tomorrow”.

Ah, household accounts.  How I love thee.  When they’re done, that is.

As it’s been nearly a month since my renewed flush of enthusiasm, and with Saint Nick-related spending emptying one’s pockets, I realize it’s vital to keep on top of our end-of-year spending.  At the same time, a flicker of trepidation at just how much that might be at this stage contributed to a reluctance to do the accounts each day as vowed.  Catch 22.

With a glass of wine to fortify the effort, and playful cats gleefully darting after the scrunched-up paper balls, I set to work on the small mound of receipts, IOUs and mental notes that awaited attention.

The new system, as suggested by Isabella Beeton, breaks spending down into specific categories (Fruit & Vegetables, Meat, etc.).  At the top of each column is its monthly limit.  Entries are (or should be) regularly made with a running total calculated every few days to help keep a tab on things.

In spite of added festive spending for the kitchen and Beeton-inspired experiments, I exhaled with relief when each column’s current month-to-date total came in well under the limit I’d set.

So, by keeping a close eye on the accounts and trying to register everything on a daily basis, I’m sure I can continue to achieve this.

Moral of the story:  A close eye on your budget = a tight rein on your spending.

Likely outcome of the story: I’m afraid that I’m no fiscal saint, try as I might.  I’ll commit to updating it at least twice a week and see how it goes.  So far, the results are much more encouraging compared to my previous way of managing things.

Day 25: Heavenly, Buttery Shortbread

December 13, 2009

I must say, it’s terrific fun to try so many new recipes.

At this time of year, I’m thinking of what end-of-year gesture I can make to colleagues.  The idea of baking some cakes and biscuits for everyone to share is the most appealing – it’s fun for me, enjoyable for them, and does away with the overly-commercial (and superficial) pressure to buy and give a zillion unwanted gifts.

Isabella Beeton provides a simple recipe for shortbread (see bottom of page).  I’ve never thought of making this before (I mean, doesn’t it just come in a Walker’s box?).  But, as it’s so tastily festive, I added it to my little list of goodies to bake this weekend (I’m going on holiday after this week).

Step 1: Cream the butter (by-the-by, have you ever noticed just how heavenly the smell of butter really is?  Usually I use it at fridge temperature and in small quantities but, as a lot is required for shortbread, I found myself beating a larger-than-usual quantity.  The scent is creamy, sweet paradise.

Step 2: Gradually incorporate the flour and other ingredients.  Isabella describes the result as a ‘paste’, but I ended up with a clingy, crumbly mixture.  Unfortunately I don’t have kitchen scales, so measurements were converted into cups (1 cup of flour = 120 grams and so on…).   However, the mixture stuck together when I pressed it into a square tray and pricked it all over before baking.

Step 3: Slide the tray into the oven and drool in anticipation for 25 minutes.  The recipe calls for ‘a good oven’ temperature; so I opted for 190 °C, which worked out just fine.

Despite nearly winding myself and losing an eye when cracking open the almonds (I bought them market-fresh, then crushed them in a pestle-and-mortar – those hardy shells make for determined missiles if cracked too energetically), all-in-all this was a supremely simple recipe to follow.

The shortbread, once it had cooled down, was really delicious – delicately buttery and crumble-creamily–in-your-mouth in texture.  It  was, perhaps, slightly under-sweet for modern tastes, so next time I’d probably add an extra spoon or two of sugar.  Otherwise, absolutely perfect.

Heaven.

Scotch Shortbread Recipe: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html (Recipe 1780)

Ground to Perfection

December 6, 2009

Call me an idealist, but I firmly believe that food and drink just tastes so much better when it’s fresh.

We’re quite fond of visiting local flea-markets and antiques markets on weekends, although prices at the latter usually bring with them a look-but-no-way-we-can-afford-to-buy-anything policy.

I’m always longingly eyeing up kitchen stuff, especially the old-fashioned coffee grinders.  Despite being more of a tea drinker, I’ve always found them rather fascinating as kitschy remnants of the past.

Today, we finally took the plunge and bought one.

Shops are closed on Sundays in Germany, so we swung by our local Starbucks and picked up a pack of medium-bodied Latin American coffee beans.

To have coffee in perfection, it should be roasted and ground just before it is used,” Isabella Beeton advises, ‘’and more should not be ground at a time than is wanted for immediate use…’’

The beans came pre-roasted, but we were able to do the grinding ourselves.

It took 4-5 minutes to grind the appropriate amount of beans to match the quantity my boyfriend normally gets through first thing in the morning (a lot).  It’s useful to be reminded that modern conveniences (which contribute to the expectation that everything is ‘instant’) are just that, and not something that is simply pulled out of a hat – or shopping basket – without someone or something doing the work for us to make life easier.

I tend to be more enthusiastic about food and drink than my boyfriend, but he seemed to enjoy the novelty of grinding the beans and watching them turn into deliciously-scented grounds.

I have to say, the kitchen smelt heavenly while the coffee was brewing – fresh, fresh coffee is such a fabulously-homey scent.  I actually enjoyed the process of preparing the grounds and waiting for the coffee to brew, instead of merely pressing a button and doing something else while I wait.

To me, the coffee tasted far better and fresher than the pre-ground variety.  But my boyfriend is the big coffee drinker in our household, so I hand over to him for his measured assessment:

”It’s nice.  I’m not saying I don’t like it.  It’s alright.  It’s nice. It’s good.’’

High praise indeed.

I can see this becoming a weekend rather than a weekday activity.  But that’s OK.  I’d hate for such a pleasurable little ritual to become snoringly routine.

More on Isabella Beeton’s advice about coffee: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/36-chapter36.html

The Meaning of Charity

December 2, 2009

Charity and benevolence,” writes Isabella Beeton, ”are duties which a mistress owes to herself as well as to her fellow-creatures; and there is scarcely any income so small, but something may be spared to it…  It is to be always remembered, however, that it is the spirit of charity which imparts to the gift a value far beyond its actual amount, and is by far its better part.”

The problem is, I’m not really sure what ‘charity’ means.  Well, in a literal sense I do (‘to help others less fortunate than yourself’).  But the word has a slightly superficial, do-gooding ring to it.  It makes a definable goodie-goodie virtue of something that should be an essential part of human nature, not something unique to and worth pointing about about the pro-actively good amongst us.

I don’t think of myself as an ‘uncharitable’ person.  But when I think back to what I’ve actually done (not just thought about doing) to help others in a meaningful sense over the past year, all that springs to mind are some random acts of kindness and a regular handing-over of change to street beggars. (In the past I used to think 50c was OK – I’d pass 3-4 beggars per day and thought this, plus the occasional food package, was more than enough.  ”Insulting and inconsequential”, my boyfriend said.  So now I make it €1, but still feel guilty about it not being enough.  What’s too little or too much? Is there such a thing?)

When I lived in Ukraine (I left in September 2008), I did a lot more and felt really good about it.  I think often about the food, money and medicine that my friend and I gave to a lame, very ancient widow who could only survive by begging in a central Kyiv metro station every day.  Then struggling home in the overwhelming summer heats or bitter knock-you-on-your-feet snowy blizzards of winter.

The monetary amount wasn’t especially huge in western terms, but to her it was enough for several months’ rent, food and clothing.  Temporary security, but an indescribable relief from waking at 5am and begging all day, with no bathroom breaks or food to fuel the awful 10-hours on her barely-clad feet.

At the time I was in a miserable situation – freshly escaped from the tail-end of an unsatisfyingly loveless relationship that I’d tried so hard to make work, and rather lost in such a foreign (in every sense) country with a job I didn’t particularly respect or like.  It seemed easier to see the misery of others when I was also miserable.  Helping them out of their misery became my way of being less miserable myself.

It shouldn’t be like that.

I’m determined to do more – sincerely more – to help others in any way I’m able to.  Life’s too short and there is a heck of a lot of need out there, in small ways and big.

More to the point, I’m going to stop talking and start doing.  I recently met a guy who, on a deeply-felt impulse to make a difference, jumped on a plane and headed to Rwanda. He’s now overseeing the building of a school and is the force behind numerous wonderful projects that are pulling his new community out of poverty and giving people a self-sufficiently better life.  I promised to take time to sponsor some children so they could go to school, something I haven’t yet had a chance to do (really, an embarrassment over not understanding all the German on the website, even after studying the language for so many years in school – albeit 14 years ago.  Ridiculous pride).

Tonight, I’m going to finally take care of this.

I’m determined that from now on, I must be more aware of and do more to help others.

I don’t need to be miserable to be a more-aware human being.

For anyone who would like to know more about the Rwandan project, the link is:  http://www.schule-ruanda.info/ (the site is in German)

Ingenuity and Ignorance

December 1, 2009

My ignorance, their ingenuity.

The Victorians, I mean.

Until I came across  the intriguing line “The freezing-pot is best made of pewter…’’ at the beginning of Isabella Beeton’s section for flavoured ices, I had no idea that such technology even existed back then.  Talk about being a child of the ‘consumer goods’ age!

Some further research into what a freezing-pot actually was reveals little readily-available information, aside from Isabella Beeton’s description.  I found one very informative website that gives a brief overview of the technology, as well as a number of mouth-watering reproductions of Georgian and Victorian ices.

http://www.historicfood.com/Georgian%20Ices.htm

The basic freezing-pot model consisted of a wooden bucket with a smaller pewter container (sabotiere- we always liked borrowing words from the French for fancy stuff) which was placed inside.  In between, a mix of ice (“mixed very carefully with either salt, nitre, or soda” advises Isabella) was added.

The most amazing-looking ices could then be made with this seemingly simple, yet brilliantly effective, device.

So it wasn’t as high-tech as the modern freezer, but it sure beats paying an electricity bill to keep the milk cool.

I was also surprised to learn about Victorian oven technology.  I knew that they had them, because I’d seen them before at various museums.  But I never envied the women who used to manage such comparatively clunky contraptions.

The typical oven would be heated by wood or coal.  Without switches or a temperature gauge, the user needed a great deal of experience (not to mention burnt fingers) to know when the oven was ready.  It took a lot longer than modern ovens to heat up, which meant that cooking and baking was not a speedy process.

The user could, with experience, assess the oven’s readiness by methods such as the arm test (holding an elbow in the oven and counting – e.g. if it got to a count of 10 before the user found it too hot, then it had reached a certain heat– again, this was discovered by experience and the individual oven’s capabilities).  Measuring heat by specific temperatures wasn’t an option, hence Isabella’s broader directions for recipes (e.g. ‘brisk oven’).

Although I’d rather eat a carriage wheel than give up modern technology, I have a new-found respect for the technology of Isabella Beeton’s era.

At some point, I’m going to try and get my hands on a freezing-pot (or if nothing else, a ice mould) and attempt to reproduce one of her recipes.

A Perfect Weekend Breakfast

November 29, 2009

With my mouth stuffed full of warm bread as I write, I think there can be few other pleasures on a rolling-into-winter Sunday morning than  your own fresh Dampfnudeln.

It was a bit touch-and-go at times, sometimes because a step was missing from the recipe and sometimes for other reasons (including a dinner out at the home of some friends when the dough was rising). But I made it in the end. I did one batch last night and another this morning. Mmmm. Unfortunately, it was too late by that time to post something last night.

Dampfnudeln, or German Puddings

INGREDIENTS: 1 lb. of flour, 1/4 lb. of butter, 5 eggs, 2 small tablespoons of yeast, 2 tablespoons of finely-pounded sugar {regular or icing sugar will do}, milk, a very little salt.

This essentially breaks down into 4 (simple) steps.  The timings given are mostly mine:

1. Let the flour, yeast and milk mix rise for 30 minutes

2. Combine above with the other ingredients and leave to rise in a warm place (I switched the oven on for a minute, let it warm slightly, then turned it off and popped the covered bowl in there) for 45 minutes

3. Roll into chubby 1-inch balls and place (not touching) in a thick-bottomed, butter-slathered dish (I used a glass casserole dish).  Sprinkle with milk, add more milk (see comments below for quantity) and sprinkle with sugar.  Rise 45 minutes

4. Bake in a ‘brisk oven’ (I interpreted this as 200 degrees C) for 25 minutes, or until liquid has just evaporated and the buns are brown.   Gobble down with jam, honey or butter (if you can wait that long)

In the abridged edition, Step 2 is missing from the ‘Time’ information (Isabella’s advice about how long everything should take).  The quantity of milk is also sketchy (1/4 pint is mentioned, and she later mentions ‘a little more warm milk’ (I found this to be up to 2 tablespoons) and later, ‘sufficient milk to cover them’ (see note below).

This may be an editing oversight, but I have a funny feeling that it was missing in the original.  But as long as the instructions are read carefully through first (which, I confess, my eager rush to be baking something means that I don’t do this as often as I ought), then most of this can be figured out.

We were out for several hours between Steps 2 – 3, but fortunately this didn’t affect the dough (in fact, it was enthusiastically marching over the edges and looking to paint the town – or oven – red by the time we got home).

I couldn’t help but edit one step.  Once rolled into balls and placed in the dish, she says to ‘pour over sufficient milk to cover them’ and leave to further rise before baking.  I couldn’t see how this would possibly allow them to brown and the liquid to evaporate in the given space of time, so I just sprinkled them with milk and added just a couple of centimeters to the dish.

It took 25 minutes (not 10 -15) for them to bake.  The outcome is, however, mightily delicious.  I was surprised that, upon further research, the recipe doesn’t significantly differ from the modern German formula.  So she didn’t simplify or modify it for the non-German Victorian housewife.

Its relative simplicity means that I’ll be making this quite often for future weekend breakfasts.

While we were at it, we also pulled out a chilled bottle of the ginger beer last night while the first batch of Dampfnudeln (is ‘Dampfnudeln’ singular and plural?) was in the oven.  I poured two glasses with more than a touch of the jitters (“This better not kill me,” my boyfriend supportively commented).

The lid flipped off with a lustily effervescent ”phwap”, to my delight and probably to that of a Peeping Tom neighbour across the way, who just happens to be out having a smoke on his balcony whenever I’m in the kitchen, with his eyes unblinkingly focused on our kitchen window.  Perhaps he’s a secret foodie.  We’re putting up curtains today.

The ginger beer wasn’t too bad.  (“It’s not too bad,” said my boyfriend).  I couldn’t taste much ginger, more the lemon.  Perhaps I’ll add more ginger next time.  It wasn’t overly exciting, but with a drop of flavoured syrup it really livens up.

Here’s a link I found to a typical (modern) Dampfnudeln recipe for comparison:

http://www.food-from-bavaria.de/en/reg_spez/einzelprodukt.php?an=186&display_lang=en (it varies very slightly from Isabella Beeton’s, so use whichever version you prefer)

I’m off to make another batch.  Mmmm.

The complete Dampfnudeln recipe by Isabella Beeton can be found at: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/27-chapter27.html