Posts Tagged ‘Preserve’

Day 33: To Cook or Not to Cook

December 20, 2009

It’s now been a month since I started this Household Management challenge.

Looking back over the last 33 days, it’s already been an incredibly interesting journey.  I’ve tried quite a few things that I’d never have tried otherwise (Carrot Jam, Dampfnudeln).  Some things I won’t be trying again (Apple Soup, anyone?), but others will probably stick with me long after Mrs Beeton in 365 Days is over.  My household accounts are already in far better shape, for one.

But the thing is, when I first started this experiment I thought the focus would be much more ‘’householdy’’.  Instead, a lot of this challenge has so far revolved around the kitchen.  In a way, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is really just a cookery book, with the kitchen as the star, the diva, the prima donna.  The chapters that provide advice to members of the household – the supporting cast, if you will – act as the backdrop against which the kitchen can properly function.

Part of the problem in applying Victorian advice to the 21st century, is that a lot of it just isn’t that relevant anymore.  At least, not in ordinary, non-toff households.  No one I know has a Butler, Footman, Housekeeper, Cook, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry Maid, Cook, etc. (sometimes I wish I did!).

My boyfriend and I hired a weekly cleaner several months ago, which was possibly the biggest thrill I’ve felt since discovering Bretzeln (freshly baked pretzels).   But I felt so awkward about having a stranger in the house, and not knowing the proper employer-cleaner etiquette, that we let her go within a couple of months.

The core of Household Management – the beautiful, bountiful recipe sections – remains absolutely relevant today.  Even if the world were to be taken over by robots and aliens tomorrow, cooking – and the kitchen – will always play a central role in daily life.  A world without it wouldn’t be a world worth living in.

In the meantime, as it’s still apple season here in Germany, I lugged home 4 kilos from the market yesterday.  I spent the entire day in the kitchen, with Household Management by my side.  Most of the day was spent making preserves, including Apple Sauce.  I also made another quantity of her delicious custard, which I liberally doused over some Apple Crumble for dessert this evening.

Perhaps I’m making too hasty a judgment about Household Management’s wider value outside the kitchen (after all, it’s fairly long and I have several hundred pages yet to get through).

332 more days will tell!

Apple Sauce: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html (Recipe 363)

Day 21: I Can’t Believe It’s (Not) Jam

December 8, 2009

Carrot Jam to Imitate Apricot Preserve

Wouldn’t your attention be laughingly-arrested by this too?

When I came across a recipe for Carrot Jam in Isabella Beeton’s chapter on Preserves, I knew I had to give it a try, despite my instinctive absolutely-no-way-it’ll-taste-even-remotely-edible response.

I knew there was no way it could (I mean, come off it, carrot on toast?!).  But as I’d bought a bottle of Brandy for Friday’s apple-custard tart, I’ll jump at the chance to honourably be done with it as soon as possible.

The last time I (allegedly) partook of this particular beverage was as a baby.  (Allegedly) I was a bit of a lusty, high-pitched wailer, so my war-time nurse of a grandmother (allegedly) prescribed a drop of Brandy in my milk.  Allegedly.  I’ve no idea if it’s actually true (my late grandmother sometimes enjoyed pulling my leg), but an abiding aversion to the smell lingers on.

INGREDIENTS – Carrots; to every lb. of carrot pulp allow 1 lb. of pounded sugar, the grated rind of 1 lemon, the strained juice of 2, 6 chopped bitter almonds, 2 tablespoonfuls of brandy.

It’s an easy recipe, but that still didn’t warm me to the idea of eating carrot on toast.

The most time-consuming part was boiling the thinly-sliced carrots to near-mash, which didn’t take that long at all (35 minutes).

I’ve never heard of bitter almonds and most certainly don’t have any lying around, so 6 regular almonds were pestle-and-mortared into service.

I summoned (begged) my boyfriend into the kitchen to share the moment of tasting with me.

“You’re trying some,” I muttered as he grimaced at the gingery pulp.

I ladled a spoon of carrot onto two very small pieces of bread.  We couldn’t bring ourselves to look at each other as we slowly, with eww-ick expressions, raised the bread to our lips.

Slowly.  Slowly.  Slowly.

We shoved the bread into our mouths and chewed as quickly as our disgust would allow us.

Suddenly, my boyfriend’s face cleared.  Munching carefully, he quietly gave his pronouncement.

“Hmm.  It’s… not… bad.  Not… bad… at… all.’’

My own prior expectation of a loo-dash faded away as my tastebuds assessed the new flavor sensation.  With huge surprise I had to agree– it really was pretty damn good.  Who’d have thought it?

Give it a try for yourself and see what you think.  I was unexpectedly impressed by the lip-lickety sweetness of this surprisingly tasty (not to mention economical) concoction.

Carrot Jam Recipe: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/31-chapter31.html (recipe 1525)