There isn't a date on the cover, or the inside of this book, but I guess it is pretty old. It's a small book which is 2.5 inches thick and has 896 pages. The advertisers in the back include Lea and Perrins Sauce, Foster Clark's Custard, Chivers Jellies, and Quaker Macaroni, most of them boasting over 100 years in business.
I've had a look through some of the first pages which deal with mainly how a house should be run, and some of it made me smile. Things have changed a lot since this was written. Let me quote a few lines. "Much is demanded of the housewife, in that she should be able to keep good-tempered, patient, and calm amid all the cares and worries of domestic life. In this way she will ensure a happy and contented home, and create a feeling of security and stability long remembered and appreciated by her children". I think a lot of these values went out the window a long time ago.
Under the heading of Daily Duties, it states, "Before breakfast - daily clean the dining room, lay the breakfast, and prepare the food for cooking. Wake the children and give them as much attention as their age requires. Cook and serve the breakfast, by which time all the members of the household should be down and ready. When the family is large, breakfast is apt to become a somewhat irregular meal, owing to various train times and engagements. However, the housewife who is wise will do everything in her power to encourage punctuality and simultaneous appearance". Ha ha, a quick yell up the stairs, get out of your pit now, I think is what happens now.
On flicking through the recipes, I don't do recipes as you know, my food is made up as I go along, I came across this rather gruesome description on how you should prepare a calf's head for eating, accompanied by a picture of a head on a platter.
I will share the recipe with you, should you decide you want to have a go. So, first the INGREDIENTS.
A calf's head. 1lb of lean uncooked ham. 2 hard boiled eggs. 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley. Ground mace. Nutmeg. Salt and pepper. For the stock 1 or 2 onions. 1 carrot. Half a turnip. 1 strip of celery. A bouquet garni. 12 peppercorns.
METHOD. Cut the head in half, take out the brains, dress and serve them with the tongue as a separate dish. Wash the head in several waters, and afterwards let it soak for 12 hours in salted water, which should be changed several times. Put into a saucepan with a handful of salt, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then drain and wash well in cold water. Return to the pan, cover with cold water, boil, skim well, then add the prepared vegetables, bouquet garni, peppercorns, salt to taste, and cook gently for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the bones can be easily removed. When the head is boned, spread it out on the table, season well, and distribute narrow strips of ham and slices of boiled egg evenly over the surface. Add more flavouring and roll up tightly and wrap and tie securely in a pudding cloth. Have the stock boiling in the saucepan, put in the head, and cook gently for about 2 hours. This is sufficient for 10 or more persons.
Well if I hadn't already been put off eating meat for life, I certainly would be after reading that. It sounds utterly revolting. I think these days a lot of meat eaters would rather get their flesh in neatly wrapped polystyrene packages from the supermarket. What you take home in your shopping bears little resemblance of the animal it came from. I think it should be compulsory for meat eaters to go and see for themselves how an animal is killed and butchered. What I can't understand is when the spring comes and the fluffy little lambs appear in the fields, everyone goes, aaahhhh, aren't they sweet, then stick a lambs leg in the oven and eat it. There are still a lot of carnivors about though, who will happily chop up every bit of an animal and serve it up. There is no room for sentiment if you eat meat.
I am a sentimental softie, and proud of it. My lunch today was mushrooms in a garlic sauce, with spinach added to the pan, served on a bed of spinach, and a tomato. It was bloomin lovely.