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Table of contents
- pasted the broom closet mysteries book 1 Manual
- Pasted: The Broom Closet Mysteries Book 1 (Unabridged)
- Signs, Symbols and Dream Work
Mead recalls to her perhaps her first history-book, wherein she learnt of it as a drink of the primitive Anglo-Saxons. If she doubt the usefulness of the collection in her own kitchen, let her take the little volume to her boudoir, and read it there as gossiping notes of the beau monde in the days when James I and the Charleses ruled the land. They come down to our level, without any show Page xlviii of condescension.
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Lords and ladies who were personages of a solemn state pageant, are now human neighbourly creatures, owning to likes and dislikes, and letting us into the secrets of their daily habits. It pleases me to think of Henrietta Maria, in her exile, busying herself in her still-room, and forgetting her dangers and sorrows in simpling and stilling and kitchen messes; and of her devoted Sir Kenelm, in the moments when he is neither abeting her Royalist plots, nor diverting her mind to matters of high science, or the mysteries of the Faith, but bringing to her such lowlier consolations as are hinted in "Hydromel as I made it weak for the Queen Mother.
We cannot help being interested in the habits of Lady Hungerford, who "useth to make her mead at the end of summer, when she takes up her Honey, and begins to drink it in Lent. Each had their own receipts. It must be remembered that Dr. Johnson said no woman could write a cookery-book; and he threatened to write one himself. And Sir Page xlix Kenelm had many serious rivals among his own sex.
In such an embarras de choix as given by all these drink receipts, we may be in doubt whether to try "My Lord Gorge's Meath," or "The Countess of Newport's" cherry wine, or "The sweet drink of my Lady Stuart," or of Lady Windebanke, or "Sir Paul Neile's way of making cider," or "my Lord Carlisle's Sack posset"; but one is strongly influenced by such a note as "Sir Edward Bainton's Receipt which my Lord of Portland who gave it me saith, was the best he ever drank. But here is a streak of new light upon him: "Monsieur St. But if Sir Kenelm consorted only with the great, it was with the great of all social ranks.
It was not merely on high questions of science he discoursed with the discoverer of the circulation of the blood Page l —witness "Dr. Harvey's pleasant water cider. And though He was an old man, he was of an extraordinary vigor every way, and had every year a Child, had always a great appetite, and good digestion; and yet was not fat.
He had an eye for all—though it may have been one of his correspondents who says of the remnants of a dish that it "will make good Water-gruel for the Servants. The seriousness of the business is tremendous; and to ignore the fine shades in the receipts for mead and metheglin would have been a frivolity unknown in Digby's circle. There is care; there is conscience; there is rivalry. The ingredients are mingled with a nice discrimination between the rights of the palate and the maintenance of health. How is one to know how much smallage was got for a penny in mid-seventeenth century?
The great connoisseur Lord Lumley is very lax, and owns that his are "set down by guess. It is a curious old world we get glimpses of, at once barbarous, simple, and extravagant, when great ladies were expected to see to the milking of their cows, as closely as Joan Cromwell supervised her milch-kine in St. James's Park, and to the cleanliness of their servants' arms and hands, and when huntsmen rode at the bidding of the cook; for in order that venison be in good condition, "before the deer be killed he ought to be hunted and chased as much as possible.
They will be very drunk and sleep; then eat again. Let a candle stand all night over the coop, and then they will eat much all the night. Yet there are receipts, doubtless gathered in Sir Kenelm's later years, that have the cautious invalid in view. Of these are the "Pleasant Cordial Tablets, Page lii which are very comforting and strengthen nature much," and the liquor which is called "smoothing.
The gruels are so many that we must wish Mr. Woodhouse had known of the book.
If the admixture of "wood-sorrel and currens" had seemed to him fraught with peril, he could have fallen back on the "Oatmeal Pap of Sir John Colladon. Where are all the old dishes vanished to? Who has ever known "A smoothening Quiddany of Quinces? These are tame days when we have forgotten how to make Cock-Ale. They drank 'Sack with Clove-gilly-flowers' at the "Mermaid," I am sure. What is Bragot? What is Stepony? And what Slipp-coat Cheese? Ask the baker for a Manchet. The old names call for a Ballade.
And, cooks, with all your exactness about pounds and ounces and minutes of the clock, can you better directions like these? Watch for "a pale colour with an eye of green. The irascible Culpeper, Digby's contemporary, poured scorn on such doctors as knew not the high science, Page liii "Physick without astronomy being like a lamp without Oil.
As for the poetry I promised—well, I have been quoting it, have I not? But there is more, and better. Surely it was a romantic folk that kept in its store-rooms the "best Blew raisins of the sun," or "plumpsome raisins of the sun," and made its mead with dew, and eagerly exchanged with each other recipes for "Conserve of Red Roses.
It is a cuisine that does not reek of shops and co-operative stores, but of the wood, the garden, the field and meadow. Like Culpeper's pharmacopeia, it is made for the most part of "Such Things only as grow in England, they being most fit for English Bodies. John's wort, yellow saunders, balm, bugle, agrimony, tormentilla, comfrey, fennel, clown's allheal, maidenhair, wall-rue, spleen-wort, sweet oak, Paul's betony, and mouse-ear?
The housewife of to-day buys unrecognisable dried herbs in packets or bottles. In those days she gathered them in their season out of doors. The companions to The Closet Opened should be the hasty and entertaining Culpeper, the genial Gerard, and Coles of the delightful Adam in Eden , all the old herbals that were on Digby's bookshelves, so Page liv full of absurdities, so full of pretty wisdom.
They will tell you how to mix in your liquor eglantine for coolness, borage, rosemary, and sweet-marjoram for vigour, and by which planet each herb or flower is governed. Has our sentiment for the flowers of the field increased now we no longer drink their essence, or use them in our dishes? I doubt it. It is surely a pardonable grossness that we should desire the sweet fresh things to become part of us—like children, who do indeed love flowers, and eat them.
In the Appendix I have transcribed a list of the plants referred to. Most cooks would be unable to tell one from another; and even modern herbalists have let many fall out of use, while only a few are on the lists of the English pharmacopeia. To go simpling once more by field and wood and hedgerow would be a pleasant duty for country housewives to impose upon themselves; and as to the herbalists' observations on their virtues, we may say with old Coles, "Most of them I am confident are true, and if there be any that are not so, yet they are pleasant.
pasted the broom closet mysteries book 1 Manual
There is an air of flippancy about that reflexion of Coles you will never find in Sir Kenelm. Of the virtues of each plant and flower he used he was fully convinced; and when he tells of their powers, as in his "Aqua Mirabilis," the tale is like a solemn litany, and we are reminded of Clarendon's testimony to "the gravity of his motion. This Collection full of pleasing variety, and of such usefulness in the Generality of it, to the Publique, coming to my hands, I should, had I forborn the Publication thereof, have trespassed in a very considerable concern upon my Countrey-men, The like having not in every particular appeared in Print in the English tongue.
There needs no Rhetoricating Floscules to set it off. The Liquids premitted to the Solids. These being so Excellent in their kinde, so beneficial and so well ordered, I think it unhandsome, if not injurious, by the trouble of any further Discourse, to detain thee any longer from falling to; Fall to therefore, and much good may it do thee,. Take one Measure of Honey, and three Measures of Water, and let it boil till one measure be boiled away, so that there be left three measures in all; as for Example, take to one Pot of Honey, three Pots of Water, and let it boil so long, till it come to three Pots.
During which time you must Skim it very well as soon as any scum riseth; which you are to continue till there rise no scum more. You may, if you please, put to it some spice, to wit, Cloves and Ginger; the quantity of which is to be proportioned according as you will have your Meath, strong or weak. But this you do before it begin to boil. There are some that put either Yeast of Beer, or Leaven of bread into it, to make it work. But this is not necessary at all; and much less to set it into the Sun. Masillon doth neither the one nor the other.
Afterwards for to Tun it, you must let it grow Luke-warm, for to advance it. And if you do intend to keep your Meathe a long time, you may put into it some hopps on this fashion. Take to every Barrel of Meathe a Pound of Hops without leaves, that is, of Ordinary Hops used for Beer, but well cleansed, taking only the Flowers, without the Green-leaves and stalks.
Pasted: The Broom Closet Mysteries Book 1 (Unabridged)
Boil this pound of Hops in a Pot and half of fair water, till it come to one Pot, and this quantity is Page 6 sufficient for a Barrel of Meathe. I have since been informed from Liege, that a Pot of that Countrey holdeth 48 Ounces of Apothecary's measure; which I judge to be a Pottle according to London measure, or two Wine-quarts.
When you Tun your Meath, you must not fill your Barrel by half a foot, that so it may have room to work. Then let it stand six weeks slightly stopped; which being expired, if the Meath do not work, stop it up very close. Yet must you not fill up the Barrel to the very brim. After six Months you draw off the clear into another Barrel, or strong Bottles, leaving the dregs, and filling up your new Barrel, or Bottels, and stopping it or them very close. The Meath that is made this way, Viz.
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In the Spring, in the Month of April or May, which is the proper time for making of it, will keep many a year. Take your Honey, and mix it with fair water, until the Honey be quite dissolved. If it will bear an Egge to be above the liquor, the breadth of a groat, it is strong enough; if not, put more Honey to it, till it be so strong; Then boil it, till it be clearly and well skimmed; Then put in one good handful of Strawberry-leaves, and half a handful of Violet leaves; and half as much Sorrel: a Douzen tops of Rose Page 7 mary; four or five tops of Baulme-leaves: a handful of Harts-tongue, and a handful of Liver-worth; a little Thyme, and a little Red-sage; Let it boil about an hour; then put it into a Woodden Vessel, where let it stand, till it be quite cold; Then put it into the Barrel; Then take half an Ounce of Cloves, as much Nutmeg; four or five Races of Ginger; bruise it, and put it into a fine bag, with a stone to make it sink, that it may hang below the middle: Then stop it very close.
Since my Lady Hungerford sent me this Receipt, she sent me word, that she now useth and liketh better to make the Decoction of Herbs before you put the Honey to it, This Proportion of Herbs is to make six Gallons of Decoction, so that you may take eight or nine Gallons of water. When you have drawn out into your water, all the vertue of the Herbs, throw them away, and take the clear Decoction leaving the settlings and when it is Lukewarm, Dissolve your proportion of Honey in it.
After it is well dissolved and laved with strong Arms or woodden Instruments, like Battle-doors or Scoops, boil it gently; till you have taken away all the scum; then make an end of well boyling it, about an hour in all. Then pour it into a wooden vessel, and let it stand till it be cold. Then pour the clear through a Sieve of hair, ceasing pouring when you come to the foul thick settling.
Signs, Symbols and Dream Work
Tun the clear into your ve Page 8 ssel without Barm and stop it up close, with the Spices in it, till you perceive by the hissing that it begins to work. Then give it some little vent, else the Barrel would break. When it is at the end of the working, stop it up close.
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She useth to make it at the end of Summer, when she takes up her Honey, and begins to drink it in Lent. But it will be better if you defer piercing it till next Winter.