Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Shooting Luncheon.

November 28 …

If you are a member of the Idle Rich in the Northern Hemisphere, at this time of the year your thoughts may well be turning to a little pre-Christmas shooting party. If so, you must do a little advance planning if it is to be an occasion of ‘unruffled enjoyment.’ Your luncheon party will consist of about a dozen people – the shooters of course, and the ladies who will join them at the appropriate time. In addition, some preparation will have to be made for the keepers, beaters, and loaders, without whom a shooting party would be a lot of work, and likely not very successful. Those “whose daily fare is often rough and meagre” will be most appreciative of the meat sandwiches and bread and cheese which you will provide. The shooters and their ladies of course will need finer fare than these rough yokels. What a conundrum. Two picnics to pack.

I am so glad that an English newspaper article of this week in 1921 gives us some hints as to how to cater for such a range of requirements, as I find modern magazines sadly lacking in assistance to the grouse-hunters of the world. Portable foldable camp furniture is necessary. A proper fitted luncheon basket (or two) is ideal, and a cloth is essential (a length of bright French cotton check will do): napkins to match of course, but don’t worry about dainty table linen or silver.

For the comestibles, the hardy sportsman is no longer expected to make his frugal luncheon from the remains of his ample breakfast. Some suggestions are:

Main Course: “A big brown marmite, piping hot from a haybox, or warmed up on the cottage fire, the contents fresh neck of mutton or lamb, with potatoes and small pickling onions, or alternatively, a hot-pot of game or poultry,, with celery, peeled chestnuts, and a milky gravy, flavoured with Worcestershire sauce or mushrooms, together with a bowl of jacketed potatoes, and a casserole of baked Boston beans.”

Second Course: “Jam or spiced apple puffs, covered-in cheesecakes or mince pies are an easy second course to serve and consume, while a little truckle cheese or wedge of gruyere with butter and lettuces or celery, and a tin of mixed plain biscuits made hot and served from their tin home, and a sportsman cake, should be included. A brass dish of apples and pears makes the perfect centrepiece, and to comfort the chilly, slip in perhaps a box of dry Chinese ginger, or some peppermint sweets.”

I must confess to being a bit lax in the brass centrepiece department in the picnics I have catered for over the years, but perhaps they are not so important for mere picnics. I am not so sure how Boston baked beans got onto the menu of a very English outdoor luncheon: trying to impress those wealthy Americans with marriageable daughters I suppose.

The article does help us out with a suitable cake for a shooting luncheon – one with a very intriguing name.

Burnt House Cake.
Six ounces ground rice, 10 oz. flour, ½ lb. each of stoned raisins, sultanas, sugar, and butter. Beat butter to a cream with a 1d. packet of mixed spice. Dissolve one teaspoonful of bicarbonate soda in a quarter of a pint of milk, which should be added to the other ingredients boiling hot, and baked in a moderate oven for an hour.

Anyone have any ideas about the name of this cake?

Tomorrow’s Story …

With the foxhounds.

Quotation for the Day …

When we examine the story of a nation's eating habits, describing the changing fashions of preparation and presentation and discussing the development of ifs cuisine throughout the ages, then we find an outline of the nation's history, harking back to those distant days when a scattered tribe lurked in dismal caves, feeding on raw fish and plants and the hot. quivering flesh of wild beasts, lately slain with a rude spear. La Cuisine Francaise.


Leaking Moonlight said...

I'm guessing the "burnt" in the cake recipe title refers to a left out and troublesome ingredient called burnt sugar syrup. The clue is in the instruction to add in the milk "boiling hot."

I've knew an older Southern lady who made her pound cakes adding (boiling hot) burnt sugar syrup to the batter, and as a glaze on the top of the freshly baked cake.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

We should look into organizing a pre-Christmas shooting luncheon in New York. It could be the start of a brand new holiday tradition!

The Old Foodie said...

Interesting, hensteeth. I must see if I can find an older recipe for this cake. And you, t.w, are responsible for making this cake for the shooting party (I think we should have it without the shooting though, especially if it is to be in Central Park, which I would love). I'm not sure I can make it this Christmas though. You can have a practice run with the cake for the retro cake challenge?

Unknown said...

Further puzzle: What do you suppose is included in the one-penny packet of "mixed spice"?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello nbm. I dont know - perhaps the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger etc such as would go into fruit cake or Christmas cake? The quantity too - a couple of teaspoons?