Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hen's Milk.

What dishes or beverages do you consider restorative? Me, I go for a cup of tea anytime. If I am in need of restoration, the very last thing I would consider would be raw eggs. I can do raw eggs in mousses and mayonnaise, no problem. I cannot, and will not, do raw eggs in their unbeaten, undisguised, slippery nastiness. I still have nightmares about the scene in the movie ‘Rocky’ in which Sylvester Stallone drinks several raw eggs cracked straight from shell into the glass. I cannot help wondering how many times he had to repeat that disgusting act until the director was happy with the shot.

There are three egg restoratives which I found very interesting in Cookery and Housekeeping: a manual of domestic economy for large and small families (1882), by Mrs. Henry Reeve. To be perfectly honest, it was the name of the second two recipes that caught my attention. Hen’s Milk. Marvellous name, if not marvellous taste experience.

The first recipe, entitled simply ‘A Restorative’ is interesting in another way. Tell me - would lemon juice actually dissolve egg-shell? I guess I should go and try the experiment (stopping short of drinking it –if raw egg whites are nasty, how much nastier can they be with shell included? there is not nearly enough brandy in the recipe to make me tempted to find out.) 

A Restorative.
Two eggs with the shells broken up small, the juice of one lemon put over the top to cover the shell. Let it stand till the egg-shells are dissolved, beat up, add sugar to taste, and one tablespoonful of brandy. Take two tablespoonfuls at a time.

My question about the second recipe is: how does orange-flower water turn the yolks white? I guess I will try this - and then use the eggs in a cake. I am not going to eat something that sounds like custard made with water, even if it doesn’t have the egg-whites in it.

Hen’s Milk.
Beat up two yolks of fresh eggs with one ounce of powdered sugar, and enough orange-flower water to turn the yolks white; then stir in a cup of boiling water, and serve immediately.

Hen’s Milk No. 2
The yolks of 3 eggs;
5 ozs. boiling water;
If allowed, 3 ounces of brandy.

I give you a fourth and final egg restorative from another source. It is my favourite version of Hen’s Milk - if I must have Hen’s Milk - for the simple and sensible reason that it is, in fact, thin rum custard.  I think I can feel an Unpleasant Complaint coming on.

Lait de Poule au Rhum—Hen's Milk and Rum.
Pleasant Cure for an Unpleasant Complaint.
Boil a pint of good, fresh milk. Beat (not froth) an egg until it has become as liquid as you can make it. Pour it slowly into the milk, stirring gently all the while. When well mixed, add three lumps of sugar. If it be a grown person who has caught the Bad Cold, throw in a wine-glassful of rum; for young people, the dose must be proportionally less. Swallow this cordial hot at bedtime, or, better still, after going to bed. Its effects are so agreeable and comforting, that the only fear is, having taken it once, you will catch another bad cold at the first opportunity, to afford you a pretext for taking it again.
Wholesome fare; or, The doctor and the cook, (1868) by E.S. and E.J. Delamere

Quotation for the Day.

If there existed some one article of food, a restorative for every form of exhaustion, a panacea for every degree of fatigue, the duties of the Doctor and the Cook would be wonderfully simplified.
Wholesome fare; or, The doctor and the cook, (1868) by E.S. and E.J. Delamere


Les said...

Egg shells are mostly calcium carbonate with some calcium phosphate so they would react with any acidic solution such as lemon juice.

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins said...

Janet, as you know (much to your English/ medical disgust) I am not one to have breakfast. when i was a child, my mother used to give me l'uovo all'osrtica as I headed off to school in the mornings- this was a raw egg yolk with a squeeze of lemon (like an oyster). when I did not have this I had an egg yolk beaten with sugar - zabaglione mum called it ( although it was never thickened over steam). Sometimes this had a drop of very strong Italian coffee in it to make it less sweet.

The InTolerant Chef ™ said...

I'd rather just have the rum please!
When I was young my mother would beat up an egg flip for all illnesses- raw egg beaten in milk with some sugar and a dash of nutmeg.
I'd still just rather have the rum :)

The Old Foodie said...

Les - you are so right! I knew someone would point out the obvious to me!
Marisa my friend - I never got over the amazement of your other breakfast - chocolate in a bread roll (that is correct, isnt it?)
Chef - a raw egg flip would have made me worse, I guarantee. The rum sounds good though.