Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A Year’s Supply of Vegetables for a Guinea.

The following advertisement in The Times (London, England), of Thursday, Mar 04, 1886 caught my eye during yesterday’s search for interesting tit-bits about the vegetable marrow:-

by using
This popular box for amateur gardeners, is sent, packing and carriage free, on receipt of cheque or postal order for 20s., to any railway in England, Wales, or Scotch and Irish ports. It contains:-

12 pints Peas, for succession.
4 pints Beans, Broad, of sorts.
1½ pints of Beans, French and runner.
1 packet Beet, Carter’s perfection.
1 packet Kale, dwarf curled.
1 packet Brussels Sprouts, best.
3 sorts Broccoli, in variety.
2 sorts Cabbage, in variety.
1 packet Savoy, dwarf curled.
1 packet Colewort, hardy.
2½ ounces Carrot, for succession.
1 packet Cauliflower, giant.
2 sorts Celery, in variety.
2 packets Cucumber.
1 packet Endive, curled.
1 packet Leek, Musselburgh.
4 sorts Lettuce, cos and cabbage.
4 ounces Mustard, for salad.
1 packet Melon, choicest.
4 packets Onion, in variety.
1 packet Parsley, best.
1 ounce Parsnip, best
3½ ounces Radish, of sorts
4 ounces Spinach, of sorts.
2 ounces Turnip, for succession.
1 packet Tomato, choice mixed.
1 packet Vegetable Marrow.
1 packet Pot Herbs.
Sent carriage free in return for Post-office order or cheque for 20s.
Always ready at 237 and 238 High Holborn, London.

Is that not a wonderful selection of vegetables? Other than a sufficient quantity of seed potatoes, the only thing I would add to the deal would have been a recipe pamphlet with ideas for each of the veggies included – although a late-nineteenth century cook would hardly have needed advice on how to handle any of the selection, I am sure.

Kale is pretty trendy right now – or perhaps I am out of date, and it is about to be replaced with some other magical prevent-all? Recipes to give kale a delicious desirability commensurate with its supposed life-enhancing powers abound in current books and on the internet, but what did a Victorian era cook do with it? Here is one time-honoured idea, from one of my favourite sources:

Kale Brose.
Take an ox-heel. Cleanse it thoroughly, and pour over it five pints of water. Bring it to a boil, remove the scum as it rises, and let it simmer gently for four hours. Meanwhile take two large handfuls of greens; cleanse, and free them from insects, then shred them very finely. Put them into the broth; and when sufficiently cooked, stir half a pint of toasted oatmeal into a little of the fat broth. It should be stirred with the handle of a spoon, and very quickly, so as not to run into one mass, but to form knots. Add it to the rest, with salt and pepper to taste, let all boil up together, and serve as hot as possible.
Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery (London, 1870)

And as a bonus, to help you use up your garden or market largesse, from the same source I give you …

Brussels Sprouts Sauté.
Wash, and drain one pound of sprouts; put them into boiling water for fifteen minutes, with half
an ounce of salt to each gallon, and when done, dry them on a clean cloth. Dissolve half an ounce of butter in a pan, and shake the sprouts in it over the fire for a minute or two; season them with pepper, salt, and a little nutmeg, and serve very hot. Sprouts about the size of a walnut have the most delicate flavour. Sufficient for two or three persons.

Parsnip Pudding.
Wash, scrape, and boil four or five large parsnips, mash them, and press them through a colander. Stir in with them a little grated nutmeg, or any other flavouring, one ounce of fresh butter, and four well-beaten eggs, together with two tablespoonfuls of brandy, if approved. Butter a pie-dish, pour in the mixture, and strew finely grated bread-crumbs thickly over; divide one ounce of butter into small pieces, and place these here and there upon the pudding. Bake in a moderate oven, and serve with sweet sauce. This pudding may be boiled instead of baked.
When this is done, the mould into which the mixture is put should be thickly lined with finely-grated bread-crumbs before the pudding is put in. Time, about an hour and a half to bake; an hour and a quarter to boil.

No comments: