A new month is underway, and if we want to eat seasonally, we may need to get some local information. I have some advice for you on this topic from The Magazine of Domestic Economy, and Family Review (London, 1843) - although it comes with the caveat for my Southern Hemisphere family and friends that of course, this temperate-climate, Northern Hemisphere advice is completely inappropriate for those of us in the other half of the globe who are moving towards a tropical summer. Save these suggestions for May, my Down-Under friends!
THE LARDER AND KITCHEN
FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER.
Fastidientis est stomachi multa degustaro.—Seneca.
Good cheer, as it is called, but, more correctly speaking, strong animal food, being now less injurious to the stomach, may be indulged in rather more freely than during the hot weather. The pretext of field-sports brings numerous guests to partake of the hospitality at the castles and mansions of the high-born and the wealthy; whilst among those who have migrated to fashionable watering-places, or to inhale the sea-air upon the coast, dinner-parties are frequent.
Unfortunately, moderation in food is very rare among "persons of a certain age:" instead of " the feast of reason and the flow of soul” they have the feast of turtle and game, and the flow of champagne. What is the consequence? The foundation of gout and indigestion is laid; and upon it a superstructure of disturbance is gradually raised, until the climax, at Christmas, determines those attacks which, during the spring months, confine many a middle-aged Sybarite to the solitude of his apartment, his back propped with pillows, his aching legs reposing upon cushions of the softest down, and the torture he is compelled to endure souring the most placid temper. …
... Meantime, we recommend our readers to read our dissertations on Cookery published in the first volume of the Magazine of Domestic Economy.
The larder, this month, is stored with a variety of good things, which we shall enumerate,
1. FISH.—Turbot, cod, haddocks, skate, plaice, flounders, soles, eels, congers, and herrings, are very cheap and abundant. The autumn mackerel have been particularly fine during the last month, and there has been, and continues to be, a plentiful supply, but at a rather high price. It is with very great regret that we see salmon still brought to market; for it is of such questionable quality, that we warn our readers against purchasing it, if they would keep themselves free from disease. Oysters are plentiful and very cheap at Billingsgate market. The large tea-oyster may now be bought for pickling, and also for making oyster-ketchup, for the preparation of which see volume I. page 42. Crabs and lobsters, though still pretty abundant, fetch a high price. The large crawfish, which is much cheaper, is equally good for sauce, and for curry. Shrimps are cheap and plentiful.
2. BUTCHER'S MEAT AND VENISON.—There is an excellent supply of butcher's meat in the market. Beef is very prime; the salting pieces are most seasonable. Hung beef may be advantageously cured this month, according to the receipt in volume IV. page 147; hunting beef, also, the mode of preparing which will be found in vol. I. page 71 ; and Dutch beef, as explained in vol. II, page 215. Beef to be eaten grated upon bread and butter may now also be cured for winter. The meat, free from fat, a piece of the buttock in preference, must be salted during twenty-four hours, then wiped and put into the Suffolk-ham pickle (vol. IV. p. 117), in which it must remain six weeks. The beef is then taken out and boiled, after which it is put by during a fortnight. It is then fit for grating, and will keep for any length of time—care being taken to grate, each time, only so much as is required for immediate consumption.
Mutton is in prime order—Southdown, Scotch, and Welsh. The fine Dartmoor mutton, equal, in our estimation, to venison, can be obtained, in the greatest perfection, at the Devonshire warehouses in town, and sent from thence to any part of the country. Indeed, the supply of this dainty is more certain from the London houses than if it were ordered at Exeter, or even at Oakhampton, whence it is generally forwarded to the Metropolis. We ourselves usually obtain it from Tucker's in the Strand, whence we send it to our friends in the country. The date of its being killed is written upon a bit of paper or parchment attached to each haunch.
Lamb is also in the market, but is getting rather out of season. There is an abundant supply of veal for those who like it. In our estimation, English veal is not very wholesome. In a former article we have stated why. Dairy-fed pork b now of excellent quality, and sold at a reasonable price.
Venison is at present so cheap, that all parts except the prime haunches are sold at the price of butcher's meat. A good haunch still maintains its price of from two to three guineas. Fawns are to be had at seven or eight shillings each. Kids are very scarce, because there is no encouragement, in this country, for continuing the supply. The kid is only a chance dainty, and makes its appearance at very few tables exclusively English.
3. POULTRY AND GAME.—The market and the poulterers' shops are most abundantly supplied with capons, fowls, chickens, geese, full-grown turkeys, pigeons, green and golden plovers, and larks. Game is also in great plenty: pheasants, partridges, grouse and moor fowls. This month ushers in also woodcocks and snipes. That rare bird the ptarmigan also makes its appearance in North Britain; and the Metropolitan markets are well supplied with wild ducks, widgeon, teal, curlews, and all other kinds of wild fowl. Hares, rabbits, and roasting pigs are plentiful and in high season.
4. VEGETABLES AND FRUITS.—Vegetables of all kinds are cheap and abundant, except green peas, which fetch a very high price, though they are without flavour. Cabbages, cauliflowers, and kidney beans are of particularly excellent quality, owing to the fine weather and genial temperature which have prevailed ever since the commencement of the autumn.
Though exotic and hothouse fruits are dear, there is a cheap abundance of native produce. Apples for boiling and baking, pears for the same purposes, are exceedingly good and of reasonable price. There is a large crop of nuts and filberts this year, as well as of walnuts; and now is the time to lay in a winter store of all three. They should be preserved in jars, in alternate layers of nuts and sawdust,—the latter baked in a slack oven until quite dry, and used when cold. The jars should be closed so as totally to exclude the air.
It is very necessary, this month, to examine carefully the apples laid up for winter store, separating for immediate consumption those bearing the smallest spot, or otherwise showing the least symptom of decay. The good ones should be well wiped with dry cloths, for the purpose of removing the moisture which has exuded from them in the form of perspiration, and with which they are usually covered. It is recommended to pack them in hampers or chests, in alternate layers of clean straw and fruit, so that the air may be excluded from the latter. We much doubt the efficacy of this plan. We ourselves always keep them in open bins without straw, each particular sort being heaped in a bin by itself. The straw is liable to be decomposed, and to impart the putrid ferment to the fruit.
With regard to the finer kinds of pears intended to be kept until February, they should not be placed upon one another, as they are of too frail a texture to bear any weight. Great care should be taken, also, that their stalks be not bruised. Each pear should be encased in fine paper, and laid in rows upon shelves. Both the apples and pears should be examined and wiped, from time to time, throughout the winter.
Soups.—In addition to the soups already mentioned in the preceding articles, we beg to recommend one which is now in season, and which is relished by all lovers of vegetables.
Cabbage Soup.—Cut three or four cabbages into quarters, and blanch them in boiling water salted. Let them boil dining fire minutes, then drain and press them. Put them into a stewpan, with a couple of carrots cut into bits, two large onions, one turnip cut into slices, and a piece of bacon, or the knuckle bone of a boiled ham from which all the meat has been removed. Fill the stewpan two-thirds full of hot water. Lot the whole boil until the vegetables are tender. Then remove the bacon, which may be served up with veal or fowls, or kept and warmed for another day. If, instead of bacon, you have a ham bone, remove it in like manner. Now add a wineglassful or more of mushroom ketchup, and a good thickening of flour and water. Boil gently during a quarter of an hour longer, then serve up in a soup tureen, with toasted bread in a dish. To give a colour to this soup, you may use a little burnt sugar, or a small bit of bread toasted as if for toast-and-water.
[more recipes follow]