Mar 192016

Duke of Marlborough CocktailThis week’s vintage cocktail is courtesy of The Buckstone Book of Cocktails, ca 1925. As vintage cocktails go, it’s slightly less intoxicating than most, being made with vermouth and sherry.

1/2 Sherry
1/2 Italian vermouth
3 dashes orange bitters

Shake and strain.

It’s quite good, though it reminds me of some sort of pre-bottled apéritif.

I have no idea which D of M is supposed to have inspired this, but I shall pretend it is a tribute to the one and only miserly military genius John Churchill, as he is the only Duke of Marlborough who counts in my book.


Mar 032016

Hershey's kisses

Just for fun, I collected some of the sweets and treats that were around in the early part of the 20th century which you can still find in stores today. There are surprisingly many of them, and some of them are still major bestsellers, like Toblerone,  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers.

Due to globalisation and various mergers and acquisitions, you can now find many of these brands all over the world, so you should be able to find at least some of these, wherever you are, next time you want a period treat.

Fry’s Chocolate Cream (UK, 1866)
Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles (UK, 1881)
Juicy fruit gum (US, 1893)
Rowntree’s Fruit Gums (UK, 1893)
Tootsie Roll (US, 1896)
Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts (UK, 1899)
Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar (US, 1900)
Cadbury Dairy Milk (UK, 1905)
Hershey’s Kisses (US, 1907)
Toblerone (Switzerland, 1908)
Läkerol (Sweden, 1909)
Life Savers (US, 1912)
Guldnougat (Sweden, 1913)
Fry’s Turkish Delight (UK, 1914)
Cadbury Milk Tray (UK, 1915)
Flake (UK, 1920)
Milky Way (US, 1923)
Baby Ruth (US, 1923)
Milk Duds (US, 1926)
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (US, 1928)
Tarragona (Sweden, 1928)
Snickers (US, 1930)

Feb 272016

automobile cocktailI found this recipe in the aforementioned  “Bartenders’ Manual” published by the American Bartenders’ Association in 1913. Like the Brandy Cocktail, it is typical of early cocktails and is made with gum syrup.

1/3 gin 
1/3 Italian vermouth 
1/3 Scotch whisky 
2 dashes orange bitters 
2 dashes gum syrup

I don’t really know how the automobile features in relation to this drink, except that you shouldn’t drive one after drinking it, but it’s really nice, and adds a certain rosy glow to your outlook on life.

It’s meant to be decorated with a cherry or an olive, but really, life’s too short for messing about with canned fruit and veg when there’s a cocktail to be had.

Feb 202016

Image from The Fireless Cook Book by Margaret J. Mitchell, 1909.

The first time I encountered haybox cooking was when I watched the Wartime Farm a few years ago, but since I’ve encountered it in many other contexts. It’s an extremely energy effective way of cooking, which has long since been forgotten. However, it might interest the modern enviromentalist (or survivalist, for that matter).

“A haybox? What the blazes is a haybox, and how do you cook with it?” you might ask. Continue reading »

Feb 052016

As the IWM states on its website “(h)unger stalked the civilian populations of all the combatant nations” during World War I. What is perhaps less well-known is that hunger also stalked the populations of non-combatant nations.

Swedish rationing card for bread and flour from 1919 (from my personal collection)

Swedish rationing card for bread and flour from 1919 (from my personal collection)

Sweden was one such nation. Although rather strong pro-German sympathies were probably prominent among the population, Sweden remained staunchly neutral all through the war. Due to sheer geographical misfortune, it was nevertheless hit hard by the blockade of Germany, since all naval traffic for the Baltic area by necessity had to pass Germany. Thus, when Germany starved, so did Sweden.

Continue reading »

Feb 042016

Early 20th century cocktails are quite often based on brandy, viciously alcoholic and pretty straight-forward. This one, made from a recipe from 1913 for “Brandy Cocktail” found in a book called “Bartenders’ Manual” published by the American Bartenders’ Association, is pretty typical.

brandy cocktail

The recipe calls for gum syrup; i.e. syrup with gum arabic. It’s a must when making old fashioned cocktails because it adds a silky texture you won’t get from ordinary syrup, and it softens the flavour of the raw alcohol (which, let’s face it, old fashioned cocktails mostly consist of). It’s especially good with darker spirits like whisky or brandy. Monin, among others, still makes it, but you can also make it yourself.

3 dashes of gum syrup 
3 dashes Angostura
2 dashes Curaçao
1 wineglass of brandy
1/2 glass of fine ice

Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass (or whatever kind of glass you prefer).Dizzyingly potent, but astonishingly good, and deceptively easy to drink.

Jul 202014
Make a dish that reflects the historical idea of “foreign” – either foods with a loose connection to foreign lands, named after faraway places, or attributed to foreigners. Real connections to actual foreign countries not necessary!

The Recipe: A modified version of this recipe, adapted from Chocolate, or, An Indian drinke written originally in Spanish, by Antonio Colminero of Ledesma; and faithfully rendred in the English by Capt. James Wadsworth, 1652

The Date/Year and Region: Spain/England, mid-17th century (with a nod to Central/South America)

How Did You Make It: See below.

Time to Complete: Under 10 minutes

Total Cost: I don’t know; cheap. I had all the ingredients at home already and didn’t use much of each.

How Successful Was It: Very. Absolutely delicious. But I’m not sure if I entirely trust that it would cure me from poison.

How Accurate Was It: Not very. At least the ingredients were the almost same, but I used cocoa powder instead of grinding my own chocolate which is a pretty complicated procedure. Also, maybe I should have added the egg yolks. I might try that some other time. And the electric stove of course… But for heating milk, I really don’t think it made a huge difference.

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Historical Food Fortnightly which issues a challenge every fortnight to cook a historical dish on a certain theme. I haven’t actually participated in the first three challenges, but this one, Foreign Foods, called out to me.
Continue reading »

Jun 132011

In good roast-beef my landlord sticks his knife,
The capon fat delights his dainty wife,
Pudding our parson eats, the squire loves hare,
But white-pot thick is my Buxoma’s fare.
While she loves white-pot, capon ne’er shall be,
Nor hare, nor beef, nor pudding, food for me.”

The Shepherd’s Week, by John Gay (1714)

From John Gay’s use of white-pot in the shepherd Cuddy’s coarse praise of his beloved Buxoma in the pastoral parody quoted above, I deduce he thought it to be a very inelegant dish. But, while obvious to men hob-nobbing with Alexander Pope in 1714, it isn’t as readily discernible to the 21st century reader what the eff white-pot really is. Continue reading »