5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
off the Beeton track,
This review is from: Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme (What's this?)This book is fantastic. Apparently it was the source for a lot of Mrs Beeton's book, and the text here is the 1855 revision of the 1845 original (covered with what would appears to be a mid 1930's cloth cover style!). This book differs from a modern book in many ways... apart from the use of Imperial measurements (bushels? pecks?) Eliza was writing before the advent of Gas cookery, so there is a good deal of reference to the type of coal/wood (in one case paper... when cooking with "a conjuror") fire. Another mark of the text's age is an obsession with baking your own bread (with or without yeast).... because in 1845, good bread was hard to come by, with bakers using adulterated ingredients to maximise profit to the great detriment of the purchasers health. A list of the muck used to make ingredients go further at this time would make your hair curl.....
Eliza is extremely helpful in listing both the recipes (spelt "receipts" throughout) and observations as to what happened when the recipe was used... this could be done to great advantage in the present day! She is thorough in describing the BASICS. Know your building blocks! Build your foundations right (providing plain fare for a modest table) and you can then try the more advanced stuff. She even has a word for those who habitually work by guess in the realm of measurements; while acknowledging that some folks can "wing it" she points out that far more can't and that one should be very VERY familar with the appearance of the right quantities before dispensing with the scales.
I feel inspired by it; there is good sound advice for the amateur and practised cook here albeit preserved in a slightly archaic, Dickensian way of speaking. (after all, Oliver Twist was only 5 years in print whan this little tome appeared!)
There is even an excellent index... no entry for "gruel" though.....
Definitely worth reading when you have time to absorb it... and I would suspect there will be quite a few copies with pencil notes of the converted metric quantities in the margins for direct reference in the kitchen.