The aim of a good housekeeper

Just in case you are a little unsure of how to nourish those under your care, here are some suggestions from Helen N. Lawson which she gave in 1890’s/1900’s cookery book The A1 Cookery Book. 

The aim of a good housekeeper should be to nourish those under her care in the best possible manner. It is not sufficient that the food should be “nice” though that is a sine quâ non. She must observe quietly the particular food that suits the constitution off the people she is to provide for. It is a pretty general rule that men dislike twice-cooked meat, and many do not care for sweets. The first difficulty can be obviated by cutting off a small portion of the joint before it is cooked, and using it up in some way given in this or any other cookery book.
If the man or men in your household do not care for sweets give them an extra course of something else, – one day a good savoury, another an entrée, another a vegetable course, and always soup or fish.
For yourself have a little pudding made. Nearly all the recipes can be halved or made in less quantities. If you have only women to provide for you will probably find they prefer dainty dishes to joints and would rather have poultry and game than meat, and they will certainly like sweets.

If people a hundred and twenty odd years ago were really like this, men being so fussy and not like sweet things, women preferring dainty dishes and really liking desserts, then they were certainly very different from today! In our house my husband does a lot of the cooking himself, and really enjoys ‘using up’ leftovers, including meat, which involves cooking them twice, and he is the one with the really sweet tooth! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth at all and would definitely prefer savouries… maybe this recipe from the chapter of the book on breakfast dishes and savouries:

Kidneys á la Brochette

  • kidneys, skinned and almost cut in half (so they are butterflied)
  • butter
  • breadcrumbs
  • parsley
  • butter
  • seasoning
  • lemon juice
  • fried bread or hot plain toast to serve
  1. rub the kidneys well with butter and lay they back down on a buttered gridiron over a bright fire (a hot fire?)
  2. turn often while broiling
  3. have ready the stuffing made  from the breadcrumbs, butter, parsley and seasoning
  4. when the kidneys are ready, put the stuffing within the two halves, add a squeeze of lemon juice and close them
  5. serve immediately on fried bread or toast

I have no pictures of kidneys á la brochette, and there is no cover to The A1 Cookery Book so my featured image is of a cheesy something I made, maybe a savoury!


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