The aim of a good housekeeper

I wrote about arrowroot yesterday having come across a recipe for it in the 1900 edition of ‘The A1 Cookery Book by Helen Lawson.’ This is something else I wrote about it a while ago:

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.

Turning over the page the writer moves on to feeding children; how relevant do you think this advice is today?

Children, again, are hard to feed. They are very dainty, and though this trait must on no account be encouraged, the difficulty can be almost entirely avoided by care on the part of the housekeeper. They require very little meat; that meat should not be twice cooked; and greasy things must be scrupulously avoided. Soup is good for them, but they will not eat it if it is highly seasoned. Everything must be very plain, but very good, for children. Milk puddings are made more palatable to them if fruit sauce is served with the pudding in a separate tureen, and it is also very good for them. Fruit sauce can be made from jam if no syrup is handy.

Milk puddings have probably gone out of fashion now – tapioca, sago, semolina ad of course rice – perhaps the only one now commonly eaten; in fact you can buy tinned rice pudding, snap-pots of rice pudding, and even chilled fresh r.p.! In The A-1 Cookery Book there are eight recipes for rice pudding, how about this one:

Superior Rice Pudding

  • 1½ oz rice
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •  sugar to taste
  • nutmeg
  1. put rice, milk and sugar in an oven proof dish, grate nutmeg over the top
  2. bake for about 2 hours at 140º C, 285º F, gas mark 1
  3. remove from the oven, and when cool carefully take the skin from the rice
  4. stir in the beaten eggs and replace the skin, return to the  oven for a few minutes until the pudding is hot again


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