I was thinking about how times have changed especially in regards to life at home. In our house, and I’m sure in many others, my husband I both do household tasks, cooking, cleaning, tidying up… well, actually neither of us are very good at tidying, and one of us can’t really see the point of it and so leaves things wherever he was using them. This results in lots of things being everywhere, and then he can’t find something, because of course it’s at the bottom of a pile of other things! Not mentioning any names of course…
We both enjoy shopping for food and cooking and then eating what we’ve bought. A hundred and twenty years ago, no man would have done housework, and probably very few did any cooking at all. That all fell to the women in the household, the wife and the daughters, and in even modest households, a maid or two. Yesterday I shared Helen N. Lawson’s introduction to ‘The A1 Cookery Book’ where she gave her ideas on budgeting for a household, and gave an example of a week’s food bills for a couple, a visitor and their three servants, divided into what would be spent at the butcher’s, grocer’s, dairy, baker and confectioner’s, greengrocer’s and fishmonger’s.
She goes on to explain that weekly bills might vary slightly, and how much would be spent ‘if the bread and cakes are made at home’, and that ‘butter and eggs are troublesome items to control as there is practically no limit to the amount that can be used in cooking.’ She continues to explore and explain about budgeting:
It is therefor absolutely necessary, where economy has to be studied, to order only a certain quantity of each every week, and then to regulate your cooking accordingly.
To help do this I have divided the list of sweets and puddings under three headings: those that contain eggs and butter, those that contain only eggs and no butter, and those sweets and puddings that contain neither. Under this last heading are milk puddings as the small amount of butter required is insignificant and is also not indispensable. (this is in the recipe sections of Helen’s book)
Good cooking takes an immense amount of butter, but it is easier to regulate the use of it in soups and made-up meat dishes and vegetables, than sweets.
In households where people keep their own poultry and grow their own vegetables this will make a great difference to their weekly books, (the account books) and something that must be deduced from the weekly allowance for the maintenance of the garden and poultry yard.
There is no mention anywhere of the use of oil, and absolutely no margarine; margarine was invented in 1869 but I have no idea when it reached the UK, when it became popular and more commonly in use… I must try and find out!
My featured image is of hot cross buns, which are already in the shops despite Lent not even having started and Easter a couple of months away – I’m sharing it because obviously, hot cross buns need an immense amount of butter!