Cooking for an invalid

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not feeling quite the thing at the moment, but I’m well enough. I spent some time in the sunshine sitting in the garden, I’ve had plenty of cups of tea, I’ve not done much – in many ways not a lot different from usual!! Looking through cookery books from past generations, there is usually a section or at least a selection on cooking for invalids and some of the recipes are consistent fro a couple of hundred years. For example, in my copy of ‘The A1 Cookery Book’ by Helen N. Lawson, there is a recipe for meat jelly which is similar to recipes I’ve seen from the 1700’s. The dishes ae usually simple but often have a lot of processes, and quite often they have been cooked for such an age that any ‘goodness’ as it used to be called has been boiled away.

Here are some of Helen’s recipes, plain, simple in ingredients, and easy to consume:

To cook fish for an invalid
– place the fish between two plates over a saucepan of boiling water  and cook for six minutes
– the fish can be seasoned with a little butter, pepper and salt, or be served plain

There is nothing to suggest which type of fish, how it should be prepared – skinned, filleted, boned – we are left to guess! In the fish section there are recipes for nearly twenty different fish so ther must be plenty to suit any invalid!

Meat jelly for invalids
– 2 lbs. shin of beef, 1½ lbs. of veal
– cut the meat into small pieces quite free from skin and fat, and put them in a jar with 2 tablespoons of cold water, a very little salt, and six peppercorns.
– tie the jar down with bladder, or oiled paper, and set it in a saucepan half full of cold water.
– let it simmer seven hours without intermission, then strain through muslin.
– when it is cold, take off the fat.

3½ lbs of meat!!! That’s a lot just to be cooked down to gel – I wonder how much there is when the process is complete, and what happens to the rest of it – given to the dog maybe ! 6 seems to be the magic number for peppercorns, didn’t one of the early saints ask to be buried with 6 peppercorns in his casket? Maybe I have imagined that. Supposing you’d gone to all that trouble, checking the pan didn’t run dry or te fire died or flared up to much and you offered a dish of meat jelly to the invalid who then said, ‘Sorry, I don’t fancy it…’I

Minced meat for invalids
– raw meat or poultry, from which every scrap of skin, fat and sinew has been removed, very finely minced by hand.
– sprinkle a little salt onto it, put it into a saucepan,, and heat it with either a little bit of butter or a drop of water.
– When it is hot through it is done.
= If it boils it is hard.

I think out of the three I would prefer the fish with its little butter, pepper and salt. The thought of heated hand-minced meat or chicken, or seven-hour boiled beef jelly doesn’t really appeal!

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