Even if you have no interest in making calf’s head hash, roasted hare, or cow heel, you’ll still want to visit this blog: The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies. Featuring handwritten recipes from a cookbook dating back to the 18th century, it provides a fascinating look at history and how our approach to food has changed with the passage of time. Librarian Judith Finnamore discovered the Cookbook in the Westminster City Archives in the UK.
The blog gathers what information is known about the mysterious book and the long-forgotten women behind it. And, of course, there are the recipes. If you’ve ever wanted to make gooseberry pudding, Savoy biscuits, or “A Fricasie of Eggs,” here is a good place to start. You can also get tips on everything from how to fatten a chicken in four days, preserve raspberries the Georgian way, or relieve an upset stomach with Dr. William Kitchener’s “Stomachic Tincture.”
Although cow heel for dinner probably doesn’t sound very appealing today, many of the recipes in the manuscript resonate with our modern desire to buy organic and local. As the February 2013 post from the blog’s archives puts it, “Georgian and Regency culinary habits have surprising parallels with modern food trends. There was an emphasis on the ‘fun’ of food, and on creating dishes to amaze and delight.” This is not surprising, considering they raised their own animals for food and used seasonal produce. The article goes on to say, “There are also parallels with today’s ‘slow food’ movement. Kitchens drew largely on seasonal, locally sourced produce, and as far as possible used food produced in their own smallholdings and gardens. The compilers of this Cookbook make their own cheese from freshly drawn milk, fearlessly stuff calves heads, and demonstrate considerable skill in butchery. They appear deeply connected with the food they eat and where it comes from.”
It’s funny how things come full circle, isn’t it? Now, eat your cow heel. It’s good for you!
For more on healthy cooking, check out cookbooks available from Selene River Press…