Tagged ‘Queen Elizabeth’

The Queen is apeeling

September 28th, 2013 by KM Wall

Cookbooks aren’t the only place to find food in the past.

Paintings, for instance often have lots of information…..

Piter Bruegal the elder - Peasant Wedding - there's who's sitting where, what's being served, what's already on the table, what else is going on....food and the ways

Piter Bruegal the elder – Peasant Wedding – there’s who’s sitting where, what’s being served, what’s already on the table, what else is going on….food and the ways

Pieter Brugel the elder- the Peasant Dance. There's also food on the table and the placement and decorations, and of. course, the danceing...In one version of this painting all the cod pieces have been, shall we say, photo-shopped out....

Pieter Brugel the elder- the Peasant Dance. There’s also food on the table (way in the back and none too clear in this one – I promise you that there is a a table there, and there is food) and the placement and decorations, and of. course, the dancing…In one version of this painting all the cod pieces have been, shall we say, photo-shopped out….

and sometimes books that seem to have nothing to do with food have a reference that jumps out of the page and begs to be used.



“One measure of Elizabeth’s concern with how she was depicted was the extraordinary control she exercised over her portraits. Every few years she would sit for a court artist whose work would then serve as a model for others to copy. Sometime around 1592, Isaac Oliver made the mistake of accurately rendering the queen as an old lady. Elizabeth let her Privy Council know that the portraits based on this model were unacceptable. A few years later the  councillors directed officers to seek out and destroy all portraits of the queen which were to her “great offence”. Some were immediately burned; others met that fate more slowly John Evelyn writes that some of the engravings that were called in were used for years at Essex House for “peels for the use of their ovens.”   From that time on, all royal portraits would show Elizabeth as an eternally young woman, her true complexion hidden by a so-called mask of youth.

Shaperio, James. 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. Harper’s Perennial . 2005. p. 157.

Queen Elizabeth, ever apeeling.

Isaac Oliver, self portrait detail

Isaac Oliver, self portrait detail

Queen Elizabeth - is this the unflattering engraving that could be used for a peel?

Queen Elizabeth – is this the unflattering engraving that could be used for a peel?


National Vanilla Pudding Day

May 22nd, 2013 by KM Wall

I’m not at all sure how these National (internet) Holidays come about, but WHO KNEW that Vanilla Pudding had a following?

In 1627 Plymouth Colony, it’s the day they hold a Court to divide the first of the stock of the  shareholders venture – the livestock. The resulting document – known as The Division of Cattle – list the people -we’re pretty sure just about ALL the people in 1627 Plymouth – and the cows, calves, heifers, steers and the bull. And the goats, which appear to be written  in another handwriting, possibly a little later.

Kerry cow and her calf

Kerry cow and her calf

Red Devon bull - the bull is the husband of the cow

Red Devon bull – the bull is the husband of the cow


So, although there was some milk to make the sort of thing we now call pudding, what did these people think about vanilla?

Not much, if the cookbooks can be believed. By not much, I mean it doesn’t show up, a thing unknown, too unfamiliar.  The Story of Vanilla and it’s introduction to European kitchens is a Spanish story, with Cortez and Aztecs and secret chocolates……and then on to Florence and France……

Florentine Codex 1520 - not English

Florentine Codex 1520 – not English

The word ‘vanilla’ doesn’t come into use in English until the 1750′s, via a botanist, and it  really hits it big in the 19th century. Now it’s hard to believe that it just wasn’t around as a common flavor and a scent.

Which isn’t to say the internet doesn’t say otherwise……

However, it was not until the 17th century that it was recognised as a flavour in its own right. In 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth I of England, suggested that vanilla had sufficient character to stand alone – and later the Queen refused to eat or drink anything that had not been enhanced with vanilla.

FYI – she dies 24 March 1603, so she didn’t love it long…..

Elizabeth I - painted after her death c. 1610. Perhaps she's missing her vanilla...

Elizabeth I – painted after her death c. 1610. Perhaps she’s missing her vanilla…

To boil a Pudding which is uncommonly good.

Take a pond and [a] half of Wheat-flour, three quarter pond of Currents washed clean, a half pond Kidney-suet, cut it very small, 3 Eggs, one and a half Nutmegs, grated fine, a little Salt, mix it with a little sweet Milk so dry that one kneads it like a Bread and tie it in a clean cloth rather close and throw it into a pot with boiling water and let it boil for two hours, then it is done.

-                     The Sensible Cook, Rose ed. p. 79.


Humble Pie

December 1st, 2012 by KM Wall

To make a Pye of Humbles.
Take your humbles being perboiled, and choppe them verye small with a good quantitye of Mutton sewet, and halfe a handfull of hearbes folowing, time, margarom, borage, perseley, and a little rosemary, and season the same being choped, with pepper, cloves and mace, and so close your pye and bake him.
-Thomas Dawson . The good huswifes Iewell. p. 14

Perboiled is throughly boiled – it comes from a different root word then par, which is partial; sewet is suet – although why mutton and not some other….; thyme, marjoram, borage, parsley, and rosemary are the herbs; close your pie means you’ve made a bottom crust and now you’re putting on the lid.

Willem Clausz Heda 'Banquet Piece with Mince Pie

The National Gallery of Art is home to great collections. Humble pie is essentially a sort of mince pie.

But what exactly ARE humbles? This next recipe is a little more explicit.

Take ye humbles of a deere, or a calves heart, or pluck, or sheeps heart; perboyle it, & when it is colde, shred it small with beefe suet, & season it with cloves, mace nutmeg, & ginger beaten small; & mingle with it currans, verges & salt; put all into ye pie & set it in the oven an houre; then take it out, cut it up & put in some claret wine, melted butter & sugar beat together. then cover it a little & serve it.
-Hess, Karen, ed. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Columbia University Press: New York. 1981. p. 93, # C64.

Humbles are a collective of the inward bits, sometimes called numbles or umbles. Pluck is also organ meat. There are several painting that have lungs and heart hanging together, so I’ve always thought of them as more pluck-ish then other combinations, but  I realize that might just be my emotional read on the situation, not a documented historical one.

And as for the phrase “to eat humble pie”  meaning to be apologetic coming from some sense that the peasants had be eating humbles because they were in humble circumstances….totally confusing the numble of the inward parts with humility….here’s Queen Elizabeth I retrieving some humbles for a little pie of her own. Nothing peasant or humble here.

Today is Crownation Day!

November 17th, 2012 by KM Wall


Elizabeth's succesion allegory

This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
(Biblical verse reputedly spoken in Latin by Elizabeth I when she received news of her accession to the throne)

In her own words…….

I will be as good unto ye as ever a Queen was unto her people. No will in me can lack, neither do I trust shall there lack any power. And persuade yourselves that for the safety and quietness of you all I will not spare if need be to spend my blood.
(Elizabeth to the Lord Mayor and people of London on the eve of her Coronation)

I shall desire you all, my lords, (chiefly you of the nobility, everyone in his degree and power) to be assistant to me that I, with my ruling, and you with your service, may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth.
(Elizabeth at the beginning of her reign)

I have already joined myself in marriage to a husband, namely the kingdom of England.
(Elizabeth to Parliament)

Better beggar woman and single than Queen and married.

Was I not born in this realm? Were my parents born in any foreign country? Is there any cause I should alienate myself from being careful over this country? Is not my kingdom here?
(Elizabeth to Parliament)

There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles.
(Elizabeth’s response to the Catholic/Protestant divide)

I have no desire to make windows into mens souls
(Again a reference to the Catholic/Protestant issue)

It is monstrous that the feet should direct the head.
(Elizabeth to Parliament)

No prince herein, I confess, can be silver tied or faster bound than I am with the link of your good will.
(Elizabeth to Parliament)

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.
(Tilbury speech, 1588. See section on The Spanish Armada)

It would please me best if, at the last, a marble stone shall record that this Queen having lived such and such a time, lived and died a virgin.
(Elizabeth to Parliamentary Delegation)

I know I am but mortal and so therewhilst prepare myself for death, whensoever it shall please God to send it.
(Elizabeth to Parliament in response to the succession issue)

The Queen fell into a deep sleep, and died in the early hours of the 24th of March, 1603. It was a Thursday, the death day of her father, and her sister. It was the eve of the annunciation of the Virgin Mary, perhaps an apt day for the Virgin Queen to die. The Elizabethan calendar was also different to ours, as they still used the Julian calendar – the new year beginning on the 25th of March. Thus the last day of the year 1602 also saw the last hours of the last Tudor monarch. The new year would bring a new reign, that of King James I (James VI of Scotland), a new ruling dynasty (the Stuarts), and a new era in British history. It was with sadness that the Queen’s death was announced on the streets of London the following morning, and witnesses described the eerie silence of the stunned crowd. For almost 45 years they had been ruled by Elizabeth, and knew no other way of life.
When they saw the life-like effigy of the Queen, they wept. John Stow, who attended the funeral wrote:

“Westminster was surcharged with multitudes of all sorts of people in their streets, houses, windows, leads and gutters, that came to see the obsequy, and when they beheld her statue lying upon the coffin, there was such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man, neither doth any history mention any people, time or state to make like lamentation for the death of their sovereign”


To be a King and wear a crown is a thing more pleasant to them that see it, than it is pleasant to them that bear it.
I were content to hear matters argued and debated pro and contra as all princes must that will understand what is right, yet I look ever as it were upon a plain tablet wherein is written neither partility or prejudice.
There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel; I mean your love.
Though God hath raised me high, yet this I account the glory of my reign, that I have reigned with your loves.
I have ever used to set the last Judgement Day before mine eyes, and so to rule as I shall be judged to answer before a higher judge.
You may have many a wiser prince sitting in this seat, but you never have had, or shall have, any who loves you better.
It is not my desire to live or to reign longer than my life and reign shall be for your good.

Michaelmas Goose (and a little crow)

September 29th, 2012 by KM Wall



Geese and ducks from 1660

Several years ago I realized everything I had read about Michaelmas goose (the custom of eating goose on the feast of St. Michael, the 29th of September) were from 19th century sources that were all assured that such practices, if true once, were true always. I couldn’t recall – or find – a 17th century  source about the practice. Rents are due; it’s a quarter day; some contracts end while other begin; sheriffs are elected. ( St Michael is the patron saint of law enforcement officers in the 21st century US Catholic Church).

All well and good, but is it any reason to put a goose on the table?

So I said NO. Even this morning at our English Village morning meeting, I said  eat goose because it’s the season, not because of the day.

As wise as a gooce, or as wise as her mothers aperen string.

So I spent some time Googling ‘goose’ and ‘Michaelmas’ and  – here’s the eating crow part -

At the Agecroft Home site I found:

These days were mentioned  in a 1575 poem by George Gascoigne:

And when the tenantes come to paie their quarter’s rent,
They bring some fowls at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent;
At Christmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose,
And somewhat else at New-yere’a tide, for feare their lease flie loose

George Gascoigne was a courtier, poet, artist, all round swell in and around the court of Queen Elizabeth. He’s also the one who gets the credit for writing/translating the story that William Shakespeare used as the basis for the Taming of The Shrew. Not bad work being the muse of the Bard. Now, I haven’t found exactly which of his poems this excerpt comes from….but I’m not waiting a year to make my retraction. As always, a work in progress.

A second theory as to the origins of the Michaelmas goose,  involves Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish Armada and – well, that still appears to be nonsense.

Queen Elizabeth succession allegory

But I won’t be one  To steal a Goose, and give the giblets in almes.

To farce a roasted Goose or Duck.

Take out all of the loose fat inside the Goose, take a Wheat-bread of 2 stuyvers, cut off the crusts, finely grate them, mix in a half pond Currants, one and a half loot Cinnamon, two heaping spoons of Sugar, a good piece of Butter with a little Rhenish wine, but as dry as possible just so it has been moistened.  It will be a good stuffing.  Geese and Ducks are filled also with Chestnuts from which the peels and membranes have been removed with Butter.

- Rose, Sensible Cook, p. 66.

stuyvers are coins worth 1/20 of a guilder; a pond equals a pound; a loot is 1/2 ounce

St Michael the Archangel saving souls





Speaking of angels, keeping co-worker Eva Lipton in our thoughts and prayers.

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