I was fortunate at the boot sale on Sunday and found 4 books which were just up my street. Here they are, with short extracts from them:
(Actually gooseberry and rhubarb chutney, but the above moniker seemed more appropriate!)
2 lbs green gooseberries
1 lb rhubarb
1 pint malt vinegar
1 level teaspn. pepper
2 teaspns. salt
2 " mixed mustard
1/2 lb Demerara sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Prepare gooseberries by topping, tailing, washing, and thoroughly drying. Cut up rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Skin and chop onions small. Place all in saucepan and stir occasionally while cooking slowly. When quite thick, pot up and cover when cold.
"It is a raw evening in February; the wind and rain are bitter cold. You arrive home in the dark, tired, cold and wet. The light glows cosily from your windows and, your day's work over, you hang your streaming coat on a peg and greet the family.
There on the table is a steaming rabbit pie, fragrant with mushrooms and herbs. The rabbit, you recall, you shot on a distant Autumn day when the sun was warm on the stubbles. It is flanked by a selection of your home-grown vegetables; runner beans, carrots and potatoes. A decanter of elderberry wine stands by, glowing with a warm inner light. Your rabbit is followed by blackberry and apple, the results of a family outing along a summer hedgerow. As a finale you nibble a few sweet chestnuts and sip thoughtfully at a glass of your own sloe gin, potent and warming."
Nothing was wasted in the Victorian household:
This was also used for a main meal in the poor houses of England in the 1800s, but was one of the most attractive dishes in the household of the gentry.
Two ears, sage and onion, quarter of suet, a handful of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to taste, two eggs, half pin of gravy, and a piece of butter the size of a tea cup.
Parboil the ears for half an hour. Make a forcemeat (stuffing) of the sage, onion, finely chopped suet, breadcrumbs, pepper and salt. Mix and bind it with the beaten egg yolks. Raise the skin of the upper sides of he ears, and stuff them with it. Fry the ears in fresh butter to a nice brown. Pour away the fat and drain them. Place in the gravy and cook over the fire for half an hour. Serve with fresh parsley.
"I'm now going to quote Richard Mabey for this one" (says the book) "as it's one I've not tried yet. It sounds delicious, and I'm sure Richard would not mind my sharing it with you."
"The most delicious blackberry product I know," says Richard Mabey, " is a junket made from nothing other than blackberry juice. Remove the juice from the very ripest blackberries with the help of a juice extractor, or by pressing them through several layers of muslin. Then simply allow the thick dark juice to stand undisturbed in a warm room. Do not stir or cool the juice, or add anything to it. After a few hours it will have set to the consistency of a ligh junket, and can be eaten with cream and sweet biscuits."