A pure natural pepper, of delicious, pleasant, and delicate flavour.
It facilitates digestion and imparts vitality, and is much esteemed by epicures.
Being of a most brilliant red colour, it can be used for decoration in place of Lobster Coral.
It is distinct from Cayenne, and is not much hotter than fine ordinary pepper.
It will be found most delicous to use alone as a Curry Powder.
It can be served at table in cellars as Salt is usually served.
It can be strongly recommended for use in Sauces, Purees, Hors d'oeuvres, Soups, Fish, Hot Entrees, Cold Entrees, and Removes.
It supplies a great want.
Guaranteed free from artificial colouring.
The Diary opens on a quiet November morning in an English village around 1930. The lady -- whose name we never learn -- is chronicling her attempts to "plant the indoor bulbs" despite interruptions from children, servants, and the officious local peeress, Lady Boxe, who is always ready to drop by with unsolicited advice.Even further back, I had a professor who re-read Pride and Prejudice, and other favorite novels, every year. The Diary of a Provincial Lady may not quite merit that attention, but when I do think of it and reopen it, it's usually in the gray days of November and December, which is when the story commences. The rock-cake quote specifically occurred to me now, eighty-one years on, because I am planning a tea this afternoon in honor of my daughter's birthday. The milestone has, so far, gone rather unremarked as it fell among Thanksgiving plans and a session, endured by the honoree herself, at the oral surgeon's office. All four wisdom teeth at once.
For the next year, we follow the Provincial Lady through her small adventures: running her household, volunteering at the Women's Institute, visiting elderly shut-ins, coping with endless financial difficulties, and helping to bring young lovers together just before suffering a serious bout of measles. All the while she attempts to (as it were) keep her cultural head above water. She enters writing contests sponsored by the county newspaper (and is annoyed at sharing Second Prize). She tries to read the latest books. She goes to London with a younger and admittedly better-looking girlfriend, fully intending to see the famed Italian art exhibition, until her Christmas shopping duties interfere.
The novel closes simply. November has come round again. The lady and her husband have returned from a dismal party at "Lady B.'s." She stays up late writing her diary even as Robert sensibly asks "'Why don't I get into bed?' "
The enchantment of the Diary is its calm, intelligent, almost-loving and just slightly acidic depiction of ordinary life among deeply ordinary people. Some of the Provincial Lady's English references are difficult for the 21st-century American reader to follow. Her husband's occupation is mysterious, for one thing. He is Lady Boxe's "agent," which appears to put them both in a position of some subservience to the grande dame, and yet they are summoned to her country-house parties and seem to have a responsibility for taking the lead in the village's social and fund-raising affairs as well. A hint of the tension is conveyed early on when the heroine writes, "have absolutely decided that if Lady B. should introduce us to distinguished literary friends, or anyone else, as Our Agent, and Our Agent's wife, I shall at once leave the house."
The Provincial Lady's family and financial worries will also strike the modern reader as odd. She considers herself worked to death, yet employs a cook, two housemaids, and a French governess for the children. She pawns family jewelry and sells off old clothes to bring in cash, but sends her son to boarding school and manages to take a trip with friends to the south of France -- albeit, in the off season. " 'But why not go at the right time of year?' " Lady B. scolds.
Nevertheless, the almost relentless domesticity of this country gentlewoman's life, and her droll, engrossed, and un-self-pitying coping with it, ring true -- even nearly eighty years on -- for every reader who has ever complained about the daily grind. Practically everyone and everything in her world takes precedence over her own time and her own "little" plans; this is a part of being human, particularly a part of being a wife and mother, but her reaction to it is what makes this charming anonymous, in fact, a great Lady.
"...Can she, on the other hand, give up dear Crosbie, who has never loved a girl before, and says that he never will again? No, she cannot.So: bread and butter then, and small rock cakes, though we can hope they need not be as unappetising as all that. Judging by the recipe to hand from the British & Irish food guide writing at About.com, "rock" cakes are little more than cookies studded with dried fruit; any drop cookie -- cookie batter dropped from a spoon onto a baking sheet, aren't we clever -- will have a rounded and rock-like appearance. For the sake of authenticity, however, here is the recipe, from About.com's Elaine Lemm.
"Barbara weeps. I kiss her. Howard Fitzsimmons [the manservant] selects this moment to walk in with the tea, at which I sit down again in confusion and begin to talk about the Vicarage daffodils ....
"Atmosphere ruined, and destruction completed by my own necessary enquiries as to Barbara's wishes in the matter of milk, sugar, bread-and-butter, and so on. (Mem.: must speak to Cook about sending in minute segment of sponge-cake, remains of one which, to my certain recollection, made its first appearance more than ten days ago. Also, why perpetual and unappetising procession of small rock cakes?"
2 lbs. yellow squashCook and drain the squash. Saute onion [in butter or perhaps olive oil?] and place it in the bottom of a buttered casserole. On top of the onion, place layers of squash, canned green chilies, and cheese. Repeat layers n this order, ending with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
1 onion, chopped
1 can chili peppers -- (by all means be modern, and substitute fresh)
grated cheddar cheese
Leftover holiday bird of your choice, dark meat or white, whole pieces or diced meat
4-5 Tablespoons butter
5-6 firm tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups hard cider -- the good alcoholic stuff, not sweet cider
2/3 cup heavy cream
bouquet garni -- a bundle of herbs tied together and allowed to float freely in a sauce, the bundle to include bay leaf, thyme, and parsley
heatand yes, even sausage ...
Scrub 2 potatoes and cook, covered, in small amount of water. Pare grapefruit, cut out sections and arrange on lettuce. Add French dressing. Chill
Set table. (For the woman who live alone! This is most civilized -- we must all do it.)
Sauté liver and onions.
Peel potato and reheat in butter.
Keep other potato for Friday (You will gash its top and cover it with shredded cheese, then pop it under the broiler to reheat -- it will accompany your pan fried perch.)
Only -- when have we made the radish roses?Preparation for Thursday.
1/4 pound beef liver, slicedWash liver and drain. Dip into crumbs; season. Fry liver slowly in bacon fat in preheated frying pan until browned on both sides. Add sliced onions and fry slowly until onions are tender.
2 Tablespoons cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons bacon fat
2 small onions, sliced
"The manna of the children of Israel, the Bible says in Numbers 11:7-8, 'was as coriander seed .. . and the people went about and gathered it ....'
"Delicately perfumed and plentiful, coriander has served man since he first learned to season his foods. On early Egyptian papyruses one can read about it in hieroglyphics... ancient Greece also, one learns from Athenaeus, a scholar of the second and third centuries, liked coriander as a seasoning ....
"Today coriander is grown and used all over the world. The Chinese think it especially good in soups. One of the most common seasonings in Mexico, it is cooked in rice, lentil, and meat dishes. The Arab cuisine leans heavily on it ....
"How have we in America lost track of this mild, inexpensive way to give spirit to our foods?"How indeed? We have also in a way lost track of parsley, and as luck would have it not only does Sylvia Windle Humphrey tell us more about that herb too, but our soup recipe from this French Country Cooking finishes with a persillade, a combination, frequent in southern French cooking, of minced parsley, minced garlic, and olive oil. It makes a robust little miniature salad to be stirred by the spoonful into each bowl of soup at serving.
"When Parsley Pies were popular in England, in Good Queen Bess's time, then Britain really ruled the waves. None other than whole pastures of parsley were good enough for the horses of the Greek gods, who evidently knew the dietary secrets of keeping their steeds swift and spirited, for parsley is nature's own vitamin pill ...
"For thousands of years parsley has been nourishing man as well as horses. ... Parsley doubling as a flower, or mixed with flowers -- Homer is said to have been fond of a parsley-and-rose motif decorating his banquets -- has gone out of style, as have the parsley crowns such as Hercules wore after conquering the Nemean lion. But no one doubts that dainty bouquets of parsley make many a plain dish feel wanted."
10 cups waterFor the persillade:
1 pound leeks, trimmed, chopped, well washed
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound sweet apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 Tablespoon salt
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups fresh parsleyCombine the water, leeks, potatoes, carrots, apples, salt and bay leaves in a large pot. Tie the coriander seeds and peppercorns in cheesecloth [or fold them into a coffee filter and staple it closed], and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
10 to 12 lemons, 6 to preserve, and the rest for their juiceYou will also need a 6 cup glass jar with a lid (although I got by with a 32 ounce ex-pickle jar).
2/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil