Monday, March 23, 2009

Breakfast, Dinner & Supper

I found this book at an auction that I just couldn't let get away. The book was on a flat bed trailer with several thousand other books. There were boxes of books, plies of books, stacks of books and books tossed from people digging through the piles.

I walked over and stood back a bit and just looked.

There were a lot of old books. I don't remember who's house they came from, but I'm thinking it came from the old house that didn't have an indoor bathroom in the 1990's. The woman who had lived in that house had lived there since she was a small child and didn't want to change the house at all. Her parents had put in running water in the kitchen and electricity (barely!) throughout the house, but a bathroom was not included in the updates. The auction was an estate sale. There were no heirs, as she never married, and the other family members either ran far away from there or had died - this woman was over 100 when she passed.

She never threw anything away and neither had her parents. This auction was a study in decades. In fact, when possible, that's how the auction was set up, from Pre WWI to the 1990s. The books, however, were on this flatbed truck.

I spied "Breakfast, Dinner & Supper" copyright 1884, within seconds of walking up to the trailer. I didn't even open it. I knew I wanted it. When the auctioneer came over to the books he first had us pull out single books that we wanted to bid on. I didn't touch the book. I waited until he called last call for individual books before I motioned to it. There was a book dealer there and I gave him a look. I had not bid on any books yet, so he knew that I wanted it. He bid against me for a few rounds and I finally just said to him "It's mine, I don't even know what's in it, but it's mine." He stopped bidding thankfully at $40. He had purchased other books for over $200 so I was hoping he'd realize that I wasn't going to bid on every book...I just needed THAT one. Someone bid after him, but I got the book for $50.

I love this book. and you will too. and if you don't, come back tomorrow when I chat about something else :)

There are so many favorite parts to this book, but this is an incredible section that I simply must share. I have typed this exactly as written, with all of the hyphens and run on sentences and semicolons! I'm so excited to have you all read this. Enjoy

Picnic Baskets

pg 116 of Breakfast, Dinner & Supper

Have two of them by all means; one for provisions, and the other for the utensils you may need.

Pack your plates, sauce-dishes (old-time stone-ware, not the glass berry-comports you use a the home-meal), and cups, at the bottom of the basket, with towels and table-linen (unbleached damask or colored table-cloth, with napkins to match) in between, to prevent breakage; tumblers on top, and the knives, forks, spoons where they will go best, with a piece of oil-cloth over all.

Don't forget to take a big tin pail for water; you can carry your lemons, bananas, or other fruit in it; also a can of rich cream for the coffee, without which an open-air picnic-dinner would be incomplete; so bring along your coffee-pot without fail. If you use the bean from "Araby the blest," have it all ready ground and measured, in a small tin box, and empty spice-box will do; also to carry tea, salt, and sugar. "Golden coffee" (see p. 456), or other "hygienic" substitute, will answer nearly or quite as well; some think better. Chocolate, all ready prepared with milk and sugar, but with the cocoa-butter which gathers on the top when cold carefully removed, is a pleasant and slightly stimulating beverage, and need not be warmed unless you choose to do it; but the lovers of "the cup that cheers" will clamor some for hot, and some for iced tea, so carry along a well-blanketed block of ice in the northeast corner of your picnic-wagon, with a tin box of butter close as its side, and if you can add a freezer full of frozen cream, so much the better. But pack ice all around it, and heavily cover it with carpeting, or the contents will be melted when you want to use them.

Have freshly-baked biscuit, rolls, etc, even if it necessitates very early rising, and pack them in the second basket, with the rest of the good things provided. We subjoin a sample list of suitable articles for a picnic lunch or dinner, from which, if at a loss, a bill of fare for spring, summer, or fall can easily be selected.

Poultry - Chicken, cold, baked or roasted, or in a salad; broiled cold rooast turkey, sliced thin; broiled partridges.

Fish - freshly caught, fried or broiled on live coals; sardines; canned salmon; canned lobser; lobster rissoles, cold ; oysters, raw, stewed, or pickled; clam chowder.

Meat - Chipped beef; pressed veal; veal loaf; cold roast veal; smoked tongue; canned corned beef.

Pickles - Cucumber; mixed pickles; piccalilli; sweet pickled pears and peaches; catsup.

Sandwiches of tongue, fresh or smoked; steamed beef; sausage, sliced thin; or of hard boiled eggs, sliced length-wise and sprinkled with grated cheese, laid between buttered bread.

Vegetables, in their season. Roasting -ears; sweet or Irish potatoes, roasted in hot ashes; cucumber-salad, or tomatoes, sliced with vinegar, and garnished with cold boiled eggs sliced and laid on top.

Bread - white; Boston brown; graham fruit-bread; lemon biscuit; quick soda biscuit; French rolls.

Cake - Pound; sponge; chocolate layer; cocoanut; excellent cake; sultana; hermits; lemon snaps; macaroons.

Nuts - Mixed; English walnuts; Brazil-nuts; hazel-nuts; pecans.

Canned Fruit - Peaches; pears; plum-jam; grape-jelly, etc.

Drinks - Tea; coffee; chocolate; lemonade; pine-apple.

Can you imagine packing up even 1/4 of that for a picnic lunch? I can't imagine getting the 6 kids, the wool clothing, the heavy blankets, the block of ice packed in the northeast corner of the basket! Oh goodness.

The women in that day and age lived such a different life.




Keetha said...

Don't forget that if they were taking that kind of a picnic, they also had SERVANTS and if not, they WERE the servants.


Acinom said...

PLEASE tell me there is an accompanying recipe for "excellent cake"! I NEED THAT!

I would so be in love with you book too. One of my treasures is a book called "Campus Cues" which is an etiquette book from 1956 that teaches you all about how to behave on coke dates and to use the phrase "pardon my glove"... It's packed up right now, but if I ever get it out, you have inspired me to post some of my favorite bits :)