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New Release: The Marriage Obligation

Admiral Cornelius Hardcastle met his future wife Léonie at the Siege of Toulon. Their daughter Cornelia is the heroine of The Marriage Obligation.

The fictional character of Admiral Hardcastle is based on Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew, whose ship, the HMS Leviathan, took part in the evacuation of allied troops and royalist civilians being persuaded by the Republican army.

Siège_de_Toulon

The Siege of Toulon

The Siege of Toulon (29 August – 19 December 1793) was a military operation by Republican forces against a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon.

After a series of insurrections against the Republicans within the French cities of Lyon, Avignon, Nîmes, and Marseille, Republicans managed to recapture Marseille and punish them with severe reprisals. Upon hearing this, Toulon, which was currently in the hands of Royalist forces, called for aid from the Anglo-Spanish fleet.  On 28 August, Admiral Sir Samuel Hood of the Royal Navy and Admiral Juan de Lángara of the Spanish Navy, committed a force of 13,000 British, Spanish, Neapolitan and Piedmontese troops to the French Royalists’ cause. This was a serious blow to the Republicans, since Toulon had a key naval arsenal and was the base for 26 ships (about a third of the French navy). On 1 October, Baron d’Imbert proclaimed the young Louis XVII to be king of France, and hoisted the French Royalist flag of the fleur de lys, delivering the town of Toulon to the British navy.

Les_coalises_evacuent_Toulon_en_decembre_1793

By 16 December, however, the Republicans (among them a young Bonaparte), managed to push past the Allied troops toward the waterfront. At that point, Lángara gave the order to destroy the French ships. While that was going on, Hood had ordered HMS Robust under Captain George Elphinstone and HMS Leviathan under Captain Benjamin Hallowell Carew to evacuate the allied troops from the waterfront. In addition to the soldiery, the British squadron and their boats took on board thousands of French Royalist refugees, who had flocked to the waterfront when it became clear that the city would fall to the Republicans. Robust, the last to leave, carried more than 3,000 civilians from the harbour and another 4,000 were recorded on board Princess Royal out in the roads. In total the British fleet rescued 14,877 Toulonnais from the city; witnesses on board the retreating ships reported scenes of panic on the waterfront as stampeding civilians were crushed or drowned in their haste to escape the advancing Republican soldiers, who fired indiscriminately into the fleeing populace.

Wikipedia

Author’s Note: I’ve advanced Cornelia’s age five years for the purpose of this story. An author’s prerogative!

About The Marriage Obligation

Cornelia Hardcastle has been determined never to marry since she was eighteen and discovered an ugly family secret. Now that she’s twenty-four, however, her parents want to see her settled so they can move to Canada for her father’s prestigious new government post. Not a chance!

The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington is more than happy to leave the viscount business to his brother so he can travel the world in search of adventure. His recent stint as a spy for the British in the War with the French has come to an end, and he’s getting pressured to marry and settle down. Hell no!

How could the notorious Marriage Maker from Inverness all the way in Scotland possibly know that these two marriage-averse individuals are perfect for each other?

Excerpt

Note: At this point in the story, Cornelia has confessed her terrible secret to Preston, her husband-in-name-only.

He took her hand and led her back to the folly. “There, you got it out. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

She tilted her head to look at him. “You’re not—shocked? Disgusted?”

He squeezed her hand and looked directly into her eyes. “Surprised, yes, certainly. Disgusted? I don’t quite understand your meaning, Cornelia.” His eyes widened. “Unless you are thinking—surely not—that I should be disgusted by you!”

She burst into tears. He pulled her trembling body into his arms and held her against him until her body quieted and the tears slowed, eventually turning into occasional hiccups. When she raised her head from his chest, he handed her his handkerchief. “Shall we sit down? When you are ready, you can tell me what it is that has you so distressed.”

Dabbing at her eyes, she nodded and allowed him to guide her back to the stone seat. 

“I must look a mess,” she said finally, in a shaky voice.

“You look beautiful,” he said, his hand making gentle circles on the surface of her back.

She made a face. “Liar. I’ve seen my face in this condition before. Red eyes, splotchy cheeks, shiny nose. Definitely not a good look for me.”

In response, he reached over and turned her face toward his before capturing her lips with his for a tender kiss. Her sweet response tempted him to deepen it into something more passionate, but he sensed she was not ready for that and reined in his desire.

“Do you still believe I was lying, my dear?” he said as their kiss ended.

She swallowed. “Perhaps you were just being kind.”

Well, then. If she did indeed need more convincing, he would be more than pleased to deliver it.

He took her face in his hands again and kissed her again, this time with more pressure, then pulling away slightly to tease her lips with his tongue, before probing between them with his tongue. Her eyes widened with surprise, but far from protesting, she pressed closer to him, her arms floating to his shoulders. She smelled of violets and tasted like a combination of innocence and passion. His hands drifted to her hair, where his gentle caresses caught on pins and sent dark locks spilling down her back. When her eyes widened, he took her lips again, this time plunging his tongue between her teeth and coercing a timid response from hers.  His hands floated down her back, lightly touching the side of her breasts before settling possessively at her waist. 

Mine. My woman. This woman was made for me. She has to know it too.

When they finally pulled apart, she looked down, flushed and breathing hard.

“Well?” he said when he found himself able to talk again. “Was that a ‘just being kind’ kiss, do you think?”

She looked up at him, her eyes lit with a mischievous glow. “You’ve proved your point. There was nothing ‘kind’ about it. I must allow that you are a magnificent kisser, Preston.”

His breath quickened. “There is nothing I would like better than to kiss you like that every day. Several times, in fact. I am convinced that we could have an exemplary partnership, my dear, if we were to make our marriage a real one.”

Amazon

 

Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements to Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: Made-Dishes

This post is part of the Authors in Bloom Ten-Day Blog Tour. Each stop on the tour will offer a prize, and a Grand Prize of an eReader and a $25 Gift Card will be awarded to two participants who comment on each and every one of the participating blogs.

My prize is a print copy of my time travel romance, A Home for Helena, about a young woman who discovers she was kidnapped from Regency England as a child. This prize is International and will be awarded to a random commenter on this blog post.

Note: Be sure to leave your contact email in your comment so that you can be contacted if necessary.

 

Made-Dishes

What is technically called a made-dish, presupposes either a more elaborate mode of cookery than plain frying, boiling, or roasting or else some combination of those elementary processes,—as, for example, half-roasting and finishing in the stew-pan, which is a very common way of dressing a ragout. All dishes commonly called French dishes are of this class, such as fricassees and ragouts, meat braised, larded, &c. and so are hashes, curries, and generally all viands that are re-dressed.

Made-dishes are valued by the gourmand for their seasonings and piquancy, but they are equally esteemed by the economist from the circumstance of a much less quantity of material than would suffice for a boil or roast, making a handsome and highly-flavoured dish; while, by the various modes of re-dressing, every thing cold is, in a new made-dish turned to good account. The most common fault of made dishes is, that they are overdone.

The very name made-dish, with us implies something savoury and highly relishing, and though over seasoning is to be avoided, it is proper that made-dishes should rather be piquant than insipid.

Made-dishes of beef that has been dressed.

Few persons come to the years of eating-discretion like cold meat, and though the days are quite gone when the hospitality of the landlord was measured by the size of the joint, it still happens that where a table affords any variety of dishes, much meat will be left cold. The invention of the culinary artist is thus put on the rack for new forms and modes of dress, and new names for various dishes which are intrinsically one. The most common and the best methods of dressing cold beef are broiling, heating in the Dutch oven, or hashing.

Click here for links to all of Mrs. Barlow’s recipes.

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Amazon • iBooks • Kobo • Nook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susana’s Author Pals: Blair Bancroft

Susana read many of Blair Bancroft’s Regency romances in print and digital form long before she joined the Central Florida Romance Writers and met her in person. That was when she discovered some of Blair’s other outstanding talents: singing, acting, directing, and piano, in addition to blogging and editing. Blair (Grace) has shown herself to be very kind, supportive, and helpful to new authors in both the CFRW and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA. Having been a caregiver herself, she understands the challenges Susana faces during her winter sojourn in Florida when she cares for her dad.

About Blair Bancroft (Grace Ann Kone)

Blair came to writing late, partly because she had a desire to pursue a singing career and partly because her mother was a highly successful children’s book author, and it never occurred to Blair it was possible to have two such exotic creatures as an author in one family. So music was the order of the day. During college years at Brown and Boston University’s School of Music, Blair was fortunate enough to participate in operas under the direction of Sarah Caldwell and also find time for BU’s theater productions, musical and non-musical.

After five years of teaching music to elementary school students in Connecticut, Blair finally set out for New York City, where she became one of the nuns in the National Company of The Sound of Music (with Florence Henderson starring as Maria von Trapp). She also directed off-stage choruses, played piano for on-road rehearsals, and trained all replacements.

But teaching—and the lure of home and family—drew her back to New England, where she taught music in Newton, Massachusetts, and directed a production of The King and I at Newton High School. Then it was back to Connecticut for marriage, three children, and confining her performing to church. She also branched out into a new field—becoming editor of an educational publishing company, a job that lasted for the next twenty years. After moving to Florida in the 80s, she worked at a variety of jobs, from real estate to church secretary, while doing a huge amount of transportation for a daughter who was following in her footsteps as a soloist. Only after Blair’s youngest went off to college did she get one last crack at the theater, playing Mrs. Peachum in a Sarasota production of The Threepenny Opera.

Blair greatly admires women who seem to be able to do it all: handle a job, husband, children, and still find time to write. She could not. Although she “dabbled” in writing a time or two, she did not do any serious writing until her husband of twenty-five years had a stroke and she became a full-time caregiver—for the next nine years.

It took eight of those to find a publisher. Well, actually, the publisher (the now defunct Starlight Writer Publications) found her. The editor had been a judge in a contest Blair entered and requested Tarleton’s Wife as one of the initial offerings of their new company (December 1999). (Tarleton’s Wife , Blair’s Golden Heart winner, is now on its fifth incarnation and is still selling, after nearly twenty years. It also won a Best Romance award from the Florida Writers Association.)

And just that quickly, Blair’s luck changed. She was offered a contract by Kensington’s Precious Gem line and within the same year sold her first Regency to Signet (Penguin Putnam), for whom she wrote five more before the line was closed. That first Regency, titled by Signet The Indifferent Earl, won Romantic Time’s Best Regency award. (It is now available online under its original title: The Courtesan’s Letters.)

After Signet shut down their traditional Regency (think Jane Austen) line, Blair went back to where she started: epublishing, working for two different epublishers before going independent in 2011 and publishing subsequent books through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. Blair is a strong advocate for independent publishing, for being your own boss. In addition to continually expanding her inventory to a variety of genres, she has been offering Writing and Editing tips on her blog, Grace’s Mosaic Moments, since January 2011—where she enjoys sharing all she’s learned since she started typing her mother’s manuscripts when she was a freshman in high school!

Blair reports that when she finishes Book 4 of her Blue Moon rising series, and if she counts two previously published books awaiting indie pub, she has written 40 books since the mid 90s. She is also working on organizing seven-plus years of blogs on Writing and Editing into book form, which she hopes to make available by Fall 2018.

Blair has not forgotten her musical training, singing regularly—and sometimes soloing—in the choir of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Longwood, Florida.

She may have come to writing late, but Blair doesn’t hesitate to say she loves it. As an “out of the mist” author, Blair’s favorite comment on her writing is: “I can hardly wait to get up each morning and find out what my characters are going to do today.”

March 18, 2018

Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart

Destroyed crops in Florida and Spain. Acts of terror? Corporate warfare? Or simply businesses held to ransom? Whatever the motive, Ashley van Dyne, president of an organic foods business, needs the tough Hispanic entrepreneur, Rafe Guererro, to help her put a stop to the damaging sabotage. The resulting cultural clash of both business and romance resounds across two continents. And, as if the problem weren’t big enough already, they both have teenage relatives caught up in the ongoing disaster.

Amazon

The Blackthorne Curse

After the death of her father, young Serafina Blackthorne of New Haven, Connecticut, becomes a reverse immigrant, traveling from the New World to the Old. To her grandfather, who lives on Dartmoor, a place where eerie legends abound and where she discovers, to her horror, she is marked for death by the Blackthorne Curse. The more Serafina attempts to outmaneuver the Curse, the more she seems to jump from the frying pan into the fire. She finally has but one hope left. But does her childhood friend really want to save her, or is he destined to be her executioner?

Author’s Note: This book is a Gothic novel set in the Regency period—a style of story where a young woman finds herself basically alone and battling threats to her life, some from humans, some from possibly supernatural sources. But in spite of all the angst, it is also a romance. I hope you will enjoy reading this tale in a style made famous by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis Whitney as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Amazon

Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements for Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: Sauces

Sauces, Essences, and Condiments

“Elements! each other greeting,

“Gifts and Powers attend your meeting!”

Pirate

“It is the duty of a good sauce,” says one of the most recondite of modern gastrologers, the Editor of the Almanach des Gourmands, “to insinuate itself all round the maxillary glands, and call into activity each ramification of the palatic organs. If it not be relishing, it is incapable of producing this effect, and if too piquant, it will deaden instead of exciting those titillations of tongue and vibrations of palate, which can only be produced by the most accomplished philosophers of the mouth on the well-trained palate of the refined gourmet.” This, we think, is a tolerably correct definition of what a well-compounded sauce ought to be.

The French, among our other insular distinctions, speak of us as a nation “with twenty religions and only one sauce,”—parsley and butter, by the way, is this national relish,—and unquestionably English cookery, like English manners, has ever been much simpler than that of our neighbours. Modern cookery too, like modern dress, is stripped of many of its original tag-rag fripperies. We have laid aside lace and embroidery, save upon occasions of high ceremonial, and, at the same time, all omnegatherum compound sauces and ragouts, with a smack of every thing. Yet the human form and the human palate have not lost by this revolution. The harmonies of flavours, the affinities and coherence of tastes, and the art of blending and of opposing relishes, were never so well understood as now; for the modern kitchen still affords, in sufficient variety, the sharp, the pungent, the sweet, the acid, the spicy, the aromatic, and the nutty flavours, of which to compound mild, savoury, or piquant sauces, though a host of ingredients are laid aside.

The elegance of a table, as opposed to mere lumbering sumptuousness, or vulgar luxury, is perhaps best discovered in the adaptation of the sauces to the meats served, and in their proper preparation and attractive appearance. Plain Sauces ought to have, as their name imports, a decided character; so ought the sweet and the savory. All Sauces should be served hot,—a matter too often neglected in the hurry of dishing and serving dinner. Sauces with which cream and eggs are mixed must be diligently stirred after these ingredients are added, to provent their curdling, and suffered to warm through, but not to boil. The same care must be taken in mixing capers and all acid pickles in sauce. Though it is willful waste to put wine, catsup, lemon-juice, aromatic spices, and other expensive ingredients, into sauces for more than the time necessary to extract the flavour, yet, on the other hand, these things must be infused or boiled long enough to be properly blended, both in substance and flavour, with the basis of the sauce. The previous concoction must also be duly attended to, whether at the mincing-board, in the mortar, or saucepan. As a general rule, brown sauces should be thinner than white. Cream should be boiled before mixing.

The basis, or, more correctly, the vehicle of most English sauces, is butter, whether melted, oiled, browned, or burnt; or gravy, clear, brown, or thickened; also water, milk, cream, and wine, or some substitute. A numerous class of sauces is composed of vegetables and green fruits, another of shell-fish, and a third of meat. There are still other sauces compounded of an admixture of all these ingredients. It will simplify arrangement to take these in regular order; though the philosophers of the kitchen, it must be owned, shake themselves tolerably free of the trammels of system.

Click here for links to all of Mrs. Barlow’s recipes.

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Amazon • iBooks • Kobo • Nook

Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements to Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: Preserving Roots and Vegetables

To Preserve Roots and Vegetables

Potatoes are of most consequence. Choose them of the middle-size, fresh from the mould, or the store-pit. Yellow kidneys are for the earlier part of the season; and red or calico potatoes for the spring months, as these keep best late in the year. Keep them in a cellar below ground, where the temperature is pretty equal, and never very low, and defend them well from frost and currents of air with straw or mats. In spring, have them turned over, and the growths carefully picked away, which process must be again repeated later in the season. Keep carrots and turnips, parsnips, and beet-roots, with their native mould about them, in dry sand: onions are best preserved strung, or the small ones in nets, in a cool but not a damp place. Use the thick-necked spongy ones first; they may have the germ taken out, with a larding-pin, and then be strung up, or they may be kiln-dried. Parsley may be picked, and dried by tying it in bundles to a rope, or drying it in a cool oven; and so may other herbs. French beans [green beans or string beans] will keep by salting and closing them up, and soaking them before they are dressed; but they lose a good deal of their flavour and colour. Cucumbers, kidney-beans, endive, &c., may be parboiled and kept closed up in strong pickle; soaking them to freshen them before they are dressed. Green peas are shelled, scalded repeatedly, drained, dried in cloths, spread on plates, and put in a cool oven, and afterwards hung up in paper-bags to harden’ soak them before they are used. After all this trouble they are but the ghosts of green peas. They may also be scalded, bottled, covered with clarified butter, corked up, and the corks dipped in rosin; but nothing will preserve the sweet flavour and marrowy substance of the young pea. Cabbages, lettuce, greens, endive, leeks, cauliflower, &c., if carefully removed in dry weather from the ground, without injuring the roots too much, and laid in a cold cellar, or on a stone floor, covering the roots with earth or sand, will keep through the winter, even when the frost might destroy them if left in the garden; and this we conceive the best mode of preservation.

To Store Fruits of Different Kinds

This art is now so well understood, that in spring and early summer, apples, and even pears, are seen as plump and fresh as in the autumn when they were gathered.

Gather the fruits when just ready to drop off easily, but not over-ripe—do not bruide the fruit in gathering—lay it to sweat for a week in heaps, covered with mats, flannels, &c. Wipe each apple or pear, one by one, and place them in glazed stone-ware gallon jars, bedded in fine sifted sand, dried in an oven; fill up the jars with sand. Pack each sort by itself, label the jars and close them, and keep them in an airy loft, but protect from frost by covering them with a thick linen cloth.

N.B.—Eggs, fruit, and other things packed in straw acquire a very musty flavour. This, which is called being straw-tasted, may be avoided by using dried fern for packing.

Click here for links to all of Mrs. Barlow’s recipes.

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Amazon • iBooks • Kobo • Nook

Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements to Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: Vegetables and Roots

Vegetables and Roots

Vegetables are at their best when just on the eve of being ripe, in their natural season, and when their growth has neither been retarded, nor forced on by artificial means. The vanity, and it is no better, which spurs on people to load their tables with flavourless, colourless, immature vegetables, is ever punished by the expense and disappointment it occasions. Much, however, has been judiciously done of late years, both to improve the quality and to spread the cultivation of vegetables. Where a turnip, a cabbage, or a leek, was twenty years ago the only vegetable luxury found on a country gentleman’s table, we now see a regular succession of not merely brocoli, cauliflower, and peas, but the more recondite asparagus, sea-kale, endive, and artichoke, with an abundance of small saladings. The vegetable-markets of most towns have within the same period undergone a wonderful improvement. The number and quantity of articles are more than doubled, and the price, except for early vegetables, has diminished at least a half; so that this healthful and harmless luxury is now within the reach of all classes. But vegetables of the more delicate species are still comparatively such recent acquaintances, that, even at tables otherwise elegantly appointed, they are seldom seen perfectly well dressed, at least in so far as regards colour. That homely chemistry, which does not disdain to descend to the kitchen, has indeed considerably assisted the cook of late in this department. A few general observations will, if attended to, supply the place of long or often-repeated directions for dressing vegetables. Unlike animal substances, vegetables can never be dressed too fresh, though some kinds, such as French beans and artichokes, will keep a few days. They must, after being carefully cleared from insects and decayed leaves, or other spoiled parts, be washed in plenty of water; they cannot be too much washed. Let them lie in salt and water, head downwards, till they are put to boil. This simple method will bring out every insect that may lurk in the leaves. To preserve their beauty, they must be boiled alone, in a perfectly clean and well-tinned vessel, and in abundance of soft water. A tea-spoonful of salt of wormwood, or a bit of pearl-ashes or soda of the size of a nutmeg, will not only preserve the green colour, but contribute to the tenderness of cabbage, savoys, &c. Put in all vegetables with soft boiling water and plenty of salt; with hard water the colour will keep better, but the quality will not improve. Make them boil fast, and do not cover the vessel if you desire to preserve their fine colour. In a former section it was recommended to boil several sorts of vegetables and roots with the meat, when salted, with which they are to be served; and this, though it may injure the colour, will certainly improve the quality,—a point of greater importance. All vegetables should be enough boiled. The cook’s rule of having them crisp is as inimical to health as offensive to the palate. If boiled quickly, which they ought to be, vegetables are ready when they begin to sink in the boiling water, and they will spoil ever instant after that. Meat may wait a little, but vegetables will not.

Obs.—Stewed and roasted onions used to be a favourite supper-dish in Scotland, and were reckoned medicinal. The onions were stewed (after boiling) in a butter-sauce, to which cream was put,—the sauce blanche of France.

Click here for links to all of Mrs. Barlow’s recipes.

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements to Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: Broths, Soups, and Gravies

C’est la soupe qui fait le Soldat.

French Proverb.

Soup has been termed the vestibule to a banquet. We call it the only true foundation to the principal repast of the day, whether it be a Cottage or a Cabinet dinner. With this belief we hold as maxims, that the French take the lead of all European people in soups and broths, that the Scotch rank second, the Welsh next, and that the English, as a nation, are at the very bottom of the scale; and farther, that if soup be the foundation of a good dinner, it is equally true that beef is the only foundation of good soup. Whether brown or white, plain or rich, the basis must still be beef,—fresh-killed, juicy young beef, and soft pure water. The essential qualities of soup are, that it be nourishing and restorative. It is the food of childhood and extreme old age, of the declining and the debilitated, for whom the soup-pot performs half the offices of the digestive organs. With these invigorating and salutiferous qualities, the mildest, the richest, and the most poignant relishes may be combined, by the judicious employment of the numerous ingredients which go to the composition of soups. The capital defect of soups is generally not so much the want of meat as of the time necessary to the due concoction of a rich fluid composed of so many ingredients. These defects it is vainly attempted to conceal by the excessive use of pepper and herbs. The following elementary rules, from the French of the chemist Parmentier, were assumed by the Club as practical directions to the cook.

Rules for Making Nourishing Broth

  1. Sound healthful viands.
  2. Vessels of earthenware in preference to those of metal, as a less degree of heat keeps them boiling; and once heated, a few hot cinders will maintain that slight degree of ebullition which is wanted.
  3. Double the weight of water to that of the meat used.
  4. A sufficient quantity of common salt to facilitate the separation of the blood and slime that coagulates under the form of scum.
  5. In the early stage of the process such a degree of heat as will throw off the whole scum.
  6. A lower, but an equal temperature, that the soup may simmer gently till the substances employed, whether nutritive, colouring, or flavouring, are perfectly combined with the water, according to their several degrees of solubility.

Some soups are very good when made the day before they are to be eaten, as the top-fat can be removed in a cake, and they attain more complete consistence… without losing their flavour, but they need not be seasoned till wanted; and should then be slowly heated to the boiling point: if permitted to boil, some soups will lose part of their flavour; and of soups with meat, the meat will harden. Excellent judges differ on this point. Many think every hot preparation best when fresh cooked, and soups of the number. Of this kind are brown soup, hare soup, soup of game of any kind, giblet soup, and generally all soups made of the meat of animals of mature growth. Soups into which vegetables and young meats enter in any quantity, are best when fresh made, as those things have a strong tendency to ferment. This also holds of veal and fish soups… In all English books on cookery there is too much wine ordered for soups, and sometimes too little meat. The former error is less dangerous, as what is levied from the cellar does not always find its way to the soup-pot. All roots, bread-raspings, barley, and meal, for plain common soups, ought to be put in as soon as the pot is skimmed, when the roots are merely intended to thicken and flavour the soup. When to be cut in pieces and served in the broth, an hour’s boiling is fully enough for carrot, turnip, onions, &c. Many things are used to thicken and give consistence to common soups and sauces. The best perhaps is fine toasted oatmeal, potato mucilage, or bread not too stale. When the soup or gravy is too much boiled in, the waste must be supplied with boiling water or broth; and though we strenuously recommend, in general, close-covered pots, yet when the soup is watery and weak the lid may be taken off till the watery particles evaporate; for thickening gives consistence, but not strength… Broth made of fat meat may have a larger proportion of greens, leeks, cabbage, or whatever green vegetable is used, than leaner meat. The best plain browning for soups, sauces, gravies, &c., is red wine, soy, or mushroom or walnut catsup… The cook is entreated to bear in mind, that the elegance of all brown soups consists in transparency, united with richness and flavour; of white soups, and fish and vegetable soups, in the goodness of the desired colour and fullness on the palate.

Soup may be made in an infinity of ways. There is no end to the combinations of meat, games, fish, herbs, roots, spices, and mucilage, with water; but the basis of the best soup is, as we have said, beef,—fresh, full of juices, young, succulent, and not too fat,—the lean parts of a fat animal.

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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