13 March 2009

Come Into The Garden, Cook

It was my birthday on Thursday, so guess what I got? Seriously, guess. I got some lovely music from Goddaughter!! And, surprise, I got cookbooks. I'm going to share them with you.

On my actual birthday, I received a little package from England with an old copy of a cookbook by Constance Spry. You may not know Constance Spry's name, but if you have ever called up a florist and ordered flowers, you owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Spry. She practically invented florists! In her first book, Flower Decoration from 1934 she observed:

"Intelligent women of today take the most intense interest in the decoration and furnishing of their houses. But in this general trend towards a greater care and love of beauty and suitability, I think that flowers have lagged behind."
Spry set out to make flowers in the home an everyday occurrence. By the mid 1940's she had joined with cookbook writer Rosemary Hume to form a Domestic Science School.

Come Into The Garden, Cook, written in 1942 addressed an England that was still suffering from rations and bombings. I was pleased to find in this book, that Mrs. Spry was a reader (and recommender) of Mrs. Dull's Southern Cooking, a favorite of mine.

I love Brussels sprouts, though my BFF, Beverly hates them. She did eat one when she came to visit, her first and only Brussels sprout which begs the question, how did she know she didn't like them?

This recipe uses a measurement that has fallen out of favor: the gill. Sounds like a girl's name, Jill. It is a scant 1/2 cup or about 4 ounces. It comes from the Latin, gillo, meaning a small wine vessel. A really small wine vessel!!

Pain de Choux de Bruxelles

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 oz. stale bread crumbs soaked in 1.2 gill hot milk
2 yolks of egg
3 oz. margarine
1/2 pint gravy, bechamel, or other sauce
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg

Method: cook the sprouts, press gently to extract water, pass through a sieve, and put the puree in a saucepan. Add the margarine, a good pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Put on low heat to melt the margarine and mix it with the Brussels sprouts without letting it get too hot, working all the time with a wooden spoon. Add the soaked bread crumbs, which have been put through a sieve, and the egg yolks. Put into a greased souffle dish, set this in a pan of water, and cook for one hour in the oven. Turn out and pour sauce over the whole.

Mrs. Spry ended her book with a note to flowers and oils and sauces that were by her own admission, often impossible to locate. She realized that all this attention to recipes and flowers might seem frivolous to some, like running a cookbook blog during trying economic times. Here is what she said:
"Some of the suggestions in this chapter may have a touch of fiddling while Rome burns. To some working, maybe, as I did in the last war, close to a pneumatic hammer, quite a lot of the book will seem remote from present-day life. One the other hand, I have learned from experience that many women occupied directly in getting on with the war like to consider the lighter aspects of life."

Constance Spry did not believe in living a life "reduce to dullness" and neither do I.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin