Mrs Beeton was cooking and writing in the 19th century. Her Book of Household Management was originally published in monthly supplements to “The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine,” and it included far more than the recipes (often spelled ‘receipts’) for which she became famous and gives an insight into Victorian middle-class life.
Her advice is invaluable, whether you wish to whiten scorched linen (with vinegar, fuller’s earth, soap, the juice of onions and a dollop of fowls’ dung, of course,) or make sure your servants are up to the mark.
Where would we all be without her instructions on dealing with a pig? “Put the pig into cold water directly it is killed.” She admonishes careless or unkind householders with these words. “That the pig is capable of education is a fact long known to the world.”
Her work took its toll on her, she freely admits. “I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it.” How many writers have felt exactly the same way!
If only there had been television in those days, so that we could watch her as she made mock turtle soup, using a calves’ head thus: “Scald the head with the skin on, remove the brain, tie the head up in a cloth and let it boil for 1 hour.”