I downloaded Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management as a freebie onto my Kindle.
The book was initially published in magazine format in the early 1860s before being released as a massive book with hundreds of pages.
The book is filled with tons of detailed advice about every aspect of daily life including how to manage the servants!
One thing Mrs Beeton stresses is the importance and value of getting up early in the morning. She quotes Lord Chatham aka William Pitt (eighteenth century Prime Minister of Great Britain):
I would have inscribed on the curtains of your bed, and the walls of your chamber – If you do not rise early, you can make progress in nothing.
This chimes with one of my mother’s favourite sayings when we were growing up:
Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
The quote is widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin but has been found in rhymes from the fifteenth century. (See this blog post for examples.)
Unfortunately, I haven’t put either Benjamin Franklin, Lord Chatham, Mrs Beeton or my mother’s wise words into practice. I’ve often stayed up until dawn and lived to rue the consequences.
The Book of Household Management has pages and pages and pages of foodie advice.
This is how Mrs Beeton advises her readers to make hot buttered toast.
A loaf of household bread about two days old answers for making toast better than cottage bread, the latter not being a good shape, and too crusty for the purpose.
Cut as many nice even slices as may be required, rather more than 1/4 inch in thickness, and toast them before a very bright fire, without allowing the bread to blacken, which spoils the appearance and flavour of all toast.
When of a nice colour on both sides, put it on a hot plate; divide some good butter into small pieces, place them on the toast, set this before the fire, and when the butter is just beginning to melt, spread it lightly over the toast.
Trim off the crust and ragged edges, divide each round into 4 pieces, and send the toast quickly to the table.
Some persons cut the slices of toast across from corner to corner, so making the pieces of a three-cornered shape.
Soyer* recommends that each slice should be cut into pieces as soon as it is buttered and when all are ready, they should be piled lightly on the dish they are intended to be served on.
He says that by cutting through 4 or 5 slices at the same time, all the butter is squeezed out of the upper ones, while the bottom one is swimming in fat liquid.
How on earth did they manage to turn making a slice of toast into such an onerous task? No wonder this elegant lady in 1905 has invested in an electric toasting machine!
For a history of toasters try The Cyber Toaster Museum.
*Mrs Beeton is referring to Alexis Benoist Soyer (1810 – 1858) a French celebrity chef who became the most celebrated cook in Victorian England. Soyer wrote a pamphlet “The Poor Man’s Regenerator” in 1847. He donated one penny for every copy sold to try and alleviate the suffering of the poor in the Great Irish Famine 1845–1849. Soyer also worked to improve the food provided to British soldiers in the Crimean War. He invented a stove for use in the field called the “Soyer stove” which continues to be used by British military to this day.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
I thought you might like these sleepy quotes:
From the author of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess:
Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone!
From playwright Wilson Mizner:
The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.
And author Ernest Hemingway:
I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?
Have a good day!