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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Wednesday Before Christmas

Martineau, Robert Braithwaite, The Christmas Hamper, 1850

Turkey, Roasted

"Ingredients. -- 1 turkey, 1 to 2 pounds of sausage meat, 1 to 1½ pounds of veal forcemeat, 2 or 3 slices of bacon, 1 pint of good gravy, bread sauce, fat for basting.

Method. -- Prepare and truss the turkey. Fill the crop with sausage meat, and put the veal forcemeat inside the body of the bird. Skewer the bacon over the breast, baste well with hot fat, and roast in front of a clear fire or in a moderate oven from 1¾ to 2¼ hours, according to age and size of bird. Baste frequently, and about 20 minutes before serving remove the bacon to allow the breast to brown. Remove the trussing strings, serve on a hot dish, and send the gravy and bread sauce to table in sauce-boats.

Time. -- From 1¾ to 2¼ hours. Average Cost, 10 shillings to 16 shillings."

        From Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton, 1836-1865

I'll get that clear fire going straight away. Say, where do I put that sausage meat? I couldn't find bread sauce on Walmart's website. What can I substitute?

a few explanations

forcemeat  a uniform mixture of lean meat and fat that has been ground together, either coarse (like sausage) or fine (like pâté).

bread sauce  a seasoned, milk and cream-based sauce that is thickened with bread crumbs 

crop  a pouch at the base of the bird's esophagus just before the stomach. In live fowl, food is stored and broken down into smaller units in the crop before passing into the stomach.

value of 10 shillings  one shilling from Mrs. Beeton's era was equal to 12 pence. So 10 shillings were equal to 120 old pence (prior to decimalization). 120 old pence were equal to half a pound. To give some perspective on the value of 10 shillings or half a pound, a scullery maid earned 1 pound per month in 1860 England. It would take her 2 weeks of work to earn enough to buy a turkey. A bank clerk or shopkeeper might earn 1 pound per week. At his wages, it would take a half-week's work to earn enough for a turkey. I guess turkeys were never loss-leaders at the market in Mrs. Beeton's era.

Cooking and baking on my end

The baking (for gifting) is done and in the tins. I will bake Crèche bread (an almond filled loaf shaped like the swaddled baby Jesus) later today to serve at Christmas brunch. I'll make a cooked-egg eggnog on Thursday. Eggnog was outrageously-priced at Walmart this year, at $5.22 for a half-gallon. No thank you. I'll make my own. And with that, the special holiday baking and treat-making for the year will be finished.

Have a wonderful day!


  1. I am enjoying your postcards and narrations. It's funny that I looked up a couple of things in the recipe before I scrolled down and saw that you had done the work for us.

    The tin of goodies looks really good and I'm sure will be much appreciated. I may make some chocolate covered almonds today.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      chocolate-covered almonds sound delicious!

      I love reading recipes from the 1700s and 1800s. They often paint such a vivid image in my imagination of what domestic life was really like then. I wonder what people will think when they come across cookbooks from the 21st century?

  2. Merry Christmas!! I’ve so enjoyed reading the historical comments about Christmas. Your box of dainties looks just so lovely!! you call cut up sweets dainties?

    1. Hi Teresa,
      Merry Christmas to you and your family!
      I'm glad that you've enjoyed this week. Thank you. I've heard the term dainties used for sweets. I've also heard some sweets called fancies. Most of the time I refer to them as treats or by their name, like cookies, brownies, nut bars, etc.
      Have a lovely evening, Teresa!

  3. I love the information in story form. Very interesting.

    I hope I am done with the small gifts purchasing and also I hope to be done with grocery shopping for the year. My freezer is blessedly full that I can hardly close the lid. I have a lot and now it's time to settle with what we have.

    It will be a small gathering of only just my family of 4 and maybe 6 if the newlyweds decide to come which for all of our health might be better not this year. I have been asked to have the same meal as on Thanksgiving. A homemade rotisserie chicken, cornbread, cheesy potatoes this time instead of mashed, and green bean casserole. Easy. But I have been asked if I could make cinnamon rolls for breakfast and yes, I will do that.


    1. Hi Alice,
      It's so nice to know when you're done with shopping for the year. I think I'm done with grocery shopping for this year, too. I made 1 pick-up order for groceries, mid-month. And looking at the freezers and pantry, I think we have all that we need. Blessing to be sure.

      Yum -- your Christmas meal sounds wonderful! Enjoy your time with family, Alice.

  4. Your turkey recipe from Mrs. Beeton's was fun. Thanks for saving me the effort of looking up the definitions. :) It must be the year for me to learn about Christmas things from long ago. I have a friend from work who is also a professional musician and she told me yesterday about The Waverly Consort which is a music group who performed music from the Middle Ages. I love all the history (in many different forms)!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'll have to look up the Waverly Consort. Music from the Middle Ages sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Not having so many activities to go to this year has left more time for learning about many things and periods.

      Have a lovely evening, Kris!


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