Summer Recipes: A Recipes Project Round-up

 

Belgian Summer.  Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Belgian Summer. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Amanda E. Herbert

Here in the southeastern US, the summer weather is sweltering, and it seemed like the perfect time to dig into the Recipes Project Archives for some posts on how best to survive the hottest (northern hemisphere) months of the year.

I’ll start with Sally Osborn’s post about how to make your own ice house.  In the eighteenth century, fashionable women and men created these structures in order to provide their households with ice centerpieces and ice cream year-round.  If only I’d thought to start this project over the winter…

Many of our authors have written posts about swimming and bathing.  Colleen Kennedy explored scented baths in the Renaissance in two posts, “Dipping Your Toes,” and “A Sweet Bath.”  Katherine Allen wrote of floating in the pools at Bath in her post on eighteenth-century spas.

Gardening, another popular summer activity, has also been a central theme for many of our authors.  Daniel Trambaiolo discussed the cultivation of ginseng in his post on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century East Asian herbal tradition.  Jane Draycott talked about Cato’s ancient-world flower gardens in her recent “Flower Power” post.  In one of the Recipe Project’s earliest posts, from 2012, Helen King discussed the ways that red plants were used to cure the green sickness.  And if you find yourself slapping at summer insects in the garden, I can recommend Stefanie Gänger’s post on Medicine and Malaria in Late-Colonial Lima, which will help to put any modern mosquito troubles in perspective.

Best wishes to all of you for cool breezes, shady green spaces, and lots of ice cream.

Eighteenth-century DIY

by Sally Osborn

Sometimes among the culinary, medical, veterinary, cosmetic and household recipes in manuscript books one comes across some that would fall under the category of DIY in modern terms. These can range from a recipe for a relatively simple product that we would now buy off the shelf, such as green paint (why it’s nearly always green I’m not sure, but it was a fashionable colour) or paint for garden walls. The more adventurous might go for roughcast (pebbledash) or ‘A colouring for the out side of buildings according to Mr Clarkes men’ (both in Add MS 29740, British Library).

However, other recipes smack of a ‘project’ such as might enthuse a modern DIYer. A different anonymous contributor to the manuscript containing the above two sets of instructions collected this detailed guidance for whitewashing:

Best drift sand washed quite clean, best new lime (stone lime if possible) well hair’d: a bushel of lime before it is slacked requires a bushel of sand; one coat laid on thin with a plasterers trowel and floated well as they come on. When it is dry, it must be washed with whatever colour is thought proper, and a little fine sand in the wash is the better: thin size is used at Sir Tho. Sebrights to slack the lime for the wash but not at Mr Brand’s.

Note 1. The length of the cradle for whitening the house is about 12 feet, and the breadth about 3 feet 6 inches, the rails about 3 feet high, to keep the men in; a set of pullies at each end to draw it up and down, this will hold three or four men to work in, and may be hung between two long ladders or poles bearing against the cornice, or from the top of the house.

2. The brick-work should be dashed well before the coat of plaister is laid on, and all projections should be leaded or slated.

3 The price is eight pence a yard-square, if all materials cradle &c are found and bought by the bricklayer, six pence if you bring them and find them yourself; and about three pence if you find all materials and the bricklayer only workmanship. NB. white wash and all is included in this calculation.

Or how about making your very own ice house? Very useful for those fashionable table centres and the new craze for ice cream. This is how you did it (Add MS 29435, British Library):

The well to be the shape of a cone inverted, to be at the top [missing] foot over 17 foot deep; a grate to be fixt 4 foot from the bottom to support the ice – a pump with a small tube to be fixt on the wall that is round the well, which wall ought to be 4 foot wide within the ice house: The wall to be made of loam or cob, & straw well mixt two foot thick & 3 foot high. The entrance should be a porch to the north 5 feet long & the breadth at pleasure with two doors. the roof to be thatch’d thick, the wall to be turf’d. The well to be lined with straw & when you fill it ram it all & heap it up in a point like a double cone

All you need is a garden big enough…