Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cooking on Saturday ~ Sunday Dinner

Hi and welcome back to my Cooking on Saturday. I should point out that the only cooking I do on a Saturday is writing this blog. Hehehehe. Okay do I have a treat for you. This week I’m looking at cooking in Australia in the 1800s. Oh yummy, what delights they had back in the good old days.

First course Soup:
Hare Soup:-
1 hare
2 onions
1 carrot
¼ oz. black pepper
Salt to taste
Herb seasoning
1 cup bread-crumbs
3 quarts of water
A little cayenne

Cut the hear in pieces, and put in a stew-pan with all ingredients. Simmer gently for 6 hours strain through a sieve, Return the best part of the hare to the soup, and serve. This is best cooked the day before.

Baked Calf’s Head:-
1 calf’s head well cleaned (not the family pet)
Sweet herbs
Pepper & salt
Crumbs of bread
Lemon peel
1 onion
1 pint of water
For calf brains
Sprig of sage
Teaspoon of butter
2 spoonful of port wine

Clean the calf’s head, removing the brains. Put cleaned head into a baking dish on a rest in the centre. Grate some nutmeg over it with chopped sweet herbs, pepper and salt, bread crumbs, and a little lemon peel. Dredge a little flour over, and put some pieces of butter here and there, place head in oven. Put into the dish a bunch of sweet herbs, an onion, some peppercorns and a pint of water. Bake according to size, about ten minutes for each pound.

To make the brains sauce:
While head is cooking boil the brains with a sprig of sage in water. Once the calf’s head is baked: strain the gravy from the dish into a saucepan. Chopped the brains finely and add to gravy with a teaspoon of butter rolled in flour, the port wine and boil for a few minutes. Place calf’s head on serving dish and pour gravy over it. Serve with baked vegetables.

Sunday Pudding:-
Half a stale loaf
1 ½ cups of flour
½ a nutmeg
1 teaspoonful ginger
1 teaspoonful of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup currants
1 cup sultanas
4 tablespoons good dripping
2 or 3 eggs

Crumb into your basin the stale loaf, add flour, grated nutmeg and ginger. Mix in all the other dry ingredients. The beat the eggs with a little milk pour into dry ingredients mixing well. Pour into a well-greased mould or basin and boil for 2 ½ hours. Serve with boiled custard.

Boiled Custard:-
2 eggs
Pinch of cornflour
1 tablespoonful white sugar
1 cupful milk

Place milk in saucepan. Break the eggs into a basin, sprinkle as much cornflour as you can take up between finger and thumb, add sugar. Beat well together. Bring milk slowly to boil, when it bubbles pour it into the egg mixture. Do not pour the egg mixture into the milk or your custard will curdle and break. Stir well and return to the saucepan, just let it come to the boil, so it thickens. Pour into a jug, stir for a few minutes and add any flavouring you prefer.

Of course only the best dinner setting was used for Sunday dinner, with all the family expected to be present.
There you go, you now have a lovely Sunday meal to serve your family. Won’t they be impressed?

See you next week.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Women on Wednesday ~ Elinor Dashwood

Sense and Sensibility revolves around sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, the daughters of Mr. Dashwood by his second wife. They have a younger sister, Margaret, and a spineless older half-brother named John. After their father dies, the family estate passes to John, and his selfish self-centred wife who makes it clear the Dashwood women are not welcome in their home anymore. The family moves to live in a cottage on a distant relative's property, where both Elinor and Marianne experience both romance and heartbreak.

Let’s look at Elinor. Elinor is the eldest of our heroines, not quiet a pretty as Marianne, but surely looks on life with much more sense. Elinor is easy to like, she is caring, yet keeps most of her feelings to herself.
Who played Elinor Dashwood?

In 1971 the role of the elder Dashwood sister was played by Joanna David (who in 1995 played Mrs. Gardiner in Pride and & Prejudice). I haven't seen this adaptation of S&S and I read somewhere it is hard to get a copy. That doesn't mean I'm not going to look for it.

The BBC released a second adaptation of Sense and Sensibility in 1981 with Irene Richard in the role of Elinor. I enjoy Irene’s portrayal of Elinor, she is believable as a nineteen year old Elinor.

Emma Thompson stepped into the role of nineteen year old Elinor in the 1995 version of S&S. Now don’t get me wrong I like Emma as an actress, and she even played the role well, okay she won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But there was something missing for me with this one.

Hattie Morahan reprised the role Elinor Dashwood in the 2008 BBC series of S&S. I haven’t seen this series, but I am going to get it to watch.

Elinor for me is the sort of heroine you want to champion for, you feel her pain when Miss Lucy Steel tells her about the secret engagement with Edward. Then when it all works out, you sigh happily.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday's Male ~ Edward Ferrars

In Sense and Sensibility for the most part we have three heroes and two heroines. Sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood capture the hearts of our three heroes, Edward Ferrars, Col. Brandon and John Willougbhy.

This week I’m looking at Edward and Elinor and their attraction for each other. So Male on Monday welcomes Mr. Edward Ferrars to the blog.

Edward Ferrars is a pleasant, unassuming, intelligent but quiet reserved young man. It is clear to all that he and Elinor Dashwood (heroine #1) are clearly attracted to each other and Elinor’s mother and two younger sisters Marianne (heroine #2) and a much younger Margaret live in hope that a marriage will be announced. Elinor’s snotty sister-in-law makes it very clear that her mother, Mrs. Ferrars, a wealthy widow, expects her eldest son to marry a woman of high rank.

Edward may have a high regard for the quiet Elinor, but he also carries a secret, that will keep them apart. He has been engaged for the past four years to one Miss. Lucy Steele. When Lucy finds out that Elinor has feelings for Edward she sets about making it know to Miss. Dashwood that he is spoken for. Poor Edward, in love with one woman and tied to another.

Right, let’s look at the actor who have portrayed the rather gentle Mr. Edward Farrars.

The BBC 1971 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility starred Robin Ellis in the role of Edward Ferrars.  

In 1981 BBC England adaptation of Sense and Sensibility graced the TV screen. Edward Farrars was played by Bosco Hogan, and did a mighty fine job of it as well. I enjoyed watching Bosco performance.


The 1995 movie version of S&S saw Hugh Grant step into the roll. Now I didn’t mind Hugh’s performance, but it was lacking something Bosco gave the role.

2008 and the BBC revisited S&S with Daniel Stevens was cast in the role of Edward Ferrars. I haven’t seen this version of S&S other than this YouTube scene, maybe Dan is a little too HOT for Edward. The wet shirt looks great.

Interesting how three very different men can portray the one role and each bring something different to the character. Wednesday I look at the three faces of Elinor Dashwood. Until then have a good one.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

A History of the Wedding Ceremony

In honor of my wonderful son getting married during the week, on Wednesday 20th October 2010. I thought I would do a post on Wedding Traditions. A mother's greatest joy is knowing her children are happy.

A List of Wedding Traditions from ForeverAfter


At one time, it was thought that to be engaged more than once meant certain damnation. The groom-to-be often avoided making the proposal himself, but instead sent friends to represent his interests to his intended bride or her family. On their way to make this visit, these representatives would observe certain things that they would interpret as omens for the future couple. A monk, a blind man, or pregnant women were among the bad omens, signaling that the representatives should give up their mission. Nanny goats, a pigeon, or a wolf were among those bringing good fortune. One warning for brides-to-be was to avoid suitors whose surnames began with the same letter as their own.


In the 19th century, declaration of love was tantamount to proposal; arranged marriages did not include proposals nor did marriage by capture. Asking the bride's father for her comes from the era of arranged marriages.


The engagement is a means to an end - marriage. Indeed, the full term is "engaged to be married." At one time, however, the engagement was as important as the wedding itself. Anglo-Saxons were used to stealing away their brides-to-be. Romance, wooing and engagements were not in the picture. But the families of the women insisted on being reimbursed for what was, after all, a working member of the family. The engagement itself signified the intended transfer of ownership from father to husband and also provided a period during which the "bride's price" could be agreed.
Several centuries later, the situation was in reverse and fathers were paying future sons-in-law, or their families, a "dowry" to marry off their daughters. The engagement was again a time for agreeing on the payment, or dowry, and also a time for collecting an extravagant trousseau, at least for rich brides.


Once marked by a party called a "flouncing", the couple met with their future in-laws to make the engagement official. Neither of the couple could be seen talking to another man or woman after this point and should the engagement be broken, the one breaking it forfeited half of his or her worldly goods.


During 3rd century Greece, the ring finger was the index finger. In India, it was the thumb. During a Christian wedding the priest arrived at the forth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers on the left hand ' the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost'. The Egyptians believed that a special vein, which they called a "vena amoris" or vein of love, ran from the third finger on the left hand, directly to the heart. By putting on a fitted ring, the affections were bound in and could never flow out the fingertips. Also, this finger although not the smallest on the hand is the weakest and most dependent on the others for help in lifting and holding. It seemed to symbolize the young wife supported by the strength of her husband.
The "ring" finger has sometimes been on the left hand, sometimes on the right, according to country and custom. Among English-speaking persons, it has been on the left since the edict of Edward VI in 1549.


The troth or promise ring is older than the wedding band. Its earliest form was probably plaited sweet grass, which came from the custom of securing the bride's wrists and ankles with rushes during the age of marriage by capture. When restraint became more symbolical than physical, a grass ring was given to her, succeeded by rings of metal as man became more accomplished in the crafts. The Romans and Egyptians, with their love of precious metal and stones, initiated the production of platinum, silver and gold rings. In early Rome, a gold band came to symbolize everlasting love and commitment in marriage.
In 860 A.D., Pope Nicholas I decreed that an engagement ring become a required statement of nuptial intent. He insisted that engagement rings had to be made of gold, which signified a financial sacrifice on the part of the prospective husband.


The Wedding Tradition of the diamond engagement ring comes from the 15th. century Venetians. The diamond was called the Venus stone, comparing its shining beauty with the planet Venus in the evening sky. Like this goddess, who was dedicated to love, the diamond in time became associated with sweethearts, and its mysterious inner fire was likened to the equally mysterious fires of passion. The Greeks called is "adamas"- eternal or unchanging, possibly as a declaration as to the depths of their emotions, but more probably, the ancient name came from the character of the stone, the hardest substance in nature.
According to history, the diamond as an engagement ring began in 1477 with Maximilllian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy. Maximillian of Austria planned to propose marriage to Mary of Burgundy. Fearing he would be rejected he sought advice. It was suggested a diamond be bought. Max took the advice and proposed, slipping a diamond ring on her third finger, left hand side. Mary said "Yes" and a wedding tradition was born and they were married on August 17 that year.
Today, when many wedding traditions are toppling, the diamond ring wedding tradition is stronger than ever. Four out of five engaged couples- for whom the individual expression of their love is still captured in that tiny, sparkling gem.


Before coinage, gold rings were circulated as currency. By giving a gold ring to his bride, a man showed he trusted her with his property. Under Roman law, the ring was a sign of security, protecting the interests of the bride-to-be. In Elizabethan times, an interlocking set of three rings was used and worn during the engagement period by the bride, the groom and the witness at the wedding. The three rings would be placed on the bride's finger during the wedding ceremony.
Diamond rings became popular in the 19th century.
Roman wedding rings were carved with two clasped hands. Very early rings had a carved key through which a woman was thought to be able to open her husband's heart Jewelled rings were the next step and the diamond is mentioned specifically from about the fourth century AD, and frequently from the fifteenth century on.
Although nor required to validate marriage under a civil law, rings were required in 16th century by the Council of Trent. Circular shape symbolizes eternity.


In 200 A.D, the male Germanic Goths of northern Europe usually married a woman from within his own community. However, when there were fewer women, the prospective bridegroom would capture his bride from a neighboring village. The bridegroom was accompanied by his strongest friend (or best friend), who helped him capture his bride.


After the bridegroom captured his bride, he placed her on his left to protect her, thus freeing his right hand or sword hand against sudden attack.


Although some brides were kidnapped, marriage by purchase was the preferred method of obtaining a wife. The "bride price" could be land, social status, political alliances, or cash. The Anglo-Saxon word "wedd" meant that the groom would vow to marry the woman, but it also referred to the bride price (money or barter) to be paid by the groom to the bride's father. The root of the word "wedding" literally means to gamble or wager!


The term "tie the knot" also goes back Roman times. the bride would wear a girdle that was tied in many knots which the groom had the "duty" of untying.


In Sparta, during the height of Greek civilization, soldiers were the first to hold stag parties. The groom would invite his close friends to a supper on the eve of his wedding to celebrate and reminisce about his past. Traditionally, it was also held to raise money for the bridegroom so he would be able to continue to drink with his buddies after his wife took control of the finances. He would bid farewell to his bachelorhood and pledge his continued allegiance to his comrades.


Until relatively recently, brides were considered the property of their father. Their futures and husbands were arranged without their consent. The marriage of an unattractive woman was often arranged with a prospective groom from another town without either of them having ever seen their prospective spouse. In more than one instance, when the groom saw his future wife, usually dressed in white, for the first time on the day of the wedding, he changed his mind and left the bride at the altar. To prevent this from happening, it became "bad luck" for the groom to see the bride on the day of the wedding prior to the ceremony.


This term has many origins from different cultures. In Anglo-Saxon times, the groom had the help of "bridesmen" or "brideknights" to help him capture and/or escort his bride. Later they would make sure that the bride got to the church and to the groom's home afterwards. The women who accompanied and assisted the bride were called "bridesmaids" or "brideswomen".


White is the ceremonial symbol of purity and virtue and hence of maidenhood. It has been so since Biblical times. But white has not always been the fashion for wedding gowns. Prior to the 19th century, it was fashionable to wear a colorful outfit that could be adopted for later wear.
A typical early American bride wore the best she should afford and potentially re-use in the prevailing fashion of the day. It might be a white linen shift over a petticoat or two, a blue and white Calico smock or something in pink, a fashion color, with velvet or trim. Colonial brides also wore pastel brocades and even cherry red satin, but the rites were most often performed at home than in a church.
Depending on which source you believe the following three women are credited for the popularization of the white wedding dress.
In 1499, Ann of Brittany wore the first white wedding gown.
Nellie Custis revised the wearing of white at her marriage to George Washington's favorite nephew on the ex-president's last birthday, February 22, 1799 and white has now been the fashion for some 200 years.
About 1820 white became popular for formal occasions, although pastels were in vogue until the end of the
century. When Queen Victoria wore white at her own wedding in 1840, it became the official color for brides, because it was considered a symbol of Biblical purity. Although fashions have changed, white is still symbolic of brides and the word "white" has come to symbolize happiness and joy.


In early Biblical times, blue not white symbolized purity. Both the bride and groom usually wore a band of blue material around the bottom of their wedding attire, hence the wedding tradition of "something blue.


We all know that something blue is lucky for the bride, but why a blue garter? This seems to stem from the noble Order of the Garter, the oldest order of knighthood in Europe. Its regalia includes a collar, a star and an actual blue velvet garter. Since queens and princesses are the only women invested with the Order, and a bride is a "queen for the day", she may enjoy royal prerogatives by wearing a blue garter below her left knee.


It is thought to have come from the Orient, where rice is a household symbol that signifies a full pantry. Thus, wedding guests through the ages have thrown rice to demonstrate their wishes for the prosperity of the new bride and groom.
It was also believed that to shower the couple with grain was to wish upon them a 'fruitful' union. It was believed that the fertility of the seeds would be transferred to the couple on whom they fell. While nearly all cultures have showered the wedding couple with symbolic food to ensure fertility, for many years it was rice that was used in America. Today, however, this sport is considered dangerous as someone could slip and fall when walking on the grains. Environmentalists say that rice can harm birds, being hard for them to digest. However, there is also biodegradable rice now on the market, making it possible to again use rice.
As an alternative, you use birdseed, potpourri, confetti, or bubbles. Tie the birdseed into the rounds of net. Coordinate the ribbon used to tie the packets with your color scheme. Or, packages of confetti can be passed out. For a different effect, non-staining bubble soap is available and the small bottles can be personalized with the couple's names. What a pretty sight it is to walk beneath a canopy of bubbles on camera a beautiful sight.


To prevent the groom from seeing the brides' face till after the ceremony was over, brides began to wear opaque yellow veils. Not only could the groom not see in, the bride could not see out.
Therefore, the father of the bride had to escort her down the aisle and literally give the bride to the groom.
We think of the veil as being oriental because the Eastern bridegroom often did not see his bride's face until after the ceremony. Actually, the veil is older than the harem and rises from the mists of mythology. Ishtar, ancient Goddess of Love, came from the depths to her betrothed, the vapors of the earth and sea covering her "like a veil."
Today, prior to a Jewish wedding ceremony, it is the groom who ritually "veils the bride". This reason for this wedding tradition goes back to the marriage of Jacob to Leah (the older sister) when he thought he was marrying Rachel (the younger sister) whom he loved.
The invention of the wide loom and silk tulle in the 19th century gave women a sheer covering that enhanced their beauty.
The wedding veil symbolizes modesty, privacy, youth, and virginity. That way of thinking still has a foothold on bridal etiquette, as only a first-time bride wears a veil.


This wedding tradition evolved from Holland when a father disapproved of his daughter's choice and the villagers gathered to "shower" her with the dowry her father refused.
Once upon a time, the bride's family began preparing for her marriage when she was born. They collected embroidered and crafted items to store in a striking piece of furniture known as a "marriage" or "hope" chest.
A century ago in Italy the bride's belongings were carried in a street procession to her marriage and everyone saw the contents. Today, the bride's family might purchase the hope chest.
In some communities today, a "trousseau tea" is held before the wedding. This "ladies only" social gathering is a way to show off all the bride's new things not just gifts, but lingerie, clothing items, personal items everything but the wedding costume.
Bridal showers were meant to strengthen the ties between the bride and her friends, provide her moral support, and help her prepare for her marriage. Gift giving dates from the 1890's.
In the old days of marriage by capture, a maiden was guarded by her family to prevent seizure, and in later centuries, this little drama was enacted as a sort of game at country weddings. The bridegroom, gaily attired, coming for his bride, was confronted by a bevy of maidens all dressed exactly alike. His part of the play was to detect his true love, "forsaking all others," and bear her away to the church. As recently as Victorian times, brides' maidens often wore white dresses and even short bridal veils, looking like brides themselves. The best friend was designated first bridesmaid. Maid of honor and matron of honor are modern designations in line with our smaller wedding parties of today. It was once required that 10 witnesses be present at a marriage ceremony to outsmart the jealous demons. Bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride, and ushers' attire resembled the groom's. This was an attempt to confuse the spirits who wanted to harm the couple. If the spirits could not tell the bride and groom apart from attendants, they would not be able to carry out their plans.


Parties were held on the wedding eve to chase away the evil spirits. The more noise the better.


This small attendant, usually a relative of the bride, is typically American and unknown in Europe, although he is the successor of the English pageboy who still carries the bride's train in formal weddings at Westminster. Children, especially youths, have always been considered propitious in the wedding party, and in France, they carried lighted tapers at the bride's side. Charles Frederick Worth, who dressed most of the queens of Europe form his house in Paris, is said to have originated the court train, suspended from the shoulders, for the wedding gown. This gave the little train bearer a definite job to do.
But alas, court trains went out of fashion as skirts grew shorter, so the bride's little nephew was given the wedding ring to carry.


Symbolizes life, growth, and fertility. Herbs ward off evil spirits. Flowers with different meanings are assembled into a bouquet. Flower Meanings
Acacia = Elegance
Carnations = Fidelity
Honeysuckle = Generosity
Hyacinth = Playfulness
Irises = Wisdom
Orchids = Fertility
Roses = Love
Why Orange Blossoms?
There are cycles of favor for bridal flowers just as with other bridal fashions. We had the era of rosemary, then myrtle, and more recently, the orange blossom has enjoyed a full century of popularity. Carried from Spain to France many years ago, and then to America, the orange blossom wedding tradition became so strong that brides wore the flowerets moulded in wax when they couldn't get fresh blossoms.
The meaning is significant: the orange tree is one of the very few in all nature that bears its flowers and its fruit at the same time-- a symbol of the young and fruitful spouse. Because the tree from which orange blossoms come is an evergreen, they are also thought to symbolize the everlasting nature of the newlywed's love for each other.


Something Old: Continuity
Something New: Optimism and Hope
Something Borrowed: Happiness shared from happily married couple
Something Blue: Fidelity, Love, and Purity
A Lucky Sixpence In The Shoe: Ensure a life of fortune. The sixpence first became known as a lucky coin when introduced by Edward VI of England in 1551 and later became part of bridal wedding tradition in the Victorian era.
Other traditions include carrying small bags with a bit of bread and cloth and wood and coin to protect against shortages of food, clothing, shelter, and money. A lump of sugar to bring sweetness all the married life may also be included.


Fathers would sometimes offer their daughters as peace offerings to warring tribes. Because of the hostility, the families were placed on opposite sides of the church so the ceremony could go on without bloodshed. The ceremony united the two warring factions into on family, and danger of war was resolved.


The open right hand is a symbol of strength, resource and purpose. The coming together of both right hands is a symbol that both the bride and the groom can depend on each other and the resources that each brings to the marriage. It also represents the merger of their lives together into one.


No ceremony is complete without the kiss. In fact, there was a time when an engagement would be null and void without one. Dating back from early Roman times, the kiss represented a legal bond that sealed all contracts. If one of the engaged pair died before the wedding, the other could keep the gifts only if they had already kissed. The wedding kiss is no longer a required part of the wedding ceremony.
The wedding kiss is a symbol of the newlywed's faith and love, respect and obedience to mutual benefits. It grew out of the feudal practice of kissing the lord's ring.
Another story goes; the priest first kissed the groom after the ceremony. Then the groom kissed the bride, the priest kissed his assistants, and his assistants kissed the guests. No longer is the tradition carried this far.


Early farmers thought a bride's wedding tears were lucky and brought them rain for their crops. Later on in history, a crying bride meant she would never shed another tear about her marriage.


The fact is that marriage feasts have been in existence nearly as long as marriage ceremonies. The early Greeks held a splendid wedding feast for every couple. And it was a very special occasion indeed, because although women were not usually included in other Greek banquets, they were invited to wedding feasts.


According to folklore, goose was served at weddings because the gander, always faithful to his original mate, became the symbol of marriage and fidelity. By serving goose, it was believed that the main dish would symbolize things hoped for and dreamed for in the marriage.


What about the origin of "toasting"? As drink goes, wine has always been central to the wedding, even mentioned in the Bible. The first recorded toast was given at a Saxony feast in 450A.D. by a woman who became a bride herself before the end of the evening.
British King Vortigern was so moved by the sentiment: a simple "Lord King, be of health," offered by Rowena, daughter of the Saxony leader Hengist, that he proceeded to make passionate love to her. Intoxicated by the drink, possible love, and definitely greed, he then bargained with Hengist for her hand. A deal was arranged whereby Hengist received the province of Kent in exchange for her hand. Vortigern and Rowena were married that same evening. From that time forth, "to life, to health, to love," has been a part of the toasting tradition, as glass touches glass and a chorus of clinks heralds a festive time for all.
Once it literally involved scorched bread. In the days when wine was regularly decanted, it left much more sediment than our modern bottles do. So the French cleverly placed a piece of toast in the bottom of the cup to absorb the dregs.
A competent toaster drank everything to get to the toast at the bottom because decorum dictated that one drain the glass.
So good wishes were often accompanied with the dictum, "Bottoms up!" Today the good wishes remain but happily, the actual soggy toast has disappeared. And, clinking of glasses after a toast scares away the devil who is repelled by the noise.


In many cultures, almonds symbolize wishes for a happy and fertile marriage. The candy-covered nuts were often in elaborately decorated small boxes and containers, looking for all the world like little gems. Wedding Favors are given, to share joy of day with guests, dating back to Elizabethan times.


Ancient wedding dances were communal and symbolic of life giving and beginnings. The first dance of the bride and groom leading to their dancing with the guests was to give them strength from the community before they retired to the bedchamber.


The tradition of the wedding cake has ancient roots. The Roman wedding ceremony included a simple cake made from salt, water, and wheat flour. The cake culture may also be connected to the fertility rituals of many cultures. One custom, similar to that of throwing confetti, involved showering the bride with many small cakes after the wedding. Sometimes the cakes were even broken over the bride's head.
In Shakespeare's time, sheaves of wheat were carried in the wedding procession and sometimes the bride wore weathers in her veil because this graceful grain is a symbol of fertility. In a later era, the wheat was ground to flour and little hearth-baked cakes were broken and eaten by the bride and groom. Gradually these loaves became more elaborate. The bridesmaids carried them to the church to be blessed, which led to the belief that the very crumbs under one's pillow would induce dreams of romance.
At Elizabethan weddings, the bride and groom would kiss over a stack of small sweet buns. A 17th century French chef frosted the little cakes with white sugar to hold them together. White wedding cakes appeared in the United States around the civil war, replacing the British dark fruitcake.
Elaborately decorated wedding cakes date from Victorian times. One customs in England involved throwing a plate holding a piece of cake out the window as the bride entered her father's home after the wedding. If the plate remained unbroken on landing, the bride was destined to be unhappy or wretched. If the plate broke and it usually did, she was sure to be happy. England also has the tradition of placing a ring in the wedding cake. The guests were invited to cut themselves slices of cake. The one who found the ring was said to be ensured happiness for a year.
The bride and groom feed each other a taste of cake to symbolize the sharing of life's bounty. A small bit of icing on his face foretells a "rich and sweet life"; his face smeared with icing, "trouble"; and if a child under five snitches frosting, their first-born will be the same sex as the child.


An old tradition that isn't practiced today, breaking the cake over the bride's head has its origins in the roman empire. The groom would eat part of a loaf of barley bread baked for the occasion and break the rest over the head of the bride. It is believed that this symbolized the breaking of the hymen and the dominance of the groom over the bride. As time wore on and wedding cakes evolved into a more modern form of a cake, it became impossible, much to the relief of many brides, to properly "break" the cake over the bride's head. There have been reports of breaking an oatcake or other breakable cakes over the bride in Scotland in the 19th century. In North Scotland, friends of the bride would place a napkin over the her head and a basket of bread is poured over her head. There is no easy explanation for the evolution of this tradition, as the principal symbols of the tradition, the groom and the actual process of breaking, have been done away with.


When asked about the color of a wedding cake, most people would answer white. The white color of the icing on a wedding cake has come to symbolize purity and virginal attributes. This notion was first put forward in Victorian times. Before then, though most wedding cakes were white because of a more practical reason. At the time, ingredients for the wedding cake were much harder to acquire, especially for the icing. White icing meant that only the finest refined sugar was used, and so the whiter the cake, the more affluent the families involved were perceived!
Another reason that the whiteness of the cake was considered pure was the association of the cake with the bride. Originally, wedding cakes were called bride cakes. This not only emphasized the bride as the main focal point of the wedding, but also created a link between the bride and the cake. In fact, even today, the link is being reinforced. Many couples have requested wedding cakes be made to match their color with the wedding dress!


Perhaps the most well known tradition associated with wedding cakes is the joint task of cutting the cake. Here the first piece is cut by the bride with feigned assistance from the groom. It has come to symbolize the first task in the couple's life together and is a key image for the wedding photographer to capture. Originally. it was the sole duty of the bride to cut the cake for sharing by the guests. As cakes became grander, the task became quite formidable, particularly in the early multi-tiered cakes where the icing had to be strong and rigid enough to support the upper tiers. It became a joint task more out of necessity than symbolism.
Immediately after the cutting, the bride and groom feed each other the first slice. This action symbolizes the commitment to provide for each other that the bride and groom have undertaken. However, in most American weddings, this task has the appearance of a traditional slapstick pie-fight.


The idea of presenting pieces of cake as gifts for guests was started as far back as the roman empire, but it is still carried on today. After the tradition of breaking the bread over the bride's head, the guest would grab for the crumbs that fell to the ground as catalysts for fertility. The idea of sleeping with a piece of cake underneath your pillow was chronicled as early as the 17th century and is the main reason behind giving cake as a gift today. It is said that you will dream of your future husband if you sleep with a piece of wedding cake underneath your pillow. A twist on this tradition in the late 18th century has the bride handing out tiny crumbs of cake that were passed through her ring for people to place underneath their pillows. This was stopped after ceremonial rules frowned on the bride removing her ring after the service.


Another tradition that was more prevalent in early American ceremonies is the groomcake. Usually a dark cake to contrast the wedding cake, it was a second cake that was present at the reception as well. The reason for this second cake is not commonly known. There are claims that the groomcake was to be served to the bridesmaids by the groom with a glass of wine. Another claim states that the groomcake is to be saved and shared with friends after the honeymoon. This tradition is not widely recognized in most ceremonies, but there are still some observances of this in the southern half of the United States.


With multi-tier cakes, most couples decide that they would like to save the top tier for a later time. The process involves freezing the cake for consumption as much as a year after the ceremony. This tradition has its roots in the late 19th century when grand cakes were baked for the occasion of the christening of a child. It was expected that the a christening would occur soon after the wedding ceremony, so the two ceremonies were often linked, as were the cakes. With the increasing complexity of the wedding cake, however, the christening cake soon became a paltry partner for the wedding cake. When three tier cakes became popular, the top tier was often left over after the reception. A christening provided a good reason for disposing them. People could then rationalize the need for three tiers, the bottom tier for the reception, the middle tier for distributing and the top for the christening. As time wore on, the wedding became less and less associated with procreation. So the reason for saving the top tier has expanded. Whatever the reason, when the top tier is finally consumed, it serves as a reminder of the happy occasion for the couple.


The first wedding cakes were very simple compared to today's multi-tiered creations. The first multi-tiered cakes were made for royal weddings in England, with the first one not even having "true" upper tiers (they were made of spun sugar rather than actual cake). As these upper tiers evolved into real cakes, the problem of preventing the upper layers from sinking into the lower layers was prevalent. The idea of using pillars to decorate a cake was present before the multi-tiered cakes appeared, so it was natural for bakers to regard this as a way to support the upper tiers. To prevent the pillars from sinking into the bottom tier, icing was hardened to support the pillars.


Guests invaded the bridal chamber and threw the bride and groom's stockings. The one whose throw landed on the bride or groom's nose was the next to marry. It was customary in the 14th century for the bride to toss her garter to the men. Sometimes the men would get drunk, become impatient, and try to remove the garter ahead of time. Therefore, the custom evolved for the groom to remove and toss the garter. By the end of the14th century, the groom was throwing the bride's garter to prevent their being rushed at the altar. With that change, the bride started to toss the bridal bouquet to the unwed girls of marriageable age.


Traditionally, the guests escorted the couple to the bedchamber and tucked them into bed reminding them of their responsibility to the community to create a family.
Old Shoes: In India, when a couple were honeymooning in a house, the bride's red slippers were thrown across the peaked roof as a discreet reminder that visitors were not especially welcome.
Our custom of throwing old shoes after the departing newlyweds stems from this ancient sign language. Old shoes tied to the honeymooner's car were once considered symbols of authority and possession. The bride's father would contribute one of the bride's shoes to the groom, thus symbolizing the transference of authority over to the husband.
Tin Cans: To protect the couple form evil spirits while they travelled.


The Romans believed that the threshold was the sacred place of their goddess Vesta and that if the new husband did not carry his bride feet-first into their new home, and the bride stumbled when entering the newlywed's home for the first time, it would bring bad luck and harm to their marriage and the couple would risk Vesta's displeasure, so carrying the bride across the threshold would prevent this from happening. And even today in some parts of India, the fear of evil spirits is so great that the groom himself is carried over the threshold before he turns and lifts his bride across after him!


After "kidnapping" his bride, the groom would take her and go into hiding, disappeared with her so that her family could not rescue her. The couple hid for a month (moon) and partook of a wine, made of mead and honey called metheglen, which was thought to have aphrodisiac properties. By the time the bride's family tracked them down them, the bride would probably already be pregnant! A "bride price" would then be negotiated.
By the sixteenth century, honeymoon referred less to a time period and more to a feeling. Newlyweds were in the "honey," or full phase, of their love.

Now isn't that interesting information for our historical romance novels.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Women on Wednesday - Fanny Price

Women on Wednesday visit Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

Fanny Price:

Fanny is the second eldest of nine children is sent to live with her mother's sisters at Mansfield Park. Her mother married her father a lieutenant of marines for love. When her father is hurt and disabled during his service, he is released on half pay, making life for the Price family very hard indeed.

Fanny is a sensitive, shy, intelligent young woman with a good sense of morals. She falls in love with her cousin Edmund at an early age. When the Crawford’s show up at Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford pursues Fanny as an amusing pastime, but ends up falling in love with her. She rejects his proposal much to the dismay of the Bertram’s; they pack her back to her poorer family as punishment. However when Tom Bertram becomes ill, Fanny is send for, she cares for Tom as well as being there to support her aunt and uncle. She and Edmund declare their love for each other, and as they say, the rest is history. (Well in the novel it is).

Fanny Price 1:
Sylvestra le Touzel

Sylvestra played the role of Fanny in the 1983 BBC mini-series adaptation of Mansfield Park. I haven’t seen this version of Mansfield Park, but I will try to find it to watch. You can watch a scene here.

In 2007, Sylvestra played the role of Mrs. Allen in Northanger Abbey.

Fanny Price 2:
Frances O’Connor

Frances starred as Fanny in the 1999 movie adaptation of Mansfield Park. I love Frances in this, she play a great part opposite Jonny Lee Miller.

From Wikipedia

This film alters several major elements of the story and depicts Fanny as author of some of Austen's actual letters as well as her children's history of England. It emphasizes Austen's disapproval of slavery.

Fanny Price 3:
Billie Piper

Billie was chosen for the role of Fanny for the Company Pictures production of Mansfield Park. Again, I haven’t seen this version and after seeing Billie in ‘The Secret Diaries of a Call Girl’, I’m not sure I’d believe her as Fanny. LOL.

So do you think Miss. Austen would approve of the women who portrayed Fanny? I’m going to stick with Frances O’Conner, maybe because she’s an Aussie.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's Male - Edmund Bertrum ~ Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is believed to be the novel that readers like the least of Jane Austen's novels. The adaptation to film and television like many take liberties with Miss Austen work. If you think about it, that goes with any novel adapted to film or television, I guess directors, screenwriters etc, like to leave their own mark of the stories.

Today for Monday's Male I'm looking at Edmund Bertram. I have pictures of the three actors who stepped into the role of Edmund. Now, I've only watched one, that being Jonny Lee Miller, so I can't say for sure who is the better, but from youTube, it's a toss-up between Jonny and Blake Ritson.

Edmund Bertram ~

Edmund is the younger son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram and is six years older than Fanny Price. Edmund has plans to become a clergyman. He and Fanny form a strong friendship early in their relationship. While Fanny looked down upon by hie family, Edmund looks past the poor relation and sees the true woman she is and can be. For a time Edmund is attracted to Miss Crawford, until she expresses her opinion on the scandal involving his sister, Mrs. Rushworth and Mr. Crawford. Like all good romance novels he soon realizes he is in love with his cousin Fanny Price and they are married.

Edmund Bartram 1:
Nicholas Farrell.

Nicholas reprised the role of Edmund in 1983.

To watch a scene from Mansfield Park 1983 you need to link in HERE.

Nicholas has also starred as Mr. Musgrove in the 2007 television adaptation of Persuasion.

Edmund Bertrum 2:
Jonny Lee Miller.
Jonny stepped into Edmund's shoes for the 1999 film of Mansfield Park.

NOTE of INTEREST: Jonny played the role of Charles Price along side Nicholas Farrell in 1983.

Jonny recently starred as Mr. Knightley in the television adaptation of Emma (let's save that for another Monday's Male)

Jonny on youTube

Edmund Bertram 3:
Blake Ritson.

Blake was selected for the 2007 television adaptation of Mansfield Park.

Blake played along side Jonny Lee Miller in the 2009 adapted for television version of Emma as Mr. Elton.

Blake on youTube.

So there we have another Monday's Male. I wonder at times, where Jane Austen found inspiration for her heroes, did she model some after her father and brothers? What about Tom Lefroy? Lefroy did come into her life at a time when she was writing Pride and Prejudice (First Impression), some say she tailored all her hero after her alleged lost love, but I'm not convinced. Her heroes are very different in some respect, yet alike in other ways.

I'm going to continue to look at Jane Austen's heroes for the next few weeks as well as compare the actors cast for the role of the hero film or telemovie.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cooking on Saturday

Good Morning and welcome to my first 'Cooking on Saturday'. Each Saturday (for a while anyway) I’m going to bring you recipes from the Regency Period. These recipes are from the English Housewifry – 1764 (You can find this book in Google Books to download) This week we are looking at baking goods.

Breakfast Cakes

450g (1lb) Currants

450g (1lb) Flour

150ml (¼ pint) Cream

110g (4oz) Butter

3 Egg Yolks

2 Egg Whites

5 tbsp Sugar

4 tbsp New Yeast

4 tbsp Sack* (or 2 tbsp Brandy)


Sift the flour and nutmeg together.

Place the cream into a saucepan, add the butter and stir over a low heat until melted (do not allow to boil).

Beat the eggs, yeast and sack* (or brandy) together thoroughly.

Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

Prepare some baking tins by flouring them.

Divide the mixture between them.

Allow to stand in a warm place for a short time, to allow them to rise.

Bake for 1¾ hours.

To make Breakfast Cakes

Take a pound of currans well washed, (rub them in a cloth till dry) a pound of flour dried before a fire, take three eggs, leave out one of the whites, four spoonfuls of new yeast, and four spoonfuls of sack or two of brandy, beat the yeast and eggs well together; then take a jill of cream, and something above a quarter of a pound of butter, set them on a fire, and stir them till the butter be melted, (but do not let them boil) grate a large nutmeg into the flour, with currans and five spoonfuls of sugar; mix all together, beat it with your hand till it leave the bowl, then flour the tins you put the paste in, and let them stand a little to rise, then bake them an hour and a quarter.

Queen Cakes

450g (1lb) Flour

450g (1lb) Sugar

450g (1lb) Butter

225g (8oz) Currants (Optional)

110g (4oz) Almonds, grated (Optional)

9 Eggs

1-2 tbsp Rose Water


Sift the flour and mace together.

Beat the eggs.

Melt the butter and allow to cool.

Beat the eggs, rose water and butter together well.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.

Add the liquid mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add some of the mixture to each of the tins

Add a layer of almonds or currants, then a layer of the mixture.


You can ice them if you wish, using a thin mixture applied with a brush.

To make Queen Cakes

Take a pound of London flour dry'd well before the fire, nine eggs, a pound of loaf sugar beaten and sifted, put one half to your eggs and the other to your butter; take a pound of butter and melt it without water put it into a stone bowl, when it is almost cold put in your sugar and a spoonful or two of rose water, beat it very quick, for half an hour, till it be as white as cream; beat the eggs and sugar as long and very quick, whilst they be white; when they are well beat mix them all together; then take half a pound of currans cleaned well, and a little shred of mace, so you may fill one part of your tins before you put in your currans; you may put a quarter of a pound of almonds shred (if you please) into them that is without currans; you may ice them if you please, but do not let the iceing be thicker than you may lie on with a little brush.

That is just a couple of recipes for this week. I’ll see what I can come up with next week.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Women on Wednesday ~ Miss Elizabeth Bennet - Part 2

On to the ladies of the made for television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. No ‘Lost in Austen’ this time. I often wonder what Miss Jane Austen would make of the actresses chosen to portary her dear Lizzy.


Our first Elizabeth Bennet is Curigwen Lewis from the 1938 television production of Pride and Prejudice. This picture is of Ms. Lewis in one of her other roles.

Madge Evans played the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the 1949 NBC Philco Television Playhouse where ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was Episode 17 in season 1. This was also a live show.


In 1952, Daphne Slater stepped into the role of Elizabeth Bennet. This was another live performance this time by the BBC. Hope they remembered their lines.

In the Italian version of Pride and Prejudice released in 1957 with Virna Lisi plays the role of Elizabeth Bennet.

As I said with our Mr. Darcy post, there were two productions of Pride and Prejudice in 1958. The first a six part black & white mini-series by the BBC. Jane Downs played the part of Lizzy.

The second production of P&P in 1958 was a General Motors Theatre production aired in December 1958. Kay Hawtrey starred in the role of Elizabeth.

In the Dutch adaptation released in 1961 titled De vier dochters Bennet, Lies Franken stepped into the role of Lizzy. I couldn’t find any photos of Ms. Franken. Bummer! I was going so well.

In 1967, Celia Bannerman played Miss Eliza Bennet next to our Australian actor Lewis Fiander. This was another 6-part mini-series by the BBC.

1980 and Elizabeth Garvie plays Miss Elizabeth Bennet. This is yet another BBC mini-series, this time 5 parts. They like doing mini-series don’t they.

Ah yes, the best of the best in the Pride and Prejudice series. In 1995, BBC/A&E produced a 6-part mini-series that all P&P fans remember. Jennifer Ehle played Miss Eliza and proved to more than a mach for Mr. Darcy Colin Firth. Jennifer won Best Actress - British Academy Television Award for her portrayal Elizabeth Bennet.

This is Ms. Ehle winning her BAFTA Award.

That brings us to the end of our Miss Elizabeth Bennet posts. It is interesting to see the different actors cased in the roles.

See you later.