LADY LLANOVER'S COOKERY BOOK.*
144 cannot say we quite appreciate the vehicle which Lady Llanover has chosen for expressing her ideas, but the ideas them- -selves will instruct all and amuse many. The "Hermit of the Cell of Gover " may be a title with a special meaning to all who know North Wales, but a hermit is not naturally the person to give refined lessons in economical cookery. He might understand 4' how to dry herbs," but he would not be ex-officio a trustworthy authority on a "complicated veal pie." The admirable lessons derived from his experience might have been more fittingly put in the mouth of a shrewd old lady or housekeeper, more especially as they include economies to which no man, be he hermit or roue', ever yet could be compelled to attend. Through the Hermit, how- ever, and a " Traveller " who elicits his wisdom, and who is, not to mince matters, nearly as stupid as a professed cook, Lady Llanover has contrived to speak an exceedingly pleasant book, full of quaint -self-conceited, garrulous cleverness, tempered by that sort of regret for a passed-away world which one often finds in people who were when young very fully in accord with the life around them. There is an odd attack, for example, on railways, as contrivances intended to break people's bones, a much more reasonable assault on railway hotels as caravanserais "where no one is master," and there is a general tone of complaint against the habits and civilization of to-day. Lady Llanover does not like the Poor Law, or the clipping of hollies, or the habit of eating often, or the extinc- tion of the Welsh language, or schools of cookery, or the destruc- tion of timber, or indeed any modern innovations whatsoever. The book almost begins with a formal complaint that no lady can now make a shirt, a complaint not altogether well founded, and which if true would only imply that educated women had found objects for their time and energy which pleased themselves and their husbands better. They cannot certainly make coats, and they could two hun- dred years ago ; but the result of that ignorance is better coats, not * Good Cookery By the Hight Hon. Lady Llanover. London: Bentley. worse coats, for the wearers, and more leisure for the ought-to-be tailors. This kind of complaint, which runs through the book, is too like the one so common thirty years ago, that farmers' daughters were learning how to play instead of how to make pies. They might learn both possibly with advantage, but if either must be selected, the piano now brings them nearer to their husbands than the pie. All these ideas of the past are, however, put forward pleasantly, amid a conversation in which practical housewives will delight. Lady Llanover really teaches them cooking as well as cookery, avoiding the mistake into which every other author has fallen. They give recipes, but say nothing as to the mode of using them, discourse upon cookery, but are silent as to the utensils through which the cooking is to be effected. One of Lady Llanover's main lessons is that a cook should not boil things in a pot, but in two pots, one of tin, with a lid of its own, placed inside another and larger one of iron. Water is poured in the inner one of course, but also between that and the outer, a contrivance which not only secures an equable distribution of heat, but also perfect cleanliness. Another is a mode of roasting the principle of which is that "every time the cook basted the meat he was to empty all the melted fat which poured down into the hollow of the dripping-pan into an earthen pan, which stood at the bottom of the screen on a level with the dripping-pan, and from which he was instructed to replenish the ladle when there was no longer any supply in the well of the drip- ping-pan to baste the meat." The pan keeps the gravy from getting burnt. The gravy thus made is not, however, used for the mutton, as cooks are accustomed to use it, but kept for the next leg, for "no one can have a gravy properly prepared from the same leg of mutton which is just roasted, because there is not time for the fat and gravy—which are necessarily mixed together—to cool, which process must take place before every particle of the fat can be removed from the gravy." These are the hints housewives want, not recipes, though whether the gentle housewives for whom Lady Llanover says she writes will superintend artistic basting, or whether a cook will stand their doing it, is another point. Our own impression is that without a lady to superintend no servant would take all that trouble, and that if the lady tried she would first find the experiment a bore, and then have to change her cook about once in every three mouths. A certain elaboration of detail, as if cooking were the end of existence, is indeed the main defect of Lady Llanover's advice. We dare say recooked chicken as the Hermit recooked it would be very nice, but then who is to take all this infinity of trouble ?- "The afternoon of the chicken dinner all the remaining meat was carefully taken off the bones of the Hermit's fowl ; the bones were then weighed, and the weight being one pound and a half they were after- wards broken small with an iron hammer, and one pint and a half of spring water being added to it., the whole was put into a digester on the Hermit's stove to stew slowly for two hours. The liquor was then poured off, the bones taken out and re-broken, another pint and a quarter of spring water added to them, the vessel replaced on the stove for two hours more ; the liquor again poured off into another basin, and the bones then given to the Hermit's dog Preparations for the next day were as follows :—the Hermit produced, first, a basin in which there was a pint of thin jelly, at the top of which was a quantity of clear oil, and underneath that a very thin layer of very delicate fat. The Hermit first took off the oil and put it into a bottle—he said it was useful for many purposes where oil was required—he next took off the small quantity of more solid fat, which he laid upon a plate by his side ; he then produced a second basin, in which was a pint of still firmer jelly, which he added to the contents of the first-mentioned basin ; he then produced a large cup, in which was more than ono-fourth of a pint of as solid but more opaque jelly, nearly white ; this he also added to the other jellies, and then poured the whole into the inner part of a double saucepan, the outer vessel being nearly filled with boiling water. The Traveller could no longer contain his curiosity, and inquired whence all those jellies came, and what they were made of? The first,' said the Hermit, was the jelly produced by simply boiling the chicken in a double vessel, which in itself is the finest preparation of chicken broth for in- valids. The second was the jelly from the first stewing of the bones, which contain a large quantity of gelatine. The third was from the second boiling of those same bones. I have mixed all together, although the quantity will make more sauce than we shall require for our fricassee, because I shall require it to-morrow for another purpose.' The Hermit added a little salt to the dissolved jelly, and desired his friend to taste it who admitted that it was the perfection of chicken broth, but how it could ever become anything else he had no conception. The Hermit then chopped very finely celery, leek roots, a small quantity of turnip, still less of carrot, and one small potato, all of which he put into a single saucepan with the surface chicken fat which he had taken from the chicken jellies. He stirred these over a slow heat for about ten minutes, so that the chopped vegetables absorbed the whole of the chicken fat without burning; he then gradually added as much flour as made the whole into a stiff paste, which he stirred about five minutes longer, till the fat, the vegetables, and the flour were thoroughly incorporated ; he then turned the whole mass into the melted and hot chicken stock, and, well stirring it, covered it over, and left it to stew slowly in a double saucepan (a vessel surrounded by boiling water), for three-quarters of an hour, at the end of which time he requested his friend to taste and pronounce his opinion. The Traveller was so agreeably surprised by the excellence of the taste that he forgot for the
moment what it was intended for, and exclaimed, What excellent chicken soup ! ' "
Everybody has not two Welsh widows as servants to make chicken soup in that style, and we do not envy the housewife who tries it with Englishwomen. Patience and acumen of that kind are in England only found in the educated, and educated servants would pronounce the entire arrangement "mean." Its utility is only for one who either cooks her own dinner, or superintends it, or is preparing messes for an invalid so ill that servants are tempted to be thoughtful and trouble goes for nothing. Sometimes, however, the advice consists in an easier return to common sense. For example, the single but universal defect of soups made in poor houses is greasiness, a greasiness usually visible to the eye, but always perceptible to the palate. Most cookery books recommend as the cure for this, incessant and troublesome skimming ; but Lady Llanover solves the difficulty in the twinkling of an eye :—
" And did it never occur to you,' said the Hermit, 'that if you wanted soup on a Wednesday, you had only to make it on Tuesday ? —by which means you would be able, the morning you require it, to remove every particle of the objectionable ingredient with a sharp knife, when it can be taken off as a solid cake, and that your soup or broth, whether in jelly or liquid, would then be as pure, and as clear of all oily particles, as if it had been skimmed, and re-skimmed again and again, when in a boiling state, by the first cook in Europe.'" There is a simple rule, too, for preserving game or meat which it is wished to keep, and which it is the custom among cooks to half roast. Such recooked meat is usually "a flavourless, tough morsel, like greasy leather on the outside, and without any mois- ture within," but the Hermit says, "by roasting completely, but not over-doing, and when wanted placing the bird or joint thus treated in a double vessel, with a little pure suet over it, and a small quantity of pure broth, sufficient to make a steam under it, and letting the water boil slowly round in the outside vessel, and then serving it with another pure gravy from roast meat (if pos- sible of the same sort), it will be difficult to know that it was not roasted the day before." The Hermit gives a recipe for cooking an egg which, if it is only true, will be of the greatest advantage to bachelors and stupid people. Their difficulty, as everybody knows, is to know when the egg is boiled enough, and they have invented egg glasses, or egg boilers, and cram rules, and all manner of imbecilities. Lady Llanover's law, if, as we say, it is only true, a point anybody can test, can neither be misunder- stood nor forgotten. Put the egg in cold water. When the water begins to boil, the egg, whatever its size, is set to perfec- tion—a line we recommend earnestly to men in the Temple learned in spirit lamps and such like, who if they succeed will thenceforward bless Lady Llanover. They will bless her still more if she will in her next edition, which is sure to be called for, tell them how to make tea. Every woman assumes that no man can make tea, and every man knows that no woman can. His mode is extravagant, and he never knows besides what to buy at the grocer's, and hers does not produce good tea. A really good rule, which can be employed to make a single cup, and will make tea drinkable without cream—cream is a mistake in itself, but does not cool the tea like milk—would be an invaluable addition to this book, and earn for Lady Llanover the blessing of all bachelors, even if they should decide, as we do, that the following plum- pudding is doubtful :— " Half-pound of raisins, half-pound of currants, half-pound of suet chopped fine, one ounce lemon-peel, one nutmeg, two large carrots, and two tablespoonfuls of flour ; mix all well together, but the carrots must be bailed and pulped previous to mixing with the other ingredients, and the whole must be boiled two hours."
Considering the quantity of carrots people eat under the name of marmalade, we have no right to say that this mess must be nasty, but still, on the whole, we should prefer that the children should try it first
The great object of Lady Llanover, to suggest good but cheap modes of cooking, will not, we fear, be attained. She demands that cooks shall have brains, which they neither have nor will have, and good temper, and teachability, and a wish to economize, all united in the same person. If the servants in Wales are of that sort it is a shame to keep them bottled up in the Principality, but our Liverpool friends do not seem quite so clear as Lady Llanover upon the point. There is, however, a class of reduced gentlewomen to whom her observations will be inestimable, and to them we cor- dially recommend her book. They will imbibe its precepts pro- bably with more readiness than English farmers, whom Lady Llanover, forgetting the kitchen for a moment, undertakes to instruct in the art of harvesting their corn. She says the Welsh, taught by their climate, stack wheat on the field in little stacks called bu;ch, which can be left on the ground through a three
weeks' rain without sprouting or getting wet. It certainly looks a clever sheaf in her picture, as the rain cannot reach the ears, but we should like to know what time the sheaves take to bind, and the mode of binding too, points omitted in the written description.