Monday, June 26, 2017

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream from Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery (1851).  Page 325.

A molded ice cream, made from an 1851 recipe in "Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery".
Molded strawberry ice cream, ready to serve.

The ingredients were straightforward: strawberries, sugar, and cream. I ended up wringing the strawberries through a cloth to extract the juice--a scant 2 cups from 1 quart of berries, after standing 1.5 hours with the sugar. Then, it was simply a matter of stirring in the cream and freezing it.  I halved the receipt, and ended up with enough cream to fill one 4-cup mold and nearly fill a second.

Not having a proper ice cream freezer, I tried using a two-bowl set up with salt and ice in the outer basin and the cream mixture in the inner bowl.  That proved ineffective, so I opted for the old standby of putting it in the modern freezer, and stirring at half-hour intervals. This worked moderately well, but the ice cream still didn't fully set until I left it overnight. At that point, it was a soft solid, so I stirred and froze it once more, then transferred it into the molds and let them set until needed.

I used hot water on the outside of the mold to loosen the ice cream: the short one worked easily, but the taller took several tries and came out a little more melted than anticipated. Both went back into the freezer for a half hour--I should have wiped off the excess a little sooner, as they were quite solid again in short order.

Another molded ice cream, made from an 1851 recipe in "Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery".
The second mold didn't come out so nicely.
The flavor was sweet and rich; the texture was pleasantly smooth, though I expect it would be even better with a proper freezer to provide continuous air incorporation while freezing. The molds worked better than they usually do for me, so I'm optimistic that they will become even easier to use with more practice.

Update: I have now tried this recipe with blueberries (moderately succesful, though more fruit is needed to get a balanced flavor), and with vanilla (milk making up the extra liquid). Both times, a hand-cranked freezer was used, and it produced a very smooth ice cream. This is definitely a receipt to hang on to.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fancy Dress

I really need to attend a fancy dress ball (or three), if only to use some of these awesome costume ideas:
Fashion plate excerpt: two women in late 1860s "fancy dress" as the harvest and a ship.
Yes, I want the dress on the right:
a ship with open gun ports and an anchor necklace.
Though the little hat should probably be a wheel...

Or maybe I just need to make all my Halloween costumes period fancy dress...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: Designs for Printed Textiles in England from 1750 to 1850

Cover art for "Designs for Printed Textiles in England From 1750 to 1850" by Wendy Hefford

Designs for Printed Textiles in England From 1750 to 1850 by Wendy Hefford

Though not a recent book (1992), this one was new to me.  And I was missing out by not knowing about it sooner!

I've reviewed fabric design books before (see here, here, here, and here), and where Designs for Printed Textiles stands out is in the size and quality of its images.  Written information is brief, concise, and in 10pt font (or smaller). The 236 samples are spread over 118 pages, allowing each image considerable space--most have an entire 10" x 12" page, or at least half of one; the handful of pages with four or more samples are all copies of period albums and sample books.  Some unusual specimens were included such as printed shawls and patchwork quilts containing many printed fabrics.

Compared to other works, this book has relatively few examples and a narrow scope: as the name indicates, it's all British printed fabrics from 1750-1850 (which are now in the The Victoria & Albert Museum).  Within that, various types of printed fabric are featured: furnishing fabrics, dress goods, shawls, etc.  The book seemed to contain more pages covering the late 18th century than early 19th (maybe 60% to 40%), so it may be more useful for people interested in the early part of the year range than the later.  While the bulk of the book is colored plates, there were also 7 pages of background information on styles/processes/technology, 17 pages of captions for the plates,  2.5 pages for a fabric glossary, and 3 pages about the history of different British fabric printing companies.

With all that in mind, I'd say this book is very useful for looking at changes occurring in British fabric printing over a hundred-year period, and fairly to very useful for looking at designs within that time period.  In most cases, you won't be finding multiple examples of a specific type of material for a narrower year range--but the one or two pictures that you do find will be lovely and detailed. I won't be making this my primary textile print resource, but I think it's a very useful addition to the library, and a good choice to consult before embarking on a late 18th (or early 19th) century project.

Score: 5 stars

Accuracy: High. All original examples

Strongest Impression: A pretty book which gives good, detailed examples of textile prints over a century.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Strawberries and Cream

Off-season (and in-season) HFF training.

The Challenge: None. Just trying things on my own until season three starts.

The Receipt:  Strawberries and cream from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management

The Date/Year and Region: 1861, London

How Did You Make It:  Removed strawberry tops, arranged berries in a bowl, dusted with powdered sugar, and and poured on cream.

Time to Complete: 5 minutes

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand.  About $1-$2 for 1/3 c. cream and 1 c. berries.

How Accurate Is It? Half scale, but with no deviations from the instructions.

How Successful Is It? 
Simple and tasty.  I prefer whipped cream with strawberries, as the cream flavor was largely lost in this form, but the dish was perfectly palatable. I would certainly make it again for an appropriate occasion.

Strawberries and cream from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861.
Yes, it's literally strawberries with cream and sugar on top.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quilted Petticoat, Part 1: Quilting

The first (and longest) step is complete: quilting the petticoat layers together.  The outer fabric is a paisley floral stripe (#2829-0116) from the Old Sturbridge Village Anniversary line; the back is a solid green cotton, and the batting is wool.

The main source of inspiration a petticoat from the OSV collection (26.35.31). The quilting pattern used is 2" diamonds along the bottom 1/3 of the petticoat, with horizontal lines 2" apart above the diamonds, and horizontal lines spaced 3" apart nearer to the waist. This is a hybrid of the graduated horizontal lines from the OSV petticoat, and the diamonds on this petticoat in the Met.

With two of us working, it took three days (at approximately 6 hours per day), with one worker on the fourth day.  Admittedly, this was not without interruption.  I expect that a repeat of the project would progress much more quickly (I, for one, was sewing faster by Tuesday than I had on Saturday or Sunday).

Quilting under the locust trees.

The stitching is more visible on the back.

With thanks to Elise (stalwart sewing companion, keeper of lore, and mistress of the quilting frame), Quinn (vanquisher of the hunger-dragons), Jessie (slayer of tedium), and the various persons conscripted into snapping chalk lines.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quilted Petticoat Research

For the upcoming petticoat-quilting weekend (ie, test-driving Elise's new quilting frame)

My inspiration piece is a c.1835-1860 cotton print petticoat from the collection of Old Sturbridge Village: (My inspiration experience is the really cold weather at Santa Train last December.)

Quilted petticoat c.1835-1860, made from stripe-print cotton. Old Sturbridge Village 26.35.31
Quilted petticoat, c. 1835-1860 from
Old Sturbridge Village (object 26.35.31).
Both this striped petticoat and another in their collection (#26.35.30, a wool twill petticoat c.1840) are quilted in horizontal lines, spaced closely together near the hem and further apart near the waist. From the given measurements (and taking proportions from the picture), I think this petticoat has a hem around 90" in circumference; it is 36.5" long.

I'm having trouble deciding between following the simple lines, or trying a more ambitious quilting pattern, like this one from the Henry Ford Museum done in overlapping waves (they also have a fun silk petticoat with much clearer quilting lines).

Perhaps a diamond pattern would make a nice compromise between an easy quilting pattern and a fun one?
Diamond-quilted white cotton petticoat c.1860-1870, from The Met.
Cotton petticoat with diamond quilting,
c.1860-1870, in The Met.

While the OSV petticoats have set waistbands and close with ties, the Met has about a dozen quilted pettis which appear to use drawstrings:

Cotton print quilted petticoat, early 19th century, from The Met.
Early 19th century quilted petticoat in The Met.
Maybe the drawstring is a French variation?

They also have some lovely silk quilted petticoats, made very full.  From some references in my casual readings, I suspect these silk petticoat are meant as an outermost under-layer, to support a delicate skirt, as opposed to the narrower quilted pettis worn near the body for warmth.

Sunday, June 4, 2017