Posts Tagged ‘19th century kitchens’

One time when I was procrastinating in the library I happened upon this truly amazing book. It was a very small book, originally written for children, called When I was a Girl in Holland. It’s actually a very simple concept: a girl growing up in the Netherlands around 1880 describing her life, the routines and habits and holidays. This book and others in the series were meant for American children to get a view of how children in other countries lived.

The book is especially interesting because this sort of information is rarely given usually, it’s considered too trite. For example, how does a birthday party in 1880 look? How many people were hired to work on a farm, or why could Dutch people only visit their far-away relatives in winter (answer: they could ice-skate in winter and travel far larger distances!)

I searched for a long time and found the entire book online, it’s an amazing read. For the next few weeks, I’ll publish a few sections from the book, some things that I think would be interesting to you.

If you want to read the entire book, you can do so here.

Here’s the first snippet, about the writer being born:

During the next ten days, little blond, red-cheeked girls came trudging through the snow. Some were carrying parcels in their mittened hands, others had flat red-painted boxes. They knocked at the front door, called “Folk in,” and were led into the house. They placed the parcel or the box in the hands of the maid and timidly said:

“The compliments of mother, and here is a present.”

The present appeared to be a dress, an apron, a petticoat, or a pair of socks, if it came from a parcel, but if it was taken from a box it was bound to be a large layer-cake or several small tarts, baked by the village baker or bought in the nearest town, and intended for the party. […]

Now the girl was led into the big livingroom and seated on an old-fashioned chair with reed bottom; on the table before her was placed a dainty, crisp Dutch rusk covered with butter and sugar. This she ate, that I might grow up into a healthy and strong child.

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Today some random bits ‘n bobs that didn’t fit into the other posts.

Food preservation
Before the Victorian Era, food preservation techniques such as salting, pickling, drying, and smoking had changed little. The theory of canning was first developed in the 18th century with “dried soups” that were made by reducing stocks to a “glue” that could be reconstituted when needed, but they never attained much popularity outside the navy. However, by the 1880s, largely in response to Pasteur’s theories about disease and putrefaction, scientists experimented with chemicals to kill germs and bacteria in food. These early attempts often proved fatal to those who ate the “preserved” food, but legislation to control the use of chemicals for preserving food was not developed until 1901. The first tin cans in which preserved foods were packaged came with the simple instruction, “Cut around the top outer edge with a chisel and hammer.”

The next is taken from this livejournal post, there’s also a few recipes.

Hints for Gentlewoman at Table.
A Gentlewoman being at table abroad or at home must observe to keep her Body straight, and lean not by any means with her Elbows, or by ravenous Gesture discover a voracious appetite; talk not when you have Meat in your Mouth; do not smack like a Pig nor venture to eat spoonmeat so hot that the Tears stand in your Eyes, which his as unseemly as the Gentlewoman who pretended to have as little Stomach as she had Mouth, and therefore would not swallow her Peas by Spoonful, but took them one by one and cut them in two before she would eat them. It is very uncomely to drink so large a Draught that your Breath is almost gone, and are forced to blow strongly to recover yourself, throwing down your Liquor as into a Funnel is an Action fitter for a Juggler than a Gentlewoman. In carving at your own Table distribute the best Pieces first, and it will appear very comely and decent to use a Fork, so touch no piece of Meat without it.

To Extinguish Fire in the Female Dresses
So many fatal Accidents arise from light Dresses catching Fire no Manual for Females is complete without the following cautions.

1st. Let every Female mind be impressed that Flame tends always upward: that she will burn more rapidly if upright than if laid on the Floor.

2nd. Give instant alarm by screaming or pulling the Bell, (which is usually near the fire-place), but if possible avoid opening the door.

3rd. The Alarm should be given while the Female is rolling in the rug, tearing off the burnt clothes, or turning her clothes over her head.

4th. A Man may quickly strip off his coat and wrap it around a Female.

5th. If the Victim cannot save herself entire, let her protect her bosom and the face by crossing her hands and arms over these parts.

6th. A Piece of green or scarlet-baize called a Fire-extinguisher should be in universal Use in Sitting-Rooms and Nurseries, and its Name and use known, although it serve as a Table or Piano-forte Cover.

7th. Let the injured Person have cold Water plentifully pored over them if they cannot be immersed in water till Medical Advice is obtained.

More Victorian recipes

And even more recipes

This post is part of a series on cooking! Follow the links to see the other posts:
A Victorian Christmas
Upperclass dinner
Victorian kitchens
Links to recipes & etiquette

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      Around 1800 the first stove that was made to cook on was developed by Benjamin Thompson, it was called the Rumford Stove. (Up to 1800, stoves were mostly used for heating, not for cooking.) One fire was used to heat several pots, which hung in the fire through various holes on top of the stove. This stove however was too large for domestic use.
     In 1834 the Oberlin Stove was patented in the US, it was the same technique but made smaller for domestic use. In the following 30 years 90,000 units were sold. During this time, the stoves still worked on wood or coal; while gas was available but it wasn’t used until late in the 19th century.
     Towards the end of the 19th century, more and more houses got water and sewer pipes, and also gas pipes (used for light.) These pipes were later used to provide gas for the first gas stoves (around 1880.)
     In 1893 the first electrical stove was presented in Chicago, but only in 1930 these stoves were advanced enough to be sold for domestic use.
     Because the small houses of the working closses, the kitchen was often used for living and sleeping, and also as a bathing room. (No wonder: due to the stove that was almost constantly on, this room was probably the warmest place in the house!) While pots and kitchenware was usually stored on open shelves in the kitchen, curtains were used to seperate them from the rest of the room.
     Upperclass kitchens were of course the territory of servants only. Gradually, these houses got water pumps, sinks, drains, and sometimes even water on tap. With the closed stoves the kitchen became a cleaner place, because the fire was more restricted.

     During the 19th century, new kitchen appliances were invented and patented, for example the cork-shaper (to shape corks to fit into different bottles,) the can-opener and the corkshrew

victorian kitchens & cooking

victorian kitchens & cooking

An exhibition of kitchen wares.

This post is part of a series on cooking! Follow the links to see the other posts:
A Victorian Christmas
Upperclass dinner
Victorian cooking
Links to recipes & etiquette

Read Full Post »