As a home educator a good 80% of what we end up doing springboards from passing questions and conversations for example, J and I spent a happy morning last week reading and finding out about the history of Easter Island, both of us had fun and came away knowing more than previously. This leads to this post by way of explanation. Picture the scene - family sitting around the table letting a delicious M cooked Sunday roast go down and J pipes up "What disgusting things did you used to eat that you don't eat now?" Now as a lapsed veggie I do consume meat but never offal *blech* so that is where the topic started - I haven't eaten liver since I got pregnant 10 years ago, but as a kid loved liver and bacon for tea....you see where I'm a headin? No?
Well it got a bit more disgusting and then M mentioned 'dripping' (beef fat) and the discussion moved to why people eat this type of stuff and issues of poverty and cost of food joined in. This led me to mention 'brawn' (never eaten it but read about it) "What's brawn?" asks J "Aha!" says I "I bet it's in this very old household encyclopedia that belonged to my Nana." See, it's starting to make sense now.
I love this book. It's old and smelly but it reflects bygone age when thrifty was a way of life. It has recipes (including brawn - which is gross and follows in a bit) household hints including how to make yourself vomit following mercury poisoning, guides to veggie growing and how to clean your windows and so on. The section on enemas made even me squirm though! We found many (what we consider) gross recipes like calves foot jelly and stuff using brains and other bits - J turned a bit green - but I think he was even more grateful for this Sunday roast.
The conversation was very interesting and J was having a history lesson that was fun and informative and he never even twigged. I spent the rest of evening dipping into this book and have it beside me now. Some of the tips like how to keep flies out of your home in summer are eco friendly and sound and I've actually found more useful stuff than I ever imagined.
Now for you peoples of sound constitution here is a recipe for 'Brawn'.
1 sheeps head
1 oz flour
1 oz butter
1 gill milk
salt & pepper
Thoroughly cleanse the head, take out splinters, wash in salt & water, put the head in cold water and bring to the boil; pour away the water, add fresh water, boil removing the scum; cut up vegetables and add rice, simmer gently for 3 hours or till meat will leave the bones. Put brains into a small piece of muslin and drop into the the stewpan about 15 minutes before head is done. Cut the meat off the head, place in the centre of a hot dish, put a border of rice and vegetables round; slice the tongue and chop the brains; make a sauce with the butter, flour and milk adding some of the liquor; season well and add the chopped parsley. Coat the head with with this sauce and garnish with sliced tongue and chopped brains. Et voila! (I also have a pigs head alternative brawn recipe - but this one was grosser!)
I know what we WON'T be having next Sunday.
Now I'm sure that there are those among who will thank me for this culinary delight and dash off to try this recipe and it may well become a firm family favourite - well you are a better man than I Gungadin!
I may make this this a regular blog feature - tips and recipes from a bygone age....watch this space.