Happy Thanksgiving! Our week with Martha Bradley, Day 4


November 28, 2019
by Don N. Hagist Also by this Author


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In her recipes for November, Martha Bradley included only three for “Confectionary,” all of them jellies or custards. Her pies were savory, and her section on baking discussed only pigeons and larks. No cakes, biscuits, tarts or candies for this month. The desert table, if based strictly on the 1756 The British Housewife: or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion, might feature instead purple jelly—but not made from grapes.

Purple Jelly
Chuse two Pairs of fine clean Calf’s Feet, take out the Bones, put them into a large Pot, and pour on them two Gallons of Water; put in Half a Pound of fine, large, then Hartshorn Shavings, and one Ounce of the finest Loaf Sugar; let these stand together twelve Hours cold, and then set them over a gentle Fire, and by slow degrees warm it till it comes to boil.
When it once boils skim it, and keep it boiling; stir it frequently and well about, and let it boil away till there is only about two Quarts left.
Grind to a fine Powder a Quarter of an Ounce of fine Cochineal, put it into a Bason, and squeeze upon it the Juice of a fine Lemon; let it stand an Hour, then put to it a Gill of strong white Wine.
Grate in Half a Nutmeg, and shred four Blades of Mace.
Keep the Jelly all this Time gently boiling, and put in all these Ingredients.
Stir the whole, an let it boil up a few Minutes longer, then pour it hot through a Flannel Bag; let it drain without squeezing, and let the Jelly lie all Night.
In the Morning you will find it a fine, solid, purple Lump, of the Bigness of your Head, and of the Shape of the Pan, with some coarse fatty Matter at the Top, and some thick Settlings at the Bottom; cut both these off, and cut the clean Lump of Jelly into thin Slices, and put it into a Pan; set it over the Fire; beat up the Whites of four Eggs, and as it heats work them in; let it boil up a Minute or two with the Eggs, and then strain it again through a Flannel Bag; Repeat this several Times over till the Jelly is perfectly fine, and then set it on once again; add to it Half a Pint of white wine, the Juice of four Lemons, and a Quarter of a Pint of Rose and Orange-Flower Water mixed together, and a Quarter of a Pound of Loaf Sugar.
The several Boilings will have made the Jelly too hard, but this will soften it, and this is the true Method; let it boil up a little, then strain it again through a Flannel Bag, and pour it into tall Glasses. It is a very delicate Jelly, and of a pleasing Colour.

For those who didn’t care to deal with a fine, solid, purple lump the size of a human head, Bradley was gracious enough to offer two other options, lemon cheesecake and almond custard.

Tomorrow: Something to drink with that?

[Extracts are from Martha Bradley, The British Housewife: or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion(London: undated, 1756 or 1757 2-volume edition originally published as a series of pamphlets); original spellings are preserved.]

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