In my email today, the latest newsletter from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath: see this link to an article on “Christmas Day with the Austen Family.”
And on my bookshelf … I highly recommend the book Jane Austen’s Christmas: the Festive Season in Georgian England, compiled by Maria Hubert [Sutton Publishing, 1996] (the book is out of print: search at www.biblio.com or www.abebooks.com; available copies are mostly in the UK).
Hubert offers a mix of selections from Austen’s novels and letters, and from other contemporary writers; there are poems about Christmas, along with games and dances and recipes ~ all accompanied by black and white illustrations from various sources. It is a must-have addition to your Austen collection.
You can visit this link at The Christmas Archives for a few excerpts from the book, as well as information on several of the author’s other books on Christmas (Shakespeare’s Christmas; Brontes’ Christmas; Christmas in Wartime are a few examples.]
Here is one of the excerpts ~ a recipe for
Black Butter would have been a novel recipe indeed, which one of the Austen’s wide circle of seafaring family and friends might have brought them.
Take 4 pounds of full ripe apples, and peel and core them. Meanwhile put into a pan 2 pints of sweet cider, and boil until it reduces by half. Put the apples, chopped small, to the cider. Cook slowly stirring frequently, until the fruit is tender, as you can crush beneath the back of a spoon. Then work the apple through a sieve, and return to the pan adding 1lb beaten (granulated) sugar and spices as following, 1 teaspoon clove well ground, 2 teaspoons cinnamon well ground, 1 saltspoon allspice well ground. Cook over low fire for about ¾ hour, stirring until mixture thickens and turns a rich brown. Pour the butter into into small clean jars, and cover with clarified butter when cold. Seal and keep for three months before using. By this time the butter will have turned almost black, and have a most delicious flavour.
Copyright Maria Hubert von Staufer March 1995
[I will be posting more on the holidays in Jane Austen’s time after our tea this weekend!]