I love old books. I have said that before, but they are just so cool! Sometimes it is difficult to read an old book in the romance, fiction or literature genres just because of all the “thees” and “thys” and other formal old English verbiage they used then. I have found myself having to look up some long forgotten words that have accumulated dust whilst being stowed on the proverbial bookcase of antiquities and oddities of long long ago.
For our anniversary my husband found a fun and unique book for me during our travels to the UK this summer titled “The practical Home Handywoman”, a book of basic principles for the self-reliant woman dealing with all the problems of home-making and housekeeping. This book is right up my alley and so qwerky it made me laugh to think that there was an instructional book on how to be a “handywoman” and not “handyman”! There is no copyright date, but from the pictures it looks like it was published in the 50’s.
I was actually impressed by the variety of subjects it covered, from “cookery”, decoration and re-decoration (remodeling) to dressmaking to household management, first-aid maintenance, simple carpentry.
There was even a section on domestic animals, how to choose, care, feed dogs, cats, birds,goldfish, even farm animals such as ducks, chickens, rabbits and goats! It gives instructions for “disposal” if you can no longer keep it.
If an owner of an animal can no longer keep him, he should take him to an animals’ home or a veterinary surgeon, or find a new home. He should not turn the dog or cat out or deliberately lose him—so much misery is caused by this procedure.
There is even a blurb on “castration” which we now call neutering. It says that “it (castration) should not be performed on a dog except, and only, in the case of illness because dogs are affected mentally if this operation is performed. With a cat it is different, as the mentality of the cat is not affected in the same way”. What?!?…..
Ok, well, maybe the animal section is not your thing and you are more into learning how to cook. Let’s just flip to the “cookery” section and learn some “cookery terms” such as farce (forcemeat), what is forcemeat you ask… well that is breadcrumbs, chopped herbs sometimes mixed with chopped meat or flaked fish, in other words, stuffing. So this year lets farce the turkey….. that just sounds wrong! Another term you may not be familiar with is aspic, a savory jelly. A savory jelly, I would be interested in some of those recipes.
Now that we are up on our terms, lets talk about the oven or “cooker” as the book describes it. The book talks about several different types of ovens, the coal-heated oven, gas (regulo and mainstat), electricity. What I thought was interesting was that it told you how to tell if your coal oven is hot, moderate or slow heat by laying a white sheet of paper in the oven for 5 minutes. If the paper becomes brown it is considered “hot”, pale golden then “moderate”, or pale buff or biscuit then “slow”. The book goes on to instruct how to cook vegetables, what to do with cold fish and even….. what to serve with soup. Really?
Like I said in the beginning, I love the qwerks you find in old books! Who would have thought that someone might not know what to serve with soup!