So it’s Victoria Day here in Canada, not that we really celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday or anything. It falls on the Monday before May 24 (Victoria’s real birthday, in 1819) and is supposed to honor the present monarch’s birthday as well. I must tell you that we celebrated by sleeping a little bit later than usual, which I understand is the traditional thing to do.
One could make some sort of Victoria-themed food, I suppose. (One is not going to, chez nous, but talk is not only cheap, it’s way less work! It’s a holiday after all!) Victoria Sponge (the cake, not a kitchen clean-up thing) would be nice – two sponge cake layers with jam in between, basically. And dear old Mrs. Beeton, the great English kitchen authority, has instructions for a Victoria Pudding, as follows:
INGREDIENTS. -4 oz. finely chopped beef suet
2 oz breadcrumbs
1 1/2 oz. flour
1 oz finey shredded mixed peel
2 oz. apples
2 oz. apricot jam
1 1/2 oz dried cherries cut in quarters
1 1/2 oz. sugar
1 large egg
1/2 wineglassful of brandy (optional)
1/4 gill cream or milk
METHOD. – Peel, core and chop the apples finely, and mix with them the suet, breadcrumbs, flour, peel, cherries and sugar. Beat the eggs well, add the jam, cream (or milk), and brandy (if used); when well mixed, stir them into the dry ingredients, and beat well. Pour into a well-greased mold, cover with a greased paper, and steam from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serve with a suitable sauce.
TIME. – Altogether from 2 to 2 1/2 hours. SUFFICIENT for 5 persons.
I really think we should have a Mrs. Beeton Day – and I think I will make one up, down the proverbial road. She was quite as much a monarch in the Victorian era as – well, Victoria. The Beetonian Era doesn’t have quite the same ring, though, does it? Isabella Mary Beeton (1836-1865) was the author of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861), one of the most famous cookery/household books ever written.
There have been cookbooks printed under her name at least into the 1970s (I have one of these); the Victoria Pudding recipe comes from my 1920s Mrs. Beeotn’s Cookery, which does not have much in the way of household hints, but tells you everything that you need to know about – well, cookery. Proper English cookery, that is. And Mrs. B. is never uncertain. She knows about these things, and she is going to tell you all about them.
Leaving Mrs. Beeton (for the present) I would also like to tell you that it is a holiday in the US as well! Not Memorial Day, I know that is next week. It is National Devil’s Food Cake Day. I will be talking about this important holiday later on in the day. And maybe some other things too, depending on whether I celebrate Victoria Day with a little pudding-making or not. (If I do, you know I will not use beef suet, right?)
Or perhaps I will put on my crown and order people around. That could be fun. Or I could just give out a few disdainful looks and say “We are not amused.”