Yo waddup, my peasants? It’s ur gurl FINALLY MARRIED!!!!!
My peasants, I’m so sorry I haven’t written anything in fivever, but something big got in the way of my writing and that big thing is getting married. After five years of dating my soulmate, I finally get to call myself his wife– which is probably the best thing in the world, better than anything I can imagine. We moved to a beautiful townhouse in mysterious Wanaque, NJ and have just finally said “I do” to each other last weekend. Honestly, it’s been a blur and I wish it could have slowed down a little so I could have properly enjoyed it but it was a magical blur. I’ve married my best friend and my anchor, my life couldn’t be any better!
In case you’re wondering why I went with a modern wedding, it’s because I wanted to be a modern princess for the first time and boy am I glad we went modern!! It was such a beautiful wedding and the beautiful start to the rest of our lives… And now I resume the blogging, I know you missed me ❤
I return to you bearing a book review, this one is a long time coming because I had promised author Kimberly Walters. She had given me this book months ago and I was gonna review it but life happened. That being said, I present to you a quali-tea book review!! Now, when Kim told me she was dropping a hot new book on 18th century tea in America, I was all like YAAAAAAAAAS KWEEEEENNN because I do historical tea demos and wanted to keep those demos alive and exciting, which this book has helped me with literally so much! Aptly titled Tea in 18th century America, Kim’s book is cleverly divided into chapters regarding the history of tea in America, the social aspects of tea, the tea ceremony itself, recipes to accompany tea, and other brilliant things to add a whole new dynamic to my demo. I personally love how she combines the history to the real world application using both primary sources and recipes, it’s part cookbook and part history book which is something I’m all over!! Her research is in depth but she makes it accessible to bimbos like me using sources such as newspapers, letters, hospital records, army inventories, and more in order to drive home the idea that tea was so much more than a beverage in 18th century America. If this book has taught me anything, it is that tea was a cup of sanity; it was a cup of happiness and represented all things right in the world. It was used for medicinal purposes, social gatherings, rations, and food; it was an essential part of early American culture and it struck a chord with me when reading the Tea Acts. I finally understood why Americans flipped their lids when tea was taxed– even though I honestly would have done the same without reading this book tbh. Tea is my life.
One of my previous blog posts talked about the social importance of tea, particularly how women used it to dominate the public sphere and secretly rule the world, so I want to now share with you peasants some of my own experimental archaeology and apply what I’ve learned from Kim’s new book to real life so you can too! I had the perfect opportunity to do it, too, since I had a historic tea/tarot demo at Historic Midtown Elizabeth’s Four Centuries in a Weekend event. I tried three recipes from her book and I’ll rate them based on how easy they are to make and how delicious they are using the Husbae Ranking System. Five happy Eriks mean it was awesome, four happy Eriks means it was banging, three happy Eriks mean it was pretty good, two happy Eriks mean it was meh, and one unhappy Erik means don’t try this at home. I mean, he got to taste test everything, so it works!
Receipt number 1: Almond Macaroons
Blanch four ounces of almonds, and pound with four spoonfuls of orange-flower water; whisk the whites of four eggs to a froth, then mix it, add a pound of sugar, sifted, with the almonds, to a paste; and laying a sheet of wafer-paper on a tin, put it in different little cakes, the shape of macaroons (Rundell)
This receipt was super easy for me to do, mostly because I’ve done it before. Kim provided modern directions for this cookie, as well, in order to help translate a few things. Instead of blanching almonds, she suggests taking almond slivers and putting them through a food processor. I used my coffee grinder and it worked perfectly! She also suggested adding the orange flower water to the egg whites while whisking them. The batter is hella hard to shape so vaguely round lumps was the best I could do instead of making little macaroon shapes, which would have been more log-like than a vague mound shape. The outcome is a light fluffy cookie that crumbles super easy but just melts in your mouth! They’re super airy which means you can eat a ton of them without feeling too guilty and have a light, cereal-esque flavor to them because of the almonds. I put these in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Erik and one of his students devoured these within an hour or so of the demo. I rate this one four out of five happy Eriks for its simplicity and taste. The receipt bakes nearly three batches so you might want to cut down the ingredients if you’re making for a few people. It’s something easy to bake and take no time at all, perfect for those who have no idea what they’re doing!
Receipt number 2: Apple Fritters
Pare the largest baking apples you can get, take out the core with an apple scraper, cut them in round slices, and dip them in batter, made as for common fritters, fry them crisp, serve them up with sugar grated over them, and wine sauce in a boat. They are proper for a side dish for supper (Borella)
Here’s the batter receipt: Make a paste with some flour, a spoonfull of brandy, half a glass of wine, the whites of two eggs beat and green lemon shred fine. Mix it well, neither too thick nor too thin. It should rope in falling on a spoon.
OMG THESE ARE THE BOMB!!!!! This was my personal favorite to make and I want to make these now just for the heck of it. I used bigass gala apples for the fritters and they were so sweet! I added a little bit to this and omitted the wine sauce because I frankly don’t know what that is; I added a dash of cinnamon and some dried lemon peel and it was just the perfect addition to the batter! The batter itself had a bit of trouble sticking to the apples so I had to give them a solid coating and sort of mold the batter to the apple before frying them. I fried everything in butter until they were crispy and golden and holy mackerel they were so good!!! They were the perfect addition to a fall tea table and I maybe got to have one before Erik and his student happened to them. I rate these a five Eriks out of five for their simplicity and deliciousness.
Receipt number 3: A Biscuit Cake
One pound of flour, five eggs well beaten and strained, eight ounces of sugar, a little rose, or orange-flower water beat the whole thoroughly, and bake one hour (Rundell)
This cake was a weird one, but weird in a good sort of a way. It was more of a coffee cake meant for dipping than a “cake” cake. I possibly baked it at too high a temperature, but it still turned out well. The rosewater and dry texture gave it a somewhat Middle Eastern feel to it. It was something really unique, I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was delicious! I would pair this with an English Breakfast tea as opposed to the green Hyson tea I used for the demo. When I make this cake again, I plan on adding some dried fruit to it and maybe some pistachios baking it at 325 instead of 350. It was easy to make and it makes A LOT which means you can share it with your friends and still have some for breakfast tomorrow!! I rate this one four out of five Eriks for its unique taste and texture.
RATING UPDATE: So Erik and I did some experimental archaeology and brewed some black tea to try the biscuit cake again. When we say “experimental archaeology”, we really mean “brewed some tea, broke out the original cups, and got snacky;” we just used the “experimental archaeology” phrase to sound like serious historians and not two wild and crazy Slovaks getting snacky. We’re totally real historians!!! That being said, we now fully appreciate the biscuit cake in its complex flavors.
This cake is definitely meant to be dipped in tea possibly as a breakfast meal; with the addition of hot black tea, the flavors come to life without overpowering the tea itself hitting the spot and preventing morning hangriness. It’s sweet and has a ton of sugar but the rosewater mellows the sweet out making it a nice morning treat to get you ready for the day. It might even help a swollen head from brandy punch, that experiment to come in a future blog post! I have a literal ton of this biscuit cake so we’ll have plenty of it for our morning tea and coffee for the next ten years. Erik says he wants to change his rating from four Eriks to five.
These were only three receipts out of the crazy amount of receipts you can try from Tea in 18th Century America. It’s essentially a cookbook you can learn history from and I’m totally here for it! This book also guides you on how to present everything to create an elegant setting with matching teapot and dishes, plates of sweet and savory meals, fine tea caddies, sugar, cream, etc. Erik bought me a BEAUTIFUL New Hall pattern 191 tea set from around 1795 and while it’s not 1770s, it IS matching which was appropriate for a good tea. The tea table was meant to show off not only one’s wealth but also intellect and taste; having a mismatched tea set was considered a little on the low-brow side (whoops) so I’ve completely upped my tea game with it!!
The tea caddy I have is a fine example of 18th century Chinese Export Armorial patterns. I may or may not have bought it because it had hashtags on it…
I’ve lately become obsessed with bidding on 18th century Chinese export pottery off eBay and it’s become an addiction…
The event for Historic Midtown Elizabeth’s Four Centuries in a Weekend event was just lovely!! I had the opportunity to literally spill the tea on 18th century social life in true Silk and Sass style! Erik and one of his students provided some Corelli flute music while I chatted with interested spectators about the social aspects of tea as well as some of the receipts I used for the party. I opt not to feed spectators because of insurance purposes, but my baking hasn’t killed anyone… yet!
I made a new cap based on the miniature portrait of Mrs Emilia Hunter from 1776
I used the Fascinator cap pattern from Fashions Revisited but enlarged it and added my own details to it making a bigass Babushka hat to hide my trash panda chin.
I wore the Classic and paired it with pinks and maroons for a fall look
Overall, it was nice applying what I’ve learned from Kim’s new book to my living history demo; it’s vastly upped my tea game and pulled me into a whole new aspect of living history I never expected to enjoy but am totally loving it. If you want to learn more about tea, culture, or simply new recipes, I cannot recommend her book enough. Tea in 18th Century America has legit become one of my new favorite books because of how comprehensive but accessible it is. You can pick up a copy of yours here and get a taste of history for yourself! I’m out, my peasants, I think my next post will be about the 1860s dress Erik and I made together because we’ve traveled forward in time! Love you!
Congratulations!! Glad you’re back 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks! It feels good to be back, hopefully I’ll be back to my weekly Monday posting
LikeLiked by 1 person