A Sumptuous Meal of Minced Pies? I Congratulate You on Your Cook!

Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie – and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to “a merry Christmas and a happy new year” – both of which I augur for you and your family, although the congratulation of the former is somewhat of the latest..

In January 1823 as the poet was living in the ‘Arctic region of Genoa and recovering from the torment of ‘chilblains’; he was also tucking into a minced pie or two that had been left for him as a gift from Mr Ingram a sometime acquaintance and fellow member of the Ravenna ‘dilettanti’.

I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies – which are worthy of the donor and of his table. I congratulate you on your Cook…

Now for those of you who know me even moderately well; you will recall that I am rather partial to a mince pie at this time of year and if I were to ever venture into a life-size kitchen and rummage among the pots and pans in order to whittle up my own batch of these delightful pastry treats; I certainly wouldn’t be holding my breath in anticipation of any congratulatory message!

It is fortuitous as I reside near a local emporium that makes the most delightful cornucopia of mince pies that my attention has been more appropriately served (no pun intended!) within the dark confines of the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace supervising the creation of a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table…

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And with a well-eared copy of Margaretta Acworth’s ‘book of receipts’ to hand; I will share the ‘fruits of my labour’ with you and her recipe for ‘Mince Pyes’ that her ‘Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired’ as adapted by Alice and Frank Prochaska.

8 small eggs, weighing 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) uncooked

5 oz (140 g, 2½ cups) each of fresh breadcrumbs and shredded suet (kidney fat)

1 large cooking apple, weighing 10 oz (280 g) unpeeled

12 oz (340 g, 3 cups) currants

8 oz (225 g, 2 cups) raisins

10 oz (280 g, 1¾ cups) dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon each of ground nutmeg and mace

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 oz (60 g, ½ cup) chop mixed candied peel.

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Boil the eggs hard, cool them and shred them using a food processor or cheese grater. Mix them with the breadcrumbs and suet. Peel, quarter and core the apple and shred it too. Mix in the breadcrumbs and suet, then add all the remaining ingredients.

Stir well and put into sterilized jars. Seal well and keep in a cool, dark cupboard…

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Puff pastry was what Mrs Acworth normally used for tarts and for those puddings that required pastry. Cheesecakes and mince pies would also have been made with puff pastry..

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I shall bid you a fond ‘Adieu’ as I return to the ‘roleing’ of this ‘Puff Past’ and will allow Lord B a final word about the humble mince pie for this most festive of days…

“I wish you much merriment and minced pye – it is Xmas day…”

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Now, I don’t mind if I do!

Tee

Sources Used:

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 4 (1814-1815) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)

Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books  Limited 1987)

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Something WAS Stirring in Lord Byron’s Abode!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… Clement Clarke Moore

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas Eve has finally arrived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815!

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Although Lord Byron remains a most-beloved ‘Man of Letters’; it is unfortunate that references to this festive time of year are difficult to locate within the volumes of his copious scribblings and I can’t help but wish that if only he had shared his thoughts, salutations or whatever in the same spirit in which he extrapolated his opinion on the virtues of the fairer sex then my creative endeavours within this ‘Small’ abode would have been so much easier.

And although the children may be ‘nestled all snug in their beds’ waiting for the Visit from St Nicholas; there is plenty ‘stirring’ within the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

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Beginning with a breakfast of Plover’s Eggs, freshly made bread and red currant jelly to prepare for the Christmas Day Morrow…

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However, I am a little gratified that as Lord B was never known to ‘mince his words’ about anything or anybody that his opinion on the value of the humble ‘Minced Pye’ has at least been left for posterity…

a-bowl-of-delicious-cranberry-jelly-awaits-13-piccadilly-terrace-circa-1815

I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies – which are worthy of the donor and of his table… I congratulate you on your Cook…

mixing-the-mincemeat-13-piccadilly-terrace-circa-1815

Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie – and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to “a merry Christmas and a happy new year”…

preparing-the-pastry-13-piccadilly-terrace-circa-1815

However, before I return to the ‘roleing’ of this ‘Puff Past’ to create a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table with my copy of Margaretta Acworth’s ‘book of receipts’ to hand; I shall enjoy this sumptuous Christmas Eve dish of Roast Beef and Plum Pudding that has been kindly left for me…

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And if after your Christmas lunch you still have room for a ‘Mince Pye’ just like the indomitable Mrs Acworth used to whittle up over two hundred and fifty years ago and to which her ‘Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired’; I shall be sharing her unique recipe as adapted by Alice and Frank Prochaska in another post…

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Until then however, I shall wish you much merriment and delicious minced pie!

Adieu!

Sources Used:

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)

Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books  Limited 1987)

Blood, Sweat and Relief… The Windows are Finally Dressed!

Dear Diary…

Can I have a drum roll please….

 For I am delighted to announce that the windows of 13 Piccadilly Terrace are now finally dressed!

Several weeks ago as I was counting down the days to the photo shoot for publication in the February issue of the Dolls’ House Magazine as well as musing about my plans for the celebration of a ‘Christmas Past’ and a recreation of that infamous betrothal between Lord B and Annabella Milbanke and with the promise of another exciting possibility or two; I finally set off on the ‘Road Less Traveled’ as it were.

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The Drawing Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

Yes, I finally found my way to the storage cupboard to locate the box labelled ‘Soft Furnishings for Lord B’s House’ that had been patiently waiting for me and was now covered in a respectable layer of dust.

With a faded instruction sheet in hand and surrounded by a pile of sumptuous silks and an assortment of other essential needlework paraphernalia and while under the watchful eye of a small ball of fluff that now answers to the name of ‘Murphy’; I finally created a pair of curtains and finished them off with the obligatory signature of the Regency – the elaborate swag!

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The name of the lavish silk used to dress the windows of the Drawing Room at 13 Piccadilly Terrace  is called ‘Blood Red’ which is rather appropriate considering that my fingers will bear the scars of that particular day’s work for some time to come!

And on the day following, I even managed to create some more swags and drapes for the dining room and with no band aid required!

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The Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

I will happily admit that I could not have accomplished the task of dressing these windows had it not been for a well-read copy of Curtains by Sue Heaser who promises the reader that her book will learn ‘just how easy it can be to make quality projects… when expert guidance is at hand’ and how right she was!

Although, I wouldn’t quite agree with her assertion that ‘miniature sewing is a delightful hobby’…

Bye for now!

Boatswain Warms By the Fire as Tee Bylo Makes Plans…

Dear Diary…

Yes, I am still here and I can guess what thought is uppermost in your mind right now as you read this!

For you’re probably thinking that I have forgotten all about the creation of my ‘Lord Byron House’ and have shaken the dust of the year 1815 from the soles of my feet as Lord B had hoped to when he sailed from our shores in the Spring of 1816 to a life of exile and even greater notoriety.

I am happy to report that you are quite mistaken and although I haven’t quite got around to dressing some of the rooms that will appeal and appease the comfort level of any inhabitant, imaginary or otherwise; the work on my small Regency abode still continues.

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A Candle Sconce in the Hallway of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

Admittedly, my work as of late has been more of the choosing and purchasing variety rather than the creating and painting tasks that still await that includes the putting together of one or two pieces of rather essential furniture.

For over two score years I would like to believe that I have had a more than average understanding of the word essential and what it means; however last month I was forced to concede this point when my pesky teenage son caught me drooling over a silver Georgian Tea Urn that I had bought from the US and having excitedly held it aloft for his opinion, he remarked “It’s very nice, but did they serve tea from a tray on the floor in Byron’s time?”.

Although the merits of essential furniture which along with the virtues of soft furnishings have never been high on the list of my priorities, 12th scale or not, I have also been very busy in my new role as a feature columnist for the Dolls’ House Magazine and the story of my ‘Lord Byron House’ has been making frequent appearances within the news ink that constitutes my monthly musings.

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The Dolls’ House Magazine (GMC Publications)

In the October issue, you can see a photograph of a miniature Boatswain warming himself by the cosy fire in the library of 13 Piccadilly Terrace. He was made for me by the wonderful Lucy Maloney of Designer Dog Miniatures and inspired by the portrait of Byron’s favourite Newfoundland which you can see on display at Byron’s ancestral home Newstead Abbey in Nottingham.

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And I am quite sure that he will remain there at his leisure as any self respecting Poet would take one look at those bookshelves all devoid of books and would promptly make off to the nearest Gentleman’s Club!

With the summer officially over I shall been spending a lot of my time in the year 1815 between now and Christmas as there are some exciting plans being made for 13 Piccadilly Terrace which I will be able to share with you very soon!

Bye for now!

Tee