In a TV schedule awash with things I don't want to watch, I have been heartened by BBC2's Victorian Farm.
In the second episode, the lady of the house boiled and peeled a whole cow's tongue. Being a fan of the sliced stuff you can buy from butchers and delis, I have sourced a full, skin-and-all one from the butcher and am going to have a bash.
The TV lady simply said she had boiled the tongue but didn't say how long for, so I set out on a mission to find some instructions. My mum has a shelf jam packed with cookery books and recipes, including a sheaf of handwritten ones that belonged to my great-great grandmother.
Eventually, I found what I was looking for in the most wonderful old brown-paged volume called Economy Success Cookery. Over the decades, the book has lost its front cover and starts immediately at the first recipe so there is no way of telling when it was published. Mum is unsure if it belonged to my grandmother or great-grandmother.
I discovered that an ox's tongue - as it is properly called - should be boiled for two and a half hours or 'up to four if it is tough'. The recipe was amidst instructions for boiling the heads of cows, pigs and sheep, cooking the brains of those unfortunate creatures and how to use them. It was enough to give the Food Standards Agency a fit.
There were also a vast array of ice creams made with custard bases, a recipe for melon jam and a sweet 'vinegar pudding'. I am tempted to try the tangerine marmalade but don't think I'll be bothering with the brawn.
At the back, the book contains hints and tips on starching, use of a meat safe, preserving uncooked eggs by smearing them with vaseline and waterproofing your boots with boiled mutton fat, a la Victorian Farm. There are also potions to get rid of wrinkles, freckles and housewives' reddened hands, plus a 'non-injurious' tooth-whitening solution. If I knew what borax was or where to get it, I might give some of them a go - in these credit crunched times, it's got to be cheaper than Boots!