Friday, February 06, 2009

The way we were

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!


muddyboots said...

we have all really enjoyed watching the series as well, though husband thought his mum used to cook, then press the ox tongue. a good cook book on farmhouse food is by mary norwak. can't work out why clumper's corn was high up on his heel though?

Mopsa said...

I've been riveted by the Victorian Farm - it's not that different from what I'm up to most weeks, and yup, ox tongue is a real fave of mine - as is oxtail. If you are a fan, ox tongue is lovely hot or cold with horseradish.

Oh, and nice to see some new posts M&M.

Gill said...

I LOVE the Victorian farm (it's actually sensible and interesting and not sensationalised or gimmicky) but I HATE tongue. And why did she have to nail it to a board? My mum always rolled it up and pressed it. I can remember the horrible bit when she skinned it, you could see all the little bumps on the tongue and I would remember the calves licking me and the rough feeling of their tongue and feel very sad that we were going to eat it, so it put me off tongue for life. This was in the 1960s- not victorian times btw, just in case you think I am ancient!

Gill said...

ps you should make marmalade, it takes a while but tastes so much better than shop stuff.

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

MB, I don't know about the corn - perhaps they misdiagnosed?

Mopsa, M&M blogs are a bit like buses - nothing for ages and then two at once!

Gill, I be interested in rolling and pressing instructions - do you have to tie it together with string?

I am going to make marmalade this morning, am planning to do blood orange if I can get hold of some and may well try the tangerine one too.

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

or even make marmalade this month. Duh.

Gill said...

Just phoned my mum and she says you roll it up tightly and put it in a round bowl (she used a pyrex casserole dish) where it just fits, pour a bit of the cooking liquor over, put greasproof paper or foil on, then a small plate or saucer and weights, (if no weights use a big stone or tins). Leave it in a cool place (fridge?)for 24 hours. No string required.

Gill said...

you have to skin it and take the bones out after cooking btw- hopefully you knew that already

Arthur Clewley said...

I hear there's a sequel already in production M&M, 'Victorian nutrional standards and infant mortality rates' , ah, the good old days eh?

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

Fankoo Gill! I knew I had to skin it but didn't realise there were bones too!

Arthur, I thought you would've remembered from when you were a nipper ... :)

Gill said...

There are little bones at the back where it attaches.

Catherine said...

I shall rush out to get some boiled mutton fat as we're awash here in the South East - trench foot threatens! Think I'll pass on the boiled tongue though.

Good to see you back M&M!

mountainear said...

I remember eating all sorts of bits-of-beast when I was a child - brains, brawn, tongue, trotters, tail - although I think the 'lights' went to the cats. Butchers now give away things like heads and trotters so there's a meal for free if you don't mind fiddling.

A couple of years ago Tobago I noticed that the village people were eating pickled chickens' feet and trotters - the stuff that gets left from the rich man's table perhaps.

(Good to a have a blog from you again.)

lady macleod said...

oooooookkkkkkay then, I won't be having me oatmeal this morning. I rather prefer it when you write about the horses, but this is good too.... uh huh...:-)

Jodie Robson said...

Hello, M&M, nice to see you back. Love the Victorian Farm programme, but I hate tongue (it's the texture I can't stand) - eeuch, the only tongue I want in my mouth is my own! Oxtail is great though.

I'm amazed you didn't have snow - we had it here and were almost snowed in last weekend (could get out really, but easier not to!) And I was in London for the no-buses day, which was horrid.

Iota said...

Yes, it's amazing you escaped the snow.

Vinegar pudding doesn't sound too appealing.

Gill said...

How did the tongue turn out? I agree with geranium cat that the texture is vile, although I quite like another tongue in my mouth, I prefer it to belong to somebody alive though.

Exmoorjane said...

Did think I should watch that - but never can remember when to turn the TV on at the right time. Shall get the DVD when it comes out. Tongue though? Neeewww, not for me. Had to eat far too many sinewy, chewy, cheap bits when young that would run a mile now. Husband is into that sort of thing though and always pushing bits of hoof and intestine.

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

I must confess I haven't done it yet because the butcher hasn't got it yet but will report fully when I do!

I think Victorian Farm is on the BBC iplayer thingy.

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Rural Diaries said...

You're cewrtainly a braver woman than I am .. the custard ice cream sounds good though, I'm brave enough to try that lol

James Higham said...

I was never like that pic.

Electric Shower said...

Have you ever tried pig snout...or is it pig ears...I forget. Really tasty when crisp.

abby jenkins said...

my question is: how do you know when to stop chewing when eating tongue?

Dulwichmum said...

Come back sweetie. I miss you.

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