Tag Archives: Food Stuff

NaNoWriMo – Day 7: Food for Thought (and for Your Characters!)

I love including references to food in my novels – after all I love eating (who doesn’t?) (okay, well, some people don’t). I have several research books on food (as an author one has to be prepared for everything and anything!):

  • Bruno Laurioux, TAFELFREUDEN IM MITTELALTER (about food in the Middle Ages; I’ve had this book for 14 years and have never once used it, but you never know!)
  • Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye, THE JANE AUSTEN COOKBOOK
  • Jane Pettigrew, A SOCIAL HISTORY OF TEA
  • Claire Masset, TEA AND TEA DRINKING (Shire Library book = always good, with many, many illustrations!)
  • Ivan Day, ICE CREAM (another Shire Library book)
  • Krista D. Ball, WHAT KINGS ATE AND WIZARDS DRANK: A FANTASY LOVER’S FOOD GUIDE (also quite interesting for the writer of historical fiction; includes such gems as: “My eighty-three-year old father has been hunting most of his life and he offers his advice to the hero wanting to hunt rabbits while being chased by orcs: go hungry.”)
  • Marcus Gavius Apicius, DE RE COQUINARIA (cookbook in Latin and German; have never used it either, but you never know!)
  • MRS BEETON’S BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT (two different editions, both sadly lacking the colour plates – hmph)
  • Gervase Markham, THE WELL-KEPT KITCHEN

In addition, I also own two books on the history of chocolate, but they are both on top of one of my kitchen cabinets (aka far away from my desk and my computer, and I’m really lazy right now and don’t want to get up and walk to the kitchen and climb onto a chair and fetch the books)

(Goodness! I do own a lot of books on food, don’t I? I didn’t know how many until I’ve just hunted them down in the research section of my home library.)

I also own various other books on tea-ware, on china (various books on china, in fact), and a history of Burleigh. Moreover, food is also mentioned in several other research books that are not specifically about food. (Survival guides are particularly good if you want to learn about skinning fish.) (Why would you want to learn about skinning fish, you ask? Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps in one of your books you have a  heroine who feels the urgent need to talk about skinning fish while dancing with the hero at a high-society ball. Just saying…)

The internet is also a wonderful place for doing research on food in the past – try looking on Google Books for old cookbooks! Personally, I really like Frederick Nutt’s THE COMPLETE CONFECTIONER. Bergamot drops for your hero? Nutt has ’em!

In the current chapter of my NaNoWriMo project, my heroine is attending a dinner party, so of course, I had to include at least some throw-away references to the food that is served at this party. And because I knew that Mrs Beeton is unbeatable when it comes to visual guides on how to present food in the nineteenth century, I did a search on Mrs Beeton and fowl and ended up with the picture above. Isn’t it splendid? Especially the way in which the roast partridges and pigeons and fowl are holding up their little roast feet! That was just too good not to use:

Fran stared at the roast pigeons on their splendid silver platter in the middle of the table, daintily stretching their little roast legs up in the air, and thought she might be sick.

My Favourite Soup: Kallaloo

Three weeks from the day after tomorrow I’ll have my final oral exam. If I pass it, you can then call me Dr. Schwab (I won’t be able to call myself Dr. Schwab yet as I’ll have to find a publisher for the Dratted Diss first). But in the time until then I’ll probably enter Lala-Land again and keep running around like a headless chicken, shouting “Waaaaargh! Waaaaaargh! Waaaaaaargh!” (Not an easy feat, given that the chicken is headless!) As this might be my last sensible post in a while, I’d like to share the recipe for my favourite soup with you. It’s yummy and will keep you warm on cold autumn evenings. 🙂

Take 400g pumpkin, cut into squares, put into a large pot, add three potatoes, also cut into squares, then add some water and cook until pumpkin and potatoes are tender.

Take that thingie-dings with which you can stomp and mash potatoes. Stomp pumpkin and potatoes (or simply purée them), add vegetable stock, finely diced ginger. Mince 500g of spinach (or simply take a large package of Rahmspinat *g*), then add to soup. Add 200 ml of coconut milk, salt and pepper (and some chili, if you like – me, I don’t like).

Heat and admire the marvellous greenish colour. And when the soup is all nice and hot, it’s ready to be enjoyed.

I got the recipe from a friend (hello, Matze!), and the pumpkin that was cooked in these pictures had grown in the garden of another friend (hello, Anna!). The pot and the kitchen are all mine, though. 🙂

Lemon Curd Tartlets

One word: YUM! 🙂

I made the tartlets in a muffin tin, which is way cheaper than buying extra tartlet forms. They look a bit … eh … rustic.

I made the lemon curd last week – it was very easy and not at all difficult. As with custard, you have to make sure to put the heat on low and to keep stirring, stirring, stirring until the butter-sugar-egg-lemon juice mixture begins to thicken.

Since the curd itself is rather tart, I decided to mellow the sharpness of the lemon by bedding the curd on sweetened cream cheese when I filled the tartlets.

This was definitely one of my better ideas. 🙂

Making Chocolates – U R Doing it Wrong

Yesterday, I got the Bund tea cake and candy mold and I had the brilliant idea to make some chocolates for my greataunt today (her birthday is tomorrow). After all, the chocolate-sunflowers, -hearts, -other-flowers, -itty-bitty-cake-shapes would look earth-shatteringly lovely and would thus be admired excessively. Right? Right.

Well, have a look at the title of this post. Then have a look at the picture below.


Making Butterkeks-cinnamon-cream-cheese filling? No problem.

Filling mold with chocolate, Butterkeks-cinnamon-cream-cheese balls, and even more chocolate? Still no problem.

Mold goes in fridge. Chocolate hardens. Sandy takes mold out of fridge and tries to remove chocolates from mold.

In vain.

Sandy has the brilliant idea to put mold in hot water for a few seconds (that’s supposed to help with ice cream, so it should help with stubborn chocolates, too, shouldn’t it?) – DISASTER strikes.





Traces of destruction in the kitchen …

Adventure ended with death of chocolates.

Moral: Don’t attempt to make chocolates with the Bundt tea cake and candy mold. Even if it is called a candy mold.

Custardy Recipes

Sweet Cream Base for Ice Cream*

  • 1 (American) cup milk (~ 220 ml)
  • ~ 1/2 cup sugar (amount depends on your preferences regarding the sweetness of your ice cream and on what you’ll add to the base later on, e.g. you need more sugar for chocolate icecream made with unsweetened cocoa and molten dark chocolate)
  • 2 large eggs (I usually take 3 eggs, just to be on the safe side)
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl, add the sugar, blend well and whisk until fluffy. Bring the milk to the boil and let it cool for a few minutes before stirring into the egg-sugar mixture. Wipe pot clean if necessary, pour the egg-sugar-milk mixture back into it and carefully heat (overheating or even boiling will cause lumps to appear = not good) it until it thickens (stir, stir, stir, stir!). Pour into bowl or jug, let it cool down, then stir in the cream and add other liquid or creamy ingredients of your choice (e.g. fruit mash, chocolate spread, peanut butter).

To prevent your cream base from skinning, cover it with cling film while it cools down.


  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 ml whipping cream
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 table spoons of (vanilla) sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod

Slice vanilla pod open and remove the itty bitty black thingies inside, put both pod and thingies into a large pot with the milk and cream. Bring to the boil, then let it cool down for a few minutes. Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl, add sugar, whisk until fluffy. Remove vanilla pod from the milk-cream mixture before you pour it over the eggs. Stir well. Wipe pot if necessary, pour the mixture back in and heat it (stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!) until it thickens. Pour into a jug. Serve hot or cold. (If you put it in the fridge over night, the custard thickens some more. Thin it down with a little bit of milk, if necessary.)


* Based on the sweet cream base no. 1 from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book. They don’t cook their base, though. I’ve found that if I cook the base and thus allow it to thicken, the ice cream will have a better, creamier texture later on.

** Based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe for custard from Cook with Jamie. He uses just the egg yolks, though, and a bit more cream.