St Clements

I’ve written a couple of times about oranges and lemons, and what, according to Ruth Drew in her 1960’s book The Happy Housewife suggests you can do with them – apart from eating them of course! There are many recipes called St Clement’s this or that because of the children’s nursery rhyme about the bells of London churches, ‘Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s; according to Ruth the origin of the little song is ‘probably military. Church bells were rung in old times to muster townsfolk for battle.’

Here are a few more of Ruth’s handy hints for the fruit:

  • a lemon will keep fresh for quite a time in a jar of cold water. Change the water every day.
  • the flavour of stewed prunes is improved by a squeeze of lemon juice. Add this after cooking to avoid destroying the vitamin in the lemon juice.
  • ‘lemon juice is one of the finest methods of adding pectin and acid in jam making.’ So says Mrs Arthur Webb. She adds ‘This is easily added in the proportion of 2 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice to 2 lbs of fruit for such things as marrow, pumpkin and rhubarb. Add before starting the cooking of the fruit.
  • ‘And every day when I’ve been good, I get an orange after food.’ So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. But nowadays children bad as well as good ought to have plenty of orange juice because it’s so rich in Vitamin C. So is the juice of lemons. Vitamin C is the one which helps to give a clear complexion and healthy gums and teeth.
  • marks on marble can generally be shifted with lemon juice. Drop it on but leave it only a few minutes because it has a slightly solvent effect on the marble. Rinse with plenty of fresh water.
  • To renew the gloss on  lacquer surfaces, rub them with warm water containing a good squeeze of lemon juice. When dry finish by polishing with a chamois leather.
  • Very slight scorch marks on linen sometimes yield to treatment with lemon juice. Rub on the juice and put the linen to dry in the direct rays of the sun.

Mrs Arthur Webb was a cookery writer from the 1930’s and 40’s; ‘Preserving’, ‘Farmhouse Cookery’, ‘War-time Cookery’, ‘Invalid Cooking: The Doctor in the Kitchen’ and ‘Mrs Arthur Webb’s Economical Cooking’ are some of her books. Mrs Arthur Webb (who never used her own first name) toured the country in her car in the 1930’s, writing columns for ‘Farmer’s Weekly’.  At this time she also had a radio slot to give cookery talks, for example, ” Meat from Stove to Table ‘ by Mrs. Arthur Webb: ‘ Pot Roasts ”

There are so many healthy eating books around at the moment, so many suggesting that many ills can be ‘cured’ by eating the right food prepared in the right way, some people might think this a new idea. Mrs Arthur Webb was a head of the game with her ‘Invalid Cooking’ : “Food properly prepared and given to the invalid in the right quantities at the right time is of vital importance to build up strength and put the invalid on the road to health.”  She understood how importance appearance was to tempt the appetite, attractive presentation, including the dishes on which the food was offered; she also was very firm in promoting scrupulous hygiene in the kitchen and the home. her recipes included the good old standbys of Victorian cooking for invalids, beef tea, jelly, broth, fish, vegetable and ‘restorative cordials’.

During the war, like many cookery writers, Mrs Arthur Webb had advice on how to be economical and cope with rationing; she suggested using a pressure cooker or three-tiered streamer to cook several things at the same time and so save fuel. Vegetables, meat and a pudding could all be cooked at once, and even a cake could be steamed; covered in a double layer of grease-proof paper, tied securely and steamed for one hour per pound of mixture was her instruction.

Apparently in the 1940’s the BBC were finding people who could speak on the radio, such as Alistair Cook and Sir Malcolm Sergeant; of Mrs Arthur Webb, a BBC official said that ‘once she would start talking without notes, have to be stopped with a hammer’!

Here is an interesting post which mentions Mrs Arthur Webb, and gives a delicious recipe too:

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