Saturday, December 30, 2017

How to Make Snowballs for Dessert, 1798

Isaac Cruikshank, "Snow Balls" (1794), LWL

"Snow Balls. Pare and take out the cores of five large baking apples, and fill the holes with orange or quince marmalade. Then make some good hot paste, roll your apples in it, and make your crust of an equal thickness. Put them in a tin dripping-pan, bake them in a moderate oven, and when you take them out, make icing for them... let your icing be about a quarter of an inch thick, and set them at a good distance from the fire till they are hardened; but take care you do not let them brown. Put one in the middle of a dish, and the others round it. 
[Icing:] Take a pound of double-refined sugar pounded and sifted fine, and mix it with the whites of twenty-four eggs, in an earthen pan. Whisk them well for two or three hours till it looks white and thick." 
William Augustus Henderson, The Housekeeper's Instructor

Ring in the New Year with this festive dessert! Bonus: if you start whisking the icing at exactly 9 PM, you'll die of exhaustion before 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

How to Prevent Drunkenness, 1612

"A Looking-Glass for Drunkards," 17th c.
"Shew me a way how a man may drinke much wine and yet not be drunke. To drinke great store of wine, and not to be drunke, you must eate of the rosted lungs of a Goat: or otherwise, eate sixe or seaven bitter Almonds fasting: or otherwise, eate raw Coleworts before you drinke, and you shall not become drunk.
How to make them which are drunk sober. You must make them eate Coleworts, and some manner of confections made of brine; or else drink great draughts of vinegar." 
William Vaughan, Approved Directions for Health
Office holiday party preparedness kit: cabbage, pickles, goat lung.

Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Prepare a Humble Feast, 1638

Mattia Giegher, Li tre trattati (1629)
“Now for a more humble feast, or an ordinary proportion which any good man may keepe in his family for the entertainment of his true and worthy friends... it is good then for him that intends to feast, to set downe the full number of his dishes... and of these sixtene is a good proportion for one course unto one messe, as thus for example: First, a shield of Brawne with mustard: Secondly, a boyl’d Capon: Thirdly, a boyl’d piece of Beefe: Fourthly, a chine of Beefe rosted: Fifthly, a Neats-tongue rosted: Sixthly, a Pig rosted: Seventhly, chewets bak’d: Eighthly, a Goose rosted: Ninthly, a Swan rosted: Tenthly, a Turkie rosted: the eleventh, a haunch of Venison rosted: The twelfth, a Pasty of Venison: The thirteenth, a Kid with a pudding in the belly: The fourteenth, an Olive Pie: The fifteenth, a couple of Capons: The sixteenth, a Custard or Dowsets. Now to these full dishes may be added in Sallets, Fricases, Quelquechoses, and devised paste, as many dishes more, which make the full service no lesse then two and thirty dishes, which is as much as can conveniently stand on one Table... and after this manner you may proportion both your second and third course...” 
Gervase Markham, A Way to Get Wealth 
Sometimes it's a long week and you're tired and you just need to get some food on the table. And you know what? That's fine! No one is expecting more than 32 dishes. Per course.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Dress Warmly, 1315

Lyon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 5128, f. 114v
“Dress well, wear good shoes, and when you go outside, wear overshoes so that your feet will be warm. And don’t make a 'sausage' hat for yourself as some people do, because they are not good. And when you see the other students wearing their caps, you should too, and a fur cap, if necessary. And at night when you study, you should wear a nightcap over the cap and around your cheeks. And when you go to sleep at night, you should wear a white nightcap on your head and covering your cheeks and another colored one on top, since the head should be kept warmer at night than during the day. And during the rainy season, it’s good to wear another cap or helmet over your cap so that your head doesn’t get wet. Actually, some people wear a helmet over the cap in nice weather, but especially when it’s cold, so that they can remove the helmet in the presence of important people without taking off the cap. And take care of your boots and make sure your feet aren’t filthy.” 
Letter from a physician in Valencia to his sons studying in Toulouse
Revealed: the Past is actually your grandmother. Now go put on your hat.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to Spend October, 1612

Tacuinum Sanitatis, Paris, BnF Lat. 9333, f. 96r
"In October... Arme your body soundly with pleasant wines or spiced drinks against the ensuing Winter. Arme your minde with study, for now this temperate time invites thee to read without impediments either of violent colde or violent heat." 
William Vaughan, Approved Directions for Health
Quick, arm yourself with the pleasant wines and long books because WINTER IS COMING

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How to Behave at School, 1479

Hortus sanitatis (1497), Darmstadt
"We order and decree that teachers and students who are wearers of indecent garments, brawlers, drunks, nighttime ramblers, pimps, thieves, frequenters of taverns and other filthy places, players of dice, scoffers or trespassers of the statutes and commands of the Rector and the University, arrogant abusers of privileges, and especially aggravators of the citizens and committers of other scandalous misdeeds, if they do not desist after fair warning... shall be entirely excluded from the community of the University.”  
Copenhagen University Statutes, 1479
Fall: when teachers and students sharpen their pencils, crack open their books, and try to cut back on their filthy drunken brawling.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Watch an Eclipse Safely, 1579 and 1658

Eclipse of 1664 (British Library 1875.d.4)
"Whosoever desyres to see the Sun eclipsed without hurting their eyes: Let them beholde the shadow therof in a vessel, wherin oyle is put: Where, they may beholde and see it without daunger. For a fatty humor is not easely troubled. And what shapes or fourmes it doth receyve: It representeth the same truely." 
Thomas Lupton, One Thousand Notable Things (1579) 
"Now I have determined to shew how the Suns Eclipse may be seen. When the Sun is Eclipsed, shut your Chamber-windows, and put a paper before a hole, and you shall see the Sun: let it fall upon the paper opposite from a Concave-glass, and make a circle of the same magnitude: do so at the beginning, middle, and end of it. Thus may you without any hurt to your eyes, observe the points of the diameter of the Suns Eclipse." 
Giambattista della Porta, Natural Magick (1658)
Forgot to buy NASA-approved solar glasses? These methods are approved by the Past.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to Beautify Your Face, 1660

The Gentlewomans Companion, 1682

"An Ointment that takes away all Bunchings and Speckles of the Face. Take of the roots of Ass-cowcumber, white Been, Bryony, Lupines, each half an ounce, Cerusse, Litharge, Tartar, each one dram; Cane-roots, Serapine, Pigeons dung, each two scruples, Oyl of Turky-millet three ounces, Oyl of Juniper, Oyl of Bread-corn, each two ounces and a half; Juice of Orenges four ounces, pouder what is to be pouder'd, and fine searse them, then boyl them all till the Juice is consumed, then take them from the fire, alwayes stirring them with a spattle till they are cold, then add the white of one new laid Egg beaten and streined; Camphure pouder'd one dram, always mixing them, then wash it in one pint of water, prest from yong Canes, washing it ten times in that water, and stirring it with a spattle, and it is excellent." 
Johann Jacob Wecker, Cosmeticks
Look, beauty has a price, and sometimes that price is collecting pigeon droppings and digging the roots of the ass-cowcumber.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How to Make Fireworks, 1633

“Of the making of Rockets and other Fireworkes. For the making of Rockets of sundry kinds, divers molds are to be made, with their Rowling pins, Breathes, Chargers, &c. as may be seene here in the figure. And having rowled a Case of paper upon the Rowling pin for your mould, fill it with the composition belonging to that mould... now may you loade it on the top, with Serpents, Reports, Stars, or Golden Raine... Touching the making of the Golden Raine that is nothing but filling of Quilles with the composition of your Rockets somewhat hard: Now if the head of a Rocket be loaded with a thousand of those Quilles its a goodly sight to see how pleasantly they spread themselves in the Ayre and come down like streames of Gold much like the falling downe of Snow being agitated by a turbulent winde." 
Jean Leurechon (Hendrik van Etten), Mathematicall Recreations
 Gunpowder + a thousand quills = guaranteed to be a goodly sight.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How to Make Fake Coffee, 1868

"Nutritive Coffee," 1862, Library of Congress
Coffee Substitutes. 
The love of coffee is an acquired taste. Perhaps nine tenths of the families using it ‘burn’ it almost to a coal, so that, in reality, any other burnt bitter would answer quite as well. In fact, multitudes in the far West, removed from markets, have become accustomed to use burnt bread-crust as a substitute... The following substitutes for coffee have been collected, in all of which it is suggested, first, that the substitute be mixed with the genuine article, half-and-half; second, that in order to know what you are really drinking, roast and grind your own coffee. In this way only can you know that you are not imposed upon, or may not be drinking some cheap material, either filthy or poisonous... 
Rye Coffee... Take some rye; first, scald it; second, dry it; third, brown it, and then mix it with one third coffee and two thirds rye, and then you will have as good a cup of coffee as you ever drank. 
Sweet-Potato Coffee. – Take sweet potatoes, cut them fine enough to dry conveniently, and when dried, grind in a coffee-mill; dry them by the fire or stove, at this season of the year, or by the sun, when that will do it; grind and use one and a half tea-cupfuls for six persons, or mixed with coffee in such proportions as you like. Some omit half of the coffee, some more. 
Barley Coffee. – Take common barley, or the skinless, if it can be obtained, roast as you would coffee, and mix in such proportion as suits your taste. It is very good. 
Pea Coffee. – It is probably known to many that a very large per cent of the ground coffee sold at the stores is common field-peas, roasted and ground with the coffee. There are hundreds of thousands of bushels of peas annually used for that purpose. Those who are in the habit of purchasing ground coffee can do better to buy their own peas, burn and grind them, and mix to suit themselves. 
Carrot Coffee... Cut up, dry and grind, and mix with coffee in quantities to suit the taste. 
Chestnut Coffee. – Chestnuts, also, are said to make excellent coffee. 
Dandelion root, dried and slightly scorched, never burned. 
Chicory Coffee. – Equal weights of chicory and coffee, dried and roasted in the usual manner. The chicory root is raised as easily as carrots, and in exactly the same manner. To prepare the root, wash it clean, slice it lengthwise in four to six pieces, according to size, cut in two-inch lengths, dry and keep in a dry place until wanted. Chicory is largely used to adulterate coffee...
W. W. Hall, Hall's Health Tracts
  Don't pretend you've never run out of coffee and tried to drink burnt bread-crust juice instead.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Interpret Dreams, 1698

The World Turn'd Upside Down, 1647
"To dream that you: 
Have your Arm dried up, is very unfortunate.
Have a little Beard, shews Suits at Law.
Go over a Ditch upon a small Plank, signifies deceit by Lawyers.
See Dragons, signifies Gain.
Are Drunk, signifies sickness.
See a Gyant, or a large siz'd Person, is a good sign.
Have a new Girdle, signifies Honour.
Have two Heads, signifies Company.
Lose your Keys, signifies Anger.
Are Kiss'd by Men of great Quality, signifies Consolation.
See the Meat you have Eaten, signifies Loss.
Are stark Naked, signifies Loss and Damage in your Estate.
Take hold of ones Nose, signifies Fornication.
See Old Folks, is a bad Sign.
Write on, or read in Paper, signifies News.
Have Rods in your Hands is Jollity.
Eat a Sallad, signifies Evil or Sickness that will happen.
Study the Sciences, signifies Chearfulness.
Drink stinking Water, signifies a Violent Distemper.
Drink Sophisticated Wine, is an extraordinary good Sign.
Piss against a Wall, signifies Assistance in Business." 
The Compleat Book of Knowledge
If you're dreaming about being kissed by men of poor quality, you're on your own.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Eat Avocados, 1891

“But how is it to be eaten? ... A few simple rules are so necessary for the proper enjoyment of this delicacy... In the first place, it is a rich article, and should be eaten with meals in preference to any other time, and always with bread and butter or delicate crackers... Eat it with a spoon or fork, using salt and pepper, and sometimes lime-juice is thought to be an agreeable addition. The avocádo is most frequently eaten in the above way, and when served with thin slices of bread and butter makes a delicious supplementary course for either breakfast or dinner. To try another method, pour over the pulp, just before eating, a spoonful of sherry wine; add a little sugar, a slight grating of nutmeg, if desired; serve with the invariable accompaniments of bread and butter or crackers.”

Anna M. Paris, “The Avocado, or Alligator Pear,” The American Magazine 

Rules of Avocado Enjoyment: sherry optional, toast ALWAYS.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Improve Your Memory, 1562

Margarita Philosophica Nova (1508), Wellcome Library
"To sleepe hosed and shoed especially with foule sockes, doth hinder the Memorie, because of the reflection of the vapours: feebleth the syght, and causeth the body to waxe whote and burne... Feare doth oppresse the Memorie, or endurynge sadnes: also a pensive care of housholde busynesse is hurtfull. Also immoderate sleepe and violent vomiting." 
Guglielmo Gratarolo, The Castel of Memorie 
Frankly, if your sock vapors are foul enough to cause blindness and burning, a poor memory is the least of your problems.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Study, 1636

Ramelli, Le diverse et artificiose machine (1588)
“The best time for studie is early in the morning, when the Planets be favourable to our purpose… Diligent students… must apply themselves earnestly to reading and meditation for the space of an houre: then to remit a little their cogitation, and in the meane time with an Ivory Combe to kembe their head from the forehead backwards about forty times, and to rub their teeth with a coarse linnen cloth. Then to returne againe to meditation for two houres, or one at the least... As for the residue of the day is convenient rather to revolve things reade before, than to reade or muse of new... Nothing is more hurtfull than studying in the night... notwithstanding I know that such as bee good Students indeed doe spare no time neither night nor day from their bookes... Yet would I have none to study so much, that thereby they should fall into sicknesse, or become melancholick... I counsell all students oftentimes to refresh their wearied minds with some sort of melody. For so shall they drive away the dumps of melancholy, and make their spirits more lively to learne.” 
Thomas Cogan, The Haven of Healthe

Secrets for surviving the semester: astrology, good music, and fabulous hair.