Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

I think this might be the last of my Very Old Cookbooks: possibly the most interesting of them.

The Receipt Book of Ann Blencowe, A.D. 1694, reprinted in a run of 650 copies in 1925 and again, much more affordably, in 2004. These look only a little like recipes to us. But if Arethusa boldly averred that you could make beer as easily as tea, Ann Blencowe offers us five or six different wines you can make at home. Some are just what you might expect, cowslip wine and such; but evidently you can make your own raisin wine? Which would, after all, just be grape wine after the grapes have dried out:

To Make Raisin Wine. (Mrs. Shurllock)

Take 3 qrts of a hundred of Raisins. Put them into a half Hogshead and fill it up with Water. Lett it stand untill the Wine has done working. Then stop it up: it will be fine in 4 or 5 Months. River water is the best, and you must put it in Cold. Mrs. Shurlock thinks raisins of the Sun make the best Wine.

I look forward to someone reporting on this for me.

The spellings can cause hilarious confusions: one recipe is “To Make Foule Brauthe,” and I couldn’t understand who would want bad breath — oh, fowl broth! There are odd placements: making Ink is listed among the food recipes, and so is glue. There is, in addition, an entire section full of “Phisical Receipts.” Most are medicines and ointments and such; others cure colic in horses and whiten your teeth. My personal favorite is this:

To strengthen ye eyes.

Let another that is young chow annyseeds & then breath upon ye partys eyes.

And finally, here’s one you probably didn’t know there was a recipe for, let alone know that you needed it:

To make ye horse dung water.

Take horse dung & putt it to so much Ale as will make it like hasty puding, and put it into your still. The putt on ye topp one pound of treakell, and a quarter of a pound of genger in powder, and a quarter of a pound of sweet anniseeds, and so distill all these together. The water is good for women in labor and in childbed, for Agues and feavers and all distempers.

You’re welcome.

Ann Blencowe deserves her own Wikipedia age, so there you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *