8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 7

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If you know me well, you will know that I am not…organized. Like Holmes, I drove my (college) roommate mad with my inability to put things away…right away, and to create an entire office on my bed. I mean seriously, who needs a desk when you can just spread it all out–and keep it that way. This is not a trait that has changed in the last 30+ years, either. I have a desk/bookshelf area in the living room, and I love it, but I also have my side of the bed, with its nest of books and papers. And the occasional dog.

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I will be the first to admit that disorganization can be a costly trait. Bills are forgotten, appointments are missed, permission slips go unsigned, oil doesn’t get changed, and you end up with about 30 pairs of scissors. I therefore make a valiant effort, with the help of my faithful bullet journal, to stay on top of things. One section of each month, for example, is devoted to menu planning. If I know what I am going to cook each week, I don’t end up at the store (or on the Instacart website) buying a bunch of “whatever-looks-good” at random. It takes a little effort, but it has probably saved me at least $50 per week, and we have a lot less waste (although the cucumbers still melt in the bottom of the refrigerator drawer on occasion).

It’s not likely that either Holmes or Watson did much meal planning. How nice for them.

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I’m not sure they would be good at it, anyway.

 

But you can be sure that Mrs. Hudson was not the sort to run out to the shops or various markets without a strategy–and a list–in mind. Seriously, no matter which Mrs. Hudson is “your” Mrs. Hudson, I doubt that she wastes either time or money.

But not everyone is a natural planner, and even if it’s your forte, you need time and practice. That’s why Victorian housekeeping manuals often provided sample menus for the novice (or simply overwhelmed) housekeeper. In the 1880 version of Mrs. Beeton’s, for example, we have menus for picnics, menus for the servants, menus for large, formal dinners, for wedding breakfasts (we’ll be hearing more about that), menus based on household or income size, menus for specialty foods…the variety is marvelous. So I tried to imagine which Mrs. Hudson might have used for her lodgers in 1881. She would, of course, be more limited to seasonal foodstuffs than we are today. And she does seem to have indulged her boys a bit, so….perhaps something like this:

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If, however, she were economising, she might have prepared meals like this:

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 3.06.59 PMHonestly, that’s a tremendous amount of food. I’m thinking she may have saved leftovers for the Holmes’s “Irregulars.”

Today’s prize also has its roots in the desire for efficiency and organization–and it’s one of the more fun and unusual prizes I’ve found.

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This is a 3-volume set of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, written in Pitman’s Shorthand and published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons in 1915. You can read more about the Pitman editions here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Sir_Isaac_Pitman_%26_Sons.

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This set is in good condition, although the covers show some fading due to the light; there have been at least 2 owners other than myself, and they’ve left their names behind. Someone has also put light pencil checks in the corner of each page–to mark what they read?  Whether you know shorthand or not, they are definitely a Sherlockian conversation piece, and I hope you enjoy them.

If you win, that is. To enter, you will need to answer the following question:

Give at least one example of shorthand being used in the Canon. Why do you think it might be the Pitman method?

As always, send your entry in via blog comment or FB message (either the Well-Read Sherlockian FB Page or my personal page.) Good luck!  And may your last few days of 2019 be wonderful!

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Congratulations!!!!!!

“A Study in Imagination” is the winner of the Thomas Crowell edition of A Study in Scarlet. There are several ways people approached this, but a general answer is that the Mormons followed their leader, Joseph Smith, to settle in Missouri, beginning in 1831. Over time, the increase in their population led to friction with other settlers, culminating in the Mormon War of 1838. 22 people (mostly Mormon) were killed, and others died of resulting hardships. In October of 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issed Order 44, declaring that the Mormons should either be driven from the state or killed, as enemies.
 
In early 1839, Mormon leader Joseph Smith escaped from prison and fled to Commerce, Illinois, which they bought, and renamed Nauvoo. There, they were again subjected to animosity and violence, which culminated in the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, Illinois, in 1844. After this event, the group divided, based on issues of succession. Those who chose Brigham Young followed him to Utah, beginning in 1847.

 

 

 

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8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 6

In today’s entry, we’ll look at another exotic food…exotic, that is, to Arthur Conan Doyle.

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It’s always struck me as fascinating that, to the young Conan Doyle, the American West was an exciting, far away land filled with dramatic exploits and larger-than-life characters. The adventure stories he read as a boy inevitably influenced his adult writing, and perhaps nowhere are they more evident than in A Study in Scarlet, with its (in)famous “Mormon Digression.”

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Lucy Ferrier and her grandfather await their fate on the Alkali Plain.

Ah, Utah! Spectacular landscape, foreign religion, polygamy, Indians, prospectors, scouts, silver explorers, ranchmen–the latter four of which undoubtedly made Jefferson Hope a dashing figure in the eyes of Lucy Ferrier–and reminded one literary agent of his youthful heroes. And the food of the pioneers? The heavenly meal a starving young Lucy anticipated as she prayed with her grandfather?

Buckwheat cakes.

Mrs. Beeton does not have a recipe for buckwheat cakes. Neither does J. Walsh’s Cookery. Going by the very few mentions they garner in the British Newspaper Archive for the 19th century–most of which deal with American content–they were not something that Holmes and Watson were familiar with (unless you agree with Baring-Gould that they each spent time in the States during their early years). They are, however, all over the American papers for the same time period, and one can find plenty of  19th-century recipes for them as well. Buckwheat, it seems, is not “wheat” at all, but a remarkably resilient plant related to sorrel and rhubarb. It has been cultivated for centuries throughout Asia and continental Europe. We’re most likely to encounter it now in noodles (buckwheat soba), or as kashi.  It’s gluten-free.

I thought buckwheat cakes were like pancakes, but going from modern and 19th century recipes, they seem to be a little thicker. You can find a current version here:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/238579/buckwheat-cake/

Lucy Ferrier’s mother likely made hers using a method like this:

Buckwheat Cakes.

One quart of buckwheat meal;

One pint of wheat flour;

Half a tea-cupful of yeast;

Salt to taste.

Mix the flour, buckwheat and salt with as much water moderately warm as will make it into a thin batter. Beat it well, then add the yeast; when well mixed, set it in a warm place to rise. A soon as they are very light, grease the griddle, and bake them a delicate brown. Butter them with good butter, and eat while hot.–Widdifield’s New Cook Book: or. Practical receipts for the house-wife. Philadelphia, 1856.

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Perhaps Mr. Ferrier didn’t give him the “good” butter.

Now for today’s question….

What other states does Lucy Ferrier mention? And why might they lead us to believe that her grandfather might not have found their Mormon rescuers as “exotic” as Conan Doyle’s British readers?

 

The winner of this day’s drawing will receive, perhaps inevitably…..

 

This is a Thomas Crowell printing of A Study in Scarlet, in pretty decent shape. There are no illustrations, unfortunately, but for a tissue-covered engraving of Arthur Conan Doyle as a frontispiece. According to the the invaluable Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, it was printed in 1898 and retailed for seventy-five cents. I think it would make a lovely little addition to your vintage Holmes collection–or perhaps give you a start on one.

Just send your answer in (as usual) via blog comment, the Well-Read Sherlockian FB page, or my own FB page if we are FB friends.

And now I can’t stop thinking about pancakes.

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Oh my word. I had this book when I was a kid…..

 

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Congratulations!

To Emily Todd, winner of Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen. The “only modern thing” Watson observed in the Ferguson house was, indeed, “a smart maid.” At the time the case takes place, in 1896, Watson was again single, and probably cannot be faulted for noticing the woman and her style of dress (he really did have an eye for women’s fashion). However, as at least one commenter pointed out, calling her a “modern thing” was not really very kind or gentlemanly. Perhaps she spilt a little tea on him; he deserved it.

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8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 5

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“I’m no doctor, Watson, but I deduce our lady has simply had too much Christmas.”

 

One thing an observant reader will gather from the Sherlock Holmes stories is that Victorian Britain was a cosmopolitan society. Not only does Watson mention, in an off-handed way, soldiers returned from abroad, his own service in Afghanistan, Lascars working the docks, Chinese tattoos,  and Japanese armor, many clients in the stories have international connections, or are from other countries themselves. When I planned these food-based Giveaway entries, I thought that it would be nice to look at what meals some of these clients might have prepared at home.

Take Mrs. Ferguson, for example–the Peruvian wife of Watson’s old rugby opponent, now tea merchant, Robert Ferguson–whose marriage and child Holmes saves in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.” Although no doubt their English cook served plenty of good, plain English fare, I would imagine that either Señora Ferguson or her maid Dolores taught her some of their own recipes, or even took a turn in the kitchen themselves. While my Spanish is…terrible…and so I was unable to find a 19th-century Peruvian cookbook, but the little research I was able to do revealed that if I had, I’d have found recipes with roots in the ancient Incan civilizations, Spain, Italy, China, and West Africa. As a merchant’s daughter, it’s possible that Señora Ferguson may have enjoyed chifa, or fried rice, introduced by Chinese immigrants who worked as contract laborers building railroads or working on sugar plantations. You can find a recipe for it here:

 

https://www.thespruceeats.com/arroz-chaufa-chinese-peruvian-fried-rice-3029276

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Arroz chaufa (source; The Spruce Eats–see link above)

Upper-class Peruvians of the 19th century, however, tended to prefer meat-based Spanish-style cuisine. Aji de gallina, a creamy chicken dish, might have occasionally made it to the Ferguson table. Make your own using this recipe:

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Aji de gallina (source: The Spruce Eats–see link below)

https://www.thespruceeats.com/spicy-creamed-chicken-aji-de-gallina-3029517

However, do you know what else I thought of while re-reading “The Sussex Vampire”?

Blood.

Because, well, Vampires.

And directly after blood, I thought of black pudding.

Given the amount of livestock roaming around in 19th century Britain, it might not have been too arduous to be a vampire while not attracting undue police attention. But if, say, you were stuck at a country house weekend, were female (no hunting) and couldn’t get away to the poultry pens or out for a solitary woodland walk, you might  have been able to get by on black pudding–seeing as that black color comes from blood. It’s not really a pudding, either–in the jello or the figgy sense. Black pudding is actually a sausage that puts economical use to pig’s blood. Variations of it show up all over Britain, but it is often considered a Scottish or Irish dish. As a Scotswoman, it’s likely that Mrs. Hudson knew how to make it–although being a Londoner, it’s far more probable that she just bought it. Sausage-making is messy business, and she had enough trouble with messes from her lodger upstairs.

Perhaps this is how Mrs. Hudson made her black puddings as a young wife in Scotland:

To Make Black Puddings.

The blood must be stirred with salt till cold. Put a quart of it, or rather more, to a quart of whole grits, to soak one night; and soak the crumb of a quartern loaf in rather more than two quarts of new milk made hot. In the mean time prepare the entrails by washing, turning and scraping with salt and water, and changing the water several times. Chop fine a little winter-savoury and thyme, a good quality of pennyroyal, pepper and salt, a few cloves, some allspice, ginger and nutmeg; mix these with three pounds of beef-suet and six eggs well beaten and strained; and then beat the bread, grits, &c., all  up with the seasoning; when well mixed, have ready some hog’s fat cut into large bits, and as you fill the skins put it in at proper distances. Tie in links only half filled, and boil in a large kettle, pricking them as they swell, or they will burst. When boiled, lay them between clean cloths till cold, and hang them up in the kitchen. When to be used, scaled them a few minutes in water; wipe, and put them into a Dutch oven. If there are not skins enough, put the stuffing into basins, and boil it covered with floured cloths; and slice and fry it when to be used.–J.H. Walsh, ed. The English Cookery Book, Receipts Collected by a Group of Ladies 1859.

 

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Um. Ew. (source: Wikipedia)

 

And now for today’s question. I thought about asking you to find the only refreshment/food item mentioned in “The Sussex Vampire,” but I think we all know it’s tea. So how about this one:

What does Watson consider “the only modern thing we’d seen in the house”?

 

We’ve talked a lot about what Mrs. Hudson would be cooking and how she would cook it, but let’s be honest: I am not the expert here. Therefore, the winner of the Day 5 drawing will receive:

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This is a wonderful book, with more than just recipes, to give you the true “flavour” of life at 221B Baker Street.

As always, to enter, just send your answer to me via blog comment or FB message (from the Well-Read Sherlockian FB page or my actual page, if we are FB friends).

And while I intend to try the Peruvian recipes, I will pass on the black pudding. My husband ate it once, and was not a fan. Since he will eat anything, I take that as a warning.

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Not my husband when young, but a reasonable likeness.

 

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Congratulations!!!

 

….are due to Regina Stinson, winner of the BSI edition of “The Blue Carbuncle.” The answer, of course, was that disjecta membra referred to the unused portions of the goose: the “feathers, legs, and crop.” One respondent also pointed out that, as an academic, Henry Baker used a term that actually refers to manuscript fragments–quite a witty little allusion. One hopes that he and Mrs. Baker were able to get past their rough spot that Christmas.

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8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 4

Happy Blue Carbuncle Day!!!!!!!

Yes, it’s now “the second morning after Christmas,” the day that Dr. Watson called upon his friend to wish him “the compliments of the season,” and found him stretched out in his dressing gown on the sofa contemplating a “very seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat” hanging from the back of a wooden chair in front of him.

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Or, if you prefer, the Granda version, which features Watson leaving for work, or Christmas shopping or whatever, and Commissionaire Peterson rushing over to 221B with the hat and a goose AND THIS CLASSIC:

 

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Sigh…….

Chances are excellent, however, that most people did not find a bright blue gem in their Christmas goose. Instead, they indulged in a dinner that had been a European tradition for centuries. Doing a little research on the subject this morning, I learned that, depending on which blog you read, goose was featured in celebratory meals by the Egyptians, the Vikings, the ancient Greeks and Romans…practically everybody–since the goose was both hardy and handy. They were domesticated; you didn’t have to go out and hunt them and, being foragers, they ate pretty much anything and everything they could find in a farmyard–or a back garden. Some attribute the goose’s popularity to a legend in which St. Martin of Tours (316 (or 336)-397), hiding in a goose pen from those who wished to make him a bishop, was betrayed by honking geese. As geese make excellent watch dogs, it was probably not the smartest place to choose, but apparently the geese were held at fault, and became the traditional dish on St. Martinmas, or November 11th.

Or, it may have just been that the goose–now fattened by field leavings–had, by this date, reached its second “season.” According to Mrs. Beeton’s, goose is best eaten when “green,” or young (June, July, and August), or when it reaches “perfection,” from Michaelmas (September 29th) to Christmas. In Britain, autumn saw a number of farmers herding their geese to market in London, after dipping each goose foot in a mixture of tar and sand to keep them from damage on the roads. Once in the capital, the geese would be distributed to suburban keepers who would fatten them for market–hence, the “town goose” vs. “country goose” argument Holmes used to wrangle information from Mr. Breckinridge in Covent Garden.

But what of Christmas turkey? you may ask. Didn’t Scrooge get a turkey for the Cratchits for Christmas dinner? Why yes, yes he did, but in Victorian England, a turkey was still considered more of a gourmet extravagance. While in the New World, turkeys were plentiful, they still hadn’t really acclimated to life in Europe. First introduced by West African and Spanish traders in the 17th century, they required more care and were more vulnerable to poultry diseases than were geese. They wouldn’t overtake their hissing, honking brethren as popular British Christmas fare until later in the 20th century.

So–how would Mrs. Hudson prepare a goose for Holmes and Watson? Let’s check with Mrs. Beeton, shall we?

Goose, Roast–Ingredients–Goose, 4 large onions, 10 sage leaves, 1/4 lb of bread crumbs, 1  1/2 oz. of butter, salt and pepper to taste, 1 egg. Average Cost, for large goose, with stuffing,7s 6d.

Select a goose with a clean white skin, plump breast and yello feet: if these latter are red, the bird is old. Should the weather permit, let it hang for a few days; by doing so the flavour will be very much improved. Pluck, singe, draw and carefully wash and wipe the goose. Make a sage-and-onion stuffing of the above ingredients, put it into the body of the goose, and secure it firmly at both ends by passing the rump through the hold made in the skin, and the other end by tying the skin of the neck to the back; by this means the seasoning will not escape. Put it down to a brisk fire, keep it well basted, and roast from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, according to the size. Remove the skewers, and serve with a tureen of good gravy, and one of well-made apple sauce. Should a very highly-flavoured seasoning be preferred, the onions should not be parboiled, but minced raw: of the two methods the mild seasoning is far superior. A ragout, or pie, should be made of the giblets, or they may be stewed down to make gravy. Be careful to serve the goose before the breast falls, or its appearance will be spoiled by coming flattened to table. As this is rather a troublesome bird to carve, a very little gravy should be poured round the goose, but more served in a tureen.

Time.A large goose, 1 3/4 hour; and moderate-sized one, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hour.

Seasonable from September to March; in perfection from Michaelmas to Christmas.

Note.–A teaspoonful of made mustard, a salt-spoonful of salt, a few grains of cayenne, mixed with a glass or port wine, are sometimes poured into the goose by a slit made in the apron. This sauce is by many considered an improvement,

Beeton’s Every-day Cookery and Housekeeping Book: A Practical and Useful Guide for All Mistresses and Servants. London: Ward, Lock and Co., 1891.

Have you ever roasted or eaten a goose? Let us know how it was!

In the meantime, as today is a special Sherlockian day, I thought it deserved a special Sherlockian prize.  In 1948, the U.S. group, The Baker Street Irregulars (they of the famed BSI Weekend in New York every January) published their first book–a slip-covered edition of “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” 1500 copies were printed. It features blue-tinted Paget illustrations, a foreword by BSI founder Christopher Morley, a “History of the Blue Carbuncle” by Edgar Smith, a special “Note on the Baker Street Irregulars,” including the famous “Buy-Laws,” and a list of contemporary scions, of which my own, “The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis,” is one. The copy I have is number 1406, previously owned by S. Tupper Bigelow  (and probably several other people after that, as I bought it from eBay), a Canadian magistrate, who was invested in the BSI as “The Five Orange Pips” in 1959. It’s in very nice shape, although it does show its age. It’s had its time on my shelf, and now I want it to become a treasured part of someone else’s collection

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To place your name in the drawing, simply send your answer to the following question via blog comment or message me on the Well-Read Sherlockian Facebook page (or via my own page, if we are FB friends):

To what does the term disjecta membra refer?

 

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CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

 

The winner of the mini ACD library is Lauren Cercone. She knew that sweet potatoes and yams (along with coconuts) were mentioned in The Sign of Four, where Jonathan Small tells Holmes and Watson about his bond with the Andaman Islander, Tonga:

Tonga–for that was his name–was a fine boatman, and owned a big, roomy canoe of his own. When I found that he was devoted to me and would do anything to serve me, I saw my chance of escape. I talked it over with him. He was to being his  boat round on a certain night to an old wharf which was never guarded, and there he was to pick me up. I gave him directions to have several gourds of water and a lot of yams, cocoa-nuts, and sweet potatoes.

Ms. Cercone then explained the differences between yams and sweet potatoes:

“Botanically from different families (lily and morning glory, respectively). Yams are native to Asia and Africa; sweet potatoes from Central America. Yams are not at all sweet but are highly starchy. In the US they are rarely found outside specialty groceries catering to Asian/African immigrants. Yams can grow up to 5‘ long and look like they’re covered w/ tree bark. Sweet potatoes are “regular” potato-sized and the flesh may be coppery red, whitish, or purple. They are not really interchangeable in cooking, e.g., a yam substitued for sweet potato in a pie would be a disaster. So in SIGN, when Jonathan Small talks about Tonga’s provisioning the escape boat with both yams and sweet potatoes, we know both crops were grown there in Hope Town, even though only “yam-planting” is mentioned earlier.

 

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Thanks so much to everyone who answered, and if you have the time today, indulge yourself a little with the Granada version of “The Blue Carbuncle”:

 

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8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 3

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Picky, but probably not a picky eater.

 

As a kid, I was a picky eater. Holiday meals were torture for me, because, well, I didn’t really like any of the food. It did not help that my parents were determined to make us faithful members of the “clean plate club,” even when we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Potatoes were my salvation. NOT THE SWEET KIND. Those are nasty. Just plain, white potatoes–mashed, fried, boiled, baked–with butter and salt, or in handy “chip” form. No matter what culinary horrors everyone was unaccountably excited for (brussels sprouts? greens? weird jello things?), I would always be able to find potatoes.

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Not potato salad, though. That stuff is disturbing. (Photo from Taste of Home .com)

 

As luck (and justice) would have it, my middle child was/is also a picky eater. And while I decided early on that dinner table battles were not going to be my thing, I did want to keep him alive. Again, potatoes to the rescue! Since he is now almost 6′ and will eat about 12 non-potato things, I count myself blessed.*

As I made mashed potatoes for dinner this evening, I wondered: “Are potatoes mentioned in the Canon?” Well, yes and no. Despite its position as a dietary staple, the lowly starchy white tuber doesn’t appear in Watson’s writings. But something  similar does. One passage in the Canon mentions both “yams” and “sweet potatoes.” While neither is discussed in the 1861 Mrs. Beeton’s, Arthur Conan Doyle encountered the latter on his 1894 lecture tour to the United States in Canada. As he told a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Sweet potatoes were new to me. I rather like them.”

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He did not, however, like corn on the cob, leading to this priceless headline.

And it’s quite likely that, as a ship’s surgeon on the S.S. Mayumba  in 1881, he tasted, or at least saw, yams as he traveled along the West African coast.

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Conan Doyle’s drawing of the Mayumba. From the invaluable site,  arthur-conan-doyle . com

This leads us to today’s question:

Where are yams and sweet potatoes mentioned in the Canon? And why are they mentioned separately?

The winner will be drawn from the correct entries submitted, and for this display of canonical and botanical knowledge, will receive….

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Three of Conan Doyle’s non-Holmesian works: The Adventures of Gerard, The White Company (which ACD loved with all of his romantic heart), and the Mystery of Cloomber. The last one is not in the absolute best shape, but is a good reading copy; the other two are still very pretty–and The White Company features gorgeous illustrations by N. C. Wyeth.

As usual, just send your answer to me via blog comment, or message me via the Well-Read Sherlockian FaceBook page. Here’s hoping that you’ve had a wonderful day!

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As the card says, Congratulations to James McArthur! None of you ever guess, and we’ve had only a handful of incorrect answers in the entire eight years of the Giveaway, so you won’t be surprised to learn that he knew that Sherlock Holmes left with a “a slice a beef from the joint upon the sideboard [sandwiched] between two rounds of bread” and returned with “an old elastic-sided boot.” He left again shortly after and returned at about 2 am with the missing piece of the beryl coronet. BERY is, really, a sadder and more exciting story than Conan Doyle’s rushed version gets across. If you didn’t particularly like it when you read it the first time [raises hand], read it again, taking time to play out the action and consequences in your head. You might change your mind.

 

*Ok, I exaggerate. About 18 non-potato things.

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8th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 2

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Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management

 

Yesterday was, of course, Christmas Eve, and we made the holiday family rounds. My in-laws had their traditional formal dinner–not as formal as in years past, but with the same decades-old menu, featuring roast beef.

I grew up in a very large family–hot dogs were more our style. But several times on a Sunday, my mom would make a roast. I am not sure how she did it, only that it was well-done, there was some kind of tomato sauce involved, and we kids all made liberal use of the ketchup. I was, therefore, totally unprepared for my first Guinn Christmas when, after a day-long flurry of cooking and preparation, my mother-in-law’s roast was, um, decidedly not well-done, and even cold inside. What was even weirder was that no one said anything about it. In fact, they all praised it enthusiastically. I had to assume that they were just being nice. I ate around the pink parts. There was no ketchup.*

After a few more years of this, I was perplexed. “I don’t think Janet understands timing,” I told my mother. Which was strange, as she was definitely able to ice sugar cookies with consummate skill. We were more of a “toss some sprinkles on it” family. It wasn’t until Brett and I had been married for over ten years that I realized that roast beef was supposed to be like that.

At least in some households.

So yesterday, we had rare roast beef, mashed potatoes with lots of butter, rolls, trifle, cranberry sauce, beans, floating island, and a table of desserts–crescents, cherry balls, sugar cookies, bishop’s bread. There was a kids’ table, but the youngest kid is now fourteen–plus, they were all mine. The three oldest grandchildren are now married with their own children and their own holiday plans, which didn’t allow for Christmas Eve travel. One of the three brothers was missing–he’ll come up later. We’re all a little grayer. Everything seemed smaller, and faded. I must confess, when the kids were young, I didn’t always like trying to balance holiday expectations, and accommodating other family traditions when I wanted to establish my own. I may have complained…less than quietly…to my husband and my mother. But I was being a bad sport. In the thick of things, I didn’t see this day coming. I thought about how hard it was to keep three toddlers happy in a crowded house, how much I wished I were home, or with my own, less conservative, more laid-back family, and how ridiculous and un-kid-friendly rare roast beef was. it never occurred to me that one day–maybe not this year, but very soon–it would be the last time.

So, here’s to roast beef, a Christmas staple–along with goose, and turkey–of the Victorian table as well as today’s. Here’s one way Mrs. Hudson might have prepared it for Holmes and Watson. Just one thing is missing.

Ketchup.

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Mrs. Beeton’s Everyday Cooking and Housekeeping Book; 1891 (screenshot from Archive. org)

 

Obviously, today’s question involves beef in the Canon. I am thinking of one particular instance, which always fascinates me a little. For one thing, it is described as a “rude meal,” which makes me think that Conan Doyle–or Watson–was accustomed to much more formality when it came to food. And for another, it makes me worry a bit about food poisoning at 221B.  How long, exactly, had this dish been sitting out? So, today’s question is–

What did Holmes take with him “on the trail” in The Beryl Coronet, and what did he bring back?

As always, send your answer in via blog comment or FB message–don’t leave your answer on the FB page itself. The winning entry will receive–

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[The winner for Day 1 will be announced shortly! Stay tuned!]

 

*Fun fact: One day, at my MIL’s, the kids had burgers and asked for ketchup. There was a bottle in the fridge with a use-by date of 2013. It was 2017.

 

 

 

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8th Annual Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 1

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I’m pretty sure my grandparents had this.

 

Over the years, I’ve found that the blog posts for the Giveaway go much more smoothly if they have a theme. Otherwise, let’s be honest, I’m in my 50’s and have started to repeat myself, so you’d just be subjected to my memories of traveling home from my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, ad nauseam. I really liked doing last year’s look at Christmas through the (canonical) years, but as much fun as it was, it was also time-consuming, and I didn’t want to repeat it again so soon. So, I was stuck.

Until my husband came upstairs.

With “figgy pudding.”

My husband loves cooking. He is a much better cook than I am, and every once in awhile, he gets it into his head to try a new recipe. Puddings–the old fashioned kind, not the “jello” kind–seem to be the thing this season. Since some of his maternal ancestors came from Yorkshire, and his family retains some of their customs, it’s a nice continuation. Plus, he’s always so proud of his creations. Unfortunately for him, I have all sorts of “issues” when it comes to food. Taste, texture, smell…this is why I stick with the holiday cheese ball. But I am also a loyal, loving wife, so I did try some.

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This kind. (Although this is from 31Daily.com; my husband’s broke when he took it out of the bundt pan)

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Not this kind.

 

Guys, it tastes like the inside of a fig newton–tiny seeds and all.

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Y’all Gen-Xers knew this was coming.

And I couldn’t taste the alcohol in the bourbon-vanilla glaze. All in all, it was a success. He’s making more tonight for the family reunions, and I now have a Giveaway Theme–

FOOD IN THE CANON

Because there is, indeed, food at 221B Baker Street. Although BBC Sherlock reminds Molly that he doesn’t eat when he’s working, and Watson tells us he has known Holmes to “faint from inanition,” human beings have to eat to stay alive, and as both the Great Detective, his doctor, Mrs. Hudson–and Mycroft–are still with us…..

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(From “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere”)

 

Since I have to work today–and feed 3 kids before I go–today’s question will be a short one.

Is “figgy pudding” mentioned in the Canon?

 

At this point, I don’t even know the answer! We shall find out together! Send your answer to me via blog comment, private message me via the Well-Read Sherlockian Facebook page, or private message me personally if we are FB friends “in real life.” Whatever that is. This is going to be a fairly “book heavy” Giveaway, and the first prize is a Sherlockian research classic:

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And, if you wish to try to make a “figgy pudding” for your family…

The recipe my husband used…..

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/229863/figgy-pudding/

Or, the one Mrs. Hudson might have made for our boys at 221 B:

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(from Vanderbilt.edu)

 

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Ok, this was a fun question! As I said, I had no idea whether or not a “figgy pudding” was mentioned in the Canon–but I suspected it wasn’t. And so I–and the several commenters who answered “no” were right…..kind of.

Because it seems that, up until Mrs. Beeton’s Household Management came out in 1861, people did not typically put actual figs into their “figgy puddings.” I’m sure some families did, but the usual fruit was the “plum,” which, in its turn, actually featured raisins. And, as it turns out–and as virtually everyone mentioned, the sight of the Black Pearl of the Borgias nestled in plaster reminded Watson of a “plum in a pudding.”

The winner of the drawing was T. Rick Jones, who, in his answer, mentioned that the Ronald Howard Sherlock Holmes series includes an episode entitled–well, as you can see, “The Case of the Christmas Pudding.” I’ve put a link to it on the Well-Read Sherlockian Facebook page.

Congratulations to Mr. Jones, and thanks to all who entered. The game is now officially afoot!

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