A couple of months ago I stumbled upon my dream book in a secondhand book store.

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Despite the name, Mrs Beeton’s Household Management isn’t my dream book because I yearn for the upper echelons of hausfrauness. I discovered an older version of the book in 2008, and since then I’ve been interested by it from a historical perspective. It was the first book to present recipes in the format we know them today, rather than the ingredients and process all together in a long, linear paragraph. And it provides a fascinating snapshot (if nearly 1,700 pages can be considered a snapshot) of a time when people made morning calls, managed servants, and served beef tea to sick people.

There’s no definitive statement of when this particular edition was published. A previous owner has written her name and the year 1944, but certain things made me believe this was already a few years old when she got it – references to “The War,” and nothing written about rationing, for example. Based on dates I found in the “Legal Memoranda” section (god I love this book), my best guess is that it was published in 1938 or very early 1939.

Following are several photos I took while doing my first couple of flip-throughs. I think I’m going to need a few months to really appreciate everything!

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mb16Another reason this is my dream book is that old recipes are a particular interest of mine. I love when they’re startlingly out of place with modern tastes and patience levels (there were a surprising amount of recipes involving sheep heads and brains, for example).

I couldn’t resist trying at least one recipe from this book. I chose to make “Buttered Eggs, Indian Style (Oeufs Brouillés à l’Indienne).” Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients – 3 hard-boiled eggs, 2 raw eggs, 1/2 an oz. of butter, curry-powder, salt and pepper, browned breadcrumbs.

Method – Cut the hard-boiled eggs across into rather thick slices, place them in a well-buttered gratin dish, or china baking-dish, in which they may be served, and sprinkle over them about 1/2 a teaspoonful of curry-powder and a few grains of cayenne. Beat the raw eggs slightly, season with salt and pepper, and pour them into the dish. Cover the surface lightly with browned breadcrumbs, put bits of butter here and there, and bake in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. Serve as hot as possible.

Time – 10 minutes. Sufficient for 4 or 5 persons.

And here’s how it turned out (pardon the lighting; it’s no longer the good photographing-your-breakfast time of year):

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It was actually pretty good! There was nothing very complicated to it, and it was different, but not as out there as Veal Olives, Baked Bullock’s Heart or Mushroom Ketchup.

oct11-01 oct11-02 We picked a road and drove straight east almost as far as it went, almost to Niagara Falls. We had hot apple cider in travel mugs and there were hints of orange and red in the trees.

Then, Thanksgiving dinner with family. We do our big occasions potluck-style these days, and it always works out so well. People bring Tupperware for the inevitable leftovers, we tell our stories loudly, and we are always sleepy an hour after dessert, no matter what time it is.

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On Friday, my husband and I set out in search of apple cider and a hike. We found the former, but the latter proved more challenging thanks to the nearly constant rain. We did find a trail and venture out a few metres from the car, where almost every picture turned out blurry and useless, except for maybe this one:

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The trees were still quite green, and it was t-shirt weather. Three years ago I was wearing a jacket, scarf, and Wrist Worms. And you were allowed to walk around in the Badlands then, too. But one thing remains the same: I don’t understand how to be photographed.

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The next morning I woke up to hot cinnamon apple cider, cider and pumpkin donuts, and strawberries (because I felt like an apple would be pushing it).

And despite appearances, I don’t eat my donuts with a fork (though I’ve never actually tried it; for all I know, it could be better)!

Jonna filled the teakettle in the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, looking at her own face, she thought with sudden bitterness that it couldn’t go on like this, these short stories that were never finished and just went on and on getting rewritten and discarded and picked up again, all those words that got changed and changed places and I can’t remember how they were yesterday and what’s happened to them today! I’m tired!

- Tove Jansson, Fair Play