Monday, January 5, 2009

"a gill of lively emptings"

Yesterday after church, David and I drove up to North Jville to see a couple of friends; after visiting for a bit, we decided to drive on down to the Kingsley Plantation to spend an hour or two.

Kingsley Plantation is the oldest plantation structure still in existence in Florida; the slave quarters, while slowly being destroyed by nature and past vandalism, are for the most part still standing. Unlike the plantations of SC though, most of the grounds have been allowed to return to nature. Still, sitting on the St. George River, it is a beautiful and peaceful sight.

Interested in history, I had hoped to pick up a copy of Kingsley's journal to read about the daily life of plantation owners and workers, but there was no copy available among the dozens of books for sale. Instead, I browsed through books concerning African American Spirituals or how to go about a genealogical search; suddenly a small, thin book caught my eye..."The American Frugal Housewife" by Lydia Maria Child - the book, first published in 1839 was taken out of print for several years because Ms. Child was an abolitionist and her politics were not appreciated.....anyway, I was intrigued not only by the woman herself, but in light of my goal of increased frugality (and green-ness), it practically yelled at me to buy it....

so buy it I did. Only to find myself laughing and reading aloud parts of it all through the hours drive back home and trying to guess at the meanings of some of the terms. And upon arriving back at the house, I immediately had to sit down and google those unfamiliar and funny sounding terms I had found during the "a gill of lively emptings" and "pearlash".

It took a while to get to the bottom of it - but finally I found an online dictionary of American Cooking Terms that explained that it was simply.....yeast or a leavening agent made from beer or potato water. And a "gill"? Well, that is 4 fluid ounces (1/4 pint)!

What about pearlash? It's a misprint in the latest printing of the actually should read "Pearl Ash" (potassium carbonate).

I can't wait to really read this book.....and it seems I'll need to stay near my computer to try to understand most of it......

1 comment:

  1. I just got a copy of this book, myself, and I can't put it down! Anyone who really >cares< about being frugal would do well to read it and employ some of the tips and maxims within.

    Lee in Maine -- 1907 farmhouse.


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