Waltzes and schottisches followed, and by now some neophytes negotiated them like pros. Member Trish Hurd surveyed the dance floor, the couples descending the stairs, the busy kitchen, the knots of people in sotto voce conversation. She gasped, "Im in a Victorian novel. Im in a Victorian novel. ..."
Jim waltzed distractedly, then vanished into the kitchen. The head cook, Roseanne Jackson, a caterer friend of board member Sherri Gebert Fuller, was still scrambling to get all the dishes on the table, so the extended dance instruction let her arrange the spread in peace.
North Star Chapter grand marches at Twelfthnight III and IV.
|The maidsTara Finnegan, Erin Barrett and Marta Andersonand head cook Roseanne Jackson were specially trained and costumed for Twelfthnight III.
They also serve...
Maureen Galvin had recruited and trained the maids, Erin Barrett, Marta Anderson and Tara Finnegan. With their appropriate ethnic names and willingness to get into character, the guests loved them.
The butlerWayne Fuller, Sherris husbandstood in the front hall admitting guests. At 7:30 he made and set out Roman punch from a Colonial recipe, plus a non-alcoholic punch, then kept the bowls and water pitchers full. He tended fires, saw to guests needs, and followed his written instructions: "Must dance with wife and others."
Finally the kitchen staff served forth the buffet, a mix of Victorian favorites and modern specialties. Filing through the dining room doors, guests saw cold smoked salmon, honey-baked ham and salads. Hors doeuvres included liver paté on rye with a slice of cucumber, and spinach and cheese canapés. There were finger sandwiches filled with cucumbers or sun-dried tomatoes with calamantra olives; puff pastry with cheese or spinach filling; assorted vegetable dips, and a bouquet of celery at each end of the table. In Victorian times celery was a decorative delicacy, but in todays supermarkets, finding bushy bunches and real celery vases hadnt been easy. Desserts ran to "designer brownies," marzipan, raspberry sherbet, chocolate-dipped strawberries, tea cookies, petit fours, and authentic nut cake.
After the buffet, some of the Ramsey Hill crowd departedit seems there was another Twelfthnight partyand Jenny announced more challenging dances. The previous summer, Silver Moon had worked up an 1890s dance demonstration for the Betsy-Tacy Society in Mankato, Minnesota (balls and dancing figured strongly in the Betsy and Tacy books by Mankatos Maude Hart Lovelace). Now Bob and Jenny led the "diehard dancers" in typical 1890s dances, including a schottische to a popular tune mentioned in the Lovelace books: "Mornin Cy."
On the bounce while doing this dance with Rebecca Bode, Jim glanced toward the parlor door and saw "a perfect picture: all three maids peering around the door, one head above another, wide-eyed." On the next waltz the maids in the hall grabbed hands and tried out the step. At the closing bars Erin sighed, "Aye, me for the scullery," and disappeared through the kitchen door, followed by the maids all agiggle and laughter and applause from the parlor. Then the servants and cleanup volunteers set to work restoring the kitchen to its pre-party condition.
As the last guests dispersed, Jim was discovered at the hall table, signing up new members. The North Star Chapter was only six years old, a newcomer among the 17 chapters that make up the national VSA. Jim had hoped the expanded gala would inspire growth in membership.
Party like its 1892...
The idea of throwing a Twelfthnight gala came to Jim in the chapters fourth year. The group had started meeting in 1990 at the Alexander Ramsey House, the 1870s home of Minnesotas second governor. Site manager Janet Budack was the founder and first president.
The Ramsey House and other Victorian institutions carry strong associations with Christmas. A period-style holiday party seemed in order for the chapter, but the board of directors in charge of planning events preferred Twelfthnight time, when members would be past the holiday-fried stage.
Jim, then vice president and program chair, placed a request in the chapter newsletter for owners of period houses to provide space for the party. Committees would supervise food and other logistics, he told them, and their homes would be much admired by interested people.
Paul and June Burd, inveterate volunteers, hosted the first party in their Edwardian home in the Lake of the Isles Historic District in Minneapolis. Twelfthnight I was a simple reception for 35 people with buffet, conversation, and a tour of the Burds antique collection. The committee had discovered Victorian recipes for Twelfthnight kings and queens cake, but the royal vegetables apparently baked away and were never found. June Burd was chosen as queen for being a gracious hostess, and Terry Warner got to be king because it was known he would accept the crown. The board started a tradition of giving the hosts a boutonniere and a tussy-mussy for the party, and a lavish picture book on Victorian interiors as a thank-you gift.
The Burds convinced their neighbor, Charlie Chrisman, to open his elegant 1880s Queen Anne to the next gala. Jim began to think the gala should feature some dancing as part of the total re-created experience of a 19th-century ball supper. He had met Bob Skiba by chance at the Minnesota Historical Society, where Jim works in the museum shops and Bob was doing costume research for Silver Moon. Bob and Jenny agreed to teach and lead the dancing. The dance was held in the middle parlor, and guests were enjoined to wear soft-soled shoes instead of street shoes to help preserve Charlies hardwood floors. Bob and Jenny adapted the teaching to the limited spacegrand march, quadrilles, two-steps and alland the 45 guests enthused.
So the planning of more dancing and a longer guest list for Twelfthnight III got underway. Jim announced the party in the 300-member Ramsey Hill Associations newsletter and solicited a host house, and the Bergers made the successful offer. The board decided to hire maids and kitchen help, and rent or purchase china and paper napkins to supplement the pieces the Bergers could supply. Attendance had been free with voluntary donations the first two years; now, for the more lavish gala, $10 per person in advance became the admission fee. Jim developed simple black period-style maids uniforms and held a uniform-sewing party in late December.
Maureen had trained the maids to adjust dresses, serve hors doeuvres, and keep their eyes lowered and their conversation noncommittal. Her sources included a classic 1880s manual: Mrs. Beetons Book of Cookery and Household Management (New Edition, ca. 1920; Revised Edition, Sterling, 1992), including an exhaustive chapter, "What Every Servant Needs to Know." A modern source was Seven Days a Week: Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America by David Katzman (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1981). The form for the invitations came from Correct Social Usage (New York Society of Social Culture, 1907).
For more recipes, Jim consulted the party planning section of an 1881 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery (reprinted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988), and Modern Cookery, for Private Families by Eliza Acton (Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, London, 1855).
Among other things, the books showed that a 100-percent authentic Victorian buffet party is hardly practical today (see inset), so modifications were in order. To suit modern diet sensibilities, the committee supplied some non-dairy and non-fat ingredients and vegetarian goodies, such as celery stuffed with chévre and topped with ground walnuts. Dishes were chosen with an eye to appearance as well as flavor. Raspberry gelatin, shaped in a copper mold and added to the table just for color, turned out to be authentic: molded "jellies" were popular Victorian desserts. Linda Leamer made and served appropriate tea.
Several people who hadnt heard of the VSA before joined after the gala. Sheryl Martinson started attending board meetings, was elected to the board and is now the chapter president. The Silver Moon instructors, who somehow stopped dancing long enough to sample the buffet at Twelfthnight III, talked the food committee into serving a similar spread for their 1890s ball in March.
This was true networking. People met over common interests and combined their specialtiescooking, music, dancing, research, reading novels, collecting antique clothes, making reproductionsin a single effort, to everybodys benefit. An event like the Twelfthnight gala lets it happen.
About the Author...
Catherine Taylor is a writer, editor, vintage clothing dealer, and secretary of the North Star Chapter of the Victorian Society in America. She is also the owner of Victori Limited, dealing in antique and vintage clothing. Her website is www.victori.com.
The North Star Chapter of the Victorian Society in America
requests the honor of your company at the third annual
Twelfthnight Gala Reception
on Saturday evening, January the sixth, nineteen ninety-six
Victorian dress encouraged The Berger Home
Dancing lessons at six oclock Saint Paul
Buffet at eight oclock
THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY IN AMERICA:
ENCOURAGING 19TH-CENTURY INTEREST
The Victorian Society in America is the only national organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of our 19th-century heritage. Nineteenth Century magazine is available exclusively through membership in the Society. Members also receive invitations to the Societys annual meeting, autumn symposium, study tours, summer schools, and special workshops.
From Nineteenth Century, journal of the Victorian Society in America, 219 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Silver Moon Historic Dance Ensemble demonstrations at Twelfthnight IV.
DUTIES OF MAIDS
6 p.m.: Be in costume and ready to work until the close of the party.
Ability to wear and work in a costume: petticoat, black skirt and bodice, apron and cap. Jewelry should not be worn, or at least kept to a minimum. Guests should be addressed as Sir or Madam. Do not engage guests in conversation.
6-8 p.m.: Set out pitchers of water and glasses for the dancers. Pick up empty glasses periodically to be washed and returned. One maid assists the kitchen staff in setting out the buffet table and helps the butler as needed. One is stationed in the ladies dressing room, assisting with removal of wraps and providing last-minute assistance with clothes as needed.
8 p.m.: Both maids assist in dining room as directed by the head cook. Light candles.
8:30: Notify Jim Morehouse when the buffet table is ready. At his signal, open the doors.
8:30-10: Remove empty plates, glasses and silverware to the kitchen to be washed, dried and returned to the table or stored away. Replenish the food on the table, as well as coffee and tea under supervision of pourers. Keep the head cook informed as to the state of the table.
10 p.m.: Start removing food from the table. Organize remaining dishes to one side of the table under direction of head cook. Help with dishes, pick up plates. Assist the ladies with wraps. Assist the kitchen staff.
REFRESHMENTS FOR ONE HUNDRED
(From Buckeye Cookery, first published 1881, reprinted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988)
Two gallons of pickled oysters; 2 large dishes of lobster salad; 2 small hams boiled and sliced, cold; 5 cold tongues sliced thin; 12 chickens jellied and pressed (garnish all dishes with parsley, slices of lemon, red beets); 2 gallons bottled pickles, or 1 gallon 1/2 of home-made; 12 dozen biscuit sandwiches; 5 quarts jelly; 4 gallons ice-cream; 15 large cakes: rich fruit cake, layer and sponge cakes; 12 dozen each of almond macaroons and variety puffs; 4 large dishes of mixed fruits.
DIRECTIONS FOR EVENING PARTIES
Much taste can be employed in decorating the table; where flowers are plenty, nothing is more beautiful than well-arranged bouquets. A few articles are deemed essential for parties: chicken salad, ice cream, whips or flummeries, jellies, fruits, nuts, coffee and tea, sandwiches, cakes, and fancy confectioneries.
From Civil War Cooking, The House Keepers Encyclopedia, by Mrs. E.F. Haskell, first published 1861; New Edition, R.L. Shep, 1992.
TWELFTHNIGHT GALA III
September: Plan the menu, develop a working outline for the event. Issue committee sign-up sheet listing needs and responsibilities for food, invitations, decorations, etc. Hire servers, plus head cook; prepare list of duties.
October: Tasting night to finalize menu. Get invitations printed and sent by November 1.
November: Visit hosts and finalize arrangements. Choose any special serving pieces they want to use, determine pieces to borrow or rent.
December: Reservations and money due by December 15. Inform food committee of final menu.
January: Make a diagram of the table and placement of food, checklist of food and beverages, servants duties.
January 5: Deliver food and decorations to home. Set buffet table and punch table, coffee and tea services. Put up decorations, have trays and serving pieces at the ready. Rearrange furniture as needed. Sound system check.
January 6: Provide final instructions to servers. Make sure all guests have a good time. Enjoy!
January 7: Return to store away and remove things as needed.
From Mrs. Beetons Book of Household Management, New Edition, ca. 1920
Coss lettuce Finely chopped onion
Thoroughly wash, trim, and dry the lettuce, separate it into small pieces, season it with vinegar sweetened to taste with very little honey, and sprinkle over with onion.
(Old Richmond recipe, from The Williamsburg Art of Cookery by Mrs. Helen Bullock, reprinted by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1966)
To make a Gallon, take one and a half Pints of Lemon Juice, Rinds of Two Lemons grated on Sugar, one Pint of Rum, half a Pint of Brandy, two Quarts of Water, three Pounds of Loaf-sugar, a Pint-bottle of Champagne. Mix all together, and chill.
Spinach Filling for Puff Pastry
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbs. olive oil
2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 cup plain non-fat or low-fat yogurt
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. salt and/or 1/2 tsp. pepper to taste
In a small skillet over low heat, sauté the garlic in the oil for 1 minute, or until garlic is tender, taking care not to burn the garlic. Combine garlic and oil with the remaining ingredients in a blender/food processor until smooth. Cover and chill until serving time. Makes 3 cups.
Spinach Cheese Canapés
4 10-oz. pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
1-1/4 lb. feta cheese 1 lb. cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 1/4-1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
4-5 eggs 3/4 cup green onion, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon 1 tsp. dill
3/4 tsp. garlic salt 3/4 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 sticks butter, melted 1 box filo dough
Thaw spinach and squeeze out all water. Mix all ingredients except filo dough in a large bowl. Brush two 9" x 13" pans with butter. Place one layer of dough in the first pan and brush with butter. Repeat until there are 10 layers of dough. Add half of the spinach mixture. Again, layer dough and brush with butter 10 times. Repeat process for second pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and cut diagonally to create diamond-shaped canapés. Serves 80.
Linda Leamer, Rebecca Bode, Maureen Galvin
2 cups sifted flour 1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg 1-1/2 cup dark raisins
2 cups golden raisins 1 dried pea, 1 dried bean
8 oz. (1 cup) glacé cherries 2 oz. (1/3 cup) candied lemon peel
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter 4 eggs
4 oz. (3/4 cup) blanched almonds
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon or orange
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. brandy, rum or sherry or 1 tbsp. orange juice
Butter a 9" round spring-form pan. Line with cooking parchment circle and grease top of paper. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. In a separate bowl, mix raisins, cherries and candied peel. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and stir to coat. Grate almonds and add to the fruit mixture with pea for queens cake and bean for kings. Cream butter, add rind and brown sugar and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in remaining 2/3 of flour mixture.
Using a large metal spoon, stir in fruit mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan, bake at 300 degrees for 70-80 minutes or until done. (Check early; e.g., after 50 minutes.) Cool completely, wrap in waxed paper and foil and place inside 2 tightly sealed plastic bags.
When cake is made ahead, fruits will blend well in storage. Cake will keep for several weeks in refrigerator or freezer. Use a very sharp knife such as a cleaver to cut into 16 slices. Marzipan or glazed icing optional.