Dr and Mrs Wren are delighted to welcome the wassailing party to this progressive Regency dinner.
We have something of a houseful at the moment. Many of the young students that Dr Wren tutors have stayed over in Oxford for our Christmas party, those of our children who live close enough have come home for to celebrate the holiday, bringing their own children, and we have other guests, too, including Mrs Wren’s niece, Mary Pritchard, the two men who are courting her, and the girl who is chasing after one of the men.
This should make the party very entertaining! Come in, join us in a Christmas Carol, catch the person of your choice under the kissing bough, and enjoy the food and drink.
To win a print copy of Farewell to Kindness, with a bookplate signed by all the Belles, plus assorted Belles swag, comment below with an answer to the question. I’ll draw one commenter at random, and prizewinners will be announced at the end of the progressive dinner.
How many novellas are in the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set?
Stranded ashore by injury, naval lieutenant Rick Redepenning rescues Mary Pritchard when she runs into villains. Familiar territory. He has been rescuing his admiral’s daughter since they were both children. The child has become a lovely woman, but she seems oblivious to his interest. Can Rick catch his runaway bride in time for Christmas?
Mary Pritchard is cast on the perilous shoals of London Society by her admiral father’s death. Her loathsome cousin thinks to win her hand and fortune. Mary runs. She has other aunts, and won’t settle for a loveless marriage in place of her dreams. But the hero of those dreams, her girlhood rescuer, couldn’t be interested. Could he?
“Mary, my love,” Mrs Wren says, bring out the wassail. The carolers will be thirsty after that wonderful song.”
“Of course, Aunt Theo.” But Lieutenant Redepenning is before Mary to the bowl. “Here, Miss Pritchard, let me carry that. It is heavy. You bring the cups.”
“I can carry the bowl for Miss Pritchard,” says Viscount Bosville, puffing out his chest.
Mary frowns at them both. “You carry the bowl,” she says to Lieutenant Redepenning, and then hands the cups to Bosville. “There. You carry the cups.” With a cheeky grin, she walks off and leaves them glaring at one another.
How to Make Fireside Wassail VIDEO. An Easy and Tasty Christmas Drink Recipe
She was everywhere, always busy, always in company. More of the Wren offspring arrived, with spouses and children, all delighted to meet Mary, the cousin whose letters from far-flung places had enlivened their lives for many years. She was in demand in the kitchen, where she was making and icing gingerbread shapes for the party supper. She was involved in the last of the decorating.
He gave up, and decided to move his baggage to the inn where he was booked for the night.
“Rick? Are you leaving?” Mary. She stopped in the parlor doorway.
“I’ll be back for the party, Mary, but I’ll leave from the inn in the morning. My father expects me in London tomorrow night. Mary? Will you walk into Oxford with me?”
Just then, Mrs. Wren and two of her daughters came down the stairs.
“Mary, dear, would you help with the kissing bough in the garden? Lieutenant Redepenning, you’re off to the inn? What time do you expect to be back, dear?”
Rick gave some kind of an answer, watching Mary slip away from him again, carried off by her cousins.
Tonight. At some point tonight, he would find her alone, if he had to carry her off into a dark corner of the garden across the dead bodies of all her relatives.
“Now, Husband,” says Mrs Wren, “they have many more stops to go before the end of the dinner, and wassail at each house, I have not a doubt.” She looks straight at you as she says, “We are serving soup in the dining room as the first course of this meal you have embarked upon. Please, come and join us in a bowl.”
Dr Wren winks. “Not precisely in the bowl, you understand. It would be a little cramped.”
Regency white soup
Recipe from: John Farley’s London Art of Cooking (1783)
Put a knuckle of veal into six quarts of water, with a large fowl, and a pound of lean bacon, half a pound of rice, two anchovies, a few pepper corns, a bundle of sweet herbs*, two or three onions, and three or four heads of celery cut in slices**. Stew them all together, till the soup be as strong as you would have it+, and then strain it through a hair sieve into a clean earthen pot. Having let it stand all night, the next day take off the scum, and pour it clean off into a tossing-pan. Put in half a pound of Jordan almonds beat fine, boil it a little, and run it through a lawn [fine cloth] sieve. Then put in a pint of cream, and the yolk of an egg, and send it up hot.
With thanks to the Jane Austen Society (Please see link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)
“Perhaps a little mug of posset to keep the chill from their bones before the next stop?” Dr Wren suggests to Mrs Wren, who relents now that our stomachs are well lined with soup.
“Mary, my love, fetch the posset, if you will.”
Mary is heard to mutter as she leaves the room, “If Viscount Bosville has not consumed the lot.”
But she returns a few moments later carrying mugs and a ladle, and followed by Rick Redepenning with a large cauldron from which fragrant smells are wafting.
“Here,” says Rick cheerfully. “This will keep you warm on your way.”
Recipe from: the posthumously published book, The Closet of the Eminently Learned Kenelm Digby Knight (London: 1670) (Please see link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)
Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up.
Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.
***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***
This is only the first stop in the Belles’ holiday wassailing blog tour, with a different Regency era Christmas carol, dinner selection, and beverage, and wassail recipes at every stop that you can make in the modern kitchen. Keep checking back, and I will add the links to the stops as they become available.
- 4 Dec: Jude Knight: The First Course, Regency White Soup
- 7 Dec: Nicole Zoltack: The Second Course, Lobster au Gratin
- 9 Dec: Amy Rose Bennett: The Third Course, A Stuffed Christmas Turkey
- 11 Dec: Susana Ellis: The Fourth Course, A Yorkshire Pie
- 14 Dec: Vanessa Riley: The Fifth Course, English Bread
- 16 Dec: Caroline Warfield: The Sixth Course, Jerusalem Artichoke a la Crème
- 18 Dec: Sherry Ewing: The Seventh Course, Mince Pies
- 21 Dec: Mariana Gabrielle: The Eighth Course, Christmas Pudding