Invalid Cookery from Tried Favourites, c 1907

I have a good friend who is recovering from surgery, so I thought I’d better find a book with some really good recipes suited to someone who is convalescing.  She won’t be up to cooking gruel or beef tea herself, but I’m sure her hubby has been lying awake at night, wondering where to find recipes for Invalid Jelly and Milk Toast.  I have the recipes!  Now the only question is will he still be her hubby if he tries to foist any of the following delightful meals on her.

Please note, due to my own good health, I WILL NOT be trying any of these recipes at home.  And if I do come down with a cold, I’m hiding the old cookbooks!

I’m sure most of you, when a loved one has been ill, have stressed about where to get asses’ milk to speed their recovery.  Yes, that’s right, asses’ milk.  While the Tried Favourites Cookery Book can’t tell you where to find a donkey dairy, they do provide a handy recipe for Artificial Asses’ Milk for when you can’t get the real thing:

Artificial Asses’ Milk

Take 4 sheep’s trotters and simmer 20 minutes in a pint of milk until reduced to 1/2 pint; Then add 1/2 oz refined sugar and a pint of fresh and good cow’s milk.  Excellent in wasting diseases.

Another important menu item for anyone under the weather was, of course, gruel.  Not just for the dungeon, you know!  It must be thoroughly well boiled, as the stomach can do very little with uncooked starchy foods, or so I’m led to believe from Tried Favourites.


Take of Robinson’s Patent Groats 1 tablespoonful, mix with 1/2 gill of cold water, gradually added, into a smooth paste, pour this into a stew-pan containing nearly a pint of boiling water or milk, stir the gruel on the fire ( while it boils) for 10 minutes; pour it into a basin, add a pinch of salt and a little butter, or, if more agreeable, some sugar.

NOTE — When gruel is made for an invalid, butter had best be omitted.

A few more recipes for invalids.

Beef tea was clearly an important part of an invalid’s diet, since the Tried Favourites Cookery Book has no less than 11 variations on it.  Jellies, custards, soft cooked eggs, and assorted bland drinks seem to make up the rest of the convalescent diet.  My old cookbooks also all stress the importance of how the food was presented.  Use your daintiest dishes, best linen, and above all, make sure everything is clean, polished and bright, especially your attitude!  Heaven forbid that you seem snippy when your guy comes down with a man-cold!

This last is not a recipe, but a very important piece of advice for all of us.  It’s always been one of my favourite parts of the book – other than the Artificial Asses’ Milk, of course!!

A Lesson on Milk Drinking*

Few people know that there is a good way and a bad way of drinking milk.  The bad way is that which they generally follow, viz., to swallow a large quantity at once.  When milk goes into the stomach it is instantly curdled, and if it is curdled into one big mass, the juices of the stomach can work only the outside of it.  This is the reason that many people who like milk, and to whom it should be of the utmost benefit, cannot drink it.  They say it gives them indigestion, and they are right.  Let them give it another chance.  But this time they must sip it slowly, not taking more than a good teaspoonful at one sip, and taking at least 4 minutes to finish the glassful.  Each little sip thus becomes curdled up by itself when it enters the stomach, the digestive juices percolate freely around it, and it speedily becomes assimilated.  One of the best restoratives known after excessive fatigue, and one that is infinitely preferable to any form of alcohol, is a glass of hot milk**.  The heat seems to lighten it, and to deprive it of much of the sweetness which is so cloying to some tastes.  A little bread should always be taken with milk.

*  (because apparently we don’t know how!)

**  This is clearly false.  A glass of wine is far superior!

The Tried Favourites Cookery Book with Household Hints and Other Useful Information was written by Mrs. Eliza Walker Kirk, around 1902.  I have the eighth edition, which is from 1907.


  1. You have a wonderful way with words BJ! Love your love for these gems and your willingness to share it. Look forward to following along and learning more along the way! Especially important things such as variety in milk choices haha and I thought we had so many food choices these days!!


  2. Yeah ok, i am in need of ass’es milk ( not sure where the apostrophe goes) but I actually am a little unclear about what a sheep’s trotter is and where do I obtain them?


  3. I love your blog! Now I can fully understand your addiction to these wonderful glimpses into the past. I am feeling fit as a fiddle and will remain that way to avoid excessive donkey lactation and days that come to a grueling end. Lots of fun, BJ!


  4. I love your blog! Now I can fully understand your addiction to these wonderful glimpses into the past. I am feeling fit as a fiddle and will remain that way to avoid excessive ass lactation and days that come to a grueling end. Lots of fun, BJ!


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