Guest Blog by Ellen Read
MRS PRESTON’S KITCHEN
The Thornton Mysteries
When writing a book set in the 1920s, the first thing you realise is there is a lot of research to do. The Dragon Sleeps is a murder mystery, the first in The Thornton Mysteries.
The family home, Thornton Park, is a lavish mansion. There are servants and a definite upstairs downstairs scenario. Fashions, music and cars aside, I found the need to research food. What would the family eat in 1927? What did the servants eat?
Mrs Preston is the cook at Thornton Park. Not a chef, but she’s as meticulous and proud of her culinary achievements, as any chef in a restaurant would be. She manages the menus and the kitchen staff to perfection. She does discuss the family menus with Alexandra Thornton, who is mistress of the house.
On an average day, the family is served breakfast in the morning room. This usually entails dishes such as Kedgeree served with softly scrambled eggs. This is a British recipe, as much of Australian food was at that time. Kedgeree originated in India, during the British Colonial days. At a time before refrigeration, it allowed cooks to use leftovers from the night before to make into appetising breakfast dishes. Essentially the ingredients are boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, fried in one pan and flavoured with herbs.
Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee.
For the servants of Thornton Park, Mrs Preston always cooks a whole grain oatmeal or porridge, whether it be summer or winter. The servants need a hearty breakfast to sustain them for the long hours ahead.
Now, there’s morning tea to think of. What will Mrs Preston serve?
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