It is truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen liked to make her own beer and eat good apple pie. Ever wonder what else lies between the lines of Pride and Prejudice? Well put the kettle on and keep reading. Modern Austen is a new series of blog posts featuring all things Austen and all things food. Posts will highlight aspects of historical foodways as well as various recipes the authoress enjoyed during her own lifetime. 18th-century dishes, etiquette tips for modern eaters, literary themed mixed drinks! Learn what the witty writer ate during the Regency era, the kind of cocktail Lizzie Bennet might order at Happy Hour, and how a modern Austen might enjoy the culinary melting pot of today.
How many times have you sat down to read an Austen novel or cuddled up on the couch to watch a wet Mr. Darcy emerge from the lake and not had something to snack on? Jane Austen and edibles were simply made for one another. I truly cannot envision her penning Emma Woodhouse’s matchmaking schemes or Catherine Morland’s Gothic fantasies and assuming that her reader would not have a cup of tea at hand or a box of chocolates nearby. Granted, the propensity for in between meal snacking has increased ten-fold (prompting us to all reconsider the forgiving nature of the empire waist gown), but truth be told, Austen loved a good snack just as much as the next girl. We know from her letters that she brewed her own spruce beer (with the needles and buds of spruce trees) and had an affinity for mutton and apple pies that probably rivaled her burly sailor brothers’ appetites. Her pen might have been dainty, but Austen didn’t just pick at salads and sip her tea.
Photo Credit: Anthropologie
Austen’s use of food in her books and the numerous detailed mentions of agriculture, foodways, and markets in her personal correspondence clearly demonstrates that the edible world played an important role in British society as well as her own daily life. This inspired me to write an undergraduate thesis based on this research as well as start my Master’s thesis on the correlation between British foodways and the culinary customs of the American South. Our affinity for [iced] tea and Southern hospitality seems too much like an Austen scene to not be of English origin. But in the end, I always wonder, what would a Modern Austen eat and drink; so I’ve started a series of posts to answer just that. I have a laundry list of topics and a journal full of recipes to share with you (including some literary themed mixed drinks) and hope that you’ll check back every-so-often for the next Modern Austen post.
Photo Credit: jilldanielle
In the meantime, here’s a little snack that I’m sure a Modern Austen would approve of: Tea and Scones Granola. It literally tastes like tea and scones thanks to an infusion of Earl Grey tea, slivered almonds, and handfuls of little dried currants. A similar version of my recipe appeared in the Boston Globe, but it omitted the tea to make a more crowd-pleasing granola. But for us Janeites, only this Tea and Scones Granola will do for an all-day read or a movie marathon on the couch. A Modern Austen might pair this granola with an iced green tea or even a spiked lemonade.
Tea and Scones Granola
Makes about 6 cups
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 heaping tablespoon of loose-leaf Earl Grey tea (or 2 bags)
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup currants
1.Set the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 2 rimmed baking sheets.
2.In a large glass measuring bowl, add the butter and honey and microwave until melted. Stir to combine.
3.Measure the loose-leaf tea into a tea-ball or tea-strainer and steep in melted butter for 15 minutes. Remove tea-strainer and stir again. The butter will have darkened slightly and might have a few flecks of tea floating on top. Feel free to remove these pieces if you feel so inclined.
4.In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.
5.Pour the butter mixture over the oats, tossing with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
5.Divide the mixture between the baking sheets oats, spreading it into an even layer.
6.Bake for 15 minutes. Stir well, spread out again, and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the oats are light golden brown. Total baking time is 25 to 30 minutes.
7.Cool the granola in the pan, add the almonds and currants, and toss again. The mixture will harden slightly as it cools. When completely cooled, store in a zipper-top plastic bag or in a large Mason jar.