When You Have No Eggs, a Gill of Lively Emptings Will Do

A friend recently recommended this fascinating website — Four Pounds Flour: rethinking historic cuisine.  It combines two of our favorite subjects, cooking and history!

I passed the site on to Daryl and he just found this intriguing recipe for doughnuts from the 1830 cookbook The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy.

The part that tickled us to no end was this line:

“When you have no eggs, a gill of lively emptings will do.”


Okay, the adapted recipe sounds fine, but all I really want to know is what exactly is a gill of lively emptings????

I see a research project in someone’s future…..  🙂

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6 thoughts on “When You Have No Eggs, a Gill of Lively Emptings Will Do

  1. Fun language! Tricky cooking! And I did your assignment, with extra credit. ;o)

    A gill (pronounced “jill”), for example, is equal to 4 ounces—or ½ cup.

    Saleratus and pearlash are familiar to the 1830s cook, who would immediately recognize them as chemical leavenings similar to modern baking soda.

    When “lively emptins” are called for to leaven cakes and breads, the experienced nineteenth-century housewife would use some dregs from a barrel of ale kept for that purpose (a source of yeast for many families).

    source:
    http://www.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=2085

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  2. That’s one of my favorite things about old recipes: the language. I have to wonder if the cook reading that cookbook in the 1830s was just as delighted by “a gill of lively emptins” as we are. I’ve even heard people complain that the whole tone of The Frugal Housewife is “scolding,” which it think is hilarious.

    If you want to make emptins, there’s a recipe available in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/display.cfm?TitleNo=1&PageNum=47

    But a packet of yeast will do just fine, too.

    Thanks for reading!
    .-= Sarah Lohman´s last blog ..Retronovated Recipes: Chocolet Puffs =-.

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