From "Ensign" Sept. 1971:
From the banquet halls of the Normans has come the custom of laying a white cloth and setting individual places at table. The gift of a silver mug and spoon to a newborn baby had its origin here also. From the Normans also came the idea that a waiter should carry a napkin over his arm when serving at tables. The Norman groom made a loose bag by laying a cloth over his shoulder and under his arm; this bag was filled with bread. He then went around the long tables, laying the bread at the side of each platter. Sometimes he would take another cloth and wrap each individual serving of bread in special waysâ€”lilies for the ladies, a mitre (hat) for a bishop, or a shoe for the traveller. These shapes are still used by hostesses for folding serviettes (napkins) at special luncheons.
We tend to think that pressure cooking is a modern discovery, but cooking with a cauldron in Medieval times was really no different. Most people think that everything was thrown into the cauldron to make one gigantic stew. Not so. Those Medieval cooks were smart; an entire dinner was cooked in the one iron pot. (The same pot also provided the hot water for a bath before dinner and the washing up afterwards!) Pieces of wooden board pierced with holes were placed across the bottom of the pot, and big earthenware jars with tight-fitting lids that made them airtight were placed on the wood. This is the same principle as the pressure cooker but on a much larger scale. In addition to the meat cooking in the jars and under the board, bags of beans, vegetables, and even puddings were hung from the handle into the pot, and there was always room for a little bit more.
We are still fond of stews or casseroles in the winter, and we feel we need this kind of food to combat the damp atmosphere, but our most famous specialty is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Folklore has it that a Yorkshire shepherd once found a fairy half-frozen to death on the moors. He gently carried her home, warmed her, and brought her back to life. In gratitude she went over to some batter that the shepherdâ€™s wife was mixing, beat it to a fairy lightness, and placed it in the oven, and the first Yorkshire pudding was created. Now donâ€™t be misled by the word pudding, because we actually eat this with our roast beef and pour gravy over it. If you would like to try it, here is my recipe.
4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 pint (1 cup) milk
Mix flour and salt into a bowl, make a hollow in the center, and break in the egg. Stir with a wooden spoon and add the milk gradually until all the flour is worked in. Beat well and leave to stand for half an hour. Melt two tablespoons of drippings from the beef into a roasting tin, or divide it between small individual tins. Pour in the batter and bake in a hot oven (425â€“450Â°F.) about 10 to 15 minutes for small puddings or 20 to 30 minutes for one large pudding. They should rise to about three times their size and be light, crisp, and golden-brown. Serve immediately.
Our mealtimes are unique, inasmuch as we have a light meal called teatime between four and five in the afternoons, as well as lunch at midday and dinner or supper in the evenings. Usually teatime consists of some kind of sandwich, fruit and cream or trifle, and cakes.
The English used the large cauldron as a type of steamer for cooking, and a boiler for washing. You can scald hogs or Longpig prior to skinning.
My grandma used a medium iron pot to scald chickens prior to plucking feathers. She'd pluck off the down before boiling for use in pillows and mattresses.
I have a small cauldron for camp cooking/ baking, the kind with prong legs and flat lid to hold coals. The lid can be flipped over and used as a grill for bacon and hoecakes.
"Opportunity is missed by most people
because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas Alva Edison