Mrs. Sterling’s Ways – The Hottest Day of the Season No. XVII

This is the second article in June of the School for Housewives 1906 series published on June 6, 1906, and is an article on iced drinks for the hottest of summer days.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Mrs. Sterling’s Ways – The Hottest Day of the Season No. XVII

“THE hottest day of the season” was upon us. We should use the same form of words once a week on an average until the 1st of October; but each of us repeated the phrase with the air of one conveying a fresh and thrilling bit of news.

Mrs. Bistre has “taken on flesh” within a few months, and the early summer heats tell upon her strength and morale. Her doctor hints darkly at nervous prostration, and advises, in unequivocal English, a sea voyage.

“Americans rest nowhere expect on deck chairs upon an oceanliner.” Thus she reported his dictum, pantingly discarding her laced apology for a fan for the honest palm leaf offered by our hostess. “I believe he is right. We can really take leisure in no other circumstances.”

“Make believe that you are on shipboard for half an hour,” cooed our wise woman, in accents that brought a delicious intimation of reliefful rest to the imagination.

Somehow, one thought forthwith, dreamily, of a misty sea line, and waves tumbling lazily in the middle distance, and peace and coolness enwrapping strained limbs and worn bodies and tortured nerves. The room had much to do with the sweet make-believe. The shutters were bowed, admitting such vagrant breezes as had survived the torrid noon; the furniture was incased in play-gray linen covered bound and tied with white. There was a suspicion of rose-scent in the air—the coolest of odors. Honeysuckle or lilies would not have had the subtle effect imparted by the big bowl of Bon Silenes, set at the back of the long drawing room, quite away from the teatable about which we were gathered. Other odors blended harmoniously with the roses’ breath. For a tall glass pitcher of iced tea occupied the place where the silver teapot had stood all winter. When the table was jarred, ice crystals tinkled against the glass, like faraway sleighbells, and through the mist masking the outside of the flagon were golden gleams from bits of lemon stranded in the ice floe. One got a suggestion of the citron odor, but a more pronounced aroma stole upon the gratified senses from a mighty punch bowl set in the centre of the table and flanked by waiting tumblers. The surface, and, as we could see through the misty sides, half the depth of the bowl were another ice field, and here, too, one caught gleams of faint yellow lemon slices, stripped of rind. Around the brim of the bowl was a fringe of mint sprays, and others floated languidly upon the delicately tinted liquid.

Mrs. Sterling was ladling the mysterious mixture into the glasses, wafts of fragrance from the stirred mint, and the castanet accompaniment of the broken ice augmenting, in tantalizing, our midsummer thirst.

“The effervescence soon passes,” she said, while giving the tumblers into eager hands. “It is refreshing when the bubbles cease to rise, but not so good—so altogether satisfactory—as when they are at the liveliest.”

When thirst was quenched and grateful adjectives were failing us, she told us how to compound her Olympian nectar. She gave it a tamer name. And this is her formula for

Summer Punch.

“Put into your punch bowl a cupful of granulated sugar; add the juice of six lemons, and stir until the sugar melts. Put in three peeled lemons, sliced very thin, and leave in the ice until you are ready to use it. Add, then, a dozen sprays of green mint and a quart, at least, of pounded ice. Stir well for a minute, and pour from a height into it two or three bottles of imported ginger ale.”

“I here and now christen it ‘The Ne Plus Ultra of iced drinks,’” quotes Mrs. Green, when she was prevailed upon to accept a second glass, by Mrs. Sterling’s assertion that “half of the first was cracked ice.” “Now, I make an effervescent lemonade—very refreshing and more wholesome than plain iced sherbet. But it is not comparable to this, and not so pleasing to the eye. The pale amber tinge of the ‘No Plus Ultra’ lends a mystic charm to it.”

“But your effervescent lemonade?” urged Mrs. Martin. “Is it like ‘lemonade gazeuse’ with which we sometimes regale, and sometimes poison ourselves in foreign hot countries? I drank a bottle of it in Port Said, and nearly died that night of ptomaine poison—that’s how I diagnosed it!”

“I am always doubtful as to the wholesomeness of patented beverages,” commented Mrs. White. “I was once almost murdered by root beer.”

“Wait until you risk your life upon persimmon beer!” ejaculated the Virginian. “The most atrocious compound ever conceived of in a Voudoo cataletic trance! Warranted to kill at forty yards! Now, for your domestic sherbet gazeuse!”

Mrs. Greene was flattered by her persistence, and yielded up the recipe graciously.

“Roll, peel carefully and slice thin six lemons. Put into a pitcher or bowl with alternate layers of granulated sugar, two teaspoonfuls for each lemon. Leave on the ice until you are ready to serve; then add, at the last, a quart of chilled Apollinaris and a great lump of ice.”

Mrs. Brown was beginning to have serious doubts as to the prudence of taking any iced liquid into the stomach. “The dear professor says that is one cause of the Great American Dyspepsia. That is his way of stating the case.”

Mrs. Sterling lifted the brimming ladle from the half-emptied bowl, with a persuasive smile.

“The day is so trying!” she pleaded, and the Dietetic Disciple yielded weakly, smiling shamefacedly.

“I was about to offer an old family recipe for a summer drink,” she uttered, between satisfied sips. “My mother made gallons of it every year. It keeps well, and improves with age—like good people and good wine.”

“Put raspberries, red or black, into a stone vessel and mash them to a pulp. Add cider vinegar—no specious imitation, but the genuine article—enough to cover it well. Stand in the sun twelve hours, and all night in the cellar. Stir up well occasionally during this time. Strain, and put as many fresh berries in the jar as you took out; pour the strained vinegar over them; mash and set in the sun all day. Strain a second time next day. To each quart of this juice allow one pint of water; five founds of sugar (best white) for every three pints of this liquid, juice and water mingled.”

“Place over a gentle fire and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Heat slowly to boiling, skimming off the scum, and as soon as it fairly boils take off and strain. Bottle when warm and seal with corks with sealing wax or beeswax and rosin.”

“A most refreshing and pleasant drink.”

Marion Harland

The Housemothers in Weekly Conference
Six Good Ways of Preparing Potatoes
Things to Know in the Kitchen

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