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The Seaman’s Guide: How to Live Comfortably at Sea by John Cochrane

The Seaman’s Guide: How to Live Comfortably at Sea by John Cochrane
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As bread is the staff of life, forming the greatest portion of the sustenance of mankind,” the author begins, “it is very singular, in all the books of domestic economy, and even on cookery, the art of baking bread has not been sufficiently examined and explained…”

Written and published by John Cochrane in 1797 with the financial backing of Earl Spencer, whose interests laid particularly in the wellbeing of the British navy. Cochrane presents very methodical instructions for making bread using either yeast (barm) or leaven (old dough) for not only sailors, but also public bakers and private housekeepers.

He also offers valuable insight into period construction techniques used to make earthen ovens. Faithfully reproduced in this 56-page pamphlet, as it would have been sold to the public.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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The Seaman’s Guide: Shewing how to Live Comfortably at Sea. Containing, Among Other Particulars, Complete Directions for Baking Bread, … Recommended … By the Honourable John Cochrane Volume 12 by John Cochrane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love sea-faring adventures, baking bread, and learning about period specific customs. I love these books that are bound like the version that I have. I saw this one on Townsends, which is one of the most insightful places on the internet.

I’d recommend this to anyone interested in a bit of history from this standpoint.

What is this book?
As bread is the staff of life, forming the greatest portion of the sustenance of mankind,” the author begins, “it is very singular, in all the books of domestic economy, and even on cookery, the art of baking bread has not been sufficiently examined and explained…”

Written and published by John Cochrane in 1797 with the financial backing of Earl Spencer, whose interests laid particularly in the wellbeing of the British navy. Cochrane presents very methodical instructions for making bread using either yeast (barm) or leaven (old dough) for not only sailors, but also public bakers and private housekeepers.

He also offers valuable insight into period construction techniques used to make earthen ovens. Faithfully reproduced in this 56-page pamphlet, as it would have been sold to the public.

Practicality
These types of booklets are so interesting to me. It’s a cookbook guide, for an audience described as public bakers, private bakers, camps, men of war, or merchantmen (typically those on a ship used for commerce).

The goal is to make the softest bread of the best quality. And of course avoid the acetous state as too much acid will make the bread sour.

I loved how it talked about reserving a piece of dough, as in the making of friendship bread, but don’t keep it too long as to risk “putrid fermentation.”

It also covered accompanying meats such as beef, mutton, veal, and pork along with clarified butter and pickled items.

It was interesting to read about toddy men of India who collected sap from cocoa-nut trees with the 2-day fermentation process stating it can produce a liquor strong enough to intoxicate a man.

A favorite dish in Scottland- minced Collops which I’ll have to try.

Also discussed concerns over the bread oven’s expense of fuel as well as oven construction and preparation, and different types of fats.

Readability
It takes a bit of imagination reading this one. It’s a bit hard to decipher at times, but not impossible. The ss were fs in type.

I loved the footnotes, starting off with “The author is well aware that it is of the opinion of some chemists…”

Recipes
There are a few ingredient lists that I could work with, when I have time, we’ll see.

Some tips included boiling a little lemon grass in the water to give it a delicious flavor adding ginger or other flavor, I’ll have to try that.

View all my reviews

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