Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Aunt Jenny Starts A Bride Off Right

sprynewbride-2.jpg picture by seshet27

sprynewbride-1.jpg picture by seshet27

Spry is a brand of shortening. Please to note:

1. The back of the cookbook she is reading has this comic on it. Which I got off the back of the cookbook. Oh man.

2. The eyes.

3. The facial expressions in panels 3 and 4. In panel 4, he appears to be trying to eat her face. Maybe she uses Spry as a cosmetic?

Dear readers, I ask of you a favor. These words, they clearly do not match the pictures. Please write for me what the words should be.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pancake with Fruit

I tried out this recipe from The Cookery Blue Book, by Society for Christian Work of the First Unitarian Church [1891], because I was in need of a snack and I didn't have very many ingredients.

IMG_2827.jpg picture by seshet27

Pancake with Fruit
Take 4 eggs, a cup of cream or rich milk, and flour enough to make a thin batter. Add a little fine sugar and nutmeg. Butter the griddle and turn the batter on. Let it spread as large as a common dinner plate. When done on one side, turn it, as a pancake. Have some nice preserves, and spread over quickly. Roll the cake up, place on a flat dish, sift on a little powdered sugar and cinnamon, a little butter, if you wish, and serve hot. Be careful and not make the batter too thin.

Eggs, milk, flour. That's basically all the ingredients. It is surprising how many delicious things start with eggs, milk, flour, and butter. It's basically a crepe. But crepes sound so fussy. Things don't always have to be complicated. Eggs, milk, flour, done.

If you're looking to try a historical recipe, but don't have weird ingredients, a love of organ meats, or any culinary knowledge whatsoever, this one is for you. Just add flour. It's okay. Go on. Be brave. What's the worst that can happen? Your pancake is a little thinner or a little thicker. It will still be delicious. I believe in you.

Even if you're not interested in the history, give it a go. It's tasty, easy, and doesn't require very many ingredients.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No. 3 Economical Pot Liquor Soup

This is from A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, by Charles Elme Francatelli, LATE MAÎTRE D'HÔTEL AND CHIEF COOK TO HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN [1852]. I don't make the capitalization, I just transcribe it. Well. Also I just copied and pasted. I didn't want to look up how to do all those dealies that go over the letters.

My object in writing this little book is to show you how you may prepare and cook your daily food, so as to obtain from it the greatest amount of nourishment at the least possible expense; and thus, by skill and economy, add, at the same time, to your comfort and to your comparatively slender means. The Recipes which it contains will afford sufficient variety, from the simple every-day fare to more tasty dishes for the birthday, Christmas-day, or other festive occasions.

So, what can we expect in the way of a nourishing, comforting meal on the cheap?

No. 3. Economical Pot Liquor Soup.
A thrifty housewife will not require that I should tell her to save the liquor in which the beef has been boiled; I will therefore take it for granted that the next day she carefully removes the grease, which will have become set firm on the top of the broth, into her fat pot; this must be kept to make a pie-crust, or to fry potatoes, or any remains of vegetables, onions, or fish. The liquor must be tasted, and if it is found to be too salt, some water must be added to lessen its saltness, and render it palatable. The pot containing the liquor must then be placed on the fire to boil, and when the scum rises to the surface it should be removed with a spoon. While the broth is boiling, put as many piled-up table-spoonfuls of oatmeal as you have pints of liquor into a basin; mix this with cold water into a smooth liquid batter, and then stir it into the boiling soup; season with some pepper and a good pinch of allspice, and continue stirring the soup with a stick or spoon on the fire for about twenty minutes; you will then be able to serve out a plentiful and nourishing meal to a large family at a cost of not more than the price of the oatmeal.

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No. 3 Economical Pot Liquor Soup II
Boil some beef broth. For every 2 cups of broth, add 1 heaping tablespoon of oatmeal. Boil 20 minutes.

There, was that so hard, Charles Elme Francatelli, LATE MAÎTRE D'HÔTEL AND CHIEF COOK TO HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN?


It was fine. The oatmeal reminded me a lot of barley, actually, which was pleasantly surprising. The allspice was a little odd, but I didn't put in enough that you could tell that is what it was. It just added an interesting background flavor. This was preeeeeetty thin on the nourishing and comforting side though. I feel sorry for people who'd have to eat this and only this for dinner on a regular basis because they really could not afford anything more. Poor guys.

Rejected: This is my new section where I give you a recipe from the book that I did NOT make, for very good reasons.

No. 24. A Pudding made of Small Birds.
Industrious and intelligent boys who live in the country, are mostly well up in the cunning art of catching small birds at odd times during the winter months. So, my young friends, when you have been so fortunate as to succeed in making a good catch of a couple of dozen of birds, you must first pluck them free from feathers, cut off their heads and claws, and pick out their gizzards from their sides with the point of a small knife, and then hand the birds over to your mother, who, by following these instructions, will prepare a famous pudding for your dinner or supper. First, fry the birds whole with a little butter, shalot, parsley, thyme, and winter savory, all chopped small, pepper and salt to season; and when the birds are half done, shake in a small handful of flour, add rather better than a gill of water, stir the whole on the fire while boiling for ten minutes, and when the stew of birds is nearly cold, pour it all into a good-sized pudding basin, which has been ready-lined with either a suet and flour crust, or else a dripping-crust, cover the pudding in with a piece of the paste, and either bake or boil it for about an hour and-a-half.

-1-1.jpg picture by seshet27

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For the Family of 4

Here, at last, in part four of four, we reach the end of our heroine's tale. Gone the solitude of singlehood, gone the first blush of honeymoon, gone the frustration of early marriage. Now our happy couple, along with young Jeff and little Eileen, are comfortably content. While young Jeff was devastated when Nibbles joined Mitzi in the garden out back, both he and little Eileen love their less nibbly dog, Sassy. The whole family enjoys an al fresco meal outside, with lemonade, fresh fruits, and baked goods. Sadly, there will be no hamburgers. She did warn him not to use so much lighter fluid. Sure, Eileen has forgotten pants again, but there will be time enough to fix that (and to hose away Sassy's cookie vomit) later.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Common Curd Cheese Cakes

Whew. This was a pretty tricky one. This recipe comes from "ENGLISH HOUSEWIFRY EXEMPLIFIED, In above FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY RECEIPTS, Giving DIRECTIONS in most PARTS of COOKERY; And how to prepare various SORTS of SOOPS, CAKES, MADE-DISHES, CREAMS, PASTES, JELLIES, PICKLES, MADE-WINES, &c." by Elizabeth Moxon [1764].

A BOOK necessary for Mistresses of Families, higher and lower Women Servants, and confined to Things USEFUL, SUBSTANTIAL and SPLENDID, and calculated for the Preservation of HEALTH, and upon the Measures of Frugality, being the Result of thirty Years Practice and Experience.

WITH an APPENDIX CONTAINING, Upwards of Sixty RECEIPTS, of the most valuable Kind, communicated to the Publisher by several Gentlewomen in the Neighborhood, distinguished by their extraordinary Skill in HOUSEWIFRY.

Well done, Elizabeth Maxon. For 1764, a lady getting a book published is not too shabby. Also, I love how they've spelled "housewifry." Say it out loud. Roll the syllables around in your mouth. I just chose one recipe from this, because the menus are mostly meat. Meat, meat, meat. I love meat, but I don't have stacks of cash lying around to put on this sort of business with:
 First Course.
At the Top collar'd Calf Head, with stew'd Pallets and Veal
Sweetbreads, and forc'd Meat-Balls.
At the Bottom Udder and Tongue or a Haunch of Venison
In the Middle an Ambler of Cockles, or roast Lobster.
Two Side dishes, Pigeon Pie and boiled Chickens.

Second Course.
At the Top a roast Pheasant.
At the Bottom a Turkey.
For the four Corners.
Partridges, Artichoke-Bottoms fry'd, Oyster Loaves,
and Teal.
So our non-meat fare is down to... artichoke bottoms. A calf head, a... pallet, veal, brains, pureed meat in balls, udder, tongue/haunch of deer, shellfish/lobster, pigeon pie, boiled chickens, roast pheasant, turkey, partridges, oyster loaf, and teal (a kind of bird), and the only vegetation is... artichoke bottoms. Really? Really? I mean, my gosh. Did she leave any branch of the animal kingdom untouched? No wonder they were such diminutive people! EAT A DARN SALAD.


IMG_2821.jpg picture by seshet27

To make common CURD CHEESE CAKES.

Take a pennyworth of curds, mix them with a little cream, beat four
eggs, put to them six ounces of clarified butter, a quarter of a pound
of sugar, half a pound of currans well wash'd, and a little lemon-peel
shred, a little nutmeg, a spoonful of rose-water or brandy, whether you
please, and a little salt, mix altogether, and bake them in small petty

IMG_2823.jpg picture by seshet27

Common Cheese Cakes II
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
6 T. melted butter
1/4 C. sugar
1/3 C. currants (or raisins)
orange peel
1/4 t. rose water

Mix all ingredients together, pour into 4 ramekins (or one pie pan, I'm not going to stop you, and neither is Elizabeth Moxon. I don't care and she's dead.), and bake at 350 F. for 25 minutes. Chill. Then chill the cheese cakes.


I served these to my husband and two of my friends. The second picture shows the result. For 1764, probably not bad. For 2010, this was really truly odd. Just... odd. It was a lot like rice pudding, actually. The heat made the cottage cheese go kind of boingy like rice. It wasn't too bad, but it's something you'd have to get used to. One friend ate it all, puzzled as to what to think the whole time, I ate a few bites, and Friend II and Husband ate one bite apiece. It wasn't too sweet, which is about right for sugar being so expensive.

I had to estimate what one ha'pennyworth (because I halved it, you see) of cheese curd would be, and it seemed about right. Cottage cheese is close to what they are looking for here, and they add in milk back to the curd already, making moistening with cream unnecessary. They also add salt, so if you make this, don't add any. I did. Do not follow my example.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meal In A Muffin Pan: Eggs-in-hash-nests bake, corn muffins, fruit breakfast salads

Ever seen one of these?

IMG_2795.jpg picture by seshet27

These recipe card libraries were popular in the 70's, as was this unfortunate shade of green. As you may guess, this is the era from which this week's menu comes.

cornedbeefhash.jpg picture by seshet27

Meal in a Muffin Pan
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) corned beef hash
6 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 package of our corn muffin mix

Heat oven to 400 F. Generously grease 12 muffin cups. Press about 2 tablespoons hash in each of 6 muffin cups, making deep indentation in center of hash. Break an egg into each hash cup; season with salt and pepper.

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Prepare half package muffin mix as directed; fill remaining muffin cups 1/2 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and eggs are desired doneness. 4 to 6 servings.

IMG_2793.jpg picture by seshet27

While the corn muffins and eggs-in-hash-nests bake, arrange mounds of jewel-toned fruits in one of the combinations below.

Fruit Cups: Combine watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon balls, cubes or slices in dessert dishes or cups. Or combine one variety melon with other fruits.

Fruit Plates: Arrange slices of melon, red plums and fresh peaches on small plates, then add small clusters of seedless green grapes.

Fruit Breakfast Salads: Cut canteloupe [yes, they spelled it two ways.] crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Remove seeds and rind. Serve melon rings filled with fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, grapes or melon balls.

IMG_2789.jpg picture by seshet27


Eggs-in-hash-nests bake: I remembered canned corned beef hash through the rose-colored palate of my childhood, when we ate it a lot when we went camping. Man, that stuff was delicious. It led to the following incident in high school:

Giggling Boys: Hey! Hey Jana! Hey! HEYYYYYY. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. HEY.


GB: Um, um, do you like hash? *snicker/elbow*

Me: Huh?

GB (now more confident): I said, do you like hash? I bet you do. You do, huh.

Me: Yeah, I love hash!


Me: Yeah, my family has it all the time when we're camping. That stuff is dang good.

GB: ...........*look of shock and awe*

Me (hours later): Hey wait... OH! *facepalm*

Yikes. Anyway, having it again as an adult, this stuff is terrible. Salty pink pureed paste holding together tiny cubes of potato reminiscent of pork fat and this smell. This... I had to struggle through this. The first few bites I was carried by nostalgia, but after that, the real taste and texture hit me. Ron had to finish the last few bites for me, because the thought of bringing that fork to my face one more time made me worry that it might all come back up. You people know I've eaten some bad food in the course of this blog, but this, this is the worst so far.

Corn muffins: I used a Jiffy mix instead of Betty Crocker brand. The shame.

Fruit breakfast salad: It's kind of festive, isn't it? It tastes about like you'd expect.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For the family of 3

In part three of our four-part series, the honeymoon has worn off. Gone is the oddly shiny foods on platters! Gone is the tiny pup, now a very slightly larger, but more yappy dog they have optimistically named Nibbles. Gone, most unfortunately of all, is the little coronet. Alas! And yet, their small family has been added to in the form of young Jeff. Our heroine vows that ere the sun sets, both Jeff and hubbykins will know how to make their own darn instant pudding. It is not going as well as she had hoped, and she restrains herself from fetching him a wallop. Will it ever get better? Tune in next week!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Roast Fowl, Potato, and Half-pay Pudding

This comes from The Book of Twenty-five Cent Dinners for Families of Six [1879], by Julie Corson, superintendendent of the New York Cooking School. You can read it here, at Project Gutenberg! I love Project Gutenberg. My very very favorite quote thus far comes from this book:

The cheapest kinds of food are sometimes the most wholesome and strengthening; but in order to obtain all their best qualities we must know how to choose them for their freshness, goodness, and suitability to our needs. That done, we must know how to cook them, so as to make savory and nutritious meals instead of tasteless or sodden messes, the eating whereof sends the man to the liquor shop for consolation.

Preach, Julie! Fannie Farmer needs to know. The atrocities she visits on defenseless sick people fill me with sorrow.

$.25 in 1879 is about $5.50 to $5.70 in 2010 money.

Both poultry and game are less nutritious than meat, but they are more digestible, and consequently are better food than meat for persons of weak digestive organs and sedentary habits. They are both excellent for persons who think or write much.

Roast Fowl.—You can generally buy a fowl for about a shilling a pound; it need not be tender, but it ought to be fleshy in order to furnish the basis for two meals. Choose a fowl which will cost fifty cents or less; pluck all the pin feathers, singe off the hairs with a piece of burning paper, or a little alcohol poured on a plate and lighted with a match; then wipe the fowl with a clean damp cloth, draw it carefully by slitting the skin at the back of the neck, and taking out the crop without tearing the skin of the breast; loosen the heart, liver, and lungs by introducing the fore-finger at the neck, and then draw them, with the entrails, from the vent. Unless you have broken the gall, or the entrails, in drawing the bird, do not wash it, for this greatly impairs the flavor, and partly destroys the nourishing qualities of the flesh. Twist the tips of the wings back under the shoulders; bend the legs as far up toward the breast as possible, secure the thigh bones in that position by a trussing cord or skewer; then bring the legs down, and fasten them close to the vent. Put the bird into a pot containing three quarts of boiling water, with one tablespoonful of salt, an onion stuck with half a dozen cloves, and a bouquet of sweet herbs, made as directed on page 19; skim it as soon as it boils, and as often as any scum rises.

IMG_2778.jpg picture by seshet27

Meantime, while the fowl is boiling, peel one quart of potatoes, (cost three cents,) and lay them in cold water. At the end of one hour take the fowl from the pot, taking care to strain and save the pot liquor, put it into a dripping pan with the potatoes, season them both with a teaspoonful of salt, and quarter of a teaspoonful of pepper, and put them in a rather quick oven to bake for about one hour. When both are well done, and nicely browned, take them up on hot dishes, and keep them hot while you make the following gravy:

Chicken Gravy.—Pour one pint of boiling water into the dripping pan in which the fowl was baked; while it is boiling up mix one heaping tablespoonful, or one ounce, of flour with half a cup of cold water, and stir it smoothly into the gravy; season it to taste with pepper and salt, and send it in a bowl to the table with the chicken and potatoes.

IMG_2782.jpg picture by seshet27

Dried Herbs.—When you buy a bunch of dried herbs rub the leaves through a sieve, and bottle them tightly until you need them; tie the stalks together and save them until you want to make what the French call a bouquet, for a soup or stew. A bouquet of herbs is made by tying together a few sprigs of parsley, thyme and two bay-leaves. The bay-leaves, which have the flavor of laurel, can be bought at any German grocery, or drug-store, enough to last for a long time for five cents.

Good puddings are nutritious and wholesome, and an excellent variety can be made at a comparatively small expense.

Half-pay Pudding.—Carefully wash and dry a quarter of a pound of Zante currants, (cost three cents,) stone the same quantity of raisins, (cost three cents,) and chop an equal amount of suet, (cost two cents;) mix them with eight ounces of stale bread, (cost three cents,) three tablespoonfuls of molasses, half a pint of milk, and a teaspoonful each of spice, salt, and baking powder, (cost four cents.)
IMG_2780.jpg picture by seshet27
Put these ingredients into a mould which has been well buttered and floured, and steam them about three hours.
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If by any mischance the top of the pudding is watery, you can remedy it by putting it into a hot oven for ten or fifteen minutes to brown. When you are ready to use it, turn it from the mould and send it to the table with some CREAM SAUCE. This is an excellent plum pudding, and costs only about twenty cents, including sauce.
IMG_2783.jpg picture by seshet27
Cream Sauce.—Stir together over the fire one ounce each of flour and butter, (cost two cents;) as soon as they are smooth pour into them half a pint of boiling milk, (cost two cents,) add two ounces of sugar and half a teaspoonful of lemon flavoring, (cost two cents,) and use with the pudding as soon as it boils up. The sauce and pudding will cost about twenty cents.


Julie recommends you also do this for dinner the next two days:

Fried Chicken.—Dip the pieces of chicken saved from the Sunday dinner into a batter made according to the following receipt, and fry it a delicate brown color in quarter of a pound of olive oil or sweet drippings, or lard, (cost three cents,) heated until it is smoking hot. Before you begin to fry the chicken, wash one quart of potatoes, (cost three cents,) pare off a ring from each, and put them to boil in plenty of well salted boiling water. When the chicken is done take it up with a strainer, and lay it for a few minutes on brown paper to free it from fat; then serve it hot, with the boiled potatoes.

Frying Batter.—This batter will do nicely for chicken, fish, clams, cold boiled parsnips, or fruit of any kind, of which you wish to make fritters. The oil is added to it for the purpose of making it crisp. Many persons object to the use of oil in cooking, from a most foolish prejudice. It is a pure vegetable fat, wholesome and nutritious in the highest degree; and the sooner our American housewives learn to use it in cooking the better it will be for both health and purse. I do not mean the expensive oil, sold at fine grocery stores for a dollar a bottle, but a good sweet kind which can be bought at French Épicerie or German Delicatessen depots for about two dollars and fifty cents a gallon. Make the batter by mixing together four heaping tablespoonfuls of flour, (cost one cent,) a level teaspoonful of salt, the yolk of one egg, (cost one or two cents,) two tablespoonfuls of oil, (cost one cent,) and one gill of water, or a quantity sufficient to make a thick batter; just as you are ready to use it, beat the white of the egg, and stir it into the batter; the cost will be three or four cents, and the use of it will double the size and nicety of your dish.

Chicken Broth.—Heat the broth in which the fowl for Sunday dinner was boiled, and when it is at the boiling point throw in quarter of a pound of rice, or fine macaroni, which will cost three or four cents, and boil it about twenty minutes, or until tender; see if the seasoning is right, and serve it hot.

Whew. Sorry about all that reading. Now onto the


Roast Fowl: I used a couple chicken thighs instead of an entire chicken, and I'll admit now that I did not actually kill, pluck and gut it myself. The shame, I am filled with it. Anyway, this was... really good. I thought the boiling it and THEN roasting it was weird, but it actually worked well! The boiling rendered off a lot of the fat, so later when the chicken was roasted it crisped up to deliciousness without that under layer of gross fat. Bleargh. It was nice and tender as well. And, bonus, I got broth for... whatever I need broth for. Woo!

Potato: It's, you know, a potato. This meal has zero real vegetables. I hope the poor folk reading this book didn't get scurvy or anything.

Half-pay Pudding: So yeah! A steamed pudding. Gentle readers, I tried to find suet. I made a valiant effort. I actually talked to the guy in the butcher department.

"Do you guys by any chance have suet?"
"What... what is suet?"
"It is the solid fat from around the kidneys of cows."
"Oh. I call that 'kidney fat'. And no. We don't. Try the butchering school."


I also used sorghum molasses, for extra credit. Let's talk about sorghum!
IMG_2779.jpg picture by seshet27
Before shipping from the Caribbean became reasonably inexpensive, "molasses" in recipes referred broadly to 1.) the stuff from sugar cane and 2.) boiled down syrup from sorghum. Sorghum plants look like corn minus the corn, and have a veeeery high sugar content. Sorghum can also be grown in cool climates, unlike sugar cane. Thus, sorghum was much more readily available, since it could be produced at any local farm. It tastes much like molasses, but much milder and smoother. It is tasty on pancakes. And super annoying to make over a fire. Hate. So. Much.

Anyway! The pudding. It was okay! A little soggy, but I did use store bought bread, so that's my own fault. Kind of like a smooshy cinnamon roll. The sauce was tasty times. If you want to try it out, here is my altered recipe:

Half-pay Pudding
1/3 C. raisins and/or currants
1/4 C. suet or butter
2-3 pieces stale (or toasted) bread (2 if homemade, 3 if store bought. Ish.), crumbed
1 T. molasses
1/2 C. milk
1/4 t. each spice, salt, baking powder

Mix first set of ingredients in order listed. Divide into 2 greased ramekins. Cover ramekins with foil or parchment paper and tie on. Steam 1.5 hours (I put them over my vegetable steamer). Bake 5-10 minutes if it is too smooshy. Turn it onto a plate and put cream sauce over.

Cream Sauce
1/2 T. butter
1/2 T. flour
1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla or 1/8 t. lemon flavoring

Melt butter in a pan and stir in flour. Slowly add in milk and cook until slightly thickened. If it is boiling, it is as thick as it's going to get. Stir in other ingredients and cook until sugar melts.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rose Cardamon Butter Cake

This is a cake recipe of indeterminate age, that I added rose water and cardamon to. It was delicious. If you try rose water, and I hope you do, I think you'll enjoy this recipe. At least, more than that custard pudding business. And no. It does not need frosting. You could do a lemon sauce or a glaze or something, but don't go nuts. You can also leave out the rose water and cardamon and it will be tasty times!

I have spoken.

IMG_2777.jpg picture by seshet27

Rose Cardamon Butter Cake
4 eggs
2 C. sugar
2 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1/4-1/2 t. cardamon
1 t. vanilla
1/4-1/2 t. rose water
1 1/4 C. milk
10 T. butter

Beat eggs at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, and cardamon; add to batter with vanilla and rose water. Beat at low speed until smooth. In a saucepan (or the microwave) heat milk and butter just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add to batter, beating until combined. Pour into a greased 13x9" pan. Bake at 350 F. for 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done.

Run! Run from the johnnycake!

Even geese hate the johnnycake.

Run away! Run away!
IMG_2763.jpg picture by seshet27

The seagulls ate it. Well, at least they fought over it when I threw it at them, then flew away leaving most of it there. See pieces of it there, behind this guy? That he is ignoring while giving me the eye?
IMG_2766.jpg picture by seshet27

Stupid seagull.

For the family of 2

In the second part of this four-part series, our heroine has, at long last, netted herself a man and is now blissfully serving him an oddly shiny dish. She has even made him a crown, representing his sovereignty. Meanwhile, the darling pup they chose together to replace dear Mitzi, who bit it last winter, scampers sweetly about their feet. D'awwwwwwwwwwwww. Will it last? Or is there trouble in paradise? Tune in next week!