Today the summer weather turned a bit chilly so the cough from my summer cold is annoying me even more. I’ve had it for a week so I’m now going to try one of the remedies in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). There are two recipes for Cough Mixture but I’m going to try the one contributed by Mrs. Hume since it has the caption “Good”. I can’t make either of the recipe completely accurately since they both contain laudanum — a preparation containing opium. The other difficulty with these recipes is the measurements. They are based on the cost of the ingredients. I’m going to do my best using information in The Canadian Grocer magazine, other recipes, and common sense. I’m also going to cut this recipe in half.
Another challenge is determining what sort of syrup is intended in this recipe. Is it maple syrup or corn syrup or a home made syrup of sugar and water? I’m going to use corn syrup since I have it on hand but I think maple syrup would be more likely for Mrs. Hume simply because of her age. At this point I decided I should cut this recipe even further. I’m cutting my half recipe into one quarter! Therefore I put 1/4 cup corn syrup into a glass. Next I added 1 teaspoon anise seed. Is the peppermint dried leaves or extract? I’m going to assume that it is peppermint oil. I added 1 capful of peppermint extract. Finally I added 1/4 cup of hot water. I stirred well. The fragrance of the peppermint was immediately obvious. I considered adding some aspirin as the closest thing to the painkilling effect of laudanum but decided to hold off and just sample the combination I had created thus far.
I think Mrs. Hume is probably Ann Ingles since her daughter Annie is also a recipe contributor. Ann Ingles was born in Scotland in 1831 and must have come to Canada sometime before 1851 since she married Gavin Hume in Galt Ontario in 1852. Gavin was also from Scotland and was a hardware and grocery merchant. They had approximately eleven children and remarkably all but one lived to adulthood. Little James died when he was 1 year 7 months old in 1868. Several were in their nineties when they died. Ann was a new widow when her recipe appeared in the cook book. She died in 1905 of stomach cancer while living in Toronto. For some reason she and several of the younger children had moved there between Gavin’s death in 1895 and the 1901 census.
I sampled my cough mixture while it was hot to enjoy any soothing effect as soon as possible. Wow! This tastes like the cough medicine of my childhood! The peppermint immediately cleared my nose. The syrup coated my throat. The heat felt soothing and the anise seed gave it a medicinal flavour. According to this website, anise seed has long been used in cough remedies and it is now know it contains creosol and alpha-pinen which help loosen secretions. After a couple of sips (about two teaspoons) I found it effective. I imagine the laudanum would ease any pain associated with the cough and induce sleep but it works fine without it. I wonder how many of the children were give this during the usual childhood illnesses.
COUGH MIXTURE (GOOD)
Three cents’ worth of anise seed, three cents’ worth of peppermint, three cents’ worth of laudanum, one pint of syrup and one pint of hot water, mix all together.