A Subtle Grace Before Meals–Victorian Fish Curry

I’m delighted to host my editor and friend Ellen Gable, as she makes her way around the blogosphere promoting her latest book, A Subtle Grace. You don’t know Ellen? Let me introduce you!

Ellen Gable (Hrkach) is a bestselling, award-winning author of five books. She is also a freelance writer, publisher, editor, book coach, NFP teacher and President of Catholic Writers Guild. When she’s not writing, Ellen enjoys spending time with her family, watching old movies, playing trivia games and reading on her Kindle. Originally born in New Jersey, USA, the author now calls Canada her home. She and her family reside in rural Pakenham, Ontario, Canada.

Here’s Ellen’s cover:

Here’s the Book Blurb/Synopsis:

1896, Philadelphia. In this sequel to In Name Only (2009 FQP), A Subtle Grace continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century. At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true beloved? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.

Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself.

Will (oldest son) believes God may be calling him to a religious vocation. Eventually, he discovers the hidden circumstances of his humble beginnings, compelling him to embark on a pilgrimage to Rome.

(Although “A Subtle Grace” is a sequel, it can be read as a stand alone book.)

Go visit my author page for my 7 Quick Takes interview with Ellen. My review of the book is on Amazon, and my endorsement is on the endorsement page (my first ever book endorsement! and I was QUITE happy to give it).

And now, as this is my virtual kitchen, I won’t just leave you with book stuff. A Subtle Grace takes place in the late Victorian era, and as Ellen’s virtual book tour is taking place in Lent. I wanted to combine the two and blog a meal that the lovely O’Donovan family might have been eating on a Friday in Lent of 1896. Alas, this is a meal that Dr. Luke would not enjoy, as that character does not eat fish. Let’s pretend he’s out doing a corporal work of mercy and it’s just the family for dinner tonight. No food makes me think “Gilded Age” like a nice curry, and as soon as I saw Cauliflower in the German Style on Recipes Past and Present, I couldn’t resist; as much as you may think Irish when you think Catholic Philadelphia, Philly’s Catholic population was, for a very long time, mostly German–as was most of the population of any faith. Did you know that up until recent decades, the most commonly printed language in the U. S. of A. was not English but German? This is why I’m not a fan of making English the officially official language of my country, because the language, like the people, is always in flux–the second we codify it will be the second that law is outdated and cripples how We the People serve We the People. Anyway, not like anyone wanted to hear from me on that subject. So, without further ado…

The Menu– A Supper in Three Courses Suitable for an Upper-Class Lenten Friday

Codfish Curry

Cauliflower in the German Style

Boiled Potatoes with Chive Butter


Codfish Curry (inspired by Victorian Curried Fish on Recipes Past and Present)

2 lb cod or other white fish
1/4 c butter, divided
1 onion, quartered then sliced
1 T flaked coconut
1/2 T of curry powder
1/2 t Kosher salt
a “dusting” of sugar
1 T flour + 1/4 t of pepper (white would look best, but we only had black)
1 c of vegetable stock or fish stock
2 T lemon juice

In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 T butter then immediately add fish (this will keep the butter from smoking). Fry fish on both sides until fish just starts flaking with fork but is not quite cooked through. Remove fish from pan and cover. With pan still over medium-high heat, add remaining butter and sliced onion and stir until onions just start to brown, reducing heat as needed to keep butter from smoking. Return fish to pan, then add coconut, curry, and salt, then sprinkle with flour/pepper mixture. Pour in stock and simmer, covered, over low heat for five minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Use a fork to flake all the fish. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

Cauliflower in the German Style is pretty much here, only I didn’t toast the bread crumbs in butter first, since the bread crumbs we buy in paper canisters from the store are already toasted. The cauliflower was good, but it could have used some more flavor, like rubbed sage or at least some parsley. We make spaetzle in the same way, so the cauliflower was a nice change.

All you have to do for the chive potatoes is skin, chop and slice as many spuds as you’d like (usually 1/person being served), then boil them until tender; then while still steaming-hot, toss with butter and chives (fresh if you have them, but if you have dried, reconstitute them in water for 10 minutes before adding them).

When I first told Ellen I’d celebrate her latest book with a Victorian meal here on Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP, I imagined a meal of boiled stuff in butter. I wasn’t far off, but what was a surprise was how good it was, overall. I’m more of an oven-roasting, microwaving, slow-cooking kind of girl. Taking some time to step back in time, both in my kitchen as well as with A Subtle Grace, was a journey well worth taking, and I didn’t even need a TARDIS or to put my life in mortal danger to do it. Quite nice indeed.



About Erin McCole Cupp
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. In December 2020, look for her next book: All Things New: Breaking the Cycle & Raising a Joyful Family (Our Sunday Visitor), a book about parenting spirituality for survivors of family abuse and dysfunction. Find out more at erinmccolecupp.com .

One Response to A Subtle Grace Before Meals–Victorian Fish Curry

  1. Pingback: 7 Quick Takes Friday – #1 on Amazon & VBT Links! | Plot Line and Sinker

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