While working on a recent issue of our magazine, we ran across the word “syllabub.” No, not like, “Hey bully boy bubba, how many syllabulls do you think this word has?” but more like “My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the traditional syllabub.”



From the Oxford English Dictionary:
A drink or dish made of milk (freq. as drawn from the cow) or cream, curdled by the admixture of wine, cider, or other acid, and often sweetened and flavoured.

A later variation, known as an Everlasting Syllabub, adds a stabilizer such as gelatin or corn starch.


detail, “The Sense of Taste” by Philip Mercier (circa 1689-1760)

“Lemon Syllabub”
from The Experienced English Housekeeper, by Elizabeth Raffald, London 1784

Put a pint of cream to a pint of white wine, then rub a quarter of a pound of loaf sugar upon the out rind of two lemons, till you have got out all the essence, then put the sugar to the cream, and squeeze in the juice of both lemons, let it stand for two hours, then mill them with a chocolate mill, to raise the froth, and take it off with a spoon as it rises, or it will make it heavy, lay it upon a hair sieve to drain, then fill your glasses with the remainder, and lay on the froth as high as you can, let them stand all night and they will be clear at the bottom.~

Wine pudding? Not so sure about that. And I’ve mislaid my hair sieve …

But leave it to my favorite British cook, Nigella Lawson, to provide us with a very yummy-sounding modern adaptation, Turkish Delight Syllabub, that uses orange liqueur instead, topped with pistachios. That’s something I could wrap my spoon around! Now, if only I can get Sally O’Malley to draw me a picture and figure out what an admixture is!


Nigella Lawson, Turkish Delight Syllabub

  1. At the two 18th century living history museums I have worked for , we always served various Syllabubs, as part of the immersion into foodstuffs from that century. The favorite was the Cherry Syllabub served at the Spring Cherry Festival. Alcohol was served in many ingenious ways in those days, liberally and often.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have heard this term before too but only in reference to a wine concoction that was often enjoyed here in colonial America. That photo for Turkish delight looks very tempting!

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Hmmmmmm . . . . that’s a new one for me!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Don’t you wish the walls could tell their story of what the decades have been like here?

  2. Nancy Coughlin says:

    I love these photographs of old, abandoned buildings. Winnie, you are so right in wishing these walls could talk and share their memories.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Word Quiz!

Word quiz time!

I stumbled across an old favorite poem, “Rice Pudding,” by A.A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame), and the following lines inspired me to craft this, er, cantankerous little quiz:

“What is the matter with Mary Jane?

She’s crying with all her might and main,

And she won’t eat her dinner—rice pudding again—

What is the matter with Mary Jane?”



So, with Milne’s Mary Jane in mind, match the terms below with their meanings, listed further below. But don’t click on “read more” until you’re ready for the answers.

I’ll give you one hint: all of the words are nouns that refer to people with certain, shall we say … unsavory dispositions.


1. blatherskite

2. snollygoster

3. makebate

4. mumpsimus

5. kibitzer

6. mullygrubber

7. fabulist


A. a grump

B. someone who incites quarrels

C. a person given to voluble, empty talk

D. a clever, unscrupulous person

E. a liar

F. a giver of uninvited or unwanted advice, or someone who jokes, chitchats, or makes wisecracks

G. someone who holds stubbornly to a viewpoint in spite of clear evidence that it’s wrong



Continue reading

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Those were really hard words! I have never heard any of them. The only one I got correct was blatherskite. It was fun to try and figure them out,however, but I would rather eat rice pudding. Yummy!

  2. Nancy Coughlin says:

    What fun!!! Because I read so much (as often as I can get a book in my hands!) I do run across some unusual terms. You topped them all with this list. Thanks for helping to start off my week with a laugh and a smile!

  3. knew 3, 5 , 7 as familiar words, especially kibitzer, a Yiddish word, used alot in New York City. Yiddish , rather a slangy language is a mix of German and Hebrew. they always have the best words for just about anything. Schmuck is the probably the most well known of those. Mensch also.
    thanks for making us put our thinking caps on again, MaryJane. Oh, and I love rice pudding too, no one makes it or real baked custard anymore. I always love the petulant MaryJane in the drawing throwing off her shoe . When I was a child, I so wished I could show impatience that way. Got all the A.A. Milne books for my 6th birthday, ” Now We Are Six” being the operative word.

    • Karlyne says:

      Lisa, we made baked custard last week from Tasha Tudor’s Cookbook! Lovely and simple.

      • Wow, Karlyne, Tasha Tudor had a cookbook? Must look for it. I knew her a bit when I lived in Vermont. We all considered her a bit of a eccentric. How I wish I had spent more time there. I have since become a huge fan of hers, needless to say.
        My mother made baked custard in a pan filled with water that steamed in the heat of the oven around the little ramekins of custard. I think the secret is whole milk and organic sugar. Once when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life ( I am a “stress non- eater” ) I basically lived on baked custard. Very wholesome and the ultimate comfort food indeed.

      • Thanks Karlyne, I just ordered my own copy from where I get most of my books. Im so excited.

      • The Tasha Tudor cookbook arrived yesterday karlyne and I am so thrilled and she sometimes used maple syrup too like I do . A friend who lives in VT and knew Tasha much better than I did, sent me the world’s greatest gift, a whole gallon of maple syrup! Im ready to go now.

        • Karlyne says:

          A whole gallon?!? I am so very envious! I’ve never been to Vermont, but every Christmas when I read my Tasha Tudor Christmas book (I presume you have that, too?), I wish I could!

          • OOOh my I do’nt have that book either , gotta get a copy ! ( most of my books come from book sales and Tasha Tudor is usually the first to be bought if anyone even parts with their copies ) yep,my friend, ML, ( who is a double for ” Grizzly Adams” ) who sent me the gallon, was truly magnanimous, it’s great to sweeten strong coffee esp expresso. And if you mix it in cognac brandy you can make your own ” Northern Comfort”. I adore maple syrup and made my own once, all that work for a pint.!!Once you have tried making it you appreciate the high prices I assure you. I adore Vermont but it is a hard place ot make a living esp if you have garden based business like my heirloom seeds.
            Ok off to to order that book! thanks for the suggestion Karlyne

          • Karlyne says:

            Lisa, I’ve been super lucky in my friends; the friend who used to work at Border’s always kept me supplied in Tasha Tudor’s, among other authors. She’s an artist, so my house also reflects some of her work. And she’s in Ireland, and I do miss her dreadfully, but every time that I pick up a Tasha or see an original picture on my wall, I think of her!

  4. Karlyne says:

    I had never heard of a “mumpsimus”- what a great word! I’ll use it on the kids when they’re being unreasonable.

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    What fun! I did get 1, 2 and 5 correct but it wasn’t because I’m really familiar with the terms.
    I like rice pudding if it’s made like my mom made it! 😀

  6. This is the oddest thing to be reading this tonight. My Mother in law use to make rice pudding & bread pudding. She always made a small dish for my daughter leaving the raisins out of hers. No one in our family had her recipe but I came across one in a cookbook & decided to make it Sunday. As I was putting the ingredients together I thought that the 1/4 cup of sugar didn’t sound like enough but I decided to stick with the recipe & as it turned out it was not sweet enough. I would love to have a recipe to try if someone can post theirs.

  7. Molly Welsh says:

    Well, I actually got them ALL correct! I already knew some, but used a bit of logic about parts of the words for the rest & a tiny bit of guessing, LOL.
    And I, too, love rice pudding, or as the mister says what’s not to like: rice, raisins, milk, eggs, sweetener?? How can you go wrong?

  8. Cindi Johnson says:

    What fun! I got a perfect score! For not getting a single one correct, that is. Wow, what an eyeopener. I think I will go soothe my damaged pride over a delicious bowl of rice pudding ~ made with farm fresh milk and eggs, of course.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


It’s not every day that one happens upon a word as fabulous as:


I mean, really, it’s almost addictive—you can’t help but giggle when you say it …


Try it three times fast and see if you can keep a straight face.

Something of an unsung onomatopoeia, flibbertigibbet (see, I had to say it again) refers to a talkative, flighty, “light-headed” person. While its origin is obscure, tells us that this 15th-century term “is thought have been formed as an imitative representation of the sound of chatter or gossip.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?



Of course, here and now, amid the modernity of the 21st century, we politely shy away from placing gender restrictions upon our adjectives, but, for the record, flibbertigibbet is generally reserved for young women. So, I suppose this would be more fitting …


Photo by HerbertT via Wikimedia Commons

And, speaking of poultry, you may recall the gabbling goose in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web declaring, “I am no Flibberty-ibberty-gibbet.”


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Perhaps the one instance of flibbertigibbet’s utterance that packs the most parodic panache, however, is this (click to listen) …

Unless you’re one of the few devoted fans of the 1990 film Joe Versus the Volcano …


Theatrical release poster courtesy of Wikimedia

… you may not recognize the satirically sultry speaker as actress Meg Ryan, playing the ravishing (if a bit bird-brained) redhead, Angelica Graynamore.

Your turn to get flibbertigibbety. Cluck away in the comments, dear hens.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I can hardly pronounce this word. It makes me instantly tongue-tied, but I do love the complexity of the sound. So fitting for the meaning that it carries too. It reminds me of the years of car pooling the girls back and forth from town to the horse barn. The back seat was awash with content gibber and laughter!

  2. connie says:

    What a great word! I am going to practice saying it, so I can use it! LOL!

  3. Rebecca Taylor says:

    The place that I remember hearing it from is The Sound of Music when the nuns are in the Abbey singing about Maria.
    In the song they sing….”How do you find a word that describes Maria?…A flibbertigibbet, a will of a wisp, a clown?”

  4. Time to get out and reread ” Charlotte’s Web” again. You know those big striped garden spiders? Well they write messages in their webs and I always point them out to everyone ( especially kids) and tell them the message is their own little secret. Honestly the do write , although mostly “m” , “v” , “w” and “a” and other zigzag letters.

  5. Olivia says:

    I started to send this message before, but broke off to look up a spelling and lost the link! Gerr! I may be repeating myself, but thought I should start over: Word question: “Fotchet” (I am spelling that as it sounded, probably not as it should be) My grandmother, a true hillbilly from the south, used to call “odd” or rambunctious people,: Little Fotchets! Somehow that phrase became part of my lexicon and I only recently questioned what it really means. Her phrasing usually indicated a silly rascal, or someone not to be overly trusted, more than anything truly evil or nasty-mean. Well, I tried to look up the actual meaning of that word and can not find anything I truly think fits. But then I have no idea how it should be accurately spelled either! The closest I have come is to “fourchette” which is French for fork, and could be construed to mean something like a part of the vulva? Which could be a possible stretch/match. I wanted to see you would have any insight as to “what the Heck is this woman talking about!!” or “Grandma was crazy”. or if it actually was at least a “Localism” that may have a history with the English language? Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this. Thank you much…. And I have added your web site to my favorites. I’ve only just tuned in, but it seems quite worth exploring! Thank you ladies! O.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *