Saturday, 30 October 2021

Old Cookery Books.


My mother was a reasonably plain cook until she discovered Elizabeth David. Then she became more adventurous and even experimental.

Her main pre-David source of recipes was this 'Radiation Cookery Book' that came with her Gas cooker. It was a reasonably comprehensive book, with a leaning towards frugality. As you can see, it's been well used, and has just received yet another gluing and amateur 'restoration'. As with all my mother's books, etc, it comes well stocked with four-leafed-clovers; most of which are now three, or even two, leafed clovers. Time has not been kind to them.

The book is filled with small snippets of hand written recipes; as far as I can see, most of them are for 'flapjacks'.


The other essential in all English kitchens is of course Mrs Beeton; the woman who changed people's culinary lives for ever.

Both books are in a terrible state, but I shall keep them as they are 'family' books. They won't be used for reference any more, but confined to the loft.


 

26 comments:

  1. I love those old family cookbooks. I have a few in various conditions, all well written on. My father was also a cook in later years and his recipes are preserved too.
    I gave a couple of Elizabeth David cookbooks . She lead a very interesting life. I have her biography but haven't read it yet.

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    1. I have several E D books, including the one that my mother bought after the war. I think it was 'Mediterranean Cooking'. She was one of those cookery writers (rather like Rick Stein) that one read for pure pleasure.

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  2. The New World Cookbook was the only cookbook my mother owned. The treacle pudding and spotted dick recipes were wonderful. I wooed my husband with it's shortbread.

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    1. It does seem to have been a very popular book. My wife seduced me with her Tarte Tatin and Estouffat de Boeuf; she's been doing it ever since! They weren't in the New World book.

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  3. I have an old cookbook that came free when my dad was talked into buying an electric mixer by a door-to-door salesman back in the 1960s. I don't remember either mixer or book being used until after I married and used it to make lemon meringue pie and a few other things. It lives at my daughter's house now, but the recipes are too old-fashioned and far to rich and stodgy, so it is no longer used.

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    1. Also, tastes change and we are now more 'selective' about what we eat. I used to have a well illustrated book by Fanny Craddock. I threw it away because it was horrendous; in the 50's it was considered fashionable.

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  4. My first cookery book is from a later era. When I was first married in the early 1970s I was given a copy of the Marguerite Patten Everyday Cook Book. I used it so much it became quite battered. I still have it but no longer use it.

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    1. When I was married, my mother gave my wife a new copy of the Radiation Book. Certain things never change; jams, cakes, etc. She still looks at it occasionally.

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  5. My first cookery book was Katherine Whitehorn's Kitchen in the Corner. Perfect for those like me then, living in a bedsit in the early '60s with only a Wee Baby Belling.

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    1. Those Baby Bellings were in every London Bed-Sit. I don't think I ever actually used one. They looked evil.

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  6. It's splendid that you have kept your mother's cookery books and when you handle them you know that she also turned those pages. To me it seems wrong to confine them to the attic.

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    1. Agree, wholeheartedly, with YP's sentiment, not least "you know that she also turned those pages". I could cry.

      U

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    2. That's why I'm keeping them, but they're of little use in the kitchen these days; other than for jams, etc. I would never get rid of them.

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  7. I have the Radiation Cookery Book which my Grandmother got, along with her Gas Cooker in 1927!
    It's seen much better days, obviously, and is full of comments written by my Nan, Mum, and most recently by me!
    I've spent many a happy hour poring over recipes, tips and hints, but don't think I've ever actually used it for the original purpose!
    It is, of course, a first edition, but even if it turned out to be worth something, it stays with me, as part of my family history!

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    1. SNAP! My edition is from 1936 (I think). I would probably have to pay someone to take it away! Some of the soups sound fun. I've just been looking at 'Kilmany Kail'. I suspect that Kail is what we now spell as Kale.

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  8. Attics/lofts, the repository of that we don't know what to do with, reluctant to part with. That's why I have never used my loft. Though do love the treasure of other people's.

    My dear dear English mother-in-law who didn't live much beyond my tying the knot with her son kept a large notebook, full of cuttings from, say, Good Housekeeping, handwritten recipes from friends, her own. It was a treasure trove. When she died I was given that collection. And started my own. Side by side. Alas, a few years ago, at my place, there was some flash flooding - through the roof. Both her and my collections destroyed. Ink running into ink. Pages glued together. The loss of hers was heartbreaking [to me]. At least I still remember her Cranberry Chicken by heart.

    She also was the woman who when first I met her told me about a time when the only place you could get Olive Oil in England was at the chemists/pharmacists, Boots, for medicinal purposes. We have come such a long way. She'd have loved it.

    And yes, at the risk of outstaying my welcome in your comment box, I also do have her "The Oxford Book of English Verse", awarded to her on graduation, complete with her annotations and dried leaves and flowers. It's on my shelf. Within reach. Not in the loft.

    U

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    1. I too remember those days of Olive Oil in small bottles from the chemist; bizarre.

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  9. My mother had the Radiation Cookery book but alas I dumped it when I cleared her things, it had been well used. I do still have and use her Mrs Beeton's though.

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    1. It's amazing how many copies are (were) around. It must have been very popular.

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  10. Radiation cookery sounds more scary than microwave cookery. I am pleased that my mother never made recipes from a frugality cookbook. Frugality about anything has never been my mother's style.

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    1. 'Frugality' was forced upon families after the last war. We had rationing until about 1950 (?), and everything was scarce. Luckily we had a big garden with vegs, fruit, and chickens etc.

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  11. Family books handed down are treasured. I have the US popular "Joy of Cooking" from 1950. Old bibles belonging to my grandmother are stored carefully as well.

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    1. I'm not quite so keen on the old bibles, but I understand their appeal. It's all the old bits of hand written recipes that one finds in old cookery books that makes them so fascinating. I love seeing my mother's handwriting.

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  12. Elizabeth David's 'An Omelette and a Glass of Wine' has always been one of my favourite books on the culinary arts.

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    1. It's a great book. My wife gave it to me as a Christmas present about 20 years ago. ED was such a meticulous writer.

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