Monday, January 08, 2007


Tina and I had a nostalgic afternoon on Saturday.

It all began when Tina said she had brought some of Nana's precious handwritten recipes with her to Norfolk Island. (Tina's nana was my mother.)

That sent me off to the shed where I have a big box of old recipe clippings and folders, including...I hope... a folder of Mum's favourites she wrote out for me when I first started flatting many years ago.

Unfortunately the shed was too loaded with junk for me to reach the back, but I did unearth a couple of boxes of recipes and cookbooks belonging to Bernie's mum and Great-aunt Charlotte.

The books have unusual names like "Aunt Daisy's Cookery Book" and "The EWA Cookery Book" produced by "The Electrical Association for Women." The latter was published in 1936, and carries several advertisements for "modern" electric stoves and other appliances, which look like real dinosaurs today.

Interspersed between the pages are numerous hand written or hand-typed recipes and hints, with titles like "Flora's biscuits(very good)" or "Mrs Passmore's Orange Jam," or "Miss Parry's Cough Mixture"as well as several clipped from old magazines.

Some of the books bear Charlotte's name written in the front in pencil, followed by "Sydney 1942." It seems that she travelled to Sydney by ship for a holiday, but was prevented from returning to the island because of the War. So she obtained a job for a while as a housekeeper/companion, and no doubt equipped herself with these recipes to impress and satisfy her employer.

Among Bernie's mum's recipes are several handwritten copies of recipes for her Sago Plum Pudding(for which she was well-known), as well as a number of versions of Brandy Sauce. Bernie recalls that the preparation of the Brandy sauce was one of the most important rituals of Christmas in his family!!

Modern cookbooks are lavishly illustrated, and often carry only one recipe to a page. They use exotic and expensive and hard-to-obtain ingredients. Not so your old Coronation Cookery book of 1937, which has ten recipes just for cooking pigeon. Or your "Modern Cookery Illustrated"(1948) which runs to 640 pages of small print, two columns to a page.

Improvising and substituting were necessities in those times, and the indexes point you to recipes for Mock Cream, Mock Chicken, Mock Duck, Mock Hare Soup, Mock Oyster Soup and Mock Turtle Soup! And how about Pea Shell soup for those on a budget?

There are usually chapters on Invalid Cookery, working on the principle that as long as it was mushy, white and without flavour, it was fine for someone who was a convalescent. Quite an incentive to get better quickly, I should think. And what about catering for an Anaemic patient, with liver cutlets, liver fritters or even raw liver sandwich?

Tina and I are planning a meal which will feature all old family recipes, like Nana's Yorkshire Pudding and Ma's Rice Pudding.

Meanwhile, you may like to try Miss Parry's Cough Cure.

1/2 pint vinegar
1/2 lb golden syrup
1 small teaspoonful cayenne pepper
Boil until reduced to half. Dose - 1 teaspoon when needed. Shake the bottle.

I think Tina has my Mum's recipe for Eucalyptus toffees. That sounds much better!

1 comment:

crazyQstitcher said...

I love your newsletters Mary. Always so full of interest. Maureen

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