HOW TO ENJOY OLD RECIPES FROM SOME OLD RECIPE BOOKS…

I don’t know about you but I have been baking lots more during lockdown, but it has given me the chance to be quite choosy and really study recipes. I had boxes of old recipe books so I decided I would go through them all and try out some of my old recipes. But then you end up with a load of books around you and some recipes that need the weights changing.

So, I bought this lovely new recipe book to put my new found recipes in (see below) which is a great size. You can write down any recipes you love in it. Prompts will also help you do that easier – areas for ingredients, directions, times for preparation and cook, and it is only £6.97 from Amazon so what’s not to like about it.

As I was going through all my books I found my original GCSE Cookery Book, which fascinated me as one of my courses was a salad !!!! I guess it was all about the timing back then as you had to do a starter, main course and a sweet. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a GCSE in cooking but it definitely put me in good stead for the future. One section that made me smile was about the storage of milk – It is important to store milk carefully to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria and to prevent scouring so never leave your milk in the sunlight, keep in cool dark place, always use clean jugs, keep it covered, and boil suspected milk!

If old cookbooks once belonged to family, then the connection is particularly strong, as I remember my grandmother and mother using the same books for special meals and I have a few written out that are falling apart that were my Mums. I have stuck that together and popped it into the recipe book. I think it’s going to take me a while to sort through them all and I am sure I will need another recipe book to put them in.

I guess I have really loved baking more than anything else and I have been doing quite a bit of that for my family recently. My son and his wife only moved down to where we live in January and with Covid-19 we have not even seen the inside of the house yet. So, I decided I would bake a few things for them then at least we can see them outside there house for a few minutes standing at a safe distance of course. I have also been baking for my 18 month old granddaughter who is going through that faze of not liking many things that are put in front of her but she will always eat my muffins and my fishcakes. I know she loves cheese so I just make sure there is a lot in both of them and make her vegetable muffins and the fishcakes have sweet potato and broccoli in so she is getting her vegetables down her.

I also bought Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes : Easy Bakes in Minutes, it’s a fantastic baking book with lots of recipes that only need one bowl to work with. Mary has incorporated her ‘all-in-one’ method of preparation into as many recipes as possible, so her recipes are faster to make than ever. Nearly 100 of the bakes take only 10 minutes to make and Mary has included small bake variations for fruit cakes, which traditionally take a long time in the oven, so you can make one even when you are pushed for time.

There are scones, buns and biscuits that you can whip up for tea, traybakes and fruit loaves perfect for a school or village fete and of course foolproof cakes for every occasion from everyday recipes such as a Honey and Almond Cake to Mary’s First-Rate Chocolate Cake. Not forgetting recipes you can make with your kids from Happy Face Biscuits to Traffic Lights and Jammy Buns. Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes is available from Amazon and other good book shops from £17.39 for the Hardcover or the Kindle Edition which is the one I bought is just £7.99 and worth every penny.

VINTAGE COOKERY BOOKS…

Before 1800, housekeeping books tended to be handwritten collections of recipes and instructions tried and tested by the household cook. By the 1850’s they were developed into books for ‘adult women’, in particular for your brides who were setting up home.

They were intended as work manuals, they were without lavish photography or even set in fine bindings but if you can get hold of one from a book shops they will amaze you. They tell us about the lives of the women in the past from where you can see social change and the disappearance of domestic servants.

Mrs Breton’s Book of Household Management, which was published in 1861 was a huge success and sold 60,000 copes in its first year and two million by 1868. Of course with no television at that time these books were inspirational.

By the time Helen Simpson wrote ‘The Happy Housewife’ in 1934 modern appliances were starting to pop up everywhere, not only helping with the housework but also removing the servants of that time.

In ‘Keeping House’ with Elizabeth Craig (Collins 1936) she said ‘ I have no use for elaborately decorated or furnished homes or for elaborate meals. The simpler the home, the simpler the housekeeping.

Some of these vintage home books can now fetch a lot of money at auction. A book published in 1687 ‘The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closit of Rarities’, by John Shirley sold at Sothebys for £1,625. So, if your great aunt or grandma are still alive and have some old cookery books make sure they don’t end up at the tip.

Even the National Trust ‘Manual of Housekeeping of 2006’ sold 10,000 copies in 2006 and is now being reprinted !!!