Last time I went up North to visit my Nan, I was looking through her old recipe books. I asked if I could borrow them, she doesn’t bake anymore, she said I could have them, lucky me! I was having a look through a few yesterday afternoon over a cuppa. Now these books are really old, I’m talking ones that were printed in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Some of them included NZ Country Woman’s Institute, The Australian Woman’s Institute, The Hostess Cookbook, The House Wives Cook Book, a few hand written ones from my Nan’s sisters and sister-in-law. It was great to see that some things haven’t changed and some things really have!
It’s interesting, the recipe books of yesteryear have none of the glossy pictures that we have today (due to cost and technology I guess), they are just jam packed full of recipes for everything from jams and pickles, to baking, to meat dishes, pies, luncheon dishes, desserts, curries, and breads. They included great home remedies for all sorts of interesting things. There are no baking times or temperatures (except for really dense cakes with lots of nuts and fruit), they are mostly just basic recipes; here are the ingredients and here is the order in which you mix it. I guess most of the recipes relied on the fact that you knew how to bake, you knew that it would be a 12 minute bake at 170ºC for cookies and cakes would be baked for around and hour in a slow-moderate oven (depending on the mix).
It makes it really interesting when there are no photos, you have to read through the ingredients and imagine what the mix is going to look like when it’s done. Lots of beautiful buttery biscuit recipes, a ton of feathery sponge recipes, each with their own variation of flavor and texture. Then there are the more suspicious recipes like Ox Tounge paste, and Corned Beef and cauliflower pie, Pass.
It was baking day yesterday and I had so many interesting recipes to choose from, Maids of Honor, Cheeky Monkeys, various versions of Kisses, the list continues …. but I finally settled on Shrewsbury biscuits as I could use some of the yummy jam that a made to fill them.
I’m going to endeavor to make my way through a bunch of these recipes, and since the idea of High Tea is coming back, I should get an opportunity to bake them all, especially with the help of the “Hostess Cook Book that I found in the pile of treasures in Nan’s drawer, it even shows me how to set up the table for a formal dinner! Woohoo!
Gone are the days ……..
Some people might mourn for the good old days when women had plenty of help and were not expected to enter into activities outside the home. But not for us.
For we know that modern progress has given us advantages that once we never dreamed of. ~ The Hostess Cook Book – 1953
Giggling and enjoying the musings of days gone by