Hold On- Burn Your Food But Not Your Recipes!

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?

It would be great if you didn’t burn your food either.. but hang onto your recipes! My plea follows a conversation with my octogenarian neighbour who happened to mention that she put all her recipes on a bonfire a long time ago. Now she truly regrets her pyrotechnic moment of madness. She realises that gone are the recipes of her Kent childhood, recipes that made food stretch that little bit further during the years of rationing and recipes that she used to feed her own three strapping lads.

Teaching Food Technology in a secondary school was an eye opener for me to find that books and magazines weren’t trawled for recipes. The internet was the place of choice to retrieve inspiration, You Tube instruction and ingredient shopping lists. It was all rather Sci-Fi to me, old dinosaur that I am! I remember thinking how sad it was that in years to come there would be no paper trail. So no food splattered magazine cuttings, no scribbled recipes on used envelopes, no ancestoral handwriting, in short no written culinary legacy.

Anyone who has been a long suffering reader of my blog will know that one of my ongoing projects is the task of deciphering a recipe book, beautifully handwritten in 1846. It is one of those things i’d want to save in a fire. It is not a piece of my own families social history, indeed it was a lucky find in a charity shop. It gives the reader a wonderful glimpse of recipes cooked up in early Victorian England. There are many secrets that I feel are yet to be unlocked as I transcribe the 141 pages. This is a cook in a well to do household whilst it is poignant to ponder on the fact that the Great Irish Famine and Highland Potato Famine were happening. The lucky would escape starvation and start new lives in America whilst many of those left behind would face a life of abject poverty, disease and death.

My 1846 recipe scriber wrote neatly in ink, whilst another recipe book I more recently acquired (£3 at a church sale in Bridport) is much less legible. Written quite erratically in pencil, the writer obviously had a sweet tooth. Daily Pudding, Caramel Walnuts, Almond Rock and Marzipan all feature. I have no idea how old this little black book is, but there may be clue. The writer obviously wanted to buy a book, and the title is scribbled in her best scribble! A Little Book Of Sweetmeat Making For Pleasure And Profit by Dora Luck which was published in 1907. Perhaps I have a confectioners recipe book, can’t you just visualise the glass jars filled with sugary toffee teacakes, humbugs, bon-bons and wrapped caramels! Paper poke bags, crisp white aproned shop staff, polished counter and brass cash register complete the scene.

Lastly I have “borrowed” my Mother in Law’s recipe collection. Tucked into a Lofty Peak Flour recipe book there are type written recipes for Cherry & Ginger Loaf, Banana Bread and Fruit Cake. Alas, there is not much reverence shown to these poor recipes for there are handwritten scribbles for letters to be written, bills to be paid and phone numbers to ring. There are hand written recipes for scones, mince beef loaf and a rather bizarre recipe for Chinese Salad.

This Chinese Salad involves putting some chopped onions and cooking apples in a casserole dish. Then comes a sprinkling of sugar. A layer of tomatoes (tinned or fresh I do not know) sausage meat, cheese and finally breadcrumbs. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Yum! I have no idea what the Chinese connection is, and while we are about it there’s nothing salady about it either, maybe i’m missing something! Interestingly the same writer (not my mother in law’s writing I must add) also writes a delicious (!) Sausage Spaghetti recipe. Sausages, tinned spaghetti and tomatoes are put in a casserole dish before beaten egg is poured on top to give an omlette’y layer! Worryingly there are two recipes for this sausage spaghetti. Perhaps mother in law mislaid first recipe and asked for a replacement from the culinary genius friend!

This week I have given my recipe file a good cull and sort. It’s not pretty like the 1846 book, but is functional and I am very pleased to say there are absolutely no recipes for Sausage Spaghetti!

Remember to ask elderly relatives for their recipes before they bin them. As ready meals, meals on wheels, Wiltshire Farm Foods and the like beckon they may not feel the need to hold onto recipes or ancient recipe books. A bit of family social history lost forever.

Wishing you a lovely weekend and I hope your stove will be busy cooking up something warming and delicious.

PS Kids, Granny doesn’t know I have borrowed her recipe trove. Shhh! Mum’s the word!

Culled & Sorted, Rocking Dog

Culled & Sorted

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!, Rocking Dog

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!

Culinary Hieroglyphics, Rocking Dog

Culinary Hieroglyphics

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