Tag Archives: 1846 Recipe Book

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

Rediscovering Calligraphy At The Makery

Meticulous Ink, Rocking Dog

Meticulous Ink

On Saturday I clocked in at “The Makery” for a calligraphy workshop with Athena of “Meticulous Ink”, Bath.

I’m a big fan of The Makery having previously been on a workshop to make Roman Blinds. I found that workshop to have been informative, fun and well paced. Most importantly it gave me the confidence to embark on making blinds for my lounge windows. I am now looking to make blinds for the kitchen with an as yet unchosen fabric. Apart from being given a concise instruction sheet I came away from the workshop having made a small blind which is great to refer back to. Finally when I had an issue with measurements for one of my blinds an e.mail to the workshop tutor resulted in a quick response with advice….so brilliant after care too! Finally after seventeen years my lounge had dressed windows, hallelujah!

Though taught italics at school and with reasonable handwriting, I wanted to learn some more swirly flourishes. In the longer term, when well practiced I would like to paint some linen banners. I therefore readily signed up for this 2 hour workshop to reacquaint myself with calligraphy. Through the jolly yellow door of “The Makery” I went, and formed part of a group of twelve budding calligraphers. We sat around one long table and were offered hot drinks by friendly Makery staff before embarking on the serious business of learning beautiful script. Athena patiently took us through upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. Once she felt we’d mastered the letter A, we’d then proceed to B and so forth. I was surprised how challenging I found it, perhaps I had bad calligraphy habits to undo. I’d certainly have won the prize for the most inky finger!

The lovely girl sat next to me, had come along to the session because she’d recently become engaged and wanted to write all her wedding invitations and envelopes. By the end of the session she realised she’d need to put in some serious practice to make that a reality. I hope she does, what could be more lovely than receiving something beautifully handwritten.

The more than two hours went very quickly, but very enjoyably. It really has made me want to re-look at my handwriting and get more flamboyant. We left the session with precious supplies of nib holder, nib, alphabet guide sheet, a wodge of calligraphy paper and some amazing Iron Gall calligraphers ink (all included in the cost of the workshop). Thank you Athena. PS you have the most glorious hair by the way!

A strange unexpected bi-product of this workshop is that I am able to better understand the script in the 1846 recipe book I am currently transcribing. Understanding proper formation of individual letters has been incredibly helpful. At the moment I am deciphering recipes for Suet College Puddings and Cream Pancakes.

Still on the theme of writing, I love the verse that my Great Uncle Walter penned on a postcard to my Grandmother Emily (his sister) on 11th September 1911

Why? has all the ink in the world gone dry
Are all the pens mislaid?
Pencils too- are there none to buy?
Is paper no longer made?
If you are not deep in this awful plight
Then why in the world
do you never write?

Makery Magic!, Rocking Dog

Makery Magic!

My First Blind, Rocking Dog

My First Blind

Practice Will Make Perfect!, Rocking Dog

Practice Will Make Perfect!