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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Heirloom recipes

A friend showed me her mother's old recipe book, which she had inherited when her mum passed away. It was just the most beautiful thing, with the pages almost furry with handling, and faint, much loved recipes dotted with spots of cake batter, the words blurred with water drops. I've kept my own school home economics notebooks, filled with the round, careful handwriting that I was very proud of at the time, and I still use them for the basics. I can't believe that we made things such as liver and bacon hot pot and lamb stew (I'm not THAT old!), although I am very glad that I did learn how to cook these dishes. I also used to cycle home with my tins and tupperwares balanced on my bicycle handlebars!

Extract from my great aunt Florrie's recipe book (above) and my school book (below)

In fact, the subject of handed down recipes has intrigued me so much that I'm writing a feature about it for the local magazine. It's amazing how many people have a story to tell about their inherited recipes. I often find scraps of paper sandwiched between the pages of the old cookery books that I am partial to buying from charity shops, and I can never bear to throw them away, as they are part of somebody's domestic history.

One day, I'll stick them all together and make a picture from them.

I also enjoy making things from these aged text books. So far, favourites have been treacle scones and welsh cakes. I think I'll give this suggestion for a nightcap a miss, however! Treacle and milk...hmmm

By the way, I'm now the proud owner of a loyalty card for the Sue Ryder charity shops. The manager offered me one yesterday as I was buying a box of old crochet thread (for no particular reason as I can't crochet). "You are in here a lot," she said. "Would you like one of these...."
 I think it's a badge of honour for any dedicated thrifter....


  1. I cannot resist buying old cookery books: the older the better. Like you, I am always fascinated by the little scraps of newspaper-clippings and handwritten notes that have been put there for safe-keeping and then forgotten.


  2. Yes, it's really satisfying to rescue them for safekeeping!