I am the hoarder/curator of my family’s cookbooks so when the Esk Valley Cookery Book was used on Back in Time for Dinner I thought – I have that cookbook!
My version of this Country Women’s Association recipe book is dated 1976. It is the 13th edition and celebrates 25 years of the book’s publication – the first by my calculation being printed in 1951.
My old recipe books are a precious memory of the time I spent baking with my grandmother. These old cookbooks are also a fascinating glimpse into social history. My favourite sort of history. There are no gluten-free recipes in this cookbook. This is not a time when people are concerned with food intolerances.
Remembering this is the CWA with a particular membership and target market, so maybe it is a reflection of decades previous to the 1970’s but then I must assume people still cook these recipes because they put them in the books. Rabbits for instance. In the meat section, there are six rabbit recipes and only two chicken recipes.
Sneaking in there, a reflection of new immigrants to Australia is a recipe for Italian Spaghetti, made with mince and a can of tomato soup. There is also a thing called Chow Loon Har which is a crayfish, pork mince and egg thing I can’t quite imagine.
As a society, we have moved on from Brain Rissoles to Uber Eats. These recipes come from a time more frugal when cooks used every part of the dead animals available to them.
I wonder about the English Monkey recipe. I can’t figure out how is it named after a monkey. There is surprisingly no monkey in the recipe. It’s mostly breadcrumbs and cheese, and one egg scrambled together and served on toast.
There are plenty of delicious sounding recipes in this cookbook, especially in the Puddings, Little Cakes, Sponge and Sandwich Cakes, Large Cakes, and Biscuits chapters. I have not mentioned the Icing, Fillings and Confectionary chapters. Baking was a serious pass time here.
I love the word pudding. When I was a kid, we called dessert pudding. Even if pudding was just ice cream and chocolate topping.