Sunday, April 11, 2010

A New Book on the Market

A new recipe book is advertised for sale in the weekend newspaper. Nothing new about that! Daily, it seems, recipe books appear on the market bombarding us with new and exotic ways of cooking food that we have neither heard of, nor have in the pantry. Occasionally these dishes capture the imagination; we faithfully copy them into a book we started when a teenager as the beginnings of a glory box, and which is now splattered with butter, sugar, and other unidentifiable marks. Pages holding favourite recipes are clearly marked; not by a bookmark, but by greasy stains. The recipes, copied with such intentions, seldom have marks or stains; we have never used them, though the day might come when we will.

The recipe book featured in the newspaper did not belong to the genre of 'modern', nor Asian, nor 'healthy'. It sat in a category that we once all knew so well. This book had [so we are informed] few recipes for fish, or meat, or salads. The dieticians of today will no doubt express their horror at the contents ... cakes, biscuits, and puddings ... the type of food I grew up on. I hasten to add I did also partake of meat and fish, and vegetables ... salads in my youth consisted of lettuce, tomato, spring onions, and egg slices, fresh from the garden, or the hens, and dressed in a homemade dressing that my Mum cooked, and kept in a bottle for several days as it did have a lasting capacity.

While shop mayonnaise is handy, it falls short of this salad dressing recipe [or perhaps there is just a hint of nostalgia entering this blog].

Salad Dressing

1 egg
½ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
4 tblsp sugar
4 tblsp vinegar
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp cornflour
Beat all together until smooth.
In pot, bring to the boil, cool.
Store in screw top jar in fridge.
To use ... add milk to reduce to desired consistency.

The recipe book reviewed contained recipes that the writer's Grandmother had collected, and in a fitting recognition of this lady, an edition was compiled, minus the splotches of butter and sugar, and if it was anything like my own recipe book, other indistinguishable marks.

I let my imagination roll back to my Mother's baking days, and indeed my own when the family was young and growing, and always hungry from running about outdoors, or swimming, or doing what children used to do a few decades away. Afghans, Belgian biscuits, Cockles that spread several feet when blown from the mouth ... not a good look I know, but fun to a child, Date square, Banana cake, Loch Katrine cake [for when there was a little more time to go to the bother, Chocolate cake, Armenian nutmeg cake for when we spent a day on the farm either planting or digging potatoes, Fruit loaf just in case visitors arrived, chocolate chip biscuits, Shrewsbury biscuits filled with raspberry jam, fudge square, or fudge balls that were favourites with the children and I suspect not so good for their teeth, melting moments and yo-yo's, chocolate jumble, and of course the ever favourite scones and muffins which were usually whipped up after a phone call informing me guests were half an hour away.

It wasn't until the children all left home that I stopped baking. I am thankful we do not have an oven here, as some cold mornings I get the urge to bake, but am stopped in my tracks with the realisation one needs an oven to bake.

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