A Life in a Cookery Book – 2

In which we discover a hitherto unknown problem for the genuinely frugal in the kitchen and have a rant about it…

…so let us look at the recipes.

Bear in mind that the information in the old recipe books is generally a lot more sparse than we would accept today. Certain techniques were taken for granted. No oven temperatures are given – except for the phrases “hot oven” and “quick oven” and “slow oven”.

Struggling with instructions…

Nowadays, we worry if we do not read clearer instructions than these from a time when the source of all heat and cooking – and for that matter, waste disposal – was the coal range in the main fireplace in many homes.

By the way, very few of the recipes say how many each dish will serve, so take care!

The first recipe is for Bacon and Potato Rolls. The ingredients are as follows:

Half a pound of bacon in rashers,
6 tablespoons of flour,
6 tablespoons of mashed potatoes,
1 teaspoonful of Baking powder
2oz. of Lard or Margarine

Make some pastry by mixing the flour, margarine, salt, baking powder and mashed potatoes, and bind with a little water. Roll out thinly on a board. Cut the pastry into as many strips or rolls as are required, and on each strip, lay one rasher of bacon (without the rind); fold up into rolls; lay on a greased tin, and bake in a quick oven for 20 minutes.

I should think that this would have to be cooked in a very hot oven, (mind you don’t singe it though!). Not an easy dish to make and could go wrong.


…the nature of bacon has changed in the last twenty five years or so. Nowadays, it is much more likely to be chemically processed and full of water and polyphosphates and unlike the kind of bacon we used to eat when it was a dry-cured and substantial meat.

Anyway, there is the first recipe. Anybody brave enough to have a go in the name of historical accuracy? Thought not…

The Second recipe is: Bubble and Squeak

Half a pound of cold meat
1 lb of cooked cabbage
2oz. fat


Slice the meat thinly and chop the vegetables. Fry the meat lightly in smoking dripping, and remove from the pan, keeping warm till the vegetables have been cooked but not browned. Put the vegetables in the centre of the dish and serve the meat round; this dish should be very hot.

Hmm…I wonder if there are some ingredients missing from the list? For example, how does a pound of cooked cabbage suddenly become “vegetables” – and what happened to the seasoning?

Not in ordinary houses though…

The “cold meat” referred to is curious also…even today, television cooks and chefs quite often refer to “left over meat” from a weekend roast or fowl. Leftovers used in this way try to point to good housekeeping and frugality but this is not the case. For there to be “leftovers” at all, there has first to be “plenty” or “more than enough”. Otherwise, at one meal, there has to be “less” and “food kept back”.

I question the reality of “left over food”. It seems to me that meals made of “leftovers” did not originate in the households of the ordinary people but rather in the homes of the wealthy and fashionably calculating whose attempts at frugality might be open to question.

There you go…

Not two of my particular favourites but genuine from at least seventy years ago.
Next time, a couple of pudding recipes – some of those look very pleasant!


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