MEMORIES FROM OLD  COOKBOOKS

Christmas bells

We all become a bit nostalgic around Christmas, especially when it comes to food. On of my favourite photos is of my  mother making Kiss Biscuits with her grandchildren back in the 1980s. Katey and Graeme now have children of their own.

Making the Christmas biscuits
IT SEEMS ONLY ONE PERSON WAS WORKING!

And who could forget White Christmas slice?   Or the decorated   ‘shape’ biscuits.  We always  had bells, trees and stars.

White Christmas slice, from  Women's Weekly cookbook.
Every year!
Christmas biscuits, in every Aussie cookbook.
How we loved these.


The White Christmas  recipe was from the Women’s Weekly.  Kiss Biscuits and the standard dough for   ‘shapes’ appeared  in  virtually every cookbook going.

Oh the stirring of the Christmas pudding, and making a wish! Such an old tradition. Most people used a handwritten recipe handed down through the family.

Stirring the Christmas Pudding, All part of cookbook nostalgia!
Keep that wish secret!

Then the adding of the sixpences, the only reason we kids ate pudding!

Christmas Pudding Cartoon
Careful!!!
THE COOKBOOK IN EVERY AUSSIE HOME
Country Womens' Association Cookbook.
Country Women’s Association Cookbook; my mother’s bible!

I was born and raised in  Tasmania  during the 1950’s, and  the CWA cookbook fills me with  nostalgia. On the back page is an advertisement for Duck River Butter; ‘If you’re not  buying Duck River Butter isn’t it about time you started.’  Note the absence of a question mark… this was more command than suggestion. My dairy farmer father would have  approved as he supplied cream to that very  factory. 

For many years my mother had a Lux fuel stove. We kids used to roast chestnuts on the top, ruining the black leaded surface!   Miraculously,  Mum could estimate the temperature simply by putting her hand near the oven door. We were so excited when Dad bought a Whirlpool electric stove, but then the kitchen was freezing…. so we had to buy a kerosene heater.

Old Lux fuel stove, an integral part of my cookbook nostalgia.
Old Lux fuel stove.

It was my older brother who bought my mother a Sunbeam mixmaster in the late 1950s, fulfilling a childhood promise. Goodness me, the number of sponge cakes and Christmas goodies that must have been whipped up in it over the next 30 odd years.

A Sunbeam mixmaster and the CWA cookbook were in every kitchen.
Spotted in an antiques shop. I was tempted to buy it.

After  making a tree-change to the Blue Mountains from Sydney 20 years ago the CWA cookbook  became my standby, especially in winter when cooking is such a comforting activity. Inside are my mothers old favourites; Chocolate Simplicity Cake, Coffee Sponge, Raspberry Shortbread, Swiss Roll and  my father’s favourite;  Date and Walnut Cake;

DATE AND WALNUT CAKE

5oz  Butter

5 oz sugar

10 oz  Self-raising flour

2 oz walnuts

2 eggs

¼ pint of milk

5 oz chopped dates.

METHOD – Cream butter and sugar, add the well beaten eggs gradually. Fold in sifted flour alternately with milk. Add dates and chopped  walnuts. Bake in a greased ring tin (8”) in moderate oven for 40 minutes. When cold, ice  top and sides with butter icing and decorate with chopped walnuts.

Childhood party treats are here too; Cream Lilies, Butterfly Cakes, and Rapidly Made Toffee For Children.  We always made  toffee when Mum and Dad were out, despite orders not to. We hid the often disastrous results, but a sticky kitchen floor was a giveaway!

Oh how I loved Butterfly cakes! From the CWA Cookbook.
Oh how I loved Butterfly cakes!

My only  regret is that, unlike my mother’s original copy,  my  own edition does not include the name and township of each contributor.  Somehow Mum knew that a  pavlova recipe supplied by Mrs D. Revell of Flowerdale would not fail. And in the unlikely event that  it did, she could have dropped Mrs Revell an acerbic little note.

SEASONS GREETINGS!🎄🎄

HERE’S ANOTHER NOSTALGIC STORY ABOUT TASMANIA. CLICK HERE

WHAT WAS YOUR MOTHER’S FAVOURITE CAKE RECIPE?  DO LEAVE A COMMENT…OR  SHARE A RECIPE!…IN THE BOX BELOW. THEN SCROLL DOWN AND COMPLETE THE ANTI-SPAM SUM.

8 Comments
  1. I’m afraid I cannot offer one. Despite our family name of Baker, my mum was not a good one. She was a good COOK, but not a good baker of cakes. If she baked a ‘Sponge’ it would look like two rather large digestive biscuits with the filling often deeper than the barely risen cake. They filled a hungry spot though, so us kids never complained. It was only in later years that we teased her about her baking (or rather lack of)skills.

  2. I have a wonderful old recipe book called Homepride Cookery Book by Catherine Ives. It cost four shillings and sixpence.Itis an old English book and was given to me by my late Mother in Law. Home Pride is a brand of Flour in the UK. As well as some wonderful recipes I love reading the Household Hints.
    Here is a tiny sample:
    To keep lemons fresh put them in a bowl of cold water and change the water frequently.Or pack them in silver sand, the lemons must not touch one another and must be completely covered by the sand to keep the air out.
    To keep meat fresh in hot weather before it is to be cooked wash it over with weak vinegar & water and then spread small pieces of onion over it.
    To keep cheese free from Mildew place a lump of sugar on the cheese, the sugar absorbs the moisture.
    To keep milk fresh add a pinch of bicarbonate soda to each pint of milk.
    Instead of whipped cream peel a banana , scrape it and slice it thinly , add the white of an egg and beat until stiff.

    • Pauline

      Wow, these are amazing Yvonne. I can’t wait to try the banana whipped cream one. It sounds really good! I don’t know what silver sand could be re the eggs though. I remember mum preserving a bucket of eggs in something or other (vinegar?) Don’t remember us eating them though, so maybe it was a big disaster. The sugar on the cheese sounds logical even to my non-sciencey brain.

  3. Sugar sand is a very soft pure fine type of sand almost like a silt It can turn into quick sand if wet.

  4. A great post, but where is the chocolate in your Mum’s Easy Chocolate Date Slice recipe, above? Was the slice iced in chocolate?

    • Pauline

      Now that is a VERY good question, Linda. Thank you. It was supposed to have a tablespoon of cocoa. Mum didn’t ice hers, it was just something she made in a hurry for farm lunch baskets etc. I suppose you could add chocolate icing though.

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