Monday, April 13, 2009

April 13th, 2009

Cooking from the past....
I have to admit I have an addiction, although from my size you might think the addiction comes from eating, but that isn't my addiction. My addiction is collecting cookery books. The older they are the more I want them. I do occasionally want a new one or two and at the moment I am keeping an eye out for Angela Hartnett's Cucina. But I am not frivolous in my addiction. I try not to pay more than £5.00 at the most for any cook book. Alot of them I pick up in charity shops, and on Ebay for next to nothing. Just keeping my eyes open to what I consider a bargain. But on rare occasions I will spend just a bit more. One of my prize books I blogged about earlier is my copy of Escoffeir's A Guide to Modern Cooking, I think I did splurge and pay £12 for it.

I also have a small collection of books by Marguerite Patten. And of late it has been from the WWII era that I have been seeking. Marguerite Patten has had several books from this period published recently, full of historical photos along with the recipes. I also enjoy her older magazines and post war cookbooks too. And while watching Jamie Oliver on the telly, he mentioned the ministry of food and Ambrose Heath who worked with Marguerite during the time of rationing. They had to come up with ideas for new recipes to make the little food of the time more appealing and how to get the most nutrition from the least ingredients. So I had to have a couple of his books to add to my ever growing collection. The one on the left is a more modern book that has to do with the Birds Eye company of frozen foods. The one on the right is published just after the war years and he still uses ingredients to the most benefit in nutrition and taste.

I think now in our time, with the recession and ever increasing food costs, these books are going to come in handy again. I also like them because they use the basic ingredients and go from there. Not preprocessed ingredients or ready made. And when you cook from these recipes you know what is going into the food you prepare, how much salt and sugar, etc...

Sometimes it is the titles that set my addiction off and I just have to see what wonderful recipes the pages hold. And then there are always the little gems inside of advertisements of the era that I find fascinating. Some do have ingredients that are no longer produced or that go by other names that make trying to duplicate them a bit of a mystery.

I will read these books from cover to cover like a good novel or in snippets here and there. Studying their secret ingredients for a successful dish, and occasionally I do try cooking a recipe. Or I may pick up a tip I didn't know about. Brian jokes that if we live forever I wouldn't be able to cook all the recipes in the books I have. But that isn't the point of the addiction, it is the thrill of learning what people before me ate and enjoyed and if I do cook one of these recipes it is a part of history that I am tasting. He has this theory of First borns and Last borns. He says First borns are historians...... Always looking back to the time when they were the only one and Last borns are usually scientists or always looking to the future. I am a First born! And Brian is a Last born who is looking forward to the dishes I come up with, we make a good pair.