Ye Olde English Recipe Book
I recently bought a book called Good Things in England by Florence White. For a kick-off what a delightful title, you just know that you're in store for a treat beneath that simple pale grey cover. And indeed it is such a wonderful book, it was first published in 1932 and was written to record all those great old recipes that the author thought were going to vanish with the passing of time, I think she's right because there are many recipes in this book for things that I have never even heard of and a few old English favourites that I have.
Her writing and collected recipes take you back to a time when there were no supermarkets, no computers, no television, no endless amounts of red tape and paperwork to deal with, to a simpler time when if you wanted vinegar you made it, no it didn't come in a glass bottle, it was made with a few simple ingredients, boiled and left to stand for up to a year to mature in a cask - I mean hands up all those who have their cask of homemade Primrose Vinegar sitting at home - no me neither - Primrose Vinegar - how glorious.
Each of the recipes have little anecdotes alongside and it is these very quaint paragraphs of an English life long gone that brings the book to life. There are no glossy photographs and quite frankly how amazing to cook something where you have no expectation of what it's going to look like or taste like because you don't know what it is - The Mystery Tour of Cooking is what it should be called. I love these old books and have a few and I'm sure much to my groaning shelves dismay I'll collect more as the years go on.
I've decided to reproduce a couple of seasonal recipes - previously called 'receipts' as an insight into another era.
These are a favourite fairing and delight children immensely. Take the flower bud off the apple without breaking the skin, also the stalk, and put a small wooden skewer about two or three inches long where the stalk was, then dip the apple into the caramel ... [recipe on another page] ... and let it dry.
The skewer, of course, is held in the hand, whilst the toffee apple is being eaten; but it is useful also when drying the toffee, because the skewers can be stuck in a bowl of heavy sugar and the apples can hang over the side to dry.
These apples are sometimes called 'treacle apples,' because the caramel soon melts when held by little hot hands, and becomes treacle-like.
Isn't that a delight to read?
A Sussex recipe. Mrs. Creasey, Coolham, near Horsham.
Ingredients: ripe pumpkin or marriow ½lb; apple ½lb; currants ½lb, mixed peel 2ozs, sugar 3ozs, a little spice (if liked). Enough good short pastry to cover (½lb flour, 3 or 4ozs lard and butter mixed or clarified dripping; ¼ teaspoonful of salt; about 1 gill of water to mix).
Time: to bake 1 hour in fairly good oven.
Peel and seed the pumpkin or marrow and apple.
Chop them finely together.
Also the mixed peel, sugar and spice.
Blend all together.
Put in a piedish and cover with a good crust.