I recently acquired some new cookbooks. I know, like I needed any more right? I've actually run out of space now. I say "new" but what I actually mean is "new to me" as none of them could be considered new or current by any stretch of the imagination. I thought I'd introduce you to some of the delightful things we used to eat, before, you know, we wised up and realised they were gross.
Good Things In England is described as being "A practical cookery book for everyday use, containing traditional and regional recipes suited to modern tastes. Contributed by English men and women between 1399 and 1932." It was edited by a lady called Florence White who, described as the daughter of an old line of Sussex innkeepers, was founder of the English Folk Cookery Association and a member of the American Home Economics Association.
Miss White teaches us how to make the perfect tea, coffee and toast for breakfast as well as describing how to cook an egg without boiling it. A "receipt perfect for Invalids" apparently. My personal favourites breakfast dishes in the section were things like the Pork Cheese, which involves boiling up the feet, ears and bones of a pig before picking the meat off and boiling it with pepper, salt, nutmeg, allspice, soy and ketchup.
Then we move onto Luncheons and of course soup. If the Pork Cheese wasn't enough for you, why not try the Mock Turtle Soup made from Sheep's Head. Method:
1 - Clean the head.
2 - Take out the eyes and throw them away. Take out the tongue and cook it separately but in the same pot. Take out the brains, wash and tie them up in a piece of pudding cloth and cook them also in the same pot.
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I gave up reading the rest of the recipe as lets face it, it's never going to make it onto the table in my house is it!
You can tell how old the book is when there's a complete section on how to cook a young swan - you want to stuff it with rump steak and shallots apparently and if you want to know how to roughly tell the age of a hare, then this is your book.
At the back are some regional recipes like Barnstaple Fair Gingerbread, Devonshire Junket, Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding and Coventry Godcakes. Despite living near Coventry my entire life I've never heard of Godcakes but this is what they look like and as they're made of puff pastry and mincemeat (and we all know how I feel about mince pies) I'm going to be making them pretty soon!
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It's not all bad though. The home-made bread, the vinegars and pickles and sweet dishes all sound perfectly delightful and some of the meat and curry recipes sounded lovely. I fully intend to make Collier's Pie soon, mainly because it's one of the rare recipes that doesn't involve a chicken or pigs entrails. My favourite section of the book is the country teas chapter and I just know that I'll make a good few of these recipes - Fat Rascals, Gingerbread Cake and Apple Butter are all on the list.
Whilst some traditional foods and drinks do sound very appealing, I'm rather thankful that times have moved on and we no longer have to cook up a farm animals head for our evening meal!