Friday, June 13, 2008


One of my old cookbooks is called "Cooking for the Middle Classes", and in it is a chapter on vegetarian dishes which they call Food Reform Recipes. One recipe is really strange, although children might like it with ketchup. I include the metrics as they didn't use them in those days.
Mock White Fish:
3 oz (75g) ground rice
half pint (300ml) milk
little grated onion
salt and pepper
sufficient cold cooked potatoes to bind
Boil almost all of the milk, and mix in the ground rice with remaining milk, then pour the boiling milk over. Return to the pan, and stir until boiling. Add onion, pepper, salt and mashed potatoes. Make into steaks, brush with egg, toss in breadcrumbs and fry a golden brown in hot fat. Serve with parsley sauce.

This next one sounds a little tastier:
Egg Cutlets:
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 tblsp grated cheese
pinch curry powder
2 tblsp breadcrumbs
little nutmeg, pepper and salt
sufficient egg to bind
Chop the eggs finely and put into a bowl with the cheese, curry powder, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and bind with beaten egg. Shape into cutlets, brush with beaten egg, toss in breadcrumbs and fry until hot.

Those who grow tomatoes and like to make their own preserves may wish to try this. Read right through before starting as the methods given in those days never seems as clear as more recent recipes.
Green Tomato Jam:
Green tomatoes make a most delicate preserve. Allow 1 lb lump sugar and 1 pint water to every pound of sliced tomatoes. Allow the grated rind and juice of 2 lemons to 3 lbs jam, or - if liked - 2 oz bruised ginger to the same quantity of jam, tie the ginger in a cloth and boil in the jam. The sugar and water should be boiled together until thick; slice tomatoes thinly and add. Boil until tomatoes are quite clear, boiling either lemons or ginger with it. Pour into jars when cooked and make airtight.

Some time back, writing for a magazine, the mention in one of me storing the saved money in a jar led to readers from all over the country starting to save in this way, and was told they called them 'Shirley Jars'. One lady wrote to the mag to say she had managed to save £500 over the 12 months and was using that to have a really good holiday, something she had never managed to afford before. £500 then would be worth treble that now I suppose, but maybe the savings could now be even greater. Worth having a 'Shirley Jar'. Just don't leave your jars in a visible place for anyone knocking at the back door to see, for the world today is not what it was. Ideally, when the jar is full, the money can be banked to gain interest. Well, I've suggested ways to get free food, now I'm explaining how to gain 'free' money.

Will finish with a favourite recipe.
Banana Bread:
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
3 oz (75g) softened butter or soft margarine
3 oz (75g) sugar
1 egg
1 heaped dessertspoon apricot jam
2 or 3 ripe bananas, mashed
few chopped nuts, optional
Sift the flour with the baking powder. Cream the fat and sugar together until light and fluffy, adding a teaspoon of the flour, then beat in the egg. Fold in the rest of the flour and the remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased and floured 1lb (45g) loaf tin and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 45 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too quickly. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
Tip: to prevent browning, put foil shiny side up - as this reflects the heat away. To aid browning, put shiny side down.
Bananas that are turning brown are often sold cheaply, the riper the banana the better as these make wonderful Banana bread.

When we first saw the bungalow we wanted, the kitchen - leading through to a long conservatory, no wall between the two, just a breakfast bar - made me want to give cookery demonstrations. Full of it I was, but daughter and husband (a retired policeman) shook in horror. 'Elf and Safety was thrown at me, I would need ramps for the disabled (that's me folks, so might get them anyway), and very high insurance. So that was my bubble burst. Wonder if I gave demos for charity, whether the restrictions would still apply.