where i feel nostalgic over my mum’s old cookbook

When I was little, my mum taught me how to cook. She taught me all sorts of things – not content with just the basics, she also used to do things like, “This is how XX is made properly” and then a month or so later it would be “And this is how you cheat at making XX”.

A chunk of my learning was in conjunction with my mum’s cookbook, Marguerite Patten’s Stey by Step Cookery.

This was large, hardbacked and heavy. It did used to have a dust-cover but it was binned at some stage – and I don’t really remember it at all.  Now that all cookbooks have fantastic glossy, colour photos, it’s a bit odd going back and looking through a book that has insipid-looking photos, dodgy black and white ones and most of the time no photo at all, so you have to gues swhat it’s supposed to look like!


As you can see, this was a reprint in 1977 with the book originally published in 1963 – so it was probably outdated even then, let alone around 1980 when I first started taking looking at it.

I saw a photo of an old cookbook on the net yesterday, and remembered that I still had this knocking about – and thought I’d share some of my favourite outdated recipes / pages!

Emergency hors-d'oeuvres items
Emergency hors-d’oeuvres items

Look what you should be keeping in your store cupboard – in case you need to make emergency hors-d’oeuvres. Rollmops? Tinned lobster? Tinned anchovies? Russian Salad? Yummy. I think that would stop people dropping in unexpectedly next time!

Gammon nicoise
Gammon nicoise

Move over ham in coke, meet gammon nicoise – did you know that you could transform a couple of thick gammon steaks with a packet of sage and onion stuffing – topped with those pesky anchovies yet again!

Bacon and nut ring
Mmmm – cold cow in jelly!

I think brawn is actually making a comeback – so this rather (un)appetising looking dish may be right bang on food trend!

Bacon and nut ring
Bacon and nut ring

As for the bacon and nut ring – it looks and sounds like it would be incredibly stodgy, heavy and dry. But don’t worry – to counter that, you fill the dimple with peas and gravy. Sorted!

And if that’s not enough odd meatiness for you, how about calf’s head?  Calf’s head not weird enough for you? How about calf’s head with brain sauce – that should put hairs on your chest. Luckily, this is one of those recipes with no accompanying photo, so you’ll just have to imagine how glorious that would look.

Calf's head with brain sauce
Calf’s head with brain sauce

If calf’s head is a little too much for you, why not go down the other end of the normality scale?  You can’t go wrong with sausages, can you?  In fact, sausages can only be improved if you add lard and a foreign-sounding name, can’t they?

Sausages pomodonia
Sausages pomodonia

I love the fact that this is one of the few recipes that they feel need a step by step photo guide. Because everyone knows how to prepare calf’s head or pig trotter aspic, but frying sausages is far too technical!

Lamb in aspic
Lamb in aspic

Now how about that for an insipid, uninspiring, unappetising waste of a colour page?! Lamb is my favourite meat, but even I wouldn’t touch that with someone else’s barge pole. Cold lamb and peas? In jelly? With hard boiled eggs? I feel ill!

OK, lets get back to the simple. Did you know that a suggested accompaniment to game is crisps? But you don’t have to make them yourself – a normal pack of potato crisps is perfectly ‘satisfactory’ with your pheasant or quail or whatever! Handy knowledge – I bet none of your guests would pass coment.

These chips are well up for it - they are game chips!
These chips are well up for it – they are game chips!

Or how about these tomatoes, stuffed with tinned peas and corn, diced carrots, peppers and cooked meat?  Good job there’s a recipe for that!

Stuffed tomato salad
Stuffed tomato salad

And I just love that a simple chocolate mousse (just chocolate and eggs – I remember making this one a few times) comes with a wonderful step by step guide again. This time it also shows you all the different ways you can serve chocolate mousse. And look at that dress – it feels you with confidence that you can trust what she’s showing you!  SHE knows what she’s doing.

Chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse

The book is full of cakes and desserts, as you would expect, but there seems to be a rather large section dedicated to different ways of serving apples. Including this odd one of meringue, apple and chocolate – does that work?

Apple meringues
Apple meringues

Of course, it’s not all terrible, it has the cheese straws recipe that we’ve used in our family for years, and there are loads of basic recipes that you can’t go wrong with – there are even some that I would consider giving a go.  And there’s the wonderful retro crockery featured in every photo.

I want to make this chocolate swiss roll again (I remember doing it when I was about 15) – but I want the crockery at the back to set it off with. *sigh* Happy memories!

Don't get distracted by the cake!
Don’t get distracted by the cake!

2 thoughts on “where i feel nostalgic over my mum’s old cookbook

Add yours

  1. This takes me back. She did have a thing for peas, didn’t she? And cold peas seem to have been a specialty. Wonder what the crisps would have been like after 10 minutes in the oven….

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