Thursday, 6 March 2014

85 Cookery Books and Counting

Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with photos of children off to school dressed as story book characters this morning. Of course -  it's World Book Day! 

I remember doing the same for my daughter when she was at primary school and I suspect that most parents will understand, and have possibly shared, the panic that I felt when I found the inevitable note from school crumpled up in the bottom of her school bag stating that she had to be dressed as a character from her favourite book the next day. The next day? Even Hermione Grainger who wears her Hogwarts uniform most of the time would be a challenge! I could turn a chopstick into a wand easily enough but where would I find a scholar's gown in Hexham at 8pm at night? My daughter didn't, and still doesn't, do things by half!!

Thankfully, but with sadness, those days are behind me now and, although we've still kept a few favourite children's books for posterity, our shelves are now filling up with my collection of cookery books.

Like my large collection of herbs and spices (see my blog Nice and Spicy!) this is another of my obsessions - I had 85 at my last count. Having quelled my appetite by buying books from all those TV series I've watched (Nigella Bites, Nigella Express, get my drift?) I have started to scour second hand bookshops for some more unusual books and have found one or two interesting ones.

'English Provincial Cooking' by Elisabeth Ayrton is my most recent acquisition. It was written in 1980 and includes some daunting sounding recipes such as Boiled Calf's Head, Chicken as Lizards and Birds Encased, which counts 6 young pigeons among its ingredients - I don't think I'll be trying that anytime soon!

My most recent acquisition - it makes good reading!

'Maw Broon's But an' Ben Cookbook' is a hodge podge of Scottish themed recipes and amusing yarns all centred on that famous (but fictitious) Scottish family that appears as a comic strip in the Sunday Post every week. Hame-made Sassidges and But an' Ben Clootie Dumpling are the highlights for me.

Maw Broon's But an' Ben Cookbook is set out
like a scrapbook

One of the most bizzare books I've got though is 'The Career Woman's Cookbook' written by Bee Nilson in 1966. It was the title of the book that attracted me to it along with the cover which has an onion, tomato, green pepper and lipstick(!) on it. The book was apparently written 'for the woman who runs both her home and a job outside the home' and 'concentrates on short cuts to good meals'. It transpires that Bee's answer to saving time was to open a tin! Her suggestions include Ways of Serving Canned Macaroni Cheese, Using a Can of Mince, Using Canned Stewed Steak and Ways of Using a Packet Jelly. To be fair not all her recipes use convenience foods but I haven't yet found a single recipe in this book that sounds appetizing enough to try myself!

If you like using tinned food in your cooking you'll love this book!
Seriously though, buying at second hand bookshops and charity shops is a brilliant way to build up a comprehensive collection of cookbooks - they're usually really cheap and they aren't all like the ones I've outlined above - they often have a good selection of recent ones too. And thinking about World Book Day it's also a good way to try out different children's books to find one your kids will actually read without spending a fortune.

I'm always interested to hear about unusual cookbooks and recipes so if you've got some in your collection that you'd like to share please feel free to comment below - there's bound to be some amusing ones out there!

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