Daily Archives: July 13, 2010

Scraps of history

I was asking my sister if she still had her old school cookery book.  In the school she attended, they wrote all their notes  for Domestic Science in a large copybook.  It was the later section of the book that interested me.  You see the copybook was less than half filled by the time she left school and she added recipes as she found or tried them.  Mammy would write in the book too.

Back in the days when Elly was small and we were going to see and stay with my parents for a weekend, I would spend a day baking and fill my tins with goodies to bring with me.  Regularly I was asked to write out a recipe before I went home.  So my hand wtiting was scattered among the pages too.

With time and plenty of use the book is like us… getting old and fragile!  Pieces of paper may fall out if you are not careful.

The open book with some of the loose pieces of paper.

The loose pieces of paper are recipes written by different hands.  They are living history, recalling for me members of my family, relations and friends – Not alone in the hand writing but also with a particular recipe that we associate them with!

A collection in mammy’s hand

Mammy was an avid recipe collector, it may have have been gleaned from a friend, or quickly scribbled as she listened to a cookery item on the radio.  She was not fussy:- she used whatever piece of paper she could find.  It might be the back of an envelope or part of one, a scrap of cereal packet, an instruction leaflet or a page torn from a jotter.  Most of the time it was only the ingredients and she would know from years of cooking what method to use.  There were a few scraps with no title just a list, you knew they were recipes because the quantities were included.  Of course the far corner might have a shopping list – the things she thought of as she was baking or cooking or the bags or boxes she emptied during the session. The recipes were all tested and tried!  One thing sure you never left your school copy books lying around when I was a school girl or you might end up with a recipe in the middle of an Irish essay! 😉

Our dearly beloved mother also collected recipes from the newspapers:

They were anything from a full page broadsheet to a tiny scrap.  The names include Theodora Fitzgibbon, Monica Sheridan (do you remember her from early RTE- all her cakes flopped- something to do with studio heat and lights I am sure!), Brenda Costigan, Monica Nevin and Mary Frances Keating. The oldest printed date that I can see is the wedding Cake, dated Thursday September 25 1969.  I was all of 22 years old…. do you think she was planning my wedding in her head?

This cutting by Mary Frances Keating for Rich Mincemeat fascinates me.  It is roughly torn from the paper, possibly while mammy was on her knees cleaning out the fire, before scrunching up some ‘yesterdays news’ as a base for kindling and the turf or coal.  The cutting has no date but I think it is the oldest of the scraps of paper.  WHY?  Look at the back…

No complete article, but the torn advertisement is the clue.  In tiny print it tells me it is a Danus “Executive” 3 button single-breasted suit, from 24 to 30 gns!

When did they stop using Guineas?