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?

27 thoughts on “Scraps of history

  1. Marian

    Wow, they are amazing. Are you going to scan them in, you could make a Blurb book? That way everyone in the family that wanted a copy could get one. My mom got one of her mother’s hand written recipes framed, it was written on a docket from a shop in Listowel, it looks lovely on the kitchen wall and people always comment on it.

  2. kenju

    Whoops – I clicked post before I was finished! LOL

    I re-typed a lot of my recipes and put them in clear page holders and in a 2 ring binder. It sure makes it easier to find something!

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  4. Rummuser

    I too have a collection of recipes collected over many years. I have now got the idea from the comments here to scan them and save them digitally.

  5. Grannymar Post author

    Marian – I have a new scanner on the way so it may he busy for a few days.

    Judy – Some of the paper cuttings are the worse for wear. The handwritten ones are in better shape and more precious. I too typed up all my recipes (well almost all) and keep them in the computer. I also printed off copies on A5 size paper and keep them in plastic pockets in folders for handy use in the kitchen. The plastic saves the paper from food splashes. 😀

    Ramana – Maybe you will share some of them with the background story, on your blog.

    Evin – Glad you enjoyed it>

  6. Lisa

    What a great collection! I also collect hand written recipes. A friend this last Christmas received a book… made by her sister filled with family recipes in various hands from generations. She scanned and the scans look exactly like the recipe card, stationary or scrap paper! She included photos of gatherings where the specific recipe is on the table… she wrote bits about the events. It is a family treasure. There are 8 siblings; each got a book for Christmas. I will return to read your blogs. Stop by mine and browse!

  7. Grannymar Post author

    Lisa – Welcome on board and thanks for your comment and information about the book for family.

  8. bikehikebabe

    The only time Mammy was used in the U.S. was in the Civil War. She’d be the fat colored slave with a turban wrapped around her head. Now you see her on boxes of pancake mix.

    I love the differences in words of the world’s countries. It’s sweet that your mother was “Mammy”.

  9. bikehikebabe

    I don’t mean “a turban wrapped around her head”. That would be a Terrorist. This was a triangular scarf tied on top, to cover her hair.

  10. Grannymar Post author

    BHB – I know what you mean by the ‘Mammy’ figure, we saw plenty of them in the old movies. Mammy was a common term for mothers in Ireland and that we called our mother until the grandchildren came along. She wished to be known as Nana by the little ones, so we all called her Nana from then on. That is how Elly knew her and why I sometimes refer to Nana in my posts.

  11. Darlene

    Many years ago I spent weeks cutting out recipes from magazines and putting them in a box. I had a large packing box by the time I finished. A month later I wanted a recipe for rum balls and I knew that there was one was in the box. I spent a whole afternoon looking through the jumble and couldn’t find it. I realized my system needed upgrading. We moved before I got around to it and i ended up throwing the whole box in the trash.

  12. Baino

    You should definitely digitise them for posterity, those poor scraps look a little fragile. That reminds me I have a small A5 binder that my own mum kept her handwritten recipes in and there was one for an amazing chuck it in a bowl and mix it up chocolate cake . . .must dig it out.

  13. wisewebwoman

    I read your post with tears, GM, as my mother had all of hers jammed into her big old copy book from her own cookery classes. I am hoping my sister has them or one of my brothers. I will ask when I am back.
    What a treasure trove you have and what a lovely book would come out of it!

  14. gaelikaa

    I always called my mother ‘mammy’ too when I was small and sometimes I still do. My children call her ‘nani’ because that’s what Indian children call their mother’s mother. In fact not only mine, but all the granchildren in my in-law’s family, cousins and all call her ‘nani’.

    When I started reading I noticed that ‘mammy’ became ‘mommy’ on the United States and ‘mummy’ in England. My husband always calls his mother ‘mummy’. I suppose it’s because Indians follow British English. I remember seeing that ‘mammy’ in the movie ‘Gone With The Wind’ played by an actress called Hattie McDaniel. She was a servant or I suppose slave as it was in that time, of African-American origin.

  15. Grannymar Post author

    Darlene – What a pity after all that work to lose the recipes, still we have to size down sometimes. 🙁

    Baino – I look forward to those recipes.

    WWW – I felt this post would ring bells for you! I hope you locate your mother’s recipe book with all the treasures.

    Nancygrayce – Welcome and thank you for your comment. The notebook belongs to my sister so it will be returned to her with all the the scraps of paper once I have finished playing with it.

    Gaelikaa – Mammy was the most common term used for a mother, when I was growing up. Elly calls me mum or Grannymar these days – I don’t mind either.

  16. nick

    Jenny’s recipes are very well organised. She has a card index box and each recipe (once successfully tested) is handwritten onto a card. The cards are also organised under categories like hot meals, salads, desserts etc. I don’t have my own box, I’m too lazy, I just pinch Jenny’s recipes.

  17. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – i imagine that jenny is very organised and able to put her finger on any item at any given time. Sharing the recipes means you cook the dishes she likes! 😀

  18. Alice

    Another idea to copy! Thanks, Grannymar. I’m so late getting in here, I’ll just say “ditto” to most of the comments above. They’re all appropriate.

  19. Grannymar Post author

    Alice – There is no time limit for visiting. I am pleased to have given you another idea.

  20. steph

    Lovely, nostalgic post, GM

    I really must tidy up my cookery folder sometime. I used to collect Theodore Fitz and Brenda Costigan recipes from the newspapers. Also Georgina Campbell (Sunday Tribune) and Paulo Tullio (Sunday Indo) and many of the recipes are still old favourites around here.

    I spotted a lovely recipe in a magazine (at the hairdressers) today for Raspberry and Almond Slices. It looked so yummy, I got out my pen and paper and copied it all down. I’ll try it out first and if it tastes as good as it looked in the magazine, I’ll send you on the recipe (no dairy in it).

  21. Grannymar Post author

    Steph – I look forward to a copy of the recipe for Raspberry and Almond Slices. 😀

  22. Brighid

    Oh, I do hope you make a book of them. What a great idea to pass on to the kids. I have two large boxes of recipes & recipe books to sort thru or just pass on to Marymine. She is the best cook in the whole family. I have no idea where she got that talent.

  23. Grannymar Post author

    Brighid – I am just checking out a new printer/scanner so who knows where it will lead…. 😀

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