social spark Aisling Beatha: FARMHOUSE FARE


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Sunday, April 07, 2013


Just over a week ago we were clearing out my dad's house to get ready for him to move from the hospice (where he was at that time) to a nursing home.  Sadly he picked up an infection and passed away on Friday morning.  I'm OK, it was a relief to be honest because it has been a very long 6 months with many crisis moments when we thought we were going to lose him and at least now we know he is no longer in pain.

Anyway, while we were clearing out his bookshelves I discovered an old cookbook that I have become enthralled with.

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You can see it is a wartime cookbook and that's why it's the very simple paperback binding.  It's been printed according to the war economy standard for book production.

It does have an inscription inside the front cover but it's not one we can make sense of with regard to the names (or in this case initials) used.  I do find the comment interesting though:

"May the future fare be better" - hmmm, wonder whose cooking was considered not so good then?

The introduction begins with an explanation of how the book is put together and how the 2nd edition was decided upon.

THIS new edition of Farmhouse Fare, like its predecessor, is made up entirely of recipes con­tributed and well tried by countrywomen scattered over the length and breadth of the country.
The dishes you will find here have not been concocted by experts with all the resources of a modem kitchen. They have been cooked by succeeding generations of women in the farmhouses of the British Isles: upon modem cookers, upon open fires, upon old-fashioned ranges; and with every variety of fuel, from peat and oil to electricity.
Until the first Farmhouse Fare appeared, no such cookery book had ever been made. Its success astonished even ourselves.
Successive reprintings still have not kept pace with the demand. We had to decide whether to print again, or issue a new edition altogether. Times, as they say, were changing. More and more of these excellent recipes were constantly reaching us at the Farmers Weekly from all over the country. We decided on the new edition. 

It goes on to speak of the war years and the effect that obviously had on food availability and therefore recipe choices.
One of our difficulties was deciding whether or not we should leave out all those recipes which successive stages of this war make, for the time being, impracticable. We decided to include some of them nevertheless. In a number of cases you will be able to provide your own substitutes for the ingredients that have vanished from our larders and store-cupboards. In some cases, we may find ourselves unexpectedly rich occasionally in materials which at other times will be lacking. "Hatted Kitt," rich butter biscuits, iced cakes are things we shall not make again until war is over. You will find other such recipes.
But the interest of cooking does not entirely lie in the working-out of individual recipes. There is something to be learned from the wit and sense behind them, and the invention of the housewives' who first experimented with them-even if some of the dishes themselves may be a matter, nowadays, only for the imagination. To read them may stimulate our own ingenuity; therefore you will find that a certain number remain-to round off the picture of traditional English cookery this book represents; and to stir us all to do justice to it, even in these difficult times, with all the resourcefulness we have.
Now I hand over the introductory chapters to Mrs.
Arthur Webb, whose work for the Farmers Weekly is, as her readers know, the mainspring of this spontaneous contribution to the recorded cookery of her own country­side. And she, and the publishers, and I, gratefully record here our appreciation of the generous interest with which the real authors of this book-the ·senders of the recipes themselves-have collaborated with us.

I tell you, I fell in love with this book just from reading that introduction.  I shall share more from it later this week, and may even try one or two of the recipes.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

1 comment:

  1. Sending you my sympathies and condolences. Thinking of you and everyone affected.

    J x


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