Category Archives: 1970s

Cobble Cakes

A new guest post from Cluedo! Find her others here, here , here and here.

I’d like to propose a new unit of time decay just like carbon dating, with at least the same level of accuracy, but with the added advantage that humans can release as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as they want without distorting the results.

I propose to call the time RHKD, short for “rate of Hussarenkrapferl  decay”, based on a German biscuit delicacy* that my grandmother used to bake**

This RHKD seems an adequate measure to guage the popularity of biscuits in my house. Preliminary empirical data gathering seems to suggest that 45 Hussarenkrapferl last circa 24 hours, among 5 flatmates here, which would be a formula of t/n/g, where t is the length of time in hours the portions last, n stands for the number of biscuits, and g for the number of greedy buggers who gobble them all up without leaving me some gourmands who have access to them.

On an inverse scale then, the closer RHKD is to zero, the more delicious the biscuit. The current RHKD for Hussarenkrapferl in my abode is therefore 0.10.

All of this highly scientific discussion of rates of decay is necessary to highlight one of the key problems with the recipe that I made from the very strange book that is the Kitchen Garden Cook Book by Audrey Ellis from 1972. I say strange because it seems to assume that people with allotments have beehives from which they can source plentiful honey that is required for the many honey-based recipes. It is also definitively a book for time- and real estate rich, because the diversity of recipes included suggests access to a big allotment and an even bigger amount of time to grow and source and nurse all those flowers, herbs, vegetables and bees required to prepare stuff from this book. A bit of a far cry from the She Quicky Cookbook .

Nevermind. After leafing through the book for the umpteenth time to find something that didn’t require me to cook cabbage roses in sugar or trying to figure out what the hell nasturtium is (Editor’s note: this), I chanced upon cobble cakes, a relatively simple affair of butter, sugar, flour and cornflour, baking powder, almonds, candid peel, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger and rum. As you can see from the pictures below, the recipe calls for icing, but as the whole thing was already quite a sweet affair, I didn’t bother with it. It is an easy recipe that shouldn’t present problems to anyone who knows their way around a food processor. 

Cobble Cakes recipe 1

Cobble cake recipe 2

There were a couple of substitutions: unfortunately, I made these cookies just before the start of the consumerismfest season lovely Christmas season, so I couldn’t find candied peel in any of the three supermarkets I came across that day, but I did manage to find a jar of minced meat. I put in a little less than the candied peel required to make up for the increased sweetness. I also had run out of cinnamon and cloves****, but did have ginger and rum.

The picture below shows c 25 of the cakes, and although grumpy timer cat seems to disagree, they looked and tasted really quite nice. Their RHKD of 0.6 however indicates that they are nowhere near as moreish as Hussarenkrapferl – they are just a bit too sweet, and you wouldn’t want to eat more than one with a nice cuppa.

cakes

It may be that the citric flavour of the candid peel makes a difference, so if anyone wants to have a go, let me know your results!

* Ok ok, they are just posh jammy dodgers

**  When she baked them, they looked like perfect little round darling donuts with a dollop of jam nestling in the little hollow that she had made with her dainty thumb. Mine look more like they’ve been steam-rollered by a very small troll living in my oven. Like jammy dodgers then.

***A variation of the formula is n/t/(g+bw), where b is brownness and w the number of weirdo flatmates who prefer darker/burnt cookies, which entices at least one w in my house to increase the rate of decay, but this may be a highly localised variation of the formula and shall therefore be disregarded for future reference.

**** AlthoughI think that the sock monster may have a herbal cousin who smokes all the stuff. We usually have at least 5 jars of flavourless cinnamon in the cupboard.

Lemon and Marrow Jam

Apologies for the sporadic posting over the last year; rest assured we continue to do many (mostly) well-intentioned,  (often) ill-advised things in the kitchen (and out of it). Today, however, I am delighted to share this guest-post from Salada. Her others (all advisable) can be found here, here and here.

marrowIt has been a productive summer in the vegetable plot for members of the marrow-squash family, hence an autumnal recipe that doesn’t involve apples (contenders nonetheless).  It comes from Patricia White’s “Food as Presents” (see Apple Muffins for details).  Finding house-room for many squashes is exercising my ingenuity.  I grew two types of winter squash and two sorts of courgette (yellow and green).  A squash weighing about 1.5kg, pictured, provided the main ingredient for the jam, augmented by a few courgettes.  I have made this jam but not for several years, and remember it as being better than lemon curd – lighter to eat and much easier to cook, there being no chance of curdling eggs.
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Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

Food as presents - P H White cover

We are delighted to wake this blog from a few restorative weeks of hibernation with a guest post from Salada. Her other posts can be enjoyed here and here.

No muffin recipes appear in the VCBT list. Honestly, I checked.  Patricia H White is, assuming she’s still with us, an American who moved to England in the 1960’s.  This book was first published in 1975, and encourages the tradition of taking a bit of trouble with your gifts, or DIY as it’s known.  The recipes are divided into eight categories such as preserves, potted foods, sweetmeats and baked goods.  Ms White gives advice on packaging and storage, and how long the produce will last.

This recipe looks like a standard muffin mixture.  Commercial muffins nowadays have expanded to massive proportions, but these seem to come from a more frugal era.  Apple and cinnamon is a classic flavour match.
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Boeuf en Daube (Braised beef)

Standeasy cookbook special occasions front cover

One of the great things about this blog are the books people give me – this gem, purchased somewhere in south London, is a stone-cold classic.  Spiral-bound  like a desktop calendar and part of the ‘Standeasy Cookbook’ series, Special Occasions was published in 1979 by Bay Books, edited by Vivian Allwood, with the home economist Ann Page-Wood. You can tell it’s a late 70s cookbook, because two out of the 48 recipes contain tragically misplaced grapes. As you can see – it’s still fully operational:

Standeasy cookbook special occasions still standing

Nestled between the recipes for vermouth fish loaf and guinea fowl madelaine however, there are some tasty dishes – dinner party standards like devils on horseback and duck a l’orange and from this range, I chose the boeuf en daube after a craving for beef stew persisted after eating an excellent boeuf carbonnade (made by someone else).

boeuf en daube recipe

I cooked a much smaller portion than listed in the recipe. used some excellent stewing steak from Marsh produce (currently selling through Harringay market) and instead of belly pork, I used a thick rasher of back bacon. I also added  larger quantities vegetables than listed and left the meat to marinate for longer (two days, in fact!). Also, as I added just a couple of dried mushrooms for flavour (and picked them

Results
It may not be lovely looking, but it was easily the best stew I’ve ever made. Whether it was the extra veg or the extra marinating time, the sauce was smooth and delicious with tender (somewhat irregular…) pieces of meat and vegetables. Highly recommended (as long as you add an extra leek).

boeuf en daube

Daube’d by Elly

Arni Ttavas – oven roast lamb and onions

I bought Cooking from Cyprus in the excellent secondhand bookshop on Clarence road in Hackney, which I used to go to fairly often when I lived  there a few years ago. (It was different then – there was an ASBO on the entire street.) Anyway, genial proprietress Rose sells fiction, poetry, arts, politics, health, lots of childrens books and a small selection of cookery books, with a focus on Black authors

I rather like this book because the author is as excited as hell about the recipes. In an attempt to convey the hospitality of Cyprus, he comes across like someone who’s had a good go at at the grappa and a followed it with a couple of cups of strong καφές. Luckily most of the recipes seem to warrant this level of enthusiasm – well marinated grilled meats (the full gamut of ruminants, poultry, game and swine), several pilau, flat breads and mezze.  Choosing to cook this stew was entirely based on what I already had in the house (and had taken out of my freezer to defrost). Fans of Turkish food will note the word ‘ttavas’ as similar to ‘tava’.

Straight forward to assemble, the only change I made a half portion of the recipe and use tinned, not fresh, tomatoes. The smell while cooking was reminiscent of brown bread. I ended up with 3 portions (by my standards), not sure what that says about my eating habits (um, I like stew.)

Results

Apologies for the blurry photo – low blood sugar and dying batteries meant I only had the chance to wave the camera over the bowl before it conked out/I did.

As you can see, I ate the fruity, savoury stew with some mashed potato and will definitely be adding this dish to my (unwritten) rota of excellent week-night dinners.

Ttavased by Elly

Garbanzo snacks

This recipe comes from a vintage classic, Diet for a Small Planet (1971, Frances Moore-Lappé). This book, joint published by Friends of the Earth and Ballentine, is one of the first which pulls together environmentalism and nutrition, and has become short-hand for a certain kind of eating associated with the 1970s – all brown and fibrous, all the time.

The theory behind this book is that combining certain vegetables proteins gives equivalent nutrition to eating meat (more about that here). Various substances not normally found in my kitchen make frequent appearances in this book: skimmed milk powder, brewer’s yeast, soy flour. The recipes are grouped into protein matches, some of which sound more appetising than others: rice and yeast, peanuts and sunflower seeds, potatoes and milk.
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Publican’s Pie

This is from a pamphlet, of cheese cookery, probably seventies, that I picked up for 49p.

Look at their happy faces. The publican and his wife/ husband (they both look like men to me). Standing happily in front of their pumps and rack of tankards this pair look the right people to listen to when it comes to pie making. But wait! Look at the ingredients. Frozen mixed vegetables. Instant mashed potato. This is not a recipe for a publican from a quaint centuries-old Cotswold inn, with pie recipes running through their veins like, er, blood? Like blood? I’ve lost this metaphor somewhat.  Never mind. No, this is no traditional recipe; this is a recipe for landlords who want to make a token effort to food, but don’t want to splash out on frivolities such as a chef, ingredients or a kitchen. It’s a few levels below Wetherspoons in the haute cuisine stakes. It’s perfect!
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