Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Country Housewife

This is one of the (many) cookery/social history books I have.  I thought I would blow the dust off it and dip into it again, in an idle moment this week.  Do you have this one Elaine?

I grew up in Hampshire, and have to say Lardy Cake was what I remember from my childhood (I wouldn't dare eat it now though!)  I always thought Doughnuts were everywhere - always the very sugary boughten sort, rather than home-made.  I think the Lardy Cake must have been made in a bakers somewhere though, as it wasn't wrapped or anything.  Do the cakes etc ring true for the county you grew up in?  The crusty Cottage Loaves we bought must also have been from a local baker's - the nearest thing I have come to them is the ones Sainsburys used to do which had deliberately burnt tops - oh golly gosh, they were SO tasty, and so reminiscent of the 1950s and early 60s.  I can still remember when the shop at the top of the hill turned into a little mini supermarket where you took a wire basket round with you. SO modern for a little road on the edge of the town!

Here is just one page from the Country Housewife book (which is a collection of all sorts of snippets and recipes.  This made me smile - "It must boil fast and uncovered, and be stirred constantly, for eight hours"!!!  WHAT?  Ye gods, labour was cheap in those days then. . .  I also liked, "take off the cake of fat,  which will make crusts for servants' pies".

There was a lovely piece under the heading of Hedgerow Provisions:

Hedgerow foods added variety to cottage food, and John Clare paints a vivid picture of

- dames in faded clock of red or grey
Loiter along the morning's dripping way
In wicker basket on their withered arms
Searching the hedges of home close or farms

In the following case the berries are elderberries:

Here the industrious huswives wend their way
Pulling the brittle branches carefull down
And hawking loads of berrys to the town
Wi unpretending skill yet half divine
To press and make their eldernberry wine
That bottl'd becomes a rousing charm
To kindle winter's icy bosom warm.

                                      'The Shepherd's Calendar'

It also talks of badger hams, how hedgehog was supposed to taste like chicken, Rook pie etc.

Anyway, things are slowly coming together here and tomorrow I should finish Gabby's quilt (I just have the binding to do), having finished Tam's last week, and also finished painting our bedroom (bar one little bit of skirting board).  That's 3 things FINISHED - amazing!  I am looking forward to making things for ME now (the Random Quilt and then the William Morris one which I will try to make perfect, as an heirloom.)


  1. Thanks Jill. Let's hope the "blocking" has ended now!

  2. I do have that book, it is perfect for dipping into every so often. Lincolnshire - Spice Bread no doubt refers to the good old Lincolnshire Plum Loaf, though it is usually more plum than spice! As for teacakes - yes, but I always thought they were reasonably popular everywhere, especially in tearooms!
    You definitely brought back memories of those early village supermarkets, it seemed such a strange concept. It seemed weird to be allowed to wander up and down the two aisles of stock, helping yourself, although compared to modern supermarkets, there wasn't anything to put into your basket. The fruit and vegetable stand was usually a sack of potatoes, which you had to have weighed out, and then shot into your bag - there would be a sad-looking cabbage and some brown spotted bananas, plus a couple of wrinkly apples.
    You are a real wonder woman! No matter what ails you, you still manage to plough through your list of jobs. The quilts are sure to delight. Now, I need to go and check on my stock of Badger Hams.

  3. It looks a wonderful book :) 8 hours constant stirring though :( We always try and buy cakes etc. specific to counties when we go out for the day or on holiday. If we enjoy them I then try and find a recipe to make at home. Dorset Apple cake so far has become the main favourite. I even had to make one on holiday for my son's 30th birthday and as the scales in the holiday cottage didn't work had to borrow some from the lady next door!!