Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A useful and economical housewife

In spite of it being far too hot to hang around in the kitchen I've come over all domesticated of late. Over the weekend I made pizza including making the dough from scratch, produced the pastry for home made quiche (which I actually cooked last night) and upon realising on Sunday that actually we only had 5 new potatoes (and realising this after the shops had closed) and no alternative to put with my planned Sunday dinner I made toad in the hole to stretch the meal a bit further…true Yorkshire style! Not enough meat and veg? It's OK, shove it in a Yorkshire pudding, no one will notice. I didn't take a picture of the toad in the hole (which was delicious but not very summery!) but have pictures of the pizza and the quiche.

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Also there was some pastry left over from the quiche and not being one to waste good food (can't really afford to…that's sort of the point behind the cooking from scratch and the yarn diet!) I quickly made some jam tarts to use it up. I go for a more organic approach to my cooking, nothing is particularly tidy or uniform but it tastes OK. It's rustic…or something like that, I'm sure it's trendy to have it looking so slapdash. They do look a bit pale in this picture but I assure you the pastry was fully cooked.

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Whilst I do own a lot of recipe books including ones specifically focussed on baking there is one that I go back to again and again, my grandma swore by it and her baking was fantastic so for basic recipes I stick with the Be-Ro book. I mostly use this one in the kitchen, it was my grandmas and it is well used and stained from being too close to the mixing bowl!

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Whilst I do use that one I have something rather precious to me in my possession, a 6th edition Be-Ro book. I don't know what year it is from but the first Be-Ro book was distributed in the 1920s and they're on the 40th edition now. I am guessing it's from some time in the 1930s and it was my great-grandma's then my grandma's and now it's mine. Every so often I get it out and have a read through and a little chuckle at the old fashioned ideas within.

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I love the description of how the woman who cooks well will have a happy home. I do agree being able to cook is fantastic and anyone who can should be proud of their cooking but obviously it doesn't really matter if it's the man or the woman who is doing it (though admittedly in our home I do all the cooking as I enjoy it).

The bit about mothers teaching daughers so they can become "useful and economical housewives" is just hilarious though. It's a good job I didn't rely on my mother teaching me to cook and bake! I feel very fortunate to have grown up with my grandma (I lived with my mum and grandma as a child) as she taught me. I think it was just a way to entertain me in the school holidays but when I got to university and knew how to cook whilst my housemates lived on supernoodles I was very grateful! My mum is very much of the "quick and easy" camp where cooking is concerned and she certainly doesn't bake! I'm sure my husband would argue my selfish knitting and yarn habit makes me neither useful nor economical but as I work full time I'm not a housewife either!

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Some other bits showing changing times…"an ordinary coal oven", useful hints for those with fancy gas ovens, taking the grocery order to the shop (and not forgetting to ask for Be-Ro of course!) and a reminder for those using this fancy self-raising flour that you don't need to put any baking powder in it.

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Finally a quick look at the recipes and the change from the black and white pictures to my full colour book, the pictures are changed, the instructions are step by step, the oven temperatures are more specific than just "a hot oven" and there are quantities in grams as well as in ounces but there are mostly the same recipes in the newer book as in the early one, they've just added more including a section on microwave cookery, gasp! What would my great-grandma think to being able to make a steamed pudding in 5 minutes?

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My grandma and great-grandma were also knitters but sadly I don't have any of their old patterns or anything they made but at least I do have this little bit of history on my bookshelf.

On other weekend activities outside of the kitchen…I now have a back, two fronts, a finished sleeve and a sleeve that is on the raglan decreases for my cardigan.

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There was a minor panic when I couldn't find the extra ball of yarn I knew full well I actually had somewhere but I stopped that panic in it's tracks and retrieved it from the depths of my knitting basket…no idea why it was there and I tried to ignore all the UFOs I had to push out of the way to find it.

I imagine I'll finish the second sleeve tonight then it's on to the icky bit…joining the seams, picking up stitches and knitting the collar and then seaming the whole thing. Oh joy. I can do mattress stitch but I still think my finishing is a bit rubbish, I'll just have to take it slowly as with all the effort that has gone into the knitting I don't want it ruined by sloppy finishing. Then there is the fun bit, button shopping!


  1. I love that last picture :)

    I'm a very rustic home cook too - how it looks doesn't matter, it's all about the taste in my house! Love the vintage cookery books, they sound fun.

  2. Your pizza and quiche look delicious. I don't know what happened to my Be-Ro book, I think I'll have to replace it, they do have some great basic recipes in. I love the colour of your cardigan.

  3. To add to your kitchen countertops ideas, 1 which is produced from natural wood is also a considerable option. It truly is less expensive and is often very easily matched with almost all kitchen décors it is possible to believe of.

  4. lovely folds of knitting :) and we totally have a couple of those be-ro editions(not as old as your one), one is so old, tattered and food stained you can barely see the recipes :) used to make so many cakes out of it when I was little.

  5. Gosh, how do we survive without helpful hints on how to feed our families today?

    Love the books.

  6. Oh I am drooling over here ... and that book is hilarious!

  7. Everything looks delicious! I'm always envious of anybody who can cook because I'm rubbish at it.

  8. I have a basic Bero book too, I also come back to it time and again. One of our favourits is the boiled fruit cake - is that in yours?

  9. Funny to read about your old cooking book! Praise to all the hardworking housewives!

  10. I love those old books, full of useful advice!!!! I have an old knitting one of my grandma's, I must dig it out and post a few pictures sometime! Some of the old recipes really have stood the test of time. I still make my Mum's boiled fruit cake recipe and it's delicious!