Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Pig Idea

When I was a kid the "pig  van" used to pick up my gran's food waste every week. It was delivered to a local pig farm where it was used to feed the porkers. Changing lifestyles, food scares and onerous regulations have forced this practice to disappear. But now some campaigners are trying to re-introduce the (pig) idea. Check out their website, it makes sense.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

If you are interested in food then you should pay a visit to  To quote it's mission statement:

"Flavour is an initiative which launched in December 2012 with a simple purpose:  to cut through the hype and what is in or out of fashion, to highlight food that tastes as good as it possibly can. Collaborating closely with some of the nation’s foremost chefs, producers, retailers, critics and writers, our aim is to find, share and ultimately help support the best food producers".

They have a regular feature FLAVOURS OF THE UNEXPECTED in which guest contributors recall notable flavour experiences. Last week we were delighted to learn that our contribution had been published. And not only that but we received a bottle of Nytimber Classic Cuvee, one of the most admired British sparkling wines in appreciation of our efforts.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mrs. Beeton’s Everyday Cookery

We have just acquired a copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Everyday Cookery. This edition was published soon after her death in 1865 at the age of just 28. The Preface makes reference to the late Mrs. Beeton and states that this volume was to have been the first of a series of “Practical Manuals” called “All About It” books and “was approved by Mrs. Beeton in a Prospectus issued a few months ago”.

Although she is not as well known in the USA Isabella Mary Beeton is one of the towering figures of Cookery publishing. With over 400 densely packed pages, that must have strained the eyesight of a Victorian reader, Everyday Cookery contains over 1600 “practical receipts” as recipes were called in her day, numerous wood engravings and 142 colored illustrations.

Isabella Beeton is best known for her previous work “Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management” published when she was only 24. Her husband Samuel Beeton was also her publisher. His company published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Great Britain as well as various periodicals aimed at the woman and home and it was on these that Isabella cut her journalistic teeth.

It is sometimes said that Isabella used recipes from other writers including her predecessor Eliza Acton, nonetheless her achievements are remarkable for one so young. Unfortunately not long after her untimely death from a form of septicemia associated with childbirth and miscarriage, Samuel Beeton’s publishing company collapsed with the rights to Isabella’s books being bought by the publisher Ward Lock who continued to reprint them for many years.

Monday, 28 January 2013

A prolific writer of cookery books

We tend to think of the current era as the heyday for cookery so it comes as a surprise to discover that one hundred years ago was also a boom time for food manufacturers, publishers and authors and few were more prolific than Charles Herman Senn.

Charles Herman Senn was born in Switzerland, in 1864 and died in 1934. He received a classical cookery training in Europe and later under the renowned chef Francatelli at the Reform Club in London. Senn was one of the founders of the Universal Cookery and Food Association and edited the association’s year-book, The Cookery Annual, from its first publication in 1894. In 1892 he was made Consulting Chef to the National Training School for Cookery, one of the most influential schools of its time, he was also a leading light in the Westminster Technical Institute from its founding in 1910, creating the syllabus and establishing the examinations. He also lectured and gave cookery demonstrations to the wider community. 

These are some of his books:
The amateur cook's manual
Ye art of cookery in ye olden time
Breakfast and supper dishes
Chafing dish and casserole cookery
Cookery for the sick and convalescent
Cooking in stoneware (casserole cookery)
How to cook vegetables
Ices, and how to make them
Ideal breakfast dishes, savouries and curries
Light fare recipes
The "Main" cookery book
Manual for diabetic diet and cookery
Meatless fare and Lenten cookery
The new century cookery book
The paper-bag cookery manual
The people's kitchen
Popular breakfast dishes and savouries
The popular cookery book of French and English dishes
The practical cookery manual
Practical gastronomy: French menus
The menu book and check-list of dishes 
Practical household recipes from "Lessons in plain cooking"
Recherche2 entrees
Luncheon & dinner sweets including the art of ice making 
Savoury breakfast, dinner & supper dishes. 
Senn's culinary encyclopaedia
A pocket dictionary of foods and culinary encyclopaedia
Dictionary of foods
Senn's egg cookery
How to cook eggs and omelets in 250 different ways
Simple cookery for the people

Mary A. Wilson an unsung hero

One of the great things about researching cookery heritage is discovering wonderful characters like Mrs. Mary A. Wilson. In these days where so much good food is wasted it is refreshing to be reminded of more frugal times when it was normal to make ingredients go a bit further and store quite delicate foodstuffs without the aid of refrigeration. Here she describes how to make home-made yeast.


Wash four potatoes and then cut in slices, without peeling, and place in saucepan, and add three pints of water. Cook until the potatoes are soft and then add

One-half cupful of hops.
Cook slowly for one-half hour. Rub the mixture through a fine sieve and then pour hot mixture on:
One and one-half cupfuls of flour,
One tablespoonful of salt,
One-quarter cupful of brown sugar.
Stir until well mixed, beating free from lumps. Cool to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Now add
One yeast cake dissolved in one cupful of water, 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Stir well to mix and then let ferment in a warm place for ten hours. Now pour into jar or crock and store in a cool place.

Use one and one-half cups of this mixture in place of the yeast cake. Always stir well before using and take care that the mixture does not freeze. This potato ferment must be made fresh every eighteen days in winter and every twelve days in summer.

Mrs. Wilson had a mission to teach people about cookery and this meant an understanding of food, how to prepare it, store it and cook it. She founded the Queen Victoria's Cuisiniere that later became Mrs. Wilson's Cooking School in Philadelphia. She was also Instructor Domestic Science at the University of Virginia Summer School.

In addition to establishing her own influential cooking school, Mary Wilson made an important and lasting contribution to improvement of nutrition of the United States armed forces. In 1916, midway through WWI, she was asked by the US Navy to establish a cooking school where cooks could be properly trained. She promptly closed her own school and devoted her energy and expertise to the training of naval cooks even using her own equipment.

She refused all offers of remuneration and funded the entire enterprise herself; her selfless action eventually being commended by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.