Vintage Cook Books

Published on 03 April 2020

Green Kete Horowhenua Logo.

Kiri Pepene

Now this is the time to be creative in the kitchen, with my normal café lunch off the agenda and less trips to the supermarket I realised that I would have to do more cooking!

I confess that I am not often known for my culinary skills and cooking for both a meat lover and a fussy vegetarian (that would be me) could be a bit of a challenge. Despite an aversion to cooking, I actually collect old cooking books. So the other night I went through the bookshelves and pulled them all out.

I have many that range from "Mrs Beaton's Everyday Cooking", a 1960 "Recipes with canned foods" published by Oak, and about a hundred cookbooks from Play Centres, C.W.I's and schools. But the one I gravitated to was my signed copy of "Aunt Daisy." Who else could a desperate housewife and challenged cook turn to but the legendary and formidable Daisy? 

For many years she was the voice of the radio, I am sure that there are those that will remember the theme song "Bicycle Built for Two" and that wonderful "Good Morning Everybody". For half an hour Aunt Daisy was a friend who came into peoples homes, whether you were a busy housewife, lonely or sick or isolated. She would share tips and hints, recipes, and you knew a product was good if Aunt Daisy endorsed it on her show! 

So, with an abundance of enthusiasm and imagining all the wonderful meals I could produce, I dived right in. However it soon became apparent that Aunt Daisy was assuming that all housewives would have well stocked larders and a great knowledge of techniques and skills that would enable them to produce high quality meals to feed their hungry families. I became rather despondent as I was destined to fail in my efforts to try and impress Aunt Daisy. Her book went back on the shelf!

I kept looking through my books and then I came across "The New Zealand Truth Cookery Book" published in the 1940's. I was intrigued that a scandal newspaper would actually produce a cookbook so this was definitely worth looking at. New Zealand was still recovering from the war and some food items were still rationed or just unavailable, and it was at this time housewives really had to be creative. 

As I was reading through the recipes it struck me that it really gave me a snapshot of the time. There are many recipes which get the best out of the ingredients and teach you how to substitute with what you have in the pantry.

A recipe for "Imitation Cherries" stood out to me. essentially, you dice several small carrots, boil them, dissolve a packet of raspberry jelly crystals, simmer and drain and put in a jar! Nowadays with convenience food choices that is something many of us would just not do.

As for me well I still enjoy looking through my old precious cookbooks but I think in the Kitchen there will be no wonderful creations just plain food on the plate.

Assortment of vintage cookbooks.

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