Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What to do with Spanish onions

I have a few old Recipe books which have been handed down to me: 

Last outing to Waitrose*
My grandmothers "Mrs Beeton",
the handwritten "receipts" of the Misses Hair, circa 1893 which includes the fascinating recipes entitled "What to do with Spanish Onions", and  "How to wait at table single handed" which ascertains in its opening sentence that any "intelligent person can be taught the art", 
and a couple of the recipe books belonging to my Mother , Margaret Viola Bruce nee Holding .

Interesting to me is the wedding present from her next door neighbours in  her home in Birkenhead . It is entitled "Advanced Cookery Recipes". She had just completed a cookery course on her engagement , or had maybe just bought the book, of the renowned Liverpudlian,  Fanny Calder , for it was "Recipes from the Calder School of Cookery "or some such title, I can't find the book .
My mother brought to her marriage , in 1946, to Yorkshireman Harold Gower Bruce always known as Bengy, a scant and basic knowledge of the culinary arts. She had of course watched her mother cook , and so knew perfectly how to order meat and cook it to perfection . 
I recall all she taught me too on buying meat . We have a great Butchers in Filey , whose meat is locally sourced and the producer named . 
Mother  loved a good butcher, and could talk Beasts kidney , skirt , feathering ,Aitch Bone and undercut to me well into her last months  . Beef of course was the flesh of choice , legs of lamb appeared on our Sunday Table occasionally in the Spring , Pork rarely , bacon every day , Black pudding often , and a a real treat would be a chicken , but these always came from our neighbour Mr Baston who was an egg producer. Our Butcher was Mr Hickey , whose van came up to our house a couple of times a week , or we would go to the village for mince or stewing beef. 
Mother had a limited range of "dinners"and all included meat  or fish .Cauliflower Cheese and Macaroni cheese did feature occasionally as meals.
We had

  • a wonderful joint of meat or a fowl on a Sunday
  • reheated meat and gravy on Monday (Daddy hated this)
  • Minced meat on Tuesday if any joint left
  • Braised steak -her favourite for visitors, served with Yorkshire Pudding , as was mince
  • Corned beef hash occasionally
  • Hash on Ash Wednesday (about 4 oz beef in a huge stew with potatoes and carrots and swede, not thickened, eaten in bowl with Brown or Worcester sauce to make it palatable)
  • Fish often , Fish pie, or Smoked Haddock with an egg on top, Fried fish often , lots fish caught by Daddy in season (and when he actually came home with some), which had to be eaten immediately as we had no fridge  , Trout or Grayling fried whole .
Sunday lunches were mother's triumph . We three girls will never forget them , or our childhood Sundays. Church in village with Daddy , drink at Church Mount afterwards , Sunday lunch , sometimes with rows about how  Daddy carved, and a pudding a crumble or a pie.  After the washing-up a walk up the lane to Fewlass' farm ,watching the Skylarks and Yellow hammers as Mummy had a quiet sit at home . Obligatory and awful Sunday School fitted in too , but not sure when in the afternoon that came.

AS a header on this post is a treasure for me on this day when Mummy would have been 100 years old  . Typical Mummy literacy , she had Dyslexia we now realise, as could not spell well, lots of underlinings, her characteristically stylish and bold handwriting and the recipes she wrote in the note section of  her wedding present  book,  her Mothers recipe for Fudge or Tablet as its called in Scotland . I can't make any today girls, as I'm not going to Spar for non essential Condensed milk , but we may all think about it !!

*been thinking about Michael Gove on TV the other day , talking to Jo Public about supermarkets with Waitrose as his example. Mr Gove, most people DO NOT GO TO WAITROSE