callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

What's Cooking?

When I got married and two ex-students’ book collections merged there were a few duplicates. These included the giant 1968 paperback edition of Lord of the Rings,
The Penguin Modern Poets The Mersey Sound
and Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katharine Whitehorn. This gives an idea of just how zeitgeist-y the book was. It’s amusing, practical, memorable; I still remember ‘the potato shaped space’ which needed to be filled. Now I see that Virago have reissued it. Does anyone, even a student, live in a bedsitter these days, with a tiny Belling cooker ? Isn’t it all shared houses and studios? Whitehorn’s book is a piece of a social history which will show a new generation how their parents lived.

I am sorry to find that there is not even one copy of the book in the house now. This is probably the result of a purge I had a few years ago of cookery books I no longer actually cooked from. Rummaging fruitlessly in the cupboard I did find something very different: Domestic and Economical Cookery Recipes With Special Hints On Gas Cooking by Miss Lillie Richmond It was published to promote the use of Richmond Cookers, which could be ‘Hired Out By Most Gas Companies’. ‘1892’ has been written on the fep., so I assume that it was my great grandmother’s.

What makes it interesting is that she, my grandmother, my great aunt and my own mother have added recipes and household hints. They seem to have been keen on pickles and on ways of using marrows and pumpkins. ‘Very Good Elderberry Wine’ sounds nice. How to treat a child for shock? If over two years, give four teaspoons of brandy in a little water; under two years, only two teaspoons. If no brandy available give warm milk and in all cases keep child warm with blankets and hot water bottles. How about this, ‘For the Hair’. Mix a tumbler of gin with 3 or 4 onions for 24 hours. Add (something I can’t read) of sulphur and a quart of water and shake well for two days. Rub in two or three times a week. What a waste of gin! Make your own black-out by mixing half a pound of veg black (whatever that was) with half a pint of turps and about two spoonfuls of paint. ‘Stretch material and paint’. Recession? We don’t know we’re born.

‘A Richmond I Want and a Richmond I’ll Have!’
‘Read the opinions of Lecturesses on our Stoves’
Tags: cooking in a bedsitter, family cookery books, housekeeping, katharine whitehorn
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