Old Aussie Cookbook

An unknown classic cookbook

I don’t know when Australian Home Cookery was published, (in England by Hazell, Watson & Viney) but it was edited by “Prudence”, and
is a vast collection of recipes “to meet the needs of the Australian Housewife.”

In our house, it’s known as “the tip cookbook.” It was rescued from the tip years back, when one could rescue things. Heaven knows what is buried in landfill these days.

Boris spotted it as it was old, dog eared and well thumbed. It was also full of pencilled notes in the margins of recipes and, tucked between the pages, snipped out recipes from newspapers or written scraps of paper with little notes – “mum’s best pie”…”Uncle Johns favourite”. On the back of a notepaper with a recipe for Sour Cream Cake, is a child’s drawing of a cat and laboriously printed “Cameron.”

I’ve kept all these notes in the places I found them. The pages are thick and coarse and, as the cover was a bit tatty I had the book bound. I felt it a small tribute to an unknown Australian housewife, as there is no name inside or any clue as to the owner. A lot of the information is old- fashioned but sensible. I dip into it and wonder for what occasions did the owner make a dish and for whom?

Of such small, apparently insignificant items, is a family history glued together.

DM

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