Black Satchel: Historical Cookery: #researchtober: 5th

Today's #researchtober chunk lands me considerably closer to the present, looking at a 20th century mainstay of Irish cookery; a book entitled 'All in the Cooking', and subtitled 'The Coláiste Mhuire Book of Household Cookery'. It was used as a textbook for the teaching of Home Economics in the 40s and 50s, and every girl who took those classes seems to have kept the book. My mother had a copy - it's still in my homeplace in Wexford. I found a copy of it in a second-hand shop in Dundrum, and gave it to my brother a few years ago, and found another copy myself in the tiny but excellent bookshop at the Hill of Tara. It's probably as important in 20th century Irish cookery as Mrs Beeton was to the Victorian English.

Part of the interest, of course, is in the annotations and notes - and names - that adorn any copy. My current one belonged to someone called Pierrette Lawlor, which is both old-fashioned AND unconventional in Ireland. She didn't make many notes in the book, although there are some recipes with ingredients ticked off. Pages 155 through 162 are mostly cut out, and there are some odd coloured stains on pages 154 and 163. Appropriately, these are from the chapter on Sauces. As with every copy of this book I've ever seen, pages 206 and 207 are lightly stained as well; this is the bread and cakes chapter, including on these two pages "Dinner Buns", "Jam Tarts", "Queen Cakes", "Madeira Cake", "Seed Cake", "Jam Sandwich" and "Ginger Fruit Cake".

There are two extra recipes written into the "Notes" pages at the back. One is untitled, and reads, in total, "Mix flour salt & sugar & mustard together. Stir in the milk. Add the vinager [sic] slowly & then the butter cut in small lumps. Lastly add the beaten eggs. Stand in boiling water or bring very carefully to boiling pt. Cook gently until it coats the back of a wooden spoon." I think this is some variation on Hollandaise sauce. The second is for a Porter Cake, and includes along with the expected flour, sugar and so forth, various dried and fresh fruit, and 1 bottle of stout. It sounds pretty good, actually. There's also a recipe written in pencil and mostly erased, for, I think, Eve's Pudding.

One of the things that really stands out about the book is the preparation of vegetables. There are 43 recipes in the chapter. 11 of them are for potatoes in some form. Of the rest, 17 are boiled, and 2 are stewed. This gives us dishes such as Boiled Celery (boiled for half an hour), Boiled Onions (40 minutes to an hour), Boiled Leeks (30-40 minutes), and Boiled Salsify (40 minutes). Almost every recipe ends with "Garnish with parsley", and a lot of them are coated in white sauce after they've been boiled. They sound absolutely repulsive, to be honest. It's no wonder that variety of vegetables wasn't much of a thing in pre-90s Irish cuisine; one couldn't tell one from another after they'd been boiled to death and covered in white sauce.

And finally, an item which amuses me greatly in terms of Who fandom: there is a recipe among those for "Invalid Cookery" for "Fish Custard". It doesn't sound terribly good, but I know from medieval cookery that the recipe can be deceptive. It is not, for the record, sweet.