Old School Cooking

It’s Elaine’s turn to be inspired by The Great British Bake Off and write about the food/recipes that can appear in our historical novels.

My Nan

I have been looking at a copy of my Nan’s Radiation Cookery Book, she passed away nearly fifty years ago but her cookery book is still passing on words of wisdom.

It made me wonder if it was the type of cookery book that should still be used today. It starts by explaining some basic terms such as braise, stew, grill, boil, steam, roast and bake. It has measurements and temperatures in the front but before all of that it has pictures of cookers. It made me wonder if anybody would remember their parents, grandparents or even great grandparents using these cookers, which are a far cry from their modern counterpart

The book talks about making stocks and, much to my delight, boiling the bones of a chicken or turkey. This was one of my favourite meals, and one I have done repeatedly for my own children.

Recipe for Chicken Broth curtsey of  The Radiation Cookery Book, 1956 edition.


My Nan’s Cookbook

The carcase and trimmings of a chicken OR 6 chicken-necks and 2 or 3 giblets
2 pints of water
1oz of rice OR pearl barley
1 onion
1 stick of celery
6 peppercorns
Blade of mace
1 teaspoonful chopped parsley


Break up the carcase of the chicken, or if chicken necks and giblets are used, scald and cut them up. Put the pieces into a large saucepan with water, rice or barley (well washed) and the onion, celery, salt, peppercorns and mace. Bring to boiling point, then simmer for 2 hours. Strain and reheat the liquor. Add more seasoning if required and lastly the chopped parsley just before serving.

My own recipe differs slightly because I leave everything in the pan and remove as many of the bones as I can. I add diced potatoes, peas and anything else I can think of, so mine is more like a stew that comes with a health warning about any small bones that might still be in there. Is this something you make, or have made? Did you eat it as a child?  As I said it’s one of my favourite meals.

I thought I would just leave you with a picture of some of the old style cookers from the book. Happy baking.