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Although I’ve been buying magazines for seasonal recipes, I don’t usually spend money on cookbooks. But I found an old cookbook at a church garage sale, and I couldn’t resist. The day I bought it, I sat down on the couch with Steven after supper and opened my new treasure. The pages have separated from the binding; a good sign of a well-used resource, I believe.  60 years of cigarette smoke, grease, and flour flew up in my face as I turned the pages.

So many delightful surprises! This cookbook was published by Royal Baking Powder (PTY.) Ltd; third edition, 1955. I noticed that the flag on the front is not South Africa’s current flag, but the Royal Baking Powder can looks the same.

The last paragraph of the dedication page reads ”And so this book is dedicated to all the young newly-weds in South Africa, many of whom will be coming to grips with a stove for the first time! Every recipe is explained as simply as possible, all measurements and temperatures are accurate, and none of the ingredients are unobtainable or unduly expensive.”

The first paragraph of the Introduction reads “The enjoyment of fine food has been one of the principal delights of men since the beginning of time, and for the woman who would aspire to the power that good cooking offers, there are a few golden rules that cannot be ignored.” The rules follow: make simple meals that can be prepared with ease and don’t experiment indiscriminately. What bride doesn’t need this book?

The section on shopping and food storage talks about using lock-up pantries, and buying good supplies of non-perishable goods. There’s a paragraph dedicated to storage of soap! Don’t store it with your food, keep it in the linen closet and buy a large quantity because it needs to dry out – apparently, the harder the soap, the longer it lasts. Who knew?

I got a clearer understanding of my friend Anthea’s cutlery set, which she graciously loaned for the purpose of our Friendship Group’s Christmas dinner. She has this great wooden box full of silverware that I had no idea how to place on the table, or even what it was all for. Now I know! I also learned that each piece of cutlery should be straight, and placed about one inch from the edge of the table (which should be covered in a damask tablecloth).

Another good section explained how to serve “Maidless Meals.” Truly!

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Well worn cover with old South African flag
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With all that cutlery, there's barely room for food!
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For all of us who need help on the maid's day off...
Interesting reading as that was, I wanted to chew on the meat of the matter, if you know what I mean.

I began perusing Garnishes & Snacks (they were making radish roses before I was born!); Sandwiches (I’m going to pass on the Marmite butter and hardboiled egg recipe); Seasonings (I didn’t know wine was a seasoning); Soups (What is sago?); Fish (I‘ve actually seen many of the types described in Meat & Fish); Meats (I was flabbergasted -- or should I say flubbergasted -- to see a section on whalemeat!); Poultry & Game (includes information on plucking and cleaning); Sauces, Gravies, Stuffings (What in the world is forcemeat?); Vegetables & Cereals (Including recipes for mealies, marrow, green paw-paws, and pumpkin); Salads & Dressings (Beetroot Cup Salad – Cook as many beets as you have people, form them into a bowl, fill with a mixture of cooked vegetables & top with mayo.); Light Meals (Stuffed Vegetable Marrow sounds similar to our favorite Weight Watcher recipe Beef Stuffed Zucchini Boats); Leftovers & Canned Comfort (Jellied Fish & Capers, anyone?)…

Ooooohhh, now we’re getting to the good stuff! Desserts (Lots of puddings & custards); Pastry Making (I’m always looking for a piecrust recipe that turns out); Bread Making (Excellent explanation of all the types of yeast I’ve seen on the grocer’s shelves); Baking-Mix Recipes (sounds like Bisquick & I’m going to try it); Cakes & Biscuits (Remember, biscuits are cookies); Icings & Fillings (Who knew you could use monkey nuts as an almond paste substitute); and Home-made Sweets (Sweets or sweeties are candy).

Next to the recipes everyone should know: Home Canning & Preserves (A word of caution: when using caustic soda for peeling fruits, keep vinegar & water or lemon juice & water nearby in case of burns); Beverages (If I can find a new-laid egg, I might try some Chocolate Egg-Nog); Invalid Cooking (Try Tomato & Liver Soup for anaemia or Albumen Water for Diarrhoea & Dysentery); Household Budget (blah, blah, blah); Menu Planning (School lunch boxes should include a meaty sandwich, fresh fruit or pudding, whole tomato or grated carrot, and a glass of milk or a cup of hot cocoa); and finally….

SOUTH AFRICAN RECIPES! Naturally, they have names I can’t pronounce or understand: Fish Kedgeree; Penang; Perlemoen; Gesmoorde Hoender; Bredie; and Frikkadel (that one makes me smile). I do recognize a few: Sosaties (Dutch Kabobs); Bobotie (a casserole); Boerwors (sausage); Biltong (kind of like jerky); Melktart (custard pie); Koeksisters (doughnuts soaked in syrup – beyond delicious when they’re fresh); and a variety of chutneys (it seems South Africans prefer not to spice their food as they cook; they just add a chutney at the table.)

As I was reading the recipes, I realized the ingredients were measured in cups, not millimeters or grams! And the temperatures were noted in Fahrenheit, not Celsius! Then I remembered Sandra (the lady who owns our home) telling me how troublesome it was to make the switch to metrics when she was a child. She even left me a conversion chart next to the oven.

Apparently it’s true that everything old is new again!
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You didn't think I'd lie to you, did you?
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They sell koeksisters at the coffee shop at church for 50 cents each. mmmmmmmmm.......
 


Comments

12/31/2014 2:49pm

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02/16/2017 5:27pm

Finding an old cookbook must be really a good buy for you. The scratches, dirt, and even the smell of the cookbook signify that it's been used frequently and served its purposed. My grandmother told me that recipes made from the past are more delicious compare to the new ones, so you must be really lucky! You've seen a lot of differences too, and one of that is the measurement. What a nice experience you just had!

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