By Bernie Bell
Reading Dream Angus’ article in TON https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/11/21/the-fruit-loaf-recipe-that-time-forgot/, about his father’s recipe for what looks like an exceptionally yummy fruit cake, and about how folk used to write down, or cut out recipes and squirrel them away ( do people still do that, or do they just read recipes from their Smartphone?) – sent me to my 1915 edition of ‘Mrs. Beeton’s All-About Cookery’.
I started looking through the book, and came across some recipes which include ingredients which would be very much frowned on today.
“Average cost, uncertain, Blackbirds being seldom sold”!!!
“Allow two to each person”
And, almost unbelievable these days – Corncrake , or, as they were also known, Landrail. A recipe for Corncrake!!!
The idea of eating Blackbird, or Thrush, makes us wince now, but …Corncrake – rare – getting rarer, as described here…………..
Mrs Beeton’s All About Cookery from 1915 – different times, but not really that long ago, for a whole species to reduce so drastically, or even, as with some…..disappear.
I don’t think the Corncrake were reduced much by folk eating them – it’s more to do with habitat loss and farming methods – the modern world.
It’s an example of how something so readily available that it’s seen as a common enough foodstuff, not even a luxury item, can, through our carelessness, become endangered.
A recipe for Corncrake – a very strange idea, to us, now – and rightly so.
We’re fortunate, here on Orkney, to still provide a place for some of these rarer species to live, in a world where the habitat available to them is shrinking and shrinking.
And then, of course, there are the fish stocks. Cod used to be – cheap as chips. Now?
And back to Mrs Beeton’s book – an ad. near the end of the book, includes a mention of “Smoothing Irons”.
Does anyone remember smoothing irons? Heated at the fire – no temperature control – you had to know what you were doing, and use your senses, to make them work right.
And, does anyone remember the song about smoothing irons?
I remember my Mum doing washing in a ‘Dolly’ tub, using ‘Dolly Blue’ My lord – ain’t I old!!!