Olde time Christmas customs…

I’ve written a couple of times about the delightful little Atora beef suet cookery booklet, from Christmas 1933. It is full of recipes using suet, and also little stories, games, and descriptions of Christmas customs and traditions. I wish I knew who wrote it, the initials E.W.B. appear but I think the identity of the writer will remain a mystery.

I side-tracked and did a little research about Atora, the company, and found that it was started by a Frenchman Gabriel Hugon, who was an engraver for a calico printer in Manchester. Apparently he noticed how hard it was for his wife Ellen, (or his servant, Eliza Jakeman) to prepare suet, cutting it from a big piece and shaving it into manageable pieces, and has the inspiration to make a prepared suet to sell. From there developed the Atora beef-suet company in Manchester where the family were then living;  Gabriel and Ellen had at least eight children so any time-saving efficiencies in the kitchen were very helpful. Gabriel was born in Paris, his wife in Cambridge, and she had the interesting maiden name of Donnex.

The little Christmas recipe book has all that you might need for a delicious Christmas, including the stuffing for a turkey, or a more traditional goose:

  • 4 oz breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz Atora suet
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz ham or lean bacon diced
  • 1½ tsp thyme
  • ¼tsp marjoram
  • 1 good pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch mace
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. mix dry ingredients and add eggs and mix very well
  2. sufficient for a 9lb turkey, increase proportions as necessary for a bigger bird
  3. for forcemeat balls, make into balls, cover with beaten eggs then breadcrumbs and cook with the fowl

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