I have most of my cookery books old and new beside me here while I’m writing… If I get stuck with my plot, or my characters, or just in general, I’ll spend a little time distracting myself with recipes and articles about food and drink. The other day I wrote about the curious ingredients Ambrose Heath used in his wine-making recipes, in his little pocket-sized book, unambiguously called, Homemade Wines and Liqueurs. it was published in 1956 – which seems to have been a very good year for recipe book publications!
The little book, and its companion books, were published by Herbert Jenkins Ltd, a successful company founded in 1912, which published among other book, many of P. G. Wodehouse’s novels. Herbert George Jenkins the owner was born in 1876; he was a British writer but died very young at the age of forty-seven. he wrote comic books about a Mr Joseph Bindle, and detective stories ‘starring’ Malcolm Sage. He also wrote non-fiction, including a biography of George Borrow and William Blake.
Back to cordials, which Ambrose Heath supposed to be so invigorating for the heart… I guess we tend to think of cordials as fruit syrups which are diluted with water, lemonade or soda; for Mr Heath, they were a basic ingredient infused in brandy.
I expected them to be fruits, and indeed some were,
- blackberry (sounds wonderful)
- black currant (ditto)
- cranberry (and I thought cranberries were recent arrivals from America)
- damson (lovely!)
- gooseberry (interesting)
There was Highland cordial – whisky flavoured with white currants, lemon rind and ginger essence, and then a selection which sounded more like cough mixtures:
I don’t think I will be trying to make any of them… in my experience such things don’t taste nearly as nice as expected! I was intrigued though, that in this section was a recipe for Athol Brose, which I thought was a dessert:
- 1 lb runny honey
- 1½ pint whisky
- 1 cup water
- mix the honey and water, stirring with a silver spoon (what else??!!)
- gradually stir in the whisky, stirring rapidly until a froth rises
- bottle and keep tightly corked