Yesterday I shared a seasonal post from a previous year, and here is another about the same small but very useful and interesting cookery book. In the introduction the writers include this important message: December and the last month of the calendar! Of all the months this is the one when Cook holds sway. and some sign of greediness may be permitted.
The National Mark, introduced in the late 1920’s, aimed to improve the quality of food, by regulating it; to help people become better and more creative cooks, while still being careful and economical, using locally grown produce, a Calendar of Recipes was produced in a little booklet.
At the beginning of each month’s recipes was a list of vegetables in season and obviously these would have been things families would eat. Much on the list is exactly what we would find in our greengrocer’s today, such as broccoli, celery, leeks and parsnips, but there are some items which I’m not sure would be in every fruit and vegetable department. Here is the selection for December:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- mustard and cress (this seems to have gone completely out of favour)
As well as the foods, there are eleven recipes to go with them each month, and December obviously features turkey ‘and its Accompaniments’ including a recipe for chestnut stuffing, an idea of how to use up leftovers and Christmas cake. I was interested to see that included in the recipes is one for Brussels sprouts with chestnuts… and this is a recipe written over eighty years ago; it only seems recently that all the TV chefs were cooking this, and I read a comment recently that nearly all the chestnuts sold are cooked with Brussels sprouts… well, the National Mark was certainly ahead of the game!
As we come up to Christmas, there are loads of get-togethers and parties, and next week our book club are having a gathering; I am making a dessert and I think I will use this National Mark recipe:
- 1½lb apples
- 2 eggs
- 2 oz butter
- 3-4 oz sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- peel, core and slice the apples, simmer in a little water with the sugar
- when cooked, beat to a smooth paste adding the yolks of the eggs and the other ingredients
- put in small oven-proof dishes, or a single larger dish
- beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in the remaining sugar
- put the meringue on the puddings 9 the recipe suggest decorating at this stage with angelica or glacé cherries but I won’t)
- bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown