A1 odds and ends – and how to make toast and water

I’m really enjoying looking through the 1901 edition of The A1 Cookery Book, written by Helen N. Lawson for inexperienced cooks. The recipes are set out in what for that time was quite an old-fashioned way with the instructions given and no separate list of ingredients. However, it’s very interesting, and the recipes, once put into the present day convention look straightforward and quite inviting – well, allowing for the difference in tastes between then and now!

As was often the case in books of that era, at the back are helpful hints for the housewife, but as the chapter is titled ‘odds and ends’ there are all sorts of things which one might expect to be among the recipes – fennel sauce, cherry jam, pease pudding – as well as instructions on how to clean things (brass trays, mirrors, water bottles) and of course, the old nineteenth century cookery book favourite, food for invalids (fish, meat jelly, minced meat) There are also instructions on how to make things such as paste for sticking, pot pourri, how to lard poultry or meat and alcoholic ‘cups’ champagne cup, claret cup and cider cup.

There are instructions, ”to make coffee’, ‘to bottle fruit or vegetables’recipes which don’t seem to fit anywhere else… such as this:

Toast and water

  • a slice of stale bread
  • boiling water
  • optional lemon rind
  1. toast slowly and thoroughly a slice of stale bread till it is light brown all over but not burnt
  2. pour over some boiling water and let it stand covered till cold
  3. if liked it maybe flavoured with lemon rind but it is generally made plain

This recipe has me stumped – why do you need a recipe to make soggy toast, and why would you want to? It’s not marked as invalid cooking so maybe it’s just a light snack? Not for me thanks!


  1. David Lewis

    Saw a good show from England on the history of baking bread. In the nineteenth century when the servants baked bread for the Lord etc. they would cut the loaf lengthwise with the Lord getting the top because the bottom was burnt. Thus came the name the upper crust.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosie Scribblah

    It sounds a bit like the Welsh recipe, Brewis, which was cooked in a ‘Brewis Kettle’. It’s basically stale bread boiled in water with a dash of salt. I suppose these recipes date from when people were much poorer and no food went to waste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Absolutely! It just seemed so odd seeing it in the cookery book. Even when I was a child nothing was wasted, not bacon fat, not meat bones, vegetable peelings on the compost heap. I try not to be wasteful but the fridge ends up with lots of little pots of dried up leftovers!! Thanks for mentioning the Brewis Kettle, very interesting!


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