More odds and ends from The A1 Cookery Book

I shared some of the random items from my old 1901 edition of The A1 Cookery Book yesterday. In recipe books of that era it was quit common to have a last chapter full of totally unconnected items, recipes of every sort, household tips and hints, instructions, invalid cookery, all jumbled up. Here is another selection, not quite as bizarre as yesterdays – when I say bizarre each item was perfectly sensible it was just the juxtaposition of them with the others. The following are in the exact order in the book, from page 150-152:

  • cocoa nibs
  • to make coffee
  • café noir
  • pickled damsons
  • damson cheese (damson curd – which I ma sure is delicious!)
  • to cook eggs without boiling
  • to preserve eggs – apparently ‘before May is the best time to pickle eggs. They will keep for good for a very long time, but the eggs must be quite fresh when put in the pickle
  • fennel sauce
  • to cook fish for an invalid (yes, there are recipes for invalids in every nineteenth and early twentieth century cookery book!)
  • ginger beer

I had no idea what cocoa nibs were, so looked them up: ‘cacao nibs are small pieces of crushed cacao beans/cocoa beans, that have a bitter, chocolatey flavour.’  I’m not sure if this definition is the same as the item from 1901, but this is what the A1 says about what to do with cocoa nibs:

Cocoa Nibs – these are more digestible than ordinary cocoa. The only secret in the success of making good cocoa from them is to stew them a great many hours, and make it the day before it is wanted, so that the fat can be skimmed off: the cocoa when it is cold. Three ounces of cocoa nibs to a quart of water are good proportions. Put the nibs in an earthenware stew-pot and add the cold water; let it boil, and then keep simmering all day. Set aside at night, and skim and boil when wanted.

To be honest, it doesn’t sound enticing, skimming off the fat and then skimming again before it’s used.  Some modern processes are in fact better than the old ones!

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