Once again able to prowl charity shops and second hand bookshops, albeit wearing a mask and hands sticky with anti-bacterial gel, I came across a small cookery book first published in 1944, although the copy I have is the reprinted ‘with additions‘ version from 1946.Cookery To-day and To-morrow. You can guess it is called ‘Cookery To-day and To-morrow’ from my title and it’s by a writer I haven’t come across before Nell Heaton. I have tried to find out more about her and have been unsuccessful. She may have been the daughter of John and Lucy Heaton and born in Sunderland in 1900, in which case she had the unusual middle name of St John… but of course she may have been a completely different person and her name might have been Helen, shortened to Nell. However, as far as I can find out so far, She was Nellie St John Heaton and had a sister,
The book which I bought today has an inscription inside, ‘To Betty and Fred, Wishing you a very Merry Xmas, from Rose, and is illustrated by W.A.Burton with rather nice pen and ink drawings, very typical of books at the time. I guess just after the war it was the cheapest way to publish any book. There’s a beautiful quote from Ruskin about what makes a good cook which I actually think holds true today:
To be a good cook means the knowledge of all fruits,herbs, balms and spices; and of all that is healing and sweet in field and groves, savoury in meats. It means carefulness, inventiveness, watchfulness, willingness and readiness of appliance. It means the economy of our great-grandmothers and the science of modern chemists; it means much tasting and no wasting; it means English thoroughness, French art and Arab hospitality; it means, in fine, that you are to see that everybody has something nice to eat.
It’s well written without a lot of unnecessary waffle, with clear instructions and a wonderful array of different ingredients – with an eye to economy as it was written and published during the war at the time of strict rationing. It begins as you might imagine with methods -which include food values – proteins, vitamins, minerals, and of course an essential inclusion in those days – roughage! The different sections include something else which hints at rationing, dehydrated foods, and a note that the egg dishes use shell eggs – i.e. not dried egg. There’s an interesting section on herbs and spices, because contrary to common thought cooks in the past used a wide variety of different ingredients, and garlic!!! This idea that garlic wasn’t used until Elizabeth David write about it is just plain wrong (I will gt off my hobby horse now) There are a lot of recipes for salads and salad dressing and interestingly there is a section with traditional Jewish recipes.
I think I am going to have a lot of enjoyment reading and maybe using this little book!
I was masked and prowling in Frome when I found the book in a charity shop. My featured image is of Frome market some years ago.
Nell Heaton was certainly a busy writer:
- A Calendar of Food and Wine
- Cooking Dictionary
- A Calendar of Country Receipts
- The Complete Cook
- Traditional Recipes of the British Isles
- The Complete Hostess
- Cooking With Wine
- Cookery To-Day and To-Morrow
- Nell Heaton’s Cooking Dictionary
- Three Hundred And Sixty Five Dinners, a Menu for Every Day of the Year.
- Wines, Mixed Drinks and Savouries
- Cassell’s Cooking