This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Is this really America's Food Heritage?

Trawling my bookshelves, I came across a book which immediately made me think of my father.   It is one which he brought back from Virginia, way back in 2001 when he was doing a research trip over there.

The book is entitled 'Best of the Best from Virginia Cookbook  -  Selected Recipes from Virginia's Favorite Cookbooks'.

What I find so shocking is the way many cake and pudding recipes call for ...cake mix, cans of frosting, instant vanilla pudding, etc.   Surely this can't really be the best of the best of Virginian cooking, America's food heritage?  Serious question, by the way.

To be quite fair there were plenty of other recipes which do cook from scratch, I was simply shocked at the rest.

I set to and made a couple of recipes from the book, both have turned out well although I wouldn't necessarily make them again.

This one is Geba's Iron Skillet Chocolate Pie

2 cups sugar (you can cut by 1/3 - 1/2, so I did and it was perfectly fine for our taste)
4 rounded tablespoons flour
4 rounded tablespoons dry cocoa
1/2 cup butter/margarine
5 egg, separated
2 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 9" pie shell (I made a digestive biscuit crust instead)

Mix all dry ingredients.  Melt butter in a 10" skillet.  Add dry mixture, mix lightly.   Combine beaten egg yolks with milk, add to mixture, stirring constantly.   Cook slowly until really thick.   Remove from hat, add vanilla, blend well and pour into baked pie shell.

Cool and serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Now, it says that it serves 6 chocoholics or 8 smaller servings.   I think it will go much further without anyone feeling short-changed.   I would say 8 generous portions or 10 slightly smaller.


I'll share the other recipe another time.


  1. American cake recipes really annoy me. It's either'take a box of yellow cake mix' or there are so many ingredients i get bored reading the recipe. How can you make a cake from scratch with a box of yellow cake mix??

    1. I absolutely agree. That particular book seemed to offer so much, until I read the recipes in detail and then I had steam coming out of my ears, I was so cross. Boxes of cake mix and tins of soup seemed to feature quite often. I'm glad I am not the only one it annoys.