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.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Spice up your Cos Lettuce

Are your Cos lettuce running to seed?  

Fear not, I have an old recipe which can help you transform them into Jamaican Ginger, or so it says.  

I have not tried it myself, we are growing  only weeds this year - an exaggeration, but not by much!

Image borrowed from newlifeonahomestead
"When Cos lettuce is beginning to go to seed - cut off the stalks and pull off the string then cut into pieces the size of West India ginger.    

Put it into water as fast as you can and wash.

Sugar and water in the proportion of 1lb of sugar to 9 pints of water, two large spoonfulls of powdered ginger laid in a piece of muslin, then boil it and let it stand 2 days then boil it again for half an hour.

Repeat this four or five times in the same syrup then put it in a sieve to drain and then wipe the pieces dry, then put it into a strong syrup with a great deal of ginger.  boil it in this syrup 2 or 3 times till it looks quite clear and tastes like Jamaica Ginger.

Some lemon peel cut very thin and boiled in the syrup improves the colour of the ginger mock."

This recipe is attributed to a Mrs P Atkinson.

This particular recipe comes from the large black handwritten book on top of the pile.

I am particularly fond of this one - but to tell the truth I love each one of them, for the story of each one unfolds as I hold them in my hand and read the recipes.

Only one of my small collection has the name of the woman who gathered and cooked the recipes, the rest are unknown, which is a shame. 

These old books with their well-worn covers and much thumbed pages, splashes of grease or splodges of gravy are a constant source of pleasure.  The handwriting is not always easy to decipher but they speak to me in ways beautiful, modern, pristine recipe books cannot.

ps I think Romaine lettuce gone to seed would work just as well.


  1. YES! MY Cos lettuces bolted this year, and I missed out on a few being served as a salad, but, I DID braise some in the manner of a French lettuce and silverskin onion braise, so all wasn't totally lost! LOVE the recipe above too, Karen

    1. Hello Karen, Recipes like this one always set me thinking. I'd love to know whether she actually made it and whether she was impressed with the results. Perhaps one of these days I shall give it a go. The braised lettuce with onions sounds rather delicious and it's always satisfying to turn what could be a waste into a delicious meal.