Another month in the Calendar of Cooking

I love calendars… my husband always gives me two, one he has made himself from his own photos, one he buys of Northern Ireland. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get other calendars too – this year a friend gave me the Paul Hollywood calendar, and he gazes down at me as I write! I never look through the months when I’m given it, I don’t even open it until January 1st, and I don’t peep to see what is coming up! This month’s calendar of my husband’s photos is one of a collection of brightly painted iron tractor seats, the Northern Irish picture is Giant’s causeway, and Mr Hollywood is looking very fetching in a black shirt…

The National Mark Calendar of Cooking, was a little recipe book published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – my copy was published in 1936, but I think there were earlier editions. The national Mark was a government initiative to promote home-grown produce, fruit, vegetables, cereal, meat and fish. Month by month the different seasonal foods are written about and recipes offered. It was written by Ambrose Heath and Dorothy Cottington Taylor; in some ways it seems dated, only the ‘housewife’ buys, prepares and cooks food, but it is charmingly written and is so evocative, so cheerful and so full of fun!

This is the introduction to August:

August makes our housewife, happy now, think of holidays. Picnic fare again, perhaps, or something more ambitious like a fine savoury casserole slowly simmering through the idle afternoon; for if housekeeping cares must be taken on holiday with us – as alas! so often they are – food must not be allowed to go by the board. Instead the thinking-cap must be pressed rather more firmly on, and after an invocation to national mark, a simple dish produced.
And holidays mean the country, and why should not the country mean – apples? Not just any old apple, but some of those apples with pedigree names that National mark ensures your getting. What fun to develop a palate for them as rich as men attain a palate for wine! This summer let us ask  for apples by their names and see what they mean to us. And this month we might well start with Beauty of Bath, a lovely name for a fine apple – National Mark of course. Besides apples we shall have new plums, and possibly the house or cottage we are staying in will have some loganberries; but never mind if it hasn’t; the National Mark has, and we can be sure of good ones. A jelly made from loganberry juice is something to dream about!

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