I love my old cookery books; I’m sure the writers, many of them anonymous, wouldn’t have expected their readers to chuckle or puzzle over what they have written. I’m sure Mrs Wise who wrote ‘Round-the-Clock Cookery’ in 1935, wouldn’t expect someone eighty years later to find her recipes amusing… or maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s only me who smiles at some her combinations of ingredients and instructions.

Delhi broth – in her dinner section of the old book, (“a broth is cooked in exactly the same way as a soup, but instead of straining the liquor, the soup is served with the meat and vegetables etc. It is usually accompanied by rice or barley, and unlike the rest of the soups it is a meal in itself”)  there is a recipe for Delhi broth, which you would expect to be a curried soup, maybe like a mulligatawny – but no, it is threepennyworth of bones (however much that is – which is why I smiled) four leeks and salt and pepper… that’s it –

Delhi Broth

  1. put the bones in a good sized pan. Fill up with water and simmer for four hours, then strain and remove the meat from the bones.
  2. put the bones back in the pan with the stock and simmer for another four hours.
  3. boil the leeks in some of the stock till tender then cut small and add to the rest of the stock
  4. also add the meat (cut small)
  5. remove bones and season

Cheese soup isn’t funny, but it is kind of strange – quarter of a pound of cheese, a white sauce, bayleaf, parsley, peppercorns and cayenne pepper, an egg yolk and an onion… might be nice as a sauce with pasta, but a soup? A roast pig’s head (well half actually) served with fried apples anyone? Belgian rabbit with sausages, sultanas and half a glass of Burgundy? or Italian Pie –

Italian Pie

  • 1 cooked rabbit, meat only
  • 4 oz cooked macaroni
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and sliced
  • 1 oz grated cheese
  • a little chopped onion
  • 1 gill of white sauce (a gill is ¼ pint)
  • ½ lb short pastry
  • salt and pepper
  1. line a pie dish with pastry saving a little for the lid
  2. mix the rabbit meat, macaroni, tomatoes, onion and cheese
  3. season well then add the white sauce
  4. put into pastry case and add lid, wetting the edges and pressing down
  5. bake in a hot oven for forty minutes
  6. serve hot or cold

I am struggling to find who ‘Mrs Wise’ was who wrote this book, and who also write cookery pamphlets; she was the house cookery writer for a magazine ‘Woman’s Companion‘; I might be wrong, and would love to be, but I wonder if ‘Mrs Wise’ was just the nom-de-plume for a bank of writers who produced recipes for magazines and cookery books.

This is what I found out about the magazine – it was published weekly by Odhams Press between 1927 and probably 1961? Odham’s described their magazine as the ‘journal of beauty’  in 1938. It was about eighty pages and cost six pence (old money) The magazine’s production was based at Martlett Court in Covent Garden and in 1956 took over and combined with ‘Home Companion’ .

I don’t think I will be trying any of the recipes I’ve mentioned here;  looking through I came across ‘orange and mint salad which sounded nice… until I realised it was a dessert served in custard – mint and custard? No thank you Mrs Wise!

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