Not sure about these August recipes

I’;m looking at my little 1936 National Mark Calendar of Cooking; as the name suggests, this little recipe book offers seasonal dishes throughout the year, making use of whatever produce is available and at is best this month.

So this month there is a delicious selection of fresh fruit – including blackcurrant, cherries, gooseberries, loganberries, plums and red currants – our seasons have so changed in eighty years that the cherries and currants are all gone now, and vegetables including artichokes, beans of various sorts, beetroot, cucumbers and tomatoes.

There are two tomato recipes… and I really don’t think I would like either… maybe it’s just me, or maybe tastes have changed dramatically since 1936.

Tomato Ice

This is rather good as a first course, or as a soft cocktail.

  • tomatoes
  • cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  1. make a purée of some raw tomatoes by rubbing them through a coarse sieve
  2. strain through a fine sieve
  3. season with salt, pepper and cayenne
  4. freeze to what is technically known as ‘a mush’

‘A mush’ – I find a lot of humour in this little book. I’m not sure, I haven’t been able to find out, but I feel that the writer – from the two authors Ambrose heath and Dorothy Cottington-Taylor,  is Mr Heath. However, I really don’t find tomato mush appealing as either a first course or a soft cocktail – whatever the alcohol added!

Tomato jelly salad

  1. ¾ lb tomatoes
  2. ½ an onion, sliced
  3. 1 lettuce
  4. a little diced celery when in season
  5. ½ tsp sugar
  6. celery salt
  7. bayleaf
  8. 2 cloves
  9. salt
  10. ¼ pint hot water
  11. ½ oz gelatine
  12. mayonnaise
  • stew the tomatoes with the onions, celery, sugar, cloves, bayleaf, celery salt
  • rub through a seive
  • dissolve the gelatine in water and add to the tomato purée
  • when almost cold, pour into small, wetted, individual moulds
  • when set, turn out and serve on lettuce leaves
  • garnish with a tsp of mayonnaise

Of course, these days we can have almost whatever we want whatever the season; so if we wanted tomatoes or celery at any time at all, they would always be available! No, tomato jelly woudl not appeal – not so much the flavour, more the texture would be strange!


Changing tastes

Food goes in and out of fashion just as everything else does, but it seems a shame that so often things which were popular in the past are sneered at. I daresay we do find it hilarious that at parties there used to be a grapefruit sometimes but not always covered in silver paper, with cocktails stuck in it and on the end of each a cube of cheese and a piece of pineapple, but I wonder what features in all the cookery programmes and magazines and cookery supplements which we will find silly, pretentious and a cause of great amusement?

Looking through the eighty year old National Mark Calendar of Cooking, the little seasonal recipe book produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to promote home-grown produce,  here are some recipes which seem a little strange to ‘modern’ tastes, stuffed cucumbers? Marrow soup?

Here is something which sounds… interesting! Because of the peculiar weather we have had this year, we have pounds and pounds of tomatoes ripening on our vines…so maybe this would be the perfect recipe to use some of them in an original and different way:

Tomato jelly salad

  • ¾ lb tomatoes
  • ½ onion sliced
  • 1 lettuce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • bayleaf
  • 2 cloves
  • celery salt or a little diced celery
  • salt
  • ¼ pint hot water
  • ½ oz gelatine
  • mayonnaise
  1. stew the tomatoes, onion, sugar and spices and celery if using
  2. rub through a serve
  3. dissolve the gelatine and add to the tomato purée
  4. when it is almost cold, pour into wetted individual moulds
  5. when set, turn out and serve on lettuce leaves
  6. garnish with mayonnaise

It’s a sign of our times that celery is available all the year round; in the original recipe it suggests celery ‘when in season’.