I have vague recollections of growing up at home with mum’s worn and stained soft copy of the Commonsense Cookery Book in the kitchen cupboard next to her hand-written recipe books and clippings from magazines and newspapers.
I have a stronger visualisation of a later version of the Commonsense Cookery Book as a (compulsory subject in a girls’ school) home economics text book.
“In the early years of the twentieth century, the initiative and vision of a handful of teachers to produce a cookery book capturing basic skills, techniques and recipes taught in New South Wales public schools resulted in Australia’s much-loved Commonsense Cookery Book.”
Fast forward, and today, with so many cookery books available in print and recipes online, there remains a need for a basic instructional tool. And with cookery methods, cuts of meat, kitchen equipment, dietary guidelines, and recipes like stocks and sauces, every household could benefit from its handy inclusion.
I like the basic recipes for boiling and scrambling eggs, omelettes, mayonnaise, salad dressing, risotto, cheese soufflé, roasting poultry, spinach pie, zucchini slice, grilled fish, pan-fried fish, rock cakes, ANZAC biscuits, patty or cup cakes, stewed fruit and so many more. If more people knew the basics, more people would be able to always cook from scratch. And we definitely need more of that.
Yet, more than this, the Commonsense Cookery Book is to my mind an Australian snapshot in time. Take for example (and yes, I wince) the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream with ingredients of gelatine, hot water, milk, full-cream powdered milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla essence. Or Curried Chops, using curry powder. Fun.
Get a copy for your household. Published in 2013 by Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.
Over 1 million copies sold 1914 – 2014