A little bit of history ...

First of all, despite the artic weather, Spring has officially begun. So time for a little blog spring-clean, or rather a complete overhaul! I decided to change the look and feel of this little online journal - hope you like it.
As well as the previous links to 'blogs I love', 'about me' etc and the social media buttons for Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, there is also a neat search facility ( top right) - type in a keyword such as Easter and it will find all the posts related to that topic.
Technology is a wonderful thing!

Anyway, onto the subject in hand.
I was rummaging through the bookshelves the other day and came across a very old cookbook that used to belong to my mum.

Entitled Cooking with Elizabeth Craig, it was first published in 1932 and introduces itself as a cookbook for the housewife of modest income.

Further on, in the preface, the author explains she has written the book for "those who keep house without a maid    ( that'll be me then!) as well as for those who housekeep with a maid"
I find the history of domestic life, as found within the pages of books such as this, fascinating.

Elizabeth Craig was born in 1883 in West Lothian, Scotland. She was one of 8 children, the daughter of a Minister of the Free Church of Scotland.
She studied journalism in Dundee and had her first cookery feature published in the Daily Express in 1920.
From there, she went on to write numerous cookery books almost up until her death in 1980 at the age of 97.
Despite being written between the 2 World Wars and being aimed at the housewife of modest income, the book has some surprising information; in the section on cheese she mentions Brie and Camembert and suggests Edam for cooking as an alternative for when the flavour of  Parmesan is not liked. She also lists a refrigerator and an electric toaster under Things to simplify work.

Now, maybe I have led a sheltered life, but I can remember our family getting our first fridge in the early 60s and I don't think I had really tasted Brie, Camembert or Parmesan until the 70s when I was in my teens!

 Tucked within the pages, I also found a poignant reminder of Mum and my childhood; a typed notice for the local W.I. dated June 1969 with a recipe for a light fruit cake from a Mrs Long. The W.I organisers hoped that members would make the cake and bring it to the next meeting. Cakes would be judged and a small prize awarded for the best one.
Mum had a habit, as I do now, of slipping recipes and notes between the pages of her cookbooks.

The weather has been a bit dreary today, so I decided on a spot of baking and made Abernethy Biscuits from the book.
The Abernethy biscuit is named after a Dr Abernethy who first made the biscuits in the 18th century. He considered them to be an aid to digestion since they contain caraway seeds, which are believed to ease stomach spasms.

It has to be said that caraway seeds can be an acquired taste; a member of the carrot family, they have a strong aniseed flavour similar to dill and fennel to which the plant is related.
In case you can't read the recipe in the first photo, the ingredients are as follows ( all in imperial measures of course) :
1/2 lb plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3oz butter
3oz sugar
1 small teaspoon caraway seeds
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk.

Sift the flour and baking powder and rub in the butter.
Stir in the sugar and seeds and form into a soft dough with the egg and milk.
Roll out thinly and cut into rounds.
Bake in a moderate oven - which I guessed to be about 180c.

The biscuits were crisp and crumbly and despite being sweet, I decided to have some with a chunk of cheese and a crisp apple for lunch. It was a nice combination.

 Have you ever tried caraway seeds?
Did you like them?
Do tell!




  1. I love a bit of social history. I've always believed I didn't like caraway seeds as I had a seed cake when I was quite young and thought it was disgusting. But I'm fond of fennel seeds so maybe I would like them after all, especially in these biscuits! I like the new look to your blog.

    1. Caraway seeds have an unusual flavour. I’m still trying to decide if I like them!

  2. Now I really like aniseed, but strangely I have never taken to caraway. It was quite commonplace to find caraway in bread from Jewish bakeries around East London, somewhat confusingly called ' black bread' ( it isn't black!). Disliked it as a child and still not fond. Must say though, your biscuits look perfect.

    1. The seeds do have an unusual flavour though I quite liked them in the biscuits. That’s interesting about the Jewish bread. Sometimes I think rye bread may be flavoured with them.

  3. Love your blog's makeover! I've certainly eaten Abernethy biscuits but not so sure about caraway seeds. Don't think I've ever bought them. My dad's cookbook has handwritten recipes stored between the pages, too. One scrap has the names of two horses in my mum's handwriting. She was fond of a flutter on the gee gees!

    1. I'm glad you like the new look blog. Love that you have a bit of paper which your mum had written the names of two horses on. Things like that are little treasures!


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