The Jon Pertwee Recipe Book, 1973
I’ve had a lot of fun since I started this blog. I’ve had the excuse to read more and also add to my old book collection. I’ve discovered the joys of the Ebay ephemera section and now have old letters, receipts from 1913, bits of Liverpool history, old pages from children’s books that I’ve framed for the baby’s room and strange old Happy Family cards. And the ephemera led me to discovering about Victorian stereoscopes and stereographic photographs, the collecting of which could very likely become a new hobby of mine. I’ve had two excellent guest blog posts (and I’m keen for more, if anyone’s got any interesting old stuff they want to write about out there).
But surely the greatest thing that’s happened so far is finding out about The Jon Pertwee Recipe Book. Not that I found it, it’s more that it found me. A blog post about a celebrity cookbook from 1986, that crucially contained some Worzel Gummidge recipes, alerted the Pertosphere to my presence – here. The Pertosphere also being known as this forum dedicated to the study of this (definitely canon) book.
And so I obviously needed my own copy. When it comes to locating specific out of print books, I’ve never been more grateful for the existence of the internet. I mean, imagine, in those mid 1990s days before I had even sent an email, I was busy doing…..er, well, all those things I used to do before the internet. Playing the card game Pit, watching Steve Coogan’s Live ‘n’ Lewd video on repeat, going out and playing pool while drinking terrible and terribly cheap drinks, all that kind of thing. Just imagine trying to locate a copy of an old book from 1973 when you aren’t really sure what it’s called anyway, just by going to charity shops and hoping.
Because that’s one of the best things about The Jon Pertwee Recipe Book. It’s not called The Jon Pertwee Recipe Book. And it doesn’t mention Jon Pertwee once within its pages, either. What it does have is this picture on the back cover, of BBC TV’s Doctor Who:
The most striking recipe is this, Banana Doolittle. Which has been attempted, impressively, by a member of the aforementioned forum, with interesting results. And this isn’t even the only 1970s recipe I have that crosses the pork/banana nexus. It was a strange decade. I like to think it’s something even too outré for Heston Blumenthal.
But there’s also such delights as the Pensioner’s Casserole (I think I can smell the cabbage all the way from 1973):
Mock Roast (basically meatloaf):
And Cheese Whispers, an impressive cocktail savoury made with instant mash. Well, it says it’s impressive. I haven’t made it.
I’ve still got all the coupons in the middle too – I could have saved 2p if they hadn’t expired in 1974.
I’ve made one of the rather more seasonal recipes. Last weekend it was Stir-Up Sunday, time to get the Christmas Pudding on the go. Here’s another, rather quicker, variation – Christmas Bunloaves by Mrs Margaret Edwards of Everton, Liverpool. Her family have been making it for at least 80 years, so that’s back to the 1890s, and it means it also fulfils my remit of making vintage recipes. I’d made a big pot of scouse for dinner, so surely this local delicacy will be perfect to follow.
(From Mrs Margaret Edwards, Everton, Liverpool who says the recipe has been handed down in her family for over eighty years)
2 lb plain flour
1 lb soft brown sugar
1/2 lb white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 lb lard
1/2 lb margarine
1/2 lb raisins (stoned and chopped)
1/2 lb sultanas
1 lb currants
2 oz chopped glacé cherries
2 oz candied peel
1/2 pint milk (or slightly more)
1/2 tsp almond essence
1. Mix dry ingredients together, rub in fat, add fruit and candied peel.
2. Beat up eggs in milk, add essence and a few drops lemon juice.
3. Mix all together until moist but not too stiff.
4. Line two large loaf tins, pour mixture in and cover well with greaseproof paper. To give a shiny top, pat a little milk gently over the top before covering.
5. Bake at Mark 3 (325 degrees F, 160 degrees C) for 3 hours. Will make two 3 1/2 lb loaves.
I only made half portions – I think Mrs Edwards might have been cooking for a big old Liverpool Catholic family at Christmas and I don’t have a mixing bowl up to the job.
Add the spices. OK, I’ve misread the instructions and added the spices too late. It’s fine, though.
And into the Kitchen Machine it goes. Hawkwind’s Silver Machine is usually the tune in my head when I use this – not only does it scan, but….it’s also silver! BBC TV’s Doctor Who is helping out here. The spices being rubbed into the fat and flour start to smell pretty amazing now.
Here they are in alphabetical order. Do you know the difference between a currant, a raisin and a sultana? I’m not going to go into it here, it’s far too complicated. Frankly, I’m just grateful I don’t live in a world where you have to clean currants or de-seed raisins as was the way in 1902 – http://skittishlibrary.co.uk/vintage-recipes-hydropathic-pudding/” title=”Vintage recipes – Hydropathic pudding.
Stir up the milk, eggs, almond essence and lemon juice, mix it in and dollop in your loaf tin. I don’t think this part is very budget-y, I had to buy a bottle of almond essence for just 1/4 teaspoons-worth. Still.
Then clumsily brush some milk on top for a shiny top, and decorate with the aforementioned currant, raisin and sultana, if you’re being fancy. Make sure to cover with the greaseproof paper because this baby is going in the oven for three whole hours and you don’t want a burnt top. This is the heaviest thing I’ve ever baked.
Verdict – this is definitely a vintage recipe, it tastes very much like it’s from 1890. Like tea round your nan’s house. Slightly dry – better with a little slick of butter, and even better toasted first. The budget nature of the cookbook has possibly scrimped on glacé cherries, I’d add about 4 times as many next time. And a bit of booze wouldn’t go amiss. But – good! Very Christmassy and traditional.