Food, inglorious food

We have been talking, over dinner, about bad recipes.  LT remembered a competition in the Guardian some years ago, to come up with the worst published recipe.  The winner was, essentially, mashed potatoes in a dish, hollows made, an egg cracked into each and then more mashed potato piled on top.  The reason it was a bad recipe rather than just a rather dull one was that there was no way of knowing when it was ready to be served.

I remembered a WI recipe book belonging to my mother.  I had a set of three rather good ones, but this was pretty unappetising – the set-up was that members sent in recipes for the books and this was, I suspect, based on wartime food.  Sadly, I must have got rid of all these books when I had a turn-out some 18 months ago, but I do remember the one which the book always fell open to, though I can’t imagine anyone except the originator ever cooked it.  It was Offal Pudding.

One of LT’s specialities is his marvellous leek quiche with wholemeal pastry.  He fed it to me the first time I called on him, on my way down to visit Linda (Zig) more than four years ago (it wasn’t the first time I’d been to his house: that was for his birthday party that Mig and Barney came to too) and I was mightily impressed.  Not only was his shortcrust pastry better than mine, it was the notoriously tricky wholemeal pastry too.  Anyway, he said he’d got it from the Cranks recipe book some years previously and, in the end, he’d ditched the book because there wasn’t much else that appealed to him.  Not long ago, I suddenly remembered seeing that very book among my mother’s library and went and found it.  Browsing through it this evening, I came upon this gem of whatonearth?ness.

Sava – a soya-based alternative to dairy cheese.  4 oz margarine, 4 oz soya flour, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon yeast extract.  Melt the margarine, stir in the flour and cook until slightly thickened, remove from heat and add the garlic and yeast extract.  Chill until set.

I cannot think it’s anything like cheese and, were I vegan, I’d rather do without than even try that.

In the absence of my WI books, I remembered the original Delia book on convenience foods, which was published in the early 70s and fished out my mum’s copy – I can’t think she actually cooked from it much, but it does show the ‘open tins and shove it all together’ mentality that typified the time.  I’ve opened it at random to page 78.

Chicken casserole – you put a jointed, cooked chicken, a can of carrots, a can of mushrooms, a packet of frozen peas, some dried tarragon, a can of condensed chicken soup, some water and some instant onion flakes into a saucepan and heat it all up.  Then serve with frozen broccoli – (cooked of course) – as she helpfully added.

I have no qualms about putting in some frozen or tinned stuff, but everything?  Seems a bit casual.  Remarkably, again opening the book at random, she gives a recipe for Baked fish fingers.  Now, fish fingers are fine.  I’d not turn up my nose at them, I rather like them.  But sprinkled with lemon juice, topped with tinned tomatoes and (fresh!) sliced onions, canned mushrooms and cheese then baked …actually, no.

Am I wrong?  Anyone made any of these and can tell me they’re lovely after all?  Or can you come up with something far, far worse that is actually in a published book?


4 comments on “Food, inglorious food

  1. Kipper

    My cousin found a recipe in his mother’s recipe collection for castor oil cookies for children. He is not sure if his mother inflicted them on him when he was a child. He seems pretty normal aside from hoarding tendencies.

    1. Z Post author

      Nasty as that sounds, I’ve googled it and reports say they taste good, though that may be simply better than castor oil! I think that used to be used as a laxative? Though apparently it’s also good for joint pains, so maybe I should have tried them before my operation!

    1. Z Post author

      I know it was said that you could use every bit of the pig except its squeal, but I’d be inclined to pass on that. I don’t know a whole lot about intestines, but when we used sometimes to have a rabbit for our dog, I wouldn’t let Russell skin and gut it in the kitchen, the smell was too bad. It was like really awful BO!


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