It's great that the weather is now showing signs of
warming up unlike the sub zero weather that faced us as
we returned from our annual holidays in late January.
Just one of the problems when travelling to a warm place
is that you quickly get used to the warmth of the sun
when spending time in another country. Mrs R
decided that this year we would have a quite relaxing
holiday, unlike many of the others that she had planned
in the past. She promised me faithfully that this
holiday would be kept simple and for us just to head off
to a nice warm country and chill out, taking time to
unwind and all that stuff. No riding camels, or
driving up mountains in four by fours, and a firm
promise that there would be no contact sports or
anything that would inflict pain in any way that
included things like jumping off bridges with elastic
wrapped around your legs, or being dragged over water by
a high powered boat. And I must say she kept to
her word. Well apart from a small a small relapse,
when it was suggested that it may be a good idea to
descend to the bottom of the ocean in what seemed a very
small rusting submarine, only to be saved by the news
that on the day we were booked to descend to the deep it
could not depart as they found out it had sprung a leak
and had to be lifted out on to dry dock for repairs.
It always seems hard to return back to the restaurant
after being away but with the thought of a new menu to
prepare we are raring to go. The young chef that
works at the restaurant has spent a bit of time in
France enjoying French food and, of course, French wine.
The week before he went we spent time going through food
words in French and also phrases that may be of help
when trying to converse. Del Boy would have been
proud of us. It was during one of these French
lessons that my friend Brian, the roving reporter came
to see me and said that he had found this little book
and thought that it would be interesting reading.
I could see that the book was old but still in quite
still in good condition. The book looked as if it
was written in the 1930s and was issued by Norfolk
County Council for use by school cooks in preparing
What made the little book more interesting was the fact
that each meal was giving the total cost of the
ingredients and, of course, it was in old pennies.
interesting little gem in the book was the handwritten
pages in black ink; maybe written by the person that the
book belonged to all those years ago.
Little handwritten remarks alongside the printed
recipes, changes that the cook had found out would, in
their mind, improve the recipe, and it was
interesting to read of the typical meals that were
served to children in those days. There was a page with
the heading "Caution". This gave the reader vital
information like "don't forget to draw out the damper
when the oven is to be used and to push it in when
cooking had finished", "don't handle pastry more than
necessary", "don't close the oven door with a bang when
baking", "don't put saucepans away before they are dry".
All good tips.
As I looked through the book at the meals that the
children were given, it became clear that, although they
were not getting their fat intake through burgers and
fatty chips, modern school meals that Jamie is trying to
change today with our healthy way of eating in the
1930s the children certainly didn't lack an intake of fatty
foods. Listed in the book were recipes for dumplings,
sausage puddings, jam roly poly puddings, rissoles, and pigs
fry. Just a few of the ingredients now thought of as bad
for you. But this was food way back in the 1930s
and, of course this would be needed to maintain a healthy
lifestyle. The normal young lad or young lady would
have no problem in those days in burning off the fat
content of their school dinner. Remember no 4x4s in
those days and a three mile walk to school was just up
As I read the little book I noticed that beside each
menu would be the cost of preparing the dish, take the
recipe for Irish Stew to feed four children. Ingredients
came to the grand total of 8d. For that you made the meal
with one pound of scrag mutton, two pounds of potatoes,
three large onions and seasoning of salt and pepper and,
of course, water. Another recipe made 10 good size suet
dumplings for the cost of just 4d.
When it came to giving the children their pudding way
back when this book was printed, Treacle Tart would cost
2d and scrap bread pudding would feed the whole school
for around 6d but, for all round good value, there was the
cornflour pudding that seemed to contain sweet little.
In fact the recipe called for only milk, cornflour and
sugar, and it must have tasted of very little but
welcome if you were starving.
One of the pages had a recipe handwritten with a recipe
for Suet Pancakes on it but what made me notice it was
that in brackets was the word "excellent". Maybe in the
eyes of the beholder the word "excellent" may have stood
for an excellent way of filling the children up, or maybe
I am being unkind, and the truth was that way
back in the 1930s these little Suet Pancakes were a real
treat for the children and were truly described by them
Take a bowl and pop in 4oz flour, add a little pinch of
salt, 3oz of suet, half a tea spoon of baking powder,
half a cup of milk and mix the ingredients to a stiff
paste. Roll out on a floured board to a thickness of
half an inch thick. Cut into rounds with a cutter.
a hot pan on the stove of hot lard. When brown, turn over,
serve with warm jam or pour syrup over.
Well if you can still remember school dinners from
around the 1930s and still hanker after warm milk and
lumpy custard, here's your chance to go back in time and
relive the taste of the old school days. Just a note
you wish to reproduce this recipe make sure that you take
cook's advice and draw out your damper when cooking.