I like cookery books and I have quite a collection. On my shelves you will find Mrs Beeton, Elizabeth David, Delia, Nigella, Jamie Oliver and AWT sitting happily alongside Tamsin Day-Lewis and Ina Garton. I enjoy reading about food, where and how it is grown and prepared, the people who cook it and those who eat it. Many cookbooks are as informative as travel books and often are more entertaining.
But which books do I turn to for actual recipes? The Aga Cookbook is so well used that it looks quite disreputable and I have a second copy kept just for lending to visitors. I bought this little booklet from Friends of the Earth more than 20 years ago. It told me all I needed to know about planet-friendly home economy long before it became a fashionable issue.
Many schools and organisations produce recipe collections to raise funds for good causes. I bought this one from the school my children attended, to boost the funds of Guide dogs for the Blind. It has a frequently used recipe for Courgette (zucchini) Tea Bread; a Blackberry, Apple and Elderberry Jelly to die for, and one recipe which confidently proclaims itself to be the 'Queen Mother's Favourite Cake'.
My sister-in-law sent me this book, another fundraiser, from her Edinburgh Ladies' Curling Club. Among the recipes for fish, game and desserts, there are some unique gems such as one for the Scottish sweet known as 'Tablet', instructions for making a genuine Hot Toddy and a definitely not for drinking concoction for Furniture Restoration.
On a trip to Bath earlier in the year, I found this collection of recipes which might have graced the table of Mrs Bennet, or indeed, Jane A herself. "Mr Whickham's" Indelicate Pudding might rest alongside "Lady Catherine de Burgh's" Brittle Bites or Meryton Market Squares on my tea table. Or I might fanct Lydia's Ginger Curls or Simpering cake, which is illustrated with a picture of Mr Collins.
Now I come to my favourite: Ann Hutley's 'little book of memories - made up from people who live either on or near by Wintershall.' Some of the recipes are for soups, poultry, cakes and so on but there are snippets of advice, humourous quotations and lovely illustrations. It was given to me by Crinny (MBFIATW), who lives in the little Pigeon House pictured on the back cover of the book.
You have already seen one of the recipes from this book, my favourite one for lavender biscuits. Here is the Wintershall recipe for Heaven and Hell:
Heaven is when
The Cooks are French
The Mechanics are German
The Lovers are Italian
And the Whole Lot is run by the Swiss
Hell is when
The Cooks are British
The Mechanics are French
The Lovers are Swiss
And the Whole Lot is run by the Italians.