I returned from my New Year trip home with a bag of goodies inherited from my nana. These included her old Kenwood handheld mixer and several recipe books. Amongst them was this one, filled with recipes faithfully transcribed in her neat, tiny cursive script along with scraps of paper and cuttings, including one of her favourite recipes in my own handwriting as, in the early stages of dementia, she misplaced her old notebooks and could no longer rely on her baking muscle memory to conjure up cakes on a whim. Thankfully I had a copy of the parkin recipe to copy down and send to her.


A lot of the recipes reflect her personal tastes – she had a sweet tooth and a rationing-induced fondness for pineapple and coconut – but they also serve as a mini biography, snippets of life in grammes and ounces. Some of the recipes are singled out as “cheap” or for using up leftovers. There’s a lot of lard and dripping specified which modern tastes and pockets would substitute for butter and several recipes for serious stodge – bacon and sausage roly poly anyone? There are names of old friends and neighbour’s – Alice’s Christmas Cake, Mrs Robinson’s scones and Gareth’s biscuits (I’m guessing a particular favourite of my brother’s).

Several recipes appear more than once in different variations and some I can’t wait to try again. There’s a wonderful fruit slice she used to make with mint from their tiny, neat back garden in Wrose. There’s a Yorkshire Sweet Cake and a Yorkshire curd tart recipe, there’s even a page of Scottish recipes which I’ve no doubt she purloined from her friend Sheila in Spean Bridge. Time to put the new kitchen to work!