Little black bookMy trusty old recipe book, battered, tattered and spattered, is so full of cuttings and clippings, and so strained and fragile, that I really need a younger, sturdier edition.
But I can't bear to move on to a new one!
I started this one in 1976, when, working on the railways in the Pilbara and pregnant with Simon, I realised my life was going to take an inevitable turn for the domestic. So I'd better start cooking. Or at least, make an effort to look as though I could start cooking.
So I began cutting and pasting into recipes from magazines into this little notebook. I'd used some of its pages already, to copy out poems, the odd address ("Adrian, c/- the London Walkabout Hotel ... "), and a list of the serial numbers of my brother's American Express travellers' cheques (no plastic bank cards in those days).
Pretty soon, though, these scribblings gave way to an amazing collection of now tired and dated-looking 1970s recipes from Belle magazine for jams and preserves, sophisticated salad dressings and glossy-looking dishes that feature such exotic ingredients as canned pineapple slices.There's nothing between 1976 and 1978 ... ... I imagine that once Simon was born there wasn't much time for prancing about the kitchen with cans of Golden Circle, and my domestic ambitions soon got shoved aside.
By the eighties, though, I was well into it.One day in the mid-1990s, realising the collection was by now a family record, I went back and put dates and details on as many recipes as I could, those I could remember anyway. Since then, whenever I enter a recipe I date it and tell where it came from, and from whom.
I have the recipe for Pepper and Salt Nuts that I made for a party at Laura's house in 2002, my neighbour's Tetragona Marenga (nut squares), Karen's 'Father's Favourite', and a fabulous pasta and tuna dish with capers that I got from my friend Helen 'at the Nicholson Road bus stop, Monday 17-11-03'.
There are a few eccentricities among Ian P's tuna salad and Kate's pumpkin souffle, like instructions for making the aloe vera and beeswax soap that I used to whip up in enormous quantities in 1989, and even recipes for whatever was ailing the roses...The San Diego section, the newest one, tellingly has several great recipes for chili con carne, including one that will feed twenty people, which I made for our first Superbowl Sunday, February '06.There are also recipes gleaned from the many blogs I read, like the excellent and aptly-named Foolproof Fudge from Jennifer in Massachusetts and, from Madrid, Lobstersquad's fabulous stuffed capsicums. Last year, before Lily moved off campus into her own shared house at the start of her second year at college, she spent hours copying out my recipes into a book of her own.It's part of the family.