Now isn't this the jolliest cover ever! It couldn’t really be more Sixties if it tried. The book was published by ‘SHE’ a British women’s magazine in 1964.
The 1960’s were a rather schizophrenic time for such publications. So much change was going on. There was the early burgeoning of the modern feminist movement (very early in the UK – radical feminism didn’t really start making a mark here until the 70’s). More influentially there were the social changes that came about as the result of the Second World War. Millions of women had then entered the workforce and not all had returned home. The shape of family life had begun to be irrevocably altered. Successive governments seeking to strengthen an economy weakened by wartime were eager to increase the workforce and thereby their tax revenue. And yet the traditional assumption that a woman’s place was in the home was still the widely held belief (even if the Scriptural underpinning of it had largely been dismissed). More and more, especially young women, were entering the workforce and remaining there after marriage (though few after children – how times have changed). There was glamour and prestige attached to the working life and being an ‘independent woman’ however mundane and tedious the reality.
Women’s magazines began to buy into that fiction while still having to cater to the fact that the majority of their readership were homemakers as well, even if on a part time basis. This book reflects its era very clearly. Its target audience appears to be a young woman, probably married or possibly sharing a flat with other young women and dating a boyfriend, and almost certainly a working woman. The premise is “if you are chronically short of time this book is for you” and the recipes all take 15 minutes to prepare and cook. Each one has a little introduction, some cute, some quite alarming. For example:
Ham In ‘Coke’ Sauce: You’ll never be alone any more once you’ve had him round to a supper featuring this 15min super-savoury!
Poached Egg Superb: Don’t panic if mother-in-law pops round without warning. Transform those two little eggs into a proud, delicious, nourishing meal!
Kidney Scramble: Finicky boy friend coming to supper? There’ll be no more finicks when he’s finished this dish – your only trouble will be stopping him asking for more!
Sherry Ham: Wanting a new Easter bonnet? Tempt him with a spicy tete-a-tete supper – he’ll be eating out of your hand!
Each one is illustrated with step-by-step photographs plus a picture of the finished product. The recipes themselves? Oh my, they are so bad. Really, really bad. It is a rare recipe book that contains not a single recipe I would want to cook, but this book is it. Here is the worst of the bunch. I’ve never shared it with my husband – I’ve a feeling he would buy me any number of Easter bonnets to prevent me cooking it for him.
12oz can of lambs’ tongues
4 small tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
¼ pint milk
sugar, salt, pepper
10 stuffed olives
fresh rolls and butter
Open can, remove tongues and slice. Put in a saucepan with milk and simmer very gently. Light grill. Wipe and halve tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Dot each half with butter and grill slowly. Heat oil in second pan. Grate onion and fry gently in the oil. Lay table. Add flour to the onion. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove tongue from milk to serving dish. Cover with greaseproof paper and keep warm. Strain tongue liquor into onion roux and stir well to avoid lumps. Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper and add olives keeping a few for decoration. Allow olives to get hot. Pour sauce over tongue. Decorate with tomatoes, parsley and remaining olives. Serve with crisp new rolls and butter.
So why do I keep it? It has to be the cover and the social history aspect. And I never know when I might need a new hat.
Out of print now but available, should you have a strong stomach, from http://www.addall.com/
Postscript: SHE magazine is still in existence and, from what I’ve seen, as depressing as most women’s magazines today. Their website address says it all: www.allaboutyou.com . It really isn't you know.