I recently bought a copy of Elizabeth Craig‘s excellent book Simple Cooking. Its contrasting dust jacket is reassuringly bold: “Keeping down the household bills,” it says. “Making the most of leftovers,” appears in red capitals. Leftovers? When was the last time any cookbook was published which had ‘leftovers’ as the main headline and selling point? It does have the year 1936 written in pencil in an owner’s inscription, so I suppose that was a time of austerity too. Its other headlines are “The best way to make jam,” “How to make toffee,” and by contrast “How to keep slim.” I suppose if you’ve mastered the first two then it’s time for you to move on to mastering the third. Then the cover has my favourite contrasting headline: “How to mix a cocktail.” What a strange decade the 1930s was.
One of my favourite sections is on page 137: “Twenty ways with a packet of jelly.” This section seems so important to us here at Jellied Salad that I’ll be bringing you each wonderful recipe in glorious 1930s colour. Here’s Recipe #1:
“If you always keep a packet or two of jelly in your store-cupboard, you need never be at a loss for a simple sweet. Here are a few suggestions and recipes for making the most of a packet of jelly.”
Okay, I have the jelly.
Wait for it:
1. Melt according to instructions on packet, but substitute weak strained tea for the water. Serve in glasses. Decorate with whipped cream, flavoured vanilla and chopped walnuts.
Well, here goes. Time to brew the tea. I’m going to use Earl Grey tea and lemon jelly as that seems the most refreshing combination. I really don’t fancy the English Breakfast Tea and Raspberry Jelly combo.
The tea’s brewed nicely. Now to dissolve the jelly and put it into glasses.
Now to leave it to cool, refrigerate it, and get ready for topping it with vanilla whipped cream and chopped walnuts. Walnuts, really? With jelly? Here goes…
Now to pile the cream up on top. I’m out of Walnuts so Pecans it is.
It’s looking good! Now for the taste test…
“It’s fine. Cream is infinitely nicer than jelly.”