Northamptonshire WI Recipe Book

I’ve just picked up a fantastic 3rd edition copy of the ‘Northamptonshire Federation of Women’s Institutes’ Recipe book. Elated is a huge understatement to be honest. Not only is this vintage beauty in great condition but it’s also has newspaper clippings hidden in-between some of the pages. Some real treasure finds. The newspaper clippings highlight events and further recipes associated with the original Northamptonshire WI. This 3rd edition upon release was priced at a shilling but I’m unable to locate an exact year currently.

The book houses not only recipes both sweet and savoury as well as some drinks and general house hold hints and medical fixes and remedies. One of my favourite house-hold was the hint was the following:
Fruit stains – To remove a fresh stain from table linen, dip a piece of bread in cold water and place it over the stain. Has anyone every tried this in the past? My linen tablecloths are for ‘best’ which means I never use them so I tend to use oilcloth. Easily wipe clean and you won’t hear me shout to my poor children ‘Don’t spill the sugo on the table cloth as it will stain’.

A health remedy was as follows:
Chickweed ointment – Take a quantity of chickweed, wash until perfectly free from grit. Chop a little, and with a fairly large piece of pure lard, simmer in the oven until crisp. Take out and if a rich deep colour is not obtained, add more chickweed. Pour through a piece of muslin and place in a jar. This has been tested and found to be an excellent remedy for piles. This made me smile and all I can say now is thank heavens for pharmacy purchasable piles ointment creams.

Finally a drink, this one in particular is a favourite of mine anyway so the thought of making is in an old fashioned method gained my interest.
Barley water – 2oz of pearl barley, ½ gallon of water, 5oz of sugar (more or less) and 2 large or 3 small lemons. Put the barley into the pan with a quart of water and bring to the boil. Save this water. No specific boiling time has been given. Wash barley thoroughly in cold water. Then add the half gallon of cold water and thinly peeled rind of a lemon and sugar and boil for 20 minutes. Strain lemon juice into a large jug or basin and pour in the barley water. A slightly vague and mixed recipe by I’m sure it would be delicious with a mild taste of lemony barley.

The recipes are frugal and minimal but as an Italian that specialises in cucina povera cooking, simple peasant style cooking, I just love it. Its right up my street and in all honestly, I’m sure we will revert back to simplistic cooking and preparation methods. Nose to nail preparation and cooking of meat and seafood and top to base of all vegetables, eating within our UK seasons and making and seeking homemade remedies to save money. Back in time these methods seem ancient almost, whereas now, I say let’s being to bring them back.