We’re back in the 1970s at the moment, food-wise, in this house, and it’s a comforting place to be.
I was brought up in the 1960s and 1970s and much of the food we ate then would be very much frowned on now.
At home, every main meal started with meat and two vegetables and finished with something like tinned fruit – in syrup of course – with evaporated milk. Many of the vegetables, though, were home-grown, apart from when my mother went through a for-mash-get-Smash phase which put me off mashed potato for years.
Oh yes, and Angel Delight – my parents still eat gallons of the stuff, though in the modern, sugar-free version. My favourite Sixties pudding was a tinned concoction called Sweetheart which you mixed with milk to make – well – red sugary milk, very probably, with just a tiny hint of fruit. My grandma – my mother’s mother, who lived with us then – used to make semolina pudding about four times a week. Before you go “errrrgh semolina, yuck, yuck” I must confess that I loved it, with a splodge of raspberry jam in the middle stirred mightily till it all went pink. As the years went by Grandma made it sweeter and sweeter until it was about nine-tenths sugar.
We always had lots of real fruit though – there were always apples and oranges and bananas and other fruits in season. I was – and still am – very partial to raw carrots and raw cabbage and raw turnips and even raw potato, which people keep telling me now is poisonous, but somehow I lived to tell the tale.
We had lots of stews and home-made chicken broth, which was delicious, and we grew raspberries and Grandma made them into jam, which was also delicious - more sugar! She was Sugar Queen of the North, my Grandma.
There was always cake, too – Madeira cake or chocolate cake or sponge cake or gingerbread.
So, in many ways, our Seventies diet would be totally disapproved of now, apart from its redeeming factor of lots of fruit and vegetables.
Emily and Gareth came back from visiting his family at New Year with The Dairy Book of Home Cookery
, published initially in 1968 and reprinted in 1977. Lots of recipes with – as you’d expect – milk and butter and cheese and cream. Nobody would publish a book like this now.
However, the recipes are well-written and – unlike those in many cookery books – easy to follow, and Emily has been trying them.
Last night Emily, with the assistance of Commis Chef Gareth, cooked us all baked potatoes with a cheese and garlic filling, browned under the grill, and baked tomatoes to accompany them. Tonight it was proper traditional Cottage Pie, beautifully made and with carrots and peas as accompaniment.
Emily made desserts as well – last night Pots-au-Chocolat (oh yes, we were very cosmopolitan in the 1970s) and tonight Chocolate Truffles. She’s rather keen on chocolate.
Both meals were delicious. If this was the 1970s, Emily can take us back there as often as she likes. Though I think we’ll be having less of the sugar.