A Pam’s Very Old Cookery Book…

After her death lots of my aunt’s bits and pieces found their way to my home

The ‘A.1’ Cookery Book by Helen H Lawson was one. I can find nothing about the author on the net so don’t know who she was or how she came to write a cookery book. It’s possible one of my readers might be able to tell me 😊

As you can see its quite an old cookery book – this is the 1946 (war time) 5th edition – very plain front with the title etc on the spine….. all words and no pictures; the first edition was published in 1901/2 and I imagine she was an ‘older’ lady when she got round to revising it for its fifth publication.


The front page suggests it contains everything essential for those who wish to have plain food daintily prepared’ and I can imagine thats what my aunt would aspire to but theres lots included that I think she’d have run a mile from.

Somehow I couldn’t have seen her stewing eels, boiling a calf’s head or foot, plucking and drawing a partridge, pheasant or pigeon. Note on pigeons – Tame pigeons taste better if cooked as soon as possible after they are killed – bet you didn’t know that !.

Lots of very old type recipes and many basic ones with some good hints and tips relevant to simple cooking these days.

The author mentions a tip that we all know about the water from boiled vegetables including potatoes and that in which rice, macaroni, or spagetti have been boiled are useful as a foundation for soups and sauces. But seemingly there was one exception – cabbage water, which must be thrown away at once. Unfortunately she doesn’t say why

Before the section on puddings and sweets she lists whether they need butter and eggs – eggs but no butter – and those that need no butter or eggs – which would have been a boon in the days after the war when not everything was readily available and there was still food rationing 

Sometime or another I’ll really delve into this and find some ‘easy’ old recipes.

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  • After another look online Look what I found -….a site where you can access and read the 2nd edition (free) Scroll down the site a little until Read/Preview – then click through. There’s also a download feature as well.

https://openlibrary.org/books/OL26302488M/The_A1_cookery_book

A couple of little differences on the title page – the author is named H N L (not by her full name) plus the words ‘written in the simplest possible manner to help the inexperienced’ which are not on the 1946 version

12 thoughts on “A Pam’s Very Old Cookery Book…

  1. Hari OM
    It is rare to find virtually nothing about someone online these days. I did find that the commercial value of the 1947 edition is about £7 (au$15) and there was a first edition up for sale on Etsy, (of all places!), but as it was sold I could not see a figure. There was also this lady’s blog in which she seems as charmed as yourself.

    I wonder if HNL was lost to history, overshadowed by the original home-cookery author, Hannah Glasse; whom, it is said, was plagiarised by just about everyone since…including the indubitable Mrs Isabelle Beeton!!! YAM xx

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    1. Hello Yam I looked at the blog you mentioned (thanks for the tip) and not only has she written the post you liked to but several others as well. Seems she also has struck out finding information on the author. What a shame after all that work

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    1. The word ‘tame’ was used so I imagine farmed pigeons rather than poached from the street….I imagine wild ones might be diseased

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  2. My grandmother’s and mother’s cook books actually were treatises on running a household, or at least a very efficient kitchen.

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    1. We seem to have lost so many of those ‘old fashioned’ but sensible ways of managing a household. Anything for quickness these days for many families

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  3. I do love old cookbooks – particularly those with the notations of successive cooks beside recipes.
    And yes, I am intrigued about why cabbage water must be thrown away…

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  4. As Caroline mentioned…the smell, the smell! Back in those days it wouldn’t have been frozen just added to other vegetable water, bet it was overpowering to say the least.

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  5. My mum isn’t baking these days but until recently she made a very acceptable “one egg chocolate sponge” I’m pretty sure it was a depression era or war time recipe.

    I find it amazing that we have gone from that (perfectly lovely one egg cake) to cakes with whole blocks of butter, chocolate, eggs, caramel etc etc. It’s just crazily excessive

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  6. My Mothers’ hand written recipe book – which was written in what looks like an old household ledger sort of book is “jumbled” but in the sweetest of ways – Prune Pickle followed by a delightful sponge cake followed by fly spray. Sometimes the recipes also would say Aunt somebody or other steamed pud…

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