It being Anzac Day this week – and no, I still haven’t got around to making Anzac Biscuits, due to the local shops all selling out of desiccated coconut on the day in question – I was delighted to hear from Slow Food in Christchurch that the 1914 edition of the essential Kiwi cookbook, the Edmonds Cookery Book, is now available online.
Like the Stork margarine-sponsored McDonnell’s Good Food Cook Books in Ireland, the Edmonds Cookery Book was designed to promote a product – Edmonds “Sure to Rise” Baking Powder. Although I love and use them regularly, the McDonnell’s Cook Books are now very dated; the Edmonds Cookery Book has gone from strength to strength since its 50-page beginning in 1907 and is still being published. I have my own vintage copy, I think from the 1950s, courtesy of the Boyfriend’s aunt who has an eye for the perfect classic cooking present (I also have a family of tin jelly moulds – two sizes of rabbit and a tortoise – and a satisfyingly heavy earthenware one courtesy of the same lady). Even though this edition is over 90 years old, the Edmonds Cookery Book has recipes for classics like Raspberry Buns, Bread and Butter Pudding and Cornish Pasties although, alas, none for Anzac Biscuits – perhaps it was too early in the First World War for them to have been invented?
Read more about it below.
Iconic New Zealand Cookbook now online.New Zealanders can get a taste of the past, with the third (1914) edition of the iconic Edmonds Cookery Book now in cyberspace, thanks to Victoria University. The University’s New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has converted the book, lent by publishers of the modern text, Goodman Fielder, into a digital format. It is now freely accessible to the world via the New Zealand Electronic Text collection.Alison Stevenson, Director of the Centre, says the project has been very exciting. “There aren’t many families in New Zealand who have grown up without a copy of the Edmonds Cookery Book, so it’s been great to see what it was like almost at the beginning.”The Edmonds Cookery Book started life in 1907 as a 50-page pamphlet of recipes promoting Thomas John Edmonds’ baking powder and jellies. The marketing ploy proved so successful that the second edition, in 1910, had a print run of 150,000. It is not known if any first editions survive, however some second editions do. Today, more than three million copies of the book have been sold.The Centre has scanned and digitised all 50 pages, including advertisements and testimonials for the baking powder from happy housewives, for example Mrs AT Phillips of Taranaki, who wrote: “I use 1½ tins a month, and always refuse any other offered to me.”Recipes include more typical treats such as rock cakes, Christmas cake, and the Kiwi favourite, pikelets. More peculiar are Marmalade Cheese Cakes (which don’t in fact contain cheese) and several recipes without eggs, including Egg Drink (without eggs).The Centre, which is part of the University Library, hosts an ever-expanding free internet archive of New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials at www.nzetc.org. In addition to its own digitisation of important New Zealand history and literature, the NZETC provides digitisation and consultancy services to other cultural heritage institutions in New Zealand.The Edmonds Cookery Book can be accessed here.