Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Family Cookbook by Marguerite Patten

Hors-d'Oeuvre platter

Nicoise salad

Milk pudding - a very popular British dessert back then 

Coconut syrup tart - I always dreamt my mum would make this one day

French raisin flan 

Rich chocolate cake 

Maple walnut biscuits 

Chocolate Sponge with glace icing 
This was one of the first cookbooks my mum bought after her marriage in the early 60's, thinking that she had to learnt how to cook ....but she never did.  She was then starting work as a teacher which was the time women were coming out to the workforce in Singapore. Singapore cookbooks were non-existent till the 70's but due to the availability of good and cheap street food, we never felt deprived. 

The Family Cookbook by Marguerite Patten (2nd edition 1965) was fascinating to me as a young kid as I've not come across any coloured cookbooks in my mum's library. Most of them had just words and maybe a few pictures in black and white but this one was a real beauty. I liked the way it was established on the cover "in colour" as it was probably a big plus point in a market of black and white books. 

We weren't really exposed much to British crusine except for steak and fish and chips which were cooked mainly by the Hainanese for their British masters. I remember asking my mum how to pronounce hors-d'Oeuvre but I don't think I got the correct version. The dessert section of the book was my all time favourite and I dreamt that one day, my mum will cook me a coconut syrup tart and a chocolate sponge with glace icing as they were my favourite pictures in the book.  

Years have since passed and Mum was just packing her books the other day when I happened to drop by. Reluctantly, she gave it to me saying that she might want to try some of the recipes.  I laughed upon hearing it as I knew it would never happen. She hates to cook and has never done so except on a few occasions such as heating up sardines from a can. She knew and I knew and her favourite line came - " Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks ! "   

Maybe I will attempt to make coconut syrup tart soon, just to fulfill a childhood dream ! 

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