ginger biscuits


Bessie Pearl Davies, her Brother, Herb Truscott,  my Grandpa & Grandma, Kyran & Phyllis,
at their house in Scarborough, WA

OK, I admit it... Great-Grandma Bessie Pearl Davies, I didn't follow your ingredients as you wrote them. And your recipe turned out better than mine. I will follow you religiously from now on. Then, and only then, will I start 'being creative' with my own touch. 

I cannot bake. I am scared of dough, and rolling pins and pastry. The oven is like a black hole where my love of cooking and food is sucked away. And, of course, Bessie Pearl's Ledger, is chock-FULL of cakes & biscuits (or, cookies for my American friends!). They all sound DElicious, and I am paranoid of them all. (Wedding Cake? Are you serious??) 

I attempted ginger biscuits (cookies) the other night. My husband, who is amazing at baking (I nearly DIE at Thanksgiving and the pecans come home, the pastry gets rolled and he puts that Pecan Pie of his in the oven. I could very seriously eat the whole thing) had been baking cookies ALL day to send out as Christmas treats. I wanted to contribute, felt I should bake cookies too (never mind that I had just hand-stitched tree ornaments three nights in a row...). How HARD could gingerbread men be? Well, I will start by saying that Bessie Pearl NEVER wrote any instructions for most of her recipes. They are simply lists of ingredients. This one, Ginger Biscuits, simply said, "Roll out and Bake". 

Firstly, HOW? The dough was so crumbly, I could hardly mush it together (maybe I need a mixer for these projects???!). Should I add more butter, or more molasses? Water? What about an egg? There was none mentioned in the recipe, but SURELY Bessie Pearl had made an error in transcription?? I rolled out one little gingerbread fella, and set him aside. Then added an egg to the mix. This is of course after my paranoia annoying itself on my husband - me shoving the mixing bowl in his face, demanding in a whine, "What's wrong with this?". He told me I could add an egg, that it wouldn't do any harm, that all his cookies had eggs. I didn't know what to do. I enlisted the help of "The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook", whose ginger cookies ALSO had an egg. I strayed, Bessie Pearl, I cracked an egg in there. 

They turned out surprisingly good. Like gingerBREAD men, soft and chewy, lovely and ginger-y, a perfect dark molasses-y hue. But they weren't crisp, buttery and zingy like the first guy was. He crisped apart one arm, one leg and one head at a time. We took turns in biting off his appendages and savouring the experience. He was the best gingerbread man I made. Thanks Bessie Pearl, for a great recipe. NEXT time, I will be more patient with the dough, knead it a little more, add some more butter (thanks Mum!), and make a batch of wonderfully crisp and crunchy ginger-biscuit-men!

Of course, if you like the BREAD-like ginger men. Use an egg...

Ginger biscuits
nb. my notes are in itallics 

1 ½ lb plain flour (6 cups)
½ lb sugar (1 cup)
½ lb dripping (2 sticks of butter is just fine, thanks!)
1 tspn bi-carbonate (baking) soda
1 Tbsp ground ginger (I also added fresh ginger)
1 tspn mixed spice
A little Nutmeg
1 cup of treacle (golden syrup, molasses or honey can be used)

(1 egg, if you want)

~ Roll out and bake in moderate oven
~ (Oven at 375 degrees fahrenheit, bake for 5 mins)

Makes a LOT of cookies, I halved the recipe.


my mum, karyn and her father, kyran

Today I decided to delve right in and admit that I like tripe. I want to get it off my chest right away, so we can continue our friendship with that out in the open. I do know a few other people who like it, - we found out about each others' little secret through a whisper, "I eat tripe. Do you like tripe?". This was after I was served a dish that resembled a gelatinous mix of pig's noses, I think. I figured it was safe to ask. But, today I am telling you, the world - I LIKE TRIPE. 

My Grandmother used to make it for my sister and I before I knew or cared about what it was. I believe we also ate brains, maybe tongue. I am not sure why these things found their way into a child's repertoire - but I think it must be put down to the fact that my Grandma was probably also brought up on the same, as they have been served in my family straight down the line. 

I made my Mum make me tripe last time I was back home in Australia. I have been trying to learn how to cook everything I miss, and wanted to add tripe. I mean, how can you make something that sounds so disgusting taste so good? Let me tell you, it is just pathetic how easy it is to make tripe the way my Grandma, and before her my Great-Grandma, made it. In fact, they pretty much made a bechamel sauce with tripe. Added a few things. Served it. I couldn't believe it! What? You mean the tripe dish of my youth, that seemed so yummy and comforting, and something I would never be able to replicate is WHITE SAUCE?? 


500g tripe
2 potatoes 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 white onion
1 Tablespoon flour
2/3 cup millk
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon parsley

~ wash tripe. scrape underside if necessary. cut into 2cm squares
~ place in saucepan and cover with cold water, add salt, chopped onion and diced potatoes
~ cook gently until tender, 20 - 30 mins, with lid on
~ mix flour with a little of the milk
~ drain most of the liquid off the tripe, leaving 2/3 cup in the saucepan
~ add remaining milk, and butter
~ when nearly boiling, add blended flour and stir til boiling, then cook for 1 minute
~ add chopped parsley  

~ serve on a hot plate with green beans

rolls of grilled bacon and snippets of dry toast may be used as a garnish.

~ Apparently my Grandma was adamant you use beans in tripe. I like peas. Sorry, Grandma!
~ She also said make sure to use a white onion. Or your sauce will be brown. Mine sorta was anyway....
~ My first attempt at tripe was with turkey!! We had SO much left over from Thanksgiving, that I imagined it would taste good in the 'tripe sauce'. I was right, it did. And now I have even more left-overs, and they are going to be perfect filling for a pot-pie. I have a pastry recipe in the ledger somewhere... guess that will be next on the to-try list!
~ I forgot the parsley and used sariette (savory) instead.

The Pot-Pies from the left-overs. I couldn't be bothered making pastry... (it's a busy time of year, what can I say), the store down the road from us didn't have any Phyllo pastry, and only had these puff-pastry shells. They worked pretty well. We ate them with chips. Fries. (!) Oh, the joys of living in a country that speaks the same language, but sometimes doesn't at all...!

french pancakes

My Grandma, Phyllis, and Grandpa, Kyran - at the races in 1948.

Welcome to my new blog. I started this blog because my Mum gave me her Grandmother's handwritten recipe book. It is falling apart and some of the writing is barely legible (it's all in pencil!) and one of my most treasured possessions. Since I got it, I have asked so many questions about the women in my family and marvelled over the recipes - which are more just a list of ingredients than any sort of method. Which I find fascinating, as that is how I myself cook, and how my Mother taught me. I imagine the tastes I want to combine, and go for it. I don't know what I am doing most of the time, but I love to cook, and mostly my creations come out pretty well. I hope you will have fun sharing this journey with me. I hope to make all of the recipes in the book, all written in a ledger, and share them with you here. (There's everything from Ginger Sponge cakes to Hop Beer!). I look very forward to many happy hours of cooking, exploring my family history, and hearing from you too. Here's the first recipe, - I haven't made it yet, but can't wait to do so! 

French Pancakes 

2 eggs
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
2 oz sugar
½ pint milk

~ beat butter to a cream
~ add the eggs well beaten
~ stir in the sugar and the flour
~ and when well-mixed add milk slightly warm
~ beat the mixture for a few minutes, put on buttered plates
~ bake in a quick oven for 20 minutes

serve with lemon and sifted sugar

december 2nd update

So, I finally made the pancakes. I thought they would be a nice treat for my husband, who got sick right in time for Thanksgiving. He never gets sick. This was the Thanksgiving we were hosting for the first time since being married. Er, hum, that would be the first time in five years. We love cooking, and having people over, and were so excited about it, but it didn't happen (that day, we did do a belated turkey-day)! So, instead of turkey I cooked him pancakes for breakfast instead - and we stayed at home and watched a Swedish Vampire Love story. Somehow, just as enjoyable....

The pancakes verdict?
Here's my notes...

~ a 'quick' oven means around 400 farenheit.
~ I had imagined the pancakes to be more like crepes, but they are quite 'eggy', almost like custard.
~ Yummy, but they may need to be cooked on smaller plates. A dinner plate sized eggy pancake was a bit too much!
~ We used lemon curd instead of lemon juice and sugar. Very delicious.
~ I might cook them a little longer next time. 
~ I also might beat them the correct amount of time. And invest in an egg beater. I am not always patient and I probably mixed for 30 seconds, with a fork, and not very well. Still, they came out good!