This fragile “Ensign Handbook for the Home and Farm” is dated 1926 and was given to my Nan by her mother, so Nan could learn how to cook. Nan was living in country Tooraweenah and was one of 13 children.
The handbook measures has been well used, with splotches and stains and a kaleidoscope of markings throughout.
There are three main sections – Recipes, First Aid and Useful Information.
Some of the interesting recipes include Courting Cakes; Girdle Scones; Rolled Oats Sweetbits; Mystery Pudding and Glorified Rice. And cocoanut kisses, my Nan’s favourite.
References throughout the recipe section point to an array of Ensign products; Ensign baking powder, Ensign cocoa essence and Ensign fruit jelly crystals. It’s interesting to note the spelling of cocoanut repeatedly in the recipe section and my Nan spells it this way too.
In contrast to the recipes, which could be used by today’s families for basic yet wholesome cooking, the First Aid remedies are not only out-dated, but also quite dangerous.
The Useful Information section includes varied helpful hints for farmers in the 1920s including postal rates, phases of the moon and eclipses, tank measuring tips, hints when ordering windmills, purification of water, how to measure inaccessible distances, lime wash recipes, haystack measurements and useful notes about concrete.
A calendar has been printed on the inside back cover for years 1928, 1929 and 1930. This is interesting because Nan has written 1926 on the front of the book, so there is a two-year gap from the time my Nan owned the handbook to the first year of the calendar. Perhaps it used to take two years to distribute the handbook and maybe Nan received hers when cars were introduced (as opposed to bicycles and horse and gig).
The Home & Farm Handbook was printed by The Auto Press, 323 Sussex Street, Sydney.
Robert Edward Campbell campbelledwardstrust.org/about-the-trust/founders-story/
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