This book was published by The National Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1965 and cost five shillings. No authors, as un-named WI members would have contributed recipes via their branch.

The WI, founded in 1915, is the biggest women’s organisation in Britain, with branches in villages and towns, workplaces and prisons. There are virtual WI branches now, which meet by Zoom

To learn more, please visit National Federation of Women’s Institutes which has a shop selling current cookbooks, via Amazon.

The photo shows the kind of cheap binding, often used by community groups of all kinds. Spotting one in car boot or jumble sale scrum, can result in a village or WI cookbook.

Cream of onion soup (serves 4) is probably more suitable for a low carber than someone doing keto. It may have been made with an Aga in mind and the recipe originates in Devon.

Melt 4oz butter and fry two small onions until transparent, but NOT brown. Add half a pint of water and seasoning (unspecified, suggest salt and white pepper) and cook for about 15 mins. Cool, slightly, then add half a pint of creamy milk (Channel Islands would be suitable). Add 2 ozs grated cheese (unspecified, suggest Gruyere or Cheddar) and stand by the heat for 5 minutes. Pour into hot bowls. If you don’t have an AGA or warming oven, try a quick zap with a microwave on low.

Photo by Théroigne S B G Russell

Golden puff grill is a fish recipe from Worcestershire, without puff pastry. Halibut, cod or haddock fillets are grilled for 5-10 minutes, turning once. They get stiffly beaten egg whites (with grated cheese and cayenne pepper folded in) as a topping before going back under the grill until golden and puffy.

Durham contributed Meat Rolls. Cut 1.5 lbs thinly cut beefsteak into small oblongs (size unspecified) and lay a rasher of streaky bacon on each. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and roll up. Tie the rolls with fine string and fry them in hot lard. Add 2 sliced onions (size unspecified) and fry, then add half a pint of stock (type unspecified) and 1 tbsp vinegar (type unspecified, suggest distilled malt or white wine vinegar). Simmer for an hour. Remove strings and serve on dish with slightly thickened liquor (suggest keeping the rolls warm while reducing the stock-vinegar liquor)

composition of bacon and garlic on desk
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A variation on standard Runner Beans here, from Devon. After preparing and cooking runner beans ‘in usual way’ and draining, toss in a little cream or * top of the milk amd put dish in oven for a few seconds, before bringing to table. * Most milk is homogenised now, which disperses the fatty creamier milk throughout the glass bottle or more commonly, plastic jug. If this isn’t done, the cream rises to the top of the bottle/plastic jug, hence ‘top of the milk’. Double cream is probably better.

food healthy vegetables texture
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Cauliflower Soufflé , from Lincolnshire, is a more fancy way of serving the humble cauli. First, grease a soufflé dish (you could use a butter or lard wrapping or coat the soufflé dish lightly with butter or lard using a clean pastry brush. Melt half an ounce of butter in a saucepan. Skin and slice 2 tomatoes (size and type unspecified so suggest standard medium sized ones) and add to the pan with a cooked cauliflower, broken into florets. Cook together for five minutes. Meanwhile, separate 2 – 3 eggs. Beat up yolks with 1 tbsp milk and add 1 oz grated cheese (type unspecified suggest Cheddar or Red Leicester). Season with salt, pepper and half a teaspoon of mustard. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into yolks. Place cauli and tomatoes into soufflé dish. Add another ounce of grated cheese (same or different), sprinkled over the top. Lastly, pour on egg mixture. Bake in a Moderate oven, Gas 5, 190C for 20 – 30 minutes.

bowl with fresh onions on marble table
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Onion Cake, from Carmarthenshire (tweaked) is something different. The tweak is to sub turnips (or swede or celeriac or a mixture of these). Peel, slice and place them in the bottom of a well-buttered cake tin. Sprinkle a layer of peeled and finely chopped onions on top. Add small lumps of butter. Repeat the layers until tin is full, adding salt and pepper to taste. Top layer must be veg not onions. Spread or dot with butter. Cover with a lid or plate and bake in a Moderate oven, Gas 5 190C for an hour.

In total there are nineteen low carb- suitable recipes in this simple cookbook.

Verdict: BUY, if you find it. Similar cook books may be worth buying too. These books come from the heart of British communities. They are comprised of real, family-tested recipes, whatever the flash cookbooks of the period might say.

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