Jerry's Reviews > Jet Age Cookbook: Home Tested Recipes

Jet Age Cookbook by The Royal Australian Air Fo...
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I was wandering through an antique mall in the Fort Worth area when I ran across this odd little cookbook from Australia.

From the cover alone, I thought it was probably from the fifties. Looking inside seemed to confirm this. The text itself literally looks like a typewriter. Like many books of its type, it includes advertisements from supporting businesses; all of their phone numbers are what we in America would call exchange numbers: a two-digit “area” code and then four digits. Temperatures are mostly all listed as “slow oven”, “moderate oven”, and so on. You can see the cover.

But two of the businesses are using addresses in malls that opened in 1968 and 1969, respectively. So it can’t be earlier than 1969, and more likely 1970 given lead times to publication. It’s possible, of course, that the cookbook was written once, and then printed several times with new advertisements.

The recipes use measurements I was completely unfamiliar with from older American cookbooks. Many of the recipes call for a “dstspn” which I initially took for some weird typo but turns out to be a dessertspoon. This was fortunate, because on researching what a dessert spoon was (two teaspoons) I also discovered that an Australian tablespoon is four teaspoons, not three.

At least, if the authors are using the post-1966 metrification volumes; if they’re using an older standard, it’s not likely to be standard at all. And some of them do seem to be using some old terminology. I made Noela Pomery’s Jam Roly Poly and it required “1 small cup boiling water”. Given that the water was going into a syrup, it probably didn’t need to be an exact measurement, but given that it was going to bake for a specific time rather than be brought to a specific temperature on the stovetop, it also did need to be close.

With the combination of the “small cup” and the “moderate oven”, you’re probably supposed to already know what consistency the syrup around the roly-poly should be. A Jam Roly-Poly is apparently a classic British recipe, though it’s normally steamed or boiled, not baked in syrup.

I assumed a half cup, and the roly-poly turned out very nice. The syrup was a great consistency for spooning back over the roly-poly after it was baked. The dessert is basically a pie crust spread with jam, rolled into a tube, and baked with a water and sugar mix poured over it.

The first recipe I made was M. Richardson’s “tomato relish”. This recipe called for a tablespoon of curry powder and a tablespoon of prepared mustard, which I decided meant the modern Australian four teaspoons; it also called for a “small tablespoon” of salt, which I assumed meant the older, close-to-three-teaspoons tablespoon.

It seemed to work. This was the odd-man-out recipe I chose to help test this cookbook, the recipe I wouldn’t normally expect to make. I expected it to be something closer to a ketchup than a relish. But it did turn into a relish, and a great one. I’ve used it now on hot dogs, on hamburgers, and on eggs, and it’s great everywhere. I even used it in place of dill relish to make some tuna salad, which I’ll be finishing up today on a sandwich. This is a phenomenal relish that I expect to make regularly.

A recipe I was pretty sure I was going to like were the “chocolate peanut crisps”. It was obviously going to be a slightly chocolate shortbread with lots of peanuts added in. It also calls for spreading with chocolate icing, but does not provide one, so I used a mocha frosting from Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies. This turned out to be a great choice, but the crisps would have been great even without the chocolate frosting.

Finally, I made Marg Towie’s “very hot curry” last night. I’m not sure what the “very hot” refers to; it takes no hot pepper except what’s in the curry powder. It does take a lot of spices, if I read it correctly. The recipe reads “2 teaspoons Curry Power, Tumeric, Cummir, Correander”. I made several assumptions: that there were several typos or Australian spellings for curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander, and also that the line meant 2 teaspoons each, not 2 teaspoons combined. I think I was right, because while the result was very spicy, using 2 teaspoons of spice instead of 8 would have been not very spicy at all.

There were several other assumptions, too. While the recipe specifically calls for “1 Tomato”, “2 lge onions”, and “1-½ lbs Gravy Beef or Stewing Steak”, it also calls for an unspecified amount of “Green Peas” and “Cubed Potatoes”. My guess is that like the food my own family ate in the seventies, potatoes were used to fill out the amount to fit the family, since they were cheap.

The curry was quite good, especially using grilled chuck roast, shredded, for the meat, though not up to the level of the other three recipes.

This is a fascinating cookbook not only from a different time, but a very different place, with a familiar yet exasperatingly different language.

Melt fat & brown onions to pulp. Add curry powder and other ingredients to paste and cook for a few mins until fat separates from curry. Add cut meat and cook for few mins and then add just a little water and simmer gently. Add vegetables. Serve with rice.
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Reading Progress

June 14, 2021 – Started Reading
June 20, 2021 – Finished Reading
June 21, 2021 – Shelved
June 21, 2021 – Shelved as: cookbooks

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