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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Sepia Saturday - What's Baking in the Kitchen?

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs. 

This week's prompt photograph looks like a less than salubrious kitchen, and I doubt if I would feel happy eating something cooked there! 

No photographs exist of kitchens in my family homes.  But I have strong memories of my mother pouring over her Bero Book and her  collection of recipes, so read on to find out what a typical 1950's family was enjoying at meal times.  


Until I was 10 years old, we lived in a rented terraced house.  The kitchen was small and basic.    It was also rather dark and gloomy with a solid back door and little light getting in.   A pantry with a cupboard with a mesh door was the primitive fridge!   We later moved and my mother had Raeburn solid fuel cooker (a bit like an Aga) and this was her pride and joy. 
As a child I was a fussy and unadventurous eater, but home baking and desserts   were always my favourite.   Growing up in the1950's meant  food was simple,  limited in choice and all home prepared by my mother - no eating out or "take-aways". 

We always sat round the table for meals, apart from Sunday tea when it was sandwiches, jelly and cake from a trolley, whilst we watched the classic children's Sunday serial on the television.

During the week, desserts were puddings, such as spotted dick with custard or golden syrup sauce, baked apples, and rice pudding (which my father loved all his life,  but I hated)   Shrove Tuesday meant pancakes served with sugar and lemon.
Friday was my mother's baking day to set us up for the weekend and week ahead - cakes and biscuits with fruit pies or crumbles (apple, rhubarb, gooseberry, blackcurrant or blackberry).  Lemon meringue was my favourite Sunday dessert, along with trifle and jelly fluff (whipped up with evaporated milk). I disliked blancmange but liked Angel Delight.  Sunday tea meant chocolate cake with thick butter icing.

Icecream was a very special treat, reserved for birthdays, as we did not have a fridge until c.1958, so it had to be bought at the last minute.

My mother's recipe boo
A page from my mother's recipe book
My mother was a great baker and the Bero Book was her bible - I still have her copy,  somewhat stained and the cover torn but very obviously used a great deal.   We enjoyed  Caribbean slices, Paradise slices, Victoria sponges, chocolate crispies, coconut pyramids, ginger biscuits and Shrewsbury biscuits, flapjacks, fairy cakes, butterfly cakes. and Eccles cakes   I loved currant slices -  I ignored their school dinner nickname of  "fly pie" or "fly cemetery" - Mum's were far nicer!  I look back at home made jam and jellies with the muslin bag slung between to two chairs to drip, drip.  Home-made marmalade was delicious  - nothing to beat it, despite the arduous task of chopping up all those Seville oranges by hand - no labour saving devices then! 

Time for Tea!   
My mother's wedding china from 1938 -
 I can only remember it coming out of the china cabinet at Christmas time.
Looking back so much of the food we ate seems stodgy and fattening, yet I cannot remember obesity being an issue. I suppose we walked everywhere, played outside, got plenty of fresh air and exercise and did not snack as today.     It remains  a happy family time in my memory.
Mum, Dad, my brother & myself c. 1954

Click HERE to find out what other Sepia Saturday bloggers  have been cooking up for our taste buds this week.


  1. Okay - you've captured my interest. What is Be-ro? I smiled when you said your favorite dessert was lemon meringue. Mine too - especially the way my grandmother made it with extra lemon so it was extra tart. But you didn't like rice pudding? Now that I also love the way my other grandmother made it. Pour one quart of whole milk into a 2-quart buttered baking dish. Add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup rice, 1/2 tsp. salt and stir together. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top & bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours - stirring 3 times during the first hour. Creamy & delicious!

  2. Bero was, and still is, a popular brand of flour. You could collect tokens from the pack and send away for their little slim recipe book for cakes, pastries, puddings etc. - still British and traditional in style. Many bakers swear by the Bero recipes. My mother also used that slow method for making rice pudding.

  3. I was wondering about Bero too. And I agree with you about why we were all slimmer in the old days when we ate home cooked food, didn't snack and walked everywhere we didn't ride our bikes most of the time.

  4. Lovely family memories. Maybe one reason we don't have photos of our home ovens is because basic cameras didn't use flash back then and kitchen photos might have come out too dark. Or because the kitchen was a place for work, not photography.

    1. You are right, Jo, Dad just had a basic Kodak camera with no flash, and I have no photographs taken in our house until my late teens - so no pictorial record of Christmas, birthdays, special meals etc. How times have changed with every event and activity captured on camera, phone, or IPad.

  5. My mother seemed to spend a lot of time cooking dinner, but didn't really do much baking. I think we always had some sort of dessert. I didn't like rice or bread pudding. I really did like the chocolate pudding she made from scratch. It tasted like dark chocolate, unlike the too sweet pudding mixes.

  6. You're so lucky to have your mother's recipe book -- her handwriting must make it particularly important! I have an old cookbook of my mother's with her notations in the margins ("Bill likes this," etc). It's great to have that connection.

  7. This was a lovely read. Your childhood memories are wonderful.

  8. Your words paint a more delicious story than b&w photos could describe. Your mother's recipe book is a rare treasure. My grandmother kept a similar collection with lots of cookies and cakes recipes but written on index cards now stained with ingredients.

  9. Such wonderful memories of your Mother's cooking and baking. Nothing replaces home cooking. Yes, you are right people and children were not obese, as they did not eat all the fatty, carby junk available today. The recipe book is a treasure and I was wondering what Bero was.

  10. You have taken me back to my childhood with your memories. Our cooj\kbook in South Australia was the "Green and Gold' a household must. I still have my mothers copy and use it when I want to remind myself of something basic. Thank you so much for this post. So many memories.'

  11. Wonderful memories! I really enjoyed reading this.

    I also did not know what Bero was/is. Lemon Meringue (anything lemon really) is one of my favourite desserts too :)

  12. Great to have your mom's recipe book. Do you bake anything from it now?

  13. Thank you all for such kind comments, and I am pleased I evoked your own memories. I have to admit if I baked a lot, I would want to enjoy eating it - not very advisable, as I need to watch my weight! So sorry, Kathy, I do not use any of Mum's recipes, though the Bero book comes out now and again.

  14. I figured Bero must have been flour. My mother had a similar book - the Aerophos cookbook which I use to this day.

  15. Never heard of Be-Ro. I'll have to look into that.

    I can say that each Christmas my friends expect my Scottish shortbread that I make using my Great Aunt Jean's recipe. Pure heaven.


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