A treasure trove of cookery books

Emma Rouse's Beeton's book of household management

1863 edition of Beeton's book of household management. Rouse HIll House & Farm collection R89/79. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

Through most of the nineteenth century, Rouse Hill House was the social hub of the district and the Rouse family regularly played host to formal society dinners, long luncheons and sociable tea parties, plus major family events to celebrate birthdays, weddings and Christmas. Continue reading

100 years of Commonsense Cookery

Commonsense cookery book, early 20th century

Commonsense cookery book, early 20th century. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums R89/76-1


2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Commonsense Cookery Book – a book that has a special place in many a cook’s heart – including mine. No matter how many trendy, glossy, gourmet, exotic, quirky,  best-seller or big-named chef’s cookbooks you find on a good cook’s bookcase, there’s usually a comparatively diminutive Commonsense Cookery Book there too. Continue reading

A curious cookbook

Page from an 1832 cookbook manuscript

1832 cookbook manuscript, author unknown (detail). Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

A mystery manuscript

For some time now I’ve been following Westminster City Archives’ The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies blog. It explores a manuscript cookery book of unknown origin, thought to have been written between 1760 and the 1820s. A team of volunteers have been experimenting with the recipes and researching their relevance in the Georgian and Regency England. It is an interesting project in itself, and I’m very excited by it, as we too, have a ‘mystery’ manuscript cookbook from the 1830s in our collection. Continue reading

Let them eat cake! Empire Day, May 24

A black and white photograph of Queen Victoria.

Gelatin paper print photograph of Queen Victoria (detail), photographer unknown. Rouse Hill House & Farm Collection

May 24 was Queen Victoria’s birthday, later celebrated as Empire Day. To mark the occasion I’ve been looking for Victoria Sponge recipes in my nineteenth century cookbooks – to no avail. Perhaps, like many other traditions, it is not so traditional at all – at least not for its claimed origins. Continue reading

Dolly’s cookbook

Portrait of Hugo Youngein with his children, Herbert on the left and Jenny on the right.

Herbert, Hugo & Jenny Ljunggren (Youngein), c1910. Susannah Place Museum Collection © Sydney Living Museums

Dolly’s ‘Cooking homework book’ is 101 years old. Jenny (known as Dolly) Youngein (pictured, right) lived in Susannah Place at 64 Gloucester Street, where her parents ran the corner shop from 1904. Dolly was 12 years old when she created the book. It is still in her family’s possession and is a treasured memento of her childhood. Continue reading

Monday’s pudding

Half eaten Christmas plum pudding.

Christmas plum pudding. Photo Alysha Buss © HHT

Do you painstakingly prepare a pudding each year for Christmas Day only to find that, by the time it’s served, your family and friends have indulged in the festive spread a little too eagerly? Or, as often happens in Sydney, fresh mangoes, berries and cherries win out over hot pudding? Don’t despair – your efforts weren’t wasted!

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Christmas Plum Pudding, 1860’s style

Jacqui holding up the pudding with string and foil in place, ready to go in the saucepan.

Preparing the pudding, Elizabeth Farm kitchen. Still from video © HHT

‘In December…’ 

In December, the principal household duty lies in preparing for the creature comforts of those near and dear to us, so as to meet old Christmas with a happy face, a contented mind, and a full larder; and in stoning the plums, washing the currants, cutting the citron, beating the eggs, and mixing the pudding, a housewife is not unworthily greeting the genial season of all good things.

Isabella Beeton, Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

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