Friday, December 24, 2010

Exchange Family Recipes as Part of Your Oral History

My blog, New Game for Christmas Day ?, which also appeared in our Kith and Kin column in the Border Telegraph newspaper has sparked responses from several people.

One of our American members suggested that this might be a good time to ask for family recipes, and if you want others to delight in your recipes, you might like to add them here as a comment or to the Forum (under Scottish, Local, and Social History) . While I was thinking about that, I saw a newsletter from Familyrelatives  mentioning that culinary delight, Christmas Pudding.

They show 2 recipes from Mrs Beeton, that doyen of household management, from whose book I learned to cook, though not admittedly to her standard or complexity.

One recipe is a pudding for wealthier households costing 1 shilling 10 pence (£0.09) in 1910 serving 8 or 9 persons, the other is for a poorer family at 1 shilling and 3 pence (£0.06), sufficient for 1 large or 2 small puddings.

The more expensive pudding seems better value, however, even 1 shilling and 3 pence would have been a significant outlay in 1910.

This cost is before putting the silver threepences in the pudding for lucky recipients to find, and perhaps on which unlucky recipients would break their teeth.

The silver threepence (£0.01) was the smallest silver coin circulating in Victorian times in Britain. There was a silver three halfpence issued between 1834 and 1862 for use in Ceylon and the West Indies, but this never (officially) circulated in Britain, and thus wasn't available for puddings. I can remember christmas puddings made by grandmother with silver threepences in the 1950s and 1960s; though as we lucky kids didn't hand them back, after a while, she used sixpences. I can remember too, my grandfather swallowing one, and our guest, a local kirk minister buckling one - he had enormously strong teeth that could crack (unopened) brazil nuts and walnuts too. Some families put in tiny silver trinkets instead of coins.


John Glenn said...

Why didn't your granny just go to the bank and get more silver threepences ?

Peter Munro said...

Thanks for your question.

Silver threepence coins were issued up till 1944, though those dated 1942, 1943, 1944 circulated mainly in the West Indies. It was a very small coin easily lost.

The nickel-brass 12-sided threepence that was issued from 1937 to replace it was easily detectable in one's pocket, made a distinctive sound when falling onto a hard surface, and more convenient to the blind.

Although silver threepence coins continued to circulate after 1941, they were not common in the 1950s, and I certainly cannot ever remember getting one in change. I doubt the banks had any to hand out, and I think they would have offered the nickel-brass threepence coins instead.

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