A wholesome meal every day
Over a period of three years in the early 1930s, the Country Women's Association of New South Wales produced three cookbooks.
Each took the form of a recipe-a-day calendar and all were filled with recipes contributed by individual members.
A huge commercial success, they sold in numbers that would be the envy of any modern-day food author: between October 1930 and April 1933, a staggering 35,000 of the Cakes and Afternoon Tea Delicacies volume alone were purchased for the cover price of 2 shillings.
These cookbooks were designed for display on a kitchen wall, handy for everyday reference and use. Each shared the same dimensions and simple layout: narrow, rectangular pages printed on thick paper, bound along the top edge and finished with an arc of string for hanging.
In a CWA Annual Report from the period, it was noted that 'The Cake and Afternoon Tea Delicacies calendar, compiled by Mrs WH Hammond of Wagga Wagga, has been an unqualified success (and) ... has been circulated far and wide.' A Calendar of Puddings was the next to be produced, after which came a collection of Luncheon and Tea Dishes.
The latter, it was noted at the time, 'proved most successful'.
The nature of the recipes gives great insight into how women cooked during this era; their dishes are simple, honest and homey.
These were Depression years, when money and resources were tight. In a time before access to high-speed information and widespread international travel, culinary influences were few. Accordingly, the various dishes mainly reflect the English, Scottish and Irish cookery traditions that defined early Australian cookery. (Rear cover text).