Cooking up history

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THE history of Australia’s longest running cookbook is being launched this month, with proceeds going to the mission of the two churches.

From Suet to Saffron journeys through the life of the 113 year-old PWMU Cookbook – the combined Presbyterian and Uniting Church publication well established with generations of home cooks and households. More than 500,000 copies have been printed.6_From-Suet-to-Saffron

From Suet to Saffron serves as a chronological account of Australia’s sociological dynamics over that time and how they have affected diet, ingredients and food trends. Throughout, the cookbook’s vision has remained the same: To provide a handy practical resource for use in the home with healthy, economical recipes.

While the design has changed periodically, the cookbook has refrained from becoming a glossy publication with pictures. It continues to be a written recipe book only. It has not had any advertising since 1961 and sale monies support theological training and other enterprises for both the Presbyterian and Uniting churches.

The only time where sales were so few that print costs were barely covered was during the Great Depression. As happened during the two World Wars, when fewer and more basic ingredients were available, the cookbook was adjusted for leaner times.

Conversely, the advent of appliances and the emphasis on the domestic kitchen during the 1950s and 1960s led to an expansion in the way many ingredients were used.

This was increased again when post-war migrations from other European countries brought a whole new set of recipes and produce to the Australian palate.

The conversion to the metric system in 1970 was swiftly adopted by the cookbook and the cultural changes born of the restaurant boom in the 1980s brought more experimental cuisines to the home cook.

The PWMU Cookbook continues to thrive thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and the Uniting Church, with the 2013 PWMU Cookbook being released later this year.

In the meantime, From Suet to Saffron will serve as a suitable accompaniment and backgrounder for those who continue to appreciate the practical use of Australia’s longest continuously printed book.

From Suet to Saffron will be available from 20 June.

For more information on both books, visit Mosaic Resources, or 9470 6650, the PWMU website at or UCA Resources.


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