Brisbane 40’s cookbook

Most of my Grandma’s cookbooks went to my Aunts (and rightly so!) but afterwards a few scrappy books that no one wanted remained in her kitchen draw.  When looking through these last few, sad looking books I discovered one that caught my attention.

The front cover has long ago been lost, as has the back cover, but the title page is still intact.

“The City Tabernacle Senior Girls Missionary Union  (Wickham Terrace, Brisbane) Book of Tested Recipes”
Given that my Grandmother lived in Ipswich, I don’t think she would have attended the Senior Girls Missionary of Wickham Terrace and I don’t know how the book came to her, whether she bought it through her own church or if it was gifted to her.  I was intrigued and flicked through it a bit…

How old is it? 
Originally I made a guess that the cookbook was printed somewhere between 1935 and 1945.  This guess was based on a few factors such as hairstyles in the advertisements and the old phone numbers listed in the ads (e.g. B2155). A while later when I met with a lady who attends the modern-day Wickham Terrace City Tabernacle church, Glenys, she was able to give me a bit more information about it.

The book was printed in 1941 by Biggs & Company, a local Brisbane printery.  The owner of the printery was a member of the church at the time.    The book was collated by ladies of the church in the Senior Girls Missionary Union but the recipes were donated by a wider group of ladies from the church and the Baptist church.


Why bother? 
Firstly, I like baking.  I especially enjoy baking and cooking recipes from days (or even centuries!) gone by.   I think tasting food made from old recipes is an interesting way to experience the past.  Sometimes it is really interesting to see recipes which are unchanged over decades or even hundreds of years.

I also thought that it would be a tragedy for this little book to go into the bin because in a way, it is part of Queensland’s history.  There are ads for Brisbane companies, most now gone but some still familiar.  Every recipe in the book was submitted by a Brisbane woman.  Each recipe has the donor listed beside the title of the recipe.
How special to know I am eating biscuits that were a personal favourite of H. O Young or trying the Russian Caramels that Mrs M Illman thought were the bee’s knees (enough to incite her to add the recipe to this collection!)   I think it’s a lovely bit of Brisbane’s history which deserves better than a short trip to the tip.

So I set myself a challenge to cook through all the recipes and perhaps find out a little about the lady who donated the recipe.  Armed with the book and some of my grandma’s kitchen tools I set forth on a cooking adventure!

The Recipes on the old blog:

Recipes on this blog:


5 thoughts on “Brisbane 40’s cookbook

  1. By chance I decided to Google The City Tabernacle Senior Girls Missionary Union recipe book and came upon your entry. I too have inherited a copy of the book. It is falling apart. Many of its pages have evidence of being well used. My mother used it a lot. In fact, my mother, her mother, her mother’s sister were all contributors to the book. That was possibly because my mother was a member of the Senior Girls Missionary Union at the time. I suspect that sales of the book went to help the missionary cause. The front cover page is still in tact. It was a lightish blue with the title across the top “Book of Tested Recipes”.


  2. Hi, I also found your blog via google – I’m researching Baptist women missionaries. Anyway, I love this concept. Connecting history and cooking is a great thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s