24 August 2009

Good Food on the Aga

There are a few thing in this world I covet and one of them is an Aga stove.

The first Aga’s were designed in Sweden, in 1922 by Dr. Gustaf Dalen. The Nobel Prize winner lost his sight. He designed the cooker with the intention of making it easy to use for a blind person. A British manufacturer took over the production and it has been a British made product ever since.

Some people sit around and think of driving a Porsche or a Jaguar but me, I want an Aga. Currently, I am forced to merely own Aga cookbooks instead of the actual stove.

One of my favorites is a reprint of Ambrose Heath’s Good Food on the Aga. I especially love it because the reprint in a Persephone Book. They are the most beautifully done books in recent memory. Many of their books are fiction reprints, but several titles are cookery books and each on features carefully chosen endpapers from historic fabrics. Good Food on the Aga was published in 1933. The endpapers were designed in the same year by Bernard Adeney. The block-printed linen furnishing fabric was designed for Allan Walton Textiles.

Ambrose Heath wrote over 70 books between 1932 and 1968. Many of them were cookery books. In Good Food on the Aga, Heath lays out the advantages of the Aga and basic cooking techniques. Remember, it is 1933, so the Aga he is describing is coal-burning type. Occasionally, an old wood or coal burning Aga come up for sale.

This book is divided into months of the year. Each month begins with a listing of what foods one can expect to be fresh and available during that month. Then he gives you a list of the recipes to correspond. Each recipe is listed on the side of the page. Underneath the recipe is a list of ingredients. A list is all. Vague amounts are listed within the recipes. It is very old-fashioned. Cooking with this book is a bit of an adventure, so it is more important than ever to read the recipe fully.

In August, Heath recommends the following:

Iced Polish Soup


I read somewhere the other day of an iced vegetable soup from Poland which sounded appropriate for August evenings. A beetroot cut in very small pieces was cooked in salt water, while this was being done half a cucumber cut in thin slices was sprinkled with salt so that the water was exuded. The beetroot, cucumber, cucumber water, and the water in which the beetroot had been cooked were mixed together when cold, and to this were added slices of hard boiled eggs, chopped parsley and chervil, pepper and one well-beaten egg. It must be kept well iced, and at the very last moment pieces of ice were put into the individual cups in which the soup was served. I have not tried it yet, but I certainly shall do so.

I love the convoluted way the recipe is written and even more so that he included it in a cookbook with out ever trying it. Well, we haven’t tried it either. If Ambrose Heath hasn’t tried it, neither are we. Some brave soul out there needs to make it and let us know how it tastes

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