The Country Women's Association Cook Book – NSW CWA

Culinary history and a legacy of seven decades of cooking

By Kerry Scambler
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The Country Women's Association Cook Book - Seventy Years in the Kitchen

The Country Women's Association Cook Book - Seventy Years in the Kitchen [©Murdoch Books]


Over seventy years in the kitchen have produced this classic cookbook from the Country Women's Association of NSW.

Few would argue that the The Country Women’s Association Cook Book is an Australian icon and has been the first recipe book gifted to many a young woman.

The first ever edition of The CWA Cookbook (as it's fondly known) came from entries sent in for a cookery competition run by The Land newspaper. Many years later, it has been enhanced and developed from there.

Like its predecessors, this 17th edition is jam-packed with recipes organised into logical sections and interspersed with handy hints,  however this is the first metricised edition and it's also wire bound to so it lays flat on the kitchen bench.

These recipes have been passed on by generations of country women, swapped over countless kitchen tables and cooked up in thousands of homes which would give you confidence when cooking up some Speedway Cake or Blowaway Sponge. Also included are interesting titbits of information, many you could easily hear your mother quoting! Did you know for instance that adding hot milk instead of cold and a little baking powder to mashed potaoes will make them fluffier and "go further"?  Or use fresh eggs to poach and stale eggs to boil?

As well as the recipes and advice on all manner of things household (how to bone a fowl, keeping flowers fresh, preserving butter) there are tips on cleaning and removing stains, a glossary and lovely old black and white photos. And where else would you find the recipe for English Monkey, Giblet Soup, Angels on Horseback and Pear Hedgehog, side by side with details how to tan sheepskins?

For all the basic, home-grown recipes from our country past along with some sensible advice on household duties, The Country Women's Association Cook Book must surely be the Bible.

One feature which contrasts greatly with modern cookbooks is that the ingredients are not listed separately (a convention pioneered by Mrs Beeton), perhaps assuming a large country pantry with everything to hand, and more than a certain degree of familiarity with the basics. For novices or those whose larder is the supermarket, you'll need to make lists.

The Country Women's Association of New South Wales, a not-for-profit association formed in 1922, is part of the largest voluntary women's organisation in Australia. Members work for the welfare of all women and their families – country and city – through representation to all levels of government, fundraising events and the teaching of life skills. However one of their most lasting legacies on Australian culture is indeed their cooking, and their cookbook.

The Country Women's Association Cook Book is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, Australia; hc, 2009). RRP A$29.95 and Winepros Archive subscribers and Members can click her to purchase The Country Women's Association Cook Book at 12.5% discount off RRP (postage extra) from our book partners Seekbooks.

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July 17th, 2009
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