I Found A Mysterious Recipe Book From 1968 & I’m Cooking All The Dishes

I think it's fair to say that everything is a little bit fraught right now. From our government playing gaslighter to everyone arguing over Twitter, 10 weeks of lockdown is really beginning to take its toll.
So here's something that is completely the opposite of all that. Last week on Lauren Laverne's 6 Music show (which, as many WFH-ers will attest, is the main thing keeping them sane right now) she heard from a woman called Georgie, who is spending her lockdown on a culinary-inspired mystery adventure.
The tale goes like this: a couple of years ago Georgie, who lives in east London and collects old furniture as something of a compulsion ("It's out of control, I will buy things even if I can't fit them in my flat"), purchased a 1970s cabinet from an antique shop in Crystal Palace. When she got it home, she opened it up to find a leather-bound diary with '1968' etched on the cover. Inside, she found 365 handwritten recipes, one for each day of the year.
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Who had written the diary? Someone had clearly cherished it. The handwriting was neat and covered every page. An entire year's loving work had gone into this diary, which was filled with recipes for canapes and full meals, cakes and desserts. "I had so many questions... Who was this woman?" Georgie wrote on Instagram. "How old was she? What must it [have] been like to be a woman in 1960s England? How [did] cooking in the '60s differ to our culinary habits now?"
Determined to find out, she decided there was only one thing for it: to cook every single recipe in the book using the exact same ingredients and processes as its writer. She adopted the moniker Sherlock Scones and the Instagram account Forgotten Delights was born.
Georgie has always liked being in the kitchen. "By no means am I a good cook," she laughs to R29. "I just love food! Whether it's me making a meal for my family or making a cake and eating it in front of the TV, it will always bring me a bit of happiness and joy."
Each week for the past year, Georgie has been diligently cooking a recipe from the diary, the results of which you can see on Instagram. Some have been delicious – "I made a plate of almond biscuits which I enjoyed eating the most" – while other stuff has been less successful. "There was this plaice with a creamy sauce and it sounded delicious," she chuckles. "I told my flatmate I was going to make him a really nice dinner and then I added the double cream and the butter and the milk and that was fine but then she asked for 50g of flour and the sauce just went meh. It was such a shame as the fish was so lovely but both of us were like, 'No, sorry, we can't eat this.'"
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She's struggled to find a few of the ingredients needed. Glace angelica, a type of candied plant stem, proved difficult to get from her local shops and some of the combinations of flavours were wild. "There was a fruit cocktail that had grapefruits, gherkins(!) and tomatoes," Georgie remembers. "I think I took one bite and threw it out," she laughs.
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4th January 1968🍊Grilled Grapefruit and Cheese Scones🧀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🇬🇧🎬On this day neo noire ‘Tony Rome’ starring Frank Sinatra was released across cinemas in the UK. Not dissimilar to Forgotten Delights the story follows a private investigator on a quest🕵🏻‍♂️👩🏻‍🍳📚 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 👩🏻‍🍳🍊So today we have another match made in FD heaven... except this time we have two meeting of foods that finally makes sense. Maybe there is method to his/her madness after all? I love Grapefruit juice, but have always found Grapefruit by itself difficult. I find it too overpowering and tart but with his/her recommendation of boiling it, adding sugar and cinnamon and then putting it under the grill it really gave it another dimension and absolutely complemented the cheese scones. Boiled and grilled fruit was a hugely popular appetiser in the 60's; aesthetically for its vibrant colours, for its many health benefits and it was also seen to be a pallet cleanser before the main meal. I am loving learning of these cooking habits and rituals of the time and applying them to a modern kitchen but being a creature of habit I actually ended up eating my cheese scones with butter and marmite😋⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

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The ultimate hope with the Forgotten Delights project is that Georgie will be able to find out who wrote the diary and reunite it with its owner. Unfortunately there isn't a huge number of clues to go off. Besides the recipes, there are just a few scrawled names and numbers in the book. "I thought her name might be Mrs Warren for a long time because that's written in the front of the book." After looking at it again, however, she's changed her mind. "It's written diagonally, like it's a note rather than her name."
Another thought Georgie had was that the diary owner was at cooking school. A recipe marked 'how to get a husband' (it's a pie) makes Georgie think she was unmarried which, considering the time, points to her being younger. "I'm going to say she's late 20s or just 30," Georgie muses. "I would love to think she's the same age as me."
Although the owner hasn't been found, Georgie has had some beautiful feedback. After her appearance on 6 Music, Lauren Laverne contacted her again. "She messaged me and was like, 'Georgie tune into the radio right now!' and it was a woman who had found the exact same diary as mine but with '1969' stamped on the cover." The diary had belonged to the caller's mother who had passed away and she'd messaged Lauren to say she'd started cooking her mother's recipes again and, as a result, felt closer to her than ever. "It was a very sweet story," Georgie says. "One of the things that's been most gratifying about this project is getting messages saying this is exactly what [people] wanted to hear at the moment."
Times are hard right now and the future feels incredibly uncertain. Many of us are struggling under lockdown but for Georgie, Forgotten Delights has given more of a purpose to being cooped up. "Every weekend I set myself the task to [cook the next recipe] and I listen to music and it's a bit of escapism. I'm a huge bookworm so I guess it's just another way of me trying to get away into another world even though I'm still stuck in my flat with no garden."
Georgie's main takeaway is that if you've got something that you love doing, then now, during this difficult time, is exactly the right time to do it. "There's so much joy I've got from doing this project, and it makes me remember the joy I always get from cooking." She continues: "Food is such a comfort and I feel like now more than ever is a time to go back to it."

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