Recipes from the past a big hit

Schoolroom: Rachel Hague and John Woodhouse
Schoolroom: Rachel Hague and John Woodhouse
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Grandmas knew best about so many things.

Like ensuring a little went a long way, never wasting anything – and baking with love.

Mix and match: Meryl White loves old-style family recipes

Mix and match: Meryl White loves old-style family recipes

Former Doncaster deputy head and education director Meryl White was raised by her grandmother from the age of two months – and is about to ensure grandma Lizzie Abson’s wisdom is passed on to help current families learn old culinary skills.

She has penned a cookbook featuring hundreds of baking recipes and tips garnered by Lizzie from her time in service in Wath at the age of 14 in 1900 to her death at 91 in 1977.

It neatly combines the story of the Bolton on Dearne woman’s life, a guide to good baking and an archive of local recipes.

Says Meryl, 61, of Sprotbrough: “Few people are taught cooking and baking by their mothers and grandmothers any more, which is a real shame.

Grandma: Lizzie Abson

Grandma: Lizzie Abson

“I think there’s a lot to be learned from the past. My grandma raised her family throughout the hardship and rationing of two world wars. Her recipes were crafted around making tasty food from basic ingredients and limited supplies. A lot of families now want to find ways of cutting the supermarket bills.

“Grandma’s recipes are what everyone made at the time. But few recipes for Bridlington Cake, a lovely, lemony treat that was perfect for picnics at the coast, or Sand Cake, a smooth, golden cake made from cornflour, have survived.”

Meryl, whose mother died of leukaemia, was given her grandma’s hand-written recipes in 1979. She collated them into a Yorkshire recipe booklet in 1980 and was astonished when it sold over 5,000 copies. She went on to set up a cookery blog passing on her grandma’s skills and recently decided to launch a bigger, better cookery book.

“There was a bit of tweaking to be done,” says Meryl. ”Grandma never was too explicit about the weight of ingredients or cooking times and temperatures. Her early years cooking on black-leaded Yorkshire ranges had given her that mysterious knowledge of what was just the “correct heat”.

Meryl officially launches her book at Dearne Valley College’s Griffin Restaurant on Friday as students serve cakes baked from the book.

Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking, £10.99, is available from, Amazon, WH Smiths and Waterstone .

Follow Meryl’s Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking blog at

‘One-stop shop’ for tasty food

There aren’t many bistros where you can turn up on a Saturday night and tuck in to a preview of the meat you’ll be carving up for Sunday lunch.

But then, few establishments are a butcher’s shop, deli store and cafe all rolled up into one.

The old Victorian schoolroom at Low Bradfield, dormant for over 25 years, became a foodie haven last month. And a week ago, it started running Saturday bistro nights (£24.95).

Rachel Hague set up the business with partner John Woodhouse, who produces beef, lamb and free range eggs at his Loxley farm.

The Mill Lee Road venue sells locally-sourced award-winning produce. Meat is butchered on the premises – and customers often buy some to take home.

In Brief

What’s it worth? Eat and decide what to pay when the Mediterranean on Sharrow Vale Road stages a charity night on Tuesday, June 21. Your anonymous donation goes into a box and the contents go to Weston Park Hospital. Sheffield’s Rosie Brown will be singing at what is the official re-launch of the restaurant by owner Otto Damahi, who recently bought out his partner, Hajid. The venue has new décor and a new menu, which focuses on fish and seafood. Expect halibut, dorade and Spanish zarzuela nightly. To book for the charity night, call 0114 3661069.

A FAMILIAR face is returning to real ale pub The Devonshire Cat. Danny Brown, who worked at the Wellington Street pub on Devonshire Green in the kitchen and as a barman, is back as head chef. Sheffielder Danny, aged 28, returns after a stint in kitchens around South Yorkshire. “It’s going to be a healthier menu, with vegetarian options and much greater use of seasonal and locally-sourced produce,” he says

A charity auction will be staged at La Foret bar in Leopold Square on Thursday, June 23 – 8pm start with a champagne reception. Tickets are £5 from or £7.50 on the door. Organisers Becki Jones and Hannah Bailey are competing for the Master Cutlers Challenge, which encourages local businesses to fund-raise to help the youth of the county. The girls also plan a three-course dinner at Owlerton Stadium on August 2. Tickets are £20.