Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Cookery in Colour

I'm not much of a telly watcher but recently I discovered Back in Time for Dinner on BBC iPlayer and have become rather enthralled by the idea of travelling back in time through food. The programme follows The Robshaw's back in time starting in 1950. Their home is transformed for each decade and they only prepare and eat meals in keeping with the time; most of the recipes coming from The National Food Survey.  Each episode gives a fascinating incite into the meals people were eating and the gadgets and recipe books they were using. The latest episode saw them hit the 1970s; their kitchen transformed into an orange and brown delight, complete with lots of vegetable crockery. 

Just prior to discovering this programme, I purchased Marguerite Patten's seminal cookery book 'Cookery in Colour' published in 1968. The recipes are lurid, saturated and extremely kitsch. 

Some of the recipes are little strange (banana surprise anyone?) but the colours and pictures are so fabulous I couldn't pass it up in the charity shop. It cost me 50p and has provided me with enough inspiration to last a lifetime! I've amassed quite a collection of vintage cookbooks and pamphlets over the years from car boot sales and chazzas but this is certainly my favourite ever. Marguerite was extremely popular in the 60s/70s, in fact on showing my mum this purchase she revealed that she learnt to cook from this very book! Thankfully her cooking has progressed a little since then. Of course there is Delia too and the hilarious Franny Craddock.

All these colours and celeb cooks of the 70s got me in the mood for blue eyeshadow and polyester. These photographs are my ode to Marguerite, Franny, Delia and Mary! I think cooks these days could definitely do with an injection of colour and a few silly expressions.

Delia Smith
Source: 1
Mary Berry
Source: 2
Franny Craddock
Source: 3
My outfit is a glorious 1970s polyester set comprising of a shirt and skirt, which were actually found on separate occasions. The skirt my mum found in a charity shop in Cornwall several years ago and is about 100 sizes to big so I took the waistband in and now it's the perfect fit. The shirt I stumbled on 2 years ago, just after handing in my BA thesis, on a vintage shop sale rail on the Holloway Road. As you can imagine I was terribly excited to find the skirts counterpart! I love reuniting vintage items.  The glasses are vintage frames that I had fitted with my prescription online from INEEDSPEX - good value and very quick! The colour of them always reminds me of Sue Kreitzman's. She's a style inspiration of mine and guess what? She has spent much of her life writing cookbooks (before her turn to art)!

Sue Kreitzman now and then!
Source: 4 & 5

To complete the 1970s cookery queen look one obviously needs a whole host of crockery masquerading as vegetables. Below is a little of my collection mostly picked up at car boot sales (so excited that they are starting again this week, hooray for Spring!) I began collecting vegetableware quite some time ago after seeing Kaffe Fasset's enviable collection. 

Kaffe Fassett's kitchen dresser, Glorious Interiors, pg 127
Kaffe Fasset's dining room, Glorious Interiors, pp 110-111

My collection has grown considerably and now takes up quite a lot of my kitchen, leaving not an awful lot of space for anything else! Also note the tray on the shelf in these photographs, purchased from a car boot sale, it cropped up in Back in Time for Dinner's 70s episode. I'm also the proud owner a pineapple ice bucket, an essential for any hostess.

Back in Time for Dinner - 1970s, BBC 2

I'm going to attempt a few recipes from Marguerite's book for a 1970s dinner party soon so I'll be sure to post pictures of the results though I'm not sure I'll be able to reach her heady heights of culinary expertise.

I'll leave you with a clip from Delia Smith's Cookery Course, in this episode she teaches you how cook and eat Spaghetti for your Spaghetti Bolognese!

 I hope you are all having a wonderful week, I'm still hoping for that Easter heatwave!

Outfit Details

1970s polyester skirt and shirt set - Charity shops (purchased separately)

Vintage red plastic glasses - INEEDSPEX

Blue suede platforms - Urban Outfitters sale

Plastic beaded earrings - Topshop

Blue eyeshadow - Barry M

Matte Turquoise Nail Varnish - Barry M



  1. This is a scrumptious post! I love everything. What an amazing find that skirt and top were, and the colours are great. Love your glasses, eye shadow, nail varnish and all those retro dishes. I remember kitchens having shelves of these old cookbooks, such great pictures! Look how young Delia was! Enjoy Easter. This weather is dismal eh? x

  2. I love your outfit so much! It's very granny-chic ;-) I also am in love with the dishes, your whole kitchen, and the vintage photos <3333

  3. You look like me, only better! What's the chances of finding the matching blouse to that maxi? The chazza gods were certainly smiling on you that day!
    I'm loving that programme and the Seventies is by far the best, freedom from the domestic drudgery for woman, fab clothes and crisps! It's the era I remember and, as a woman raised on Findus Cheese Crispy Pancakes and French Bread Pizza, all those E numbers didn't do me much harm! xxx

  4. that dress is divine! and the aesthetic behind old cookbooks is literally amazing, I wish more publishers paid more attention to their fonts and photographs

  5. I've always thought it would be so much fun to cook vintage recipes, and those cookery items are just way too neat! I love this awesome photo shoot!

  6. Your post is a pure delight! I thoroughly enjoyed the photos of your colorful kitchen, your collection, the old cookbooks, and your outfit! I can't believe you actually found a matching shirt for this vintage skirt! It happened to me too, but with much newer pieces.

    Colorful kitchen (as well as colorful home) is my long time dream coming true. I started finding funky and happy 1970s pots and such just recently, in the last couple of years, and it all coming together piece by piece rather beautifully. The space you created is very inspiring! xxx


    Heston Blumenthal actually did a really cool show where he reinvented food from the 1970s/80s for a group of people who also grew up in that area. Very interesting! I'd recommend a watch if you can!

  8. This is amazing, love all the colours and the salad bowl, so cool :)) I love Sue as well, so cool :))) Marvellous this Xxx

  9. A feast! A feast - for the eyes and taste buds. I saw a review of 'Back in Time For Dinner' and thought it looked really interesting, but haven't managed to catch any of the programmes yet.
    Your outfit is entirely perfect. Oh how I love the serendipity of finding matching items of clothing, especially with a time lapse between. Though sometimes it happens that in a charity shop when a bag of clothing has been priced up and hung on the rails, matching parts of an outfit get separated. So I've had the occasional thrill of finding something like a 60s mini dress, which I've clutched avidly, only to find the matching coat on the other side of the shop 10 mins later. Joyful!

  10. Far out! I looove your '70s groove - blue eye shadow, polyester. And it's true magic that you found the long-lost top for the bottom which you so cleverly Fixed. What music are you playing, I wonder.
    This is the finest table setting I have seen in a long time. I need some marshmallow jello I think...

  11. Marguerite Patten's Christmas cake has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. We skipped it last year, and everyone felt terrible about it. Lesson learned. I'd eat the sardine fingers (I may have at some point in my childhood) but would perhaps draw the line at the banana loaf. And the marzipan sweets, pretty as they are.

    I love your kitchen. When my kitchen grows up, it wants to look like yours! Your crockery collection is wonderful. My weakness is Belmar pottery, and I'm rapidly running out of space.

    Hope you get good weather for Easter. You do robin's egg blue eyeshadow better than Franny Craddock ever did, and I'm so glad the universe decided to reunite your outfit for you-it is perfect 70's.

  12. Yes, I really enjoyed that programme too, would happily have been a guinea pig for it, and I thought the cycle was fascinating. I always think of Marguerite Patten in relation to WWII. Didn't she do amazing recipes with powdered egg? I'm disproportionately happy that you found the top to your existing bottoms, the whole outfit is fab. Love all the vegetable crockery, Kaffe Fassett is the King of colour. And talking of which, you've got the ultimate King on your extractor hood. Respect. We all LOVE Elvis in our family. Xxxxxxx