Wednesday, July 22, 2009

time for a little giveaway!

Have you heard of Marguerite Patten? Coincidentally she was a guest on Supersizers this week at their 1950s coronation dinner. Marguerite Patten is hailed as the original celebrity chef, although she prefers the title of home economist. During world war two she worked for the ministry of health, coming up with recipes to keep the nation healthy (and satisfied) during rationing. She shared her ideas on the radio and then had her first TV show in 1947!
Now in her nineties (and with an OBE for services to the art of cookery) she is still writing cookbooks, making TV appearances and even podcasting! But what I know her best for is her box of recipe cards from 1967. My mum (and countless others) had these cards. I feel I have to make a disclaimer here and point out that some of the recipes have survived the test of time. I have the white vegetable soup recipe card (the original from my mum's long gone box) stuck inside the kitchen cupboard and my family have it as part of Christmas dinner every single year. It's yummy! But food (and food photography in particular) are victims of time and fashion and the cards' major appeal is how dated/retro the pictures look and how downright crazy some of the recipes seem to the modern mind and palate. I know I'm not the only one who thinks so - just have a look at this blog post and this flickr set.

Over the past few years, I've been keeping my eyes peeled in charity shops and have found a couple of boxes of these recipe cards, which I have literally dragged home - thousands of recipe cards are not particulary light! I have decided it's time to start sharing my treasure trove so I've hand picked some beauties and turned them into cards. On the front you can see the fabulously retro photograph of the dish:
and inside (behind the flap) is the recipe for you to follow:
so that you can delight, amuse or repulse friends and family depending on what the recipe is!

Now to the giveaway... I have chosen a selection of twelve of the recipe cards that I've made so far. As I said, I have thousands of these cards and I'd like to get some idea of which ones would go down well with the card buying public. Are people going to go for the look of the photo or the sound of the recipe? Are people going to choose tasty recipes or tasteless recipes? Will nostalgia rule the purse strings or will it all depend on the certain je ne sais quoi of an individual card? Or is there some other quality that hasn't even occurred to me?

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post telling me which of the twelve cards you like best (i.e. which one you would be most likely to buy) and why. I will choose a winner next week based on the usefulness of their comment, so make it good and tap into your market research know how! The commenter I judge to be most insightful will win their favourite card... and a little something else or two just to make me seem less mean!

Here are the cards:
1. Slimmers' Salad
2. Savoury Boxes
3. Bacon and Eggs
4. Prawn Cocktail with Soured Cream Sauce
5. Creme de Menthe Souffle
6. Danish Pastries
7. Hamburger Chowder
8. Chocolate Cake with Coffee Orange Frosting
9. Rose Blossoms
10. Ham in Aspic
11. Hedgehog Cake
12. Cheese Pyramids

Good luck and I promise I will dig out one or two other things to make the prize a bit more substantial! The giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday July 28th and I'll announce a winner on Wednesday July 29th. Now please enter or I'll look very silly indeed... Thanks for your help!


  1. oh my god these are amazing! I have never seen anything like it - so hard to pick cause I love recipes! Especially ones with pictures - I'm really not down with books that don't have pictures of everything (slight tagent.. oops!)
    ooh. I love the fact that theres a recipe for bacon and eggs - I can't imagine someone not knowing how to cook it.
    I can imagine the super random ones that sound disgusting selling - because they would be pure funny. I'm torn between Hamburger Chowder (cause what? that sounds gross!) Chocolate Cake with Coffee Orange Frosting (yum!) or Ham in Aspic (the picture of that is incredible... in a bad way)
    I guess purely based on wanting to eat what I cook... chocolate cake with orange frosting! + the fact that the icing looks like it may glow in the dark - exciting. Generally for me cake = win, anything to do with coffee and cake = double win!

  2. OMG that cake looked amazing. and I've never had chowder but that sure does look good. But my favorite HAS to be the danishes. mmmmmm, they look so good. and by the way, the boxes, no. 2?, are so cute! awesome idea!

  3. It's got to be the hedgehog cake purely because my mum made me one similar to that when I was little :) The hamburger chowder sounds revolting and the ham aspic looks revolting! I think people would be drawn to the pictures (in a good way or a bad way) more than the recipes but thats just my opinion!

  4. marguerita_norval@hotmail.comJuly 23, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    Ok so I think the slimmers salad would not go down well... Even if I was on a diet if someone purchased me a card which detailed how to make a salad I would be quite miffed, kinda like 'you need a salad' lol.

    The prawn cocktail appeals to me as its such an old dinner party dish - reminds people of good times, summer of love and all that - I think that would sell well :D

    The Hedgehog cake card has widespread appeal - children, adults alike so thats a defenite goer and the picture and the recipe would be coveted here.

    The danishes are also perfect as a thankyou card for a loved one - with a wee cake on the side.

    So in my mind id say Danishes - perfect thank you card. Prawn Cocktail - perfect party invite card. Hedgehog cake - commercial appeal would go down a 'treat' hehe.

  5. For me it's a serious toss up between the Savoury Boxes and the Ham in Aspic. I actually collect vintage cookbooks and the ones from the 50s-70s thrill me to no end with their dated recipes and awful food styling. I think there is a big market for silly kitschy things so my vote would go to the repulsive photos/recipes. Humor always sells!

    The Savoury Boxes should be re named deep fried prawn coffins (poetic that the prawns look like they are trying to escape) and who doesn't love vintage photos of aspic anything? Great stuff!

  6. Hi
    The creme de menthe is for me,I rue the day I ever got rid of my cards and if you have the card for chocolate flan I would be forever in your dedt

  7. Yeah, my mum got rid of a whole box of these cards too. I couldn't believe it! I will keep my eyes peeled for the chocolate flan :)

  8. Hi Laura,
    I just found your site after searching for Marguerite Patten's recipe cards - my mum used to collect them and they've been passed on to me. I think your cards are amazing, especially the Savoury Boxes one - that picture was always one of my favourites! Sorry I missed the chance to win one by 2 years...
    Just wondering would you happen to have the Christmas Cake or Christmas Pudding cards among the many you've acquired? They're the only two I'm missing from my collection and I'd love to get my hands on them. I'm in Ireland and I'd be happy to pay for postage! You can e-mail me at duchess_d @ yahoo . com (remove spaces). Thanks :)

    1. Hi Denise

      I did have Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding cards (quite a few in fact) but I made them into Christmas cards and sold them just this year! I would have been happy to send them your way if I hadn't. If I ever come across more cards on my travels I'll keep you in mind. It must be really annoying to have all but two!

      Thanks for your comment and good luck on your Margeurite Patten quest :)


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