I have written in this column in the past about the book swap schemes that we have locally in those old red BT phone boxes and I think  this is a brilliant idea to share the joy of books, and great for the environment too,  giving books an infinite circle of life.

Book swaps ,as I have found, can crop up in all sorts of locations.

A recent visit to Basingstoke and the Festival Palace shopping centre found me in the Book Barn, a cubbyhole with shelves full of books available  to take and replace with any we may want to pass on.

I always make a point of visiting this when I am in the area as there are often hidden gems nestled in the shelves.

This visit didn't disappoint as my eye was drawn to a cookbook by the food writer and broadcaster Marguerite Patten, who was well-known during the Second World War and the following decades.

We can learn a lot from the wartime attitude to food. We could all do with some advice and help with making  every scrap count and have no food waste. Some of the recipes in this book, written in 1964, may not be to all our tastes (anybody for game casserole?), but there are some handy tips on how to make scrambled eggs, although I admit I do mine in the microwave,  and recipes for various cakes, including a Valentines cake.

It was a real treasure trove  of retro cooking. A throwback to an era  when we made time to cook rather than rely on convenience  and the 21st century approach of ordering dinner on an app.

Inside the book I was excited to find a sheet of coupons offing savings, including 5p off flour, 3p off cooking salt, and 2p off eggs. The coupons were addressed to the “Housewife”, which wouldn't be politically correct today. On closer inspection I found  the coupons expired in February 1980, two years before I was born.  I wonder what reaction I would get if I presented them at the checkout in Morrisons?

This book was a true time capsule with another leaflet of recipes tucked inside. It made me wonder about the back story of this book: Who had it before?; Where it was originally  brought?

Maybe I will try one of the recipes and bring a bit of the 1960s to my recently installed 21st century kitchen.

 Listen to the Sunny Sessions, the inclusive radio show from The Sunnybank Trust on Surrey Hills Community Radio Monday and Thursday at  11am and on the first Monday of each month at 9pm.

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