For more than 80 years the Country Women's Association has joined us in our kitchens as we've floured benches, sifted cocoa and sauted onions.The members have taught us how to knead dough, stew apples and cream butter. It all sounds easy now but once upon a time we had to learn.
Now, a new generation can be taught the basic tricks of the cooking trade with the release of The Country Women's Association Cookbook 2: More Treasured Recipes.
This also means for those people who have been fans for much of their lifetimes and have the original copy, there will be no more squinting at ingredients long ago concealed by smudges of cake mix.
CWA New South Wales president Elaine Armstrong says the book is a mix of classics and new recipes. Home cooks can thumb through 285 recipes such as corn fritters, zucchini slice, slow-cooked shanks and pineapple upside-down cake.
Armstrong says some of the recipes have been taken from a small cookbook previously released by the CWA called Country Classics, which "had more modern recipes like honey rolls and jam rolls and three-layer slices, a bit more modern style of cooking".
Cookbook 2 follows on from The Country Women's Association Cookbook, published in 2009 as a revamp of the popular Coronation cookbook, compiled in 1937.
In CWA fashion, this second book covers everything from morning tea to a hearty dinner, offering simple recipes you won't struggle to find ingredients for at your local grocer.
Armstrong says the idea to release revised versions of the classic dishes came from fans of the originals. "We're still getting people writing in or phoning in or emailing in saying `I had a Coronation cookbook years ago, could I have one now for my daughter who's getting married?' but we don't have that anymore," she says.
A few years ago, Armstrong says, it was decided to create a new cookbook that features recipes from the older books but modernises them and uses metric measurements.
The CWA is not trying to appeal to gourmets with this book but instead to the general public. "I think most people would want to get back to basics," Armstrong says. "Especially those that are now finding that supermarket foods or food that you buy ready prepared is just getting so expensive that they're wanting to get back to just doing something at home."
She uses quiches, of which there is a section in the book, as an example."You can have a quiche at home that will last you nearly three or four days if you just have a slice or two. The last time I had quiche and salad (in a cafe) it was about $15-16 and you can make a whole quiche for yourself at home for probably half of that and it will last you for more than one meal."
Home cooks will also get ideas for elaborating the basic salad, says Armstrong, with recipes including cannellini bean salad and potato bacon salad. "There's all sorts of salads," she says. "Especially for barbecue days if they're wanting to have something special rather than just having a slice of tomato and beetroot."
There are also old favourites - shortbread; caramel slice; meatloaf; and pastizzi. But the book is not just about great food and enjoyable home cooking. It is a way for the association to fundraise. The CWA has a disaster relief fund to assist with incidents such as the recent tsunami, cyclones and earthquakes across Australia and the world, as well an emergency fund and education grants.
Armstrong says association members also assist with medical research and are currently supporting research into the prevention of prostate cancer. "Usually each year we raise about $30,000" for medical research, she says.
Because of these initiatives, Armstrong says the not-for-profit association, established in 1922, is keen to attract more members to its more than 10,000-strong membership base. "We have no use-by date; we have no age that you have to be and we'd like to encourage some members because we're getting to the older age-range with our members and we'd like some new ones to come in."
Aside from recipes, Cookbook 2 features practical advice, including catering hints, exhibition tips and measurement conversions. It includes the "little things" that those in the know can share, says Armstrong.
"Perhaps icing sugar sprinkled on something, or just the way to cut something or to arrange something so that it just makes that little bit of difference and that may be of interest to those who are wanting that bit extra out of a cookbook than just straight recipes."