A Cooke Book (that’s not a mis-spelling)

Doreen Cooke was my husband’s Aunt.  She was known for her love of cooking.  She loved to get busy in the kitchen and prepared certain favorites that family and friends expected when visiting her.  Spare Ribs, Parsee Mince, Chicken Cacciatori, Shepherds Pie, Biryani and her infamous Hot Ball  Curry were among her specialties.  I remember her visit when we lived in Texas, our oldest was about 3 years old, Aunt Doreen showed us how to make pizza from scratch, complete with throwing the dough up in the air and splattering white flour all over herself much to the amusement of our 3 year old.  Doreen had a passion for cooking and creating in the kitchen. When she passed away about 5 or so years ago, our family decided to gather her recipes from all the relatives and make up a “Cooke” book with all her favorite recipes.  Her Hot Ball Curry was a dish she repeated again and again as we all enjoyed it immensely.

My husband’s mother and her sister Doreen were Anglo-Indian.  Anglo-Indians were created by marriage between Europeans (mainly British) and Indians. They conducted administrative work for the British during their 100 year rule of the Subcontinent. In the late 1947, when India became Independent, many Anglo Indians were forced to emigrate, principally to England, but also Canada, and later Australia.  As a sub-race they have disappeared within a few generations as they continued to marry outside their narrow group, but fondness for good social times and generosity seem to be traits that have stuck.  The sisters left India with their husbands in 1947 when India became independent – they moved to England and then Canada.

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My in-laws, Bertram & Phyllis on the right, Aunt Doreen and her husband Jack in the middle. Both sisters were married in 1943 in a double wedding.

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Here is the cookbook that we compiled after Aunt Doreen’s passing.  We gave it a retro look (they aren’t gravy stains) 🙂

We made several copies of the book and handed it to all the relatives as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  I think everyone was pretty happy with the results.  Here was Aunt Doreen’s special recipes all in one book instead of scraps of paper here and there.  Some of the recipes are even written in her own handwriting and also typed by her.

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Some of the recipes in the book

Some of the recipes in the book and here’s the recipe and pictures for the Hot Ball Curry.

Hot Ball Curry

My version of Aunt Doreen’s Hot Ball Curry served with a rice pea pilaf.  I thought the folks over at our weekly Fiesta Fridays will enjoy this, so I’m bringing it over for you all.  Click on the recipe page to get the ingredients.  Thanks as always to our ever gracious Angie who hosts this weekly party.  This week we welcome our co-hosts, Effie and Steffi, thanks ladies.

55 comments

  1. This is neat. We did the same for my grandmother who I never knew. The recipes she made were much heartier than those we make today. My father said they did much more physical labor in those times.

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    1. We sure did enjoy putting the book together and gathering recipes from relatives in Canada. I’m sure your grandmother’s book was quite a treasure too. Thanks for visiting my blog Bernadette. I’m sad that we never got a chance to meet over the summer, our schedules never clicked when we tried, let’s remedy that soon. 🙂

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  2. What a lovely post Loretta and that your family has compiled such a special cookbook of your dear Aunt’s recipes. Love the title too! I have a few cookbooks that my entire family has contributed to “The Harlan Family in America”. Harlans (maiden name) across the country have contributed to a cookbook every ten years when the family gathers. I wish I had more of my mothers! Have a great holiday weekend…

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    1. Thanks Judi, it took a while to get it all going, but we were pretty chuffed with the end result. It’s great that your family puts together these recipes too, what a great hand-me-down for the generations to come. Enjoy the holiday weekend too, we are actually getting a bit of a reprieve weather wise (after the nasty 90 plus deg all last week), I even felt sorry for the players @ the US Open.

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  3. What you have done is amazing!!! A tribute to Aunt Doreen and her love of cooking with a “Cooke Book”. Thank you for sharing the story, I learned a few new things about the time in India. Hot ball curry served with a rice pea pilaf looks so mouthwatering. Didn’t you post one of her recipes before too? The 7th photo looks familiar. The wedding photo looks like there were a few more brides than 2. Delightful all around!

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    1. Hi Fae, thanks, definitely worth the time and effort in the compilation of those recipes into a “Cooke book”. Glad I was able to bring a bit of history to the post too. I posted a dish (stuffed tomatoes) when my mother-in-law passed away earlier in March this year as that was HER favorite dish. Aunt Doreen is her sister. Ha ha, regarding the wedding photo, I too asked my husband how come there were so many brides, so he told me that the others were bridesmaids (it was confusing as they had large bouquets and one even had a veil).

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  4. What a wonderful story, Loretta! The end of the British Empire has created so many different diasporic experiences, and your family, it seems, has had more than their share! The recipe sounds tempting, too, but your wonderful cooke book is trult amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it with us at FF – have a wonderful weekend!
    Ginger x

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    1. Thanks Steffi and thanks so much for co-hosting. Indeed the British Empire and the diaspora it brought. This was my husband’s family, ours was a little different, but challenging nonetheless. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Thanks Liz, she was indeed beautiful both inside and out. Women in those days faced many challenges and were strong enough to withstand adverse conditions. She definitely left behind a legacy and we were real happy to have compiled the Cooke Book in her honor. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the holiday weekend.

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    1. Thanks Freda, indeed she was, so many wonderful memories of her come to the surface when I look through her recipes. Oh wow, did you really make the Tres Leches cake? Isn’t it just out of this world? I dare not make it when I’m on my own, so I wait for opportunities to take it places or I’ll make it when I have guests over :). I’ll have to scoot over to yours soon to have a look see :). Thanks for stopping by as always.

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    1. Thanks Effie, and thank you so much for co-hosting. She loved children and always made something extra special when she visited. I also learned how to make silver dollar pancakes for my girls when she visited. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

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      1. Isn’t that a good sign of a well used book and a happy smiling family!!
        I am well. Thank you dear for asking. My son was home this week for his term break and I was busy catching up with him and cooking for him. Just dropped him at the airport 😩

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  5. What a wonderful tribute to a great cooke and personality! Love all the pictures you interspersed with those well loved splattered recipes! I would love to try this recipe, Loretta. Family heirloom recipes are the very best and keep memories of loved ones alive. Beautiful post! I unsubscribed and resubscribed.

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    1. Yeah Johanne, welcome back, I’ve missed you :)). Not sure what went wrong with your subscription, but happy to have you now. We gave the Cooke book a “retro” look, so those stains splattered all over the book aren’t real :). It was meant to portray that though. Enjoy this gorgeous weekend.

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  6. Gosh, this is, indeed, such a lovely tribute. My mother has written her special recipes down in a little book, that’s now falling apart – but is still treasured. Those ‘stand by’ recipes that we keep going back to are the ones that will never date!
    Treasure the book, and the memory of the person!
    Emma 🙂

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  7. She was beautiful! I made something similar for my daughters, but it was lacking culturally compared to yours. I just don’t know enough about my family history, but still was able to add tidbits and recipes that my mother made. Never knew my father. Anyway, the book is lovely and so well done! Bravo!

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    1. Thanks Chef Mimi, wonderful that you made up a book of recipes for your daughters too. I’m hoping that my blog will serve as a reference point for my own daughters when I’m no longer around :). Thank you for stopping by 🙂

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  8. Loretta, I just love this tribute to your Aunt. What a wonderful idea to put all of her recipes together and to share with the family. To often those recipes just disappear. Those that don’t appreciate them don’t understand their contribution to family history and heritage. This recipe looks delicious just like so many of your other mouth watering dishes! I also loved the history of the Anglo-Indian that you shared. It is all so interesting to me to see how these cultures evolved. I see where your beauty came from.

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    1. So very kind of you Julie, thanks as always. I’m sure your own recipes are definitely book-worthy too, and your children can always refer to your blog at a future reference point, don’t you think? My husband’s side of the family were Anglo-Indian. Doreen was his Mom’s sister. When the British ruled India, a lot of them inter-married and thus the Anglo-Indian race was formed. They were never considered Indian when they lived in India, and when many of them moved to England, they were never accepted as English either. My own family’s roots were from Goa with its Portuguese influences- I think I wrote a bit of history on Goa quite a few posts back when I featured the Caramel Bread Pudding. We are quite mixed up I daresay, and having lived and grown up on quite a few continents, we consider ourselves “mutts” 🙂

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      1. Heck Loretta, I knew your family was from Goa. I had never heard of it before and found it interesting. Isn’t it amazing how cultures have opinions on race? How can we take credit or be blamed for the decisions made by those before we were born? I’m such a mix, and don’t mind being a mutt either!

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    1. Amazing isn’t it? It seems my own family moved out of India too after the British ruled India, we moved to Kenya, and when that country became independent from the British, we moved out yet again. When I see migrant crisis going on right at the moment, my heart aches for them, at least we had choices. Thanks for stopping by.

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    1. Thanks Josette. Aunt Doreen also typed her recipes on index cards with her hand-written notes 🙂 So wonderful that we can look back and remember those great times and continue to create dishes in her name isn’t it? So glad your family have your grandmother’s recipes to cherish.

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    1. Thanks so much Naina, I like to think so too, the book will be passed down for generations. The 2 sisters left India when it became independent, the journey along the way was long and arduous. They lived in England for a while, then moved to Canada till they passed away. My ma in law passed away this year at the ripe old age of 94. She wrote her memoirs for her grandchildren, that is the next book we must publish.
      Parts of it covered India.

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  9. Loretta,
    What a fabulous tribute to your husband’s aunt, who must have been an amazing woman! I loved the story of her making the pizza with full gusto and amusing your 3 year old!
    Growing up in India, I had quite a few Anglo Indian friends who still live in India. I loved the Cooke book- the photos, recipes including the hand written ones are indeed a treasure for generations to come!
    Great post, as usual!

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  10. Oh, I totally enjoyed reading this! I’ve done similar things with cook books from various family members, Church groups, etc. This is so fun and what a heartwarming story to go along with your recipe, or is it recipe to go along with your story? I just love it!
    Jennie

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