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June 8, 2014 / mintcustard

My Fun-to-Cook book, back where it all began. Topsy turvy cakes.

Topsy turvy cakes.

Topsy turvy cakes.

I have written a great deal in the past about my own food memories. Come to think of it I’ve written a whole book about my school dinner memories. Recently my sister in law Annabel,who blogs over at  Annabel’s House of Books, asked me to write a guest post about books that have influenced me. If you would like to know more about them then please pop over to Annabel’s blog and find out.

Trawling through my mind and my book case brought me face to face with my childhood. My copy of My Fun-to-Cook book.

My Fun-to-Cook book.

My Fun-to-Cook book.

I spent many happy hours in the kitchen helping and watching family members cook. Learning and listening. Laughing and loving it. My Fun-to-Cook book liberated me. It provided me with the opportunity to cook alone, to begin to be responsible, to make my own decisions about recipes, to rectify my errors.

As a cook book for children it was written before everything was cupcakes and sprinkles. Poor Knights of Windsor, Sausage pop overs and Ham and Cheese dreams were savouries I would cook and foist on my family. It taught me, aged 8, how to make honeycomb. It taught me too that sugar is extremely hot and when set takes a brillo pad to remove from your Mum’s best saucepan!

I loved, and still love, the comic book style. The asides from the cat and dog were a little like having a friend cook with you.

One recipe that I cooked more than most were the Topsy Turvy cakes. This weekend I became 8 again as I cooked them once more. here is how I got on.


Comic book style recipes.

Comic book style recipes.

The recipe worked really well. The cakes are incredibly sweet, although I’m sure my eight year old self didn’t mind. When I make them again I’ll be using less sugar and possibly different, maybe fresh fruit. I think blueberries would work a treat in these little mouthfuls.

As I turned the bejeweled nuggets out I had a sudden vivid memory of the galley kitchen in the house I lived in until I was 11. Strange how little things can trigger such deep responses. Forty years ago I must have done the exact same action and the memory flooded back.

Waiting to be turned out.

Waiting to be turned out.

What I’d love to know is, did you have this book? I know many friends from Facebook did. Which was your favourite recipe? Are ther books today that you’d let an eight year old cook with, or are there any that you think will capture their imagination and fire their desire to cook just as this book so obviously did for me?

Please comment and let me know.

Publishers of books for children today need to take another look at their formats and their expectations.





Leave a Comment
  1. alifemoment / Jun 8 2014 6:44 pm


  2. Jenn - Chivalrous Cooking / Jun 8 2014 10:19 pm

    this looks so good! 🙂

  3. annaandersonwrites / Jun 9 2014 7:37 am

    Oooh memories! My sister had ‘My Learn-to-Cook Book’, also by Ursula Sedgwick and in the same format. Zoo biscuits were her favourite. She is still the best cake-baker I know, so it must have been a good introduction to the basics.

    • mintcustard / Jun 9 2014 7:45 am

      I have that one too, but the My Fun-to-Cook Book was my favourite. Thanks for commenting too.

  4. Annabel (gaskella) / Jun 9 2014 2:24 pm

    Becky – your guest post will be up on my blog tomorrow. Sorry for the delay and THANK YOU!

    I too have the Learn to Cook book.

  5. Foodie Laura / Jun 9 2014 8:09 pm

    My Mom had that book as a child so it was always vintage to us as children. She’d written her name and address inside the front cover and put little comments by the recipes rating how good she thought they were. We used to get a big kick out of her childish hand writing and made the cheese straws and crunch biscuits all the time. Ah, this post made me so nostalgic, I may just have to call my sister to reminder her about this little treasure.

    • mintcustard / Jun 9 2014 8:35 pm

      So glad it sparked a memory in you too! The crunch biscuits tempted me as a child but we never had the smarties which seemed a necessity for decoration! Hope your sister remembers too.

  6. An Embarrassment of Freedom / Jun 9 2014 11:20 pm

    Hi from Canada! I learned to cook from the church cookbook and women’s institute cookbook…al my mom’s friends and neighbours. She gave me free rein to cook anything. The only lessons she gave were on pie dough, bread making and fudge. I did everything else on my own. We did the canning and preserving together.

  7. Andrea / Dec 2 2015 4:11 am

    I found your post when searching for a copy of this book. I learned to cook from it too. Sadly mum threw it out when it fell apart….. It’s about $60AUD to replace. I’m seriously considering spending the money. Any chance you could post the fudge recipe? No other recipe tastes quite the same. It’s the first thing I remember making from this book, for Christmas. I put it in little silver baskets that I’d made with Mum, and then dragged them off the tree any time visitors arrived.

  8. Louise / Dec 14 2016 5:57 pm

    My mum has this book and ‘My Learn to Cook Book’. My sister and I loved them.
    Is the recipe for crunch in this one? If it is, could you email it to me?
    I realise that’s an odd request but I make it every christmas for my mum and sister. I’ve lost the recipe and would ask my mum for it she’s busy with my sister who has just had surgery.


  1. Guest Post from Mintcustard | Annabel's House of Books

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