Thursday, 11 January 2018

Kitchen in the Hills. The Hovel Cookbook.

My copy of "Kitchen in the Hills" arrived from the library and I have very much enjoyed looking through it, so much so that I thought about buying a copy. However, when I had a look at second-hand prices I was horrified, this is clearly a valuable little gem! The most expensive price I saw was £89.99 and the cheapest £10.25, well I know thrifty recipes are a good thing but is the book really worth that much ?

The recipes are all ones that Elizabeth West used when she and her husband were living up at Hafod in Snowdonia. They were on a very tight budget and got used to making the most of what they had, whether that was greens from the hedgerow in Spring, a pig's head or a few crusts of bread, Elizabeth learned to make something tasty from it.

The book is organised into ten sections with the conventional titles of Soup, Puddings etc. and each section is introduced with a couple of pages of observations and comments about their life in a primitive cottage. These little snippets and anecdotes are one of the things I enjoyed most about the book, those and the section entitled Biscuits and Bonk Bars. Bonk bars apparently are what cyclists eat when they are getting too tired to cycle up the next hill ! I think I could make a few of those for when MasterShoestring gets too hungry to wait for the next meal !

There are no pictures in the book so you have no idea about what the dish is supposed to look like and the instructions are full of vague phrases such as 'bake in a moderately hot oven', these are explained at the front of the book in a piece called 'Some Facts and Figures'. Unless you cook with a solid fuel stove it might be a bit tiresome to have to keep turning to the front of the book to discover what temperature the recipe needs.

I think this book would definitely come in handy if you are watching the grocery pennies and if I saw a copy at a cheap price I would buy it, it even tells you how to make Rosehip Syrup. However, at £10.25 a copy I'll enjoy the copy from the library and then use my existing 1940s cookbooks for frugal, tasty recipes !


  1. I've got that book, actually I have all 3 of her books in paperback, all bought at various times in charity shops. I think they're absolutely fascinating, how they coped in the winter in that place, with next to no mod cons and hardly any money, I don't know. But it just shows what can be done if you're hardy and resourceful.

    1. Yes, I love the other 2 books as well, so shall have to keep my eyes peeled at the next jumble sale !

  2. I think I just beat you to the cheapest copy on Ebay, Amazon and Abebooks ,it was just under £6 , supposedly signed by the author. Not sure how many recipes I'll actually try and if it had been just a recipe book I probably would have left it at that price. However I enjoyed the chapter introductions (got it from the library first) and have the other books so decided to treat myself. Not sure how sellers justify asking such daft prices , think they are just playing on the current interest in frugal living, but are missing the point ? Lorraine

  3. I guess they charge what they think the market can stand ! But you're right, spending that much would not be frugal ! I hope you enjoy having the full set now and I'll keep my eyes peeled at the next jumble sale !