A NEW cookbook produced by members of Ashton-under-Hill WI has proved a sell-out success.
When the book – A Taste of Ashton through the Seasons – came out just before Christmas, the initial print run of 100 sold out within days. Another 100 were ordered and also sold out quickly, so another 80 are currently on order, with most already sold.
The cookbook has been a real team effort, but the driving force has been WI member Rosemary Halliday, whose granddaughter Hanna Herrera designed and painted the collection of watercolours.
Rosemary said: “Ever since the WI started in the village, food recipes have been on the agenda. The WI have always taken an interest in the health of the nation and during the war they got involved in canning and preserving foods, so food has always been a big part of WI.
“I think I’m right in saying the Ashton WI have produced three books over the years with this one being the fourth. The last one was printed about 30 years ago so it seemed appropriate to do another one.
“A few ladies got together to discuss the feasibility and thought we would like to do something different that would have a wider appeal than for just those who cook and also to produce something that people would like to keep or give away as a memento. We continued to meet on average a couple of times a month for a few months to sort out the title, the structure, the organisation etc.
“Our aim was not necessarily to make a profit but rather to have something that people would like to buy, although we have made a handsome profit with the book.
“We wanted to give the book a very village/homely feel but also to keep it smart and up to date. We quickly homed in on the theme of ‘the seasons’ which gave us a structure for the recipes.
“Village history is fascinating and of interest to everyone who lives here so it seemed a good idea to include little anecdotes along with some local sayings.”
Rosemary said they felt a few drawings and paintings would add to the book’s appeal so she commandeered her granddaughter – who works in London for advertising agencies as an art director – to do the paintings.
“We gave her a free rein to do what she wanted in keeping with the village and the theme of the book. John Dodge also gave us a few of his sketches to add to the interest.
“We wanted to be able to say that all recipes had been tried and tasted so having asked all WI members to submit their favourite recipes, most of which are home grown or modifications of favourite recipes.
“We organised a ‘taster evening’ held in the lovely home of Nadine Simkin when we all had a little taste of most of the recipes. We made a small charge that evening and made £100 for Tearfund.”
Rosemary said the cookbook seemed to have been very popular and people had been very complimentary about it.
“I think it’s attractive to look at and it has a rather nostalgic feel about it – it is a little bit of England. There’s nowhere else quite like it!”
Marjory Facer, president of Ashton WI, which has about 45 members, said: “The cookbook actually brought the WI together and was a co-operative effort but it’s thanks to Rosemary pulling it all together.”
The WI puts on a whole range of talks and activities throughout the year and would love to attract new members, particulary some younger women.
“I think it’s lovely to have a mix of ages,” added Marjory.