Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Cooking Bible

My cooking bible is The Schauer Australian Cookery Book. My aunt, Bina Doneley, used it as did my mother, Phyll O'Carroll. I find that few Australians have heard of it. Yet the work of its author is famous and one of her recipes is an Australian icon. The Schauer Australian Cookery Book is written by Amy Schauer - usually known as Miss Schauer. Miss Schauer taught generations of Queensland Domestic Science teachers. Her iconic work is the Lamington. I remember seeing an interview on TV some years ago with famous Australian artist, Lloyd Rees. He was then about 93 not out. He said that he remembered when he was about 13 years of age (before World War I) growing up in Brisbane, he was at a friend's place one afternoon playing tennis. Miss Schauer arrived. She was a friend of the family. She said that they had done something interesting that day at College. They had made something completely new - the Lamington. For those who don't know, the Lamington is a square of cake covered in chocolate icing and then covered in dessicated coconut. There is little on the 'net about Miss Schauer but I have found this snippet of history.
Another much shorter research project took place in 1933. M. Goode, Manager of Peanut Products, a Queensland company, forwarded a sample of peanut paste for experimentation to the Domestic Science Department. Miss Amy Schauer, officer-in-charge of that department and author of a highly successful cook book, prepared a luncheon using the peanut paste in every item, and thus increased the sales potential of the product.
I love Miss Schauer not only for her wonderful "standard" recipes but for her advice. The book - very plain with no photographs, not even of the author - is divided into categories. At the beginning of each category, there is general advice on the principles of cooking the particular item. For instance, in the section on souffles, there is a whole page of advice including the guiding principle of using one white more than the number of yolks. Even when I am using someone else's recipe I will refer to her advice before embarking on the project. The Schauer Australian Cookery Book is still in print. I am on my second copy because the first one fell to bits. Second-hand shops also turn up copies.


Gina E. said...

What a great piece of Australiana! I love old Aussie cook books too, and I believe your comments about its rarity. I admit I have never seen it around. Wonder if it might appear on eBay one day?

Miss Eagle said...

Just keep your eyes posted. Could happen - and check opp shops, second hand and antiquarian bookshops (although if you find it in the last type you will probably pay a bit).

Anonymous said...

Just looking up The Schauer Australian Cookery Book as I came across a copy this morning -op shop in New Zealand- and found this website.
I am thrilled with the book -ninth edition hard red cover -linen finish. I believe 1946.
Interesting on page 1v just past preface it mentions War-Time Edition....
Existing conditions brought about by the war do not allow us to produce this edition in the manner we would desire......
For the larger publications, such as "The Schauer Australian Cookery Book," the use of paper of more than one class or weight is unavoidable

Miss Eagle said...

Dear Anonymous, what a thrill. Would you be able to scan or photograph the cover and the bit about the war-time edition and any other interesting bits. If you would like to enter into correspondence with me, you can email me at this address: misseagle@bluebottle com. You might like to write me a little guest post to publish on Oz Tucker, a sort of culinary Anzac tradition, don't you think?

Blessings and bliss from Brigid aka Miss Eagle

Miss Eagle said...

Slipped up in the previous comment by omitting an all important dot. The address is:

Melinda said...

Hi Miss Eagle - thank you for your comment on my blog ( about Miss Schauer and lamingtons. I'd never heard of Miss Schauer and I'm now really keen to track down a copy of her book and to find out more about her. She sounds like a culinary treasure who should definitely be better known!

Miss Eagle said...

Melinda, I'm not sure that the book is still in publication - although it was for many, many decades after her death unaffected by changes to metric or that modern invention of coloured photographs in cookery books. Second hand bookshops might be able to help. If not try an inter-library loan.

Blessings and bliss

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

I'm 34 and about 9 years ago when my Mother's old copy of Miss Schauer's Preserving Book fell apart I found a site selling new copies. And for a small charge they threw in a copy of the Australian Cookery Book (about 60 pages in the middle have been bound upside down). My Mum still has and uses the Preserving Book but I LOVE the Cookery Book. I admit I usually just read it like a novel instead of a recipe book but I did make her plain flour savoury pie pastry the other night and it was excellent. I often check it for tips and 'rules'. I love her no-nonsense approach (like my Mum's) and the way some recipes are labelled "good" or "economical" like we would do ourselves. It is also a reminder of how easy we have things now. How women (and it was women) had to plan ahead, economise in so many ways and innovate to make the most of what was available. I put the book away and forget about it for months at a time but it is always exciting to pull it out again. I hate to think knowledge and practices like this are disappearing. It makes me laugh a bit now to hear that chefs are 'discovering' the chemistry of food when in Miss Shauer's day, learning how and why a cake rises would have been the first step in making the cake.

Miss Eagle said...

Dear Anon,
Do so love your story - and I wish I knew where your mother got the books from. I have tried to locate the publisher - if there still is a publisher - but have been unable to track such a being down.

I do agree about the tips and rules. Even if you are going to use someone else's recipe, I advise reading Miss Schauer's rules - particularly for souffles!

I don't haver her book on jams and conserves and would love to be able to come across a copy of that.

Thank you for visiting the blog and telling such a thoughtful tale. I do appreciate it.

Blessings and bliss