About Recipe Boffin Website
Recipe Boffin website evolved as a place to store and share the content of my 3 published books, recipes from over 20 years running a commercial bakery, old family recipes, notebooks and cookbooks, recipes and stories from friends and family around the world, and the contents of several smaller websites I published over the last 5 years.
A little bit about my story and how I ended up building this website
I must have been about four when I was given my first cookery book.
I liked the little illustrations, and all Margaret Powell’s advice about making sweets at home. We lived in rural Northern Ireland, and there wasn’t a sweet shop for miles.
I got busy, and I’ve been busy ever since – making my own sweets, biscuits, dinners, desserts, bread and cakes to sell (over 20 years running a commercial bakery business)…
till suddenly I realised, that all my little notebooks and accumulated recipes had taken up so many boxes, that it was impossible to find my Chilli Bean Casserole recipe from the 1980s on the very day that I really needed it. (Still looking, it’s in one of those boxes somewhere!)
I needed a better filing system.
I had just graduated with a Modern Languages Degree from The Open University in the summer of 2015 when it dawned on me the importance of digitising my 40 odd years of recipe collection. This website was born in the Autumn of 2015, and I’m delighted to share it with you. For as Charlotte Brontë said, ‘Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.’
As fast as I digitise one recipe, I seem to get ten more to add to the collection, as friends and family share from their precious accumulated cookery notes and send me all sorts of interesting recipes from many parts of the world (lucky I did that linguistics degree). My own family are scattered around the world – here’s a little extract from the introduction to my Dreams and Recipes book that tells you a little more about my roots.
‘Emigration is a big part of my family history. My maternal Granda’s Great-Grandfather Daniel McMorris left Ireland in 1846, one of the worst years of the Great Famine. He died one year later in Philadelphia, aged just 57. My Granda’s Great Grandfather’s sister was called Martha McMorris. She was born around 1787 in a place called Donagheady in Co Tyrone. In 1816 she married William Cooper in Co. Tyrone. They are mentioned in ‘Jefferson County, Pennsylvania – Her Pioneers and People, Vol. II’ by Dr. William James McKnight, published in 1917 by J.H. Beers & Company, Chicago, page 654.
‘William Cooper brought his family from County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1823,
landing after a voyage of thirteen weeks. They drove to Valentine’s Furnace,
in Center County, PA., where he found work about the furnaces. Three years
later they came to western Pennsylvania, journeying by wagon to Luther
burg and with ox-sled to the Beechwoods, in Washington Township, Jefferson
County, where they arrived in February, 1826. He located a forest tract
of 200 acres near the centre of the Beechwoods, at what later became known
as Rockdale Mills. Only two or three settlers had preceded them, the Osborn’s,
Keys, McGee’s and MacIntoshes being their nearest neighbours. The
usual log cabin was constructed and provided with home-made furniture’…
‘William Cooper spent the remainder of his life making improvements and
helping to enhance civilization. He cleared part of the farm later owned by
his son James Cooper, and there died in February, 1868, at the age of eighty
years, his wife, Martha (McMorris) Cooper, surviving until 1871… William
Cooper was long remembered as a typical Irishman, quick-witted and ever
ready with a sharp answer, his humour and friendly nature making him
popular in a wide circle’
My Mum’s Father grew up in County Fermanagh in a family of 16, nearly half of whom emigrated to Canada (Montreal), USA (Los Angeles), and Australia.
Granda himself left Fermanagh as a young man to work as a carpenter on the railways in Belfast. Mum’s Grandmother, Eliza Jane, left County Armagh for New York at the age of 12. When her Mother became ill she returned towards the end of her teenage years, never forgetting her formative years in ‘The States’.
My Dad’s Mother Sophia left Cavan as a young woman, to earn a living in America. She worked hard and landed a position in a millionaire household, good times which she spoke affectionately of for the rest of her life. While there she met my Granda, a young Fermanagh man, fell head over heels in love, and they were married in Brooklyn, New York. Granda was a farmer at heart, and after a while he wrote home to his brother asking him to look out for a place for them back in Fermanagh. A suitable farm was found and Granda sent on the money. In her trunk, Granny brought back a little piece of the States – a cookery book entitled ‘The Way to a Man’s Heart’ by Lizzie Black Kander…’
An extensive American avant-garde answer to the English Mrs Beeton, I was able to find Granny’s favourite recipes in her American cookbook with the simple guidance of her well thumbed pages, which made it easy to tell which recipes she baked in her Fermanagh kitchen over and over again. She baked the best Irish soda bread for miles around, and the biggest surprise I got was when I realised she had used the recipe for Buttermilk Soda in her American cookbook – not an Irish one after all!
I hope you enjoy reading through this website and food blog, and following my journey, as I wade through the seemingly never-ending collection of recipes which I have accumulated over the past 40 years, and try and keep up with all the new ones being contributed from others daily. Some day soon I’m bound to reach the box that chilli bean casserole recipe is hiding in.
If you or anyone dear to you is a bit of a recipe boffin and would like your personal or professional recipe or recipes and story published on Recipe Boffin website, just reply on the contact form and I’d be delighted to add it to this website.
All rights reserved. 2017
News links –
The books shortlisted to go forward to the Gourmand Best in the World Cookbook, Drinks Book and World Food TV Awards in Yantai, China, IN June 2015.
Shortlisted for Best Chef Book in the World
Irish Pantry (Running Press, USA) by Noel McMeel (Irish Pantry won third place – well done Noel!)
Shortlisted for Best Food Writing in the World
Dreams and Recipes 1904 – 1914 (CreateSpace) by Viola Dono
(*2014 reflects the publishing year, hence the awards held this year are billed as 2014 Awards.)
Shortlisted for Best Local Book and Best Culinary Travel Book in the World
Feast or Famine a Culinary Food Journey of the North West of Ireland (Guildhall Press) by Emmett McCourt ( Feast or Famine won Best Culinary Travel Book – well done Emmett!)
Shortlisted for Best Charity Book and Best Health Book in the World
Well Being Cookbook for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland by Jeanne Rankin, Deirdre Conlon and Niamh McDaid.
Shortlisted for Best Digital Food Website, Best Digital Food Institution and Best Culinary Travel in the World
NI Good Food/ Taste of Ulster (Michele Shirlow of Food N.I. with the 2 winning books on the left of the photo – well done Michele)
Back far right of the photo is James McIntosh MA, MICSc, FRSA, MIACP from Tandragee, winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2008 for Best Series of Food Books in the World, and winner of the Gourmand World Food Television Award 2013 for his 20-part TV series, Food Adventures on the Silk Road 2, broadcast on China Food TV.
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