Ginger gems, Spanish cream and cold water beer are just a few old-time favourites included in a new recipe book put together by a dedicated group of Taranaki Pioneer Village volunteers.

Favourites From The Past was printed on the village's vintage machinery and features a wide selection of recipes which date back to the early 1900s.

The recipes were sourced from historic cook books unearthed in the village's original homestead.

Spanish Cream with nectarines. Photo / File
Spanish Cream with nectarines. Photo / File

With titles such as My Daily Dinner Cook Book, the old books included recipes for oxtail, pukeko stew, boiled fish, boiled mutton and rabbit casserole.


Village volunteer Bev Chittenden says it was decided these kinds of recipes would be kept out of the book and the more straightforward ones printed — including soups, desserts, meat dishes, sweets, baking and summer beverages.

Rob Clarkson and Bev Chittenden are part of a team of Taranaki Pioneer Village volunteers who have created a cookbook, Favourites From The Past.
Rob Clarkson and Bev Chittenden are part of a team of Taranaki Pioneer Village volunteers who have created a cookbook, Favourites From The Past.

Chittenden said reading the recipes brought back memories of her own upbringing and her favourites included ginger gems and cinnamon oysters.

One of the more refreshing recipes was a non-alcoholic drink called cold water beer, see below.

"When I was a kid we used to take it down to the hay paddocks because it is so thirst-quenching."

She said the recipes evoked many memories and featured simple ingredients most people would have at home.

"Homemade is still the best."

An old coal range will soon be installed in the original homestead and during gala days and events some of recipes will be made and served to the public.

The book's print team — Colin Ansell, Terry Foster, Alan Penfold and Rob Clarkson — put in many hours of work and faced many challenges using the old machinery housed in the Egmont Settlers building.


Clarkson said the team decided on a couple of typefaces that were on the village's model 78 linotype for the text.

The linotype had a few technical issues to sort out throughout the process and but they were lucky to have help from a Hamilton linotype mechanic, John Nicholson, who travelled down to sort it out on several occasions.

"Producing a book by the letterpress system is more time consuming than on a computer but very satisfying ... the first copy cannot be printed until every element is completed."

Printing blocks from the early 1900s were used as illustration fillers while the museum logo on the cover had to be made.

The book was printed on a Heidleberg platen printer, which was originally from Opunake, and used around a cup of black ink to print the 120 copies.

Clarkson said his father was a printer in Patea and and he grew up learning about the process. The team used his father's large vintage guillotine to trim the books, which was perfect for the job.

"I really enjoyed the whole process and the volunteers did a great job."

Favourites From The Past is $10 and can be purchased from the village. For more information email

Cold water beer
2 cups sugar
3 tsp ginger
1 tsp tartaric acid
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp lemon essence
20 cups cold water
Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and add the water.
Stir until dissolved and then chill.