Is it a renewed interest in cooking, difficulty sourcing ingredients, a way to fill time, or people simply looking for a helpful present for others? Jackie Farmer doesn’t know exactly what is driving the unprecedented demand for the CWA of WA’s renowned cookbook, but she knows orders are coming in hot and fast. The household staple, which includes a multitude of recipes including cakes, biscuits, cured meats, fish, gravy and more, is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. As CWA of WA chief executive, Ms Farmer has been fielding multiple calls a day from people wanting to buy the book while staying home during the coronavirus pandemic. “A lot of the calls are from people we wouldn’t normally hear from, people that have maybe never had anything to do with CWA before,” she said. “Normally, we would be contacted every couple of weeks ... not every single day for the past four weeks. “We have found that lot of people are calling and ordering the books for their children and grandchildren, and asking us to mail them out.” Exactly what is driving the demand is unknown, but Ms Farmer has a bit of an idea. “It might be because people are not able to go out shopping as much, which means they are trying to cook with staples,” she said. “Or, they are on a tighter budget, so they might be trying to cook simpler, cheaper options. “It is great that something so traditional and something so close to all of our members’ hearts is still of interest and use to people today.” A total 55 editions of The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints have been released since the first 1000-book print run sold out in nine months in 1936. Its release at the first CWA of WA State Conference was five years in the making after an initial expressions of interest in 1931 attracted enough recipes to fill 700 pages. The book was the brainchild of the CWA of WA’s oldest branch at Nungarin and was compiled by Doodlakine-Baandee branch founding member Agnes Barnes, with the idea of giving women during the Great Depression a one-stop shop for cooking, curing ailments, cleaning, and gardening. While the content of each edition is slightly different, with new and revised recipes, they all include a foreword from the CWA of WA’s State president at the time. They also all have the same signature blue and white cover, with a blue ribbon to help readers’ place their page. The most recent version was released in 2016 and is 414 pages long. Some of the most popular recipes that have stood the test of time include lamb shank stew, Anzac biscuits, three chocolate cake recipes, tomato relish and the famous scones. A catering section at the start of the book includes how to prepare a wedding breakfast for 100 guests, how to feed 300 adults at a public stock sale (cold meat and salad with sweet to follow), and an afternoon tea for a fete. Some of the more out-there recipes include sheep’s head brawn (remove the eye first), sheep’s tongue, boiled cucumber, neopolitan tripe, and marrow jam. For the vegetarians out there, the book also includes several “mock” recipes — for brains, crab, goose, tripe, eggs, mutton, and cream. Ms Farmer said she believed it was important to keep the more classic recipes in the book, even if they would not be made often. “It is a slice of history, it shows you was expected of women in the the 1930s and the kind of food they had access to,” she said.