These two pages are most interesting in terms of dating my grandmother’s notebook, and reveal that grandma was making notes in here well before December 1957 as I had earlier assumed.
On the first page, you’ll notice notations made at at least three or four different points in time: the original recipe in blue-black ball point pen, revisions and the date of this recipe in pencil (I’m not sure what the pencilled numbers represent), then in blue ball point pen ink, going over the pencilled date as well as a “P.T.O” note (referring to the second page on Rose Syrup), and finally a half-dried out pink felt pen used to underline the title. The same blue ball point pen has been used to write part of the second Rose Syrup recipe, and the same pink marker to highlight this recipe as well.
The first page gives the full recipe, and the second provides the recipe in two alternative quantities. You can tell which version my grandmother preferred from the pink markings :).
My memories of rose syrup go back to the visits I used to make to my great-grandmother (grandma Nice’s mother) before she passed away when I was six years old. Each time, I was inevitably given a drink of rose syrup in cold water, I don’t remember ever drinking anything else in her home :). I seem to recall the commercially-packaged bottle of rose syrup, so I doubt it was a homemade version as in this recipe.
These days rose syrup isn’t a common household drink anymore, with modern kitchens taken over by commercial ‘fresh’ fruit juices and soft drinks. However, rose syrup is still familiar to us in the form of Bandung, which is rose syrup in milk, and commonly sold at hawker centres.
Cochineal is a red food dye obtained from the cochineal insect. Although it is a natural colouring that has been used for centuries (spreading out from cochineal’s native South and Central America via colonial routes) and is still the main source of red colourings in today’s food industry, cochineal has been found to cause a range of allergic reactions in some people, from simple itching skin to life-threatening anaphylatic shock.