A PIECE and chips on a Sunday night…the smell of mince and tatties in the close…and those awful school dinners...

On a sunny afternoon in her Castlemilk garden, Bridget Crossan is remembering happy times with family and friends. These are stories that make you laugh out loud, that can bring a tear to your eye, and food is always the essential ingredient.

“Food brings people together,” she smiles. “I can still remember sitting round the table squabbling with my brothers and sisters, and my dad saying ‘who ate ma ootsider?’ or ‘yer no movin’ until ye eat aw that’.

“Food made those memories.”

Glasgow Times: Bridget Crossan with the Castlemilk Cooks Up Memories book of recipes, memories and banter

During lockdown, Bridget came up with the idea of sharing her recipes for tasty, home-cooked meals that could be prepared on a budget with the local community.

“Especially in the last year, people are cooking more at home, and trying to find ways of saving money," she explains.

"Paddy McKenna at Cassiltoun Housing Association told me about the Castlemilk Wellbeing Community Chest Fund, which was looking for local projects to fund.

“They wanted ideas for things that would help people, and Paddy talked me into sharing mine.”

Glasgow Times: Castlemilk under construction. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

Supported by the housing association, People’s Postcode Lottery, Impact funding and Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, a Facebook page was set up, and suddenly, people from across the whole Castlemilk community – and beyond - were getting involved.

“It was amazing,” marvels Bridget. “We had people getting in touch from John o’Groats, London, Australia and Benidorm.

“I couldn’t believe it. Now we have more than 700 members on the page, from all over the world.”

People shared recipes and stories of their own Castlemilk upbringings. There were so many, the idea of a booklet that could be distributed free around the community was born – and suddenly it grew arms and legs.

“Hugh McCue from Nemo Arts helped us get the idea off the ground, and for 12 weeks me and Sharon Richford, Susan Casey, Ashley Jane McNaughton, Cath Milligan and John Bailey worked together to make it happen,” says Bridget.

“It was a lot of fun planning and sharing stories.”

The result is Castlemilk Cooks Up Memories: The Wee Book of Recipes, Memories and Banter, and it’s more of a glossy book than a booklet, bursting with fantastic recipes for everything from stovies to chicken lasagne.

Contributors have shared their food memories too, and it is a lovely mix of moving and hilarious tales from through the decades.

All of Castlemilk life is in there – the number 37 bus to Glasgow Cross, St Dominic’s school dinners, The Looking Glass, sledging at the Golfey, hot chocolate at the swimming baths and much more.

Katie Milligan wrote: “Shut your eyes and think of walking up your close after school…you were probably starving because the dinner school had spaghetti pie and pink custard on the menu.

“No. I’m wrang, there wasn’t a menu – it was take or leave it…whatever eejit thought of putting tinned spaghetti on pastry and slinging it in the oven for hungry weans?”

Sharon Richford’s Scotch Broth brought back touching memories of childhood friendship.

“Our friendship was bonded with this soup – I asked you to mines for dinner and you jumped at the chance,” she writes. “You threw your schoolbag in the door..then we held hands and skipped all the way to mines, no’ a care in the world….”

Bridget included a funny tale from her childhood.

“A treat was chips from the chip van, to make pieces,” she explains. “One night, my mum was buttering the bread and the bulb went out in the kitchen.

“She kept going, but when we started to eat, it was disgusting….not being able to see properly, she had used lard instead of butter on the bread.”

She laughs: “The moral of the story is – never make pieces in the dark…”

Bridget grew up in Castlemilk, where her dad, Archie was a bus driver and then a porter at the Western Infirmary.

Her mum, also Bridget, ‘lived her life in the kitchen.’

“It was hard, especially with so many people to feed,” she says. “I learned cooking from her, I would watch her a lot.

“When I had my own family, I realised the way I cooked and budgeted had all come from my childhood.”

Bridget and husband James have three grown up children – Ashleigh, 29, Charles, 26 and Jennifer, 22.

READ MORE: I Grew Up in Glasgow: 'I met Jean at the Majestic but was too shy to ask her out'

“They are all really happy the book has taken off,” smiles Bridget. “It all feels a bit surreal.

“I try to put up a new recipe on the Facebook page every few days, and we’re still getting lots of people chatting and sharing their own.

“Everybody loves a good gab in Castlemilk, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m sad the area has sometimes had a bad reputation in the past, because it’s not true.

“Castlemilk is the best community in the world.”