Depression Days…1929-1937. These were the hungry years.
Could it all happen again?
My parents grew up in the difficult years following the war, when everything – including money – was either scarce or non-existent.
I have often given thanks for the lessons in frugality, which I learned from my parents, who never bought anything if they could make it themselves, or threw anything away if it could possibly be used again.
Survival for a family on a budget can be very difficult, or a vision of life beyond narrow materialism.
We could write poetry about Mum’s soup, great pots of leftover everything boiled up with the bones from Sunday’s hot lunch, plus whatever was available from Dad’s vegetable garden.
I have never been able to equal its flavour.
Recycle Food Safety Tips
Label all leftover food with the date.
Store securely, containers with fitted tops are best.
Keep all left over meat and eggs for only one day after that either freeze it , feed to the worms or throw it out (yikes!).
Never leave meat out overnight even on cold nights.
Cooked Rice, potatoes you can keep for two days.
Even if it doesn’t smell it can still be bad, don’t take chances.
The best way to save left over meat is in a soup, stew or curry or chili and then freeze it.
You can keep it in the freezer for about a month if the temperature is steady.
Remember: When in doubt compost!
Don’t take chances with food.
Be creative with leftovers and compost what you can’t re-use!
Slice and freeze straightaway in single Ziploc bag.
You can toast frozen, and defrosts in minutes.
Using stale bread in salads, where it absorbs dressing in a manner little short of sublime.
Breadcrumbs, livened up with a touch of paprika to dress up turkey or chicken breasts.
Make croutons for soups and salads. Breadcrumbs for stuffing’s, meat loaves and veggie and bean bakes.
The old fashioned bread pudding, bread fritters and Welsh Rabbit (or Rarebit).
Welsh rabbit is what the Welsh housewife fed to her husband when he came home, cold, wet, weary, disappointed and rabbitless.
It is made from staple foods, that she was sure to have in the cottage – beer, cheese and mustard and, of course, bread.
Toast the bread, pour over half an inch of beer into a small saucepan (about two egg size), add mustard and scraps of cheese until a creamy consistency.
There are no hard and fast rules for the amounts.
Some cheese is hard, some soft, just use your judgement.
It has the advantage that you can add more of anything as you go along.
The result is a hot meal from the most unlikely ingredients.
With organic bacon, a good thick slice turns into Devil on Horseback – toast, and a slice of bacon with the ‘rabbit’ poured over it.
An old time recycled recipe is for impossible pie, we have never created the same one twice and have made many, served with a sauerkraut salad or a sweet version.
A easy all in together preparation…
4 eggs + 2 cups milk of choice + 1/2 cup flour + seasoning if desired + dash of organic coconut oil
sweet add – honey + 1 cup coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg
Lovingly beat together for sweet version, stir in additions, pour into lightly oiled pie plate and bake until set for 35 – 40 minutes.
Savory – add any leftover additions eg onion + 1/2 cup grated cheese + chopped herbs, leftover canned fish or seafood combinations or sliced tomatoes, herbs, onion, asparagus, leftover cooked pasta, cheese.
All your leftover veggies and cheese.
We love diced (baked veggies) cooked potato, pumpkin, zucchini.
Add spinach, pasta and cheese.
Everyone knows, these days, that cold pasta should be fried up in a frittata – can also use like the above impossible pie, but omit the flour and pour into muffin tins and bake in oven for approx. 20 minutes.
Leftover pasta baked in a macaroni cheese-style sauce with cheese on the top.
Soggy Vegetables + Leftover Veggies
Vegetables are the most wasted food type, according to the Wrap report, and we certainly suspect that the weekly “unidentifiable scary root vegetable” in all those well-intended vegetable boxes.
Plus veggies are not at their fresh best when bought from supermarkets and green grocers, might be adding to the problem.
Soup is quick to cook and one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, ideal for winter too.
When blending, add a spoonful of Kefir, crème fraiche / yoghurt or coconut milk for a richer soup.
If you’re not in a soup mood for now, simply freeze until you are.
Also for soups, freeze the liquid left over when boiling chicken or turkey. Thaw, add seasonings, for a great stock for soup.
A left over ham bone will keep in the freezer for flavoring a pot of beans.
Left over veggies from the hors d’oeuvres tray?
Throw in a large stockpot or crock pot and make vegetable soup.
The same can be done with cooked veggies, such as corn, green beans or peas.
Any vegetable can be used. Top with kimchi.
Create versions of soup from left overs. You never can repeat for flavor – left over baked pumpkin + stock + grated potato + grated carrot + grated onion + grated beetroot, with a dash of kefir, coconut milk and Himalayan salt.
Use left over cooked veggies from the baked veggie platter + shredded cabbage etc., mix through a white sauce, top with cheese and grill until brown.
Shephard’s Pie – Left over veggies – add to casserole dish, top with tasty sauce, then mashed veg – potato or sweet potato bake until crisp.
Vegetable Rolls – These can mask many veggie sins eg silverbeet stalks. Easy to prepare. Great for finger food entertaining and the kids love ’em.
Thicken with (organic arrowroot / kudzu, etc.) finely chopped, seasoned and sautéed vegetables.
Can also add some sauce to the sautéed vegetables – fruit flavored ketchup + any left over cooked or canned beans are a tasty addition – lentils.
When the mixture has cooled a little, wrap in spring roll skins or filo pastry.
Roast in baking pan with organic coconut oil, turning over so both sides are brown.
Do not let them touch each other in the dish as the sides will stick together and tear away when moved.
Serve with sauerkraut perpetual salad.
Use leftover veggies or lightly steam excess combination of veggies and roll in pancakes with grated cheese.
Leftover Vegetable Pancakes
The pancake batter can be flavoured with garlic and or herbs.
Arrange the veggie rolls in a shallow dish and dot the tops with organic butter, or cover with a tasty sauce.
Heat in a moderate oven.
A good way to use day old fridge rice
Add to veggie soup as a yummy filler.
Makes a thin soup thick and hearty.
Add to meat or veggie loaf.
Reheat with a little additional water.
Add spices and put in tortillas with veggies and beans.
Blend with liquid and optional sweetener of choice for rice milk – 1 cup cooked rice to approx.. 4 cups water.
- Cooked rice + leftover soft breadcrumbs + onion + herbs + tomato + egg + cayenne – blend together.
- Combine leftover cooked rice with leftover soft breadcrumbs (put through food processor) + diced onion + diced organic dried apricots + almonds + seeds + egg + orange juice and rind.
Don’t discard those end pieces of cheese. Grate and freeze in a zipper-style freezer bag.
Use in any recipe calling for the addition of shredded cheese before cooking or baking.
Cottage Cheese Bread
Here’s a recipe for your left-over cottage cheese / kefir.
Mix together equal quantities of cottage cheese (very dry) and flour.
Add honey and raisins or chopped dates for sweetness and some spices like ginger, vanilla powder or cinnamon or poppy seeds.
Knead well as for bread dough.
Form a loaf and bake (tin or tray the same temperature and time as bread.) No rising agent required. The cottage cheese / kefir will do the job.
Those 1/2 full tubs of yogurt. Add to smoothies, baking – cakes, scones, muffins, biscuits, etc.
Add to soups, curries, bean loaf, fruit and nut balls, dips etc.
Traditionally, good quality tuna / salmon / sardines is packed in oil and cooked for several hours in the can.
The resulting “confit” is a remarkably efficient way of preserving an already oily fish. Remove the fish from the tin and keep airtight, preferably under a layer of fresh organic olive oil. Will keep for several days.
Canned tuna / salmon / sardines (Fish 4 Ever – sustainably-fished sardines in organic olive oil).
Create casseroles, add to stir-fry, soups, salads, one-pot meals, omelet fillings, top a baked potato, frittata, impossible pie, fish cakes / patties, noodles, rice, etc.
Fry tomatoes, add vegetables of choice ( grated / cubed carrot, zucchini, corn, squash)
Add a couple of tablespoons of corn meal, slowly pour in milk of choice and stir until thick.
Add canned fish + chopped fresh herbs
Serve with rice
Base …3 cups soft bread crumbs + 1/3 cup orange juice
Filling… pantry fish, drained + celery + capsicum + grated apple + chopped mint
Sauce… 2 tablespoons corn meal (maize) 1/2 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup milk of choice + 3 egg whites
Bring slowly to boil, except the egg whites, simmer ’til thick, add stiffly beaten egg whites
Press combined base into dish..,place combined fillling over base and spread over sauce
Bake ’til set approx. 35 – 40 minutes
Ditto tin baked beans
Never store open beans in the can – organic baked beans without added sugar (sweetened with fruit juice).
Any leftover beans can be made into a bake, omelet, frittata.
In oven-proof dish add beans, grated zucchini + fresh corn from cob
Top with mash (potato / sweet potato or mixed with pumpkin etc)
Bake until crisp
Baked beans + fresh corn + grated cheese + grated zucchini is nice as an omelete filling
There are times when you buy extra food with the intention to make it last for two meals. It is perfectly fine to prepare a large roast on Sunday to serve some cold on Monday.
Make enough for the dinner meal to always have leftovers for the next day lunch or fill school lunch bags.
A thermos of soup or pasta is always tasty for school lunch.
It is a time-saving trick to buy double amount of stewing meat and dish it up as curry the second time round.
A sensible cook would make a cartload of lentil soup and freeze half of it for a quick meal at a later date.
Another time-saving trick is to make extra fruit juice and smoothies and freeze in icy-pole makers for quick nutritious snacks.
With a little creativity, and containers of different sizes with fitted lids, recycling leftovers will save you a lot of time and money.
Containers of leftover food often get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, where they become unrecognizable, or resemble some sort of mutant Chia Pet.
Left over spaghetti sauce freezes well, and makes great sauce for meatballs, lasagne etc.
Turkey & Chicken – there so many leftover recipes for cooked poultry…. sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey pie, turkey casserole, turkey soup – there’s more poultry recipes than Bubba Gump’s shrimp, with a Google search you will find inspiration to reuse !
Worm farms are a great fun way of disposing of veggie food scraps and the worm castings are a fantastic garden fertilizer.
Two Best Friends – Dehydrator + Juice Extractor
The dehydrator is the natural way to preserve.
Ideal when the garden has a surplus or when foods are in season.
The list is endless.
Fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, berries, blossom’s (make your own potpourri), roll-ups that are great for lunch boxes and for snacks.
Juice extractor – masticator that not only juices all excess fruit and veggies, but grates and homogenizes as well as makes nut butters, yummy frozen fruit ice-creams from excess fruit, purees, sauces, baby food, some have grain mill attachments to make your own fresh flour and for cracking grain.
Transform vegetable pulp to gluten-free sauerkraut / kimchi bread and crackers.
The Versatile Scone
Mum became pretty good at baking her own bread, she more often fell back on a stand-by which was popular with us all – – scones.
In the never ending battle to stretch the housekeeping, scones can be a very valuable ally.
Made with flour, they are quick to make, economical, nutritious, and filling.
Served with a good recycled vegetable soup and topped with cheese or peanut butter, they make a satisfying lunch.
Scones can be baked in an oven, or on top of the stove in a heavy based pot with a firm fitting lid.
Although the latter method alters their texture, they are no less enjoyable. Wrapped in foil and buried in the coals of a campfire, scones become damper.
The uncooked dough becomes dumplings when popped on top of a stew or stewed fruit and gently simmered for 15 minutes.
(Don’t lift up the lid during this time or they will go soggy).
In the unlikely event that there are any left over, scones that have lost their first flush of youth are delicious toasted, or can be rejuvenated by steaming for about 15 minutes over boiling water in a pudding basin, just like a steamed pudding, or dipped in milk, wrapped in foil and reheated in a hot oven for a few minutes.
Used instead of bread, leftover scones are lovely in bread and butter custard. Crumbled and rubbed with a little butter they make a beauty topping for casseroles.
Add a little honey and coconut, spread on top of stewed fruit (recycled fruit) and bake until the crumbs are golden.
Old fashioned bread pudding is improved when the bread crumbs are replaced with crumbled stale scones.
Mum didn’t use a written recipe, just two or three cups of self raising flour, depending on the number of hungry tummies she had to fill, a knob of butter about the size of a walnut shell rubbed into the flour, pinch of salt and milk to mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board, gently roll the dough about in a ball until it is coated with flour, then press out with floured hands until 1 1/2 cm (5/8 in) thick and cut as desired, handling the scones as little as possible.
Mum cuddled them up together on a greased tray and baked them in a very hot oven (about 250 C / 480 F) for ten or fifteen minutes.
You can add a tablespoon of sugar /organic icing sugar and a couple of handfuls of organic dried fruit if you like them sweet, or perhaps stir in some grated cheese and herbs from the garden, a great way to reuse herbs if you bought a big bunch from the farmers market.
2 cups mashed pumpkin
2 cups qinioa flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup sourdough starter
2/3 cup rapadura sugar
75 gm coconut oil / butter
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg combined
To 2 cups of cooled mashed pumpkin, add the sourdough starter, the vanilla, the molasses, and the spices.
Sift the flours, sugar, salt and powders into a bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces, and rub into the flour mix until it somewhat resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in the mashed pumpkin, do not mix too much, just enough to fully wet the dry ingredients.
The batter will be stiff, but liquid.
Unlike some scones where the dough is formed into a cake and cut, these scones are smoothed onto an oiled baking tray, or into an oiled muffin tin. With the scones on the tray, put the tray in the freezer, and turn the oven on to 210 C (400-ish F).
When the oven has reached the desired temperature, cook the scones for 20-25 minutes.
Cool briefly on a wire rack, then serve with cultured butter, kefir crème fraiche and chia jam.
Even though pumpkin stores well, a few jars of lacto-fermented pumpkin, spice + pumpkin skin, never goes astray!
Other Recycled Feasts
If you like marmalade with your scones you may like to try Mum’s recipe using only the peel of your oranges or citrus fruit.
It is a nice firm marmalade and won’t run down your sleeve when you try to eat it.
Or perhaps you would like to try making a Boston bun, using leftover mashed potato.
This is OK if you have mashed the potato with milk and butter / oil, but not if you have used onion, herbs and pepper.
Use your leftover bread with Mum’s yummy asparagus and corn creation.
Orange Peel Marmalade
Before you eat your orange, scrub the skin clean, then peel and store the peel in the refrigerator in a closed container until you have the skins of about eight or nine oranges.
Shred the skins finely with a sharp knife then measure the quantity.
For every cup of finely cut, tightly packed orange peel, allow 3 cups of water, then add 1 finely cut lemon.
Put it all in a large bowl and allow to stand for 12 hours.
Transfer to a large pan and boil for half an hour, then leave to stand for a further 12 hours.
Measure by cup. For every cup of pulp, allow one cup of sugar.
Bring to the boil gently so as not to burn the sugar.
Gently stir now and again with a wooden spoon.
When the marmalade comes to the boil, keep it boiling at a gently roll.
After about half an hour start testing every ten minutes or so, by taking a little out of the pan and dropping onto a cold saucer.
When ready the cooled tester will be like honey.
This is my Mum’s recipe, I would experiment with fruit juice and honey instead of sugar – eight orange skins will make about 3 cups of sliced peel and use about 2 kg (4 1/2 lb.) of sugar.
The watermelon seed can be salted, baked and eaten as a snack.
Grind it into a flour or make a paste and use as a thickener in stews, sauces and soups.
Watermelon seeds can be mixed with other flour in baked goods.
They can be crushed, with boiling water poured over and made into a tea. Ground up melon seeds are also used in the traditional version of horchata de melon, if you don’t like the consistency you can strain the liquid.
Watermelon and banana skin is deelish fermented in sauerkraut and scrap vinegar adds wow to kitchen recipes and for spring cleaning.
Cores and peels from 6-8 (preferably) organic apples (color not important)
2 tbsp. organic sugar or raw honey
filtered water to cover
Method – After drying apples, made apple muffins or fruit salad etc., place the cores and peels in a large, wide-mouthed jar.
Cover the scraps with water and stir in sugar or honey.
Place a paper towel or muslin cloth on top of jar, and secure with a band.
Let the mixture sit for 2 weeks at room temperature, then strain out the liquid.
Discard the solids. (compost or worm farm.)
Return the liquid to jar Add mother of vinegar.
Cover again with breathable cloth and band.
Leave for 4 more weeks, stirring daily.
Transfer to a bottle with a lid for storage.
If not to taste, leave in the wide-mouthed jar for a little while longer, checking every few days.
Potato Boston Bun
Beat 1/2 cup mashed potato with 1/2 cup honey, add 1/2 cup organic dried fruit, then add 1 cup SR flour (or flour of choice), alternately with 1/2 cup milk.
Bake in an 18 cm (7 in) sandwich pan in a moderate oven (180 C /350 F) for thirty minutes.
If you double the recipe and use two tins, it will still only take thirty minutes to cook.
Test it like any other cake with a long skewer, or gently press the top with your finger.
If it springs back it should be done.
You can spread the top with a little frosting and sprinkle with coconut. Serve with fruit spread if desired.
Mum’s Asparagus & Corn Creation
Trim crusts from bread and lighlty oil / butter.
Place oiled side down in oblong dish, sprinkle over grated cheese.
Arrange layers of asparagus spears, corn, chopped shallots.
Top with mixture of 4 eggs + 1 cup of milk + teaspoon mustard, seasoning if desired.
Sprinkle with grated cheese, bake until set – 40 minutes.
Can be prepared the day before and kept in the refrigerator ready to cook.
Serve with perpetual sauerkraut salad.
Combine grated veggies or leftover cooked baked veggies and meat, and onion.
Zucchini + the flowers + corn + herbs + goats cheese are our favorite fritter combination.
Although I fondly remember Mum’s banana fritters and the corn meat fritters that followed from Sundays hot lunch for the leftover evening meal and the next day lunch as well!
400g small to medium zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow, and 1 or 2 zucchini flowers if available
1 freshly picked corn cob
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint and parsley. If you’ve washed the herbs, make sure they are quite dry before cutting them
½ cup cheese, chopped coarsely.
We use our own marinated kefir cheese because its easy to keep a jar in the fridge but you could use a piece of fetta or grated cheese
½ cup plain flour
1 egg, beaten
freshly ground pepper
organic coconut oil for frying
Coarsely grate the zucchini without peeling it (the flecks of skin add texture and color).
Mix about ½ a teaspoon of sea salt into the zucchini and place it in a colander that you sit over a bowl for about half an hour.
The zucchini will expel quite a lot of liquid and this stops the fritters becoming too watery.
Discard the liquid.
Carefully peel the corn cob removing all of the silky threads and cut off the base so that it can stand flat on the table.
Stand the corn cob on its base then, using a sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels from the cob.
Twist the cob and repeat until most of the kernels have been removed.
Warm about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan.
Add the kernels and cook them for a few minutes, turning them all the time. They should quickly caramelize.
Be careful. They might start to pop. Remove from the pan and allow to cool a little.
When you’re ready to make the fritters, squeeze the grated zucchini gently to remove excess fritters.
Put the zucchini in a clean tea towel and roll it up.
Twist both ends in opposite directions (it’s easier if two people do this) to remove more liquid.
Now it should be quite dry. Add it to a clean bowl.
Add the corn, cheese, the chopped fresh herbs, chopped zucchini flower if using, and the egg.
Stir the mixture gently to combine.
It’s a flexible recipe.
Alone, or with a simple mint and kefir raita and a few slices of ripe tomatoes or with slow-roasted tomatoes, it would make a great breakfast. With sauerkraut salad, it can easily become a light lunch or dinner.
Marinated cheese is excellent for its storage time in the fridge.
Devine in salads accompanied with the oil for a salad dressing.
The cheese blended with avocado, garlic and a touch of lemon juice and rind, for a very tasty dip.
Marinated goats cheese is tasty added to impossible pies and quiches.
The garden herb harvest – salted and stored for when the herbs are not available.
Old fashioned Bread Pudding
A great tasty Grandma’s favourite way to use up old bread – even the fruit varieties of bread is nice.
Remove crusts from old bread, cut into triangles, lightly oil or butter.
Mix milk of choice, vanilla, honey, small amount of oil, sultanas, cinnamon, eggs.
Pour on top of bread and sultanas, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake in a camp oven.
Economy Pudding – from an old wartime magazine
170 g (6 oz.) SR flour
125 g (4 oz.) each grated raw carrot and potato
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup dried fruit
60 g (2 oz.) butter (or your choice)
3 tablespoons sugar (or your choice of sweetener) optional
Cream butter and sugar, add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Add a little water to make a stiff dropping consistency.
Steam for two hours.
The original recipe did not use sugar, as it was very scarce during the war (would make me happy, as I don’t use sugar in our cooking, which intrigues my Mum. I don’t measure and create cakes that we just throw everything in and have never had a failure and have created many masterpieces).
According to the magazine, grated potato can be used to take place of butter, which was also very scarce.
The suggested quantity to use as a substitute is half the recommended quantity of shortening to be replaced by the same weight of grated potato.
From what my parents told me, hard times can be faced and overcome if there is a positive, happy attitude in the family.
Simple pleasures, simple food well prepared, more time spent on people than things.
Mum’s ability to rise above the occasion stemmed from thick soups (for example, barley, vegetable and dumpling), lots of singing, reading, gardening and keeping chickens and keeping busy.
Nothing was wasted.
Old clothes were turned into blanket-like things Mother called ‘Waggas’. These she made from corn bags opened out, stitched together, padded with worn out clothes, quilted and finally bound with floral material. Likewise, sugar bags were unpicked, and edged with floral scraps to become aprons, bath mats and foot towels. Vera Deacon in Depression Down Under, 1977.
The best way to avoid so much wastage in our food is to plan a weekly menu and set aside a couple of hours and prepare, like grandma did. Aww, the week runs so smooth.
Buy bulk organic rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, pasta, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, flours, coconut – share and split the cost with friends.
Adapt recipes to suit the budget and contents of the pantry.
Store fresh herbs, eggs, sprouts, garlic, ginger, veg and fruit properly to prevent father time with a quicker spoilage.
Love to ferment – always have a store of relish, Sauerkraut, Kim Chi,
Water & Milk Kefir and Kombucha + more!
Storing a few basic essentials in the pantry can make it quick and easy to create all kinds of wonderful creations.
More expensive items can be stretched out, if you don’t have a supply of dehydrated tomatoes, sun-dried organic tomatoes may seem expensive, but will go a long way and good to have a supply for when fresh is not as available.
Jazz up a pizza base or pasta sauce or sparingly add to pesto for salads, pasta or grain creations.
Canned – fish – sustainably-fished sardines in organic olive oil (great mashed on toast fingers), salmon.
Beans – there are varieties of certified organic beans packaged in enamel-lined lead-free tins. A range of already prepared bean dishes. This is a much more expensive way of buying beans, good for pantry stand-bys.
Try adding extra veggies, cooked potato and pumpkin etc. or pasta.
Organic canned soups are a good stand-by for a flavor-base for pasta sauces and veggie casseroles.
Organic taco shells, a good quick and a favourite stand-by.
Jars – organic nut butters, tahini, honey, fruit spreads, peanut butter, tamari, coconut oil.
Buy honey, tahini, tamari and coconut oil in bulk and refill the containers.
Extras – miso, ground herbs, vanilla, milk of choice.
Until recently home preserving of home-grown and produced food was common and the careful housewife would have a pantry or store-room with a wide variety of goods lined up on the shelves.
The positive aspects of keeping food include saving money, self-reliance, security, quality and an antidote to a monotonous diet.
When you have a basic stock of food on hand, you have a hedge against inflation and a safeguard against any food supply crisis, caused by a breakdown in sources of supply or distribution.
Some foods, like pumpkins, store well enough naturally. Although they are very tasty fermented into gut loving goodness!!
Tender, “short-lived” foods like peas, cucumber and asparagus should be bottled, frozen, pickled and lacto-fermented. By adding fermented food to your diet, you will boost your immunity. Giving you an extra benefit that you will not only feel better, but save money on doctor visits.
Others are best dried. It’s easy enough to see that preserving home-grown fruit and vegetables (or food bought from the local farmers market) makes sense and saves you money.
Here’s to a good growing summer, a happy preserving autumn and a well-fed winter!
Food like Grandma made
Jean Hewitt was born in England, but lived in the United States, where she was in charge of the New York Times test kitchen and wrote for newspaper’s women’s page and the Sunday magazine.
The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, Jeap Hewitt, Souvenir Press, London, 1972.
“Around the turn of the century”, says Jean Hewitt in the preface to this book, “before the advent of large-scale mechanised farming and modern food production methods, people took the special pleasures of fresh, natural and unrefined foods for granted”.
“At least once a week the fragrance of bread baking filled the house … farm animals were allowed to roam and develop without man’s interference …
“Sacks and barrels at the general store were filled with unrefined and unprocessed ingredients that had short shelf-life, but lots of flavour”.
Grandma’s day may be gone forever, but the 700 recipes selected by Jean Hewitt made it easier to recapture the goodness and real flavour of the old-time style of cooking.
The recipes call for basic, fresh, unrefined and “non-highly-processed” ingredients.
A comprehensive section on bread baking, with dozens of different loaves, muffins and pancakes. Chapters cover fully yoghurt making, growing bean sprouts, preserves, grains and cereals as well as the more expected soups, poultry, fish and vegetarian dishes.
Jean Hewitt made no claims for natural and organic eating as miracle cures for any diseases or condition.
“The emphasis is on the flavour potential and nutritional value of the ingredients,” she says, “And not on any specific benefits that may be attributed to them”.
Thanks to my parent’s- Annette & Stan Stein, for the inspiration for this article.
From their productive chook yard and veggie garden.
Fruit trees from which Mum churned out endless bottles of lemon butter, marmalade and chutney.
A store room with shelves full of fruit leathers, dried fruit and preserved vegetables.
The Freegans would be proud of my Mum, who made jam from the pie melons that grew wild in the paddocks. Fish soup was made from cod heads. Everybody did their own shoe or boot repairs – a boot last (a model for shaping the shoe) was a necessity.
No one could accuse my parent’s of polluting the atmosphere or poisoning the soil. Plastics were unavailable, the only fertilisers used were the natural waste products from the chooks and animals.
All paper was salvaged, some to be cut into little squares to serve as toilet paper and the rest as an underlay for floor coverings. Made interesting reading, many years later when floor coverings were replaced.
The chooks and dogs cleaned up any table scraps and the smaller bones were chopped up to be used in the bottom of the tins which plants were grown in. A rubbish dump was hardly necessary.
Times were indeed hard, but in retrospect, little damage was caused to the environment.
Perhaps another Depression wouldn’t be such a bad thing in some ways
Goods would have to be recycled.
It would be a case of survival at all costs.
A throw-away, speed & greed society would be a thing of the past.
“Conspicuous consumption” is insidious – it creeps up on you before you know it you’re hooked, but it’s a habit than can be kicked – with a change of attitude.
Love & bacteria,