Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cutting Corners

So many people today are talking about cutting back on everything because of the economy. I saw this unique segment on GMA last week about a lady named Clara who has videos on YouTube demonstrating how to fix some of the meals she used to fix during the Depression. You can view one of themHERE. Her nephew or grandson does the videoing. I'm not able to watch them because I don't have high speed internet, but I have done a search on depression-era cooking and have been amazed at how much info is out there.
First, let me say, that I was not even born when the depression was going on. Nevertheless, our family lived modestly. My mother did not work outside of our home. Dad was a plumber and had his own business. By that I mean, he had a van with all of his tools in it and he worked by himself. He didn't have a "crew" that worked for him. He left each morning at 8am and arrived back home at 5pm on the dot! He didn't work evenings or weekends. Oh, occasionally, he might have worked a half-day of Saturdays, but I believe my dad realized the importance of being home with his family in the evening and on weekends. We never felt deprived as children. We had eachother and were content with what we had. Now, what was I going to say? Oh yes, I remember.......*smile*.......
One dish that I remember eating alot of when I was a little girl is what my mom called Stewed Potatoes. Ed and I still love them. So does Daniel and I believe Erin has had them here a time or two.
To fix them, you just peel and slice as many potatoes as you think you'll need. Cover them with water in a kettle. I usually fix mine in a 2qt. saucepan. Drop in 2 or three slices of raw bacon, then bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let them cook until tender. You might want to push the bacon down into the potatoes a little. Once the potatoes are done, just serve them, along with the broth. We usually mash them up with our fork and have them with cornbread and butter. I like my potatoes and broth OVER the cornbread and slathered with butter. I don't salt the potatoes as they are cooking, though you could. We each prefer to salt and pepper them ourselves, the way we like them.
If you are fixing a larger quantity of potatoes for a bigger family, you would want to increase the amount of bacon that you are using also.
It's amazing how much flavor the bacon adds to the potatoes and water!
Another memory that I have is remembering how we used to have green beans and corn to eat so much of the time. Well, as I got older, I was wondering why we hadn't had green beans and corn to eat for awhile, so I asked mom why, because I loooooved green beans and corn. (I still do!) Mom told me, a bit wistfully, that the reason we had eaten them so much when I was a little girl was because much of the time that was all that we had to eat. And I hadn't even realized it! That's because my mother always set a pretty table and made the most of what we did have to eat, I'm sure. Ed and I still love green beans and corn and I fix them fairly often with lots of bacon for flavoring! *smile* And sometimes I will cube some potatoes and add them.
Mondays were wash days for my Mom. While dad was at work and we kids were at school, Mom would do the weekly washing. Then, on Tuesday, she would do the ironing, which had been dampened, rolled, and put in an old basket that had been lined with a doubled sheet. The rolled up clothes were wrapped snuggly in this sheet so they would not dry out. This was done because we didn't have permanent press clothes back then or steam irons or spray starch! *smile*
Because she would be ironing most of the day, Mom always cooked a big kettle of beans on Tuesday. We knew, without fail, that we would be having beans and cornbread for supper on Tuesdays! Mom made her cornbread out of white cornmeal. She baked it in a big black iron skillet and I can remember her melting bacon drippings and pouring them right into the cornbread batter and hearing the sizzle. *smile* Sometimes she would make what we called "potpie", cut it in squares and cook it in the beans. She only put this in pinto or cranberry beans. We loved it!!! And it seemed like there was never enough! Mom's "potpie" was made of flour, salt, and shortening/lard with a little water added. She didn't measure anything. *smile* I've made it a few times over the years and still love it!
One last memory, lest I make this post tooooo long. I don't remember having many cookies, cakes or pies, but I do remember having home-canned fruit alot. Mom would serve raspberries with sugar on them in a pretty bowl. The raspberries would be served to us in these pretty little dessert dishes and we would pour milk or cream over them. Yum!!! And, after the raspberries were gone, we would drink the "purple milk" with great relish! *smile* And if it wasn't raspberries we were having, it might be peaches or strawberries or pears.
Though we didn't have alot of material things growing up, supper was always a special time of day for each of us in our family. My dad was home by five o'clock every evening, just like clock-work. We sat down at the table together. We each had our place at the table (mine was right between mom and dad????) and we would share the goings-on of our day. I endeavored to do this same thing when we were raising Daniel. Dinner-time is such an important time for families to share together. I am thankful that my parents were diligent about all of us sitting down to supper. We have some wonderful memories.

Do you have special mealtime memories from when you were a child or even now with your children and family?


Denise said...

This was a great post, thanks for sharing.

Jewel said...

You are welcome Denise! Hope you are feeling better!!

Theresa said...

I loved your post!

I don't have any great memories of meals as a kid (my mother was only a cook because she had to, not because she was good at it or liked to do it!), but I do have great memories of the messes that I had to help my dad clean up so that my step-mom wouldn't kill us!

As a mom, my favorite meals were breakfast for supper! I LOVED watching my family dig into hot cinnamon/brown sugar oats and cinnamon toast or scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and toast! They still like it when I serve breakfast foods for a family dinner.

Jewel said...

Thanks, Theresa! Ed and I just finished eating breakfast for lunch! We love breakfast anytime.

Barbara H. said...

I enjoyed these! I remember my mom and grandmother ironing that way (rolling up the dampened items). I am so glad for permanent press and steam irons!

Jewel said...

Oh, me, too, Barbara, on the permanent press and steam irons AND spray starch! *smile*