Thursday, August 30, 2012

Now and Then...

With the expected rise in food prices am not quite sure how to deal with this. Should we eat less meat, and other carbos that don't contain wheat products, or should I stock up now to keep us going through the next 12 months? As far as meat is concerned think I will 'bulk buy' now, especially chicken (as this is expected to rise in price due to cost of chicken feed also rising).

Your query Cheesepare (and good to have you back with us again), re the wartime rations v living on £1 a day (at today's prices). Think even though during wartime food was minimal, it was 'eked' out by a lot of D.I.Y and we did seem to have three meals a day (but never any snacks inbetween). For one thing everyone who had even a small garden would 'dig for victory' even uprooting front lawns to grow veggies as -although these were not 'on ration' -they were very hard to obtain as farms had to grow what the government told them to: wheat, potatoes, etc, and not a lot else. Onions were so scarce that one large onion would be given as first prize in a raffle, and whoever won was often offered a lot of money for it!!!

Although in those days everything eaten was 'organic', when it came to the 'manufactured' the quality was pretty poor. Only one type of bread - the 'National Loaf' was on sale and that was really grey in colour, not at all like the white bread we can buy today, it didn't even taste nice. Cheese was mainly 'mouse-trap', and only about an inch cube of that allowed per person per week. Meat was sold by price, not weight and think this was about 1/6p worth per person a week (not sure what the equivalent is in today's money), this being about 1lb for the week if it was a cheaper cut, and perhaps one small chop or tiny steak (and only this) if a more expensive cut. Obviously the cheaper cuts that needed longer cooking were the one's sought after, but the butcher himself would be rationed, and it was always the case of first come, first served and if people didn't start queueing early enough (queues at meat and fish shops could be 100's yards long), then only scrag end would be left, and only that if lucky. Unless of course the butcher had favourite customers' (reasons why are best left unmentioned) where a pack of meat or sausages would be hidden under the counter to be given 'later' in return for who knows what!

Goodness knows what went into making sausages, probably a lot of rusk (dried bread) as they used to explode when fried, this is where the name 'bangers' came from. My mother was convinced she bought some made from rodents when she found a rats tooth in one. Offal was off ration, but again in short supply, but practically all of the animal that could be eaten, was. Even bits we wouldn't think about touching today.

Believe that horsemeat was also sold to be eaten by humans (this always has been eaten and probably still is in France). Fish was in very short supply as all the fishermen went to war, and the bigger boats were used for other purposes. People who lived around the coast were the luckiest as they could go out in their small boats to catch fish, but with petrol being rationed, it was almost impossible to get fresh fish brought to the centre of the country. Some was 'imported' like whale meat and something that tasted awful called 'snoek' (perhaps the same thing). My dad occasionally used to go to a lake or river to try and catch some fresh fish. Even that was scarce as I expect most of the fish had been caught by others.

The RNLI shop is not a 'charity shop' as we know it Les. They sell new products (Christmas cards, jars of preserves and pickles, pens, toys, jigsaws, some books, the usual things visitors buy at seaside resorts. All profits go to the RNLI who don't get any funding other than donations from the public, fund-raising and what profits they make at their shops. There are two RNLI shops in Morecambe, housed where the lifeboat is kept, the one B works in has the more advanced type of lifeboat, and it is surprising how often this is called out to rescue people who are walking on the sands and caught by the very speedy incoming tide (comes in faster than walking pace, fascinating to watch).
The RNLI 'sailors' are people who work in normal jobs, they have little gadgets they wear so that this lets them know when they are needed urgently to man the lifeboat/s, and then they drop down tools and race off to the boat station and usually there within a very few minutes.

When we used to holiday in Sheringham a 'maroon' or 'cannon' was set off to let the local fisherman (who used to man the lifeboat) know they were needed like NOW! We would see them running, cycling along the front to the lifeboat and then watch it being launched. Perhaps this is still done, or maybe the lifeboat men now also wear these new 'bleepers'.

Hope you manage to make the Halloumi successfully Sarina, let us know how you get on. The Indian 'paneer' is made in a similar way, this time using (I think) lemon juice and yogurt.
In all honesty, the easiest way to make any soft cheese is just drain yogurt through kitchen paper (J cloths work well) or muslin for a few hours. The longer it drains the thicker the 'soft cheese' becomes.
Have myself thought it would be worth draining a fruit flavoured yogurt so that this could then be used as the base for a sweet dish, such as cheesecake.

It was good to meet up with you the other day Eileen, and pleased your hospital trip went well. Did you get the results then, or having to wait for them? I was delighted with the dried (and also crispy) onions you brought as a gift for me. Thank you so much. What was even better was that I was able to offer some of my jam, marmalade et al from my larder shelves in return for your favour, so hope you have already 'had a taste'. This is something we could all consider doing - 'bartering'. So often, if we live alone it seems not worth making anything in bulk (biscuits etc), even just one cake, but if we know someone who will 'share' what they make, they both can benefit.
For that matter it doesn't have to be home-made. At one time I used to take a friend (who had no car) to the supermarket with me and we would 'share' loads of things. We would choose the largest cauliflower (all sold at the same price), the largest lettuce, stick of celery etc, then when home divide it in two. We would then pay half price to one who paid in full for it. My spare BOGOF (maybe a bag of potatoes) would be given to my friend, and my friend would give me her different BOGOF (worth roughly about the same in price, but the price didn't really matter). We would end up with much the same amount of food as originally wanted, but this ended up working out at far lower price. Also we were never left with 'having too much' of anything. We would even split bulk packs of sugar, or the cheaper (offer) 4-(or 6)packs of (say) canned tomatoes, or tuna etc. Even packs of biscuits could be halved.
Sounds a bit OTT I suppose, but this way we managed to afford a few (shared) 'treats' that we probably would never have bought when shopping alone.

Although this is still 'officially' summer, it often doesn't feel like it. Apparently this is the worst (and wettest) summer we have had for over 100 years. Yesterday was a bit odd weatherwise. It was fairly sunny in the morning, then suddenly changed at mid-day when we had quite a bit thunderstorm, then the sun came back.
Last night it seemed to rain solidly, but awoke to blue skies and sunshine, and now we are again covered with rain-bearing clouds. Still very windy.

Decided yesterday to make a casserole for B's supper, not really the right dish for 'summer' but using pre-cooked meat thawed from the freezer, it was just a matter of cooking some carrots and potatoes, then frying some onion in a pan, adding the meat, gravy and the veg, then letting it simmer over very low heat until B was ready for his supper.
Couldn't find any cooked beef (other than already make up into chilli con carne, spag.bol meat sauce etc), so thawed out some cooked chunks of venison.
Once in the pan with the (above mentioned veggies) threw on top some finely shredded white cabbage (it needed using up), so it would steam once the lid was on. This worked well and as I seemed to have made a lot, decided to eat some before B returned home and really loved it. Certainly a casserole (or stew) is real 'comfort food', and it certainly gave me a feeling of inner warmth. After B had eaten his he said it was really lovely. Perhaps because of the venison as this does have a deeper and richer flavour than beef.

Had added Bisto Best gravy granules to the venison 'stock' (had frozen the cooked meat in some its own cooking liquid), and this thickened it beautifully, but discovered when I went to serve myself, this had 'unthickened' itself, and remembered this usually happens when 'gravy and sauce thickening' has been used. Cornflour always does this - fine when used to thicken for about 15 minutes, but after than breaks down to 'thin' again. Ordinary plain flour tends to hold up better, but worth remembering that if wishing to thicken a gravy (especially when using anything cornflour based), best done later than earlier.

Today have to defrost our small chest freezer. It shouldn't have needed doing, but B discovered a tub of ice-cream I'd hidden in there (he is not supposed to even go in the chest freezer - used to keep only 'back-up' stock - but so afraid he's missing something he keeps snooping). Trouble is, when he opens the drawer the ice-cream is kept in he doesn't push it back evenly and one end sticks out a bit, this then prevents the door shutting as tightly as it should. Over the past few days, and unbeknown to me, he has been helping himself to the 'back-up' ice-cream, and each time obviously didn't push the drawer back as I discovered yesterday when it was noticed, although I didn't know at the time B had even found the ice-cream, let alone eaten most of it.
Do other wives/mothers have partners/children who feel that all food bought is for their personal use and just help themselves without even bothering to ask if they may?
My B's excuse when I keep discovering many empty jars and containers on shelves in fridge and freezer is "well I've left you some haven't I?", as if one teaspoon is considered a portion. Perhaps I should buy a tub of ice-cream and eat it myself just leaving one spoonful in a corner for B.

There really is no need for me to constantly grumble, all I have to do is divide foods we both enjoy, then mark my portion (more a third than half) with 'mustn't touch'. But then I've always been brought up with the belief that 'share and share alike' is how we should live. 'Crumbs from my master's table' seems to be more the case now.
My B does like to have 'the best' (suppose most of us do if truth be told) and will squeeze every tomato in a dish to find the one that suits him best (bruising the rest as he goes), he will reach over to the other side of a huge plate of cream cakes (when invited out) to take the largest (again I was taught it is better mannered to take the cake nearest to me whether I wanted it or not) , and when it comes to me making a bowl of mixed fresh fruit salad and I ask B to leave some for me, find he has taken all the best fruits, leaving me with mostly apple and - if lucky - half a strawberry! As I said, there is a solution. I just don't like to have to use it.

One cannot blame anyone for doing something they have been allowed to do most of their adult life, and with B there is an excuse why he does this. He - being the youngest of a very large family, mostly hungry boys - always ended up with 'the leavings' after his siblings had taken the best. Being wartime too didn't help although have to say the more ration books the better as with today, food goes much further when cooking for a large family than small amounts when cooking for just one or two. In B's case his grandparents also lived in one room in the same (small) house, and during the war there were at least four children (two were old enough to go to war), as well as his parent living there - that made eight. Ten in total.
Imagine what that would have been like. No bathroom, an outside loo, bathing had to be done in a tin bath in front of the fire with behind a clothes horse draped with towels for modesty. Definitely B deserves all the luxuries he has now, and that includes ice-cream. I was just being thoughtless when I had my 'moan'. I'll make him a specially nice supper tonight to make up for it.

Have thought long and hard about having a 'veggie box' delivered and now that I've seen an ad by Riverford with an offer on their 'trial box', think I'll have a go. At one time this company didn't deliver in the area we live, but on checking now discover they do. As I'll be getting £12.85p of organic veggies for £5.99p, definitely worth trying. If I like what is delivered, then maybe will continue to order. As ever, all purchases depend on whether I can afford it or not.
Normally with a bit of juggling with other 'edibles', usually find it is possible to have what I want, when I want it, although 'juggling' is an ongoing thing these days, almost turning into an 'art form'. But it makes cooking a lot more interesting.

The iron pills have certainly given me a new lease of life, no longer do I feel tired, and don't feel quite so chilly either when sitting in the living room. Have also gained a bit more appetite (although not sure if that is a good thing, as don't wish to pile the pounds back on again), but at least much improved from this time last week.

Have quite a bit to do today, so will take my leave and hope you all manage to enjoy your day, especially those of you who are on holiday and managing to avoid the rain. Often envy the people who live in the larger continents as they seem to have much more settled and warm/hot weather during their summers. But on seeing the hurricane 'Isaac' heading towards New Orleans again, perhaps we are better off living on a small island, despite us having worse summers and quite a lot of rain. It could be so much worse. Hope you miss the worst of the hurricane Lisa. Let us know. TTFN.

I will shortly be checking out what food was allocated to each person during the war, and then list them on this site so we can compare 'then and now' prices. Also I suggest everyone put their weeks rations on a tray (and they would probably fit on one small tray) and just see how minimal they were. Not a bad idea to try and live on these for a week as well. Although B certainly wouldn't wish to do this, I might do as another good way to help me lose weight.

You requested a photo of my 'windowsill mixed salad leaves' CP, and have unearthed a photo taken a few weeks ago. It shows a mixture of leaves, some are quite spicy (like watercress), others fairly sweet. I particularly like the various different shaped leaves, they do make the salad look attractive.

Regarding 'pepping up' coleslaw. Agree that it can be a bit bland, and although finely shredded white cabbage, carrots and onions make the basic 'slaw', you could try adding apples, crushed walnuts, finely sliced celery, and perhaps red cabbage instead of the white. I like Eileen's suggestion of folding in some pesto, and this led me to thinking perhaps a bit of mango chutney might give the mayo a 'lift'. Or perhaps tartare sauce or even horseradish (mustard or curry paste).

When I used to buy little pots (four to a container) of assorted 'dips', often used some of them as a salad dressing. So almost any dip you enjoy could (I suppose) be used as the 'binder' for 'slaw'. Maybe folding the veggies into a Thousand Island (or Marie Rose) dip/dressing would be good, you could always add a few chopped prawns as well.

I'm very fond of Peppadew, and one chopped finely would also add a bit of 'bite' to coleslaw, so hope the above have given you some ideas.

As to the 'yeasty' flavour/aroma coming from home-made cheese, not sure whether this means it is past its best and should be binned. Certainly anything that has turned 'yeasty' has begun to ferment, so better to be safe than sorry.