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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - A Child of the 60's

Frugal Kitchens 101
I am very much a child of the 60's so I have no problem speaking my mind or making my views known.  I barely fall under the label of being a being a Baby Boomer and not quite a Hippie because my Mom would not allow that nonsense even though I was enthralled with the bright pink Volkswagon beetle with peace symbols and flowers on it that occasionally made its way into town.  I remember when the Union Jack was replaced by the new maple leaf Canadian flag.  I was quite young then but I remember my Mom shedding a few tears.  She was born on a ship making it's way to Canada from Great Britain and remained loyal to Britain until she passed.  It was changing times.  I can remember standing proudly in 1967 for Canada's centennial celebrations.  My Mom (not biological) was 56 years old when I was born and widowed the same year.   She had lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression.  Believe me she knew how to pinch a penny!  She taught me many valuable lessons that have served me well over the years.  Here are a few frugal kitchen tips I learned from her:

  • brand names - My Mom was very much brand loyal but in fairness back then there really wasn't much of a choice.  I don't recall store brands becoming a rage until the early 80's.  I tend to be brand loyal as well for certain items but not for others.
  • keep a well stocked pantry - My Mom kept a well stocked pantry out of necessity even though we lived less than a block from one of the only two very small grocery stores in town.  By small, both would have been well under the size of our current home!  It was quite common for milk or produce trucks getting delayed due to weather and I can recall during the big flood, both stores were basically out of food.
  • grow your own - My Mom didn't have a huge vegetable garden but she always had one.  She had chickens for awhile too until the town finally came up with some flimsy excuse to get rid of them but she fought back saying they were pets so we kept them until they didn't lay eggs anymore then they went onto the dinner table.  The town stood firm on the rooster so my Mom taught us how to kill and pluck a chicken.  It doesn't matter where we have lived, even in apartments I have grown whatever produce I could both indoors and outdoors.
  • putting food up - Very generous friends and family were always gifting my Mom with baskets of apples, cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, smelt, corn, and anything extra they had.   Many a morning we woke to a basket of produce at the door.  That usually meant we would be canning or freezing that morning.  I don't recall her ever dehydrating but I can recall marveling at those glistening jars of produce ready for the shelves.  Baskets of potatoes, apples, squash, carrots, turnips and rutabagas sat on planks on the dirt floor of our basement.  A portion of any food that came in the door went into storage.  I am very much like that to this day. 
  • keep it simple - My Mom was a firm believer of putting simple but good, healthy food on the table.  As a widow, foster mom, and day care provider she really did not have the option of fancy cooking.  Getting good, healthy food into growing kids was a higher priority.  Looking back, it really was simple as in: homemade oatmeal or cream of wheat for breakfast in the winter; toast and jam for breakfast in the summer; soup or sandwiches for lunch; and meat, potatoes and vegetables for dinner.  We had milk, water or very rarely KoolAid as a drink.  Once I got older, the drink of choice was a proper pot tea.  Snacks were homemade cookies and oh my gosh did she ever make good cookies!  Occasionally she would make a pie or bring a few goodies home from a banquet she helped at with the Ladies Auxiliary.  Keeping it simple keeps meals easy so I have leaned heavily on that page since a newlywed and while raising kids.  For the most part, our meals are still rather simple, easy to prepare, mainly homemade and good.
  • no mealtime pressures - My Mom was very much a "put the food on the table" and "if you don't eat, no worries" as a "child will not intentionally starve themselves".  There was never "sit there until you finish it all", "fine, you will eat it for breakfast" or even a "try it, you might like it" from her.  But, if you chose not to eat, she would not make an alternative.  I never, ever have liked drinking milk and was never forced to which is really a good thing as several years ago I found out I was lactose intolerant.  Ninety-nine percent of adult dietary problems are a direct result of how food was treated in the home during the childhood years.  I am a firm believer in her philosophy.  We used it with our kids, they are using it with their kids, I use it with my husband and when entertaining.

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