On Saturday, we finally had the first meet up of the book club for 2013. Yes, it’s almost the end of February. But it’s hard to coordinate so many women with kids in one place. The kids were split up evenly as two 4 year olds and two almost two year olds. Overall, it was chaos, but a bit of controlled chaos and a bit of too much running around and throwing balls in the house.
As you probably are aware, I like reading books in the printed format, rather than ebook format. I ordered How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fischer from the library and waited and waited. I think the book is lost. Then I did the unthinkable and tried to get an ebook. And of course the first book I try to read as an ebook is not available as an ebook. As we were all in the same boat, all of us ordred it from Amazon. I wonder now if they think that it’s having a resurgence But I guess 5 people ordering it, does not a best seller make. It was also hard to find reading or discussion questions online. And when you have 4 or 5 kids running around, it’s good to be focused on conversation at hand.
A few things struck me as very interesting. She uses a lot of cans. I guess during rations, you can’t get everything fresh. In today’s day and age, cans are such a bad word. You use cans, but sparingly and you definitely NEVER save the juices from the tinned veggies to use for something else. The other was the focus on eating veggies and being adventurous with the food. Not just steak. I guess in my mind, until the recent food revolution, the culinary choices in a home were very limited. The Mad Men episode comes to mind where they just eat mashed potatoes with steak. No originality. It must have been the rationing and the lack of choices the could have taken the American diet to be so limited.
Another story comes to mind that when my Dad was younger and could eat bread (his Achilles heal) whenever he wanted, all that was available was white bread. But now that he’s older and there are Wegmen’s and WholeFoods galore, he can no longer partake in the endless bounty of multi seed baguettes, plain baguettes, ciabatta breads and of course croissants.
I am not a food historian, so I could be totally wrong on this assessment.
The other thing that struck me is how much food we throw out. That was something that all the Moms at the table talked about. I feel it when I throw out the uneaten strawberries that I paid a fortune for because it’s the middle of winter! Or the three left over meatballs that no one wants to eat anymore.
Whereas in the book she mentions she has cook, as working moms with full time jobs, it’s hard to cook a meal each day when you come home. I used to do that before O started having homework. But now, it’s almost impossible. It’s either something frozen that takes 20 minutes to prepare, take out or WholeFoods prepared meals, or something that I made the day before. There is not enough time in the evening (approximately 2 hours to make dinner, feed O which can take upwards of 30 minutes, do homework, have a bath, let O watch a show before bedtime, and play a little), which one do you cut out?? The making of the food, of course!
Most Moms said that they spend their weekends planning. Planning activities for the kids, planning the laundry planning the meals for the week. And if you get lazy (as I did this weekend), you pay for it with energy and money the rest of the week.
Now for the food! Each mom, made/ brought something completely different. One Mom challenged herself to make something out of $5 (In the book I think she says $2, but let’s be honest… you can’t get bones from the butcher shop for 10 cents) But even $5 that is amazing. She made walnut banana muffins. Walnuts were on sale for $1. Two bananas for $1, muffin mix $2 and egg and milk. Yes, the muffin mix didn’t exist in the 40s, but you have to modernize it, no?? The muffins were excellent!
Another mom made corn muffins with honey. It was one of the recipes in the book, and as MFK Fisher suggests, add whatever you want and make it interesting I am eating two of them as I am writing, and they are delicious with the honey and little butter.
Another mom modernized the whole experience of working mom and brought three store bough quiches. And let’s be honest, a modern mom does NOT have time to cook all the time.
I went with the comfort food from when I was growing up. I made polenta, spiced it up with buttermilk and goat cheese (I honestly couldn’t taste the goat cheese, but I think next time I will make it mostly with buttermilk instead of water) and I bought (not made) these deep fried pork bellies. My mom used to make it with left over meat when I was growing up. But to be honest, I hate frying stuff, it’s too smelly, so I just bought them from Muncan. They are delicious and MELT in your mouth! I had to send some home with each of the girls, otherwise I would become a fat blob.
Did you read the book? What struck you the most about what she wrote? How do you feed your family? Do the kids help??
PS The kids barely stopped to eat anything. But the good part is all the kids tried something. And if not loved it, they were adventurous enough to try.