Money wasn’t plentiful at our home and my mother was an expert at making it stretch a long way. We always had a vegetable garden and usually half a dozen chooks. Every year Mother preserved beans by putting the cut-up beans in a big pottery jar in between layers of salt. She rubbed eggs with a substance called Keepeg – it was supposed to seal the shell so you could use the eggs when the chooks stopped laying. It more or less worked – the eggs were OK to use in cooking except for the odd one that definitely didn’t seal and you could smell that a mile off as soon as you cracked it open.
Then there was the jam making – apricot and plum mainly, then marmalade in the winter. Fruit and tomatoes were preserved in Fowler’s jars. Mother also made plum sauce.
Saturday’s main meal was a roast, Sunday’s lunch was cold meat and salad, Monday the rest of the roast minced up to make Shepherd’s Pie. Sunday night was always soup.
Baking was up to we three girls and we could make what we liked as we were the main one’s who ate it.
When I got married, I assumed my mother’s methods were what everyone did. I was working five days a week so Saturday had to stretch to the week’s washing, the weekly shopping as well as the Saturday roast. We tried this once. Then we discovered you could buy four slices of salad meat for ten pence at the local deli. That was the end of the roast dinner. Life got even easier when Don made a regular bike ride to Sydney Road and managed to bring home the week’s shopping in between his university lectures.
However many childhood ways of running a household remained. I drew the line at salting beans and I certainly wasn’t going to use Keepeg. But to this day I still make jam and marmalade, preserve a few jars of fruit or tomatoes (that was a forty jar a year job when all the family was home), make tomato sauce and have home-made biscuits in the cupboard.
Soup is also home-made, but I haven’t really had a go at Beef Tea, which I remember as delicious. Mother’s recipe says ‘Cook in a double saucepan. It should never boil but heat slowly for 2 – 3 hours’. Oh for the days of the wood stove!