Saturday, February 24, 2018

Old-Time Mothers

Dear Kitchen Saints,

I have little four-year-old Olivia Jean this morning to take care of. But she is such a good little girl. I don’t know who is taking care of who. Her sister Isobel, 8 years old, is in school but she comes here after school for a few hours. She is a lovely child, too, and sings like a bird. She goes to a Catholic school and Olivia will go to preschool there in a few weeks. Their folks pay me well and are beautiful Christians.

Then next week, I will get the newborn baby Olivia Rose. I will have two Olivia’s. Rose will be about three and a half weeks old when I get her. She is a lovely baby girl. I got to see her once at about a week or so old. I mean, this baby girl is exceptionally beautiful. She looks like an angel. I can’t wait to hold her.

I just have a bit of time here while Olivia Jean is playing and wanted to write about some more meal ideas. Ya know back in the old days, probably about the 1930s, the Mothers made a lot of the layered dishes. They would take a 9 by 13 pan and butter it really good. Then they would layer some vegetables and meat. Like, for example, they would put some sliced raw potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper each layer. Then maybe the next layer would be home canned green beans, then a layer of carrots cut up in slices. Then the next layer onions and the next a pound of partially cooked hamburger or cubed chicken or ham, whatever meat you have. Then over the top of this whole casserole some of their home canned tomatoes. You could even put about a fourth cup of flour sprinkled over the meat and then, with the canned tomatoes poured over this, it would make a sort of thickener or gravy. Then put salt and pepper over the top. Then the Old-time Mothers would put about a half stick of butter chopped up on the top and then cracker crumbs. They had plenty of butter out on the farm and used it liberally.

My aunt and mother have no idea about cutting down on fat and have always used a stick of butter on everything. Their food is so delicious but, man, I would be hard pressed to use that much butter. But the Old-Time farm Mothers used lots of cream and butter and eggs in a lot of what they cooked. And in the old recipes I have read, it seems they threw home canned tomatoes on everything. Well, especially in the winter as they wanted to use up the canned tomatoes before summer of the next year. The farm Mothers also had root cellars where they stored their potatoes and carrots and other root veggies for the winter. So this layered dish was one they made a lot in during the cold days to use up their potatoes and other root vegetables.

Our family ate many meals like this, as we ate a lot of potatoes and veggies and not much meat. Well, we never used a lot of butter — who could afford it? Anyway, this would be a nice big meal for a large family. I made some kind of homemade bread each day. Either it was a yeast bread or cornbread or biscuits. But this meal and cornbread would be a good filling meal for a large family on a cold winter’s day.


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