Now I did not come from a wealthy home, but there was always enough food on the table and my mother and the next door neighbour, as we called her Sewelly, were two thrifty individuals. In the two families there were seven Children, three girls and four boys. Sewelly’s husband was in the Army and away at war in Italy at the time.
In this era there was Ration Books and for some things you had to use a stamp from the book to buy certain items I am not sure of exactly what was covered in the books or what needed a coupon. I do know that meat and sugar were two of the items also gas for your car. That did not affect us as we had no car, so the coupons were passed on to other members of the family, who did have a vehicle..
During that time money was not in abundance in our home, with four children clothes, food and accommodation to be paid, you did what you could to maintain your household. Now Sewelly and Mom came up with an idea for noon time when the children would come home for their lunch. As parents they realized that in order to stimulate little minds, children needed nourishment with good foods. Their solution one would cook the main meal the other desert, depending what they had on hand in the larder. I do have to say this was a great idea as the children received a good variety using different family.
Getting close to payday maybe you did not get what you thought you should but then you were fed. Both women were good cooks and could create something with very little. One has to remember there was not always refrigerators and one required an Ice Box to but the food that would spoil. Meat was a problem and you would cook it up before it spoiled and then you would further create with it. Shepherd’s Pie with minced leftover roast, Soup made from Bones, be it chicken or vegetables with meat Left over from roast. One dish I do remember was can of pork & beans with a can of Scotch Broth soup and some sliced onions for taste. Some bread crumbs on top and brown in the oven. That is when we were all introduced to soup made from ground beef, as we would say hamburger soup. I think the name came from the fact that there were also tomatoes in the soup and it did taste good on those cold winter days.
Our family was lucky as my mother’s cousins were Butchers working for a well known Meat Shop in Ottawa and come Saturday evening would be given their share of unsold items. We were on their share list and as a result always lucky enough to have a great Sunday Dinner Roast, be it Pork or Beef, maybe a Ham with a Bone. This then allowed a good pot of Pea Soup to be made. You know your parents and grandparents would say WASTE NOT, WANT NOT , things were not thrown out, if you could not cook it, there was always someone who could use it, of course you knew your neighbours and you shared. Some of the cuts of meat would be, Liver, Heart, lambs fries or sweet breads Pork Hocks, (Pigs Feed and Cabbage or Head Cheese made from these) and just any other cut that would have been on display in the counter that did not sell, sausages, ground beef pork chops whatever. There was one thing about it the sharing was always part of the meat package. When I stop and think there were a few families that would benefit and eat well, like we did, even though you might not like the name of the creation at hand, beef steak and kidney pie. If one just ate and did not ask the name of the dish they were just fine. Maybe it was a good idea for kids to be seen and not heard, as they would not complain.
My Mom who made delicious pies would go to the fruit store for fruit that was not just as fresh as it could be and make pies, peaches, apples, blueberries. Rhubarb and raspberries from Grandma’s garden, in season . She would also do raison, custard, lemon, coconut Cream for Dad. Of course there was always tourtieres, always at New Years Eve, with such a great flavour and very nutritious or pigs in a blanket, now today we would be busy counting the calories instead of filling our faces, and enjoying the taste.
While on the topic of sweet things. Oh MY GOoDnEsS, my Mom’s Fudge. To this day I have never tried to make fudge, would you believe that I convinced myself it just would not taste the same, so therefore afraid to try. Today our children would ask how do you make it and they would start very young Rather foolish on my part as this is now something from my childhood lost. I never did make I just ate whatever was in site, definitely did not like to share, I did under protest. There was always Fudge at Christmas, Valentine Day, sometimes Easter, Halloween and you could ask for your birthday. My favourite was Maple with Raisins, especially when fresh Maple Syrup was available second favourite Chocolate. My mother always made a treat to take to School for Special Occasions :
When I think about it, my Mom would make fudge for people and they would pay her. This was done around Christmas time and she would use the money for Santa gifts, for the family. My Mom was a very thrifty person and with her baking and fudge was able to keep herself in pin money and any special occasion that came up she was prepared.
Her cooking and baking habits continued and after we were all in school, she took her recipes and skills to Reliance Motor Court in Eastview and became the short order cook and a baker of pies making from 20-30 pies a day more on Fridays to cover the weekend and even then the Butler Boys, would come to the house to have her make more pies. People would come back to this establishment and ask if the pie baker was the same person. That was my Mom
Family life was good yes we lived in a poor repair, rental house and also we wore 2nd hand clothes, did it hurt me not really, made me feel how lucky I am today with what I have now. Yes my parents gave us the basic in material things, but gave us a lot of love, friendship and values that is all that matters to me today.
From the Pen
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USA
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.