Sometimes we tend to make our meals so much more complicated than they need to be. I was blessed to be able to watch many women prepare their meals who learned to cook during the 30’s and 40’s. Some were busy stay at home moms. Others were moms who worked away from home and some were moms who helped their husbands on the farm.
These women used some tricks to prepare their meals that made meal preparation easier and faster. Here are a few of them:
- They didn’t worry if they had homemade biscuits or muffins for every meal. Often for a daily meal they would just place a plate of bread (not always homemade bread, either) on the table to eat with butter and jam or honey. In some homes, this was a staple at every meal.
- They would keep things cleaned and ready to use for a relish dish like carrot sticks, celery sticks, olives, pickles, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes or fresh cauliflower.
- Hard boiled eggs or pickled beets were kept on hand to place in a bowl at the last minute.
- They didn’t hesitate to open some canned fruit to pour into a bowl and set on the table to eat by itself without whipped cream or any added extras.
- Canned vegetables were a life saver for many of them. Then they could just warm some canned peas to set on the table.
They served some combination of all of these at most meals. Then they would add a potato dish, rice or noodles and a meat and they would have dinner.
Sometimes we read cooking magazines and see very elaborate meals on TV and think if this isn’t the kind of food we make we must have failed as good cooks. Each dish doesn’t need five or more ingredients in it to make it good. That is probably one of the places where our diets started going down the tubes. We forgot to keep things simple.
You also save money when you keep it simple because you’re not using as many ingredients or extras like whipped cream or special spices.
Just like in the old days, your family will probably enjoy an icy cold canned peach just as much as a fresh organically grown peach you had to study to determine how ripe it was before you took it home to try to peel and slice it. It’s you, mom and dad, who make the meal special just by being together with the family, not the pedigree of your fruits and vegetables.
Bread and Jam
Bottled (canned) Fruit Cake*
From: Alice B. (I learned this recipe in junior high. It’s tasty, quick to cook, inexpensive, and dirties only one pan!)
1 lb. lean ground beef
8 oz. uncooked noodles
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large can tomatoes
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Brown meat and onion. Drain off excess grease. Add noodles and canned tomatoes. Chop tomatoes a little bit while in the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer covered for 7 minutes. Stir. Cover and simmer 8 more minutes. That’s it!
You can add other ingredients you may have on hand like chopped green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, fresh herbs, etc. You may want to top with grated cheese. (Never cook the noodles first. They must cook with the rest of ingredients to absorb their flavors.)
I love, love, love recipes that take only one pan and this one really does! Often, people will call something a one dish meal but they end up using 3 pans, 2 mixing bowls and 1 casserole dish. (That’s the one dish, I guess.) Now you can see why I really appreciated your recipe. : )
Bottled Fruit Cake
From: Ruth P.
CAKE USING BOTTLED FRUIT – (Sometimes we have an excess of home bottled fruit and need to use it up before it gets old. This is a great way to use it!)
1 quart of fruit with liquid
4 cups flour
4 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup oil
Raisins and nuts if desired
Blend all of the above ingredients at the same time. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes. This makes one sheet cake or two cakes in 9×13 inch pans. This is a nice change from just using the fruit for a crisp, cobbler. or pie. You don’t need to put frosting on this, which can save time, too.
Photo by: Yoames