We were still in the days of rationing, and I think we appreciated every small luxury that came our way.
We ate steamed puddings, plenty of dumplings in stews, and soups that were heavily enriched with lentils or split peas. Whatever was cheap and available would bulk-up our meals, and keep our stomachs happy.
One of the dishes that I particularly liked was my mother's version of Irish Stew. It was made with the cheapest cuts of Lamb, usually 'scrag end of neck', potatoes, carrots, and plenty of pearl barley. The above photo is not of my own, but exactly the same.
It was the pearl barley that I really liked, and I still use it in Irish Stews today. It's an old-fashioned ingredient, and probably unheard of by millenials. In fact I doubt if many supermarkets even stock it.
p.s. Which reminds me. I was buying ingredients for Lady M's Christmas Cake recently, and on her list was a jar of dark Molasses (Mélasse Noire). I couldn't find it anywhere, so eventually had to ask a 'shelf-stacker' who I found in the area where I would have expected to find it. She shrugged her shoulders, and declared "Never heard of it". I'll have to return to the Bio shop where I bought it before.
A couple of brands of molasses available at my supermarket. Bought some the other day. One dish I remember from childhood involves suet pastry wirg a filling of pieces of boiling bacon and onions then rolled up and steamed. Not my favouriteReplyDelete
I liked that, and once tried to recreate it; unsuccessfully. I think I used bacon and Sage, it wasn't at all how I'd remembered it. I shall make a special Molasses trip today; she needs it for her cake!Delete
Here, too, there were similar foods during these years, our grandmothers came from Europe and they usually cooked.ReplyDelete
Hard times devised clever cooking. Everyone adapted.Delete
My parents grew up during the war, so I was brought up with the make-do-and-mend way of thinking. By her own admission, my mum wasn't a great cook but she did make a wonderful treacle pudding and spotty dick (probably from the New World Cookbook!)ReplyDelete
I think a bit of 'good housekeeping' (austerity) was a good thing. It taught us not to waste. Today's under-30's/40's just buy and throw away; nothing is ever mended or patched. Now they complain that it's causing global destruction.Delete
I love pearl barley! Especially in soups. And I put dark molasses in my bread sometimes, and imagine I am my own Baboushka during the revolution on their way to China, eating hard dark rye bread.ReplyDelete
We had Pearly Barley in our Irish Stew last night, it was the first time for years. I loved it.... I'm not sure if Lady M did.Delete
Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding cold, pease pudding in the pot nine days old. Yes, we ate a lot of that. But we ate well and healthily. We had a small vegetable garden and we used eggshells and ash as compost. We picked caterpillars off cabbage leaves. No sprays or chemicals to give us cancer. One grandad had five allotments on the go at one time. Another grandad had a vegetable garden. They'd both been wounded at the Somme and knew the value of using soil for producing food instead of death. This they both passed on to their children. My dad's first job was gradening at the Armstrong-Jones place, but he didn't get on with them and soon left.ReplyDelete
Our eggshells were pulverised into tiny bits, and fed back to the hens. I've never had Pease Pudding; is it made with split Peas? We tend to use those in our winter soups.Delete
Perhaps you'd be surprised to find out that thrifty families in the UK are re-discovering this type of food. Is this happening in France?ReplyDelete
So they should. Convenience packaged foods from Tesco might be OK once in a while, but it's so much better to buy fresh vegs and make simple soups etc. Also it costs almost nothing, and is good for you. I haven't really noticed to much austerity here, certainly not amongst the 'young mums'.Delete
I know pearl barley. In Lancashire markets sell bags of pot herbs for soups and stews. One thing that is so special about growing your own vegetables is the amazing freshness you get when you pick and cook the same day. Even organic bought fruit and vegetables are days old or packed in plastic. This post and Gwils comment are very inspiring. Thanks!ReplyDelete
We eat 'greens' from Haddock's on most days. I can't imagine having to buy them.Delete
I was going to confirm that Pearl Barley is available in my local supermarkets. It's not that long ago either that I bought black strap molasses.ReplyDelete
I was almost born on D-Day with rationing and the shortages of war. We, too, had vegetables from the allotment. I often wondered how, during the war itself my Dad managed to work the allotment. He was in a reserved occupation but, like anyone in that situation who was able-bodied, he worked at night as well: in his case as a fireman on the Liverpool docks - a prime bombing target.
Your main point, with which I heartily agree, is that we appreciated what we had because there was so little of it. What many may not realise is that rationing meant one person’s typical weekly allowance would be: one fresh egg; 4oz margarine and bacon (about four rashers); 2oz butter and tea; 1oz cheese; and 8oz sugar.
This morning I shall make my first two Christmas cakes. I shall use, amongst other things, 16 oz butter and 16 oz soft brown sugar and 8 eggs. It makes one think.
Pearl Barley is not very common over here. It tends to be sold in Bio shops only, not in ordinary supermarkets. I still have my ration book; I may need it again one day!Delete
Geeb, you are making me think I would like to ration myself for a month and see how I got on. Could one swap? Say, sugar for eggs? I eat a lot of eggs these days. If you had chooks, did you have to relinquish your eggs?Delete
Kate, people did save up and also swap their ration coupons. A lot depended, too, on your grocer. If you grew your own vegetables then you were entitled to keep them and I assume the same went for eggs so long as the chooks were kept for your own domestic use and not for commercial sale. I don't doubt that the rules were 'overlooked' particularly in rural areas. People living near the sea also had access to fish.Delete
Skirt was my mother's favoured cut of beef for stews and dumplings and a carrot cut up; the only use for a carrot was in a stew.ReplyDelete
I buy what is called 'Bourguignon' for my Beef stews; I have no idea what cut it is.Delete
I still use barley in beef vegetable soup. Love it! -JennReplyDelete
Only in Irish Stew here. I should be more adventurous.Delete
My mother often made Irish stews, one using lamb and one using beef. They were very different but I did like the lamb version which looked very similar to the picture. She put peas in the beef version and I wouldn’t eat anything with peas. I still don’t.ReplyDelete
Beef and Lamb stews are the only dishes I make that contain Carrots. Your aversion to Peas mirrors my own towards Carrots.Delete
My mother was a fair to basic cook. I learned very little from her as there were 6 of us kids and she parceled out the kitchen jobs to us each day like a drill sargent. Mostly peeling potatoes or cleanup. I wasn't until I got married that my Hungarian mother-in-law took me in hand and taught me the finer arts in the kitchen. She was an efficient, frugal cook who made the most delicious food. It was from her that I learned to make wonderful stews, soups and casseroles, light and airy baked goods and some wonderful breads. Having lost most of the recipes from both my grandmother's , I have made sure to document and distribute all our family recipes in a simple cookbook to all in our family and a few friends that have requested it.ReplyDelete
I have been writing my own recipe book for several years; I wonder if any of my family will ever look at it?Delete
You might be surprised. I taught my 2 sons and 1 daughter to cook and bake, but I was constantly getting calls with regards to the recipes. I had over 100 recipes printed on plain paper and I assembled it in a binder (so they can add more). It was the best received gift of Christmas 2015.Delete
Mine are in an old Sussex University book, of which there is just one hand-written copy. Not a pretty sight.Delete
I bought Pearly Barley in our local supermarket a couple of weeks ago to put in an Irish Stew - agree Cro - that is one ingredient which is essential.ReplyDelete
I have heard of people making 'risotto' with it, but I don't see the point. Very good in Irish Stew.Delete
Introduced my husband to Barley in stews and soups. He is Southern American and he is completely sold!ReplyDelete
Good. Anything that stops them eating those awful 'grits' is a battle won!Delete
I also love pearl barley ...... you can get it in all of the supermarkets here ...... it’s also become quite trendy ...... pearl barley risotto is popular and in vogue at the moment !!!! XXXXReplyDelete
I just mentioned about 'risotto' above. As I said, I can't see the point. The whole texture of risotto would completely change. They could at least change the name to 'Barlotto'.Delete
We can get pearl barley here. In what area would molasses be found? Near sugar and treacle? Cake making?ReplyDelete
We did find it at our local Bio shop, but I had to ask for it. It was well hidden.Delete
Our local Tesco and Sainsburys has pearl barley, usually gets thrown in stews and soups in this household :)ReplyDelete
I think that my packet (which is now almost empty) came from the UK. It's not common over here.Delete
Reading this made me get a packet of pearl barley for our weekend beef stew!ReplyDelete