Monday, April 30, 2012

Experiment Disclaimer


For those of you who are interested in participating in "Cooking Like Grandma: The Experiment", please read over these disclaimers.  There's nothing legal about the disclaimers, but I just want to clarify a few things:

  1. Where I have used the word 'diet*' on the "Experiment" page, in these instances, I use the following definition of the word diet:
    di·et n. 
    1. The usual food and drink of a person or animal. 

    I am not referring to "2. A regulated selection of foods, as for medical reasons or cosmetic weight loss."
  2. I am not a dietician, nutritionist, doctor etc.  This menu plan has been organised by myself and not in consultation with any of the aforementioned practitioners.  It is not necessarily a nutritionally based diet and has been collated purely using recipes from the books/resources mentioned in previous blog posts.
  3. Although there is a seriousness to the thoughts provoked by reading my Grandma's recipe books, including the answers I'm looking for, this actual experiment is meant to be fun, so please ensure that your participation in the experiment with me, remains as it was intended - a possibly disastrous culinary experience, full of laughter and lightheartedness!

Cooking Like Grandma - The Experiment

Yep, I've talked about Grandma Ellie's books for awhile and now it's time for the big launch of:

The Experiment


So, what exactly is it?  I'm going to attempt to spend a week cooking (and eating) like Grandma Ellie.  I want to find out a number of things:
  1. How much money I can save, if any, or how much extra it will cost.
  2. How much wastage I can cut down on.
  3. How different the dishes taste compared to the lavish dishes I/society prepare now.
  4. Can I save time in the kitchen.
  5. If it's really possible to live off Grandma Ellie's diet* (recipe books) or something that really needs to be left in the past.
  6. With today's availability of food, can I find ingredients as close to what was available to Grandma Ellie or find equivalent ingredients so I can stick as close to these recipes as possible?
  7. Health wise, how does my body react to the diet* in regards to general well-being, weight loss/gain, energy levels, emotion etc?
  8. When cooking for more than just me, how did the other consumers react to the dish/es?
  9. Would I try doing this again?
I would really encourage you to help me in my experiment... I'd love your feedback, based on the above nine points I want to answer for myself.  If you are interested in participating in this experiment and/or know someone who might be, please pass this information on to them as well - please help spread the word!

I am collating all the information needed for the experiment on a page on my blog dedicated to "Cooking Like Grandma: The Experiment".  Keep this link for your own reference, and pass it on to anyone you think might be interested.  Head over there now to get more information (including details on a giveaway!) and to register your participation!

(Over the coming days/week, I'll be building up the resources needed for the Experiment, so be sure to subscribe to my blog, so you stay updated!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

March 2012 Date

So, this is our March 'date' which we finally got around to going on today, in April!  Unfortunately due to weather and busyness of Lent/Easter period, we weren't able to go until now.  I know this isn't a date with just Big Spring and me, but the purpose of the box I gave Big Spring was to see some things around the beautiful area we live in and other times to have quality time with just the 2 of us.  In this instance, it was a family date and it was great to get away for the day as just that - a family.  Anyway, here's the date wrap up!

The Date Envelope:
Contents:
Brochure for Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve
Timetable of feeding times of animals
Safari animals (just for fun!)

The Plan:
We left a little later than expected because today is Big Spring's day off and he needed a little sleep in.  We were there by about 10am, so were able to see most of the animals at feed time.  It was amazing how close all the animals were.  I expected them to be in the middle of an enclosure and not really be able to see much, but it was quite an 'up close and personal' experience.

We'd planned to buy lunch at the cafe while we were there, but were disappointed to be advised that due running costs, it had closed down. (there's something about my pre-planning these envelopes that causes circumstances to change!).  Anyway, we were advised to go down the road to a take away outlet, so did so and came back to enjoy our food in the park.

After that, we continued to watch the feed time of animals until we decided we were pretty tired from walking around all day and left a bit early before seeing some of the afternoon feeds.  We can always go back and check them out another time!

The Memory:
Still haven't started scrapbooking the events, so here are some photos of the day... oops I forgot to take pictures of the family together... I get caught up taking pictures of Little Spring and surrounds, that I often neglect a family shot!
I love the bottom left shot - when we first walked up to the lion enclosure, 2 lions came over and started staring/watching Little Spring.  From the look in their eyes, I'm sure they were thinking "lunch"! (For a better view of the photo collage, just click on it and it should take you to another screen.)

Here's a video of the lions coming in when their food was ready... I wouldn't have wanted to get in their way, that's for sure!  (sorry about the quality of the video... I haven't used my still camera for ages to take videos and it it's so grainy and of poor quality compared to the video on my phone!)

video 

Nearly time for our April date... with just a couple of days left in the month, I wonder if we'll make it!?  I don't think so, but we'll see!

Who Are You Influenced By?

Obviously we all have people in our lives who influence us.  Generally when I'm asked that question (or ones similar: "Who do you admire?", "Who do you aspire to be like?", "Who had a great impact on your life?" etc), however, I've always found it difficult to answer.  It's hard to pinpoint particular people because I've had people influence me in subtle ways, not necessarily in life changing ways.

If you asked me that question over the past couple of weeks though, I would actually have an immediate answer for you, for once!  So, go ahead and ask me!

"Who am I influenced by?  What a great question, and thanks for asking!"

It's actually my grandma.  Grandma Ellie - my mum's mom.  She died in 1979.  I was 2 years old.  I only met her twice - once when Mum took me to the USA to meet her (I was about 16 months old) and once when she came and visited us here in Australia a year or so later.

Top left is Ellen (Ellie) with her brother, Virgil.  The man in the other pictures is her husband, my grandpa, Henry (Hank)
So, how could a woman who died when I was 2 be influencing me now?  Well, if you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll know that I was very excited to receive a package from my aunty a few weeks back, which contained some recipe books from my Grandma Ellie.  I've been devouring them ever since, again, as you can see from my most recent blog posts!

Each of the books/documents has me thinking deeply about how we view food now.

There are so many resources out there devoted to healthier eating... and many varied and differing views of what actually is healthy for us - eat less salt/sugar/fat; eat only organic; don't eat meat; eat meat; avoid preservatives & additives etc, etc, etc.  I've never really been passionate about one particular health scheme.  Yes, I've tried a number of diets, but nothing ever really 'clicked' for me.  I was following a diet, but it didn't really change my way of thinking, so that made it hard to commit and actually change my lifestyle and how I was eating.

But, then along came Grandma Ellie's cookbooks.  I can't believe how passionate I have become about the thoughts that have been flooding my brain.  The bottom line is I want to cook like Grandma Ellie.  I want to get back to the basics of food, back to raw, unprocessed food and start from scratch. Get rid of all the food containing preservatives and additives.  I love that Grandma Ellie has stirred this up in me.  I love that I've become passionate about being more healthy instead of trying to eat healthy because we should.  Now I want to eat healthy!

Okay, so we've established that I want to start eating healthy, but now we need to define what I mean by healthy.  There are so many conflicting bits of information about what's actually healthy for us.  I think that we can all agree that fruit and vegetables are very healthy for us, but that's even disputed about how much we should be eating of each of those.  My vision of healthy is getting back to the basics... purging my kitchen of preservatives and additives.

What I would like to try to start doing, is cooking from scratch as much as possible.  Not buying any pre-packaged items unless I can't duplicate that product, and where I have to buy pre-packaged, find the item that has the least additives and preservatives.

Thanks to Grandma Ellie's cookbooks, that should be a lot easier though.  Back when the books were published, everything was made from scratch... you couldn't go buy something pre-packaged.

I'm not planning on cooking up big meals full of sugar and fat all the time, but my biggest focus is cutting back on/getting rid of the additives and preservatives from our diet.  I'm curious to see what this will look like...

Which is why I'm going to start an experiment!  And I would really love for you to join me!  I'll post again regarding all the specific details etc, but in brief, I'm going to set up a menu plan using Grandma Ellie's cookbooks and cook for a week using her resources.  Please consider doing this experiment with me... I'd really like to get as many people as possible involved as I'm keen to get feedback on other people's thoughts as well.

Stayed tuned in the coming days/week and I'll start giving more information on the experiment.

And on that note, I'll end this little essay and head out to our family day of fun at the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Introducing...

Elijah Philip



This little guy is my spunky nephew.  My 'baby' brother's first child.  I use the word 'little' very loosely as his is anything but!  He was born, weighing in at 9lb, 12oz (4.43kg) and 52cm long, with very big feet and hands, apparently!

I'm devastated that I can't meet him yet... he's in Melbourne with his proud parents and I'm not sure when we'll be getting down to Victoria next.  Thank goodness for Facebook and phones with cameras so I feel I can a little bit closer.

Elijah is my first blood nephew (I don't have any blood nieces either).  Big Spring's sister has 2 children, so I do have a niece and nephew, but none from my side of the family, until now.  It's very exciting and I'm so in love with him already!  Now Mum and Dad (Nana and Poppa) have pigeon pair grandkids!

I get teary just looking at all the photos... he's so beautiful and I love him to bits.  I also get teary thinking about his name.  I love the name Elijah, but I love the back ground to his middle name - Philip.  That's my older brother's name.  So he's named after my older brother.  I think that's so touching and lovely!

Father & Son.  How proud does my brother look?  And how confident at bathing?!  A natural Dad!

The expanding Hartwich Clan - Nana, Poppa, Ben, Rachael and 'Little' Elijah

Have I mentioned how cute this little guy is?!

Game Changer

As a parent, you go through many milestones with your child.  Of course, all of them are significant, but some seem more of a Game Changer than others.  Take walking for example.  It's a gradual process with a few steps (excuse the pun!) involved.  After learning to crawl, the child then learns to pull themselves up.  They then start to 'cruise' along furniture.  Next stage is standing up for a few seconds by themselves, which turns into longer seconds, which becomes their first cautious step, mutating into many cautious steps.  Then they're walking... and low and behold, running!  Each of these stages leading up to walking is amazing and as parents, we are very proud of our child.  But it's such a gradual process, with a number of stages leading up to the actual walking stage and each stage prepares us a little bit more for each coming stage.  We're not 'suddenly' presented with a child who's running and walking all around the house.  We were eased into it a little with each stage!

Game Changers is a term I started using Thursday night.  I'm using it for milestones that a child achieves suddenly and changes your whole routine etc.  I don't think there are a lot of them, as so many things are such a gradual process.

However, over the past 2 nights, Little Spring had a Game Changer milestone.  But first, let me take you back a few months...

A 'big girl's' bed has been set up in Little Spring's room for a long time, along with her cot.  One night, she asked to sleep in the bed, instead of her cot and we said yes, as long as she didn't get out of bed, at all.  There were no chances (are we harsh parents?!) and we explained that if she got out even once, she would have to go back into her cot.  Five minutes (or maybe less!) after putting her in bed, she was out, so she was put straight into the cot for the night.

This happened a couple more times over the space of a few weeks, but each time she got out not long after going to bed, so it was straight back into the cot each time.  I don't know if she gave up on the idea, but she stopped asking to sleep in the big bed and we didn't offer it.

Flash forward to 2 nights ago... we were sitting on the big bed, after getting her into her pjs for the night.  Little Spring asked if she could sleep in the bed and I went through the rule with her - "get out even once and you have to get back in the cot."  She agreed, and climbed in under the sheets.  We said prayers while she lay quietly and after kissing her goodnight, I reminded her of the rule.  I turned off the light and left the room.

I checked on her 3 times.  The first time, she was sitting up in bed, but not out of bed, so I told her to lay down.  The second time, she was lying down, but still awake and didn't stir when I went in.  The third time I was completely shocked (I was already shocked the first 2 times as she had lasted at least half an hour!), but I was completely shocked by the fact that she was asleep... in the big bed!

When Big Spring got home from a meeting, we moved her cot mattress to beside her bed, just in case she fell out.  Because of a shelf near the bed, the cot mattress, was half under the bed, but was adequate in case she fell out.

We then went to bed.  The next morning (around 6:15 or so) I was woken up by Little Spring's cry out for me.  I drowsily opened my eyes then, remembering she was in the big bed, fully woke up and shot out of bed to make sure she was okay.  I walked into her room and saw she wasn't in bed.  I looked around the room and couldn't see her anywhere, so thought she must have gone for a wander and gotten confused where she was.  I went to walk out the room, but heard her cry out again, the sound coming from the room.

The only place she could be was under the bed.  I lifted the cover, and there she was - poor little darling had obviously fallen out of bed, onto the cot mattress.  But then she'd managed to roll off that too, so that she was on the other side of the mattress, way under the bed, near the wall!

Last night she was a very good girl and slept right through.  We propped the cot mattress up using the previously mentioned shelf as support so that it was more of a guard than a cushion in case of fall and it worked a treat... she didn't roll out at all.  Instead, at just before 6:30 this morning, I woke up and sensed Little Spring was in our room, but thought I was probably imagining it, until I felt a gentle touch on my leg!

This is why I call Little Spring's graduation from the cot to the bed a Game Changer... we no longer have control over when she gets up.  We've been blessed with a very good sleeper and often weren't required to get out of bed until anywhere between 7am and 8:30am... yep, Little Spring could be that good!  She wasn't always asleep until then, but wouldn't always call out for us until later, giving us a bit of a sleep in.

Now that she's able to get up as soon as she wakes up, she doesn't just stay in her bed quietly.  Why would she when the whole world is at her feet now!

So, goodbye 'sleep ins'.  Hello personal alarm... (There's no snooze button on this one!  When she was in her cot, she was still an alarm, but we had more control on when we had to get up!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

is for Winter.  My favourite season!  Ironically (proves God has a sense of humour!), Big Spring, Little Spring and I were sent up to Tropical Far North Queensland for Big Spring's first assignment as a graduate pastor.

We're adjusting okay, and have survived our first full wet season (technically, it's still going, but the heat of the day isn't quite so intense and the evenings are pleasantly cool!), but I still miss the cold winter which has started to hit the southern states.  I know, I know, call me crazy!

Certainly my favourite type of winter is that experienced in the States... snow!  Rugging up nice and warm to go outside.  And to make the snow even better?  Celebrating the birth of our Saviour with a white Christmas.  I love it!  It just seems to make Christmas feel more like Christmas.

One of my favourite things to do in winter is to rug up with a warm blanket or doona on the couch and read a book with a hot chocolate to warm me up while the rain falls outside.  Up here in Cairns, we certainly get the rain side of things, but there's no way you'd catch me curling up under a doona in this climate!

Never mind... it makes me appreciate the cold even more when we experience on visits down south or over the Pacific Ocean, State side!

What is your favourite season?

Life in Alphabet - V

is for Vaughn.  My husband, the love of my life!

I've already written about our story here, but with such an important man in my life, I couldn't go passed the obvious word associated with this particular letter!

So, click on my previous post and read all about us!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cake Secrets

Sorry folks, I went quiet on my blog for a little while and am making up for it with a passion at the moment... you might feel I've inundated with you posts and I just hope that what I've said hasn't gotten lost amongst the the flurry of posts.

I think this will be my last review on specific books/documents from the package I received, but no guarantees once I've gone through the last books more thoroughly!

Anyway, getting on to this next book/document:

"Cake Secrets", by Igleheart Brothers (1925)

Background/Explanation/Blurb:
This booklet was published by Igleheart Brothers, who manufactured cake-making products (flour, bran and even cooking utensils).  The booklet is filled with many different types of cakes and with each recipe is a "complete description of what they are" by Janet McKenzie Hill, who is the Editor for American Cookery Magazine, plus variations of the cake and hints to make the cakes successfully.

My Thoughts:
It wasn't so much anything that was written in the booklet that got me thinking, but just the overall concept of the book.  Yes, there were a few different cakes and within them, numerous variations, but they were fairly simple and uncomplicated.  How they were decorated was appealing, yet simple.

Flash forward to the times we are living in now.  With so many recipe books out there, and cake decorating books, it can be quite overwhelming.  I grew up with the Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book cakes and even before I was pregnant with my daughter, I had bought the book to ensure my recipe book collection was complete.

I love cake decorating.  I may not be any good at it (I'm certainly no perfectionist when it comes to anything creative!) but I enjoy it.  I love the challenge of replicating what's in the picture.  However, there's certainly a pressure on us today to have a theme cake, or something heavily decorated.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to decorate, but when I had the "Cake Secrets" booklet in my hands my immediate thought was that we've even managed to over complicate the humble birthday cake.

Big Spring and I were chatting after I received the package and running through with him all the thoughts I've now expressed here on my blog.  He certainly made an interesting point.  He said that back in the days of our grandmothers, food would have been used for nutritional purposes.  Now-a-days, it's used for entertainment.

Wow! I loved that thought!  I think it's so true!  Instead of simple meals with simple ingredients, it's all about complicated (sometimes) recipes, unheard of ingredients and a day in the kitchen preparing it all to make sure it's just right.  When guests arrive, instead of just focusing on conversation and fellowship, over a simple meal, its about fussing in the kitchen to serve up a lavish meal, worrying if it's turned out okay and what are the guests going to think about it - will you impress them?

Then it's time for the showdown... bringing out the food (possibly multiple times, depending on how many courses you have) and having your guests gush over how 'great it all looks' and 'how much effort you must have gone to' and 'wow, this tastes fantastic - what's in it/is it?'

If we could get back to the basics of it all, perhaps the focus might actually be on having those conversations and entertaining our guests ourselves, instead of letting our food do it for us?

I'm not saying that a lavish meal is wrong and they we shouldn't do it, but we shouldn't let entertaining guests/opening our house be something that we stress about for the week before.  Hey, don't worry... I'm guilty of this, just in case you thought I thought I had it all right and was telling you all how it should be done!  This post is as much about me needing to change my attitude, as much as it's meant to get you thinking as well!

All that thinking from a humble "Cake Secrets" booklet published in 1925!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Pocket Cook Book

Continuing my theme writing about the books/documents I received from my aunty, I come to the next book:

"The Pocket Cook Book" by Elizabeth Woody (and members of the Food Staff of McCall's Magazine)
Another interesting and thought provoking read (okay, so I haven't read it thoroughly - 494 pages, but enough to understand the book's 'philosophy'.)

Background/Explanation/Blurb:
Published in 1942, this book was released "in order to cooperate with the government's war effort... [and] has been made in strict conformity with WPB regulations restricting the use of materials."  Woody published this book because "as a food editor I receive... many letters from women... One question has always left me up a tree:

"'Where can I get a complete and completely reliable cook book for a very little money?'"

Many cook books, it seems had been published that were 'complete and completely reliable', but none "until now has offered such completeness at a nominal cost."

The book is indeed very thorough, covering I think everything you would need to know about cooking, especially in war time (54 pages of thoroughness, in fact).  There was a whole chapter on "Good Nutrition Simplified" and went into great detail about how to buy, prepare and cook food to best preserve the vitamin and mineral content of the food.  Even a calorie counter was included (in my naivety, I didn't even realise that the concept of calories had been around that long!).  Unlike calorie menus of today, this calorie counter was purely on whole foods, back to the basics, not about how much a packet of biscuits would cost you in calories etc.  It was refreshingly simple and unrefined.

There was also a full chapter on "Leftovers".  Waste not, want not!  The first paragraphs of this chapter sum it up brilliantly:

"Somebody has said the mark of a good explorer is that he never has any dangerous adventures.  He plans so wisely they don't happen!  Similarly, it's the mark of a super-cook and a fine idea to avoid having leftovers...

"But it would take an archangel cooking for a family of cherubs to avoid leftovers entirely.  So what to do?  Certainly they should not be wasted!  And, to forget food value for the moment and talk about flavor, it's a well-known fact that good things often taste better in their second incarnation than they did in their first."

The chapter continues with a fantastic index to recipes to use those certain leftovers.

Short on funds?  It's covered in Chapter Nine, "Penny Stretchers".  It includes recipe suggestions and hints and tips.

With a few more helpful chapters, we finally come to the recipe section... 405 pages worth of recipes in fact!  You can't go wrong with that!

My Thoughts:
So, like all the other literature I've been reading, it wasn't simply a matter of reading recipes from bygone years... it actually got me thinking and comparing the then and now.

Back in Grandma Ellie's day, wasting food was not really an option - it was money wasted AND not helpful for the war effort.  These days, we live in such a throw-away, 'land of plenty' society and we take for granted so much of what we are provided with.  We look at all the easily accessible food and see it as a right, not so much of a privilege.  We just expect it to be there.  Someone else has already done the hard work to get it on the shelf.  I'm sure Grandma Ellie grew up with growing many of their fresh produce in the garden (certainly hard work) and skimped and saved to shop for necessities at the grocers; again hard work.

I'm not saying that we, as a society, don't work hard to put food on our tables, but it's a very different mind set.  Perhaps I'm generalising too much but from where I'm sitting with all the prepackaged food and aisles and aisles of products in the supermarket, I see the simple life of my grandma disappear.

I'm not naive enough to think that we could time warp our food production and diet to that of my grandma's era, but I would love to see some of the simplicity of her own growing up and raising a family included in today's world.  Just something to think about! *wink*

Master Mixes

Another document that was included in the package from my aunty was a document entitled "Master Mixes - Save Time and Money (1972)". This was actually a document used by my aunty, not Grandma Ellie, as I first thought. Not that that matters... it's just as interesting and Aunty Ellen actually gave me some background to where the document originated and some lovely memories that went along with it.

Background/Explanation/Blurb:
This document (6 pages of notes) is a list of recipes to make 'master mixes' or recipe bases yourself instead of buying premix from the supermarket (Bisquick as it's known in the USA). Each pamphlet goes into detail as to how to make the base recipe and then what variations you can make from that base, depending on what ingredients you later add to it. It also gives a cost comparison on each recipe, showing how much you could save making your own master mix instead of buying it. The master mixes were:
  • White Sauce
  • Cornmeal
  • Rolled Oats
  • Biscuit (read: scones in Australia)
  • Pastry
  • Pudding (read: custard in Australia)
My Thoughts:
Like the previous document I reviewed, this document was very thought provoking... it got me comparing today with with the past. Now, it's quicker and cheaper to buy prepackaged things from the supermarket. Things that are mass produced and contain many more additives and preservatives that wouldn't be contained in homemade equivalents. Unfortunately because of the buying power of companies, it's often cheaper to buy their prepackaged recipe bases instead of making the 'master mixes' yourself. Not to mention the time factor... we are all so busy these days that anything that makes cooking quicker is appealing. But in that, I think we've lost an art - cooking an entire meal from scratch. We've become so reliant on prepackaged food, that we just take it for granted and don't even think that there's an alternative (i.e. make the base yourself from original ingredients).

As we don't have Bisquick here in Australia, I can't do a cost comparison to see what would actually come up cheaper today, compared to 1972 (I've assumed that buying the pack mix is cheaper, because that generally seems to be accepted rule, but who knows!). There are so many packet mixes out there these days, readily available, so the mentality is to grab it and use it without thinking, but I do wonder if spending a little more time, would save a little bit of money. In any case, I'm interested in using these Master Mixes suggested and see how they turn out!

Further Background/History:
The "Master Mixes" pamphlets (handed out by the "Extension Club") hold their place in Missouri history, which my aunty shared with me...

When her kids were all small, my aunty and her family didn't have much money. They only had one car for many years and the dad would take that to work 35 miles away everyday. That left my aunty at home with 3 pre-schoolers for several years. Other than her mother-in-law, she had very little interaction with other women (I expect partly to do with living in a very small country town).

"Extension Club" monthly meetings were my aunty's salvation. The meetings were held on a rotation schedule with a different woman hosting each month. It was ALWAYS a big deal. Aunty Ellen looked forward to it for the social benefit, but it was also educational. Here is the "official" description of what they were about:

The extension program concentrated on working with farmers and their families, which comprised the majority of the nation's population, to improve their quality of life and standard of living. Extension workers demonstrated how to produce more and better varieties of agricultural commodities; how to benefit from better nutrition, clothing and housing; and how to work together to bring about major improvements, such as electric cooperatives.


Someone at each meeting gave an informal talk on something they received from the University of Missouri, which started the extension idea.

The Extension Club did fun things too. Each year they had a "come as you are" party. No one but the appointed committee knew the date of the event when they would knock on Aunty Ellen's door yelling, "come as your are" and she was not allowed to change anything about her appearance which made for some very interesting attire. The committee member would drive Aunty Ellen to one of their homes for sweets and games and then take Aunty Ellen back home.

That certainly sounds like a lot of fun, but possibly quite nerve wracking as well!

US Food Administration

The other day, I received a precious package in the mail. From looking at what that package contained, you wouldn't have suspected the million thoughts that are now running through my head would have appeared just from those innocent looking books and documents... but that's just what's happened! Each of these books/documents I've found to be so interesting and thought provoking that I just have to write about each one!

So, here begins my attempt at getting my thoughts down concisely and clearly... wish me luck!

United States Food Administration - War Economy in Food with Suggestions and Recipes for Substitutions in the Planning of Meals (Hammond, Ind. W.B. Conkey Company 1918)
Background/Explanation/Blurb:
This document was obviously published during WWI. It begins with "the President's Call to the Women of the Nation". The President's Call is a letter that was written by Woodrow Wilson (the 28th President) on June 12, 1917, sent to Herbert C. Hoover (later to become the 31st President). Excerpts from the letter include:

"It seems to me that the inauguration of that portion of the plan for Food Administration which contemplates a national mobilization of the great voluntary forces of the country which are ready to work towards saving food and eliminating wastes admits of no further delay...

"...The women of the Nation are already earnestly seeking to do their part in this our greatest struggle for the maintenance of our national ideals, and in no direction can they so greatly assist as by enlisting in the service of the Food Administration and cheerfully accepting it's direction and advice. By so doing they will increase the surplus of food available for our own army and for export to the allies..."

The document then goes on to explain about the food shortage for the soldiers fighting in WWI. Food staples required for the soldiers was wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar and the document goes into detail while those specific items were required above others. It really makes for an interesting read.

Home cards were issued, it seems on a regular basis (yearly perhaps?). "The home card for 1918, issued in January, contains those rules whose careful observance by loyal Americans will enable us to meet our present responsibilities toward all who depend on us." The document gave a detailed explanation of the rules contained on the cards, the rules in summary being:

  • Have 2 wheatless days in every week and 1 wheatless meal in every day.
  • Have 1 meatless day in every week and 1 meatless meal in every day. Have 2 porkless days in every week.
  • Make every day a fat-saving day.
  • Make every day a sugar-saving day.
  • Use fruits, vegetables and potatoes abundantly.
  • Use milk wisely
  • Hoarding food - "anyone buying and holding a larger supply of food now than in peace time, except foods canned, dried or preserved in the home, is helping to defeat the Food Administration..."
My Thoughts:
Here in the document is where I was really moved.
The next section got me thinking about the comparison of soldiers then and now and the attitude difference. I appreciate that times have changed and war now is not at all like war then. However, during WWI, reading this document I get a sense that ALL Americans, both men and women, both soldiers and those still at home were ALL fighting the war together. Each had a part to play. I don't think the same can be said today.

The document gets a bit patriotic, but for very good reason. Here's the section that got me really thinking!:

"Let us remember that every flag that flies opposite the enemies' is by proxy the American flag, and that the armies fighting in our defense under these flags can not be maintained through this winter unless there is food enough for them and for their women and children at home. There can be food enough only if American provides it. And America can provide it only by the personal service and patriotic co-operation of us all."

It goes on to list what the soldiers need (wheat, butter, lard, sugar, bacon, beef, mutton, pork) and what "(t)he folks at home can use" (i.e. substitutes to be used instead of the above list, so those staples can be sent to the soldiers).

That conjures up images of a country working together, having less so others can have more. I get that not everyone would have followed these suggestions/home cards, but I'm sure that most/many would have. It makes me wonder if we've lost that sacrificial ability, or would we take up that challenge again, if that's what was needed to win the war?

The rest of the document (the document is 30 pages in total and I've only report on the first 11 pages!) is jam pack full of further suggestions, meal plans, food savings, recipes and helps. A really interesting, thought provoking read!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Coordinating Easter

It sounds horrible - "Coordinating Easter". After all, Easter is all about celebrating the death and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Full stop. That should be enough. But as a family, it's not simply a matter of just going to church and celebrating that victory and coming home and having family time together to mark this occasion. It should be as simple as that, but it's simply not. Unfortunately.

Yes, Easter itself is really just about Christ and what He has done for us, but there are other elements of Easter as well... the family time to celebrate together, the chocolate aspect of it and the Easter Egg hunt the chocolate entails. I grew up with that and I don't want to deprive Little Spring of memories like that either.

I'm proud that we have the true meaning of Easter understood:

Little Spring the other morning when I was warming up hot cross buns: "Mummy, cross. Died."
Me: "That's right, Jesus died on the cross, but what does Easter mean?"
Little Spring: "Alive!"

So, with that taken care of (!) I need to coordinate our family time over the Easter period. Last year (our first in our first parish), we didn't actually think about it and celebrated it on Sunday... but it (egg hunt) didn't happen until after 4pm, when Big Spring got back from his last service and was very exhausted from the long day.

In light of that, this year we decided to celebrate on Easter Saturday. That's Big Spring's semi day off so thought that would be perfect. Except that that didn't happen very well. Even before we'd sat down to breakfast, he received his first phone call... which then turned into his second phone call shortly after. Not to mention all the other pastoral things that sprung up during the day including a requested hospital visit plus his Easter service final preparations.

After that experience, we decided that next year we are going to try for Easter Monday instead. He takes the week off after Easter, so Monday will definitely be his day off as we'll be on holidays, and we'll be able to have a full day of family celebrations.

Let's wait and see if that finally works!

I'm very curious to know what others of my readers who are in the ministry (or who grew up in the ministry) do over Easter to celebrate as a family, coordinating around Easter services? What works/doesn't work for you? I'd love to get some new and different ideas to see what might also work for us!

Life in Alphabet - U

is for United States of America (who couldn't see that coming?!). In case you are a new reader, I better expand on that! You see, I'm an Australian who has lived in Australia for my whole life, but a big (very big) part of my heart belongs in the good old US of A. My mum is American - she came to Australia in 1972 on a 5-year stop over to work as a Lutheran teacher, before traveling the world and then heading home.

What happened? My dad happened! They met and fell in love... she stayed for good and the rest is history! So, because of Mum's citizenship, I was able to become a duel citizen of the USA and Australia. So, I'm also American. Mum's family still live the USA - my dear, sweet family too! I've been to visit a number of times and some have visited here. Our catch ups are (too) few and far between, but when we do have those catch ups, every minute is so precious. I have such a connection and bond with them, it's amazing. We may live with an ocean between us, but that means nothing... we may be living apart, but our hearts beat as one.

I miss them all so very much, but with the internet, a good postal system and iPhones that allow free calls, the distance is made that little bit smaller.

So, without having lived there, I know that "America" is in my blood. I love everything American. Aside from my beloved family, I'm in love with their food, restaurants, clothes, prices, availability of shops, interstates, snow, how they do Christmas (and all the wonderful, warm Christmas decorations you can buy)... and so many other things. I get homesick for the USA (more to do with my family than things I've just listed) - can you actually be homesick for somewhere you've never lived? I've always wondered that!

Yep, it's in my blood and I can't see it ever leaving!

(And before publishing this post, I thought I'd make a little confession: I wish I could be called "Mom" instead of "Mum", but that wouldn't work! I don't have an American accent to justify trying to get Little Spring to also say it with an accent. I live in Australia (and do love it, by the way!), am surrounded by Australians and without an accent myself, it would seem very strained and unnatural to use the word "Mom".)

Life in Alphabet - T

is for Tortilla. One of my favourite foods! Encapsulating my favourite cuisine... Mexican!

I received a Mexican food cookbook for Christmas. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but looking forward to making some authentic Mexican food. I'm sure the Mexican dishes I've fallen in love with aren't as authentic as I'd like to think, so will enjoy testing out the real thing sometime soon!

One (of many!) things I love about the US is a fast food restaurant called "Taco Bell"... quick, yummy Mexican food! Guess where I try to eat at, at least once when I visit the States?!

What's your favourite cuisine/food?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Package

Not only was this lovely package waiting for us when we got home today, but a special package for Little Spring!
It's a tradition that my mum sends Little Spring a bunny of some sort each year for Easter.

If you were keeping up with my 30 Day Photo Challenge, you will know from Day One, Fact 5, that it's been a very long-standing tradition!

Fact 5: Since I was about 5 years old, I'd get a toy rabbit of some sort from Easter Bunny/Mum every year up until my first Easter with Little Spring... and I still have ALL the rabbits (residing at my parents' house)! Now Mum has continued the tradition with Little Spring.

These are Little Spring's previous Bunnies:

First Year (my, how she has changed since this picture was taken!):

Second Year (hasn't changed quite so much, but still not the same little girl from last year... especially much, much taller!):

Third Year (haven't got a photo of her together with the bunnies from this year, but this gives you a comparative photo of Little Spring over the years!):
On a side note, I used to collect "Sylvanian Rabbits" (which is what the bunnies are that Little Spring received this year) when I was younger... they were my equivalent of beanie bears, Pokemon... whatever the 'young ones'' collection trend is at the moment! I still have them all... at Mum and Dad's, of course!

Life in Alphabet - S

is for Surprise Packages. Yes, I kind of already covered this in my "Life in Alphabet - D", but this just backs it up! Big Spring, Little Spring and I just returned home from a mini retreat and greeting me at the front door, was a package. It was sent all the way from the U.S.A. by my wonderful Aunty Ellen. She had mentioned that she was sending me something, but I had no idea what, so it was a surprise to open the box.

I was so overcome with emotion to open it... inside were some very special, very old documents. The accompanying card explains...

"I have been cleaning out my garage - UGH! and going through lots & lots of memories. As you are the "keeper" of many of Mom's things, I am sending you items that I collected after her death. They are not all recipes, but all were touched by her at some time. Enjoy the love passed down through generations."

She also included a little present for Little Spring - a gorgeous apron with cats all over it. She loved it and started to count all the cats (she loves counting things at the moment!). I can't wait to do some baking again soon, so Little Spring can wear it... she loves baking and I'm sure will love to wear the apron too.

Anyway, here are the books/documents that were my Grandma Ellie's...
- "Master Mixes - Save time and money (1972)" - a list of recipes to make 'master mixes' yourself instead of buying from the supermarket.
- "Portland Home Economics Work Book 8th Grade - 1936 Edition"
- "Rawleigh's Good Health Guide and Cook Book (copyright 1927)"
- A scrapbook collection of recipes. Grandma Ellie wrote in the front: "Camp Fire Girls - About 11 years old when I made this".
- "United States Food Administration - War Economy in Food with Suggestions and Recipes for Substitutions in the Planning of Meals (1918)"
- "Reliable Recipes" - a recipe and hints & helps book published by "Calumet Baking Powder Co."
- "The Westinghouse Refrigerator Book - Hints, Helps and Recipes (1936)"
- "Cake Secrets" - a recipe and hints & helps book published by "Ingleheart Brothers."
- "The Pocket Cook Book" by Elizabeth Woody and members of the Food Staff of McCall's Magazine
- "Arithmetical Essentials Book One"

I've already flicked through each of the books and can't wait to sit down again and actually read each one. They will certainly be very interesting to read, especially the one published by the US Food Administration.

Thank you, SO MUCH, Aunty Ellen, for providing me with such precious things. I didn't know my Grandma at all as she died when I was very young and she lived in the US, while I live in Australia, but reading her recipes (I've previously received her recipe tin) and now these books, I can get an understand and picture of the time Grandma Ellie lived and feel that bit closer to her.

I live far away from my American family, but with all the packages they send (this was a precious one that was sent a while ago) I know I'm loved and not forgotten (!) and feel more connected to receive these items.