Saturday, April 14, 2012

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.

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!

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