Monday, March 13, 2017

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found"

 -Calvin Trillin

Due to food shortages caused by World War II the United Kingdom saw the start of food rationing on 27th May 1945 which, continued until the 4th July 1954.   Those years of cooking with very limited supplies certainly shaped how families cooked and ate.  Being thrifty became second nature and every leftover was carefully made into another meal.  In the 60's families started to see a dramatic rise in the standard of living.  The cookbook "Zena Skinners First Four" is quite a varied mix of basic, easy recipes that use leftovers as their focus and new and exciting international dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognaise.  

The recipe as written in Zena Skinner's First Four:

A quick and simple dish that's easy on the housekeeping money.

3/4lb cold mashed potatoes
3 chopped hard-boiled eggs
1 1/2 oz. grated Cheddar cheese
4 chopped spring onions
Salt & pepper to taste

In a basin mix the potato and all the other ingredients until evenly blended, seasoning to taste.  Mould into rolls or any shape you like, coast with beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and then shallow fry or deep fat fry until golden.  Drain and serve at once with hot vegetables or salad.  ( Approx 10 rolls)

You will notice that the egg and breadcrumbs you dip the rolls into are not mentioned in the ingredient list.  I am not sure if this is intentional and they assume that eggs and breadcrumbs are in every persons kitchen?  It will be interesting to see if this is common in cookery books from this era. 

The recipe was easy and delicious.  I didn't have cold mashed potato on hand so I made some especially for testing this recipe.  I can certainly see myself making this again but feel that I would bake the rolls in the oven, rather than frying them. 

1960's Britain
The late 1960s saw a boom in the British economy and a dramatic rise in the standard of living.  By the late 60s dinner parties had become very popular, featuring the new fashionable ‘foreign’ dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese, often accompanied by wine. Before the 1960s wine was only drunk by the upper classes, everyone else drank beer, stout, pale ale and port and lemon. Now Blue Nun, Chianti and Mateus Rose were the wines of choice. 

Recipe taken from Zena Skinner's First Four, originally published in 1968.

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  1. Eggs and bread crumbs are a staple in my kitchen. I think it hearkens back to an age where backyard chicken coops were the norm, or eggs at least were on hand and available. Breadcrumbs? When you make your own bread you very quickly realize that fresh bread only is good for a couple days - and then it's bread crumbs. We are constantly drying shortened loaves and ends (and various forms of bread products, mind you) and turning them into crumbs.

    It's really too bad that our "modern" society has gotten away from this kind of food processing. Knowing what you can do with leftovers, or specifically planning your leftovers, seems to be a thing of the past. That being said, there is a trend (slowfoodedmonton, yah!) towards more sustainable agriculture and food practices as we become more aware of industrialized food economics.

    On a side note, I like to always cook a few extra potatoes for day-after goodness - hashbrowns or fritters of some kind - also good for gnocchi!


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