Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Domestically challenged

Domestically Challenged by Linda Grayson
Domestically Challenged

One of the things I enjoy a lot is reading old cookery books. Margaret Sheppard Fidler who offers the following qualifications to speak with authority about being a good cook.
Margaret is a
  • Triple Honours Diploma in Domestic Science
  • Formerly Trainng College Lecturere in Cookery and Dietetics
  • Examiner in Cookery for Matriculation and other bodies
  • Inspector of Housecraft Teaching in Schools
  • Cookery Editor and Expert
  • Housewife.

What strikes me is that she was proud to be a housewife. How many women today are ' proud' to be homemakers. In my simpler life, the skills that have enabled me to stay at home are those of the housewife. When my Dh was at home and ' househusbands' were frowned upon, he used to call himself a Domestic Engineer or Director of Home Affairs when asked what he did with his life. Eventually he found other ' directors' and they had a meeting each week to compare notes.

Yesterday I watched Andrew Marr's programme about the History of Modern Britain and through it I gained an understanding how rationing, World War II and skrimping and saving had created a want to have a better time in the hope that thus, famine and war could be forgotten. Women played as an important role in those times as men did. Whilst men fought at the front line, women stayed and brought up children single handedly, in dangerous circumstances with very little resources. Andrew shared what a week's rationing was spread out on the table, and frankly it would not have been enough for our family to eat in one meal, let alone a whole week. I can understand therefore that a move towards a simpler life, could mean to some, hardship and doing without many material things, and yet, some people looked healthier and more resourceful because they had to be.

If global warming is to be halted, as reversing may not be possible at this stage, maybe rationing what we use is the way forward. It sounds harsh, it is difficult and yet what I have admired so much about the British people and humankind in general is their ability to pull together in adversity.

Margaret Fidler offers us the following advice on how to be a good cook :
  • Be interested in cooking
  • use foods when they are in season and at their best and cheapest.
  • prepare ovens, pans, tins and utelsils before mixing ingredients
  • measure accurately
  • Get all consistencies right
  • Follow basic receipes exactly and add variations
  • Understand your cooker
  • Season and flavour everything you cook.
  • taste it before serving
  • See that it is right in flavour, colour and consistency
  • Serve hot dishes hot and cold dishes cold.
  • serve attractively
  • Experiment
  • keep a record of exactly how you cook a new dish - temperature, time etc, so that you can repeat it eaxctly if it is a success and vary it, if it needs improvement.
  • It is better to cook a few dishes really well than many dishes badly.
  • Repeat your successes, with variations.
  • Simple dishes, well cooked, perfectly flavoured and coloured, and properly serviced, make perfect meals for even greater occassions.
  • Picture the meal in your eyes and in your mouth as you plan it, and let it be pleasing on the plate and the palate.

From Basic Recipes, by Margaret Sheppard Fidler, published in 1953.

I guess that stands in contrast with buzzing around, no idea what is for dinner, quick shop in the supermarket, ah lasagne that will do, whizz home, bang in microwave, dispose of packaging and get on with that project that needs to be in by tomorrow. Lots of energy spent, packaging to be disposed off, energy used in reheating etc, etc.

1 comment:

Becca said...

I'm going to print out that list and put it in my cookbook. What good advice!