Growing up during the end of the depression and WW2 I learned young what this meant. A good cook never wastes. We were on food rationing in 1940 when American finally joined the war in Europe after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We were allowed so many ration points each month to purchase food, sugar, flower, clothes, shoes, luxuries, and all we take for granted today. My Mother learned what it meant to take care of the food we had in our home an to make what we had for the month last.

 At the USO my Mother would teach women how to cook and conserve foods. Each meeting I heard her repeat over and over again A Good Cook Never Wastes. It is in her pride to make the most of everything in the shape of food entrusted in her care. My Mother would explain to the women who attended her cooking class it was their pleasure to serve the food prepared in the most appetizing form. In no other way can she prove her excellence, for poor cooks are always wasteful and extravagant.

When shopping for food to prepare at home we need to learn to shop intelligently and economically. It is important to understand the three divisions of foods. The first being carbonaceous, or heat-giving foods; such as the inner part of the cereals, fat meat, milk, honey, liver, grapes, peas, beans, potatoes, beets, carrots, and parsnips. These foods are the best diet for hard steady workers. Second food group nitrogenous or flesh-forming foods; lean meat, unbolted flour, oatmeal, eggs, cheese, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, spinach, asparagus, and artichokes. This food group is best suited for ones who work rapidly with intervals of rest. The third group is brain worker who should eat mainly light and digestible foods. These include fish, oyster, fruits, game, and vegetables containing minerals, and salts in excess. Foods are divided by working class men and women. Those who work hard all day long without breaks need a different type of food group than those of middle class worker. Upper class worker need less fatty foods  in their diets considering they only sit and do not exert such energy as lower and middle class worker.

Meats had season to buy before. They were available all year round but as the general rule went pork was best in the autumn and winter; veal should be avoided in summer for sanitary reason; and even the staples of beef and mutton vary in quality. Today due to new techniques in farming and raising animals it does not apply to the general rule. It is important to know the flesh of healthy animals;  it is hard and fresh colored. The fat next the skin is firm and thick. The suet or kidney-fat clear white and abundant; if this fat is soft, scant and stringy; the animal has been poorly feed or overworked. Beef should be bright red in color, well marbled with yellowish fat, and surrounded with a thick outside layer of  fat. Poor beef is dark red, full of gristle, and the fat is scant and oily. Mutton is bright red, with plenty of hard white fat; poor mutton is dull red in color, with dark, muddy-looking fat. Veal and pork should be bright flesh color with abundance of hard, white, semi-transparent fat. When the fat is reddish and dark, the meat is of an inferior quality. Veal and pork should be eaten very fresh.

 Today when we shop in stores we see this is not true. Before our meats were of better quality. The animals are now feed processed grain which cause more gristle in our meats today. It is hard to find a good piece of meat today in our local stores. More people are starting to look into buying grange feed beef for their home. These animals are allowed to feed naturally like nature intended them to feed.

On the farm in Texas Grandma raised chicken for food and eggs. She had a rule for picking her chicken for every supper. Fresh poultry is known by its full bright eyes, pliable feet, and soft moist skin. The best is plump, fat, and nearly white and the grains of the flesh are fine. The feet and neck of a young fowl are large in proportion to its size. The tip of the breast-bone is soft and easily bent between the fingers. The young cock has short, loose, soft spurs, and a long, full, bright red comb.

Today it is hard to judge by these rules. The animals are kept in small cages and feed mass produced grains. The foods in our market today are not natural and full of chemicals used in production. Most of the food we see in stores today comes in boxes and cans. You can buy all your food ready made and only need to pop it in the microwave and eat. But is this healthy for you? It is best to try and buy as much fresh foods that are available to you. Fresh grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and try picking the meats that are grange feed. If fresh vegetables are not in season it is possible to buy frozen vegetables to take the place of fresh. Stay away from canned fruit juices and ones that come in bottles and can. If at all possible try to buy your own fruit and squeeze your juices. Fresh fruit is much healthier for you than processed in bottles and cans.

Sweet herbs are necessary in good cooking; they add variety and savory flavors to any disk. All varieties of herb are purchased now in stores. To have the freshest herbs for cooking I make a small herb garden and keep it year round. Different herbs I use for cooking are sage, thyme, summer savory, sweet marjoram, tarragon, sweet basil, rosemary, mind, burnet, chervil, dill, and parsley. If growing your own herbs parsley, tarragon, and funnel should be dried in May, June, and July just before flowering. Mint should be dried in June and July; thyme, marjoram, and savory in July and August. Basil and sage in August and September and all herbs should be gathered in the sunshine, and dried by artificial heat. Their best flavor is preserved by keeping them in air-tight tins cans.

When cooking I recommend you to make a spice-salt. It is made by drying, powdering, and repeated mixing of the following ingredients:

  • ¼ ounce of powdered thyme, bay leave, and pepper
  • 1/8 ounce each of rosemary, marjoram, and cayenne pepper or powdered capsicums
  • ½ ounce each of powdered cloves and nutmeg
  • to every 4 ounces of this powder add one ounce of salt

Store the mixture in an air tight container. One ounce of the mixture added to three pounds of stuffing, or any meat makes a delicious seasoning.

Please try my special spice seasoning and share with all your friends. I hope you enjoy the information supplied today and that you come back again soon to read about making soups. In my next post I will start talking about soups and some of the different kinds you may prepare at home. I look forward to seeing you again.