Cooking with Shirley Home Page

Hi, my name is Shirley. I grew up at the tail end of the depression and during World War II when there was lots of food rationing. Sugar, flour, coffee, meat, and many other items were rationed, and you could only get a limited amount each month. Also, people didn't have much money. Times were tough.

We moved to an older farmhouse with 8 acres when I was 3 and when my mother was expecting her second child. We had a barn and a chicken coup. We bought some milking cows, some chickens, some rabbits and got some cats to keep the rodents controlled. We also had a dog. It was a lovely little valley with a river nearby. We could hear that river rippling over the rocks, and we swam in the icy water on hot days.

We had a victory garden each summer and mother would can all sorts of vegetables, fruits, jams and jellies. We had berries, and what we didn't have, we would pick out in the woods or at farms that allowed "u-pick" at a cheaper rate. We had a freezer and a root cellar. Dad would go hunting in the fall in eastern Washington and bring back a couple of boxes of red and yellow delicious apples and cases of oranges and grape-fruit. Our root cellar contained potatoes, beets, turnips, and various other root vegetables that would last part of the winter. Stores in those days during the winter months contained a few root vegetables, some winter squash, bananas (sometimes), and iceberg lettuce that was shipped in from California and was very expensive.

We also had fruit trees - 3 apple trees, 2 cherry trees, a pear tree and a plum tree. A lot of trading went on between neighbors. You could get something you didn't have by trading for something they wanted. Mother and Grandma canned applesauce, pie cherries, bing cherries, apple pie filling, pears and other items. Some items were purchased by the case at the store such as peaches because we couldn't grow them in the cooler western Washington climate.

Then we sold some of the milk we got from the cows to augment our income. Mother also made cottage cheese and butter from scratch. We also made our own ice cream sometimes. Of course we always had cream for the coffee and cereal and to whip for desserts. We had our own eggs and even sold some to neighbors. We had venison from Dad's hunting expeditions along with fresh lake trout, steelhead and salmon. He later stopped hunting, but when food was scarce, it was essential to have enough meat. We also had pheasant and duck, which I never could get very enthusiastic about.

I share this because things were a lot different in those days than they are now with the supermarkets that have deli food that is already prepared, huge produce and meat sections, fresh fish, bakeries and even catering. Since retiring to our 2 acre retirement property we have a berry garden and a small victory garden. I can jams, jellies, preserves, apple and pear butter, apple sauce, pickles, pickle beets, many other pickled vegetables, tomatoes, salsa, relishes, chili sauce and some pie fillings. I also have tried catsup and it is good, but it takes a lot of tomatoes. The same applies to tomato paste and sauce. Since the latter two items are not too expensive in the stores, I find it easier to just buy them.

My mother and grandmother shared their knowledge and many of their recipes with me. We always had nutritious meals that included meat, poultry, fish or beans, a starch such as potato or rice, a vegetable, a salad and a dessert along with milk and/or juice.

I want my grandchildren to grow up to learn to cook healthy and to feed their children some of the things my family cooked years ago. I want them to use fresh ingredients instead of eating lots of prepared foods that contain ingredients I know nothing about and can't even pronounce. Their moms work and don't have time to teach them during their growing up years. Because I remember how it was to work and come home tired, I understand that they don't have the time to spend teaching them how to can, cook, bake and shop. I can only hope that this legacy will help them in some way to prepare them for the years when they will have to work and prepare meals.