Monday, 29 December 2014

In the Kitchen.

Christmas is all over again for another year and I hope you all had a good time.  Here at Cleethorpes we enjoyed Christmas day despite our oven breaking down in the middle of cooking the Christmas dinner!  Our daughter and family had come for dinner and, as they live quite close, they were able to rush everything to their house to finish the cooking in their oven.
Modern kitchen appliances make life a lot easier these days but when I think back to my Grandmothers' kitchen I wonder how people coped in the 1940's.
In her kitchen a very basic gas cooker was the only "modern" appliance she had to cook on.  Although there was an electric light I remember her lighting the gas light late in the day.  
Housewives in the 40's tended to cook the same meals on each day of the week, this was in part due to the fact that there were no fridges or freezers so food had to be used very quickly.
Leading off from the kitchen was a pantry, a cool room used for storing all the kitchen food items.  On the back wall, at floor level,
A meat safe similar to the one
my grandmother would have had.
was a brick built shelf or step called the gantry.  On it was placed items that needed to be kept cool, butter etc and milk.  In the summer the milk bottles would also be kept here stood in a bucket of cold water.  They would only need to be kept for 24 hours as there was a daily delivery by the milkman.  Also in the pantry was a meatsafe, resembling a small cupboard it had panels of perforated metal in the sides & doors to allow air through but keep flies out!   
Other items such as tins and baking items would have been kept on shelves around the pantry.
Another essential appliance I can remember using myself was the
Blown up diagram of a mincer.
meat mincer.  This was a funnel shaped item that fastened to the edge of the kitchen table, leftover meat, cooked and uncooked was fed into the top and, on turning a handle would go through a set of mincing wheels and be forced out of holes on the side.  Minced meat would be used to make pies and
Sausage meat.

I said earlier that housewives tended to cook the same meals on each day of the week and from memory my grandma did the same.
A typical weeks' meals would be something along these lines:
Sunday:  Roast dinner and vegetables (beef, pork or mutton.)
Monday: Sliced cold meat left over from Sunday with Bubble & Squeak (cold mashed veg and mashed potatoes saved from Sunday and quickly fried).  Monday was wash day so there was no time to cook a full meal. 
Tuesday: Maybe a pastry pie or Sheperds Pie made with minced up
Showing how the
meat was forced
out of the mincer.
meat either left overs or a very cheap stewing steak.
Wednesday:  Possibly a stew of some of the stewing steak from day before with various vegatables all cooked in a large earthenware pot over the fire in the "middle room".
Thursday:  My granddad liked his fried food so Thursday was a fried lunch.
Friday:  This day was traditionally reserved for fish, we had plenty of it!
Saturday:  Another day for a fry up.  My granddad would wait until everyone had been served and then ask for some "dip" to be put on his plate.  This was the left over hot dripping from the frying pan containing flavours of fried tomato, bacon and egg!  He liked to dip his bread into this.  Not really approved of these days!!
The last thing that I remember in my grandmas' kitchen was the door that led to the cupboard under the stairs.  Because of the sloping ceiling in there it wasn't used for much at all, the gas meter was in there and a few items put out of sight.  What I do remember though is that every month or so my mam would stand us up against the wall, just inside the door and with a ruler placed on the top of our heads she would draw a line on the wall to mark our heights with our age and the date.  Over the years we lived there you could plot our growth rate by the measurements drawn on the wall.  I often wonder what became of those marks.....maybe they're still there?