A dear old friend once commented that we “have a lot of crappy old stuff.” True. Our Big Life is filled with crappy old stuff– especially books. From one old cookbook:
The Meal Planner’s Creed from The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given
(J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company, Chicago. 1958. p2)
Question. Why do authors continue to include the word “modern” in book titles– especially cookbooks, books on decorating, fashion, and so forth? I know here “modern” modifies “family” but what family isn’t modern? Oh. Those that have a lot of crappy old stuff.
So there’s no need to click to enlarge:
The Meal Planner’s Creed
The health of my family is in my care, therefore– I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.
Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job, therefore– I will choose from variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.
My family’s enjoyment of food is my responsibility, therefore– I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.
My family’s health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals, therefore– I will treat my job with the respect that is due it.
The first thing I wonder is, why a creed? The Modern Family Cookbook also has creeds for Shoppers and Cooks. What is a creed? According to Webster’s New School and Office Dictionary (1962), a creed is a “brief statement of belief.”
ASIDE: I have several old dictionaries– I think if you’re going to wonder what I’m wondering, you should make some effort to be in the same time frame. I should have referred to a dictionary older than 1958, but unfortunately, my dictionary collection has gaps. I’ll look for a crappy old dictionary from the ’40s and ’50s next time I’m out. Note that this is not the #1 definition given at dictionary.com. It is decidedly different.
A meal planner believes four things about herself. (I’ll not go PC here. It was 1958. Women did the meal planning. End of story.) She believes she is responsible for her family’s health, her portion of the family budget, her family’s food experiences, and their security and pleasure! That is a lot of responsibility. But it’s her job and she’s going to respect it. And what’s more, when she finishes planning and shopping and gets down to the business of cooking, she’s going to
… take pride in doing an outstanding job of cooking.
IMHO, the our county and culture would be a lot better off if we had more “modern” families.*
Next, I wonder why there aren’t more modern families? It isn’t hard to think ahead seven days. It’s certainly more efficient to go to the grocery store once a week rather than stopping in nearly every evening after work. And why not take pride in something as fundamental as food preparation? But how many folks do this? Honestly, these days, who actually plans a week’s worth of meals, shops for the menu, and takes pride in cooking?
But we like crappy old stuff!
Finally, I wonder about drudgery. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed several references to the drudgery of housework… how liberating it was to be released from said drudgery… etc. And I wonder about this. It’s not just this particular cookbook, or cookbooks in general, or books dealing with other household/housewife issues. I have books on farm, machine, car, gun maintenance, repair and so forth– clearly written for men– that have the same tone. This is what you do. Do it right. Take pride in it. From Mack M. Jones’ Shopwork on the Farm (1945):
With the increased mechanization of farms, it has become necessary for the successful modern farmer to be proficient in the use, repair, and maintenance of mechanical equipment of various kinds. … Although the farmer needs to be an unspecialized mechanic, rather than specialized mechanic, he should nevertheless be a good one. He should be thorough and systematic. Slovenly or slipshod methods have no more place on the farm than in other business or occupations. Machinery that works well, gates that open and shut easily, and buildings and fences that are orderly and in good repair not only save time and money for the farmer, but contribute to morale and the pride of ownership.
(My emphases. There’s that word again, modern.) Same themes as the creeds. I can only think of two things that explain drudgery and the absence of any sense of drudgery in the quotes I’ve posted. It is possible that meal planning and tending to fences is drudge work, and that everyone knew it back in the ’40s and 50s. Talk of care, responsibility, morale, pride– all directed at individuals, no less!– is just talk intended to make the poor drudge worker feel better about him or herself. Trash collection is vital– vital!– to a healthy community. Be the best you can be!!
Or, it could be wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, actually did work to become better at some aspects of home life they enjoyed less, or didn’t do as well, as others. As a practical issue, who buys a cookbook or is given one as a gift? I’m not referring to coffee table cookbooks, but rather to those like The Modern Family Cookbook which is replete with nutritional requirements and information in addition to menus and recipes. Who buys a book loaded with diagrams detailing how to do everything from roof construction to knot tying? People who want to do something better. People who take pride in what they produce and do– whatever it may be.
When did doing things you want to take pride in become drudgery?
I love the photo at the article site. This is the first thing I’ve stumbled upon from the Food Renegade site and it looks interesting. I’m a little put off by the repeated use of the word, “sustainable,” though. But I’ll keep my brain open.
My take on the question? “Rights” talk is metaphysical talk. I don’t do metaphysics. So I get around the whole issue of rights by just saying to folks who assert that I do or do not have a “right” to do X:
I don’t want to be told what to do/eat/say/think/feel. etc. Get out of my garden and kitchen, and stay away from my bookshleves. And while you’re at it, get out of my life.
(Don’t think I’m an anarchist, though. There are rules.)
There’s a BIG difference between telling what to …, and discussing the merits of doing … . The difference is choice. That’s what the linked article is about.
This is not a good photograph.* I took it behind a window. But still, if you zoom in you should be able to see four Odocoileus virginianus, white-tailed deer. Two are does, the other are fawns– they were probably born this spring.
Why the post title? Look carefully. Between the two cedar trees is an expanse of chicken wire. On the chicken wire are a bunch of clothes pins that we use to attach pieces of paper to the wire. Behind the chicken wire is an embankment. That’s our shooting range! I can see it from my desk about 85 yards away.
Note that “food” is a label. I will return to this in November.
*If you are interested in amateur photography, check out Kat Landreth’s blog, Pare and Focus. I’m working through her tutorials and ebook (I’ll try to find the link, she sent me a draft). Pare and Focus: Her photography career started because she wanted to take great pictures of the food she prepared. She’s an excellent cook.
or something like that. There’s conflicting information on the world-wide web about its proper common name, but according to New Hope Seed Company, where I got the seed, it
was always listed as a pumpkin its [sic] actually more of a winter squash. … is said to have first been listed in 1847 by New York seedsman Grant Thorburn as Green Striped Bell and most likely re-named by Burpee in 1883 to Tennessee Sweet Potato.
This particular one weighs in at 18 pounds. All told, three plants yielded seven squash, ranging in size from the one pictured to about half that. We have already baked one, basting it frequently with butter. When it was done, we cut it into cubes and froze it (after taking a taste).
And that is one of the things I like most about winter squash! If cured properly, healthy winter squash store well in a basement or cool room for six to nine months; there’s no need to process the pulp until you’re ready to eat it. I cured the one we froze properly, but it wasn’t perfect. It had a bad spot. Most veggies that have problems while still on the vine need to be plucked off and composted/thrown away. But winter squash can be salvaged simply by harvesting as usual, cutting out the bad spot, and eating or freezing.
The other squash in the photo are sugar pie pumpkin, and spaghetti squash. No, that’s not a bad spot on the left spaghetti squash. It’s just discoloration. As Ann Atlhouse’s tomatoes remind us, “… your flaws get counted as beautiful.” Shouldn’t that be, “as beauty?”
A few comments about New Hope Seed Company, located just north of Memphis. They do not have a wide variety of veggies. But if you want heirloom and open pollinated seeds for a Southern climate, they can’t be beat. And their customer service is incredible. On my order last January, I commented that I was disappointed to see that their crop of Old Tennessee Muskmelon had failed, hence seeds were not available. We had really enjoyed it the year before. Their description:
A very old variety. It has been dropped from commercial catalogs, is rare and seems to be near extinction. The fruits weigh an average of 12 pounds, are 12 to 16 inches in length, and are elliptical or football-shaped. Our family has grown this melon for well over 50 years. This is my personal favorite muskmelon. They must be picked at the peak of ripeness, when the fruit has turned a golden-yellow and they easily slip from vine. They should be dead ripe for the best taste. They do not keep very long. Sweet aroma that will carry over a long distance. Definitely not a shipping melon.” This is a garden-to-table melon.
And what did I get in my seed order? A packet of Old Tennessee Muskmelon seeds, and a handwritten note. Talk about Big Life!
An SEC tailgate at which we bar-b-qued 260 pieces of chicken.
This is big BIG food! Let me walk you through the photo. The guy in the white shirt is Mr. Big Food, and the very proud owner of all three grills. Two of the grills– guess which one?– our local welding guy, Jesse, made. We had one drum already, and bought the second from a fellow down the road who specializes in junk. We think they are very redneck, but some at the tailgate didn’t agree– too fancy, what with the wheels and trays.
Zoom in on the photo and you’ll see, on the table to Mr. Big Food’s left, five gallon wine jugs (and in front of them five plastic bowls). Four of them contain different homemade BBQ sauces: horseradish-mustard, beer, teryaki, and dark karo. The fifth jug has the “mop”: green tea with a splash of hot sauce. Mop is the key to BBQed chicken. The chicken goes on skin side down and gets flipped once, as is. Then, every time the chicken is turned, it gets mopped liberally. Here in the South grocery stores sell what really are mini-mops for mopping. The mop keeps the chicken moist while it’s being grilled. BBQ sauce only gets slathered on at the very last couple of chicken flips.
In total, I think we used six 16-pound bags of charcoal, and six small bags of hickory. I’m still smelling it!
Only 258 pieces of chicken got eaten, though. We dropped two.
And how’s this for some Big Life? It was a night game so we had to leave the grills and some other items on campus over night. Next day it was all still there. I love it here. And there’s nothing quite like an SEC tailgate. Here are a two more photos.
The grills wait patiently while we pick up the chicken.