November 20, 2014

Inspiration from 1942: Modern Family Cooking

Sep11

Last night, I snuggled in bed soaking up some good ‘ole fashioned wisdom from an era gone by. When I saw this gem hiding in an antique store, I snatched it up and hugged it close.

Published in 1942, I couldn’t help but be swept away by the authority in which she elevated the home maker’s importance.  There was no apology for the high calling and responsibility by which she ordered her home, and it was encouraging to read the very business like approach she took for organizing and feeding her family.

For the majority of my married life, my sole occupation was that of a homemaker, but now I am definitely trying to balance my new phase of life with that of working mom, as well.  (“Working” as in an additional occupation outside the home as well as well as working in the home. I know we all work like dogs within our home. ;))

A few years ago, I personally changed my “homemaker” title to that of Family Manager, because in my opinion, it mirrors the managerial tasks of any high level executive.

Obviously, as I read through this book, it inspires me, but I can’t help chuckling at how vastly different our society looks at cooking and homemaking during this generation.

A “Modern Day” family today doesn’t replicate many aspects of this, and I certainly didn’t read anything about “Just get dinner on the table, because sometimes ten minutes is all I have,” (part of my new mantra for 10 Minute Dinners,) but I have been challenged to reevaluate my role in the kitchen and elevate the cooking experience through this lens a bit more.

I’ve posted before about the mantra, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and yet too often, I talk a big meal planning talk, without the follow through. I was convicted by this last line in her creed, “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.”

Now obviously, I know that their emotional security is not wrapped up in whether I get dinner on the table in a timely manner or not, but it does challenge me to look at this in a way an office manager organizes their work space, and then to treat that job with the respect it’s due. When I have an idea what is happening in the “Feed the family department,” our home runs much more smoothly in the evenings (and yes, that could be frozen pizza.)

Being a Family Manager is a great calling, whether married, single, with or without kids, our homes stimulates senses and sets the tone for so many things, and now when I fill out forms, I’m proud to declare my occupation as “Family Manager.” My desire this fall is to write out my own “Creed,” and determine some of my home and kitchen goals for the few months.

Have you ever thought through some personal home goals?

Do you have them written out or do you just keep a running idea in your head? What are some of things you’d like to work on within your home this fall?

I’d love to hear about it. Let’s encourage each other with this.





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Comments

  1. I do look at my role as homemaker that way, actually. Getting healthy food on the table is a priority, and my husband and I have made sitting down to dinner happen no matter what. He actually changed jobs to be able to do that with our three kids, and we don’t schedule extracurriculars that interrupt it. I know it will be more challenging as my kids get older (currently 6, 6 and 9), but it sets a tone for our family to meet together every day that way. Meal planning helps immensely, and cooking ahead (for the freezer, using the slow cooker, etc.) has made me a lot more relaxed and able to enjoy the meal than when I was trying to stand at the stove with three little ones underfoot.

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    Elaine Reply:

    @Gina, stand firm! My husband & I made the conscious choice to NOT do sports w/ our kids (4), so that we could focus on family time & meals together. They are now 20, 22, 24, & 26, and we definitely made the right choice! They’ve brought friends home for dinner, who sit in amazement that we actually dine together and TALK! Priceless!

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  2. What a wonderful book! We try to always sit down to dinner together as a family, and my role as a homemaker is incredibly important to me. Having said that, our lifestyle doesn’t always allow me to plan dinners in advance, so I try to keep lots of store cupboard staples on hand for quick last minute meals. I also like things I can make ahead and then cook at the last minute, like the Brie and Basil Strata I’ve shared this week. Thank you for hosting.

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    Jen Reply:

    April – the great thing about your dinner making process is even though you don’t have dinners planned in advance, you still are prepared and in my book, that’s meal planning. ;)

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  3. Oh my goodness, I have that book! It got passed down to me at some point (I think from my grandmother) and some of the recipes inside of it are real treasures!

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    Jen Reply:

    Tracey – I would LOVE to know the real treasures, so I can prioritize testing those out. It’s a fun one to look through for sure.

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  4. That sounds like an awesome book. It’s funny how being a homemaker was viewed so differently just 50 years ago.

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  5. I love this post Jen! It’s a nice reminder that all the work we do at home deserves dignity and respect. Have a lovely week! Angie xo

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  6. How fun to read those older cookbooks – makes me want to get out some of my older ones again that I inherited from my mother’s collection …

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  7. I own a “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book” that I found in a previous home we bought tucked up in the corner of a high cupboard. I love the recipes in it, so simple and full of comfort!

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  8. What a perfect “creed” to illustrate why our family has moved to a whole foods diet over the past few years! And the irony is that it comes from a 1942 book – “everything that’s old is new again.” :) I LOVE that you posted this, Jen – this is a gem!

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    Jen Reply:

    Isn’t that so true? They have gems sprinkled throughout the whole book. I’ll have to share a few more. I keep reading it thinking, I really should have lived in this era, but honestly, I might be a bit too “lazy” for all the work. ( I love my modern day appliances. ;))

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  9. I’m sure there is a middle ground, particularly for women who hold down jobs outside the home. I don’t think I spend more than 30-40 minutes total preparing our evening meals and I could cut that down if I deliberately made more to have leftovers – those being the homemade version of ‘convenience food’. I have a few recipes for each of the proteins I routinely cook and only very occasionally try new recipes. A pot of steamed, seasonal veg, a protein and chopped fruit for dessert are generally all we need to stay healthy. I might occasionally throw in some rice, pasta or couscous (you can’t get any easier than making couscous).

    My meal planning is pretty simple as well. I make sure we always have carrots, onions and something green (often from the back garden), plus whatever is on sale. We shop generally every 7-10 days at a green market to get the best prices on fruit (apples, oranges, bananas and whatever else is inexpensive). Bill doesn’t care much for frozen and I’m not a fan of tinned, so fresh is the best way for us to go. Everything else I stock (I have a pantry list) as best I can when I find things at good prices (I keep a price book – I learned these things from The Tightwad Gazette). Then I consult my two lists:

    http://shelleyshouse.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/tale-of-two-lists.html

    I’ll bet the recipes in that 1942 book are wonderful, but I prefer cookbooks that have calorie counts…that’s another advantage of cooking what you know.

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