The temperatures are finally dropping in our part of the Midwest and we may (hopefully) get a brief season of colorful leaves. They appear to be starting to change but can they change before they drop to the ground? We will see.
After talking about supply chain disruptions for almost two years, it is still surprising to read the reports about just how bad they are at the moment. It doesn't bother me that some items may not be here in time for Christmas but it is alarming to find out how much the products they carry will be increased when they can get here at all.
There was a story today about a popular in-demand doll that was expensive already now selling for around $900.00 on eBay and other similar sites. Perhaps if someone is paying that much for a doll for their daughter, this would be a good time for the entire family to learn that the latest expensive fad will eventually lose its' glitter. Perhaps spending that money for a very nice family outing and making memories would be better? (I get off my soap box now.)
As you know, I keep my ear to the ground for what is going on in the world dealing with preparedness and this week I was listening to a man talk about the supply chain shortages in oil (mostly caused by political decisions) which are resulting in quickly increasing prices. Like the price of gas per gallon going up to over $7.00 in one area of California.
He suggested that anyone needing oil products who can buy them now, do so while they are available. I hadn't even thought of things like lawnmower oil and oil changes. We get the oil changed on the van at a local place we have gone to for a very long time so we didn't need to stock oil but that did send my husband to where he keeps records on car maintenance.
He decided since we were due for an oil change soon that he had better make an appointment right away. They were able to "squeeze him in" (after a two hour wait) and what had cost $29.99 the last time we had an oil change now cost $39.99. Yikes! Even though we are driving much less, it still wasn't all that long ago.
I still want to stock a little at a time when I go to the store, especially food such as canned vegetables, I realized last week that it is time to get serious about perusing cookbooks and online for more inexpensive vegetarian meals. I am from a generation where dinner was usually one meat, a starch, and one or two green vegetables.
Fortunately, I switched much of my cooking to using meat more like a seasoning long ago to stretch the grocery budget. I will still fix a steak for special occasions (although one steak divided in half instead of each of us having a whole steak) or a whole roasted chicken. However, I keep back planned leftover steak sliced to put on a salad the next day and a whole chicken can make three meals plus soup.
I keep thinking of all of those cultures that have primarily beans, rice, and vegetables as their basic meals. Usually along with wheat and/or corn for types of "bread" and various spices used alone or combined for flavor. That is my next "learn instead of buy" project. For I have found that knowledge can be just as important as a well stocked pantry.
I have some books to pull off the shelf at home as well as, of course, a plethora of recipes and suggestions online. It is just the necessity of making the research a priority and with the increase in the price of meat, the research is becoming more of a priority every day.
I don't remember if I wrote about going to the store a few weeks ago, wanting to purchase ground beef to make meatloaf. I don't make meatloaf as often as I once did since there are just two of us but I wanted to make one for that week and one for the freezer.
I buy the grass raised ground beef I use in recipes at Aldi in one pound packages and I didn't want to use any of those for a double recipe of meatloaf. I was shocked at the price of regular old 80/20 ground beef at the grocery store, it would cost around $20.00 to make one meatloaf now. I decided to wait until there was a sale.
The more I see prices increasing, the more I understand how many of the recipes people brought with them to America came to be... for instance; meatballs made with a combination of ground beef and fillers such as crushed crackers, bread, or rice. My favorite meat loaf recipe calls for adding crushed Ritz crackers, so the next time I make it I will definitely add more crushed crackers in ratio to the ground beef.
We have been blessed to live in a part of the world where most of our paycheck did not go to buying food. I can even say that we have been a little spoiled. Even when we experienced years of very limited income, we had more food options than people in third world countries.
Then we can think about not so long ago when our parents and grandparents experienced world wars and a Great Depression. Many of them had to learn to put meals on the table creatively and that is how many of the cookbooks from the 1940s and 1950s included ways to stretch the family budget.
Societies have gone through hard times before and we can choose to use this time of inflation and shortages to learn new recipes and become even more creative. Often those who were growing up in times of great shortages have fond memories of home and the kitchen.
I know many people who were raised in families where there was not much money who still consider bean soup cooked with a ham bone (if they were fortunate) and served with cornbread to be a delicacy. Nostalgia adds to the good flavor but that is definitely an inexpensive and very nutritious meal. Soup is always a good way to stretch the budget (well, unless there is lobster in it...).
It was humorous to watch Jacques Pepin and Julia Child when they cooked together. Jacques grew up as a very young person during WWII and watched as his mother had to put together food for her restaurant with constant shortages. Jacques uses everything and throws little away. Whereas, Julia was older than him in WWII and more affluent and it showed in her style of cooking. I thought it interesting that all those decades later, the difference would still be apparent in their cooking styles.
Recently, I was looking through a couple favorite books about tea time and one thing I began to notice about the various recipes is that they were mostly very inexpensive, using ingredients hostesses would have in their pantry and perhaps in their garden.
I tend to think of tea time like the tea rooms that are so lovely, those that make me feel like I have been spoiled (for I have!) by what they serve. The kind of afternoon tea service average homemakers made for their own family was quite simple and when served to friends, only slightly more expensive. For instance, adding raisins or currents to a bread for more flavor.
I know my ponderings have been all over the place today but perhaps I can wrap them together and tie them with a bow by saying this, I am beginning to learn again that one can face many challenges by remembering what homemakers in similar situations did in the past. They adjusted and most came through hard times very well. We can do the same, I am certain. Especially with God's help and His wisdom.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
Time for Tea by Michele Rivers is a favorite book to pick up and read easily since each chapter is self contained. It is about the way thirteen different British women grew up with afternoon tea in their own homes and how they look at it now. All levels of British society are included, making it even more fun to read.
More information can be found... here. (Third party)
A Little Book of Afternoon Tea is just that... a little book! It would make the perfect stocking stuffer for a person who loves tea time. Each recipe is beautifully illustrated. The baking weights and measurements are British so one would have to use the American equivalents.
More information can be found... here.
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Image: Tasha Tudor, Artist