Then and Now, Some Encouragement

Heather says:

I stumbled across this little quote while browsing through The Project Gutenberg.  It’s from The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking by Helen Campbell:

Every science is learned but domestic science. The schools ignore it; and, indeed, in the rush toward an early graduation, there is small room for it.

“She can learn at home,” say the mothers. “She will take to it when her time comes, just as a duck takes to water,” add the fathers; and the matter is thus dismissed as settled.

In the mean time the “she” referred to—the average daughter of average parents in both city and country—neither “learns at home,” nor “takes to it naturally,” save in exceptional cases; and the reason for this is found in the love, which, like much of the love given, is really only a higher form of selfishness. The busy mother of a family, who has fought her own way to fairly successful administration, longs to spare her daughters the petty cares, the anxious planning, that have helped to eat out her own youth; and so the young girl enters married life with a vague sense of the dinners that must be, and a general belief that somehow or other they come of themselves. And so with all household labor. That to perform it successfully and skillfully, demands not only training, but the best powers one can bring to bear upon its accomplishment, seldom enters the mind; and the student, who has ended her course of chemistry or physiology enthusiastically, never dreams of applying either to every-day life.

Take heart, Home Eccers, ours is not the first generation to struggle with the age old question “What’s for dinner?”  This book was first written in 1880 and revised in 1893. So the next time you find yourself staring blankly into the pantry trying to figure out what to feed the family, know you do not stand alone.





6 Comments

  1. Mom of three on July 19, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Got to have lard to have bisquits (from killing hog), and corn bread comes from milled corn, and beans and potatoes had to be grown. That seems like a lot of planning ahead to me. 🙂

  2. Betsy on July 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    @mom of three:

    During that time period, meat was not the main focus of meals- the common staples of their diets were biscuits, cornbread, beans and potatoes. None of which required all that much planning and certainly not refrigeration. That all depends on people’s economic status, of course. For the majority though, that’s what it was like.

    For more lovely historical info:

    http://www.foodtimeline.org/

  3. Mom of three on July 18, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I use OUTLOOK to plan our menus. They rotate every three weeks. Want to know what I am having on jun 23, 2014? LOL

    But if I don’t know what’s for dinner, my family will just eat fast food and be unhealthy. In 1888, if a woman didn’t know what was for dinner, her family would have starved.
    It’s also unlikely her family had refrigeration, so she not only had to know TODAY what was for dinner, but she had to make plans months ago to be sure her meats were ready in the icehouse or smoke house (unless she lived in the city where she may have had more access to refrigeration and “modern” stores.)
    She would have had to grown, canned and set aside enough veggies for her family to eat, and would have had to known how to can, something I have done, but don’t know how to do alone. My daughters have never even seen it done.

    By the time my girls run their own households in 2018, who knows what kitchens will look like. Maybe no one will cook at home, maybe everyone will be on a live off the land mindset, maybe everyone will take vitamin pills and not eat at all. 🙂
    In the meantime, they know how to cool, clean, wash clothes, and maybe someday I can get their grandmother to teach them to can. I won’t be teaching them to pickle foods because I am allergic. But I will be teaching them to stay in school, get good jobs and be self supporting since no matter what society is like, you can always pay someone to do something you don’ t know how to do, or don’t want to do if you have the money.

  4. Chucker on July 18, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Heather, Thanks for a suggestion you made weeks ago ..that I just tried.

    I bought a large ready-made meatloaf and cut it into fourths. I ate one and froze three.

    Your suggestion was to break one of segments up and use it in spaghetti sauce.

    I did – and froze it in 2 containers – so this single guy has more quick meal options and more variety.

    Thanks!

  5. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on July 18, 2008 at 9:13 am

    This is great!

    Angela-I’m not expert or anything, but start while they are little with them watching and doing something very easy (like stirring something that isn’t hot, or throwing the veggies you’ve already cut into the pot, or even just tipping in a measuring spoon of something you’ve measured out) that way they are participating and seeing what is happening. As their age increases, you can increase their involvement. JMO.

  6. Angela on July 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Oh funny…I was just thinking, “boy, how could I teach my children to cook without wanting to throw them out of the kitchen in a hurry to get supper done?” It has been my thought the last couple days. Any suggestions????

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