The book ‘Farmhouse Fare’ was always on my parent’s kitchen shelf : but I never took the time to read it until last year, when I inherited it, and now I am finding it a compelling insight into how, just one generation ago, everybody knew how to feed a family without costing the earth. It is a collection of recipes sent in by readers of Farmer’s Weekly, published in 1973 :
We are always being berated as a nation, for apparently feeding our families takeaways, kebabs and ready meals because we are too exhausted to do anything else. The book has a whole section on Basic Food Freezing, because chest freezers became commonly available, only in the late 1960’s in the UK, which fact alone is quite mind-blowing. Reading recipes for things like Braised Sheep’s Tongues, and Turnip Pie, is like having a lovely browse round an antique shop, then going for a cream tea with your Nan.
The most interesting aspect for me is how they treat meat. It is obvious that in the past, when people reared their own meat, they wouldn’t have turned their noses up at any part of that animal : from the moment it was slaughtered, it was used to feed the family : the blood was used to make black pudding : the internal organs were eaten in the first two or three days, the intestines were used to make sausages : as much of the meat preserved as possible, the bones were used for soup, the head for brawn, the feet for jelly, the tail for soup, the stomach for tripe. We are so distanced from the process of meat production that we can mostly only accept meat that is an anonymous pink slab.
I listened to this really interesting Paul Wheaton Podcast the other day, on precisely this (I’m so into blogging about Paul at the moment!) Here are the links :
They also talk about : http://www.farmsteadmeatsmith.com/
I thought proper butcher’s shops, with sawdust, and trained butchers who can saw you off a hunk of pig, were in decline in the UK, but apparently they don’t exist at all any more in the US, so we should think ourselves lucky. In North East London here, I am spoilt for choice : ethnic and traditional butchers abound in Dalston and the West Green Road in N15.
I confess, I don’t use them. Partly because I am *scared* : they will laugh and pelt me out the door with off sausages if they see I don’t know my chump from my clod, and partly because I got given rotten chicken by a butcher in Catford in 2002.