Centuries and milestones

Following the recent visit of The-Son-from-another-Mother, a package arrived – from The Real Mother in the Wirral.  A wonderful, handwritten note in a card (I’m so bad at that, these days), a cushion cover which she rightly knew I’d adore, and a set of booklets.


The booklets are fascinating:  their publication spans a century – from Jamie SAM_3778Oliver in the 21st, to publications by the National Food Economy League and the Board of Education’s Economy in Food, early in the 20th.

The last was published in July 1915 – exactly a century before its arrival, in The Sandbag House, in July 2015.

It is clearly well-thumbed, dispensing sage advice which drives home that old cliché:  the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Or, perhaps it’s a matter of things coming full circle?

In his introduction, then President of the Board of Education, Arthur Henderson,* admonishes readers to save money, eat less meat, not waste food and to buy economically.  Because of the First World War, also the War to end all Wars.


“Save money, eat less meat, don’t waste food and buy economically” seems to be a mantra for 21st century:  it’s a different war though (not that we live in an idyllic world with no wars – on the contrary, there is more war now than ever).  This war is being fought on several fronts:  a recession, a war over whether or not meat is good for you and/or whether its production is detrimental to the environment which, in turn, is under threat – some would say – from humanity’s mere existence.

FishPieKedgereeI was fascinated, going through the booklet, to find recipes for dishes that were childhood favourites of mine:  kedgeree (for years, my childhood wish for a birthday supper) and fish pie (still a favourite winter comfort food).

And, strangely enough, when the package arrived, I had been going make a fish pie  – until I found some “new” potatoes at the market.  Consequently we had, effectively, a deconstructed fish pie of lightly pan-fried hake, new potatoes cooked with mint, and loads of parsley sauce, served with this season’s first peas.


So, from a cooking and, perhaps lifestyle perspective, what has really changed between 1915 and 2015?

UrsulaOne doesn’t cook with dripping, suet or lard anymore.  My mother, who grew up on rations in the Second World War, used all three:  she always had a bowl of dripping in the fridge (for roasting and frying), suet was used for the Christmas pudding (and the odd dumpling) and lard for pastry!

I wonder:  how many people know what lard is?

I use olive or canola oil if I need any additional oil or fat for frying or roasting.  I confess to never having made a Christmas pudding, let alone a dumpling, and would never dream of using lard for pastry!

A different kind of century

In reflecting on changes in cooking habits over the last century, I thought it was quite apt that this will be the 100th post on Fiona’s Favourites, and that it will be in July 2015.  The fiftieth was posted on the 12th of December 2014, 11 months after I started blogging, and on which day, I actually posted twice, something I’d never done before, nor since.  The next fifty have followed in roughly half that time.

In the blog’s first year, it had 3,233 views.  In the year to date, it’s had more 3,300, and counting.  Fiona’s Favourites continues to evolve and has had visitors, from parts of the world I am likely never to see, from Gibraltar to Trinidad and Tobago, and from Albania to Burma.  Fiona’s Favourites has followers on Facebook and  Twitter, as well as more recently, Bloglovin‘.  I have friendships with fellow bloggers from all over the world, on WordPress, where I have become part of a robust and vibrant virtual community that reflects the real world in which we live.

SAM_3374To each and all who drop in – thank you.  A special word of thanks to those who “like” and comment – it’s appreciated more than you know.

And here’s to the next milestone, whatever it might be!

* Arthur Henderson, as President of the Board of Education (effectively Minister of Education), was an interesting man.  The Glaswegian son of a labourer and a domestic worker who entered an apprenticeship at 12 (completed at 17, and working at 12, would have modern parents and lawmakers having, as my Glaswegian father would have said, ginger twins), he entered politics (Labour, of course) and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

I could rant, for hours, about how Henderson’s qualifications and career path would be viewed in the 21st century, but I’ll reserve that for my day job.
Read more about about him using these links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Henderson

© Fiona’s Favourites 2015

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16 thoughts on “Centuries and milestones

    1. Thank you, Jenny!
      We nearly blew away last night. The rain arrived at about 06h30 this morning – not too heavy – and with sun, so the rainbows are glorious. It is snow weather, though, and we haven’t had any this year


  1. Actually, I use lard. When I started reading up on the ketogenic diet I learned that fat was not the enemy we had been taught it was, and one of the things I did was get some lovely white leaf lard fat (it’s the purest fat from a pig’s kidneys) from the butcher who cut our beef. This is lard from locally raised pigs, of course – not the poor tortured beasts of factory farms, which I do not consume because that’s just evil. We rendered the lard in a slow cooker and it’s wonderful for cooking; I haven’t used it for baking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! And that makes a lot of sense. I know of a Yorkshire woman (roughly the age my Mum would have been) who does chips in lard. The pastry can be a little soapy… How the wheel turns!


      1. The important thing about rendering lard is you have to be SLOW, and you stop when it starts to think about maybe sizzling. It doesn’t all render down; you have to be willing to toss some out. The first batch we made was purest white and wonderful – you could have used it for anything. I’m now using the second batch, which Himself did in a bit of a hurry – just a smidge more heat, and he didn’t stop when he should have – so it’s yellowish. Still tastes okay, but I wouldn’t use it for anything but eggs or meat dishes.


      2. I have cooked with both lard and dripping – the former in my mother’s house and the latter in mine. And when we’ve bought meat in bulk, The Husband has rendered the fat down for cooking – slowly. I have to say that I prefer to use olive / vegetable oil when cooking anything other than meat because the fat tends to go claggy when the dish cools down. Also, because we have lacto ovo vegetarian friends, and others with religious dietary issues, I find it’s just easier to avoid the lard and other than dairy animal fats. As I write, I also remember both my parents talking about lard being substituted, at times for butter. Before I went to boarding school, a regular weekday breakfast included fried bread – fried in either lard or dripping….lovely with All Gold Tomato Sauce 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow what wonderful booklets to recieve I am jealous….. I cook with Coconut Oil and love it, doesn’t burn and food is so crispy and dry ( no oil taste)But xmas pudding is amust I still make them here. 🙂


    1. I’ve not tried cooking with coconut oil. I must give it a go. It’s very expensive here. As for the Christmas pud, I guess I’ll give that a go one day, but it’s not on my priority list because I confess that I actually don’t like it! One never knows, though…


      1. It is quite expensive here compared to other cooking oils although I will say the price is coming down and I tend to buy in bulk and then it brings the cost down further. As for xmas pud it’s not everyones cup of tea… 🙂


    1. I’ve never used lard – I’ve used margarine (a long time ago) and now, if I don’t buy the pastry (very lazy of me), I use butter.
      Thanks for dropping by, Joanne


  3. What a brilliant package to receive from your mother! It’s a shame post (the fun kind, not bills and the like) is sent so rarely, but on the plus side it is all the more special when you receive something like that through the post. Really enjoyed your exploration of how our eating habits have evolved in some ways and stayed the same in others (even if rhetoric behind the habits has changed).


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