I have got my hands on some priceless gems. My mother’s cookery books. My parents married in 1971 and my mum took a cookery course. Her mother was a wonderful cook but my mum was not that interested to learn until she got married and decided she needed some extra help if she was going to be a successful seventies housewife.
My favourite of all her books is an actual ‘notebook’ that she took along to her class to jot down the recipes they were taught each week. It has a wonderful brown and orange seventies pattern on the cover and the pages are now a little brown and aged. It actually has the word ‘Notebook’ embossed on the cover in gold print. As I flick through it, it always makes me laugh to see the little scribblings I made when I was about seven. As I child I went through a phase of writing my name in everything and ‘marking’ everyone’s work.
Anyway, the reason I have asked my Mum if I can borrow her books, is that the recipes are wonderful. So simple and so delicious. The two most important things for me when considering trying to cook something new. The other reason I am borrowing it is to see if I can adapt the recipes for Zac – and the rest of us I suppose. So many of my favourite home cooked foods came from this book and I want to see if I can broaden the children’s repertoire and create some new Zac friendly recipes at the same time.
If you have read many of my other blog posts you will know that I feel quite strongly that something has gone wrong with ‘modern’ food, as so many of our children are intolerant to so many things. I am not sure if it is nostalgia or my memory but I do not remember having many, if any friends, who were allergic to foods or who had asthma.
So what happened between my childhood and the arrival of my children? Have I done things differently? That is another reason I am now studying these old books. What has changed? Is it us modern mums or the shops and foods available to us? At first glance, it is clear the recipes were very much more simple. I am always more likely to try a new recipe if it has few ingredients and minimal steps.
From these recipes it is clear that they were not reliant on pre-prepared ingredients in the seventies. There is no reference to ready- made pastry etc. It seems that if you wanted a pie for dinner, your mother just went to the shops bought the ingredients and made one. No e numbers, no preservatives and no ‘junk’ ingredients.
And that is what living with an intolerant child does to you. It changes your lifestyle to one last lived decades ago. I seem to go food shopping every day. I spend my whole days cooking from scratch and when I am not cooking or clearing up from cooking, I am thinking about what I should be cooking next. Good job I actually like doing it and don’t have a ‘proper job’.
Anyway, I never rely on being able to pick up a snack off the shelves any more, sandwich shops no longer exist for us. If we are going out then I need to pack food for Zac. I often envy my sister who can just grab a sandwich for her little boy, but I always have to plan ahead and we have to pack a lunch for Zac and carry it wherever we go.
Just yesterday, while basking in the glory of my rock cakes, I suddenly remembered I had not even thought about what I would give the children for dinner. It is not like I can just pull some chicken dippers or something out of the freezer so I ended up ‘knocking up a soup’.
I just chopped up all the vegetables in my fridge, chucked them in my slow cooker, seasoned them, poured in two cans of tinned tomatoes, a couple of large squirts of tomato puree, some garlic, some herbs and a pint of stock – made using Marigold Swiss Bouillon (gluten free, dairy free – totally safe).
Four hours later and dinner was ready. I just whizzed it up with a hand blender and poured it over some freshly cooked gluten free spaghetti and watched the little ones get stuck in. Very satisfying to know that they were eating a sauce freshly prepared by me containing about eight different vegetables and very little else.
The beauty of this ‘soup’ recipe is that it is so versatile and requires minimal attention. You can leave it unblended and it is a ‘rustic’ minestrone or chunky pasta sauce, sometimes I add tuna just to really feel like I have done some cooking! I always make a ‘vat’ of it, so I can freeze several portions and make sure I am not in the same position I was in yesterday – 1pm and no idea what to give the kids for tea.
So this is my new life. Feeding my intolerant child is pushing me into the lifestyle of the average seventies housewife – but actually I love it. Yesterday was full on shopping, cooking and clearing up but watching the little ones bolt down their spaghetti and then devouring their cakes made me so happy. Now I need to push on and attack those lovely old cookbooks. If I keep going with my new/old lifestyle will I be able to make Zac less fussy and the rest of us more healthy? Let’s hope so.