As you can imagine, I get an in-box full of recipe links every day. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that site after site has a been actively promoting throw back recipes. And not just here’s something nostalgic from twenty years ago. No, these are Depression Era recipes to stretch the family food budget or recipes your grandmother swore by in the 1940s with rations and shortages.
The underlining theme is two-fold. The first is to stretch the family food budget as much as possible. The second demonstrates how to create meals in the face of shortages (aka Rations back in the day). How to bake a cake without sugar immediately springs to mind. While it’s nice to read these throw back recipes, it bothers me. Let’s face it, we aren’t seeing these types of recipes as a glimpse into a world that once was, but rather as a way to cope with the realities of today. Sometimes the shelves are bare, or the budget needs to stretch a bit more.
Hubby and I are fortunate in that we haven’t had to make much in the way of sacrifices. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We are eating a whole lot more ground beef and an whole lot less steak. We’re cutting up our own chickens (99 cents a pound when on sale for a whole roaster) rather than buying individual packages when a recipe calls for bone-in chickens. However; when it comes to boneless, I’m sorry but most of the time after I’ve removed the bones from chicken thighs, butchered would be a polite description. And I’ve never figured out how to remove bones from a chicken breast.
We are lucky, we have several freezers and two large pantries to stock up on those bargains. We shop not only with that week’s meals in mind, but stocking up when there are good buys to be had. While not well off, there is wiggle room in the budget to buy more when things are on sale. Buying now, on sale, saves us in the future. And those future savings allows us to take advantage of future deals.
A great example would be that recently our market was phasing out a particular brand of canned peas. It was top shelf, with a clearance price was over 50% off, making them about the equivalent to the store-brand cheaper canned peas. While we only needed 1 can, we stocked up. The ability to take advantage of sale pricing makes us truly blessed. So many people don’t have the space or the budget flexibility, becoming slaves to the rising costs of weekly shopping. Sometimes that means making touch choices between food and a new pair of shoes or worse, keeping the lights on.
Recently Hubby and I met an amazing family while working at our church. Like us, they were donating their Saturday to clean up the church grounds. After volunteers spent three hours working to clean and beautify the church grounds, the Knights of Columbus grilled up burgers as a Thank you Luncheon. Not only did we have the privilege of working together as a parish, we got to break bread together as a community.
Anyhow, the family we met had recently taken their youngest child on a week-long vacation in Mexico. And not at a resort. They had signed up to work as missionaries for a week. It turns out there is an organization out there that does that – takes groups of people to work in poor communities as missionaries for a week. They stay in whatever quarters are available and put their hands to work for others. This family wanted their children to know that life is not the same for everyone. They wanted to instill a sense of responsibility and compassion in their children that only such an experience could embed. As each child reached a certain age, off they went to work among the poor, making a difference in their own lives while helping others. Amazing.
So what does this have to do with today’s recipe? Nothing really. I am always impressed when I meet people so filled with God’s abundant love that they feel compelled to act upon it.
Today’s recipe is an appreciation of the sacrifices people have made in the past, and an understanding of the sacrifices some are making today. When we get to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if only for a moment, it makes it so much easier to reach down inside and give just a little bit more. Everyone can give. Everyone can make a difference.
Hamburger Gravy over Toast
1/4 whole White Onion
1 lb Ground Sirloin
3 tablespoons Flour
1 tablespoon Beef-flavor Better than Bouillon
2 tablespoons Steak Sauce
2 cups Milk
4 tablespoons Butter
6 slices Sandwich Bread
Gather all the ingredients. Cut 1/4 of the onion, from root to tip. Wrap remaining onion, with peel, and store for another use. Peel reserved onion, cut into long, thin slivers lengthwise, then cut crosswise into diced onion.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onions, cook until meat is cooked through, breaking into small pieces as it cooks
Add flour, bouillon and steak sauce. Stir to blend well. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add butter for a silky finish.
Keep warm. If Hamburger Gravy becomes too thick, thin with a little milk or beef stock as desired.
Toast bread. Ladle gravy over toast. Serve with corn on the side.