Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tougher Where There's None

My mother and stepfather grew up during the Great Depression.  And my grandmother Nana was a young wife with five kids to feed during those tough times.  Those days always stayed vivid in their memories.  So, as you might imagine, the topic of "making do" came up pretty often.  Dad always liked to remember how his father had once complained about the very tiny, very tough portion of meat he was served at supper one evening and his mother had commented tartly that he should recall that "it's a lot tougher where there's none!"

For various reasons, money was often short at our house--kinda like our own version of the Depression, I guess you could say.  But we worked together, we got creative, and we managed. 

I remember more than a few times when lunch was homemade bread (but no butter to spread on it) and cheese; nothing more, other than a glass of water (from the faucet; we didn't have bottled stuff).  I remember preparing supper for Dad and I one evening when Mother had to work late and Nana was out of town.  The only thing we had was a homemade pot of baked beans.  But I believed we could do a little better, so I scrounged up a tiny little bit of Bisquick and some flour, the very last tablespoon of butter, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar so we could have something-that-resembled-coffee-cake with those baked beans.  And it tasted so good. 

Yeah, I learned the virtues of making-do early.  And it's something I still have to do.  Right now, I'm actually very glad for those early lessons that taught me to use ingenuity and patience in adversity.  Today is June 11; I haven't been able to go to the grocery store since May 23, and even then (as you might recall if you have read earlier posts) I only had $6 to spend.  I haven't done any regular shopping since April.  Things are getting kinda thin around here but there's still enough for now. 

Today I have been neatening up the pantry today to move the empty containers out of the way and to see what could be done for meals.  Seems like there's more empty containers than anything else.  And the fridge is also so echoingly empty that I'm seriously thinking of unplugging it tomorrow because there's no point paying for the electricity to keep it going if there's nothing in it--and there isn't anything other than a cube of margarine, a couple of apples, a bottle of Worcestershire, and a jar of out-dated mustard.

But lunch.....what to do?  There was pasta but no sauce.  No canned tomatoes or other veggies.  No cheese.  Not even any olive oil. 

But it still wasn't hopeless.  Not at all.  Tucked away in the pantry I found a small jar of mushrooms and a tiny can of black olives.  There were a couple of cloves of garlic and a bit of margarine in the fridge.  And there was a small green tomato that had fallen off one of my volunteer tomato plants.  Sunday lunch, no problem!

Put the pasta on to cook.  Saute chopped garlic.  Add chopped green tomato and saute a little longer.  Just before the pasta is ready, add the mushrooms and sliced black olives to the saute.  Add some crumbled home-grown lemon basil.  Drain the pasta.  Stir it all together.  Top with a sprinkling of sea salt.  And done.  Easy.  Tasty, too. 

There's plenty enough leftover for lunch tomorrow as well. 

I probably would never have made this if there had been other choices available but that's okay.  It was warm; it was good; it was filling.  And it reminded me how grateful I am for those lessons in Depression Era thinking:  we may be down but we have a choice as to whether to be done.  And I'm not done.  Not by a long chalk.  Give me another week or two so I can make some eBay sales to get a couple of bills paid, and I'll be able to start filling the pantry again.  In the meantime, I'm gonna stay creative.

Life is good.

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