Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fifties Fast Food

When I was a child, back in the 1950s, fast food just hadn't been heard of.  Mother's idea of a convenience food was a ready made loaf of bread.  Everything I ate at home was cooked from scratch at home.  Mother baked bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries. We ate seasonal vegetables often grown by my Father.  Mother made copious quantities of jam so that hunger could be satisfied with thick slices of bread covered with jam.

Mother didn't go out to work but she worked very hard at home.  Open fires created a fair amount of dirt, children coming in from playing brought in more, and a husband who worked on the steelworks did his bit too, even though he was a "white collar worker".  Cooking, baking, mending, gardening, and looking after a family all took time and shopping had to be done almost daily in homes where there was no fridge.

The busiest day of the week was Monday.  On Monday every self-respecting housewife did her washing.  We had an electric washing machine and mangle and when I was about eight Mother acquired a spin drier, quite a feather in her cap!  But even with those "labour saving devices" washday was hard work.  There were no easy-care fabrics, tumble driers were still in the future and if the weather wasn't kind laundry had to be dried indoors which meant an endless rotation of clothes horses so everything got its time near the fire.  And don't get me started on the joys of ironing!

All this meant that meals on a Monday had to be easy so well organised housewives planned ahead and made sure that there were leftovers from Sunday dinner.  (I'm a northerner, the midday meal was always called dinner.)  In our house that meant that on Monday we had either cold meat and fried potatoes, pancakes and gravy, or bubble and squeak.

So yesterday I had bubble and squeak.  I'd cooked some extra cabbage yesterday when I made stuffed cabbage so I fried a few bacon lardons and mixed mashed potato (from the freezer), cabbage and bacon and made patties and fried them.  Scrummy!


  1. I think when people talk about stay at home mom's today and compare them to stay at home moms from their own, or their grandparents day, they are very different. I don't begrudge anyone havin ghe financail means or the finalcial juggling skills to be able to make it work to have a parent at home with kids and taking full care of the home, but it is very different than when there were no modern conveniences like yo describe. I'm sure there was often caretaking like we think of today with children often only squeezed in amongst the must do chores.

  2. It is really hard without washing machines, dryers and dishwashers. I do wash dishes by hand, yet, if I am too tired, or not in a mood, then there is dishwasher. Laundry is not much work anymore. Folding the clothes is the only time consuming thing I have to complain. all these are considered luxuries in the past and they are just the daily life for us.

  3. I remember helping mum every Monday to do the washing. We had a single tub and mangle at first but the we got a Hoover twintub, we were the bees knees! Whites first, followed by the not to dirty coloureds, then finally the filthy work clothes. Most things were made from scratch but having an older brother who worked for Jacobs biscuits was a definite bonus.

  4. I remember growing up in the 50's and we didn't have a car, washing machine or electric dryer. We took the city bus everywhere except grocery shopping which we rode with my grandfather. My mother washed our clothes in our kitchen sink which was huge and not divided. She hung them out on the line to dry and she ironed them. She cooked a lot from scratch but didn't do bread. She loved convenience foods -- chips, cookies, soda -- and we always had it in the house. She definitely did more hard physical labor than I have ever done though.

  5. I really do enjoy reading your posts and the comments that follow. Thank you for making the effort.
    When I had my daughter we lived in a farm cottage with no electricity, everything was washed by hand and mangled and I actually cooked on gas. Can't believe things have changed so much! Mx