Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tranquil Fury

I thought I'd start with an image that explains how I feel this week.

You see, there's a sort of calm that can overtake a mother when her child is hurting, suffering. A frightening kind of calm taught to us by our mothers, our grandmothers, our great grandmothers and so on into the mists of time. I've gone beyond my usual ranting and raging anger and into this "eye of the storm" sort of calm, the kind of calm that you walk around with a bemused smile while things explode around you. Carrie calm.

Or Harley Quinn.

Junior's school has been less than honest with us about the state required support that they are giving him. When we have heard more about Coupon Books than we do about our child's class, then we take issue. Unfortunately, we can't afford a private school, so we'll have to fall back to the ultimate in Private Education: Home Schooling. This is hopefully just a stop-gap until we can either find a private school that we can afford OR he goes into Middle School.

In the meantime, I have a number of influential teachers for inspiration:

Constance Hardbroom, The Worst Witch

Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter

Dr. Penny Ferguson, MHS

These women are, to me, what a teacher should be, strict but fair, stern but caring, and challenging to all their students. I may not be as mighty as they are, but as with everything on the Home Front, I do it because I have to, not always because I want to.

It's not all frustrating news, though! After six years of wearing the same khaki pants, my husband found new pants that he likes, which means that I can leave off attempting to patch his pants.

There's only so much one can do.

The next and most important step for the Home Front will be budgeting. Not just for groceries (using whole foods means that for a standard week of groceries, we can spend under $100 for three people), but also for other things. I'll be working on our home plan and probably have something to post on it next Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! A Fishy Dilemma.

Good afternoon, Mrs. Jones. I see you looking rather glumly at your cupboard.

Why fish is a healthy source of low fat protein! And it can store well in a cupboard for when you run low on points. Whatever could be the matter with that?

I see! Well, as our friend Prudence Penny reminds us:

No matter how you cook it --
In any way you wish,
You can't disguise the odor --
Fish always smells like fish!
But what about the flavor?
It's really up to you
Whether it's the same old thing
Or some taste treat that's new!

Mrs. Smith knows that with a few basic ingredients, you can  make a fantastic casserole that can really hook your family. Here's a recipe that can make a can-in-the-back into the Catch of the Day! Don't let the name fool you, not only is it a tasty casserole treat, it also serves well cold for sandwiches the next day.

Seafood Loaf

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 C salmon, tuna, mackerel or other cooked fish
  • 1 C medium white sauce
    • 2 Tbsp butter melted over low heat, combine with 2 Tbsp flour until smooth and then 3/4 c cold milk, cook until thickened.
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C pickle relish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 1 C dry bread crumbs (Mrs. Smith uses the ends of her homemade bread after it gets stale!)
    • Combine all ingredients.
    • Mix well and pack into greased loaf pan.
    • Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until set.
    • Serve with egg or mushroom sauce (optional).
Don't forget to recycle those cans! and Keep 'em flying Mrs. Smith!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!

Well, it's been a rough battle on the Home Front this week. The dog had to go to the vet on Monday and freaked out over storms last evening, my Tuesday FotHF got delayed until Thursday because I had to research which pushed the Thursday post to today. I know what you're saying right about now: ON WITH IT!

Okay! Here goes!

As you may or may not be aware, I am not, in fact, made of money.

 Nor does it rain from the sky.

We don't go on expensive trips, we don't throw wild parties, and we can't afford a house keeper or lawn service. These aren't problems, these are facts; and these facts are the reason we are incorporating so many ideas from our forebears here at the Home Front.

That's not what I meant.

The idea is to turn from this disposable convenience culture and not only save the planet a little, but also stretch our thin budget. I've read online about a number of different families that live at or below their means, but there are a few things that work better for them than work for us here on the Home Front.

For one, usually it's a two-income household, and those incomes are greater than ours. For another, they may clip coupons, but if you've ever gone coupon hunting, you'll realize that they are all for processed junk foods. Finally, they are not supporting a husband getting their PhD. Not that there's anything wrong with the work they ARE doing, it's just not going to work for us.

We, therefore, must find new and creative ways to save money, and that's where the Home Front has come in. For instance, growing your own vegetables not only saves on the grocery bill, but eating more vegetables makes you healthier AND stretches what meats and grains you do have to buy. Learning to repair pants makes them last longer, and when they are $40-60 per pair, we can't afford to replace them every season. As for my own clothes, well, I may be a couple of seasons out of date in my style, but you can't eat $500 boots.

Well, I'd rather not, anyway.

We may not be fighting Hitler, but we are making the world better by not throwing every last thing away.

I'm planning on taking the opportunity this year to learn some small appliance repair and maybe even some real official plumbing and home repair. I don't want professionals to starve, I just don't want to call them out for every little thing, like cleaning out a sink trap or replacing a bearing in a dryer.

So as our forebears said:

Four Bears, Second Chief of the Mandan tribe.

Ahem! As they said in the Greatest Generation:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! The four day chicken.

Good morning, Mrs. Jones. I see you've taken a lesson from Mrs. Smith and are planning your meals for the week. You've got your victory garden started, and you're adding a lot more vegetables into your family's meals to keep them fighting fit.

Here's another idea to help you stretch those points a little further: The four day chicken.

A 4-lb chicken may not seem like a lot, for those used to eating 2-3 cuts at a time, but adding plenty of greens and some good grains along side it, and Mr. Jones won't even notice that you're stretching the chicken a little farther than you used to.

And remember, Uncle Sam urges you not to waste water with cleaning the chicken. We've found that washing it under running water can spread deadly salmonella to your whole kitchen!

Day 1: Quick Chicken Bake

1 whole chicken
2 Tbsp butter
Dash of salt and pepper

Disjoint the foul, for this recipe, you will use the legs, thighs, wings and breasts. Preserve the remaining carcass and drippings.

Place chicken pieces in glass baking dish and top with butter, salt, and pepper. fill dish with enough water to reach 1/3rd of the way up the largest pieces. Bake at 375 for one hour. Goes great with any vegetables. Save the drippings for tomorrow!

Day 2: Chicken and Rice Casserole
Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
2 c prepared rice
1-2 c Vegetables chopped and cooked.
1/2 of fat skimmed from top of drippings from yesterday
Bread crumbs or crushed crackers

Layer prepared rice, vegetables and chicken in casserole dish. Combine drippings with an equal amount of flour and 1c milk per 2 Tbsp of drippings. Drizzle over casserole and top with breadcrumbs or crackers.

Day 3: Chicken rolls
8 Bakery rolls
2 Tbsp butter
11/2 c gravy made from remaining collected fat
Remaining chicken meat cooked and chopped
2 Tsp minced onion
Salt, celery salt, cayenne to taste
Hard cooked egg slices

Cut a slice from tops of rolls and scoop out all of the soft crumbs, leaving only the crust. Fry crumbs in butter. Add sauce, chicken and onion. Heat. Season well with remaining seasonings. Fill rolls. Heat thoroughly at 425 for about 20 minutes. Garnish with hard cooked egg slices.

Adding some fresh vegetables can help stretch this even further.

Day 4: Chicken and dumplings
Chicken bones and "jelly" from previous days.
2 stalks celery, slicedParsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil
Prepared biscuit dough, cut into 1/2" cubes

Boil chicken bones in a large stock pot with jelly. Add celery and season well. Alternately, the first two seasonings can be added to the biscuit dough to add a dramatic burst of flavor. Once the carcass has boiled for 20 minutes, remove and flake off any remaining meat. Set water to boiling again and drop in cubed biscuit dough, a few pieces at a time. Allow to boil for just a few minutes more until the last pieces are fluffy.

We've not seen the last of Mr. Chicken though! What's left of his bones can be used to make a hearty fertilizer for your garden.

These recipes can score points with the family and save some in your ration book, leaving more supplies to send to our boys overseas!

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sometimes you just need a Biscuit Pizza.

When Junior was born, I swore (a lot, and then I promised) that I wouldn't be one of those crazy scream at the school moms. After all, I was a more enlightened mom, and it's a more enlightened time. Right?

There are days I actually look like this.

Yeah, it doesn't always look the way we imagine.

If I ever went out in public like this, my
Mamaw's ghost would find and murder me.

So I've spent the last week flailing at the school. Well, there goes that ideal. Junior's getting a dose of modern discipline (no electronics this afternoon) to help us solve a little power struggle, as children are wont to have, and on Monday, I'm going to be a raging wreck of humanity.

Well, my friends, we have a rule on the Home Front: Don't post a problem unless you have a fix.

Nate Ford is my guru.

Well, when Junior and I did the week's shopping, sure I had plenty of healthy meals planned, the three day chicken, beans, and spaghetti casserole, but sometimes you look into the stressed face of your little poppet (not the one you keep in the underpants drawer, just in case, I mean your child) and say "How about Biscuit Pizzas?" I watch as Junior's face lights up and my mom energy is rekindled.

Of late I've found that Junior loves helping me cook. If I am forced to home school him, I will keep this in mind. So I grab the ingredients I'm missing, which are only a couple of things because the 40s menu keeps most basics in stock so I can almost pull meals out of thin air, and we go home where Junior gets to de-stress and that makes me feel calmer too.

Of course tonight I'm going to go on a cleaning binge because a clean environment makes me feel calm and cleaning is a great manual labor to let your mind rest for a few minutes. Also, I have to clean up before the dam breaks and lets loose the fornicating creativity monkeys discussed in an earlier post.

 Run, dude!

But if cooking is your thing and you want a simple item that even most toddlers can help with, here's the biscuit pizza recipe I use. It is actually pretty ration friendly, however, it is not 40s era appropriate, so I thought I'd leave it here:

Biscuit ingredients:
  • 2c sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Double Action baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • Favorite pizza seasonings (2-3 Tbsp)
  • 4 Tbsp Shortening
  • 2/3 c Milk soured with 2 Tbsp white vinegar
    • Sift flour before measuring, then measure.
    • Sift dry ingredients together except for seasonings, add after sifting.
    • Prepare milk. 
    • Cut in shortening, then add milk until dough is... um... doughy.
    • For pizzas, turn out onto floured countertop and press or roll out until it is roughly 1/2" thick and cut with round biscuit cutter. Alternatively, you can roll into balls and press out individually, leaving a little crust on the edges.
  • Pizza sauce
  • Favorite ingredients
  • Pizza cheese
  • Helper
    • As age appropriate, apply sauce and prepare ingredients. Young children are experts and placing cheese in the general vicinity of the pizzas and older children can be employed in artful arranging of ingredients.
    • Bake on lightly greased pan in preheated oven at 400 degrees and cook until cheese just begins to brown. (I never time it, sorry.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! Skills to Win the War!

Good morning, Mrs. Jones! Where are you off to so early?

Oh my! That is distressing. How do you keep your clothes from falling apart when you only have so many points to spend on new ones?

Mrs. Smith has the answer for the hole in Mr. Smith's pants.

A fine job, Mrs. Smith. Say, where are you off to this morning? Not shopping, I hope!

No, you've got to save those points. So what have you got in that fetching bag?

I see. You're headed to take knitting lessons at your local craft or yarn boutique, where you can learn to make all sorts of useful things from hats and scarves to baby blankets and even head coverings for our boys overseas.

Mrs. Smith didn't know how to do many such useful things before the war, but instead of thinking of all the things she couldn't do and wasting her money and ration points replacing worn out items, she headed out to learn to make and mend with classes, books, and pamphlets. These new skills will not only help her stretch her own points, she can also use skills she's gained to help her neighbors. Perhaps she could help you learn to patch that hole, Mrs. Jones!

Remember ladies:

Preserving our points though learning new skills means the boys overseas have warm clothes to wear, boots to march in, and food to keep them strong.

Keep 'em firing--er flying--Mrs. Smith!