Tag Archives: stews

Nan’s Way 1

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I was cooking a casserole earlier (you can see the recipe on a post later)  and I started to think… I wonder, if I can in some way, replicate the meal my Nan used to cook.

The smiley lady in the picture above is my Nan, Elsie. When this was taken, she was about 80 I guess, she died of cancer when she was 85 in 1997 and she was my second Mum.  She never complained, she was never rich, except in love and after my Grandad Jim, who was an RSM with the Transport Corps, died during the second world war, she brought up her twin daughters, Ann and Jean, single handed. The only help she had while she went to work was from her Mum, Amelia and her dad, Alfred.  She was housekeeper for a now famous local architect,  Harold Faulkener and in her later years, she would describe herself as “being in service”. Those of us who watch period dramas such as “Upstairs, Downstairs” and more recently “Downton Abbey”,  know being a housekeeper was quite prestigeous employment.

Elsie, due to lack of money, was a dab hand at producing a meal from virtually nothing.  She used to grow her own vegtables at her small tied cottage in Farnham, Surrey, where eventually I was to live in until 1968.

Nan could turn a couple of carrotts, a potato, cabbage, suet and flour, some meat and a couple of OXO cubes into a stew which would last for two days. Usually the meat used was left over from Sunday lunch, could be beef, mutton, (rarely lamb) chicken or pork, some times the meat was liver or kidneys, as being offal, this was the cheapest meat when bills had to be paid.

Food, vegetables, meat, bread and dairy produce was always fresh and generally less expensive than today and because most people could cook,  food poisoning was rare, despite there being no fridges, just walk-in pantries.

As the eldest child of a family of seven, over time I’m going to give you an insight as to what real life was like as my Nan saw it, my parents saw it, as well as through my eyes.

For an ordinary bloke, me, this could be a tale which many of you will relate to ….