Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Many times I think of my grandmother. I called her Mama. For clarity on my blog I call her Grandma Mama. She was married to Grandpa Papa of course. I spent many of my young years with Grandma Mama and Grandpa Papa because my mother was mentally ill. We were poor in money but rich in love and creative thinking.
Grandma Mama was born in the late 1800s and lived through the first world war, the great depression, and the second world war’s rationing so she knew how to make do with what she had. Grandma Mama was like many women of her time. She knew how to live with very little money. She made do with whatever she happened to get.
We seldom went hungry because Grandma Mama always had garden foods and she also knew just when it was picking time for wild foods. Heck, Grandma Mama was so good at what she did that she cooked us weeds…. and we loved them! She knew when the earliest dandelion or polk greens were ready to pick and how to make them taste delicious. To this day I still love eating greens.
Grandma Mama knew when to harvest wild tree nuts before the squirls got them all. She knew when wild blackberries were ready for canning and she knew when the creek had the fattest catfish. Grandma Mama knew how to harvest wild honey from a bee tree and she knew how to get sugar from the other trees. Grandma Mama was a true master of “make do and mend”.
Grandma Mama was so smart she could even make pudding out of water. Grandma Mama’s water pudding almost never tasted the same way twice. Water pudding was either sweet like a desert or spicy like a meat dish depending on Grandma Mama’s mood and what left overs she had. What? You never heard of water pudding? Of course you haven’t. Unless you knew my Grandma Mama or someone like her. Ok, I’ll explain what it is. Water pudding is a little flour or cornstarch boiled in water until it becomes thick, like pudding. You then flavor it with whatever you have on hand. Water pudding made with leftover bits of meat, some browned onions, and served over soda biscuits was a really good “quick” leftovers type meal. Or the water pudding could be flavored with some wild berries and a bit of honey so it became a desert. Water pudding was made when there was a shortage of milk. Sometimes both a sweet and a spicy pudding was made for the same meal.
So what’s the difference between a pudding and a gravy? Hmm…. gravy is most often cooked in a skillet with an oil as the base to mix in the flour or corn starch to form a roux. A liquid is then added to cook. A gravy is almost always served while hot. A pudding doesn’t have oil and usually starts with the liquid. It’s cooked in a pot meant for boiling and a flavoring of some type is added. It is not thinned but served thick and can be served hot or cold.
Grandma Mama sure knew how to “make do” with what she had. She also kept very good records of the food she had stored. I remember a kind of ledger kept in her kitchen which listed the food she canned, or dried, or smoked, or whatever. Each day she wrote down what was used from the storage and how many people were there to eat. Some days we had visiting company. Some days a neighbor or relative was there to help with work so they ate with us too.
Grandma Mama kept good records of her food storage. Anything canned or dried or smoked or pickled was carefully counted or weighed then recorded. As it was used it was subtracted from the totals. Grandma Mama knew exactly how much she had and how long it would last. She had to know. Her family depended on her. She and Grandpa Papa made a great team together but she was much more fastidious about record keeping than Grandpa Papa. He was much better at physical work stuff and left the bookkeeping to Grandma Mama. Yes, those two made a great team.
I hope you enjoyed the story of my Grandma Mama’s water pudding. I’ll write more Grandma Mama stories as time allows.