My Grandmother shared stories of the Great Depression with me as I grew up. Others in my family have echoed very lean upbringings and their survival techniques from the time.
As an example, my Mother`s family is from the Eastern Shores of Cape Breton. As children they were teased for eating lobster in their school lunches. Lobster was for poor people – their families were fishermen who could not afford to buy their own food. The kids who ate imported SPAM (canned ham) were seen as having something of prestige and value because it had a monetary value. Perspective is everything.
My Grandmother speaks of times when everyone had a garden – it was expected and a necessary labour to ensure your family ate well. Preserving and cold cellars were not luxuries – they were minimal necessities when you were a family of 8 (6 kids) in difficult times.
I can`t imagine how they did it.
I do know that they also relied on each other. People shared tips, traded recipes and shared food during their leanest days. No one would be left behind and each helped each other. They traded ideas and food to help each other make it through.
All of this was in my mind when I received an email with a generous offer – a recipe to use and share for Cheap Tuesday Gourmet. It instantly reminded me of my Meme`s time and that of a global community gathered once again to share. A kind of future-past that warms the heart and, perhaps our plates.
CallieK, from Backyard farms sent us a gem – before you read it though, you really oughta check out their site. We have mutual friends at Not Far From the Tree (another project we simply adore) and she is a fellow can jammer. Scroll through her older posts and drool at last years gardens and find plenty of ideas for gardening in urban spaces – roof tops, potted crops and Portuguese Gardens are all shown. There’s a tonne of tomatoes, snow peas ad even a fence pumpkin. Their preserving is also going full swing and looks awesome.
Looking at the recipe she sent, I realize that we have much of it preserved in the pantry. Dehydrated onion, pickeld garlic (or scapes) and stewed tomatoes are all in our pantry. By this time next year we hope to add our own red pepper flakes, dried herbs and parsley that would further lower the price, increae the local content and taste.
Her recipe was written with plenty of verbal flavor so we’ll turn it over to her from here – love the idea and the name made me laugh…
Traditionally Puttanesca ( whore’s pasta) is made with anchovies. I like this version because it’s easy and can be whipped up last minute with ingredients you usually have on hand yet still tastes like it took all day to make.
1 package of spaghetti ( 454 grams)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
I med onion diced
1 tin of chunk light tuna, drained – Light tuna is my preference because it has a more noticeable flavor- you can use white or albacore if preferred.
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( or more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup olives pitted & chopped ( about 12 large olives, preferably kalamata but any large olive works. I’ve even used cocktail olives froma jar in a pinch- just don’t use canned black olives as they don’t have any taste.
4 cups of stewed tomatoes, chopped ( you can use home canned or store bought)
1 tbsp fresh or ½ tsp dried herbs to taste- I like oregano and thyme, basil and rosemary work well too
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped ( dried works too but not as pretty)
Grated parmesan cheese
In a skillet sauté garlic and onion. When the garlic starts to brown add the tuna, capers, olives, herbs, red pepper flakes and tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Bring water to boil in a pot. Add pasta and prepare according to directions on the package for spaghetti that is al dente. When pasta is done drain it and add it to the sauce and mix ingredients. Sprinkle with parsley, pepper and parmesan. Serves 4
A giant thank you to CallieK for the recipe and the warm fuzzy feeling I got thinking about my own roots and how we are continuing tradition that worked for so long and is often forgotten today.