Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to Sew a Button

As a society we've lost track of how to do simple things like darning socks and sewing on buttons. The illustrated instructions at left were part of a WWII primer for boys that taught them how to make simple repairs themselves, saving money and resources for the fight. Today, there's no war but a pressing need still to learn these simple tasks. Thanks to the Web we can benefit from the following instructions. Listen up:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Make Do and Mend"

When the going gets tough, the tough turn back the clock. A new poll in Britain indicates older people, some who remember WWII and post-war rationing there, have resurrected their old survival techniques. A total of 70 percent of people 50+ said they were employing cost-cutting tricks they learned from their WWII-era parents. What's more, young people are growing increasingly thrifty as well. The poll found 84 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds saying they should learn WWII economic survival skills and benefit from them. Look for tips on this blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wartime, Cookies & Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, something sweet: WWII Caramel Refrigerator Cookies. These were made with brown sugar (the white variety was rationed, of course). But you didn't come for a history lesson - you came for cookies. The recipe is here, collected by Laura Flowers, an Idaho photographer. We're lucky she likes sharing her photos and observations with us. Thanks, Laura. We'll be posting more recipes. What sort would you like to see? Leave your comments below.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Home Front & Mac and Cheese

Kraft introduced the boxed macaroni and cheese dinner in 1937. World War II forced Americans to improvise in the kitchen. With rationed meat and dairy products, working Americans, especially women in the war plants, turned to semi-prepared food products for fast meals. Today, the recession is forcing us into a similar situation, but now it's money and time we're trying to save. Jerry Kolber, a New York television producer, has come up with a series of recipes and a manifesto at a new blog Three Dollar Dinner. The name describes his idea: fast, cheap and delicious meals. Here, for example, is a modern recipe for macaroni and cheese:

Garlicious Mac-a-Cheese

Cost per Person: $2.40
Total Work Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total Cost for Four People: $9.60
Calories per Serving: 500

Mac and cheese in a box is the classic “I’m eating on a budget standby.” But since you end up adding milk anyways, all your paying for is dried cheese and less-than-excellent noodles. You can make delicious garlicky macaroni and cheese all by yourself at home, for about the same cost and about 100 times the deliciousness and healthiness (yes, even healthier than Annie’s Naturals, though that’s not a bad choice if you’re really in a hurry).

This is called Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese because that sounds like a superhero name, and I’d let this Mac and Cheese duke it out with any other mac and cheese any day of the week.

8 oz. macaroni (whole wheat or white elbows or penne) - $1.69
1 free range eggs - $0.32
1 organic onion - $0.60
1 6 oz bag organic or natural shredded cheddar - $3.99
Three tablespoons crushed garlic - $0.25
1/2 cup breadcrumbs - $0.25
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (3 ounces) - $2.00
1 cup organic milk - $0.50

Salt and pepper


Step 1 (3 minutes)
In a large pot bring water to boil and add the pasta. Cook for as long as box suggests (usually about 9 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2 (4 minutes)
Scramble the egg in a large bowl for about fifty whisks. Add the milk, two tablespoons mustard, four teaspoons salt, and all the cheddar cheese to the bowl and mix. Grease your large casserole dish (should be about 9 inches by 7 inches, but exact dimensions don’t matter).

Step 3 (3 minutes)
In a small bowl mix the 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Step 4 (35 minutes)
When pasta is done cooking, drain it in a strainer. Now add it to the bowl of milk and cheese and egg, mix gently and then pour into the casserole dish. Top with the parmesan/breadcrumb mixture and put it in the oven for thirty minutes.

Step 5 (3 minutes)
The top should be brown and crusty. If it’s not, you can put your oven on “broil” and toast the top by placing the casserole under the broiler flame for 2 or 3 minutes. Handle with care – it’s hot.

Serve and watch as they pass out from the overwhelming pleasure of Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Save on Books

Paperbacks became popular during the War. Cheap and portable, the books benefited from the condition of "hurry up and wait" during wartime which left servicemen and others hungering for a way to while away the time. Lending libraries grew in popularity, too. Meet today's version: the Paperback Swap. The free site allows you to swap books (hardcovers included) with others by registering and listing nine books you'd like to receive from other members and nine books from your library you are willing to mail to other people. The only cost is the postage for sending your book to another reader. Reading was never cheaper.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sign of the Times? It's Dollar Store

Sales at the chain are way up. Also at Dollar Tree. The more frugal we get the bigger these guys grow.

Scrap and Recycling - Savings or Not?

Rubber, iron, silk, aluminum. There was no end to what the Allies asked consumers to donate. And consumers responded. Though some of their efforts were wasted, as this interesting article tells us. There's still no easy way to recycle tires, for example. But it was useful. It helped a lot. It's important to remember recycling is a community effort, which is what recycling programs need to remember today. As we begin to put away money for a rainy day, we are reusing things more. Sometimes it takes a little motivation - financial or patriotic - to get people to go out of there way. Save and reuse. It's a good thing to remember.