Ready or Not #223: Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot, Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot – nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot – nine days old.

I was in a class once where the teacher was talking about the meaning of nursery rhymes.  With this particular rhyme, I’m sure that there are several different interpretations, but the one she shared made sense – and it made me want to build a complete food storage with a large variety of options.

She said that in ye’ merry old England that there were a lot of people who didn’t have the money to afford a really good nutritious meal and they often ate just to fill their stomachs.  A lot of families would start out with a vegetable stew (that is where the peas come in) or porridge, and as the week would go along they would continue to add whatever they could bring home to add to the pot.

For the evening, the porridge would be hot because the fire had been stoked throughout the day (“some like it hot”) and in the morning the porridge would be cold because the fire was out (“some like it cold”).  Some of these stews would last for quite some time – even longer than the nine days that the rhyme talked about.  (Maybe that is where I envision the porridge being green.)

Knowing that they didn’t enjoy the wonders of refrigeration in those days and thinking about the stew sitting in that hot and cold pot day and night, and day and night, and day and night, well, it just made me want to build a really good food storage with lots of variety so that I could avoid eating the same stuff over, and over, and over.

Actually, my dad did make a variation of that stew once.  He put together a delectable soup that was tomato based, instead of pea based, and he added zucchini and beans and a variety of other vegetables.  Then he decided that the soup needed a grain and the grain of his choice was barley.

I love barley, and I still do – in spite of that soup.

We knew that barley expanded, but what happened to us was ridiculous.  We ate our fill that night and then we put the leftovers in the fridge for lunch the next day.  The next morning when we opened the fridge we were all shocked – the soup had grown.  We had as much soup by volume as when my dad had first made it!  It was actually quite solid and not much like soup anymore.

My dad added another quart of stewed tomatoes and warmed it up.  It actually tasted better the next day because the spices had developed and melded with each other and it tasted great.  No big deal; it wasn’t as if we had never eaten leftovers.

But then, it just kept on growing.

It really did get to be a bit of a joke and every day we would go to the fridge to see how much it grew during the night.  After about of week of teasing him, and eating the soup, my dad couldn’t take it anymore and he threw the rest of it away.  I’ll bet that if he had let it go, it would probably still be growing today.

Now when I add barley to my soups, I am very judicious with the amount I add.

Another nursery rhyme that you want to avoid is Old Mother Hubbard:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none.

(Okay, Old Mother Hubbard was originally about Cardinal Wolsey not granting a divorce to King Henry VIII, but I think that the mental visualization fits the point of not getting your food storage prepared.)

Tailor your food storage to your families eating habits, work on building it every week, and maybe you won’t have to sit in the corner eating your Christmas pie and pulling out plums. Instead you can sit at your table eating anything you want and sharing with your friends and family.  Love that food storage!

And remember that if you have a soup you really like, just add barley – it will last longer.

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