Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wartime Rations

A few weeks ago, we found a fascinating book in a Charity Shop. "Feeding the Nation", by Marguerite Patten, is full of recipes, reproductions of Government leaflets and loads of general information of how housewives managed to feed their families during World War II.

Rations were incredibly small, judged by today's full plates! Rations for one adult per week were:

Bacon and Ham 4 oz.
Meat to the value of 1s.2d (5p in today's money) The cheaper the meat you bought, the more you got! Sausages were almost unheard of.
Butter 2oz.
Cheese 2 oz (sometimes it rose to 4 oz)
Margarine 4 oz
Cooking fat 2-4oz
Milk 2-3 pints Dried milk was available, i packet every 4 weeks.
Sugar 8oz
Jam, marmalade 1 lb every 2 months
Tea 2 oz (leaf tea, teabags weren't invented!
Eggs 1 shell egg every week, if you were lucky. 1 packet dried egg every 4 weeks
Sweets (candy) 12 oz every month

No wonder recipes were "mock this", mock that"!

Most recipes for main meals - dinner or a hot supper, contained pitifully small amounts of meat!

We were all urged to grow our own vegetables. "Dig for Victory" was the cry, and hints, leaflets, radio programmes giving recipes told us how to make the most of what we could grow or get. "Potato Pete" was a favourite cartoon character!

How my mother managed to put a hot meal in frontg of us every day I do not know! But this was what we as children had - you ate it or went hungry! And we didn't know any different anyway.

There is one recipe I am determined to try! Mock Cream sounds rather like patisserie cream, and as I can't eat dairy cream, I shall try and make this, with soya milk, using real butter (I can eat that, its the lactose content!)


1/2 oz cornflour
1/4 pint milk
1 1/2 oz margarine (thats one and a half oz)
3 teaspoons sugar
few drops vanilla essence

Mix cornflour to a paste with a little milk, heat remainder and when boiling add to blended cornflour, stirring well. Return to saucepan, bring to boil and cook 3 minutes. Cream the margarine and sugar. Whisk in the cornflour mixture gradually. Add vanilla essence

I think you must have to let the cornflour mixture cool a bit before all the whisking goes on! I'll let you know.

I have a lot of old, pre-war cookery books, and they are a delight, and fun to read. Also "Home Doctoring" which sounds a bit horrendous in places.

Subject for another blog, I think!


Sue said...

Home Doctoring - blimey, I'm glad you never tried that on us Mum. xxx

Diane said...

I have been watching the the wartime kitchen, and the food that they layed out for 1 person for the week would have fed 1 of my lot for a day!!! I find the whole subject of wartime food utterly fascinating. Women had to be so much more resourceful in those days.

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

We certainly do not know how fortunate (or perhaps spoiled would be a better choice of word) with all the availability of food nowadays.
My Mother told me of them churning their own butter. (there where 7 children so they had lots of churners)
I'm sure that because of the economic upheaval there are quite a few families that have had to make their food go alot farther.
I've always had my own kitchen garden and do my own canning but it certainly would have to work on a trade and barter system if one was so restricted by amounts for consumption.
Good luck with your mock recipe, it doesn't sound bad at all. Let us know.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Fascinating subject Gilly, so interesting. My mother has often told stories of how they had to manage. I was born at the end of the war but do remember the ration books. A x

KathyA said...

This is amazing, Gilly! And something we baby boomers can only imagine.

cheshire wife said...

Interesting post. If we had to go back to wartime rations, I am sure that a lot of people today would not know where to start to prepare a meal. They are so used to everything coming off the supermarket shelf.

Carolyn said...

When I was in high school, my cooking teacher gave us a cake-like recipe for fruit cobbler which contained no egg, with instructions to remember it in case eggs were rationed during wartime. Something most people don't think of today.

We have food put away for emergencies, plus recipes. You never know when something unexpected could happen.

When you're feeling brave. you might try one of the new fast-acting lactase capsules, which could let you get away with a little cream now and then.

Jennyff said...

The generation that lived through rationing never took food for granted. I can understand why as a child I was told to clean my plate and that if I was hungry I would eat things I said I didn't like. Today's fussy eaters could do to reflect on the many people in the world who don't have any food at all. Good post.

Angela said...

Looking forward to my half-term trip next week to London- the Imperial war Museum are doing a special WW2 Cookery Exhibition!Your post has got me all excited about it now!

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Very interesting post! We are fortunate today aren't we?

Glennis said...

Gilly, have you read "How to Cook a Wolf" by MFK Fisher? She was an American author who lived in Europe (France, Switzerland) and wrote about food. "How to Cook a Wolf" is written for those who are suffering from wartime shortages - probably geared toward Americans, not British, but even so, it is delightful, funny, and charming.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

I can remember my first encounter with tea bags as a child, there were two of them, used and discarded on the beach and we children hadn't a clue what they were (and didn't really like to touch).

There's an award for you over on my blog. Bye for now, Lesley

kenju said...

We were all healthier when we ate smaller amounts of meat.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

...........WHY did i throw my perfectly good old cookery books out in a fit of temper.....

aren't they lovely to read, glad you enjoying them