Monday, 21 July 2008

Day Eight

- ha, never expected a "day eight" did you?!

Just to say that our frugality hasn't flown out of the window today. Lunch is homemade coleslaw and leftover rabbit on the last of the unsliced wholemeal loaf.

By request from the other half, dinner will be a big juicy steak...

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A few words from the long suffering "other half"

When Sue first mentioned it quite some time ago, i thought it was a strange idea. but knowing the types of hobbies we have had over the years, I said I would go along with it.

Sue did all the planning and research, cleared all our wonderful food we wont be able to touch. The first look at what we had to eat for a week didn't shock me that much, some good pieces of meat and a little offal (MMmmm)

This experiment was well worth doing, it would be interesting for the 20 - 30 year olds to give this ago..sadly I know this will not happen in the whole. Mainly because of work, and time to plan and time to cook.

Everybody takes for granted there will always be plenty to go around and money to buy the things that you want, micro, ready made meals, kebabs. I hope this is the case.

The thing from all this is that I really DON'T LIKE POWDERED EGGS..creation of the devil!! they smell bloody awful and tastes..well you'll have to find out yourselves.

Now I will be ready for something more exotic and looking forward to large steak (al least 2 weeks rations worth) medium rare with a rich peppered cream sauce.....oh ma god HOMER MOMENT!!!!

Please if your reading this please leave us your thought good or bad, its always good to hear other peoples thoughts.

Kind regards all


Day Seven

Bacon and egg breakfast, what a treat!

Being Sunday morning, I saved our bacon and two fresh eggs for today. I fried up left over vegetables from yesterday to serve with it. With a breakfast that large, we probably won’t need to eat until evening.

Reviewing the cupboard to see what we have left I noticed we had a reasonable amount of margarine left, and had done well with out sugar. Bearing in mind I still had some frozen fruits in the freezer from autumn, I thought a treat was in order, and made a crumble for later.

Chicken and bean casserole

I used rabbit and veg stock (from yesterday), and the beans I soaked last night. This morning I put it in the slow cooker, where it has sat since 10.30am. At 4pm I chopped two potatoes and added them to the pot. It all smells very good.

Followed by crumble.

What’s left.

Well, obviously the store cupboard still contains cereal, flour, dried egg, dried milk, most of a pot of jam etc. but for the main food items, we still have some food left over. I didn’t use all the beef dripping, we have ¾ litre of milk left, a little sugar, 2 beetroot, a pak choi cabbage, and we have some salad, a large tub of homemade coleslaw, a plate of cooked rabbit meat, some homemade salad cream, and the tail end of our bread ration.

I think it will be rabbit salad sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.

So. Conclusions.

It’s perfectly possible to provide filling healthy meals on rations. If you can cook.

By “if you can cook” I don’t mean if you can pick up a Marco Pierre White book, buy all the ingredients, and follow the instructions. I mean, do you know enough about cooking to look at what you’ve got and put it together. Can you pick up a recipe, look at it, and go “well, I haven’t got any of that, but this should work”?

The reason we spend so much on food nowadays is because there is so much to tempt up out there. We are spoilt. If we have something in, and don’t fancy it, we feel we can let it go off, bin it, buy something else. Although there is a “food crisis” of sorts, and prices are increasing, we don’t feel the impact as we look at the shelf in the shop.

Was rationing as bad as it seems? Well, I would say it depends where you lived. The diary of Nella Last describes how some items were just not available, yet she describes a visit to Blackpool where she was amazed at the plenty in the shops. I think Barrow in Furness is very isolated geographically and suffered more. This area seems to have been lucky, as it is a farming community.

Will I be doing the same next week? NO! I’m ready for a nice curry! I think I will continue keeping an eye on the portions of food I cook, but I really missed my more exotic menu. We are very used to eating Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indian foods, and I think I could easily incorporate these into a similar regular menu plan.

Was it worth doing? Oh yes, certainly. The only problem is it isn’t people like ME who need a greater appreciation of food waste, and how to adopt some of the more frugal behaviours of our mothers and fathers. It's the people who find out about our little experiment, look at us like we are daft, and go "why?" that maybe need to think a bit more. The ones who think the worst will never happen, and there will always be an affordable plenty.

How many people will ever see this blog, learn and grow from it is debateable. But from a personal perspective, it was a very interesting week. I even lost three pounds… not bad!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Day Six

Experimental Breakfast

Mock Fried Egg.

I reconstituted some dried egg, cut a hole out of two slices of wholemeal bread, and fried one side in beef dripping. When I turned the bread over, I poured the egg mixture into the hole. All in all, it was rather nice, although not a healthy breakfast by modern standards.

It's funny what you find out. Chatting with neighbours today, the Mock Fried Egg breakfast came up in conversation. We live somewhere pretty rural, and it turns out our neighbour, during the war, was involved in black market eggs. An area near to here was just filled with chicken sheds. Throughout the whole war he never had dried egg. It wasn't until after the war, staying at a hotel in the south of the country, at breakfast he was presented with something he didn't recognise, and had to ask what it was.... dried egg.


We had a sandwich when out shopping today. This is the first food we have bought “out” all week. I had a corned beef and onion sandwich, Mark had tuna and onion.


Baked Rabbit with carrot and coriander mash, steamed potatoes & onion gravy.

Rabbit was stuffed with a standard sage and onion stuffing, placed on a rack in a baking pan, with its legs folded under the body. The rabbit was then rubbed all over with a Rabbit Seasoning I get when I’m over in Malta. In Malta rabbit is eaten as regularly as chicken is here in Britain… it’s the staple meat really. [Note: if you think WE had it rough during WW2, look up Malta sometime!]

I put a cupful of water in the bottom of the baking pan, because rabbit is quite dry. I then covered the pan with foil, and cooked at about 190/400/mk 5 for an hour. (I removed the foil and cooked the rabbit uncovered for a further 20 minutes)

Meanwhile, I used my steamer and steamed some potatoes (skin on) and carrots. I also gently cooked 2 small onions in a little beef dripping. When the veg was steamed, I mashed the carrots in 2 tablespoons of the vegetable water from the steamer. Vegetable water was never wasted during WW2, as it if full of nutrients (great for gravy or making stock). Adding a tiny knob of butter and a handful of chopped coriander to the carrots finished them off.

I then added the remaining vegetable water to the onions, and with a little Bisto made an onion gravy.

Yum was the verdict.

We weren’t done though. The rabbit carcass was put in a large saucepan of water with the rest of the chopped coriander and some black pepper. That should make a nice stock I can use tomorrow for my chicken and bean casserole. I’ll soak dried split peas (yellow and green) and a handful of dried butter beans tonight to add to the stock and chicken.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Day Five Additional

Tonight I wanted to make coleslaw with my remaining cabbage. Then it struck me. Mayonnaise! I usually put mayonnaise in my coleslaw. So of I pottered to “Eating For Victory” and found a recipe for “Creamy Salad Dressing”. I had everything needed to make it. Flour, dried egg, mustard powder, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar and milk.

Have a look…..

Hey, we made “Salad Cream”! Just waiting for it to cool properly. That should be great with our coleslaw.

Day Five

Due to total disorganisation on my part, I didn’t have time for breakfast this morning. So I had my lunch pretty early. But hey, if I get hungry later, I can have a bowl of cornflakes!

Lunch: Salad w/ a small piece of Lancashire cheese.

Luckily I had already portioned out the cheese for tonights welsh rarebit so I knew how much I could spare for lunch.

Dinner: Welsh rarebit with salad.

This is one of my all time favourite meals. I could have made the cheese go further by adding toasted oats (recipe from We’ll Eat Again), but as I was only catering for the two of us, the cheese we had easily made two generous pieces each.

1oz margarine, creamed. Add 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, sprinkling of paprika, a good dash of worcestershire sauce, 6oz grated lancashire cheese, and 2 tbsp milk. Mix thoroughly. Spread on top of toast, and grill until it starts to brown.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Day Four

The day started with a couple of slices of wholemeal bread generously spread with my homemade elderberry and blackberry jam. I’m glad I made so much last autumn, and I’d forgotten how nice it was compared to bought.

Lunch was a salad of lettuce, beetroot tops, sliced beetroot and a little onion. I had plenty of leftover pilchard to go with it.

I noticed today my work trousers feel a little looser than they did. Another thing I’ve noticed is I am ready to eat at each meal. I’m sure in the past I’ve eaten because it is meal time, not being truly hungry. I certainly appreciate each meal this week, as I am more than ready to eat when the time comes.

Braised Goats liver and onions.

I chopped some onion and coated the liver in seasoned flour. The onion was fried first, then the liver browned off. I added a little water, and made a nice gravy for it to simmer in. This was served with steamed potatoes and broccoli

Offal was unrationed during WW2, and I’ve found it to be pretty cheap these days too, as I think a few people are squeamish about eating internal organs. If you’ve never eaten goats liver, it’s very similar (i.e. mild tasting) to lambs liver. I eat goat regularly, as there is a goat farm (Capra Products) in the area, who raise goats in an ethical way. Goat offal is a little more difficult to get than the meat though. So few goats go through the slaughter house, and the meat inspector is obliged to test a set percentage of things like liver and heart etc for health reasons.

Capra Products are a "local food hero".

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Day Three

Breakfast: The last of the Trenchmeat Pudding fried in a little beef dripping

Lunch: wholemeal bread with some homemade Elderberry and Blackberry Jam

Dinner: Pilchards on toast

I padded out the tin of pilchards in tomato sauce with some breadcrumbs. As you can see, there is plenty left to have with a salad tomorrow for lunch.

Apple bombes (recipe from Bombers and Mash)

Mix grated raw cooking apples with condensed milk and whip. Add a little orange juice. Arrange in large spoonfuls and top with ground nuts or grated chocolate.

The Apple dessert is seriously tasty! Very sweet. I had mine topped with a sprinkle of drinking chocolate, Mark had his with a sprinkle of nutmeg, and both of us had a few chopped nuts on top.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Day Two

Last night the Trenchmeat Pudding sat a bit heavy, but I can be prone to a touch of indigestion with stodgy foods. I get the same problem with too much pastry.

Breakfast: cornflakes & milk

Lunch: salad and slice of cold Trenchmeat Pudding from yesterday. It was surprisingly nice cold. Unfortunately there is some left, which means it will be lunch tomorrow too. I think I’ll be sick of the sight of it by then. It strikes home that we don’t have the luxury to think “I don’t fancy that, what can I have instead?”

Mark had a sandwich with half a tomato (he ate the first half yesterday for his lunch), salad, and also had a portion of the cold Trenchmeat Pudding. Mark wants me to add that the Trenchmeat Pudding reminded him of a steak pudding, which is one of his favourite things!

I opted not to have bread for lunch, because of its limited supply, and I don’t want Mark to be hungry. I guess this is a typical “wifely” reaction when providing for the family. I was very hungry by the time I was waiting for my train home though.

Dinner: homemade burgers with the remaining mince from the ration, with half an onion (the first half went in the salad) a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, served with steamed potatoes and carrots, and some freshly podded peas.

Also I’m taking some of my frozen apples out tonight, because tomorrow we have dessert.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Day One

I’m normally an “eat and run” person on weekday mornings, as I have to get to the train station for my daily commute. I usually grab a cereal bar and a coffee. Today I took a couple of weetabix and some milk with me to work, which I ate at my desk before starting.

Speaking of coffee…. Coffee wasn’t really rationed during WW2, but that’s probably because it wasn’t as popular as now. Most folk were tea drinkers. We aren’t really tea drinkers, so to be fair, I decided to limit the amount of coffee we had. The tea ration was about 15 teabags per person for a week, so I decided we could have 2 cups of coffee a day at home. At work we can have a cuppa, because it isn’t coming out of our ration… it’s only the same as getting one at a tea shop or a canteen.

Lunch (in the spirit of not wasting…) was a sandwich containing leftover sage and onion stuffing from weekend.

All the guidelines from WW2 suggest you should have one raw vegetable a day, so I will tackle this by making lots of salads. Today’s salad is lettuce, white cabbage, beetroot tops, a little onion, a bit of cucumber.

I have just been flicking through “We’ll Eat Again”, and I have found the following: It’s a good idea to cook potatoes in their jackets. The skin stops the precious Vitamin C from escaping and getting lost in the cooking water. Steaming potatoes is best of all. I always cook potatoes in their skins, and I prefer to steam them too. It’s good to know I was already cooking them in the most nutritious way.

With our Trenchmeat Pudding I served mashed potatoes and gravy made from homemade veg stock & Bisto.

The pudding was much tastier than I expected, although if I did it again I think I would probably add more spices. Just a personal preference there.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Final prep for Day One

I've made the trenchmeat pudding for tomorrows evening meal. All I need to do is pop it on to steam for three hours when I get in from work.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Lesson in frugality!


I found (again in Bombers and Mash.. it’s a great book, highly recommended) an item about “How to make one pound of butter two”. I HAD to have a try.

I got a half pound of nice local butter from the market, and scurried home to experiment.

As per instructions, I warmed the butter very carefully. I have a plate warmer on my hob, so used that to warm the bowl. It’s very important not to overheat the butter and allow it to “oil”. You need to warm it just enough so you can beat it with a fork into a smooth cream.

Boil a quarter pint of milk, with a pinch of salt, then allow it to cool to “blood temperature”. I took this to mean that you can stick your finger in it and it feels the same temperature as your body.

Gradually add the milk to the butter, mixing thoroughly. Some patience is required to allow the milk to cool enough… I suspect if you don’t it will go horrible!

Leave somewhere to cool.

Voila! Twice as much butter.

I started with just over 8oz of butter, and ended out with 14oz. Ok it wasn’t exactly twice as much, but the volume certainly is, filling a 1lb butter dish very nicely.

I’ve got this nagging feeling this is what butter companies must do when making their “spreadable” butters, charging you as much if not a bit more for about half the butter.

Anyway. Result! More butter for us next week. And certainly a little trick I will be employing on a regular basis.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Friday before Rationing Week begins.


Made Nutty Flip for rationing week.

8oz oats, 4oz butter/marge, 2oz sugar, a little salt, 2.5 tablespoons golden syrup.

Note: Nutty Flip is a Lancashire name for Flapjacks. The recipe I use is one I got from my mum.

Finalised main meal plan, as follows:

Monday – Trench Meat Pudding (recipe from bombers and mash) w/ mashed potatoes, beetroot tops & cabbage

1/2lb beef mince and two finely chopped onions, mixed with 2oz shredded suet and 2 cups of oatmeal. Season with salt and pepper. Mix into a thick dough with cold water. Three quarters fill a greased pudding basin. Cover with greased paper, tie down securely. Steam for 3.5 hours.

Pudding to be prepared on Sunday, so only have to pop it on to cook when home from work.

Tuesday – Hamburgers (homemade) from remaining mince.

Wednesday - Pilchards on toast w/ salad

Apple bombes (recipe from Bombers and Mash)

Mix grated raw cooking apples with condensed milk and whip. Add a little orange juice. Arrange in large spoonfuls and top with ground nuts or grated chocolate.

Thursday – Braised Goats liver and onions

Friday – Welsh Rarebit

Saturday – Baked Stuffed Rabbit

Sunday – Bacon and egg breakfast (nice treat with our 2 fresh eggs)

Chicken and bean casserole

Three things.

I was planning my menu last night, and a couple or three things stand out.

1. There is more food there than I thought! I don't know whether I've made an error in the meat allowance. The mince is 10d/worth, which is well within my allowance. Besides making a pie or pudding of some sort with half of it, I was going to make a couple of hamburgers for the day after. The rabbit is also allowed, and I'm making a nice meal on the Saturday when I have the time to mess about. The liver is allowed, so no problem there. I've got chicken. But it's only a couple of boneless chicken legs, not a lot of meat on them. Yet, I have a nice plan for main meals all week, and don't feel like we will be going short. And I'm sure I haven't used all the ration for two people.

2. The more I read, the more I note that main meals were often taken at lunch time, with a tea of bread and butter, a little cake, probably a salad. I work full time. I leave the house before 0730, and commute for an hour each way. We are going to have to do a switchround, with the traditional "tea" being packed up and taken to work for lunch. It makes me realise that in the 40s very few ladies of middle years (hem!) would have worked full time. Even with volunteer war work, or pitching in as an ARP, they would STILL get a hot meal on the table for their husband. Hats off to them! I don't know how they found the time.

3. We rarely eat dessert in our house. The 40s cookbooks I have are FULL of cunning desserts, so I thought we'd try some. I'll post one here that we are going to try early in the week. You might give it a go yourself? I have some apples in the freezer from last autumn, and a tin of condensed milk in my store cupboard. Should be interesting.

Apple Bombes (no sugar)
Mix grated raw cooking apples with condensed milk and whip. Add a little orange juice. Arrange in large spoonfuls and top with ground nuts or grated chocolate.
[recipe from Bombers and Mash]

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Getting Organised

Well here goes....

Items in red are yet to be acquired


1 lb beef mince
1 rabbit
goat liver
2 chicken legs

Ham or Bacon

Store cupboard

Porridge Oats
Green Split Peas
Yellow Split Peas
Red Lentils
Butter Beans

Cereal (some Weetabix and cornflakes)

Baking Soda
Dried Eggs
Powdered Milk


1 Jelly


Condensed Milk
Evaporated Milk
Corned Beef
Pilchards in Tomato Sauce


Homemade Jam
Branston Pickle
Bramley Apples in the freezer from last autumn (not pictured)

Dairy & Fat

4oz beef dripping

4oz butter
8oz marg
8oz cheese
6 pints milk


16oz sugar
coffee (limit to 2 cups/day)

Veg (dig for victory)

1 kg potatoes
bunch of carrots
white cabbage
Chinese leaf cabbage
3 beetroot
1 lettuce

Bread (1 bought loaf, 1 homemade loaf)

I have started a slide show of the food, which will get updated as the experiment progresses, but for the time being you'll find the first couple of pics to the top-ish right of the blog.

Now to take my list and do a bit of menu planning.

Friday, 4 July 2008

I've been rooting through my freezer, and found that I still have quite a bit of frozen apples and blackberries from my foraging last year.

I think I can allow myself to use them during the experiment, because I think preserved fruits are in the spirit of the thing, even if your 40s housewife didn't own a freezer. If I can spare the fat I might make a fruit crumble.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The date has been set....

Ok, to stop me putting this off any longer, I have set the date. Our experiment will take place week commencing 14th July.

This week I shall be checking I have listed everything I need, gives me a last minute experiment with the powdered egg, and of course, chance to look at a few wartime recipes.

I'll diary the full week so you can see how we got along.