Tag Archives: Beamish

Ration Week: Day 5

I’ve been rushed off my feet again today! Seems like there’s a never ending list of things to do. Normally on days like today I’d either be skipping meals entirely or grabbing something quick and portable to eat on the run. With this challenge though I’m trying to cook different foods every day, which is actually good because it makes me stop and think about what I’m eating. Anyway, I started simple with Beans on Toast. I also had the delicious extra treat of 3 eggs from the girls! This was literally beans and toast, no butter involved, so it was nice to have that extra treat! 

Lunch was Potato Rarebit. Yes, my friends, mashed potato on bread. The cheese was really more of a garnish at 1/2 oz but you got a good amount of flavour out of it, I definitely use too much cheese on everything normally! 

Potato Rarebit: spread mashed potato on two slices of bread and crumble 1/2 oz cheese over the top. (A good mature crumbly cheddar is what you need here as you get the most flavour!) Grill until the cheese is melted and browned. 

A special afternoon pick me up today (though actually started yesterday) a simple Honey Tea Loaf. It only has 4 ingredients, it’s so simple I can scarce believe it! It’s my own recipe, adapted from reading a bunch of tea loaf recipes but not finding one that I liked the look of. It’s got s gorgeous texture, I imagine if you added malt extract it would be just like malt loaf! I can only imagine how good it will tast with butter… May be tomorrow!

Honey Tea Loaf: Soak 1lb sultanas in 1/2 pint cold tea overnight. Mix in 6oz honey and 10oz self raising flour. Scrape into a loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at gas 4. Leave in the tin to cool (it sinks a bit). Dust with 1/2oz icing sugar to serve. 


Supper tonight was the quick and simple Leek and Potato Soup with bread and, wait for it, BUTTER! Soooo good! I love butter! A nice traditional soup, quick and simple to prepare and warming and filling, what’s not to like! (Dunno but my father can’t stand it! I suspect once you’ve had it twice a week for 10 years you would probably hate anything!) 

Leek and Potato Soup: Melt 1 tsp cooking fat in a small pan. Add 1/2 leek, sliced and cook until softened. Add 2 large diced potatoes and cover with boiling water. Add 1/2 chicken stock cube and sat and pepper to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes until the potato is soft. 

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Ration Week: Day 4

Today started well with eggy bread. I was going to make this with reconstituted dried egg powder but I just haven’t been able to find any! I was then going to use the dried egg white powder I’d found but after using it yesterday I was covered with an allergy rash. It could have been something else I touched but I did have an egg allergy as a child and still can’t have vaccines cultured on egg so chances are it was that. So, I fully confess I cheated and used a fresh egg for this bread. 

Eggy Bread: Mix 1 egg, splash milk, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Melt a scant tap of fat in a large frying pan. Dip 2 slices of bread in the egg on both sides then straight into the pan. Cook until browned on the first side then flip and cook until browned on the other side. 

Lunch was the fabulously vibrant beetroot soup! I spared some of my margerine ration to smear on the bread and indulged in a sausage roll as I’d been working hard in the garden all day!

Beetroot Soup: Place 3 cooked beetroots, peeled and diced, 1/2 oxo cube, a good pinch salt and a splash of Worcestershire sauce in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Either push the beetroot through a sieve or use a stick blender to purée it. Check for seasoning and serve.  

I decided to push the boat out a bit for dinner tonight and go for Sausages in Cider with a Potato Ring, braised cabbage and carrots. 

I’m a bit weird about fruit in my main courses but this sausage and cider stew was amazing! It’s definitely going to enter frequent rotation come the Autumn, it was gorgeous! The Potato Nest was a bit faffy for something that looked kind of cool but otherwise didn’t wow me. And when a wartime recipe tells you to grease your baking tray well you should listen to it because they didn’t waste fat if they didn’t need to! I tried to save my fat ration and do without and ended up with it stuck to the tray! 

Braised cabbage was a saviour. I would normally fry the cabbage in some fat first, sometimes using bacon lardons but here you simply use the stock, which adds a whole lot of flavour and the slow simmering adds a nice sorry so that the cabbage actually tastes like it should, unlike that boiling fiasco!  Boiled carrots rounded everything off. 

Sausages in Cider: Brown 4 oz sausages in a heavy bottomed pan. (Cheap sausages help here as the fat content means you don’t need to use extra fat!) add 1 sliced onion and 1 thinly sliced dessert apple with a good pinch of salt and sprinkle of pepper. Place the lid on the pan and cook for 2 -3 minutes until the onion and apple are softened. Add half a pint of cider and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 2 tsp corn flour to a little water then mix into the stew and stir until thickened. 

Potato Nest: Grate 3 medium potatoes and mix with 2 oz self raising flour and a good pinch of salt. GREASE your tray well and shape into a ring. Bake at gas mark 6 for 30-40 minutes. 

Braised Cabbage: half full a pan with chicken stock. Add sliced cabbage to fill the pan and put the lid on. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Check to see if you need to add any salt as the stock should be salty enough. 


As it’s Sunday I thought I’d try a fancy dessert recipe! This is Coffee Cream and is delicious even though I messed something up along the way and ended up with a lumpy dessert rather than the smooth, creamy dessert I think I should have got. I think I left the coffee part to set for too long before mixing it with the whisked evaporated milk so it didn’t combine well. The evaporated milk took forever to cool though so that held me up. I would still definitely try this recipe again as it’s a nice one to have in the repertoire of you don’t have cream in. 

Coffee Creams: Place a 250ml tin of evaporated milk in a saucepan of water (make sure it is covered by water) and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool in the tin. (This can take several hours) Then put in the fridge to chill completely. 

Mix 1oz cornflour with 1/4 pint milk. Make 1/2 pint strong coffee in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour and milk mixture and 2oz light brown sugar and whisk until thickened. Set aside to cool, covering the top with a damp piece of grease proof paper to prevent it forming a skin.

Pour the evaporated milk into a large mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually add the coffee mixture, folding in well between additions. Spoon into serving glasses and chill before serving with a sprinkle of cocoa powder for decoration. 

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Ration Week

For the next week I’m going to be participating in a challenge with Beamish Museum to live on a diet of 1951 rations.  It should be a lot of fun and I’m going to be blogging about it daily.  Check the #rationweek on my social media for updates throughout the day too!

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I fully admit, I’m writing this while getting in a final plate of pasta and a few glasses of wine.  I’m normally quite an adventurous cook.  For me the challenge will be sticking to period appropriate recipes.  As my father said to me, “My mother was a plain cook but we never wanted for anything.” That’s the story I hear from everyone I’ve asked who remembers rationing, which only ended in 1954! They were never hungry but there just wasn’t the variety that there was today.  That and potatoes.  Potatoes in everything!   They weren’t rationed so they found their way into every meal of the day!

So, what was the 1951 ration?  For the challenge this week I will have:

Bacon and ham 4oz / 113g
Meat 4oz / 113g
Sugar 8oz / 226g
Tea 2oz / 57g
Cheese 2oz / 57g
Butter 2oz / 57g
Margarine 4oz / 113g
Cooking fat 4oz / 113g
Milk 3 pints
Eggs (number) 1
Sweets 3oz / 85g

Food obtained through the points system:

Either of (for the week)

– 1 can of meat or fish or

– 2lb (900g) dried fruit or

– 8lb (3.6kg) split peas or similar

Unrationed:

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Preserves
  • Vegetables – these should be based on what was generally grown at the time; carrots, turnips, cabbage (savoy and red), spring greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower , sea kale, peas, French and runner beans
  • Offal, sausages [4oz] and fish [6oz] (though these would all have been in fairly short supply).
  • Chicken, rabbit and game

As you can see, there’s a good amount of food there.  What I am worried about is the lack of meat and coffee.  I live off coffee!  Don’t get me wrong, tea is a wonderful beverage but my mornings just don’t start until that coffee has filtered into my bloodstream! Apparently you could get really bad instant coffee but my daily caramel latte will have to go!

One thing that really shocked me was that eggs were still rationed to 1 a week! I can quite easily go through 2 a day! So that constrains what type of baking you could do too.  One of my challenges this week is to try out some heritage baking recipes and see how they taste.   You could still get powdered egg and powdered milk, but as with everything, supplies were limited.  I live in the countryside so it was possible to supplement your egg ration with those from hens you kept yourself and I know my grandmother did so (this is also how our family got chicken meat!).  I keep quail so any eggs from them I’m going to include.


I’m lucky in that I grow my own veg down the allotment so I have a ready supply of everything that is in season.  There was a boom in allotments over the war years, thanks to the Dig For Victory campaign, which continued afterwards before tapering off again so growing your own vegetables to supplement what you could get in the shops wasn’t unusual.

One thing I am going to tweak is my sugar ration.  I’m thinking of cutting this in half.  The reason being that I already make a lot of my own preserves and cordials. The sugar for making those had to come from somewhere so you had to save your ration if you were going to do things like that with it.  However, I am also a beekeeper.  So I’m going to see how I can use honey as a sugar substitute to make up the loss.

Wish me luck! An if you have any food memories from 1951 please do share them!

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