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Ration Week: Day 3


Today started with potato cakes and an egg white and mushroom scramble. The powdered egg whites are the closest thing I’ve been able to find to dried egg, it’s just not something supermarkets stock anymore! They scrambled up pretty well, though!

Powdered Egg White Scramble: 1 sachet powdered egg white made up according to pocket instructions poured over dry fried mushrooms and very swiftly scrambled. 

The potato pancakes were fun, from the 3 medium potatoes I used I got about 12 pancakes! I snacked on them all day but I admit the birds appreciated the rest, tsk, tsk, food waste!

Potato Cakes: take leftover mashed potatoes and add self raising flour until you get a soft dough, almost a batter, (it will be very sticky!) for my 3 potatoes I needed 6oz flour. Melt 1tsp cooking fat in a large frying pan then dollop spoonfuls of mixture in well spaced. Let this cook for a minute then flip it over and press it down with the spatula to form a flat pancake. Cool until browned then flip over again and finish off the first side now it’s flat. You can see each stage above. 

Lunch was paste sandwiches. Things like sandwich pastes were available fairly readily in 1951. I went for chicken and crab as neither of these were rationed. The chicken was alright, nothing exciting but it filled a gap! The crab paste… Well, I’m just going to have to give up on English crab. I love Asian crab but after a lot of experimenting I just don’t like crab! Unfortunately, neither does Darcy so no one will be eating that crab paste!

This is my whole 4oz meat ration for the week. The butcher and I had a good chat about it and we decided that for one person mince was the only way to go. Not only was it cheap, it’s much easier to bulk it up, which is what I did! 

This is where things got real for me. I took a whole 5 minutes trying to decide whether to use my cooking fat (which is disappearing fast!) or go for margerine, which I had been saving for baking. I was standing there weighing up the pros and cons, thinking what I might want to use each for later in the week and wondering what I could do without. This is what women went through for 14 years! Trying to think and plan and scrimp and save and eke out every little bit from their rations. 

The finished result! Cottage pie! This was wonderfully filling, just what I needed after a whole day down the allotment.  It made the mince go an awful lot further than it would have otherwise and it was flavoursome and hearty. Definite comfort food! 

Cottage Pie: Melt 1 tsp cooking fat in a small pan, add 1/2 small onion, 1/2 carrot, 1/2 stick celery, some swede, salt and pepper and put the lid on. Allow it to sweat for a few minutes. Add the mince, half an oxo cube and a splash of water. Put the lid on and allow to simmer until all the veg is cooked. If it starts to stick then just add a splash more water. Put the cooked mixture into a single pie dish. Top with mashed potato (always make extra mash was one of the rules of rationing I think! And put under the grill to brown the top. Serve with more vegetables. 

Pudding nearly got forgotten about today as the dogs demanded a walk right after dinner, luckily I remembered to turn the oven off before I went, leaving my Apple Crisp to keep warm. Happily I remembered it before morning and it was still nice and hot. I served it with cold custard leftover from yesterday. 

I was raised in a custardless household as my parents were each scarred by childhood traumas and can’t stand the stuff. (Thanks to rationing!) Turns out I love the stuff! Hot or cold a tin of Bird’s custard is definitely going to be a permanent addition to my pantry!
Apple Crisp: Dice 2 apples, skins on. Put in a small oven proof bowl or pie dish. Drizzle with honey. Dot 1/2 oz margerine on top then cover with porridge oats. Drizzle the top with more honey. Bake in the oven for at least 30mins at gas 4 or higher. (Can go in with whatever you’re cooking for a main course and be forgotten about!) make sure you allow it to cool a bit before serving as it will be piping hot! 

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Ration Week: Day 1

Today started off well with me measuring out how much tea I had for the week.  More than I thought actually.  There are enough teabags there for 3 cups a day, and it’s Yorkshire Tea so you can easily make 2 cups from each bag.  So, I’m happy about that.  (For those wondering why I’m not having coffee given that it was available, I have 3 sugars (sweetener actually) in my coffee so I’d go through my sugar ration in no time!)

Ration Week Day 1: Tea

Breakfast was this very cheerful bowl of porridge! Fresh berries from the garden and honey from the bees set it off nicely.  I used water with a splash of milk to make it and I actually think I preferred the flavour to that of porridge made with all milk!
Porridge: 60g porridge oats, pinch of salt, 300ml water, splash of milk: simmer until thick and creamy, stirring constantly

Ration Week Day 1: Breakfast

Lunch actually caused me some issues.  I was going out walking and needed something I could pack up and eat on the go.  My usual sandwich preferences would be ham (I’m saving that ration!) or cheese, (which would probably have used the whole ration in one go!).  Chicken would have been ok but I didn’t have any cooked.  I looked at a few other options but without detouring to do a shop I had one: Jam Sandwiches! So it was a nostalgic picnic lunch of jam sandwiches and elderflower cordial in the delightful surrounds of Parceval Hall.

Ration Week Day 1: Lunch

I was quite excited about dinner.  Chicken Stew and Herb Dumplings. I hadn’t ever cooked dumplings before so I was keen to try something new.  They’re rather pleasing to watch as they cook.
Dumplings: 4oz self raising flour, 1 oz lard, large pinch salt, chopped parsley, a few tbsp cold water: rub the lard into the flour, salt and parsley, add water gradually, mixing by hand until a soft rollable consistency is reached.  Shape into 4 balls, place in a pan of boiling salted water, boil vigorously for 10 minutes, then turn down and simmer for a further 10.  You can also place them directly on top of a stew in the oven to cook for a more crispy, browned dumpling.

Ration Week Day 1: Dinner

The stew was as basic as they come: 1 chicken breast, 1 small carrot, 1/2 stick celery, 1/3 of a leek, 1 medium potato, all chopped up and a couple of radishes I had from the garden.  Put everything in a heavy saucepan with a lid and fry (with only the tiniest sliver of lard) Pour in water just to cover everything, add a good amount of salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.  Take 2 tsp cornflour and mix with a little water, add to the stew and stir until thickened.

Ration Week Day 1: Dinner

I served this with broccoli and cauliflower too.  It was extremely tasty! You didn’t notice the lack of fat at all, and the flavour base of the vegetables and the chicken browning first meant you didn’t need stock either.  All in all an extremely frugal dish that filled me right up! We used to eat things like this when we were kids, stew and dumplings in the slow cooker used to feature regularly for us kids but it’s been years since I had dumplings! They’ll definitely be making a come back in my kitchen and this stew served as a nice reminder that things don’t have to be complicated to taste great!

 

 

 

 

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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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