Wartime Rations – Day Two

When Anne reads what I’m about to say, she’ll be rolling her eyes, shaking her head and saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” Having reminded me yesterday of the severe shortages of even rationed foods, I have to confess that I used two – TWO – eggs today. One for lunch and one in tonight’s bread and butter pudding. In fairness, when I’m cooking meals for my husband, I don’t try to feed us off my rations alone, so you could argue that tonight’s egg was ‘his,’ or would have come out of our shared powdered egg ration.

mince tarts

Mince tart, with onion/potato hash browns and mashed carrots.

Only two days in and we’re both finding the main courses really filling. (Perhaps I should have served dinner on a simple white plate as the meal and plate combined is an explosion of colour.) Using leftover mince from last night, I made a mince and potato pastry tart, with onion and potato hash browns and leftover carrots. It tasted really good and, as I managed to make four tarts from the recipe, they’ll make a nice change from a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch.

bread pudding

Bread and butter pudding.

And here is the bread and butter pudding. To be honest, we’re both so full from the main course that we’re going to have to take a break and maybe come back to it this later in the evening. At the time of posting this, I can’t vouch for its taste… but it smells delicious.

The good thing about tomorrow? I’ll be back to my full 1/2 pint of milk per day until Sunday. Making the bread and butter pudding drained the last of my milk ration for the day!

On to the news.

The Glasgow Herald on Saturday, October 7th, 1944. Normally the paper consisted of 8 pages, but on Saturday it was only 6. (Sunday, no edition was published.)

As always, blackout times for Glasgow are at the very top of the front page:  7.07pm until 7am.

Page One: With no edition on Sundays, the churches advertised their services for the following day. I decided to check out The Cathedral Church of St Mary on Great Western Road as – I believe – this is where my parents were married. On October 8th, the 18th Sunday after Trinity, Holy Communion (sung) would be held at 8,9 and 12.15, with Matins at 11 and Evensong at 6pm. The minister was Rev A.I. Haggart B.A. and (very interesting) all seats free.

Page Two: The Battle of the Rhine is again increasing in violence, and according to the German commentator, Sertorius, the British have now succeeded in establishing a bridgehead across the Lek, which is being secured by further reinforcement. It will be necessary to wait for official confirmation from General Eisenhower before the full scale and scope of this attack can be grasped, but any idea that it is species of revenge for the defeat at Arnhem may be dismissed, Sound strategy aims at victory, not vengeance.

Page Three: Among the treasured souvenirs of the Glasgow Highlandersstay in Belgium during the present campaign, will be a beautifully executed tapestry portrait of King George VI, which was presented to the battalion by the Mayor of the village of Bellingham. It had been kept hidden during the whole period of German occupation, and its presentation to the Scottish troops was a spontaneous gesture which was greatly appreciated.

Page Four: Radio times for Saturday and Sunday.  At 8.30pm on Sunday, listeners could hear the final episode of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
It was also reported that during 1943-44, 1,124,255 people had visited the Art Gallery and its branch museums in Glasgow.

Page Five: Several new companies were registered in Scotland this week under the Companies Act:
#22946: James Lees and Sons (Ardrossan) Ltd.  (Mineral water.)
#22947: John G Dunn and Sons (Cambuslang) Ltd. (Wood and lumber merchants.)
#22948: Hillocks of Gourdie Farms (Blairgowrie) Ltd.  (Ownership of landed estates.)
#22949: James Johnstone (Glasgow) Ltd. (Grocers and Provisions merchants.)
#22450: Smedley’s Scottish Estates (Blairgowrie)Ltd. (TO purchase the lands and farm of Welton near Blairgowrie.)
#22451 W. Caldwell and Co. (Paisley) Ltd. (Gum and starch manufacturers)
#22452: James Church (Transport) Ltd. (Hauliers and carters.)
#22453: J.B. Bennet (Glasgow) Ltd (Public works contractors.)
#22454: Peter Robertson (Glasgow) Ltd. (Traders or business of auctioneers.)
#22455: The North-West Highland Associated Hotels (Inverness) Ltd. (To acquire hotels and inns.)
#22456: Saracen’s Head Hotel (Leith) Ltd. (To purchase the business of the Saracen’s Head Hotel from Mrs Jessie Wright.)

Page Six: Classifieds. The price of 750 pounds sterling was paid for a first prize five-month filly foal at Lanark. (If you’re interested in figuring out comparative costs for a house or car in 1944, please check out this great website.)

 

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Six

toadToad-in-the-Hole tonight using one of my precious eggs for the batter. My Mum made the best Toad-in-the-Hole in the world, but sadly I don’t seem to have her knack.  I followed the recipe precisely, used a hot oven and had the fat smoking before I added the batter, but although it tasted fine, it didn’t rise all light and fluffy the way my Mum’s used to. Ah well…I’ll blame it on cooking at altitude – Calgary is 3,400 feet above sea level.

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Anne shared a few of her thoughts about my experiment versus what it was really like to live under rationing.

anne2013How did you feel about rationing? Often quite hungry. I’ve written more at length already (in an earlier blog) about school meals that were often just a pile of mash and a small piece of cheddar of slice of corned beef, with maybe a milk pud to follow. From your blog, I think, you are doing rather better although my memory of points is that we got 20 a month. Potatoes and bread were there to satisfy hunger, but dull fare when there was nothing to spread on them! Later, when I was working for the Daily Record I had the benefit of their canteen for a cooked supper – not brilliant, but food.

I’ve been very fortunate in that I haven’t had any ‘shortages’ during my experiment. Yes, you have – we usually got eggs around Easter time but hardly any for the rest of the year, and then usually on ‘Blue Books only’ – children. Supplies of fresh stuff were still tied very much to the farming year.

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Five

baconDinner tonight  – bacon turnovers with beetroot and roasted brussels sprouts – was delicious and so satisfying I could only manage one course. The pastry was simple – flour, fat and water – and the filling easy – fried bacon, leeks and mashed potato. Roll the pastry into a circle, put the filling in the centre, fold the pastry over, seal the edges, then put in a hot oven for 30 minutes along with the sprouts which were roasted in the left over bacon fat. This would be a great – and incredibly cheap – recipe for leftovers of any kind.

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On to more of Anne’s memories of being a child evacuee during the war.

anne2013Were there many evacuees in Kippen? The ‘under -11s’ from Hyndland School were all there or in other villages around Balfron. I was lucky and made two ‘best friends’ – one a village girl, and the other from Hyndland.

How often did you go back to Glasgow? I don’t remember clearly, but I think not often, especially not at the start or until more raids seemed unlikely. It was more a case of Glasgow family coming to see us than our going there.  John (Anne’s brother)  came during his leaves and he and I explored the countryside around – memories which are precious to me.

How long did the journey take to Glasgow?  Did you travel by bus or train? By bus, which we picked up at St George’s Cross at the east end of Great Western Road. It took a little over two hours as far as I remember, winding through village pick-up stops – like a puppy-dog and lamp-posts. In winter it was a dreary run because of the dark, and the dim blue lights were to dim to read by.

Did you remain in Kippen over the summer? Oh yes, it was an unbroken stay, except for the occasional trip to Glasgow.  Towards the end my Kippen best friend came to Byres Road with me for a week.

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Four

Many thanks to my writing friend Mahrie G. Reid for offering her perspective on Wartime Rationing from a Canadian point of view.  Mahrie’s first mystery novel is scheduled for release this spring.  If you would like to check out her website for more information, please click HERE.

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photoThanks to Diana for inviting me to participate in her War Rations experiment. I was born in 1949 and many of the meals my mother served in my early years originated during the war rationing era.

My mother, Mary Grace Ross, was born 101 years ago this month. The changes she saw in the world were astronomical. She lived 90 years and 10 months and had her life changed dramatically by two world wars. During WW ll her five brothers served overseas and Mom, who lived along the east coast, was a plane spotter, trained to identify every plane flying during that time and in particular enemy planes.

Although sugar, tea, butter and meat were rationed, Canadians ate more and better than during the depression and the healthy eating guidelines used during the war are the foundation for the current Canada’s Food Guidelines.

Canadians were encouraged to eat “patriotic” food, and apples and lobster were the first foods labelled as patriotic. Home canning was also encouraged and the process reached an all time high during the war years.

“Magazines such as Canadian Home Journal repeated such messages by publishing articles with titles like “It’s Patriotic and Pleasant to Eat Canadian Lobster” and which included recipes for patriotic dishes like Lobster Cocktail, Lobster à la King, and Lobster Sandwiches.” (Catherine Caldwell Bayley, “It’s Patriotic and Pleasant to Eat Canadian Lobster,” Canadian Home Journal 37/3 (July 1940), 28-29 and Canadian Home Journal 36/8 (December 1939), 1.)

The cheaper ground meat came into its own during the late forties. An episode of the Canadian TV show, Bomb Girls, realistically featured instructions on turning ground meat into a meal as tasty as steak. In Nova Scotia, fish was also a staple. Even after the war, these two items remained on the menu in our household.

The meals I chose for my War Ration Day were Fish Soup (no milk so not chowder) and a no-crust version of meat pie topped with “icing” made of mashed potatoes. Both include potatoes, carrots and onions as well as a small amount of butter, salt and pepper. I added dried dill from a home garden to the cod-fish soup and served the meat pie with previously home-pickled beets.

photo 1photo 2

An Apple Betty for dessert rounded out both meals. Made with apples and cinnamon topped with oatmeal mixed with one tablespoon of brown sugar and some water, this tasty dish met the December 1939, Department of Agriculture instructions to: “Serve apples daily and you serve your country too.”

photo 4photo 3

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Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Three

One of my writing friends – Mahrie G. Reid – will be taking over my blog tomorrow to give the Canadian perspective on Wartime Rations.  Mahrie writes mysteries with a touch of romance.  Her first novel, set in Nova Scotia and titled Sheldon Harris Came Home Dead, will be available this spring.  You can follow Mahrie on her blog at: mahriegreid.blogspot.ca

hash

A very simple meal for dinner this evening: soup, corned beef hash and pear crumble. The hash was very simple and tasted better than it probably looks in this picture. Next time I make it I think I might add some onions.  And my husband insists corned beef hash isn’t corned beef hash if you don’t add a splash of hot sauce!

* * *

Continuing with Anne’s memories of being evacuated to Kippen with my mother Mary, I asked her about some of the houses they lived in. I remember my mum telling me that they lived in the attic in one of the homes and she had to haul buckets of cold water up to the top floor to wash my brother’s nappies. What were Anne’s memories?

anne2013We stayed in a total of 4 different houses in Kippen. The first was on the main street, with a woman and her child (maybe her husband was in the Forces). I can’t remember much about the cooking facilities there, but do remember the kettle and one large pot of black iron, both 10-12″ high which were used on trivets on the living-room fire. (As I said before, we had oil lamps and battery-run radio.)

The next house was also on the main road and that was the attic one. One large attic room was already occupied by a lady of Mary’s age, called Mary T, and the two Marys were friendly.  Mary T was an amusing companion and a great mimic, the sort of person who can keep you laughing , so it was sad to learn later that she died of TB when she was 28. Mary and your brother slept in the other large room, and I had a sort of cupboard on the landing with a skylight, and a little camp bed only inches off the floor.

House no. 3 was right on the edge of the village and more than a mile from the centre in an area or sub-village called ‘Cauldhame’, so I had a very long walk to reach the bus-stop to take me to school in Balfron, and in the winter suffered from chilblains. Living there was OK because I’d made a friend of one of the village girls nearby. Her father had worked for the railway company and on retirement had bought a railway coach for their retirement home. That was interesting. But I can’t remember much about the inside of the house – maybe we weren’t there for very long, though its setting just beside a little wood with a stream was very pretty, so games like ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood were believable.

The last house was the most modern – a block of 4 flats in pale coloured masonry. We had the upper flat on one side, so there was a big flight of stairs behind the ‘front door’.  The occupier was a Mr T, a big, bluffly cheerful man who was the local gravedigger and presumably acted as a general groundsman when there was no-one to bury. He was kind and always in a good mood. I think Mother had him to stay a few days at Byres Road at least once – to see the Big City. We shared the living room with him, and Mary and I were in a double bed in a bedroom.  It was the most spacious of our billets.

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Two

Week Four – I’m in the homestretch.

The disadvantage of words like ‘rations’ or ‘diet’ is the assumption it immediately creates of privation and hunger. Rationing in Britain was introduced to prevent both those circumstances. It was essential to the war effort that the civilian population was well fed so they could work in the factories and take on extra duties (eg. Air Raid Wardens) if Britain was going to win the war. And it was so successful that by the end of the war people were consuming approximately 3,000 calories per day!

But – I have to confess – when I weighed myself this morning, I discovered I’ve lost a total of 7 lbs in the 3 weeks I’ve been eating wartime rations! Seven pound weight-loss eating pudding every night and never feeling hungry!

Another confession.  I wobbled on my rations this afternoon. I was out for lunch and had a ham/lettuce/tomato and cucumber sandwich, even though the last three ingredients weren’t available in wartime Scotland in January. Next Monday – I can’t believe I’m saying this! – I’m looking forward to enjoying a tomato, cucumber, red pepper, celery and broccoli salad.  With a fresh orange to finish!

But for tonight, dinner was genuine January wartime rations: homemade vegetable soup, cheese dumplings with coleslaw and brussels sprouts, and apple crumble.

dinner

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Anne, my mother and brother moved to Kippen from Glasgow to avoid the bombing and this week she’ll be answering my questions on her experiences as an evacuee.

anne2013When were you evacuated and how long did you stay in Kippen? Shortly after Clydebank*, and I was there for about 2 years 6 months. To begin with I was in the village school for a few months until the ‘Qualifying Exam’ (like the later ’11+’); a nice overstretched headmaster  had to cope with all these extra pupils because Glasgow’s Hyndland School was moved ‘en bloc’ (teachers as well) to the village around Balfron, which was the secondary school centre.

What was the village like? Kippen was isolated on a loop road off the main Glasgow-Stirling road, so it was quiet with no passing traffic. It formed a cross with houses along three of the roads, and there was a stone cross at the centre. No side-roads – the fields began behind the little houses. I was surprised when I went back, out of nostalgia, in the early 1990s to see that little had changed – in fact the only change in the centre was that the Post Office had moved from one side of the main street to the other, and that was all except for a sort row of houses which had been built since I’d last seen it in the 40s.

*Clydebank Blitz – March 13/14 1941

Kippen – A village 20 miles north-west of Glasgow. Scotland.

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-One

Long – long – blog tonight, so let’s get started.

Dinner tonight was leftovers – again!  This time, Haggis burger with roasted brussels sprouts and baked potato. For pudding, baked apple stuffed with honey and raisins.

brusselsshortbread

In honour of Burns Night yesterday, I tried to bake some shortbread – my first attempt in about 30 years.  Although they don’t look very pretty – next time I’ll use a pastry cutter! – they tasted good.  At least, the small portion I managed to rescue did. About three seconds after taking this picture, I knocked the plate on the floor. Let’s just say that if dogs can smile, mine had a grin from ear to ear, with shining eyes and a very waggy tail to match!

Although I could laugh it off, in wartime it wouldn’t have been nearly as funny.  Making the shortbread took up 1/10 of our fat allowance for the week. When resources were scarce, that would have been no laughing matter!

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Moving on…

hshopAs promised, here –  for my husband’s colleagues who can’t believe I’m bringing in a grocery shopping for two at around $60 per week –  is my menu, shopping list and bill for this week’s rations. Please remember this isn’t absolutely everything I need for my weekly menu – I already have staples like flour/tea/treacle/sausagemeat etc. on my shelves and in the freezer.

Also, the bill has been adjusted to show the price of my actual rations allowances.  Some things – like bacon – I could only buy in a large packet so I had to remove the bacon allowed for this week and freeze the rest.

Main Course: Haggis Burger, Cheese Dumplings, Sausagemeat Loaf, Steak and Pot Pie, Steak and Pot Pie leftovers, Bacon Turnovers, Corned Beef Hash, Toad-In-The-Hole

Pudding: Breton pears, Padded pudding, Dark Gingerbread, Welsh cakes, Apple crumble, Pear crumble, Bread and Butter Pudding, Baked Apples.

SHOPPING LIST:

Rations (for two):

Bacon – 8ozs 226g:  $3

Meat –  1lb/455g: $3.96 (Stewing steak)

Milk – 12 pints/6.8 litres: $9.99

Cheese – 4ozs – 112g: $2.50

Butter/fats – 1 lb /455g : $3.49

Sugar – 8 ozs/224g: $0.44c (It should be 1lb between the two of us, but I’m still haven’t used up our first week’s sugar ration.)

Eggs – 8 (2 shell and 6 powdered) $1.86

Preserves: 4ozs/112g:  $1.00

Non rationed food:

Sausages: $2.50

Corned Beef: $4.83  (on points when available!)

Bread: $3.29

Potatoes: $3. 98

Carrots:$3.99

Beetroot: $1.72

Leeks: Not available – it’s wartime.

Apples: $3.98

Pears: $5

Strawberry Jam:$1

Red cabbage: $2.29

Onions: $2

TOTAL: (IF my maths is correct!) $60.82Cdn: $54.96US: $63.25 Australian: 33.36GBP

As I said, I do have some staples already on my shelves and veggies left over from last week, and when I figured out the price of my morning porridge, without milk it comes to 14c per portion.

So it is possible to eat a very healthy, filling diet on a budget  But if you’d like to read more about eating well and cheaply, please check out THIS website.  Jack Monroe is a 25 year-old single mother who found herself forced to feed herself and her child on 10GBP a week.  ($18.23Cdn:$16.48US: $18.96Australian)