Wartime Rations – Day 19

turkey burgerI found myself really craving salad today. Maybe it was something to do with the fact we’ve only got a few more days of sunshine forecast before the temperatures start to drop below freezing. I’ve been limiting myself to tried and true winter vegetables so far, but when I had another look at the vegetables in season, I noticed spinach. Yes! Something green and salad-y. But it’s still ‘wartime’ and I had about 2 ozs of turkey and mashed carrots left over from the weekend, so I really had to use them up.

The solution? Turkey ‘burger’ (1 medium mashed potato, small amount of chopped fried leek and chopped up cooked turkey meat all mixed together, shaped into a burger and then fried in a little butter) with carrots, spinach, blackberries and a little chopped apple on the side. It’s funny… just a few odds and ends yet it made a really nice lunch. In fact, it made two ‘burgers’ so I have leftovers for tomorrow. More importantly, I really enjoyed my salad!  Yay!

anne2013Rather than comment on what was in ‘today’s paper’  on October 24th, 1944, I thought I’d let you in on a conversation I had with Anne this morning.

It’s been interesting seeing the blackout times in the paper get longer and longer now that they were going into the winter months, so I asked Anne about it. Basic questions like, what was the blackout made of? What did it feel like once the blackout was up for the night?

The blackout was made of a black material that went inside the normal curtains next to the window. Once it was blackout hours, you couldn’t turn a light on in a room without ensuring the blackout curtains were closed, which often meant stumbling across the room in pitch darkness first. She can’t remember if coupons were needed to buy the material, but it was cheaper to buy than other fabrics. And she can remember some people making clothes out of it.

Outside, you could use a torch, but it had to be taped so only a small beam of light showed. The same with car lights.

Which got me wondering what it was like to be outside in the blackout when there was a fog. Even I can remember the filthy smogs we had in Glasgow back in the 60s, and having to go to school with a scarf over my face to protect my lungs. What must fog have been like during the blackout? Anne’s reply was that the fog didn’t just spoil your vision, but also your hearing. It was the absence of sound that she says she hated more than anything. You’d be standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus and have no sense of it until it loomed out of the fog less than ten yards from you.

She has a particular memory of being sent to the chemist’s shop to pick up a prescription for her parents. It was only a few steps away from their flat in Byres Road in Glasgow, but she especially hated going there when there was a fog outside. The 40s was still a time when chemists prepared their own pills and potions, so there were always vapours hanging in the air inside the shop which seemed to affect her particularly badly when she went back out into the fog, burning her throat. She’d run home to the kitchen and the fire where the family congregated. Not only did fire keep the fog away, but with fuel rationed, it was the only room they were able to keep warm.  “Everyone lived in the kitchen,’ she said.

We discussed a few other wartime nuggets  – little things that you can’t find in the history books –  but I’ll keep them until tomorrow.

 

Wartime Rations – Day 17

It’s somehow very telling that when you look through various WW2 recipe books in search of meals to do with turkey or chicken that you find nothing. Nada. Unless you bred your own, was it possible to purchase chicken or turkey during the war?
turkey hashGiven that I had turkey left over from ‘Canadian Thanksgiving’, it meant I had to use my imagination to use up my leftover turkey tonight. I ended up adapting a recipe for Corned Beef Hash to Turkey. (Fry chopped onion, chopped cooked potato and cooked turkey, cover and cook for 15 minutes.) To my meal I added leftover mashed carrots and fresh red cabbage and carrot coleslaw.

October 22nd, 1944 was a Sunday, so no newspapers on that day. (At least, none I can access through the archive.) Instead, Anne has written a great article for this post. I asked her about what she found were the worst (and best) things she could remember about rationing. Obviously food rationing was an issue, but there was so much more to rationing and wartime deprivation, and she paints a fascinating portrait of everyday life on the home front.

anne2013I remember being hungry at times, though that was probably because I had just turned 11 when the war started – rationing started at the end of 1939 – and so was entering my teenage years, the hungry years and rationing went on till about 1954.  Hunger didn’t stop me from selling my sweet coupons apart from reserving a few for an occasional bar of chocolate; I preferred the cash, to buy a sausage roll or scotch pie.  I also contributed to black market goings-on by selling clothing coupons as well – but all my ‘dealings’ were within the family.  There was one occasion when the fighting had ended and a police sergeant friend of the family came visiting when Mother was ironing on the kitchen table and he laid a couple of things on the table, saying These are for you. I think it was a packet of tea and a bag of sugar – rationed stuff, anyway.  Mother was silent, and I could see the thoughts that were rushing through her head: What was this?  A policeman on the black market?  Was he testing her to see if she would accept?  If she did would he arrest her?
Seeing her hesitation and doubting eye, he explained that they had just arrested some big-dealing Black Marketeers and the food would officially be destroyed. (I think my memory is right; the incident left a strong impression.)
My top things would certainly be: the tastelessness of much of the food and the bread in particular – and the meagre scrape of butter didn’t help; the monotony of the meals because there was little importing of fruit, spices etc;  no ‘branding’, everything in the melting pot and ‘National’;  fish was scarce and there was little choice and it seemed we always had to queue for it, not knowing what would still be there when we got to the end – but if we were unlucky we might get fried something from the chippy;  queueing itself would be on my list, it became a part of everyone’s life – imagine rushing to join a queue to get a box of matches when word got round that ‘So&So’s had a supply. In my list I’d include power cuts which affected so much of everyday life: not just going off when you were cooking, but also electricity for ironing so we had to unearth a pair of old flat-irons and heat them on a gas ring – so ironing had to be done in a particular order, eg linens and cottons while the iron was newly heated down to wool when it had cooled off – there were a few disasters.  Public transport was hard pressed: trains could be cancelled at the last minute because of the movement of servicemen; fewer trams and buses and all of them packed to the gills and nearly all in the hands of women conductors since men had disappeared into the Services; often the driver would have to come round and help the poor woman with some drunk and disorderlies, or when would-be travellers were insisting on boarding in numbers way beyond the legal limit.  And of course the winter journeys on street and rails when the only light was a glimmer of blue, certainly not enough to read by.
But of course, we put up with it, and cheerfully.  There was a war on, wasn’t there, and to stay cheerful was part of doing ‘our bit’.  And I was young and able to take it in my stride.

 
On the good side were Mother’s ingenuity in somehow producing nice, if rather monotonous, meals and all her jam-making and fruit bottling in summer (though storage jars were a problem and treated like Ming vases).  Dad’s constant supply of veg: one thing I really loved were boiled turnip tops which had a lovely flavour similar to spinach but tastier.  Recently I mentioned to someone that I couldn’t think why they weren’t sold on veg counters and was told they were banned because they contained something vaguely narcotic – don’t know if that’s true or not.  And there was always the canteen at work to fill up on stodge.

 

Wartime Rations – Day Eleven

When I was looking through Marguerite Patten‘s recipe book We’ll Eat Again yesterday for sandwich fillings, I noted a recipe for Potato Rarebit.

Rarebit

Potato Rarebit. Recipe from We’ll Eat Again by Marguerite Patten.

(Use mashed potatoes as a basis for a rarebit. Beat the potatoes until soft and smooth; add a little milk if too stiff. The potatoes should be like thick cream. Put in as much grated cheese as you can spare, with seasoning to taste. Spread on hot toast and brown under the grill.)

I had some mashed potatoes (with chopped bacon and leek) left over from a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d give it a try. Surprisingly, it was very good, and with some homemade coleslaw on the side, very filling.

steweed

Stewed Sausages with carrots and leek.

For dinner tonight, I had a favourite from when I was growing up – stewed sausages – accompanied by the rest of the leftover mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts. It’s a really easy meal to make. Fry the sausages in a little fat, add leeks and carrots, add some stock (or cider if you’d prefer), cover and simmer until veggies are cooked.

Checking out what was making news in The Calgary Herald for October 16th, 1944, (15 pages today) I found the following:

Field Marshall Edwin Rommel (The Desert Fox) had ‘Died of Wounds’ the German newspapers reported. Hitler had ordered a state funeral for him.  (In fact, we now know the wounds he died of were from his forced suicide. Rommel had been injured on July 17th, 1944 when the RAF strafed his car. However it was his ‘defeatist’ attitude that angered Hitler and he was forced to commit suicide.)

Canadian Veterans were being offered post-war opportunities either in vocational training or educational opportunities. Fees would be paid, and $60 per month given to a single man/woman, or $80 per month to a man with a wife. Additional allowances were available if the couple had children. The programme was available for ‘period of service to a maximum of one year – but can be extended’. Disabled vets received special consideration, their right to training being ‘continuous’.

In New York on Saturday night, Frank Sinatra was hit by an egg as he sang ‘I Don’t Know Why‘ at the Paramount Theatre.

According to Gallup, with the US Presidential election only 3 weeks ago, Roosevelt had 51% of the poll while Dewey had 49% – with an error of 3-4%.

The Personal section was fascinating, operating as a kind of 40s Facebook, with notification of various members of the public returning home from holiday or weekends in Camrose, Banff and Brooks, and of members of the forces coming home on leave. For example: Miss Lucille Allen left this morning for Denver, Colorado, to visit her parents.

An advertisement for Safeway itemised the following foods which people living under rationing Britain could only dream out:
MacKintosh Red apples: 5lbs – 23c: 35lb bag – $1.59
Tomatoes: 19 c per lb
Grapes: 17c per lb
Grapefruit: 21c per 2lbs
Jam: 31c per 2 lb jar
Sirloin steak: 38c per lb
Chickens: 32c per lb

Max Telling, 40, a German POW, escaped from a German POW farm project near Namaka by stealing a truck which was recovered in Calgary. Telling, 5’6″ tall, fair, with wavy hair was wearing a blue/grey suit and blue shirt. He left a thank-you note in the truck thanking the owner for its use. (!!)

An eyewitness account of the gassing and cremation of 4,000 Jewish children in the German concentration camp at Birkenau was given today in a London dispatch. It quoted the letter of a Polish woman imprisoned in the camp for 7 months who was later transferred to a Warsaw prison from which the letter was smuggled out.

Wartime Rations – Day Five

fishandchipsI seem to be eating out a little more frequently than I had planned when I started this programme. It’s the long weekend here in Canada, so we went out to lunch at Earls. Trying to stay within my rations I had halibut and chips, but the helping was so large that I think it’ll just be soup for me for dinner tonight!

The Glasgow Herald

Once more, only 6 pages. I wonder why? It’s getting closer to the end of the war, but is this when material was in real short supply?

Page One: Blackout times: 7pm – 7.09am

What I’m finding interesting about the front page of the paper is that this isn’t where to find the top news. This page is about announcements and adverts. For example:

Silver Weddings: At the Bath Hotel, Bath Street, Glasgow on 10th October, 1919, but Rev. D Galbraith, assisted by Dr Chisholm M.A., Donald M. Wilson to Agnes C. Sloan. Present address: Morangie, 19 Larch Road, Dumbreck, Glasgow.

Crystal Palace on St George’s Road, Charles Laughton in The Man From Down Under.

Page Two:  10,000th ‘Fortress’ Completed. The American Association of Aircraft Manufacturers announced in Los Angeles yesterday that the 10,000th Flying Fortress had just been built by Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.

Page Three: German Positions Taken in Rear. The Landing by Canadian Forces at dawn yesterday in the Scheldt Estuary pocket west of the village of Hoofdplaat was reported last night to be ‘progressing satisfactorily’. The assault in the enemy’s rear was made to ease the pressure on the Canadians holding the Leopold Canal bridgehead, and already (reports Reuter) there are signs that the ferocious German attacks at the canal are weakening.

Page Four: No more ration-free bacon. Cooked belly bacon sold off the ration for the past 6 months was from yesterday issued to retailers for the ration bacon requirements. Coupons will be necessary when buying it.

Page Five: Foot and mouth disease was confirmed yesterday among pigs at Spennymoor, Co Durham. The usual standstill order was made.

Page Six: For Sale. Huntly Gardens, Glasgow. 3 public rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen and servants’ bedroom. Entry can be given as soon as the house is de-requistioned by the War Office. (I checked on recent sales at this address. The house has been turned into flats and one recently sold for £475,000. But what I found really interesting is that had been taken over by the War Office.  From whom? How much had they paid the original owners? What was it used for?)

Wartime Rations – Day Four

fishI decided on fish tonight. Although fish wasn’t a rationed food in WW2, it wasn’t always available. Fishermen had to put to sea in dangerous waters to haul in their catches, so often weren’t able to go far from shore. Also, which I didn’t realise, there are also distinct seasons for fish with cod being in season (in the UK) from October to January.  Who knew?

I rarely eat fish – I like it but my husband doesn’t – so I don’t have too many fish recipes to hand. But I do remember, from working in NHS hospitals years ago, that they used to serve up cod in a mustard sauce, which I decided to replicate. (Bake cod in oven at 180C for about 15 minutes. Make a white sauce, add mustard powder to taste, then pour over the fish.) It was delicious, and to add some colour and veggies I threw in some roasted Brussels sprouts which cooked in the oven at the same time as the fish.

berryPudding – because I am enjoying eating pudding every night – was apple and blackberry crumble using some of the leftover crumble mix from the other night. Also, saving energy, the pudding baked in the oven at the same time as the fish and veggies – although it needed a little more time.

The Glasgow Herald – Monday, October 9th, 1944

Only six pages again today, and I’m starting to find myself more interested with the ‘local’ news than the actual ‘war’ news.

Blackout times for Glasgow: 7.02pm until 7.07am- so nights are starting to creep in.

Page One: The writing is a bit blurred on this advert, but from what I can make out, the price at Rowans of 70 Buchanan Street for Officers’ uniforms were as follows:
Air Force Tunic: £9-6-6d
Trousers: £3-10-0d
Greatcoat: $14 – 4 -6d.

For comparison of what money bought back then, please check out this site for wartime prices.

Page Two: Scottish War Plant Closed. A war factory at Mossend, Lanarkshire, closed down on Saturday. When the factory was in full production over 500 men were employed, but recently only part of the plant was in operation. Members of the staff have received their notices. One hundred and twenty men are affected.

The above post is interesting when compared with the following one.

Page Three: Need for Private Enterprise. Mr Anthony Eden on Saturday urged that private enterprise should not be stifled after the war. He told Bristol Conservative and Unionist Association that the issue which would confront Britain when Germany and Japan were laid low was whether British industry would be able not only to re-establish itself, but markedly to raise pre-war levels.

Page Four: Food Facts.  Vitamin Foods. In view of the approaching winter, please see that every child under five gets cod liver oil and orange juice every day.

Page Five: Going My Way. Bing Crosby, after travelling so many roads to different places that all turned out to be the same, has deserted his fellow-voyagers, Hope and Lamour, and has gone up a rather odd side-turning to make ‘Going My Way’ (Paramount). In this he plays a young Roman Catholic priest who is sent to renovate a New York parish going downhill; he reforms the local Dead End Kids and sets them to singing Ave Marias, saves young girls from the streets, and raises money for the debt-laden church by composing and selling a sermon in song, a sort of Crooners’ Creed.

Certainly this sounds like the most dreadful slush, but, oddly enough, it is not. This is largely thanks to the acting – Mr Crosby’s diffident charm remains as strong as ever in a clerical suit, and Barry FItzgerald’s playing of an old priest, dry and eccentric, is as good a character sketch as any the screen has given us for some time.

… Altogether, we are still inclined to go Mr Crosby’s way, whether he is heading for Mandalay or the New Jerusalem.

Page Six: Peebles Auction Market. Owing to foot-and-mouth disease restrictions, the sale advertised for Friday, 13th October, has been meantime postponed.

A terraced house for sale at in Bellevue Road, Ayr, comprising 3 public rooms, 7 bedrooms, a kitchen  and servants’ accommodation was being offered for £2,250. I checked on modern-day prices for the same property. The building has now been divided into flats, with one recently priced at £197,844 and the other at £228,500!

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.)

 

War Time Rations – Day One (again!)

It can get pretty boring looking a food pictures, so I’m not going to take pictures of EVERYTHING I eat over the next month. But as it’s the first day, I thought I’d show examples of what will be my typical weekday morning and lunch.

PorridgeWeekday breakfast will be porridge, a little milk and smattering of sugar for taste. (I’m going to save my egg and bacon as a treat for the weekend.) Because I only get 3 pints of milk a week, I’ve decided to divide that up into Mon/Tues allowing myself 1/4 pint each day and thereafter 1/2 pint daily for the rest of the week.

My weekday lunches will be a variation on The Oslo Meal. Essentially, it’s a sandwich (lettuce and tomato), a piece of cheese, glass of milk and piece of fruit, but given that lettuce and tomato are not in season in October, I’ve modified it to a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with some bread, homemade coleslaw (some days I’ll substitute an apple) and a cup of tea. My family seem to like my veggie soup and it’s really easy, so here’s the recipe.

RATIONSDiana’s Homemade Vegetable Soup:
Pan of water, one stock cube, 1/2 cup of lentils, 1/2 cup of split peas (if desired), one chopped onion, one chopped potato and one chopped carrot. Put everything in the pan, bring to the boil then simmer for at least 1 hour. The longer you simmer it the better.

minceDinner. Having grown up in Glasgow, I’m very fond of ‘mince and tatties’ but I decided to do the potatoes just a little differently tonight.  I mashed them with fried leek, moulded them into hamburger sized patties and then fried them which gave them a great texture.

And then pudding.  Ah, pudding.  I only ever seem to eat a dessert whendessert I’m eating wartime rations – go figure. However, with apples and blackberries as the only fruits available to me for October, I’m going to have to get creative. Tonight I made the old standby; apple and raisin crumble. The crumble is dead easy; rub 2oz of butter into 4oz flour then mix in 2oz sugar. I only used a small amount of the mixture tonight so have stored the rest in the fridge for the evenings I need to pull something together quickly.

Just as well I have to take the dog for a walk tonight as I feel pretty full!

anne2013Anne’s asked me to remind everyone that, “When you’re talking about rationing, don’t forget fuel and soap.  Remember it was a time of coal, electricity and gas, so Britain then didn’t have the benefit of hydropower and nuclear stations, nor did local users have wind farms.  So, electricity often meant blackouts of light as well as heat for cooking (in the middle of making dinner!), and the coal ration was only enough to heat one room, so most families lived in the kitchen, often undressing there and dashing through the cold hall to get to their cold bedrooms.  As for soap, there were no detergents beyond soap in block, flake or powder form and the ration was meagre.  In Glasgow we didn’t feel it badly because we had such nice soft water from Loch Katrine and mother used often to send a soap coupon or two down to relatives in Derby and Nottingham where the tap water was very hard. There was also washing soda but that was extremely harsh on hands and fabrics.”

As for what was being reported in The Glasgow Herald on this day 70 years ago, despite the continued posting of the blackout times for Glasgow – 7.10pm until 7.01am next morning – there appears to be a growing sense that people are looking beyond the end of the war.

Page One: Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit was playing at The Alhambra.

Page Two: The Army, unleashed after its dogged punishing weeks in the Caen sector, is gathering an amazing momentum.

Page Three: Questions were raised in Parliament on the shortage of teats for babies’ bottles, and, as happens too often, the matter was glossed over with meaningless explanations.

Page Four: Soviet troops were within 10 miles of Belgrade.

Page Five: France. Marshall Petain and 50 former members of his Vichy Government were charged with treason and intelligence with the enemy.

Page Six: After a four-day Court Martial, Private Thomas Montoya (24) of the US Army Air Force was cleared of murdering Joan Long (22) in an air raid shelter in Blackpool but was found guilty of manslaughter. He forfeited all pay and allowances, received a dishonourable discharge and a sentence of 10 years hard labour.

Page Seven: A shortage of round coal was accentuated this week by a number of illegal stoppages in Lanarkshire and by a continued high rate of absenteeism.

Page Eight: Situation Wanted.  Scottish doctor, graduate with varied experience, at present doing war-time locum in busy practice, is anxious to settle in Scotland after the war; age 32; family man; temperate; Presbyterian; he would consider assistantship with view partnership, or buying outright; preference for Highlands and Islands area or small county town, but is interested in any reasonable proposition.