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 18

I experimented with another recipe from Marguerite Patten‘s book, We’ll Eat Again today; Potato Cheese

potoate bakeAdjusting the ingredients for only one person, and substituting cabbage for parsley, I used 8 oz mashed potato, 1 1/2 oz grated cheese (almost my whole ration for the week!), 1/4 oz oatmeal and 2 tablespoons of chopped cabbage. (I fried the cabbage in a little bit of bacon fat first to add a little more flavour.)

Method: Mix the potatoes, half the cheese and cabbage together.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the mixture into a shallow dish, cover the mix with the remaining grated cheese and all the oatmeal. Put under grill to brown.  I added a side dish of red cabbage coleslaw for colour. Even reducing the portions/ingredients, I still found it too much to eat at one sitting, but it tasted really good and the oatmeal and melted cheese added both flavour and texture to what was, essentially, mashed potatoes!.

I am, however, a little concerned about my Vitamin C intake, especially with no citrus fruits available. In We’ll Meet Again, Marguerite Patten offers not just recipes, but also nutritional advice from the time. According to the wartime nutritionists, everyone needed at least 1,ooo units of Vitamin C every day.

(Here’s  a breakdown from the foods I’ve already prepared today.)
8 oz cooked potatoes:  480
1 oz cooked cabbage: 70
2 ozs raw cabbage: 200

I wasn’t able to find the Vitamin C values found in carrots defined in units, but all books agree it’s pretty high.

So if my maths is correct, even without carrots, I’ve had 750 units of Vitamin C out of the wartime recommended 1,000 and it’s only lunch time.  Not bad

On to news reports from The Glasgow Herald from October 23rd, 1944.  (If you click on the link I’ve supplied, you’ll find that they’ve combined both the papers from the 23rd and 24th in the one link.) Six pages again. Blackout time for Glasgow: 6.28pm until 7.36am.

I continue to find myself much more interested in The Home Front aspect of the news. Perhaps that’s because the actual war news is all positive.

British and Canadians Gain Ground. Breshens and Esschen Captured.
Patton’s New Push.
US Progress in the Philippines.
Another Hungarian Town Captured.
Eighth Army Forces (in Adriatic sector) Drives Germans Back in Swift Advance.

There’s definitely a sense that the end of the war is only a a matter of time.  Especially with the following headline:  Public Houses Open on Victory Day. If Victory Day should fall on a Thursday, the half-day holiday usually held on that day will de disregarded and the ordinary permitted hours will be observed. No Liquor will be sold for carrying out throughout the day.

Typhoid at Greenock. Three case of typhoid had been reported in Greenock in the past two months. In each case the patients had eaten shellfish gathered from the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Although it couldn’t be proven that this is where they had contacted the disease, ‘Shellfish should be regarded as unfit for food unless thoroughly boiled for full half-an-hour.’

Miners employed at Fortissat Colliery, Shotts, and at Ferniegair Colliery, Hamilton, decided at meetings yesterday to resume work today. Some 450 men were involved in the disruptions.

The SYHA (Scottish Youth Hostel Association) was actively looking to buy mansions or other buildings suitable for Youth Hostels, for either immediate or post-war use.

 

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 16

After my ‘lapse’ over the weekend, I’m trying to get back on track. One of the things I’m finding hard is not having toast with marmalade in the morning, but with only 2oz of jam/marmalade a week, I’m trying to save it for special occasions. So, in looking through Marguerite Patten’s cookery book ‘We’ll Eat Again I came across this recipe for Carrot Jam in the ‘Making Do’ section.

carrot jam

Wartime Carrot and Apple Jam

Method: Cook 8 oz peeled carrots in a little water until a smooth pulp. Cook 1lb sliced cooking apples (weight when peeled) in 1/4 pint water until a smooth pulp. Mix the carrot and apple pulps together. Measure this and to each 1 pint allow 1lb sugar. Tip back into the saucepan, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then boil until stiffened. This never becomes as firm as real fruit jam. (I used eating rather than cooking apples, so I would suggest you dial back on the sugar a little.)

After a week exploring what was going on in Canada 70 years ago, it’s back to Scotland and The Glasgow Herald for October 21st, 1944. Once again, it’s 6 pages of close type, minimal photos and blackout times.  (6.32pm until 7.32am.)

Two adverts on the front page caught my attention.

The Dog’s Bazaar. A bazaar was to be held in aid of The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection. There was to be a special stall in aid of the Scottish National Institute for Blinded Sailors and Soldiers. Admission was one shilling and those attending were asked to remember to bring their clothing coupons with them and that no loose coupons would be accepted.

Nowadays, people frequently complain that Christmas gets ‘earlier and earlier’ each year, but maybe it was always thus. On October 21st, 1944, Copland’s Stationery Department in Sauchiehall Street advertised  ‘a good selection of Christmas cards and calendars. As supplies somewhat limited, we would suggest the advisability of an early visit’. I wonder if Christmas advertising has always started early, or was this to make sure cards would arrive in time for Christmas for the troops stationed overseas. 

Keeping with the Christmas theme, I found this in the Letters to the Editor:  Sir. We have been told of extra rations to be distributed for Christmas. Can we conscientiously accept them when we think of the starving people in France and other European countries. We suggest that these extra luxuries should be sent to the children of France as a gesture of good will from the people of Britain.

In war news:
Allies enter Cesena. (Italy)
Landing operations in Philippines.
Red Army liberates Belgrade
Aachen fall to the Americans.
Canadians gain ground near Antwerp.

The Cost of Fighting: The average daily expenditure for the three months ending June 30 was a little over £13,250.000 per day.

Although we now know that Rommel was forced to commit suicide, the Allies believed the German reports that he had ‘died from wounds’ after his car was strafed near the village of Dozule east of Caen on the afternoon of July 17th. Wing Commander Baldwin, one of the pilots involved in the attack said, “We saw two despatch riders, one biggish armoured car, another motor transport, a staff car and a smaller armoured car. This indicated somebody of importance and I gave the usual order for the section to peel off one by one and strafe the vehicles. We skimmed along the road at tree top height and let the vehicles have about 300 cannon shells. One of the despatch riders got away as there was plenty of cover beneath the hedges and trees. The other was killed on the spot, and, as we cut off back home we saw the cars either smoking or in flames.”

Far East ‘Snaps’ Wanted: The Admiralty invited the public to submit any photographs they may possess of scenes or subjects taken in Far Eastern areas.

A ship’s steward on a merchant vessel was fined £50 or three months imprisonment when he was charged with smuggling 252 pairs of artificial silk stockings and 10 lbs of sugar.

Wanted: Repatriated officer wishes to replace lost silver cigarette case, gold cuff links and reliable wrist watch; price must be reasonable.

Wartime Rations – Day Twelve

Life just suddenly seems to have got busy, so I’ve been relying on leftovers and familiar recipes today. Next week I really must get more focused and do a bit more experimenting with my rations.

appleBreakfast and lunch were the usual. Dinner was leftover sausages from last night, and for dessert I made a baked apple. So simple, yet really delicious and just the thing my sweet tooth was craving. (Under non-rationing circumstances it tastes even better with cream or ice cream on the side.)

It’s dead easy and very quick. Clean your apple and core it. Place it on a dish with just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. Mix some raisins with a teaspoon of syrup/honey or sugar and stuff the apple.  Bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes, and Bob’s your uncle!

On to The Calgary Herald (14 pages) for October 17th, 1944.

There was lots of war news: The Russians had begun their drive into East Prussia with Berlin admitting the Russians were now on ‘sacred soil’;The Japanese had lowered the age of conscription from 19 to 17 years-of-age, and Rommel’s death had been confirmed.

But I have to admit, it’s the news from the Home Front that I find the most fascinating. The war news you can find in the history books, but the news in the papers is pure gold. (At least to the history geek in me!)

The Women’s Minimum Wage in Canada was set at $15 per week for a 30+ hour work week. Currently it was $12.50 – $14 for 48+hours.

Apple juice would be available to civilians this coming winter. During the past few years it had been reserved for the military.

Canadian Wren Mildred Honey found herself having problems. Custom dictated she be called by her last name, which caused puns and a lot of laughter on the base.

Alberta seemed to have a lot of problems with escaping POWs. I mentioned one yesterday, but in today’s paper was the report that: German POW Joseph Haub, 30, who’d escaped from his work at the Madalia Potteries on September 13th, was captured by RCMP and Medicine Hat City Police at 1am this morning in a house occupied by two women. Although it was unclear how long he’d been in the house, the two women were not charged with harbouring him.

And then there was this angry letter to the editor from ‘A Veteran’.
Returning to this country after spending three-and-a-half years overseas with the army, I received my discharge. After reading and hearing so much about the shortage of manpower, I thought it would be a simple matter to get a job, but I certainly found out my mistake when I tried.
At most of the places I was sent to by the Selective Service I was told I was too old. Since when was a man of 40 too old to work? And where is the rehabilitation program we hear so much about, or is the government keeping it for its much-beloved Zombie Army? How is it the business people of Calgary expect men to go to war and fight for them but will not give them work when they return? It was the same thing after the last war. They seem to have no use for an ex-serviceman here.
I suppose they will expect us to invest in the Victory Loan that opens soon. Any country that can afford to keep a Zombie Army of 72,000 men hanging around doing nothing does not need any help at all. (Zombie Army?)

There was a prediction that ‘Within 90 days after the collapse of Germany, the market will be flooded with nylon stockings. They’ll be in colours and designs never before conceived. They will sell at a price range between 79c and $1.25c.’

And finally this great story! Five hundred miles from the nearest land, an exhausted homing pigeon recently alighted on the bridge of HMCS St Lambert in the Atlantic and stayed with the corvette for four weeks, thus becoming one of the most unusual mascots in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy.

 

Wartime Rations – Day Nine

dinnerBack on track today after the holiday weekend. Porridge for breakfast, homemade soup for lunch, then beef, fried cabbage and mashed potatoes with added fried leeks and bacon for dinner. Rounded off with a blackberry crumble it was a lovely meal to come home to after a long walk around Prince’s Island Park downtown with my daughter. The fall colours are just stunning and we watched a brave soul surfing the mini-rapids on the river created by last year’s flood.

On to the happenings in The Calgary Herald on October 14th, 1914. Being a Saturday, there were 25 pages!

The war was obviously going well for the Allies and you can sense a feeling of optimism. Here are various headlines from the front page alone.

Riga’s Fall Frees Reds for Smash at East Prussia.

Jap Army of 150,000 Believed Cut Off in the Philipines.

British Drive Nearer Reich.

Yanks Press Deeper Into Aachen Rubble.

British Capture Island of Corfu.

For the Germans, however, the future didn’t look quite so promising.

Field Marshall Goering, quoted on German radio, warned the German people they were fighting for their very existence.

Further down there was an article stating that the ‘Nazis No Longer Fight As A Well Trained Army’.

As for what was happening in Canada…

Penicillin was now available in Canada for ‘every civilian needing it’.

A single engine RCAF plane rescued 17 US Fliers, whose plane had been damage in a severe storm in the Hudson Bay, and flew them 4,500 miles to Churchill, Manitoba.

Pilots from all over the world were trained at the Commonwealth Air Training Bases in Manitoba and Alberta during the war.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the Canadian film For The Moment, starring Russell Crowe before he became a big star, you might want to check it 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 Three

No food photographs today as breakfast was toast and marmalade, and lunch will be leftovers from yesterday’s evening meal. I’m heading out to ‘the pictures’ with a friend this evening, so will be grabbing something to eat at the mall. Keeping in the wartime spirit, I’m planning to enjoy a fish supper/fish and chips. If fish isn’t available, I’ll make do with chips.

Sunday post 1October 8th 1944 was a Sunday. There was no edition of The Glasgow Herald on Sundays during wartime, so I tried to find examples of other newspapers online, especially The Sunday Post which was a fixture in most Scottish households. I was unsuccessful, but I did find a link to a documentary on the 100th year anniversary of this iconic Scottish paper which also includes accounts of the paper’s experience during both world wars. (Minutes 37.55 – 40.30 for WW2.)

Anne worked for The Daily Record in Glasgow, so I asked her about what Sunday papers were available, and also about her experiences working in a newspaper office.  I also asked:  Given there was no edition on Sunday, I assume they didn’t work on Saturday, but must have had to work on a Sunday to get the Monday edition out.  How did that square the very Presbyterian notion of keeping the Sabbath holy?  Do you remember?

One of the things I love about eye-witness accounts are the details you can’t find in history books, so here are Anne’s memories.

anne2013No memories really of its interfering with church.  I can’t see that anyone would have accepted having to wait till Monday for write-ups about the dozens of football matches on Saturday afternoons.

broons2

The Broons in The Sunday Post, February 1944

Most households would take The Sunday Post along with one or maybe two others; the Sunday Post was the demand of children for Oor Wullie sitting on his up-turned bucket and, of course, The Broons.

Most newspaper businesses did publish a Sunday paper but under a different name. You could perhaps find out by looking up Outram Press on Internet.  I worked for the rivals: the Kemsley Press in Hope Street.  My first job there was to sit with headphones on, from about 3 in the afternoon till 10 or 11 at night, taking ‘stories’ from correspondents all over Scotland for Kemsley’s morning paper, ‘The Daily Record’ , straight on to the typewriter for local calls and using shorthand for ‘long distance’ or ‘trunk’ calls.  These could be anything from the latest news in a court case to the prices obtained at the latest cattle auction, and had to be taken straight to the chief reporter.   Kemsley also published ‘The Evening News’ and on Sundays ‘The SundayMail’.  I got one day off a week and, not being involved in The Sunday Mail’, had Saturday off as well, so was having a 5-day week when most working people were still working half-day on Saturday.

I loved the feeling of ‘things happening’, was fascinated by the men operating the Linotype machines which pulled down the tiny lead (I think) characters (known as slugs) from the slots which surrounded the operator and was used to form the text; loved to go down to the basement and watch the huge, noisy presses in action as papers poured out, and watching as photographs from distant parts printed themselves oh-so-slowly, dot by dot, line by line, and eventually made a picture – do you remember those pictures? If you looked carefully you could see the individual dots, all varying shades of palest grey to black which resolved themselves into a printable illustration.

There were newsboys (sometimes rather old boys) waiting to get their supply to hawk in the city streets; and other boys loading sheaves of papers into waiting vans for further afield.

The Kemsley building was many stories high but with the war, the upper floors were redundant since paper was scarce and the papers had very few pages.  When war ended a decision was made by someone (Lord/Lady Kemsley?) to fit the empty space with hospital-type beds and offer them as accommodation to Empire servicemen who had been serving in Europe and wished to visit Scotland, sometimes the land of their parents perhaps, during their last leave before returning home.  They were also free to use the canteen.  So I met men from all over the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and S Africa.  Have to say I liked the New Zealanders best and happily took four of them (safety in numbers!) to the carnival in Kelvin Hall to have a go on the bumping cars etc.  All good fun.

 

 

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.

Wartime Rations – Day Twenty-Seven

SausagemenatIt’s been a bit of a weird few days, so the menu I’d hoped to follow this week hasn’t quite worked out as planned. But I stuck to my rations and made sausage meatballs with mashed potatoes for dinner. I made them with breadcrumbs, onions and carrots, in the slow cooker, but next time I will add a few more spices and maybe some minced onion to the meat.

This is the second to last day of my month of wartime rations. I’m going to leave the last word to Anne tomorrow, but here are a few of my thoughts on the experience.

I’m very aware I’ve just been ‘playing’ at this. I haven’t had to worry about not being able to buy groceries or having to start a fire before I can boil the kettle for a cup of tea.

Here in Calgary we’re experiencing a cold snap, but all I have to do is turn up the thermostat. I can’t imagine what it must have been like during wartime, particularly with fuel shortages, getting up on a cold morning and having to light a fire before doing anything else.

My grand-daughter, who is still in nappies, is coming round tomorrow. Changing them is a breeze because they’re disposable. Pity my poor mother who lived in an attic flat with no running water and had to haul cold water all the way up the stairs to wash her baby’s clothes.

Apart from the first couple of days, as my body adjusted from the extravagance of Christmas to wartime rations, I haven’t felt hungry on this eating plan at all.  (And I’ve lost 7 lbs to boot.)  The food has been good and nutritious and I’ve rediscovered a few veggies I’d turned my back on after leaving home as a teenager.

And some of the things my Mum – and other women of her generation – used to do now make sense. She didn’t waste a thing. If bread went stale, it was toasted. And it wasn’t just bread. String tied around parcels was unpicked, rolled up and saved for a later time. The same with jam jars which she used for her homemade jam and lemon curd in the summer.

One of my friends could never understand why her mother, even after she emigrated to Canada, kept a cupboard filled with dried and tinned foods – just in case. For the women who lived through the war and had to provide nutritious foods to keep their families fed and healthy on limited rations, it must have been a constant worry. No wonder they always made sure they wouldn’t be caught short again.

So the big lessons I’ve taken away from this experience? That we waste so much food nowadays. That we spend so much money on processed foods while ignoring the simple fresh foods that are so much better for us than anything that contains a chemical on its list ingredients. How cheap the weekly shopping bill becomes when you purchase fruit and vegetables in season.

That I’m very lucky to live where I live, when I live.

That the women of war were true, unsung heroines.