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.

* * *

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

* * *

Wartime Rations – Day Eighteen

Dinner tonight was two very simple courses.

mince slicesMain course:  Mince slices, from a recipe in We’ll Eat Again, using the last of the mince I cooked the other day. Mix together the mince (or any cooked meat) with mashed potatoes and breadcrumbs, turn onto a floured board, cut into slices and either fry or grill for about 8 minutes. Comfort food on a cold day.

Dessert: Fresh pear.

* *

What was it like being evacuated to a new school and then going back to your ‘old’ one?

anne2013For the first few months I went to the Kippen village school and sat the ‘Qualifying’ exam. It was fun, though the poor headmaster didn’t know what had hit him with all these new pupils that he could hardly accommodate. No wonder he appeared so distracted. Then he got another blow: pupils MUST have PE twice a week. He couldn’t accommodate that either and told us it would have to take place in the playground – weather permitting. As for gym shoes – “Dinna’ bother. Any old bachles will do.” I can still hear his voice.

As you already know, I almost hated Hillhead School and found Balfron with its many teachers from Hyndland much easier going, and I did well there. Back in Glasgow, it was back to Hillhead but this time the Secondary School which was just as bad as the Junior one. Then my parents gave me a choice: two more years at Hillhead or one year at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College in Pitt Street. Of course I opted for a year at the College – so here you see a woman with no school certificates whatever – not even the Lower Leaving one. (Partly because I’d had to repeat a year in junior school because illness had kept me away for nearly 4 or 5 months.) Still, I got by.