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.

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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

* * *

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.