Wartime Rations – Days 27 and 28

My last entry for this month’s wartime rations. When I spent a month eating wartime rations earlier this year it was really easy; perhaps because it was in the middle of winter when everyone hibernates at home. This month, with anniversaries, birthdays, Thanksgiving… well, I’ve probably ‘eaten at the Savoy’ just as frequently as eating rations.

meatballsSo my last entry for this experiment was the final dish I made with the remains of my ground beef ration for this week; meatballs made with the same ingredients as the burgers (chopped onion, breadcrumbs, seasoning, bound with tomato sauce), baked in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes and then covered in gravy. On the side, home-made fries and my newest favourite, shredded cabbage fried in a little bacon fat. For dessert, we chopped up and shared the remaining toffee apple. Given that November 1st brought snow here in Calgary, reminding us that winter has finally arrived, it really was the perfect comfort food.

If you’re wondering why I’ve used archived copies of The Glasgow Herald as my go-to paper during the past month, it’s not just because I come from Glasgow, but my Uncle Alex, Anne’s big brother, used to be a journalist with the paper. An RAF pilot during the war, when he returned to Scotland he became the Voice of Scottish Golf, not just on the radio, but with The Glasgow Herald and then as the editor of Golf Monthly. When he died in 2000, both The Telegraph and The Glasgow Herald published obituaries.

anne2013Anne says: He started as a general reporter; he ‘covered’ the launching of the Queen Mary, I know, because he came home saying, ‘She did it!’ – but whether he was talking about Queen Mary successfully throwing the bottle of bubbly or the great ship successfully floating instead of sinking to the bottom, I don’t know, ships always being referred to as feminine. Then he started covering sport and eventually as you know became Scotland’s prime golf journalist.  He was sent to the first post-war American (Open Golf/Ryder Cup?) and his boss told him proudly that he would be flying there (flying being a great rarity at the time).  Alex of course was disgusted after his years and years as a bomber pilot DFC, so they let him travel one way on the QM.  I remember a photo of him with some famous golfer (Henry somebody I think) which appeared in the paper and of which there was a print at home.

Alec & Anne  crop

Anne with her big brother Alex (Percy) Huggins, early 1940s.

Another memory from Anne: After Alex had done many, many more than the stipulated number of bombing flights he was transferred to the Azores on anti-submarine patrol. Here there were bananas, and when he came home on leave (after VE Day), managed to bring us a few – Mother made sure their skins were put right on top of the rubbish bins so that when the lid was lifted the dustmen could wonder at them!

Having bombarded you with almost daily posts for the past month, I’m going to take a break for a few weeks and plan to return with my usual schedule on December 15th – although I may add the occasional post before then. Looking forward to catching up with you.


Wartime Rations – The Rules

Earlier this year I spent one month eating World War Two British style food; the basics provided on rations, plus fruit and vegetables in season. My aunt collaborated with me, providing her recollections of her childhood during those six years of war. I had such a great time with the experiment, and learned so much, that I decided it would be a good idea to repeat it four times in the year (April/July/October) using the fruits and vegetables specific to that season.

What was it Robert Burns said?  ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley’. I’m not sure what happened to my good intentions for April and July, but as we’re only ‘just’ into October I’m going to try to get back on track and start again on Monday, October 6th and continue through until Sunday, November 2nd.

Diana’s Wartime Rations Rule Number One:
A little background to rationing in the UK during WW2 for those of you who are unfamiliar with its history.

Even though people received ration cards entitling them to certain essential foods, and those foods were ‘theoretically’ available, it didn’t mean that they always received them. There were constant shortages. If eggs weren’t available one week, you didn’t get two the following week to make up, but I’m going to assume all the foods that were on ration ‘are’ available.

This is what one week’s rations look like.


One week’s worth of rations – Britain WW2

Bacon – 4 oz
Meat – 8oz
Sausages – when available
Fats – 8oz (2 oz butter, 4 oz margarine, 2oz lard).  I’m going to substitute that with 8 oz of butter.
Cheese – 2 ozs
Milk  – 3 pints
Sugar – 8oz
Jam – 2oz
Tea – 2oz (15 tea bags)
Eggs – 1 shell and 3 dried.  (I will substitute with 4 shell eggs)
Sweets – 3oz

As for the fruits and vegetables in season, I will be using those suggested on this website. For October that means: Apples, Blackberries, Sweetcorn, Savoy Cabbage, Kale, Red Cabbage, Squash, White Cabbage, Runner Beans, Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Spring Cabbage, Carrots, Maron, Spinach, Leeks, Celery, Cauliflower.

Certain other foods weren’t rationed – eg flour, oatmeal – and others were to be found on a points system, eg tinned vegetables.  No-one went into the war with empty cupboards, and I’m sure there were times people swapped – I’ll give you some extra sugar for a tin of peas – so I’m starting tomorrow with the following in my pantry cupboard; flour, raising agents, certain spices, raisins, a small tin of golden syrup and jar of mayonnaise.

Diana’s War Time Rations Rule Number Two:
I call this my ‘Dining at the Savoy’ rule.

Rationing was probably hardest on the housewife who remained in the home and was limited to eating only rationed food – unless she went out for a cup of tea and a bun, or the occasional fish and chips. People who worked in factories were provided with a daily hot meal at the works canteen. And of course, those who could afford it could always eat out, and eat out well –  at places like The Savoy Hotel in London! – thus augmenting their rations.

This month sees Canadian Thanksgiving and a Wedding Anniversary in our family. On those two occasions I’m going to adopt my Dining at the Savoy rule and not inflict my wartime rations on my relations!

I’ve also decided to follow what happened in the newspapers between October 6th 1944 – November 2nd 1944, so will be adding information about that at the end of each post.  And I still have a few questions I’d like to ask Anne who was a child growing up in Glasgow during that time.

(If you have any wartime questions you think Anne might be able to answer, please e-mail them to me at dianacranstoun@gmail.com and I will pass them on.)

Here goes!