More Second World War Recipes
Rations, shortages, and a lot of imagination
Rationing began to trickle in during 1940, and by 1941, when the U boats were sinking any merchant ships coming anywhere close, there was a feeling that the Nazis were trying to starve everyone out.
My grandmother, ready to battle any culinary challenge, created her own handwritten recipe book, and here are a few of the more intriguing dishes that came out of the Second World War.
This delicious pie was supposedly created by land girls—the
young women who went to work in the farms after all the
men had left for war. They’d bake it during the evening to
take out to the fields for the next day. Delicious!
My grandmother’s parents lived next door and had a good
vegetable garden that kept them well stocked for these
veggie favorites. They also had chickens, which provided
extra eggs and an occasional chicken to roast. My uncle,
who was six or seven, helped out on a milk round and was
presented with an extra pint of milk every day, and also
admits to stealing brambly apples, illegally fishing, and
even poaching rabbits. But the family’s real luck lay in having
an uncle with a farm, where frequent visits could mean a
brace of pheasants, or even a duck or two.
4 large potatoes
2 large leeks
Handful of spinach, chopped
butter or margarine
4 oz mature cheddar
Parsley and thyme
Salt and pepper
Pastry made with 6 oz flour and 3 oz margarine, butter, or lard
Make the pastry by rubbing fat into flour to make breadcrumbs and then binding together with a little water
Roll and fit the pastry into a greased 8” pie dish, and half-bake it in a 200 C oven for 10 minutes
Cube potatoes and boil until cooked through, drain
Chop leeks and fry in butter or margarine, adding parsley and thyme
Add potatoes to pan of leeks with a whisked egg, 2 oz of the grated cheese, and salt and pepper
Put mixture into the pie dish on top of the pastry, then top with 4 oz of cheese (or more if you have more available in your cheese ration as it completes the pie beautifully), a sprinkle more of thyme and pepper
Cook in oven at 220 C until the top is browned
Harry Wood [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
There were a lot of “mock” recipes during the war, most of them hardly resembling what they were supposed to—“mock apricot tarts” made with carrots, “mock cream” made with butter and sugar, “mock goose” with breadcrumbs, sage, vegetables, and potatoes. But here, my grandmother made every party a success with “mock banana” sandwiches. Who would have been able to tell the difference?
4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp banana essence
Peel and dice the parsnip and boil for 15 minutes, or until soft
Drain and add the caster sugar and banana essence
Mash until smooth
Leslie Seaton from Seattle, WA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
My grandmother’s favorite tipple, the Pink Gin, is a traditionally Naval concoction that makes the consumption of Angostura bitters—used for seasickness—more convivial. Since my grandfather was a Naval Commander, she probably concluded that drinking Pink Gin showed support for his role, I suspect. However, by the time I was old enough to ask, she told me that everyone drank it throughout the war as Angostura bitters were easy to come by, unlike tonic water. In any case, it looked rather fancy, didn’t it!
A measure of Plymouth Gin (Plymouth Gin being sweeter and less dry than London Gin)
A dash of Angostura bitters
Water and ice to taste
Arthur Caranta [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons