Blackout Britain. Prepare for winter and the cost of living.

“Ofgem, the energy regulator, has said there was a “significant risk” of gas shortages this winter because of the war in Ukraine,” according to The Guardian

“The UK is planning for several days over the winter when cold weather may combine with gas shortages, leading to organized blackouts for industry and even households,” says Bloomberg.

Judy Young remembers, “during the electricity blackouts in the 1970s, the family had to quickly adjust to the fact that they might be left without power for hours, and so make the most of the time in which the electricity was on, including cooking when they were able to.”

Let’s have a conversation. Whether we experience organised blackouts throughout the winter, or more likely self-imposed black-outs because lets face it, most of us will struggle with the doubling of energy prices and the rising cost of living. How will we reduce our costs? What changes will you make? Is it time we got back to basics?

I’ve just had a smart meter installed. I’m probably one of the last 20% in the UK to get one. I’m already anxious that yesterday, the first full day on my smart meter registered a daily spend of £3.52 (last year my average daily spend was less than £1.50 according to my bills). Needless to say that today I have refrained from running the tumble drier and nearly everything has been switched off at the wall and all my office computers and screens were turned off completely overnight too. Todays spend so far (its 8pm) is £1.94 so likely to be at least £1 less than yesterday.

Let me just say that I’m always mindful about power usage. I do try and line dry and am now hanging clothes over the bath to dry too but there will be occasions I have to use the tumble dryer. Usually its 10 minutes to finish off drying the clothes in the bathroom that are still slightly damp after two days drying!

This year we are determined not to turn any form of heating on, not even for a minute, until November the 1st. It was a rule we lived by 20 years ago when we lived in a leaky old farmhouse in Wales that could burn through half the earths resources during the winter, cost us hundreds of £’s in oil yet still always guaranteed that we were always cold.

During WW2 fuel was of course rationed. The coal ration was set at two and a half tons per household per year and when you consider that nearly everything was run by coal, from heating to hot water, you had coal fires, coal boilers & coppers, coal fires ranges. Cutting back on coal was real hardship for most.

I’m spending October in contemplation. Mindfully creating small actions that lead to small savings but small changes in abundance soon add up. I already have my trusted hot water bottles poised and ready to heat the bedding and warm my feet like our grandparents often relied on. Thick socks and knitted hats and jumpers and even gloves if needs be will joyfully be worn indoors uncomplainingly (we’ll see how long that lasts!)

Finally, on a more serious note, I worry for families on the poverty line that are elderly or have small children, what a miserable winter they will have. How are people who truly struggle going to make it?

Much love, C xxxxx

It finally feels like Autumn…

Ate my first squash of the year and it officially feels like autumn! I bought an acorn squash hybrid called “Mashed Potato” squash, drizzled it with a little olive oil and baked it with flesh side down in the oven for 30 minutes or so until soft. Sprinkled it with salt and pepper and ate it just like that, scooping it away from the skin. It tasted so buttery and decadent, so comforting….love it!!

I grew nothing in my garden this year apart from herbs and a little garlic but I still have a few pots of jam, piccalilli, bread and butter pickles and beetroot left which should be still OK. My main under-stairs “prepper pantry” now has basic supplies of canned tomatoes, beans, baked beans etc and staples such as pasta, rice, flour and various other things such as a years supply of soya mince set aside for the winter. I’ve got stuff stashed away in an unplugged fridge and in other boxes and tubs too. For some strange reason it gives me some comfort knowing that stuff like that is there. Maybe it was the years living so rurally in Wales and Canada and trying to be self-sufficient to a degree that still impacts me. We all have our strange ways though don’t we!

C xxxx

Turning my under stairs junk cupboard into a small prepper pantry.

We all have one of those junk cupboards right? Mine is a small one under the stairs and it was time to clear it all out and move my cans and some of my prepping supplies in there too.

I have over 150 cans that should be in there, properly sorted so I can use them in order! It took 3 hours to clear it out, recycle, rehome, dispose of and go through all my cans and put them in tubs. I made some stickers too. I will work my way through the expired tub over the coming weeks before moving on to the 2022 tub. The majority of the canned goods are red kidney beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and baked beans which I use pretty regularly.

I do have other supplies outside the cupboard too in an empty unplugged fridge, under the bed and in tubs in the kitchen but having most of my cans sorted into tubs makes things a lot easier now. I’d love a walk in larder again one day but for now the under stairs cupboard will do!

I love seeing peoples amazing pantries, something I aspire to one day but for now tubs in an under stairs cupboard will suffice and feel grateful that I am able to stash away food and household supplies to get me through hard or difficult times should they arise.

Much love, C xxxx

LIVE chat and 1940s Giveaway

Hi all, I’ve done a short live stream rounding up week 4 of the “Living on WW2 Rations Experiment” and I also have some great WW2 replicas to giveaway including a replica of the “Daily Express” newspaper that was printed the day after the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced “we are at war”.

To go into the draw, either comment below or leave a comment over the PINNED POST on our Facebook group. A winner will be chosen at random on Friday 15th July (cut off is noon on the 15th).

Have a wonderful afternoon!

C xxxxx

Living on WW2 Rations, Week 3 video

That’s it! Week 3 of living on WW2 rations is complete and you can hear my thoughts, the state of my food cupboard and the meals I ate by playing the video above! I’d love it if you subscribed to my channel too as I will be continuing to add more video recipes over the coming weeks and months!

I’ve also placed all the videos created as part of the “Living on WW2 Rations Experiment” on a playlist HERE so you can play them in the right order from the very beginning.

I haven’t yet decided what my menu will be next week but I can share with you what I’ll be spending. I’m saving roughly £30 per week at the moment by following a WW2 UK Ration (minimum ration). It’s been tough at times, mostly because of the time it’s taking to prepare food but it’s getting easier.

I’ll be weighing in next week too, I’m curious to see if my weight has changed! I’m eating 3 good meals a day but not eating inbetween meals anymore!

C xxxx

Ginger Chocolate Creams – Recipe No. 206

No doubt about it, today I NEEDED something sweet and delicious after a week of carrots and potatoes. With the little rations and points food I had left, there was just enough fat to make a half portion of the recipe below. Luckily it was enough to satisfy my lust for something less healthy for a change!

This recipe was simple. I used the “Ginger Biscuits” and the “Chocolate Butter” recipes from “Good Eating – Suggestions for Wartime Dishes” and just placed them together. It was that simple! Despite over cooking the biscuits (lets face it I would have still eaten them even if the edges had caught fire) and them being a bit of a challenge to munch on, I thoroughly enjoyed them. It is so weird how in less than 3 weeks I am turning my nose up at far less and appreciating even burnt offerings…

C xxxxx

Ginger Biscuits

  • 6 oz flour
  • 3 oz margarine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (if no syrup then sugar will do)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • a little milk if needed

Warm margarine and syrup over low heat. add dry ingredients and mix well. Dough should be stiff. Knead until flour is fully absorbed. Roll thin and cut into rounds. Bake for 10 minutes at 180c.

Makes about 20 biscuits.

Chocolate Butter

  • 1 teaspoon of margarine
  • 2 teaspoons of caster sugar (grind granulated to a finer consistency)
  • 1 dessertspoon of cocoa
  • A few drops of milk, vanilla or camp coffee if needed

Cream margarine and sugar and add cocoa. Mix with a few drops of coffee or milk if needed to make it more pliable for spreading.

(makes enough to sandwich 4 biscuits)

Lentil Roast – Recipe No. 205

Today I had a go at the “Lentil Roast” from the Good Fare Wartime Cookbook”. Mostly because I had lentils and split peas to use as I start my 3rd week of living for a month on WW2 food rations. Although the recipe calls for lentils only, I used 2 oz of lentils and 2 oz of split peas (as I didn’t have enough lentils). I chucked lots of seasoning in and simmered the lentils and split peas in a vegetable stock until they were tender.

I used half the ingredients in the recipe and it made enough for 2-3 people. I have some slices left for a protein filled sandwich tomorrow! I would have loved to have thrown a bunch more spices in but tried staying true to the original recipe.

Here is the recipe for you. Add plenty of seasoning and if you don’t want to be 100% authentic think about adding some extra herbs and spices in!

Here are some extra photos below showing a few stages. It was easy enough to make.

Oatmeal Dumplings – Recipe No. 204

I’m getting to the dregs of my weekly rations in my fridge. but it’s amazing what you can make out of nothing so I made 4 small oatmeal dumplings to add some substance to YET ANOTHER vegetable stew.

A quick post today. I’m so behind with so, so much but managed to take a few photos with my phone and thought you’d like to see my lunch. My stew was just a mixture of potatoes, leek, cabbage, carrot and celery and some vegetable stock, salt and pepper. It’s filled my tummy, that’s the main thing.

My clothes feel looser today. I will be REALLY interested to see what I weigh in another 2 weeks or so. I have really, really tried to live these past two weeks as authentically as possible regarding rationing. The only boo boo I made was buying apples, I completely forgot that British apples probably wouldn’t have been available during WW2 until the beginning of September.

C xxxxx

Here is the recipe. I halved the ingredients and made 4 small dumplings.

Apple Charlotte + Jam Sauce – Recipe No. 203

So tonight on my menu it said “Baked Stuffed Potatoes”. Normally this would excite me immensely BUT I’ve literally been eating potatoes at every meal on this “Living on WW2 Rations Experiment” and I just COULDN’T eat more again tonight. Instead I had “Apple Charlotte + Jam Sauce” for dinner, so yes I had dessert for dinner and no dinner.

I love a good bread based pudding, preferably with some fruit in it so this Apple Charlotte was easy to make and amazing to taste especially with the jam sauce (which was easy to make too). I obviously ate the whole pudding and enjoyed EVERY-SINGLE-MOUTHFUL!

This recipe is from the “Ministry of Food” War Cookery Leaflet No. 13.

Apple Charlotte

  • 1lb apples
  • 6 oz breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 oz sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice
  • 2 oz margarine melted

Method

Prepare the fruit and cut it into thin slices. Mix together the breadcrumbs, sugar, spice and melted margarine. Arrange a layer of the breadcrumb mixture in a greased pint sized pie dish, then a layer of fruit and continue filling the pie dish with alternate layers until all the ingredients are used up finishing with a layer of the breadcrumb mixture. Bake in a moderate oven for 3/4 to 1 hour.

What I did

With there just being 1 of me to feed I halved the ingredients. I had no margarine spare to use so instead I added a little milk with the breadcrumbs. To save on energy I cooked the apple in the microwave before adding it to the dish then cooked the dish in the air fryer, only took 10 minutes or so.

Jam Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of jam
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • milk

Method

I mixed the flour into a thick paste with the milk. Added more milk to create a thin consistency. Place this in a saucepan and gently heated the sauce adding in the jam and sugar while the mixture is getting warmer. Stir slowly and gently bring to a simmer until you have a nice sauce with a custard consistency. Add milk while heating if it gets too thick.

Potatoes in Curry Sauce – Recipe No. 202

Day 11 of the “Living on WW2 Rations Experiment” and I feel like I’m wasting away! Obviously I’m being slightly over dramatic here because at around 100 lbs overweight I can afford to eat very little for several months and then some.

This 2nd week has been harder for me. I used a lot of my fats up early in the week making homity pie. Craving a short pastry and tasty potatoes I was generous with my rations for that dish and now I’m feeling the pinch. I needed something tonight that would stick to my ribs yet not use what is left of my dairy free fat and cheese so when I saw this recipe in the Ministry of Foods leaflet on “Potatoes”, it looked man enough for the job, and it didn’t disappoint.

Just a warning that all WW2 curry recipes seem to contain an apple and sultanas, a slug of vinegar and often a teaspoon of sugar. This one did also. I’m not complaining. It tasted good! (although quite frankly most things are tasting good at the moment as I’m feeling a little hungry).

Potatoes in Curry Sauce

  • 2 lb potatoes
  • 1/2 oz fat
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 medium chopped apple
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 dessertspoon of curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 pint stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mixed herbs
  • 2 cloves
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet pickle or small amount of sultanas
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste

Method

Boil or steam the potatoes and keep warm. Make the fat hot in the pan and put in the chopped onion and apple and fry lightly without browning. Add the curry powder and flour, mix well and add the stock gradually and the rest of the ingredients. Boil gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, add more water where necessary. Pour over the potatoes and serve at once.

Much love,

C xxxx

PS: I didn’t add cloves and I added some peas.