Julia Childs Boeuf Bourguignon 1940s ration style

Julia Childs cooked Boeuf Bourguignon in the 1940’s.

Having watched Julie & Julia on DVD again last night, the pain of watching this dish being prepared led me to spend an hour ‘Googling-to-within-an-inch-of-my-life’ into the early hours of the morning, wondering if there was a way to replicate this dish in anyway while still keeping within my allotted ration quota.

As I type, the Boeuf Bourguignon, a la Julia Childs, a la wartime rationing (cheap stewing beef instead of sirloin, standard onions instead of pearl and NO mushrooms!) is smelling wonderful and my Mac Book Air is holding up well under the excessive saliva bath it is receiving.

The recipe is not quite authentic Julia Childs but essentially it is pretty much the same.

Please come back later and I’ll share the recipe and photographs with you…

Bon Appetit!

7.29 pm precisely Nom, Nom, NOM!!!! This is fantastic! Who would think that big chunks of stewing beef could be so melt in the mouth. I am still noming…Nom, Nom, NOM!!

My adapted recipe coming shortly…

Click here for the original Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon recipe

Beef Bourguignon 1940’s Ration Style

  • 1 lb to 1.5 lbs of stewing steak
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2-3 rashers of thick bacon
  • butter for frying
  • 2 onions cut into 6 pieces each
  • 1 cup of red wine (that you like the taste of)
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 1 dessert spoon of tomato paste or drain all the liquid from a large can of tomatoes
  • herbs such as bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • Bisto or flour to thicken


  • Cube the stewing steak after drying the surface,  and brown/sear it (using some of the butter in a pan) and set aside.
  • Chop and brown the bacon and set aside
  • Brown the onions in the same pan afterwards (with more butter) and set aside
  • In a large saucepan add all the above together, plus the chopped carrots (large pieces), red wine, beef stock, tomato paste, herbs.
  • Bring to boil and lower heat and simmer slowly for 2 + hours, or for several hours in a slow cooker on low (or put in a casserole dish in oven). Add more water where needed and thicken with Bisto or flour (made into thin paste and added to pot while stirring).
  • Continue cooking until the beef is really, really tender and the stock has reduced. Slow and long is the key!
  • Add salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar to your own taste half and hour before the end.

Potato and Cheese Bake

While I struggle to get to grips with my sweet tooth and portion size following the Christmas, New Year, marriage separation anniversary and 4 birthdays cakes BLIP (so I actually have some weight-loss results to post on the blog) here is a tasty and simple recipe.

This no-fail recipe is bound to have the family kissing your feet (even if they are stinky) and pledging a life of devotion to your 1940’s cooking if you’ll “just-cook-some-more-of-that-again”..  It’s like some sort of cat nip for kids (they need it, they want it, they have to possess it…) except it calms and satisfies them and stops them demanding potato chips for at least 3 hours. This HAS to be a good thing.

It’s like some sort of cat-nip for kids…

This particular recipe is something I have just put together and is not out of any particular cook book however it does use my rations fairly wisely as well as lots of potato- the Ministry of Food would be so proud of me..

Potato and Cheese Bake

  • 3 large peeled potatoes per person (peelings can be used in a stew)
  • generous portion of butter or margarine (if rations allow)
  • 4 oz of strong cheese (use less if you are running low)
  • generous amounts of dried or fresh herbs (common herbs at the time would have been rosemary and thyme)
  • a little milk
  • salt and pepper.
  • Note: I used 12 large potatoes to serve 4 generously using a 10 x 8 inch pan for baking.


  1. Peel potatoes and wash.
  2. Cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
  3. Place into salted cold water and bring to boil on stove, simmering until chunks are tender.
  4. Drain well and return to saucepan.
  5. Add in a large blob of butter (the bigger the better if rations allow).
  6. Move around until melted.
  7. Thoroughly mash until smooth.
  8. Taste potatoes adding plenty of salt and pepper until you get the required taste.
  9. Add a little milk and mix with wooden spoon until you get the required consistency.
  10. Add into baking pan and spread out evenly.
  11. Rough top with a fork.
  12. Grate 4 oz of strong/sharp cheese.
  13. Sprinkle evenly over the top.
  14. Finally sprinkle generous quantities of herbs, lots of thyme and a little rosemary work well together. Don’t skimp!
  15. Place in pre-heated oven at 200 C for 25 minutes and finish off under a hot grill/broiler for 5 so the top browns.
  16. Remove, let stand for 5 minutes or so and then serve. Goes well with meat, veg and gravy.

Serves 4 generously!

And now you have your family subdued and totally under your spell it’s time to put your feet up, open a good book and savour the quietness of your home….

Cottage Pie or Shepherds Pie (if made with lamb)

Tonight I am well stuffed (in the culinary sense)… I baked a wartime ‘cottage pie’ and fear that an actual cottage could have been the main ingredient as I am so full! This was one-hell-of-a-satisfying-meal on a cold winter night! I must make this more often…

One of the most satisfying things about the meal was the comments that flew my way as it was being gobbled down

Youngest hobbit…” Yum- this tastes good! There is no bits of starch in it like last time…”

Eldest hobbit …. ” Jeremy (boyfriend) wants to hire you as a cook”..

Eldest hobbits boyfriend.… ” Every meal I have tasted here has tasted so good..”

Middle hobbit …” Ewww- what’s that????” (this is not surprising as he is a vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables)

Eldest hobbit….(who is also vegetarian but who I prepared a separate topping for)… ” ………just silence….”  (trust me this is good!)

Try this fabby, tasty, tummy filling, stick to your ribs meal- it is worth the effort!

Cottage Pie

  • 1 lb mince beef or soy mince made up to 1lb in hydrated weight ( note a weeks ration of mince beef for one person was about 1 lb ). Make it with minced lamb for a Shepherd’s pie.
  • several large potatoes
  • 2 oz cheese
  • dried herbs (Rosemary & Thyme work well)
  • salt and pepper
  • beef stock or vegetable stock ( 1 pint or more)
  • bisto gravy powder
  • peas and finely chopped carrots and onion optional
  • blob butter or margarine


  1. Brown the mince
  2. Add the chopped veggies (optional)
  3. Add salt and pepper and herbs
  4. Add beef stock, stir and simmer for 15 minutes (thickening towards the end by mixing bisto powder with a little cold water to a runny paste and adding to beef stirring all the time- beef sauce should be quite thick!)
  5. Meanwhile chop up all the potatoes into small chunks
  6. Place in salted hot water and bring to the boil until tender and drain.
  7. Mash with generous (if rations allow) blobs of butter or margarine, add salt and pepper to taste
  8. Finally add milk so mash is spreadable
  9. Place mince sauce in a small cooking tray with deep sides or shallow casserole dish
  10. Pipe or spread mashed potato on top
  11. Sprinkle with 2 oz of grated strong cheddar (or vegan alternative) and some dried herbs if you like
  12. Place in oven for 20 minutes at 200 c
  13. Finish off under broiler/grill to brown top

Serve with steamed fresh veggies!

Serves 4 with veggies

“This post is part of Twinkl’s VE Day Campaign, and is featured in their Best Wartime Recipes to Celebrate VE Day from Home post”

Farmhouse Scramble (version 1)

So OK- I am sorry the photo looks like vomit…

I did try to improve it’s nauseous qualities in photoshop but unfortunately I am unable to work miracles. I will have to just live with the plain truth of the fact that the Farmhouse Scramble (1) recipe in the book “Feed the Nation” by Marguerite Patten OBE is one of the less attractive home front recipes.

As it tastes somewhat nicer than vomit I will forgive her..

Farmhouse Scramble (version 1)

  • 8 oz mixed raw vegetables grated
  • 2 eggs (reconstituted dried eggs)
  • 1/2 oz margarine
  • salt and pepper


Melt the margarine in a saucepan.

Add the veggies and heat until lightly cooked

Beat up the eggs with the seasoning and then pour over the hot veggies and mix until scrambled lightly

Serve with potatoes or in a sandwich or on toast!

(1940sexperiment tip: I would add onions or chopped leeks to the veggie mix)

PS: I am thinking that there are a number of visitors to my blog who are interested in food and frugality. You maybe interested in a recipe I cooked today for ‘Fabby & Frugal Breakfast Muffins’. The ingredients I used were available in my ration but because I couldn’t find a recipe for muffins during WWII I just couldn’t post it in my blog as an authentic recipe- CLICK HERE to check it out!

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Cheese Dreams

Earlier today I talked about convenience food and how the busy 1940s housewife would really have appreciated some convenience in her life…
Convenience food was of course available prior to and during the war although some of it, like canned fish, was only available on a points system. In the UK you were allocated, in addition to your standard ration, 16 points a month which could be used to purchase goods like canned meat and fish and other cooking ingredients like dried fruit for cakes and split peas for casseroles and stews. 16 points didn’t get you much though. One can of fish used up all your 16 points…

Although some convenience food was available during the war years, availability was often very scarce due to the sinking of supply ships. However there were quick snack meals and lunches one could make occasionally when there wasn’t much time to make a substantial meal.

I read through one of my WWII cook books, Feeding the Nation by Marguerite Patten, for inspiration, and came across a snack meal often served to the ARP (Air Raid Precaution Service) volunteers during their busy nights on duty as night time fire watchers..

There is no reason to doubt that a snack like this would have been used at home for convenience too.

Cheese Dreams

  • Make a sandwich with two pieces of wholemeal (wholewheat) bread with margarine and a sprinkling of strong grated cheese
  • Add chutney if desired
  • Mix one egg with 2 tablespoons of milk (this is enough to coat 3 sandwiches made from 6 slices of bread)
  • Pour onto plate and place sandwich on plate and turn once and remove
  • Place into frying pan that has hot cooking fat in
  • Cook for a few minutes over a medium-high heat until golden brown and cheese inside has melted
  • Serve with some salad and a cuppa tea

PS: I am a Brit currently living in Nova Scotia, Canada. My 1940s experiment is mostly based on the rationing system used during WWII in the UK however during my research many things were similar in the UK to the US and Canada. I intend to incorporate some North American recipes as time moves on as well as provide more details on the differences in rationing back in blighty compared to here.

PPS: If you are interested in frugality, making ends meet, living on less and saving some pennies in your everyday life please pop on by to my other blog. Latest post is on what we spent, as a family of 4, for our frugal Christmas CLICK HERE

“This post is part of Twinkl’s VE Day Campaign, and is featured in their Best Wartime Recipes to Celebrate VE Day from Home post”

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Wartime Cheese Pudding

By the time I got in from work last night and picked up groceries it was 7 pm. It made me think how challenging it must have been for many women on the home-front during WWII who literally became single parents overnight while their husbands went to war. Many went out to work to keep essential industry rolling, as because of the war, much of the work force had departed. Many still had children at home that needed attending and feeding too in addition.

Among the many things that living on a 1940’s ration diet has taught me is that the 1940’s working housewife really could have done with convenience food… Preparing most main meals, everyday from scratch is incredibly time consuming.

As I arrived home last night immediately my youngest hobbit requested something “QUICK” for dinner. “Mum- can I just have some noodles, they’ll only take a few minutes”… But I remained firm for once and she sat there watching me cook a ‘Wartime Cheese Pudding and Carrot & Potato Mash’… “How long will that take” she demanded…

She watched with interest as I made the cheese pudding and as the smells seeped from the stove she decided she would have-a-bit-of-everything even though she initially wasn’t keen.

Proudly (I am always proud of any new dish I try as long as it doesn’t end up looking like poo!) I served up our frugal 1940s dinner and as she started to gobble down her meal she splurted, “Mum- this is really good, you should make this again sometime!”..

This was one little victory, one little step towards my child realizing that the preparation of food with basic ingredients maybe time consuming and challenging but it is indeed possible to make something tasty and nourishing out of practically nothing….

Wartime Cheese Pudding

  • 1/2 pint of milk (300 ml)
  • 1 oz margarine (25 g)
  • 3 slices of soft wholemeal bread
  • 1 fresh egg (or reconstituted dry egg )
  • 3 oz strong cheese grated (75 g)
  • salt and pepper (herbs optional)


  1. Pour milk into saucepan and add margarine until the margarine melts over medium heat. Switch off
  2. Add breadcrumbs, stir and allow to stand for 15 minutes
  3. Whisk your egg and add to mixture. Add the cheese and seasoning and stir well
  4. Pre-heat oven to 190 C (375 F)
  5. Place mixture into a greased pan or 1 pint pie dish with non- shallow sides about 6 to 7 inch diameter.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and risen (it doesn’t rise much)
  7. Serve immediately with veggies!

Feeds 2 as main meal or 4 if served with meat and veg

PS: Are you interested in living frugally? Maybe you have a limited income and need to make ends meet? Fed up of rampant consumerism? Check out my other blog and save some pennies with me! CLICK HERE  C xx

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Carrot and Potato Mash

I have been busy in the kitchen and have a lot of recreated WWII recipes from the homefront to share with you over the next week or two- afterall I do have to photograph and post another 70 authentic recipes to keep to my end of the bargain before my years experiment ends…!

This particular recipe was shared with me many years ago when I lived in rural Norfolk in the UK… it is really very tasty indeed

Carrot and Potato Mash

  • 2 medium/large potatoes per person
  • 1 medium/large carrot per person
  • 1/2 oz butter per person
  • salt and pepper to taste


Fill a large saucepan with salted water and heat

Chop potatoes into small pieces ( 1/2 inch chunks) and place in saucepan of hot water

Grate carrots and add to saucepan too

Bring to boil and then simmer for about 15 mins or so until potatoes are tender

Drain thoroughly

Add butter to saucepan and mash thoroughly

Add salt and pepper and stir thoroughly until satisfactory taste has been achieved.

Serve with a little knob of butter on top

PS: Click here and check out someone who has started a 1940s ration diet on UK TV – note the link to my wartime recipe page- yay!

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4 birthday cakes and a christmas one!

So it was with extreme trepidation I finally jumped on the weighing scales today to see what damage 2 weeks of non- 1940s eating/drinking over Christmas, New Year, 1st anniversary of marriage separation and 44th birthday had done to me.

It was no surprise to find that exactly 14 lbs had added itself to the scales and this morning I officially weighed in, naked and scarey, at 293 lbs ( 20 st 9 lbs ) – am of course trying to convince myself that exactly 65% of the weight gain is water which will be miraculously peed out overnight once my return to copious amounts of steamed broccoli and a choccy-and-wine-free-diet finally kicks in…. we’ll see.

I officially weighed in, naked and scarey, at 293 lbs = 14 lbs on

What I do know is I am SO GLAD to be returning to eating 100% 1940’s. Consuming even a partially modern diet again as I have done over the last 14 days, after the initial euphoria of being able to shove anything down my neck I so desired (and drink wine!) has made me feel quite tired and sluggish and unhappy.

The upside to setting things aside for a couple of weeks was that I could enjoy birthday cake without any guilt whatsover!

Cake 1: Thanks to my Trivia Night at the pub friends, it all started on Wednesday, actually at the pub, two days before my birthday. My friends Rene, Vic, Sandy, Margaret & Dave sang Happy Birthday and shared some lovely birthday gifts followed by a delicious almond liquor cake hand-baked by Margaret. We all had some cake, served with fresh cream and pralines and the rest I brought home to share with the hobbits and I STILL managed to enjoy a slice for breakfast- how bad is that!

Cake 2: The hobbits had been dropping not very subtle hints that instead of me baking my own birthday cake to enjoy after work on Friday I should call by M & M Meat Shops and purchase a Too-Tall Strawberry Shortcake Cake. It had been a tiring week and feeling exhausted, picking up my birthday cake on the way home sounded like a good idea. So that’s exactly what I did. Arriving home with a big pizza for everyone and my birthday cake I flopped down in a chair while the kids recycled the candles from Cake 1, lit them and sang me Happy Birthday. Em (my youngest hobbit) made me an origami crown with a chin strap made from yarn that I HAD to wear (see photo) or my life would not be worth living.. I obliged.

Cake 3: The day after my birthday was a busy one with a couple of meetings in and beyond town. During the meeting at my friend Garnette’s house, a wonderful banana cake emerged, complete with one of those fun candles that plays Happy Birthday. Yum- couldn’t believe my luck, 3 cakes in 3 days!

Cake 4: And on the same day, straight after my second meeting, I drove to my friend Liana’s house where more work colleagues were gathering for a snow shoeing afternoon. I arrived in time to join in a wonderful buffet and then Liana brought out a yummy birthday cake slathered with chocolate cool whip which was totally delicious.

And finally, just to round the cake eating fest off, yesterday, I decided that it was time to eat Christmas cake…

4 birthdays and a christmas cake later I may be 14 lb heavier but I did have one-hell-of-a-birthday…

Thank you my friends..

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An incentive to keep going

Sometimes you don’t need words…

My eldest hobbit found this photo on the computer yesterday. It was taken a few years ago when I was nearly at my heaviest weight ever…

Before I started the 1940s experiment in August 2009 I had already shed over 30 lb since the break up of my marriage in January 2009.

I must keep going, I know I can do it…

Seeing this photo reminded me how uncomfortable my daily life was and found it almost impossible to stand or walk for very long because of back pain.

Although I am still out of shape I feel so much better than I did when I was 60 lbs heavier.

I must keep going, I know I can do it…..

Happy New Years Snowstorm

So  the New Year came and went- just the hobbits (my kids) and I together enjoying a little buffet, a sing-a-long to the movie Mamma Mia! and I enjoyed a drinky poos (which made me incredibly giggly everytime Pierce Brosnan tried his best to sing)..

However the gods decided that the 1st day of 2010, would chuck over 30 cms of snow down on us and then follow it up today with a ‘meteorological bomb’ over the province of Nova Scotia here in Canada…

As the car and the house were rapidly turning into igloos, I decided that shovelling snow had to be done so spent an hour or two, taking it in turns with my son Josh (2nd hobbit) to clear the decks, pathway and car. No sooner had we finished, the ‘meteorological bomb’ was starting to take hold and already filling in the gaps we had just made.

It was all becoming very ‘Day After Tomorrowish’ and as we were lucky enough to still have power, I turned to Facebook to keep in touch with civilization ‘just-in-case’ it really was an end-of-the-world scenario. You see we live way out in the boonies,  where no one can hear you scream…

So as I sit here, still with power and still typing (and still Facebooking just incase weather.gc.ca have got it WRONG and we really are all going to die) I am wondering what tomorrow will bring……

Probably plenty more snow shovelling which although, is a hideous form of recreation, is good for losing weight and afterall I DO have a LOT of that to lose..

Happy New Year!

C xx

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