Oh wow… where do I start. I guess by firstly saying we had a lovely Christmas Day and I hope so much that you did too…
Our Christmas was not without it’s drama, and I am so pleased I had fairly well prepared by making my wartime Christmas cake and Christmas pudding in advance because 5 days before Christmas we lost our car. Our car is our lifeline as we live 20 minutes drive to our nearest
small store and a round trip by taxi into town is nearly $100. I went to have the front winter tyres put on at the garage last week before doing my shopping and the sub frame collapsed, while it was up on the hoist… completely rotted through and it took out the braking system.. (I’m trying not to think about this right now)…oh and did I mention the first snowfall of the year that took down our internet (another lifeline) for 2.5 days..? (I’m smiling honest!!! LOL!)
Luckily a kind friend came into the garage and was able to drive me all the way home and I was able to book a hire car for Monday and was able to get to the shops after 4 days stuck at home, an hour before they shut on Christmas Eve.. alas I couldn’t get the sausagemeat for the “mock turkey” I wanted to make for the kids.
We did however enjoy lots of good food available during Christmas 1940 including a really tasty wartime Christmas cake with mock marzipan and the eggless wartime Christmas pudding tasted fantastic! We made many of our own decorations including tree stars and paperchains, and reused and recycled as much as possible. The children and I had also been busy making homemade gifts for when they visit their Dad in the New Year.. we were lucky to get a home care package from my friend Cathy and that gave us extra dried fruit and nuts among other wonderful things
Everything ended up being a last minute rush so we chilled on Christmas Day and simply enjoyed a relaxing time and I’m about to get up and do the clean up this morning while the kids sleep..
So MURKEY will be coming to our house New Years Day and we are looking forward to it!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and
a Happy New Year!
So with trepidation I am waiting to see the “Wartime Christmas Dinner Party” on this afternoons TV show “Come Dine With Me”…
The trepidation is that John Stevens, the history buff, who studied the history of the secret services, at Cambridge University, used my recipe for “Eggless Wartime Christmas Cake” (an authentic wartime Ministry of Food recipe I slightly modified) off my blog for his dinner party.
The brief clips I saw yesterday show the wartime food NOT being well received by the other guests. Hardly surprising as it looks like Christmas Dinner was MURKEY (mock turkey- what we are having on Christmas Day this year) served with what appeared to be shredded boiled cabbage..
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CHRISTMAS WARTIME DINNER PARTY (Episode 213)
Even if the guests are not impressed by the cake, it really is pretty good! (as long as you feed it with sherry or other alcohol) and this morning I have pretty much finished decorating mine for the big day with plain icing and mock marzipan.. Click here for mock marzipan recipe
I am putting the recipe below for anyone who wants to make it- there is still time!
Wartime Eggless Christmas Cake (I doubled the below quantities to make a larger cake)
- 1 large carrot finely grated
- 2-3 tablespoons of golden syrup
- 3 oz sugar
- 4 oz margarine or butter
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon of almond essence (or 1 teaspoon of rum extract)
- 6 oz dried fruit (I used mixed)
- 12 oz self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 small teacup of slightly warm tea or coffee (with milk in)
- Cook the grated carrot and syrup over a low heat for a few minutes
- Cream the sugar and margarine until light and fluffy
- Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the syrup mixture and then beat it into the sugar and margarine as if adding an egg, bit by bit
- Add the vanilla and almond essence (or vanilla and rum extract)
- Add the dried mixed fruit
- Fold in the sieved flour and cinnamon
- Add some of the tea or coffee if needs be as the batter needs to be thick but moist
- Put the mixture into a greased meatloaf tin
- Smooth the top leaving a slight depression in the centre to stop the cake from rising too much during cooking
- Place into the pre-heated oven at 200C for 15 minutes
- Reduce temperature to 160C and cook for 45 minutes (cover with foil if cake is getting too dark)
- Cool and decorate with your choice of edible toppings
I haven’t bought eggs for quite sometime. Being vegan I tend to choose eggless wartime recipes or adapt others.
But the children quite like many of my wartime recipes too, so for a special treat (for them), I bought eggs and made an “Irish Omelette” for my youngest daughter Emily and it gave me great pleasure, to observe her noticing the delicious smell, radiating from the oven, as she walked into the house after school..
It was a really simple recipe and smelt delicious, she said it tasted good too ( of course I couldn’t taste it having eggs, milk and bacon in it) and she came back for seconds and there are leftovers for tomorrow.
- 1lb of cooked potato
- 4 eggs (4 tablespoons of dried egg mixed with 8 tablespoons of water)
- 3 oz chopped bacon
- 1/4 pint of milk
- chopped parsley or herbs
- salt and pepper
- Leave skins on potato and chop into smallish pieces and boil in water until tender
- Fry chopped bacon
- Mix the potato, bacon, herbs, salt and pepper together
- Grease a pie dish and spread mixture out in dish
- Whisk eggs and milk and pour over mixture
- Cook in a hot oven 225 C or 425 F until browned on edges and cooked in the middle
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving
This was quite nice, not one of my favourites (the bread puddings are my very favourites) but nevertheless tasty and filling with a little custard over the top… good old Birds Eye custard!
- 1 lb of apples
- 3 oz sugar
- 6 oz of self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder added)
- pinch salt
- 1 level teaspoon of mixed spice (I’ve used cinnamon and a little nutmeg before)
- 1/2 oz margarine
- 1.5 teacups of milk and water
- 1/2 oz sugar
- 0.5 teaspoons of lemon essence
- Sift the flour, salt and spice, rub in the 1/2 oz of margarine and then mix in the 1/2 oz of sugar.
- Beat in half the liquid gradually
- Beat thoroughly then add the rest of the liquid and lemon essence and beat again
- Peel the apples and cut into small pieces and mix with 2.5 oz of sugar
- Put in a greased casserole and pour the batter over (I used meatloaf pans)
- Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes
- Sprinkle with remaining sugar and serve hot with custard or jam sauce
The “Ministry of Food” recommended a “salad-a-day” all year around, during the war years in Great Britain.
During the winter months many salads also contained root vegetables in addition to lettuce or cabbage. I happen to have a few head of Romaine Lettuce (an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium, Iron) to use up so every day this week I am consuming half a head for lunch served with a couple of baked potatoes and either some kidney/haricot beans or a rasher of bacon crumbled over (OK I’m Vegan but I sometimes take an alternative meat ration such as bacon flavoured tempeh strips– made from organic soybeans, just so I can still replicate some of the wartime recipes)
So today I made up another batch of my favourite, quick and simple, wartime vinaigrette dressing. This recipe was from the “Ministry of Food”..
By the way, it is yummy!
- 4 tablespoons of salad oil such as olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of a good quality vinegar (I used organic apple cider vinegar)
- a little made up mustard (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
- pinch of sugar
- pinch of dried herbs (I used thyme) or fresh chopped herbs
- crushed garlic cloves (optional- I didn’t)
- Mix all ingredients together
- Pour into small bottle or jar and keep cool
John Stevens, history buff on Come Dine With Me. I am thinking this guy maybe brave enough to bring out a 1940s eggless Christmas cake for guests at a dinner party?
I tuned into a British TV series called “Come Dine With Me” this afternoon where 5 contestants host a dinner party at each other’s homes and the one voted, with the highest score, by fellow dinner guests, wins £1000.
This week 5 Christmas dinner parties are taking place in London and I know, through ITV Studios, who e-mailed me, that one of the dinner parties will be serving my slightly modified “Ministry of Food” eggless Christmas cake and serving it with a “mock cream”.
I did have fun trying to guess which contestant would be the one to have a dinner party with such a basic food as eggless wartime Christmas cake! My money is on the Cambridge history buff, John Stevens who studied the history of the secret services at university (and he had a bust of Winston Churchill displayed on his wall). I think his dinner party will be shown on Channel 4 on Wednesday.
If you’d like to watch the first of this weeks five episodes of “Come Dine With Me” please click here
It was quite the crime to waste food on the home front in the UK during World War 2. Every single slice of bread or old potato counted and if you really couldn’t use it then there were “pig bins” on most streets where food was collected for pig swill..
Compare that with the 7.2 m tonnes of food thrown away annually in the UK today which costs the average family £600 or the country £12 billion per year. The biggest crime being that 60% of the food thrown away is perfectly edible. Does this strike you as wrong?
I cleaned out my fridge the other day and was rather disgusted with myself. Several fresh food items (mainly salad ) had to be composted. Basically I had thrown away several dollars worth of food, something I would NEVER have done during the war and certainly something I should not be doing in my current situation.
Setting that aside I do strive to make do and be less wasteful so today I selected the root vegetables that were starting to go rubbery and chopped up some broccoli stalks I had been saving and made a really yummy leftovers stew. I make a big pot of this every week without fail.
Not only does it cost pennies to make but it tastes good too and feels the perfect thing to be consuming on a cold snowy -6C day.
Here is my recipe..
Carolyn’s Leftovers Stew
- 4 medium carrots
- 4 medium parsnips
- 4 medium potatoes
- 4 tablespoons of dried split peas
- 4 dessert spoons of porridge oats
- Any leftover mixed veg that needs using up (I had peas and sweetcorn from yesterday)
- 1 pint or more of vegetable or meat stock
- teaspoon of margarine
- salt and pepper and herbs
- garlic or leeks or onions
- Chop 1/2 an onion or 1/2 a leek or a clove of garlic and saute in a saucepan with the teaspoon of margarine
- Chop up the parsnips and carrots chunky and cut the potatoes with skins on into quarters and add to the pot
- Pour in the pint or so of stock then add in the dried split peas and porridge oats and left over mixed vegetables
- Make sure water covers all the vegetables (add extra water if needed)
- Stir and add seasoning and herbs
- Bring to boil, lower and simmer on low and cover for 30 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. Add more seasoning and water if required
- Uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes to thicken
- Serve when veggies are tender
This was the first time I’ve ever made a steamed pudding or a Christmas pudding in my whole life and it came out wonderfully!
Making do with a dessert bowl, some parchment paper, some foil and some string and a big pot, I produced a nice looking and tasting ( a little bit crumbled off and of course went straight in my gob for testing purposes) wartime eggless Christmas pudding using an old recipe, modified slightly, from the Ministry of Food in the 1940s. This is suitable for vegans..
All that is now left to do is feed it some whiskey and set it on fire on Christmas day
Eggless Christmas Pudding
- 2 oz plain flour
- 4 oz breadcrumbs (about 6 slices)
- 4 oz melted fat or suet (I used margarine suitable for vegans)
- 1 oz marmalade
- 1 lb of mixed dried fruit
- 3 oz sugar (I used brown)
- 1/4 pint of brandy, rum, ale, stout or milk (I used hemp milk and will feed it with alcohol afterwards)
- 0.5 teaspoon of baking powder
- 0.25 teaspoon salt
- 0.5 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 0.5 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of mixed or all spice
- Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt together
- Add the sugar, dried fruit and breadcrumbs and mix
- Melt that fat if using margarine and drizzle over and mix
- Add the marmalade and 1/4 pint of liquid and mix very thoroughly
- Put in a greased 2 pint basin (I used a large deep dessert bowl)
- Cover with greased paper and foil and steam for 4 hours- click here
- Remove basin and let pudding stand for 15 minutes to cool a little before removing from basin
- Leave to cool, wrap in clean paper or cloth and store in a cool pantry or fridge. Will keep for a month.
- Steam for an hour before serving or microwave in original container for 2-3 minutes
Vegans: Use hemp, rice, soy or nut milk instead of dairy, a lactose free/ dairy/animal fat free margarine..
Here is a quick and tasty biscuit/cookie recipe for “Gingernut biscuits”.
I’m currently chomping on some with a big mug of tea and they are very satisfying indeed.
- 2 oz (50 g) of margarine
- 2 level tablespoons of golden syrup
- 1 oz (25 g) of light brown sugar
- 4 oz (115 g) plain flour
- 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2-1 teaspoon of each of mixed spice, ground cinnamon and ground ginger
- Pre-heat oven to 200 C (400 F)
- Grease baking trays
- Melt margarine with syrup in saucepan and set aside
- Add the sugar and mix
- Sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and the spices and mix well and mix in well to the mixture in the saucepan
- Allow mixture to stand and cool for about 15 minutes
- Roll into small balls (about 12)
- Place on baking trays
- Flatten a little
- Cook for 5 minutes at 200 C (400 F)
- Reduce heat to 180 C (350 F) and continue cooking for another 7-10 minutes
- Remove to cool on wire tray
I’m 46 years old and today is the FIRST time in my entire life I’ve made a Christmas pudding and steamed any sort of pudding.
How can I have lived 46 years and not done either of these?
This maybe because
a) I haven’t got a pudding bowl
b) I haven’t got a pressure cooker or a large saucepan with a secure lid
c) Steaming puddings seems to take hours and hours and hours
d) It seems such a FAFF!
But I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to make a proper authentic wartime Christmas pudding this year so it was time to just get on with it this morning and find ways to adapt what I have.
I found a large deeper than normal dessert bowl which I greased well and put the mixture in, then I covered it in foil and then tied string all the way around and made a string handle so I could remove it from the saucepan easily later on
I used my huge big saucepan/pot and placed some crumpled up foil in the bottom before placing my pudding on top of it. The water came half way up the side of the dessert bowl
Once the water was simmering I covered the top of the pot in foil and placed a heavy saucepan on top
Now I have to keep my fingers crossed for the next 4 hours.
I’m pretty excited!!!
PS The BBC has a good little video on how to steam a pudding and I used some of the tips from it
CLICK HERE FOR LESLEY WATERS ON THE BBC