This morning made my heart sing! Without going into too much detail, this morning was such an amazing feeling visiting the park with my youngest Em. This is the first time in many years that we’ve been able to do this as they have been struggling. Thought I’d share some of the photos Em took.
There are times we struggle with life. Despite those dark days there will always be a day here and there where the sun reaches through the woodland boughs to illuminate a clearer path offering momentary respite and a glimpse of future hope.
Finding myself down to my last two vegan sausages and even out of potatoes, I looked to an original recipe pamphlet from 1941 for something I could make fairly quickly, that could fill my tummy and give me energy.
Wartime Recipes by Ambrose Heath came up with the simplest recipe I could imagine that had just two ingredients, flour and suet! It was called “Devonshire Suet Pudding”.
Devonshire Suet Pudding
2 cups of wholemeal flour (any flour will do)
1 cup of shredded suet
Pinch of salt
Add enough water to mix (not sloppy or not stiff)
Grease a milk pudding dish or ramekins
Place the mixture in the dish and bake at 180-200C for 1 hr (about 25 minutes if split up into ramekins)
It should be golden-brown and rise a little when cooking
Serve with meat and gravy, serves 6
TIP: add extra salt, pepper, herbs and fried chop onion for extra taste
Right now, nearly every day I will eat potatoes. But how authentic was eating spuds 5 times a week during WW2 for the average urban working class household?
I’m happy to announce that potatoes were the foundation of the working class diet, not only providing up to 45% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C to each person who ate them (and most people ate around 4.5 lbs of spuds per week) BUT were delicious, affordable and were able to provide that vitamin C all year around due to their great storage capabilities. Farmers could store potatoes in large “clamps” which essentially were long mounds of potatoes covered in straw and then earth was piled on the top to form a frost free storage and households could store their potatoes, throughout the winter in hessian sacks in an outhouse.
Because I’m a WW2 food nerd, I’ve enjoyed spending Valentine’s Day evening CONSUMING DATA from “The Urban Working-Class Household Diet 1940-1949”. I’m particularly interested how people maintained good health during WW2 on a limited diet and happily for me, this book tells me what food sources supplied people with essential vitamins, iron and protein as well as providing enough calories to sustain an active life.
I thought you might be interested in some snippets below about potatoes!
In addition to data about potatoes I found this quite interesting. Vegetable protein was Great Britain’s main source of protein throughout WW2 which is not surprising seeing how meat was rationed. Before the war people were eating around roughly 2.5 lbs of meat and fish per week, during the war it was about 1.5 lbs per person, per week (according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations Britons currently consume almost 3.5 lbs per week).
At 8:00pm last night I just fancied some pastry. This first month on WW2 rations I’ve fancied pastry quite a few times but what with one thing and another (usually lack of time) I’ve just not go around to it!
At 8:03pm I found a recipe for “Marmite Biscuits” in Margaret Y. Brady’s “Health for All – Wartime Recipes”, a wonderful little 1940’s recipe book which focuses on maximizing good health on wartime rations. I already love this book so much!
For anyone who saw my last video HERE you will also know that I talked about the use of NUTTER in one of her recipes in the book. The recipe called for 1/2 a lb of nutter and to roll the nutter in the flour. If you are British then you’ll know that the word nutter was once a commonly used term in our general vocabulary for instance “that bloke is a right nutter” (that man is crazy, odd, eccentric!).
Quote: “Nutter” itself, first recorded from the 1950s, has always meant either a deranged person or an engaging eccentric. Such words can be used cruelly, but their plenitude also suggests some kind of delight (albeit satirical) in the varieties of human oddness.
Further examination of her recipe book revealed that NUTTER was in fact a vegetarian cooking fat, sold by Health Food Stores but for several hours before finding this term in the glossary there was much discussion and indeed mirth on what Nutter could actually be. Most common thoughts were a book typo (should have been butter), nut butter, peanut butter and peanut butter biscuits. Google wasn’t helpful to me at all, and clicking on the Urban Dictionary’s description of “nut butter” in the search engines returned results, wasn’t something I really wanted to be enlightened on!
1/2 lb wholewheat flour
4 oz cooking fat (I used a hard margarine)
1 dessertspoon of Marmite
Little cold water
Put the flour into a cold basin
Rub in the cooking fat until it looks like fine breadcrumbs
Add water a little at a time to the dry ingredients to make a firm dough
When well mixed turn onto a floured board
Roll out thin
Now spread over thinly with Marmite
Fold over and roll out again
Spread more Marmite fold and roll out again, repeat
Cut into rounds or fingers and bake in a moderate over until crisp and brown
This will make around 40 small, thin biscuits
Cost: Ingredients will cost about £1
I thought these tasted delicious, I’m a huge Marmite fan and that mixed with what essentially is a short pastry, made me think these deserved at least an 8.5 out of 10!
Well I did it! Survived the first month and was as true as I could be to a WW2 diet! For anyone new to my blog I’m carrying out another year long experiment to see the effect living 100% on a wartime diet will have on my physical health, weight and mental health.
I’m taking this mighty seriously. I’ve had baseline blood tests done for cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL (good) cholesterol, liver function (Bilirubin, Alkaline phosphatase, Gamma-GT. Albumin, Globulin) iron, Vitamin B9 and B12, Vitamin D levels, diabetes, CRP levels (inflammation), Thyroid function and the protein levels in my blood which will measure whether I am getting enough protein in my diet. These levels have been measured at the beginning, and will be repeated 6 months in and at the end.
I’m also having weigh-in and blood pressure checks every month at my Doctors surgery and will be monitoring my blood pressure levels once a week at home as well as keeping a journal/diary recording my general physical and mental health noting everything that crops up. Additionally, I’m also going to have a course of therapy to address any possible reasons that may have caused me to use food as a coping mechanism (because I’m pretty sure it’s not just completely because I like the taste of it!).
I’ve started to read an amazing recipe book by Margaret Y. Brady called “Health for All – Wartime Recipes” and I will be recreating many of these recipes as I go forward through this journey. (See my reference to NUTTER in the video above!!!)
I thought I’d share her introduction below, it resonated with me especially the middle, common sense, paragraph on page 11.
Well, I’m nearly 1/12th of the way through this 1940s Experiment. February 9th will be the end of month 1 and quite honestly it’s mostly been plain sailing so far!
Perhaps the only real challenge was my monthly get together with a friend of mine. We take it in turns to spend a few hours at each others houses one evening a month (although mostly at mine right now as I need to be home a lot for personal reasons) and I really look forward to it. BUT those evenings normally consist of crisps, nibblies and a slice or two of pizza PLUS wine! Although I did put some crisps and spring rolls out for my friend, instead I ate lots of delicious veggies/cherry tomatoes/tomato dip and some buttered baked herb bread. I also enjoyed a couple of bottles of ale (the only alcohol I drink in a full month). I gave the leftover crisps and spring rolls to my youngest (Em) once my friend left so there wasn’t any temptation! The only thing I had which was probably very difficult to get during WW2 were some olives BUT hey I had a jar in my pantry (pre-war) and they needed using up. I figured some people would have had olives in their pantry before the war seeing as…
Quote: “Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.”
I’m really happy how things have gone so far. I’m loving not eating loads of junk food in between meals like I had been doing for many months towards the end of 2022. I’m hopeful and positive what the future will bring.
This was such a simple and delicious recipe, especially so as I LOVE swede! (other names include: Yellow turnip, Swedish turnip, Russian turnip or Rutabaga). From the recipe I was able to make 6 swede cakes and I ate 3 of them with a plateful of soya mince stew that had various vegetables included too. The plateful cost me around 90p for the ingredients.
1 lb of swede cooked and mashed
2 oz of plain flour
1 tsp salt
Some margarine for frying
Cube and cook the swede until tender. Mash, you can add a little margarine into the mash if you have enough free from your weekly ration!
Mix in the flour, salt and pepper thoroughly.
Place some margarine into the frying pan and once hot add three dollops of the swede mix and form into patties. Brown both sides. repeat the process again to cook the rest.
I feel like I’m rapidly morphing into some bizarre Cropleyesque ration book aficionado. My compulsions to experience strange wartime combinations in my kitchen seem stronger than ever and I often spend my evenings flicking through old wartime cookery books to get my next fix of weird.
This wartime recipe for Chocolate Truffles made with mashed potato was really quite up there with some of the stranger recipes created during the war. Don’t expect a chocolate truffle texture, the truffles were squidgy and much like a Japanese dish called “Mochi”. However, I really enjoyed gobbling all seven of them down in one sitting. So, actually, they tasted alright. For anyone who missed chocolate during the war, this would have filled that gap I feel!
4 tablespoons of mashed potato
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla or almond essence
Cocoa powder for dusting
Cook and mash the potato, roughly one small potato is a tablespoon of mash (I left the skins on!)
Add in the cocoa powder, sugar and essence. Mix and mash until smooth and place in the fridge for an hour to stiffen
Once stiffened roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder
Return to fridge for another 30 minutes to stiffen