Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Where's Lord Woolton When We Want Him?

I have always had a fondness for recipe books about the War Years and Rationing. Actually meeting Margeurite Patten in 2005, in the newly re-opened Churchill War Rooms is a treasured memory [thanks, Liz and Steph, for organising that for me]
These four books contain plenty of recipes from the 15 year period of WW2, and the Postwar Rationing Era - 1939-1954.
I frequently re-read these books, for information, amusement...and sometimes ideas for meals and cakes.
The ingenuity, economy and resourcefulness of those trying to feed our nation back then is amazing.
Recently a number of journalists [presumably trying to find a different angle on all the Brexit Brouhaha] have been talking about the nation's food supplies once we have left the EU.
I listened to a chap on Radio 4 [who should know better] discussing fish. "We shall probably have to give up Cocky Sin Jacks" he said mysteriously. It was a few moments before I realised he meant Coquilles Saint Jacques! I have never ever eaten CSJ so giving them up will be no hardship!
The pundits maintain that if Brexit is as bad as many fear, we will have to eat more UK produced food, and enjoy fewer imported treats.
They do say that during those 15 years of rationing, our nation was much healthier than it is now - less food, and more physical exercise, and enforced 'mindful eating' was good for us. Carolyn Ekins writes a blog, the 1940s Experiment in which she charts her weight loss - achieved not through Slimming World, WW or Joe Wicks, but through living on WW2 rations.
Seeing this book on the bargain shelf of a CS the other week I thought I'd get it. After all, I know I need to shed a few pounds, and if I can combine this with easily obtainable food, that's a good thing.
My mistake! It isn't a 'weightloss' diet book at all, simply a book about the food eaten then, and how we can eat similar healthy foods now.
But despite my ,isunderstanding, this is a cracking read.
The first 50 pages are history - illustrated with great posters and wartime photos - many of which were new to me. 
The remaining 100 pages are recipes - but alongside each original old onre is a 21st Century version with an up-to-date twist.
For instance, the famous Lord W's pie is topped not with a potato-pastry crust, but a 'cobbler' made from triangles of potato dough, and contains bulghur wheat, not oatmeal - and more 'interesting' veg, like sweet potato and celeriac [and garlic]
The recipes are written "Then...and now" - and divided into 4 seasonal sections. Each section has a 'typical weekly menu'
There are hints on leftovers and avoiding waste, and clear photographs of finished dishes. My previous attempts at feeding the family on 'Wartime Rations' have been [mostly] edible, but tending to "bland" and "worthy". These are Bob's usual adjectives, when he really means "I will eat this, I don't think it will kill me, but it does taste like cardboard"
Corned-beef-and-chili-rosti is definitely on my trial list, as is rhubarb bread pudding [which looks like b&b pud, but has no butter or eggs in it] Watch this space.


  1. That book sounds right up my street, just ordered a copy from Amazon, thank you!

  2. No surprise to know this is in my WWII collection!
    The book by William Sitwell about Woolton - Eggs or Anarchy is really good ( might have mentioned it before)

  3. we have a similar book shelf , but my favourite is Farmhouse Fare , theres umpteen editions and i have the wartime one among them , recipes from the Farmers Weekly very useful if youre growing your own

  4. Thank you Sue & Kate for your 2 book suggestions. I haven't read FW since I was growing up in Norfolk, and looked through it when visiting farming friends.

  5. I too have a number of books on this topic and must see if I can find that new one.


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