Evansville in World War II

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Wartime in Evansville

Although this website is devoted to Britain in wartime, the war effort was global. Rationing and war production in the United States helped Britain fend off the Nazi war machine while providing a booming wartime economy in many cities like Evansville, Indiana. I highly recommend reading James L. MacLeod’s book, Evansville in World War II.

During World War II, the city of Evansville manufactured vast amounts of armaments that were vital to the Allied victory. The Evansville Ordnance Plant made 96 percent of all .45-caliber ammunition used in the war, while the Republic Aviation Plant produced more than 6,500 P-47 Thunderbolts—almost half of all P-47s built during the war. At its peak, the local shipyard employed upward of eighteen thousand men and women who forged 167 of the iconic Landing Ship Tank vessels. In this captivating and fast-paced account, University of Evansville historian James Lachlan MacLeod reveals the enormous influence these wartime industries had on the social, economic and cultural life of the city.-from The History Press/Arcadia Publishing website:

www.Arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626196759

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Green Vegetables in Wartime

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Since vegetables were an important part of the wartime diet, the Ministry of Food issued the “Green Vegetables” leaflet on 18 June 1940. Since nothing went to waste, hints were included on preparing leaves and tops of vegetables.

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How to Cook Green Vegetables

If you have a garden don’t cut youur vegetables until you actually need them. Much food value is lost if the are left in the rack to get stale. It is wrong to soak green or root vegetables for a long time before cooking, as this wastes valuable mineral salts and vitamins. Wash them thoroughly, and, if tight-hearted, soak in salted water for not more than ½ hour.

If the outside leaves are really too tough to serve, save them for soups and stews. These dark green outside leaves have more food value then the centre.

Green vegetables must be cooked as quickly as possible as slow cooking destroys much of the vitamin, so follow these rules:-

Shred them-that is, slice them with a knife. Shred cabbages, spring greens, turnip tops, nettles, Brussel tops, even Brussel sprouts if they are large. In short, shred any green vegetable except spinach which cooks so quickly that it does not need it. Divide cauliflowers into sprigs so that they will cook more quickly.
Never drown green vegetables. You need only just enough water to keep your pan from burning-usually a teacupful will do.
Bring the water to the boil, add a little salt and sprinkle the green into the boiling water. Less salt is needed than the old-fashioned way of cooking greens, because by this method you keep in nearly all the natural salts of the vegetables.
Cook with the lid on the pan. This is important because you are going to “steam boil” the greens, and if you let the steam escape the pan may go dry.
Boil briskly for 10-15 minutes. If you can spare the time, give the pan a shake or two during that time.
Drain off any liquid from the pan and save it for gravy or soup. If you can spare a teaspoon of margarine, add it to the vegetabbles and toss well before serving. Serve at once.
If you follow these suggestions you will find that the greens are quite cooked, but crisp and full of flavour.

Tops

Broccoli tops, turnip tops and beetroot tops, have good food value and are all excellent if cooked as described above.

Cabbage with Variations

All sorts of additions can be made to cabbage as described above. A few bacon rinds chopped small: a few teaspoons of vinager and a sprinkle of nutmeg, or perhaps a shake of caraway seeds, and you have something quite new and intriguing.

Cabbage with Horseradish Sauce

Shred 2 lbs of cabbage and cook as describe. Drain and use the liquid for the following sauce:

Melt 1 oz fat in a pan, stir in 1 oz flour and cook together for 2 or 3 minutes. Then add gradually 1 teacupful vegetable water and milk (half and half if possible) stirring all the time.

Put the cabbage in a heated dish, pour the sauce over it and serve.

Spinach

Wash the spinach very throughly. Shake and put in a pan without water; sprinkle a little salt, put on the lid and cook gently until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and serve or, if preferred, the spinach may be chopped, and a little margarine and pepper added.

Peas

When boiling fresh garden peas put a teaspoonful of sugar, if possible, and a little salt in the water as well as the mint, and be careful not to cook them too long or too fast, or they will come out of their skins. If you are cooking another vegetable, peas are delicious cooked in a steamer on the top. Sprinkle with a pince of salt and put a sprig of mint with them in the steamer. Save the water for soup and gravy.

Pea Pods

Pea pods provide a delicious dish if the clear-skinned, fleshy pods are used like this. Divide each pod into two. Hold one of the sections in your left hand, stalk end uppermost and inside towards you. Snap down about ½ inch of the pod of the stalk end towards you. Then, holding firmly, pull downwards, stripping the inside skin from the outer. With a little pratice, this is easy. Cook the fleshy outsides in very little salted water until tender (about 10 minutes), drain and serve.

Pea pods also make an excellent stock for soup.

French or Runner Beans

When young, cook whole with only the tops and tails removed. When older, the stringy vein which develops along the rib of the pod must be removed.

Most housewives like to slice the beans lengthwise. But it is a great saving in time to break them with the fingers into 2-in. lengths, and less flavour is lost this way.

Boil until tender in a very small amount of salted water. If you like your beans to glisten, add a teaspoonful of fat to the water.

Be sure to save the water. It is good as a drink by itself; or use it for gravy or soup

Broad Bean Tops and Broad Beans

The tops of broad beans, which gardeners always pick off, make a delightful dish if cooked as a green vegetable

When young, broad beans can be cooked, unshelled, in a little salted water, and eaten pod and all. Or the beans can be shelled and the pods sliced. The cooked sliced pods are very good as a hot vegetable or served coldd in a salad.

When the beans are older the pods are too tough to eat as a vegetable, but make good stock for soups.

Broad beans which have been allowed to mature in their pods may be stored for winter use. Make sure they are quite dry before packing in airtight tins. Soak and use as haricots.

Nettles

Young nettles, cooked as described above are as delicious as spinach and a splendid spring tonic

Cauliflower Leaves and Stalks

When buying califlowers, always ask for the leaves as well as the flower, as the leaves make a dish by themselves if cooked as cabbage. The stalks, cooked until tender in a very little salted water and then drained, rolled in browned breadcrumbs and quickly fried in a very little hot fat or browned in the oven, have a nutty flavour and are a new dish to most people. They are also delicious greated raw in a salad.

Category: Recipes

Hay Box Cooking

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During wartime, saving fuel was very important. The amounts of various cooking fuels were limited, so other ways of cooking food and saving cooking fuels became necessary.

The hay box was one popular method. For today’s consumer, we could think of it as a non-electric Crock Pot©. The hay box was easy to use; a wartime cook had only to heat the food to boiling in a covered pot, and place the pot in a box that was lined, and then covered, with hay. The heat would stay around the pot due to the hay insulation and continue to cook the food throughout the day.

Hay boxes could be built of wood, or a hole could even be dug in the ground and lined with hay. More than one dish could be cooked at a time by stacking pots or bowls with the lid, and then placing another bowl (with the vegetable or side dish placed on top of the lid or plate covered meat) on top. Imagine, a whole meal being cooked in a hay box while the family was going about their day. Another method of rationing in wartime Britain!

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RECIPE-Potato Jane

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Why not stretch your cheese ration with Potato Jane?

  • 1½ lbs. Potatoes
  • 3 oz. Grated cheese (any kind)
  • 2 oz. Breadcrumbs
  • ½ Chopped leek or onion (if available)
  • 1 Sliced carrot
  • ½ – ¾ pint milk or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put a layer of sliced potatoes in a fireproof dish. Sprinkle with some of the leek, carrot, crumbs, cheese and seasoning. Fill the dish with alternate layers, finishing with a layer of mixed cheese and crumbs. Pour over the milk and bake in a moderate (350°F) oven for 45 minutes or steam for 1 hour. Serves four.

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From the Ministry of Food leaflet #12

Category: Recipes

Household Milk

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“Household Milk” was government-issued powdered skim milk distributed in Britain during World War II. Rationing of bottled fresh milk began in November 1941. Distribution of “Household Milk” began in December, 1941.

The dried milk came in a blue and white tin with red stripes and a printed label stating: “Specially packed for BRITISH MINISTRY OF FOOD” along with “Dried Machine Skimmed Milk. Not to be used for babies. Contents equivalent to four pints of skimmed milk. From the United States of America.”

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A ration coupon was required and the dried milk cost about 9 pence. Each person was entitled to 1 canister of dried Household Milk every four weeks. In addition to powdered milk, each person was allowed 3 pints of fresh dairy milk a week, with amounts varying due to shortages. The allowance of fresh milk was more for expectant mothers, children, and those that were ill or had special needs.

Household Milk was not to be confused with National Dried Milk. National Dried Milk was dried “full-cream milk” that was intended for  babies.

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*photos from Imperial War Museum

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Potato Soup

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Potato Soup

  • 1½ lb potatoes.
  • 1 stick celery, a few spring onions, or a little leek.
  • 2 tablespoonfuls chopped parsley.
  • 1¾ pints of vegetable water (water remaining from cooked vegetables) or water.
  • 1 teacup (4 oz or US half cup) of milk or household milk (powdered skim milk         mixed with water).
  • Seasoning.

Method-Scrub and slice the potatoes and celery. Place in boiling salted water. Cook with the lid on until quite soft. Rub through a sieve or mash well with a wooden spoon. Add milk and re-heat, but do not re-boil. Sprinkle in coarsely chopped parsley just before serving.

From the Ministry of Food Cookery Leaflet #3

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Category: Uncategorized

RECIPE-Easter Biscuits (Cookies)

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Even in wartime, holidays had to be celebrated. Recipes were adapted due to wartime shortages so holidays would still be special times with traditional foods to share with friends and family.

Easter Biscuits

  • 6 oz.plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 level tablespoon dried egg, DRY
  • 1 ½ level teaspoons mixed spice (a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, & allspice, similar to US Pumpkin Pie Spice)
  • 2 oz. margarine and lard, mixed
  • 2 level tablespoons sugar
  • Cold water to mix
  • Method:
  • Mix flour, salt, egg, and spice. Rub in fat and add sugar. Mix to a stiff dough with cold water and roll out thinly. Cut into shapes and bake in a moderate oven (375°F) until crisp and golden brown. If liked a little chopped dried fruit may be added to this mixture [or used for decoration].
    From Easter “Food Facts Leaflet” from the Ministry of Food 
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Category: Recipes

RECIPE-Mock Goose

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With rationing and limited foods, “mock” recipes were very popular. Want goose for Christmas? Try this recipe for Mock Goose! Basically it’s a potato casserole and if not cooked long enough can be a little soupy. But, it’s Christmas. Pretend it’s meat!

Mock Goose

  1. 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  2. 2 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  3. 1/2 tsp dried sage
  4. salt & pepper to taste
  5. 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water remaining from boiled vegetables), heated
  6. 1 tbl flour
  7. 4 oz grated (or shredded) cheese, divided

Place a layer of potatoes in a greased pie-dish, cover with apple slices and a little sage, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on grated cheese. Repeat the layers, leaving the potatoes and cheese to cover. Pour in 1 cup of hot stock, cook in a moderate oven (350°F) for 45 minutes. Blend one tablespoonful of flour with remaining 1/2 cup of hot stock; pour into the dish and cook for another 30 minutes.

Original Recipe from ‘Christmas in War-Bound Britain’ adapted for today’s cooking.

Category: Christmas, Recipes

RECIPE-Eggless Christmas Cake

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Even with the Christmas holidays approaching, all families still had to deal with rationing. Few fresh eggs or dried eggs, limited amounts of butter and other fats, sugar, and chocolate, as well as just about everything that was so good, yet so bad (as in unhealthy) for a person, was on the ration. Here is an Eggless Christmas Cake that is easy to make and delicious. The carrots and milk provide the needed moisture.

Eggless Christmas Cake

4 oz  finely grated carrots
2 tablespoons golden syrup (or dark corn syrup)
3 oz sugar
4 oz margarine
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
vanilla essence (extract)
almond essence (extract)
4—6 oz dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, raisins)
12 oz self raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 small teacup (6 oz) milk, slightly warmed

Cook the grated carrots and syrup over a low heat for a
few minutes. Cream the sugar and margarine until light and
fluffy. Stir the baking soda into the carrots and syrup
mixture, then beat it into the sugar and margarine mixture,
treating it as if it were an egg. Add a half teaspoon each of
vanilla and almond extract, and stir in with the dried fruit.
Fold in the flour and cinnamon, and add the warmed milk
to. make a moist dough. Put the mixture into a greased cake
tin (or use a fluted tube pan such as a Bundt® pan). Smooth the top, and make a deep hole in the centre with a spoon if not using a tube pan, to stop the cake from rising too much during cooking. Put into a hot oven (gas Mark 7=425° F) then immediately turn down to a very low heat (gas Mark 2=300° F) and bake for 3 hours.

Homemade Wartime Christmas Ornaments

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Due to rationing during the war, many families made their own Christmas ornaments. Since there was a paper shortage, any scraps of paper, old Christmas cards, and brown paper were used to make ornaments and decorations. Here is a video from the Imperial War Museum for making Christmas ornaments from folded paper!