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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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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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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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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!

Pans into Planes

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Recycling is nothing new; the collection of materials to be recycled, reused, and re-purposed was a popular theme in World War II.  The British people saw the implementation of scrap drives to collect metal to make planes and other necessary equipment for the war effort.

In May, 1940, Churchill appointed William “Max” Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, as Minister of Aircraft Production, and with the Prime Minister’s blessing,  Beaverbrook overhauled all aspects of war-time aircraft production. He increased production targets by 15% across the board, took control of aircraft repairs, and increased RAF storage units.*

Woman with aluminium pans, World War Two, 10 July 1940.LON11_HOM_206.tif

Metal was needed to make planes. Lord Beaverbrook asked the WVS (Womens Voluntary Service) to oversee the drive, and they went into action and asked for the collection of saucepans, frying pans, colanders, tea trays, kettles, pot lids, shoe trees and any other scrap they could find which contained aluminium. 1600 centers were set up throughout Britain as collection and storage centers for the metal. (Conjectures whether the collected metal was actually used or the collection campaign was just propaganda exist.)

Lord Beaverbrook, said in July, 1940, “We want it (aluminum) and we want it now. New and old, of every type and description, and all of it. We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes, Blenheims and Wellingtons.”

 

*Geoffrey Best (2005). Churchill and War. Humbledon and London

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“And none for the pot”

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No one can doubt the importance of tea in British culture. The phrase “I’ll put the kettle on” led to the all popular “cuppa” bringing comfort to the British public in times both good and bad.  With the onset of war in 1939, tea was not initially rationed.  The rise of supply ships being sunk by German submarines led to the government taking over the control of food and prices, and tea eventually became rationed along with meat, sugar, butter, and other necessary foodstuffs. The Ministry of Food took even more drastic action to safeguard tea. Within two days after war broke out, the transfer of all tea to warehouses outside London was implemented to protect the morale-boosting product in case of air raids. After the Nazi blockade of supply ships, tea was rationed to 2 ounces per person, per week, for those five years of age and older. This ration made for rather weak tea, and only two to three cups per day, but soldiers and war workers were issued extra rations of tea. A patriotic poem was written when tea rationing was introduced:

Cup of Tea, Cup of Tea
You Are Just the Thing for Me
No Milk, No Sugar, No Parsley in my cup of Tea
No Mint, No Thyme, No Red Red Rose
Just Give Me Normal by the Hose
So keep your ration book in Hand
And we’ll drink tea across the land
And an extra cup for Granny, too
And all our dashing lads in blue.
Lord Woolton, the Minister of Food, made regular radio broadcasts on “The Kitchen Front,” a program broadcast on the BBC. He greatly proclaimed that all Britons must save on tea. He said “Here’s a new slogan for wartime: One {teaspoon} per person, and none for the pot!”
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Rationing of tea lasted throughout the war. Due to the continued rationing of food postwar, most rationing of goods including tea, did not end until 1952.

 

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RECIPE-Royal Dressing

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With the rationing of oils and eggs, the luxury of “salad cream” or salad dressing soon became a rarity.

The Ministry of Food created recipes to help satisfy the craving for salad dressing.

 

Royal Dressing

  • 2 ounces of National Flour
  • ½ pint milk or vegetable water  (the water remaining from cooking or steaming vegetables, cooled)
  • 2 ounces of grated raw beetroot
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper & Sugar

With the national flour and milk or vegetable water make a sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Beat in the beetroot, sugar, pepper and salt.

Use this dressing to serve with raw vegetable salads.

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Salads in Wartime-“A Salad A Day”

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Salads were not popular before the war. Meat was a main staple of a pre-wartime diet. In an effort to decrease meat intake, eating salads in wartime were encouraged. The Ministry of Food created a wartime salad leaflet to give information on the benefits of eating salads. Using the vegetables from the Victory Garden helped give “vim and vigour” and “build up resistance to infection.” The main message: Eating salads would keep one healthy in wartime and conserve rations.

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From Ministry of Food Leaflet #5:

Use vegetables as fresh as possible and prepare the salad just before it is required, as chopped and grated vegetables and fruit quickly lose their vitamins.

Vegetables to use in salads: Finely shredded raw cabbage hearts, savoy, spinach, sprouts, chopped cauliflower, watercress, raw grated swede, turnip, beetroot, carrot, cooked potato and beetroot.

Salads

There is hardly a root or green vegetable that does not deserve a place in a salad. Use them raw whenever you can. A good mixed salad with wheatmeal bread and a little grated cheese makes a complete meal. So serve and enjoy a salad or raw vegetable sandwich every day.

When making salads, touch the plants as little as possible. Use directly after picking or buying. If this is not convenient a saucepan, with a well-fitted lid, placed on a cool floor is excellent for keeping a salad crisp.

Just before serving, wash carefully, shake off the water gently and dry the plants in a clean cloth or wire salad basket. Outside leaves can be saved for soup.

Root vegetables, such as carrots, should be washed and scrapped lightly before grating, but the thicker skins of turnips call for peeling.

Spring Salads

  1. Make a thick bed of chopped raw cabbage heart in your bowl. In the centre, pile a teacup of grated raw white turnip. Round this centre arrange smaller piles of grated raw carrot and grated raw beetroot, using a teacupful of each. Decorate with radishes and parsley.
  2. Shred 1/2 lb. young turnip tops. Mix with 1 breakfastcup diced cooked potato and 1 breakfastcup cooked beetroot. Put into a bowl and decorate the top with 1 large fresh grated carrot and sprigs of watercress or dandelion leaves.
  3. Young dandelions make a delightful salad by themselves. Cut of the roots, wash the clusters of leaves well, dry in a cloth and toss in a vinaigrette dressing. For a more substantial salad, add fresh grated parsnip or grated swede, and a few chopped spring onions.

Summer Salads

  1. Line a bowl with crisp lettuce leaves. Mix together 1 breakfastcup cooked peas, 1 breakfastcup diced potato and 1 breakfastcup diced cooked carrot. Pile this mixture in the bowl and serve with mint sauce.
  2. Line a bowl with crisp lettuce leaves. Put in a breakfastcup cooked broad beans, a breakfastcup fresh grated carrots and a medium sized cucumber, diced. Decorate with a few nasturtium leaves and parsley.
  3. Mix together a breakfastcup cooked runner beans cut into 1 in. lengths and breakfastcup diced cooked potato and a large lettuce shredded. Decorate with sliced tomato and a few chopped spring onions, if possible.

Autumn Salads

  1. Break a cauliflower into neat sprigs and steam them or boil in very little salted water. When cold, arrange on a bed of lettuce leaves with a breakfastcup of cooked sliced potatoes. Decorate with parsley, a sliced tomato, or cooked beetroot.
  2. Allow 1 cooked round beetroot for each person. Hollow out the centre and fill with a mixture of chopped apple or pear and chopped celery, moistened with a little mayonnaise. Arrange the beetroots on a bed of green salad (lettuce, chopped cabbage heart, watercress or spinach) and surround with little heaps of fresh grated carrot, diced cooked potatoes and the beetroot centres, diced.
  3. Wash and dry young celery leaves. Toss them lightly in vinaigrette dressing and serve with diced cooked beetroots, or grated raw beetroot, whichever you prefer. Serve with a potato salad made as follows: Boil the potatoes in their skins. Peel while still hot, cut into slices and mix well with whichever dressing you prefer. A little chopped spring onion mixed with the potato is a great improvement. When quite cold, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Winter Salads

  1. Make 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette dressing in your bowl. Put in 2 teacups of shredded raw cabbage heart and 1 teacup each of diced cooked potato, apple and celery cut into ½ in. lengths. Turn over and over in the dressing with a wooden spoon. Decorate with watercress and grated raw beetroot
  2. Mix together 2 teacups grated raw cabbage heart, 2 teacups fresh grated carrot and 1 teacup grated raw swede. Decorate with green celery tops and a little raw cauliflower.
  3. Line a bowl thickly with watercress, add 1/2 lb chicory cut into thin strips and mixed with 1 breakfastcup grated raw beetroot. Serve with vinaigrette dressing.

 

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