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.


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.”

household milkhousehold milk1*

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.

dried milkdriedmilk

*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-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 
  • easterrabbit
Category: Recipes

RECIPE-Mock Goose

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foodsofengland mockgoosemail2

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

Christmas 1940

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As the war raged on, Christmas in 1940 Britain took place in the middle of the Blitz. Between September and November 1940, the German Luftwaffe was relentless in their bombing of London;  the city had been bombed for 57 consecutive nights. The bombing raids showed no signs of relief as Christmas Day 1940 approached, so most Britons spent Christmas Eve in an air-raid shelter, either in their backyard Anderson shelter, under the Morrison table shelter in the dining room, or in the Underground.

By the end of 1940, 24,000 civilians had been killed in the Blitz and hundreds of thousands were now homeless. In November, German bombers had also obliterated Coventry and there had been destructive air raids on Manchester and Liverpool in the days leading up to the Christmas holidays. Not only was the British public mourning the loss of loved ones on the home front and in combat, but they were also praying for the 41,000 British soldiers captured on the European continent.

In order to avoid the German bombs being dropped on their cities, British families stayed positive even though it was necessary to seek safety in air-raid shelters, Underground stations, and other places of refuge. To enliven their Christmas spirit, folks decked out their temporary homes with makeshift holiday decorations. Smaller Christmas trees were in demand because of the lower height of the shelters.

Celebrating Christmas in the back yard Anderson shelter
A Morrison table shelter. In the day time a table cloth covered the cage. The photo shows sleeping in the Morrison shelter.

For many families, the most difficult part of a wartime Christmas would be spending the season apart from their loved ones. Most men were fighting abroad in the armed forces and some were being held as prisoners of war. Mothers, wives, and daughters might also be away in the services or carrying out important war work. Many children spent Christmas away from home as evacuees in the safety of the country, mostly with strangers that agreed to take them in for the duration. Christmas 1940 was far different than the “phony war” of winter 1939.

Spending Christmas in the Underground

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!”
tearation1 tearation3

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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