RECIPE-Mock Fish

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Fish was hard to get as the war loomed on. Fishermen had joined the military and were off fighting the war; those that remained had to throw their nets close to shore, as bombing by the enemy was always a threat. The fish that were caught were sold and bought quickly by those that lived close to shore; those that lived inland rarely got fresh fish. So what to do in wartime? Make Mock Fish!

Mock Fish

1/2 pint of whole milk

2 oz ground rice

1 tsp chopped onion or leek

Margarine (or butter if your ration allows)

Anchovy paste or essence

1 egg, fresh or powdered (1 tbls powdered egg mixed with two tbls water)
Bring half a pint of milk to the boil, shower in two ounces of ground rice and add a teaspoonful of chopped onion or leek, a piece of margarine the size of a small walnut, and a seasoning of anchovy essence. Let this simmer gently for 20 minutes, then take the pan off the fire, and stir in a well-beaten egg. Mix well together, and the spread the mixture out on a flat dish: it should be about half an inch thick. When it is cold, cut it into pieces the size and shape of fish fillets, brush these with milk, roll them in breadcrumbs, and fry until golden-brown. Serve with parsley sauce.

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RECIPE-Mock Banana

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When bananas weren’t available, one did the next best thing and made something that tasted like a banana!

Mock Banana

Parsnips (a root vegetable related to carrots)
Banana extract
Sugar to taste

Select young, fresh parsnips as they are more tender and taste sweeter. Peel the parsnips; leaving them whole and steam until tender; dry the parsnips. Slice the cooked parsnips and put into a bowl; thoroughly mash and add a few drops of the banana extract. Continue adding the banana extract to taste (but not too much); add sugar to taste then mash until smooth.

Serve on two slices of National Loaf bread for a nice banana sandwich!

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Yes, We Have No Bananas…or Oranges

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Imagine never having seen, or eaten, a banana? If you were a child born in the days of World War II in Britain, this would not have been uncommon. Imported fruits were hard to come by due to rationing; the unavailability of “exotic” fruits due to the wartime bombing of ships prevented these items arriving safely at their destination. When, and if, these fruits became available, there were long queues to get those priceless bananas and oranges.

Wartime-banana-sandwich

With the onset of rationing, oranges and bananas disappeared from the shops.Fresh oranges did occasionally arrive safely by ship from America — but they were rationed and restricted to children only.

wartimeoranges

 

The British government and the Ministry of Food were concerned that people, especially children, had essential quantities of basic foods to stay healthy, and that staying healthy was an important part of the war effort.
Doctors were regularly sent to schools to check the nutritional needs and general good health of children. Schools were supplied with Virol (formerly Virolax), a liquid laxative made from sweetened bone marrow, that was given weekly to children to “keep them regular.” Virol was eventually discontinued during the war as it was too costly to manufacture. Even in the days of rationing, poor children were guaranteed meals to keep healthy. To avoid the onset of scurvy and rickets, children under five were given doses of cod liver oil; those under three got daily portions of regular or instant dried milk, and the all important orange juice. Mothers were able to get bottles of cod liver oil and concentrated orange juice (both shipped to Britain by the United States) that were distributed at British Welfare Centers.

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RECIPE-Snoek Piquant

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Snoek Piquante

This wartime recipe calls for Snoek, but one can substitute using canned mackerel.

Ingredients:

  • 4 spring onions chopped (green onions)
  • Liquid from the can of Snoek
  • 4 Tablespoons of vinegar
  • ½ can of mashed Snoek
  • 2 teaspoons of golden syrup (or dark corn syrup)
  • salt and pepper

Directions: Cook onions in snoek liquor and vinegar for 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Serve cold with a salad.

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Tinned Snoek (Snook)

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Snoek
As rationing continued to get more strict as the war loomed on,  sources of protein became more rare. Meats, such as beef and pork, were rationed and allowable amounts were about 4 to 6 ounces per week, per person, but chicken and fish were not although difficult to get.  Fishing in Britain had become dangerous since there was the threat of bombing, even close to shore. The availability of cheap fish called snoek, or snook (a relative of the tuna and mackerel),  in South Africa allowed for eleven million cans of fish to be shipped to England; the government believed it to be the “savior of the fish problem” (Shephard, 329*). It did not catch on! Many people did not like the fish with the unusual and funny name and many remember it as being inedible, smelly, and foul-tasting. Most of the tinned Snoek remained firmly on the shop shelves. The Ministry of Defense issued recipes to make the fish palatable, but even that effort of  turning the salty fish into snoek paste, snoek sandwiches, and snoek piquant, did not prove popular.

The British government bought millions of tins of Snoek and with much of it left near the end of the war,  the unsold tins were given new labels and sold as food for cats and kittens! (Thomas, 35**)

Click the link for a recipe with tinned snoek:  Snoek Piquant

*Pickled, Potted, and Canned by Sue Shephard, Simon and Schuster, 2006

**Villains’ Paradise by Donald Thomas, Pegasus Books, 2006

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RECIPE-Potato Chocolate Spread

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This recipe was developed by the Ministry of Food, as they stated to the public: “As sugar, fats, jams and preserves are rationed, energy-giving foods available are limited. Therefore if we are to keep up our weight and health then non-rationed foods, potatoes and bread, must be eaten in larger quantities. Potatoes come first because they are home grown.”

Potato Chocolate Spread (sweet)

2 tablespoonfuls mashed potato

1 tablespoonful cocoa

1 tablespoonful sugar

Almond or vanilla flavouring

Method:  Mash the potato thoroughly, mix in the cocoa, sugar and flavouring. Use as a spread in place of jam.

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Eating Out During Wartime

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As strict as rationing came to be during the war, people still wanted to eat in a restaurant. Initially, restaurants were  exempt from rationing, but this was greatly resented by the populous, as wealthier people could supplement their meager food rations by eating out more frequently. By 1942, The Ministry of Food initiated new restrictions for restaurants:
1. Meals were limited to 3 courses

2. Only one dish could contain fish, beef, pork, game or chicken (or other poultry)

3. No meals could be served between 11 p.m. (midnight in London proper) and 5 a.m., unless one applied for a special license from the Ministry of Food

4. The maximum price of a meal in a private restaurant was 5 shillings (about $10 in 2014 US dollars), and there was an up-charge if entertainment was offered or one was staying in a luxury hotel, such as the Ritz

With the war in full swing, about 2100 establishments called “British Restaurants” were run by local groups or “authorities” in town buildings, schools, and church halls as these buildings tended to have kitchens and cafeterias. A plain three-course meal could be purchased for a minor cost (about $2 in 2014 US dollars),  and the good thing was that no ration coupons were required!  The British Restaurant grew out of “Community Feeding Centers,”  and mobile kitchen units that were created to feed people after an air raid, when people’s homes had been bombed and they were open to all. It was necessary to provide a good meal to office and industrial workers for the support of the war effort.

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RECIPE-Wartime Christmas Pudding

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wartimexmasheader

Food may have been rationed, but even in wartime  it would be unthinkable to have Christmas without a traditional Christmas Pudding! This recipe was created by the Ministry Food and published in one of the famous “leaflets.”

Christmas Pudding

2oz plain flour
½ level teaspoon baking powder
½ level teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon cinnamon
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
2-4 oz suet or fat
3oz sugar
½ – 1lb. mixed dried fruit
4 oz. breadcrumbs
1 oz. marmalade
2 eggs, fresh or dried
¼ pint rum, ale, stout or milk
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spice together. Add the sugar, fruit and breadcrumbs and grated suet or melted fat. Mix with the marmalade, eggs and rum, or other liquid. Mix very thoroughly. Put in a greased basin, 2 pt. (1 quart) size. Cover with greased paper and steam for 4 hours. Remove the paper and cover with a fresh piece and a clean cloth. Store in a cool place. Steam 2 to 3 hours before serving. The steaming is best done by standing the basin in a saucepan with water coming a third of the way up the sides of the basin. Keep the water boiling gently over a low heat. It may be necessary to add a little more water during cooking but be sure the water is boiling when added.

RECIPE-Parsley and Celery Stuffing

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Parsley and Celery Stuffing

Ingredients:

4 oz chopped celery

2 large onions finely chopped

4 level tablespoons parsley

4 oz stale breadcrumbs 

Salt and pepper

2 level teaspoons mixed herbs (I used Herbs de Provence)

1 oz melted dripping (2 tablespoons-I used bacon grease)

Hot water to mix

Mix all ingredients together adding sufficient hot water to give a soft consistency. Use for stuffing meat and poultry.

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The King’s Christmas Message, 1940

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KingQuuen

During the Blitz, Buckingham Palace and the grounds were struck on sixteen separate occasions, with nine being direct hits. Even the King and Queen were not immune to Hitler’s onslaught on London. On September 13th,  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were having tea at the Palace when a bombing occured; the royal couple escaped unscathed. Good wishes poured in from around the Empire thankful that the monarchs had not been hurt. After this particular attack, the Queen expressed,  “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.” The King’s Christmas Message of 1940 would prove to be particularly poignant.

“In days of peace the feast of Christmas is a time when we all gather together in our homes, young and old, to enjoy the happy festivity and good will which the Christmas message brings. It is, above all, children’s day, and I am sure that we shall all do our best to make it a happy one for them wherever they may be.

War brings, among other sorrows, the sadness of separation. There are many in the Forces away from their homes today because they must stand ready and alert to resist the invader should he dare to come, or because they are guarding the dark seas or pursuing the beaten foe in the Libyan Desert.

Many family circles are broken. Children from English homes are today in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. For not only has the manhood of the whole British Commonwealth rallied once more to the aid of the Mother Country in her hour of need, but the peoples of the Empire have eagerly thrown open the doors of their homes to our children so that they may be spared from the strain and danger of modern war.

And in the United States also, where we find so many generous loyal friends and organisations to give us unstinted help, warm-hearted people are keeping and caring for many of our children till the war is over.

But how many more children are there here who have been moved from their homes to safer quarters?

To all of them, at home and abroad, who are separated from their fathers and mothers, to their kind friends and hosts, and to all who love them, and to parents who will be lonely without them, from all in our dear island I wish every happiness that Christmas can bring. May the new year carry us towards victory and to happier Christmas days, when everyone will be at home together in the years to come.

To the older people here and throughout the worlds I would say – in the last Great War the flower of our youth was destroyed, and the rest of the people saw but little of the battle. This time we are all in the front line and the danger together, and I know that the older among us are proud that it should be so.

Remember this. If war brings its separations, it brings new unity also, the unity which comes from common perils and common sufferings willingly shared. To be good comrades and good neighbours in trouble is one of the finest opportunities of the civilian population, and by facing hardship and discomfort cheerfully and resolutely not only do they do their own duty, but they play their part in helping the fighting Services to win the war.

Time and again during these last few months I have seen for myself the battered towns and cities of England, and I have seen the British people facing their ordeal. I can say to them that they may be justly proud of their race and nation. On every side I have seen a new and splendid spirit of good fellowship springing up in adversity, a real desire to share burdens and resources alike. Out of all this suffering there is a growing harmony which we must carry forward into the days to come when we have endured to the end and ours is the victory.

Then, when Christmas Days are happy again, and good will has come back to the world, we must hold fast to the spirit which binds us together now. We shall need this spirit in each of our own lives as men and women, and shall need it even more among the nations of the world. We must go on thinking less about ourselves and more for one another, for so, and so only, can we hope to make the world a better place and life a worthier thing.

And now I wish you all a happy Christmas and a happier New Year. We may look forward to it with sober confidence. We have surmounted a grave crisis. We do not underrate the dangers and difficulties which confront us still, but we take courage and comfort from the successes which our fighting men and their Allies have won at heavy odds by land and air and sea.

The future will be hard, but our feet are planted on the path of victory, and with the help of God we shall make our way to justice and to peace.”