The Wartime Kitchen:
Living off Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day Two
Lord Woolton Pie
It’s day two in my Wartime Kitchen, and today I am turning my attention to vegetables, allotments and an enforced vegetarian diet. As you know from yesterday’s post, The Wartime Kitchen: Living off Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day One, rations were weighed heavily against animal products such as meat, eggs and milk, as well as sugar, fats, tea and jam; the population was encouraged to “Dig for Victory” and turn their gardens into allotments. Flowers were frowned on and vegetables were in, it was a simple strategy on the home-front for self sufficiency, as well as a drive for the population to be healthier – the emphasis on working outside and also providing food for the table. Even the Royal Family turned part of the gardens at Buckingham Palace into allotments to grow their own vegetables. Whilst we are on the topic, the Royal Family also had the same rations as everyone else, and had ration books issued, a little known fact. The Dig for Victory campaign proved very successful and was the start of the urban desire to be able to “own” (albeit on long-term loan), a piece of land where you could grow your own produce and provide for the family table. Many of the London allotments that still exist owe their existence to the Dig for Victory scheme during WW2.
The enforced vegetarian diet and lack of sugar, meat and fats made Britain a far healthier nation, maybe there is a lesson there for all of us in the 21st century, where portion sizes have become gargantuan and our diet is heavily dependent on fat, meat, sugar and processed food. One thing I have discovered already on day two of my ration book cooking, is that hearty and tasty meals can be made by bulking out the ingredients with vegetables, pulses and to some extent, bread. Which leads me rather nicely onto the most famous of wartime recipes, liked and loathed in equal measures, Lord Woolton Pie, or Woolton Pie as it was more commonly known as. The pie was an invention of Francis Latry, the Maitre Chef de Cuisine at the Savoy Hotel in London; it was one of a number of recipes commended to the British public by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War to enable a nutritional diet to be maintained despite shortages and rationing of many types of food, especially meat. The pie was then named after Lord Woolton, who became Minister of Food in 1940.
As I am trying to hang on to my cheese, meat, bacon and fat rations for a weekend of baking, as well as a special Sunday lunch, I decided to go vegetarian today and make a Woolton Pie, plus, there will be left-overs for supper, and as it is autumn, I have lots of root vegetables at my disposal, just as many WW2 housewives would have had in 1940 I imagine. Here is my menu for today, day two:
Daily Meal Plan for Tuesday 6th November:
Breakfast: Porridge made with half water and half powdered milk, and honey; two cups of tea with milk
Lunch: Woolton Pie with Potato Pastry and Savoy Cabbage
Tea: Nettle and Watercress Soup with one slice of bread
Yes! I BURNT my pie a little bit, as you can see by the photos! It was because the pastry was made with wholemeal flour as well as cold mashed potato with VERY little fat in the pastry, but, it was a surprisingly tasty pie. The recipe I used for this version of Woolton Pie, was from the Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten.
Recipe for Lord Woolton Pie:
1lb (450g) diced potatoes
1lb (450g) cauliflower – Not used as I didn’t have any
1lb (450g) diced carrots
1lb (450g) diced swede
3 spring onions
1 teaspoon vegetable extract
1 tablespoon oatmeal – I used 2 tablespoons
A little chopped parsley – I also added some fresh sage leaves
Cook everything together with just enough water to cover, stirring often to prevent it sticking to the pan. Let the mixture cool.
Spoon into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry. (I used wholemeal potato pastry – recipe below)
Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown.
Serve hot with gravy.
Recipe for Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry:
2 ozs (50g) white vegetable fat
8 ozs (225g) wholemeal flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
8 ozs (225g) cooked cold mashed potato
1 tablespoon milk
Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the salt and work this mixture into the mashed potato, adding the milk a little at a time.
Knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth and fairly soft. Roll out the pastry and use according to recipe.
(Use as required. This pastry is normally baked at 200 °C / 400 °F / Gas 6.)
The pie was actually very tasty and we both enjoyed our lunch – I served the pie with steamed savoy cabbage and as we had had porridge for breakfast, there was no need for any pudding. The soup I made for tea was a classic foraged vegetable and herb soup – Nettle and Watercress Soup (the recipe will follow later in the week as I made this twice!) – foraging was a benefit for those who lived in the countryside, and many a tasty meal was made with foraged mushrooms, fruit or herbs. As you can see from my preparation photos of my pie filling below, I used LOTS of parsley and sage in my pie, and I think that the key to success in wartime cooking was seasoning, as not to make the meals on offer too bland, which according to my parents was the downside of the wartime diet. The pastry was delicious, but slightly over-cooked, but the addition of cold mashed potato meant I could use less fat, which of course is rationed.
And now on to my rations, and what I have left for the week, as I made all my meals today with foraged herbs and vegetables and used no meat, eggs or cheese, and only a little milk and fat, I have quite a healthy amount of rationed ingredients left – and I wonder if housewives during the war might had done the same thing, been very frugal at the beginning of the week and then blow the rations at the weekend? Although I suspect it was all about what you could buy on daily basis…….and how bad the queues were…….
WW2 Rations 1940: Two Adults
Butter: 3 3/4 ozs (90g) –
Bacon or ham: 200g (8oz)
Margarine: 6 1/2 ozs (160g)
* Cooking fat/lard:
200g (8oz) Used 20zs (50g) – 60zs (150g) left
Sugar: 14 1/2 ozs (440g)
Meat: To the value of 2/4d – about 2lb (900g)
5 1/2 pints (3300mls) – Used 1/2 pint (300mls) – 5 pints (3000mls) left
Cheese: 8oz (200g)
Eggs: 2 fresh egg a week – NOT taking this ration up as I have my own chickens
3 1/2 ozs (85g) – Used 1/2 oz (15g) – 30zs (70g) left
Jam: 900g (2lb) every two months. 120g (41/2 ozs) left
Dried eggs: 1 packet (12 eggs) every four weeks
Sweets & Chocolate: 700g (1lb 8oz) every four weeks
That’s it for today, I hope you have enjoyed my vegetarian wartime menu today, please check back tomorrow for day three, and my black market activities with EGGS! Karen