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Category Archives: Food

Pennsylvania 65000, The Menu, and Postum

Today while googling doing serious research I came across the The New York City Library website.  The Library has collected more than 40,000 restaurant menus dating from 1851 and have digitized them. They are now available on the library’s website for all to enjoy, including this 1942 menus from the Pennsylvania Railroad –

vintage 1940s menu 

Note the mention of rationing under beverages, and also the term “Postum.” I had to look it up On Wikipedia –

Postum is a powdered roasted-grain beverage once popular as a coffee substitute. The caffeine-free beverage was created by Postum Cereal Company founder C. W. Post in 1895 and marketed as a healthful alternative to coffee.

The “instant” drink mix version was developed in 1912, replacing the original brewed beverage.[2] Postum is made from roasted wheat bran, wheat and molasses. This 10‑calorie beverage is caffeine-free, fat-free, trans-fat-free, sodium-free, and kosher.

Although the Postum Cereal Company explicitly stated in its advertising that Postum did not taste like coffee and was not a coffee substitute, the drink enjoyed an enormous rise in sales and popularity in the US during World War II when coffee was rationed and people sought a replacement.

Aha!

There are more wartime menus on the website, but I picked this one as it reminded me of that great 1940 swing song “Pennsylvania 6-5000” recorded by Glen Miller and also the Andrew Sisters (which you can listen to here). 

  

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Articles from March 1942

Oh joy, the new scanner has arrived. Unfortunately I am still learning it’s secrets, but at least its a start. I can finally start sharing some images from 1940’s magazines loaned to me by a wonderful reader. First this Magazine from March 1942 –

cover womans day magazine march 1942

What a sweet cover I can’t seem to find detail of it in the magazine, but she looks as if she has just had some bad news….

One of my favourite ads in this magazine is this one of Olviia de Havilland – love that hairstyle!

olivia de haviland cola ad 1940s 1942

I’ll share more ads on the tumblr blog and try and scan a few interesting articles for next time.

Australia’s First Wartime Christmas 

 December 1939 saw the first Christmas of WWII, and in Australia the day also marked the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Prime Minister Menzies and his wife. The Menzies always tried “to have a completely English Christmas Dinner,” a mentally shared by many Autralians at the time – which explains why Australia entered WWII so quickly.

  

This little snippet from the same issue of the magazine shows how some women were feeling at the time.
 

A Delicious Christmas Dinner, 1939

Last night I watched  “Sarah Beenys Christmas at Rise Hall” on iview, which looks at how some of our Christmas traditions have come into being – such as Christmas pudding and carolling. They dress up for each period, including WWII, and eat a menu that would have been eaten at their (grand) home at the time. It’s well worth watching, but if you would like a menu a little more suited to the common person, here is one from Christmas 1939.
  

In Australia it’s so hot at Christmas that I usually make ice cream plum pudding, or even jelly. What’s more Christmassy than jelly?!
 

You may also like this menu from 1943, or this one.

Cooking from scratch – Gnocchi

My husband came home with this the other day.

  
What to do with a kilo of ricotta? Make pasta of course!

I found this great tutorial on making ricotta gnocchi on Grow a Good Life.com. It was a super easy recipe and I had all of the ingredients, although I substituted wholemeal flour for white, like a good wartime housewife! 

Slicing the gnocchi dough

 

This amount fed four adults for lunch. I made a simple sauce of garlic fried in olive oil,with two mashed in anchovies and a splash of lemon juice. Devine!

Wholemeal ricotta gnocchi garlic and oil

Wholemeal ricotta gnocchi garlic and oil

Pasta didn’t really make it to Australia until after the war, with the immigration of Italians in the 1950s (the time when my own Dutch grandparents immigrated). The first recipe I have found for gnocchi in a magazine is in 1959 – for potato gnocchi. I have included the whole article because it’s interesting –

 

Pasta recipes from 1959

Pasta recipes from 1959

 
With the other half kilo of ricotta I made a cake. I found a recipe on Bon apetite.com  which seemed simple enough. I just substituted blueberries for the raspberries 
Blueberry ricotta cake

Blueberry ricotta cake

 The cake was very popular with the kids after school, and I managed to save some for lunches the next day.

Have you made gnocchi? If not, give it a try!

A Traditional Welsh Loaf

A Traditional Welsh Loaf

I was watching the 2007 BBC Show ‘Coal House” recently, where three families live in 1927 conditions for three weeks. The women kept referring to the ‘Bara Brith’ they had made, which looked like a cake, so I decided to find a recipe and make some. This traditional welsh recipie is from Visit Wales.com.

“Bara Brith translates to ‘speckled bread’ and is a rich fruit loaf made with tea. Produced all over Wales the spiced fruit loaf is delicious when spread with salted Welsh butter.”

Recipe for Bara Brith:

  • 450G/1lb self raising flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 175g/6oz Muscavado sugar
  • 1 medium size free-range egg
  • 1tbsp orange zest
  • 2tbsp orange juice
  • 1tbsp honey( or Replace the honey and fruit juice with 2 tablespoons of marmalade)
  • 300ml/½pt tea (or substitute ¼ of the fluid with a whisky liqueur)
  • 450g/1lb mixed, dried fruit
  • Extra honey for glazing

The day before

Put the mixed dried fruit into a mixing bowl, pour over the tea, cover and leave to soak overnight. 

The next day 

  1. preheat the oven to gas3/160c/325f 
  2. mix together the sugar, egg, orange juice, zest and honey, add to the fruit.
  3.  Sift in the flour and spice, and mix well. Pour the mixture into a buttered loaf tin, 1.2L/2pt.
  4. Bake for about 1¾ hours. The loaf should be golden in colour and firm to the touch in the middle. 
  5. Baste with honey whilst still warm. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in a cake tin.

 

mixing the Bara Brith

  

Hurry up and take the photo Mum so we can eat it!

 
We had had about half the cake for afternoon tea – the kids loved it, despite the sultanas, which they usually hate (apparently the soaking made the difference), and the touch of ginger that was in the 2 spoons of marmalade. I didn’t even have time to glaze it!

Here is another recipie you might like to try –

Barra Birth recipefrom The Australian Women's Weekly, April 1961

from The Australian Women’s Weekly, April 1961

A Christmas Menu & Birthday Dinner with Roast Duck

A Christmas Menu & Birthday Dinner with Roast Duck

Its was my birthday yesterday, and after a very unration like lunch of smoked salmon omelettes with unexpected (but very welcome) visitors, I cooked a duck for dinner.

I was inspired by this menu plan from 1935 when duck was very popular, and the main dish at most Christmas dinners.

  

Those directions for cooking the duck are so precise!

Then I found this recipe from 1933.  
 

1933 recipe for roast duck

1933 recipe for roast duck

 
It sounded way to complicated (and I used a supermarket duck not one from my small breeding flock) so I decided to stuff it with the raisin stuffing then cook it just like my slow roasted lamb – scored and seasoned for about 4 hours at 150*c/300*F. I turned the oven up for another 30 minutes to brown the skin and make it crispy, as I do with pork.

The oysters were local and fresh (and the biggest I have ever seen) so I simply served them in their shells with lime slices, and one prawn because everyone wanted one. 

Giant Aussie oysters,  prawn and lime wedges make a simple first course!

Giant Aussie oysters, prawn and lime wedges make a simple first course!

 

Orange salad seems to be the thing traditionally served with roast duck, and I found this simple recipe from 1940 – 

1940 recipe for orange salad to accompany roast duck

1940 recipe for orange salad to accompany roast duck

  
Slow roasted crispy skin duck with roast potaoatoes aand orange sallad

Slow roasted crispy skin duck with roast potaoatoes aand orange sallad

 

As I don’t have a maid, as I probably would have in prewar 1935, we skipped the soup course, and  lovely Miss 14 made chocolate mousse for dessert, with real cream and dark chocolate instead of the Xmas pudding.
Everyone would like a repeat of the meal for Christmas, although I have warned my husband that we will not be eating our own duck this year… May be in 2016. 

Fomaily dinner with grandmas crocheted table cloth and vintage dinnerset

 

Living with wartime rationing – the after thoughts

So if you have followed our one week rationing journey you will have seen that we did pretty well eating on rations.  We didn’t starve, we ate healthy, and I actually lost about 1/2kg. It has inspired me to continue eating the wartime way.

But it was only for one week. I had a store of food in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, chickens in the backyard and some fruit and veg growing In the garden. What I didn’t have, as wartime women would have experienced, was the following – 

  • Blackouts and restrictions that went with that;
  • War work, different work to my normal routine that could have involved travelling a long way;
  • Shortages, such as paper, toilet paper, food, fuel and queuing;
  • An outside toilet;
  • Carrying a gas mask;
  • Extra child evacuees, to look after and feed;
  • Fear – of bombings, air raids, gas attack, invasion or death of a loved one.

 

1940ss tips to conquer fear

1940ss tips to conquer fear

  
What I did have that makes modern life so much easier –

  • A washing machine
  • Hot running water
  • An inside bathroom  and toilet
  • A fridge and freezer
  • An electric stove and oven
  • A car and fuel to run it
  • A husband at home
  • Children at home, who are (reasonably) safe
  • Easy communication with phone and email
  • Instant access to recipes and books online
  • Television
  • A coffee machine

What we did before delonghi

Now I don’t want to give up all of my mod cons, but I am happy to go back to wartime food. It was cheap, filling and basic, and it was healthy. Sometimes I felt I used too much fat, but there were no hidden fats in war time cooking – any fat we ate was honest , as was the sugar. I knew what was in every morsel. There were no suspect food additives that I couldn’t pronounce – my bread, unlike supermarket bread, or McDonalds bread, contained flour, yeast, oil, orange juice, salt and water, my roast potatoes just potatoes and dripping and my eggs were from my own wheat and bug fed chickens! And although we did eat some nitrates ( the suddenly newest baddest carcinogen) in our bacon, the amount of bacon we ate was small compared to the modern standard diet.

I now want to make even more from scratch. Like making butter from cream, yoghurt and cheese from milk and growing more of our own (pesticide free) vegetables. I spent the morning putting up a new fence for the poultry and extending my vegetable growing area, and in the cool of the afternoon I planted seedlings that I had grown.

The ducks and chooks in their new enclosure, under the coffeebush and mango tree

The ducks and chooks in their new enclosure, under the coffeebush and mango tree. The black hose comes from the washing machine and waters the bananas

 
Back in my 20s, prekids but wanting to make the planet better before having any, I was an Eco- greenie- vegetarian warrior. Somewhere over the last twenty years I’ve become a middle aged-too busy-have money can buy guzzler. That’s about to change! I hope you’ll follow the journey, as well as stay around for more history and wartime bits and pieces.

Living with Wartime Rations – Day 7

We’ve reached the last day of our war ration experiment! 

I think it has really made us appreciate meat and dairy foods in particular. As we’ve seen, British wartime meat rations were much smaller than the Australian version, about 1/2lb a week compared to 2 1/2lb, and if we had been in the UK I definitely would have kept backyard rabbits and chickens, and been part of a pig club.

  
People in towns had kept backyard pigs for hundreds of years, but in the spirit of wartime ratioing, the government encouraged groups of people to form clubs, to buy, feed and look after pigs. The pigs were fed mostly with scraps from homes, cafés, bakeries, and anything edible that came to hand.  Clubs were also allowed to legally purchase small rations of feed or corn.

Pigs, and dairy goats, are definatley on my ‘one day” list!

After a bowl of rebated brown rice, with 1 teaspoon of sugar and coconut milk ( the girls used the last of our milk in lasts night pudding) I dropped the kids to school and popped into the supermarket for milk and cream. With my new wartime woman focused eyes, I also grabbed enough meat for seven meals, and some yoghurt –

Yhe benefit of supermarkets is the specials!

  
All for under $30!

 
My grandmothers would be proud! As a special treat I cooked my husband the lambs fry for lunch, (baked liver, from 1940, below) as the kids would have to be starving to eat it. I have only cooked it once before, and that put me off, but this recipe says to soak it in water for half an hour first, which does make it much more like normal meat and easier to deal with.

1940s recipes including baked liver

1940s recipes including baked liver

 
  
I let the bacon get a little too crispy, but I was baking bread at the same time. It was surprisingly good, and fantastic for under $2! The cats loved the raw and cooked liver too, so I will be buying more for pet food too.  I hope the kids enjoyed their tomato sandwiches today! 
Baked liver with bacon and apple. served with coleslaw and a slice of national loaf

Baked liver with bacon and apple. served with coleslaw and a slice of national loaf

 
Instead of another mince meal for dinner, I decided on fish, the traditional Friday food, and not rationed.Last time I used frozen white fish fillets they were tough, so it seemed sense to make a stew from them. I found this recipie for fish curry from another Ministry of Food Leaflet (about using leftovers). 
 
wartime ministry of food recipe for fish curry

wartime ministry of food recipe for fish curry

     
Not quite the type of curry we are used to but not bad, although the sultanas were something new in a curry for the kids. Instead of salad I added cabbage to the curry.

 

Wartime Fish curry with sultanas

Wartime Fish curry with sultanas

 
Let’s see how we did. Remember the rations for one week for one adult?

  • · Bacon & Ham 4 oz/113 grams 
  • · Meat to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence (around about 1/2 lb/227gm minced beef, in Australia it was 2 1/4 lb from January 1944 to 1948 and fish, rabbit, poultry and organ meat were not rationed)
  • · Butter 2 oz/ 57 grams (Australians got 1/2 lb from June 1943 to 1950)
  • · Cheese 2 oz/ 57 grams 
  • · Margarine 4 oz/113 grams 
  • · Cooking fat 4 oz/113 grams 
  • · Milk 3 pints/1.7 litres 
  • · Sugar 8 oz/227g (1 lb week in Australia from August 1942)
  • · Preserves/Jam 1 lb every 2 months/ one 230gm jar a month 
  • · Tea 2 oz// 57 grams (1/2 lb per 5 weeks in Australia from July 1942)
  • · Eggs 1 fresh egg per week 
  • · Sweets/Candy 12 oz/340g every 4 weeks 

For five of  us we used – 

  • Bacon – 5 rashers Sunday, 5 rashers Thursday, 2 today, total 12 oz UNDER!
  • Meat – 500gm kangaroo (unrationed),  2kg/4 lb lamb shoulder, 500gm/1 lb mince SLIGHTLY OVER FOR UK, UNDER FOR AUSTRALIA
  • Butter – 250gm/8oz UNDER but only because we ran out, would have used more
  • Cheese – under 1 1/2 cups grated from a block, and a few slices, about  250gm/9 oz UNDER
  • Margarine – we used olive oil, about 2 cups
  • Cooking fat – only dripping that we collected from the roast, and we still have a cup left
  • Milk – grownups about 1 glass a day and kids 2-3 cups each – would have used our full rations SAME
  • Sugar – Started with one 1kg bag and have 280 gm left so used 720gm/ 25 oz so far UNDER the 40oz allowed, although we did use about 100 ml of maple/golden syrup as well.
  • Preserves – used almost 1/3 a jar of Jan
  • Tea – about 10 teaspoons at 1 Gm per spoon UNDER but about 250 Gm coffee
  • Eggs – 6, and always in something not as a meal, and we have chooks laying two eggs a day EQUAL
  • Sweets – two one hundred Gm blocks 70% cocoa chocolate, And the kids had about 100gm starburst, so UNDER

To be honest we did have a bottle of wine and a few beers too, but I think we did pretty well. We certainly ate a lot more salad than usual, even the kids, and we used a lot less meat, butter and cheese than usual. 

I think with keeping our own ducks and chickens we could even keep our dog and cats fed, as they get mainly leftovers and unrationed meat. On the outbreak of war, 750,000 pets were slaughtered in Britain in one week, as a patriotic, and slightly misguided, action encouraged by the government. You can read more here.

Our Muscovy ducks enjoying their favourite food, lettuce

Our Muscovy ducks enjoying their favourite food

 
Thanks for joining us on our ratioing experiment. I hope it’s encouraged you to try some new, or old, foods and recipes, and to think a bit about being prepared. For what the future may bring.  I’ll share some more thoughts about what our experiment has meant, and how it’s changed us a little, soon.

Living on Wartime Rations – Day 6

  This ad is from 1940 –

Rice bubble ad from 1940

Rice bubble ad from 1940

Like any good mother whose daughter doesn’t want to eat her porridge, I succumbed to the advertising and bought rice bubbles.

The breakfast that entertains

 
Happier children you have not seen! They all had big bowlfuls, without sugar, and sang the jingle all through breakfast. We grownups still had our porridge though, and I saved a bowl for Mr Ten to have after school, as it stops him raiding the pantry and fridge (not that there is much to raid at present). The rest I added to my bread mix, which made the usual loaf.The bread was too warm to cut thinly, so we had tickly sliced open sandwiches with cucumber soaked in a little sugar and vinegar.

Cucumber sandwiches and fruit for lunch

 
While the oven was on I decided to make biscuits, with almost the last of the butter. What more fitting for this week than Anzacs?

the Miniistry of Food's recipe for  Anzac Biscuits

the Miniistry of Food’s recipe for Anzac Biscuits

 
This is the strangest Anzac biscuit recipie I have ever made – they really need more syrup, as they are crumbly and didn’t spread out in the oven.

 
I had three red peppers in the fridge that needed using, so I made peppers stuffed with rice and bacon for dinner. We have only used five rashers of our bacon so far, which is a third of our allowance for the week, so I used another five, and one Ionian and some herbs.  I also placed a slice of cheese on top, as we have used less than half our cheese allowance so far. 

Rice stffed red peppers, more popular than Woolton Oie!

 

As dinner was flour free, I thought we’d have “pudding.” The girls decided they would make it, instead of doing the dishes. They decided on a self saucing chocolate pudding, but Miss Ten got a little confused and mixed the sauce in. She also put cocoa and sugar in the cream be use it was past its use by and “tasted funny.” I explained there were no such things as use by dates during g the war, and many people didn’t have fridges – lots of things, including meat, would have tasted funny.

To be honest they used a modern recipe from Taste.com, but it did use almost wartime amounts, such as 1/2 cup sugar. Our butter ration is finished so they used oil, which we have been using instead of our margarine ration.  It was delicious.

Chocolate self saucing pudding

Chocolate self saucing pudding

 
I read today that our local mayor is in trouble as she delayed the (now one instead of the original two) minute silence at the Remembrance Day service while she gave a speech – by 26 minutes! It’s made the national news now..what do you think of her actions? I’m giving a whole week to rememberkng them, so I am a little cross!

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