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Friday, 12 September 2014

Family Recipe Friday - Wartime Recipes

What were your ancestors eating in Britain during the Second World War?  How do these dishes appeal? 
  • Economy Omelet - made with dried egg. 
  • Herring Sandwich 
  • Savoury Bread Pudding - made with bread, suet and oatmeal 
  • Savoury oatmeal pancakes - made with thick cold porridge. 
  • Sago Jelly 
  • Semolina Cake 

These dishes are among recipes that feature in a little booklet published during the Second World War  by the Women's Guild in the village  of Earlston in the Scottish Borders.  (Ercildoune in the title was the old name for the village).

Treats were not forgotten, with many biscuit recipes - ginger and oatmeal were favoruites  and a "Wartime Shortie"

"Work 1 dessertspoonful of sugar into 4 ounces of margarine.  Add 1 cupful of flour and work in half a cupful of custard powder.  Roll our thinly and cut into rounds.  Bake in a slow over!

Puddings seemed to require 3-4 hours of boiling/steaming and the prospect of a "Flourless Plum Pudding" was less appealing when I saw it was made with 3 tablespoons of tapioca.  

One recommended tip for prunes advised   "No cooking or sugar required if they are soaked in water with a clove for two days."  

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/b0/47/02/b0470242c016eea37b5298d8b579ebf5.jpgOne ingredient predominated in the recipes - dried egg.  Imported from the USA, it was  the  government response  to a wartime shortage of fresh eggs. which were rationed in June 1942.   Dried eggs were  easily transported and were "non perishable". But they were universally hated, mainly due to not being reconstituted correctly.

Sample 1943 rations of basics for a week for 1 person:
3 pints of milk
3 1/4Ib - 1Ib meat
1 egg a week or 1 packet of dried eggs (equal to 12) every 2 months
3 to 4 oz cheese
4 oz combined of bacon or ham
2 oz tea, loose leaf
8 oz sugar
2 oz butter
2 oz cooking fat

The Earlston booklet had an introduction by the BBC "Radio Doctor"  - Dr. Charles Hill who during the Second World War gave advice in a daily broadcast  from the Ministry of Food called "Kitchen Front".  His distinctive voice with his frankness & down to earth approach made him hugely popular.

Chapters also featured  on diet, child welfare, first aid, fresh air, care of the teeth, feet and hair. 

In the  First Aid section, along  with the standard ailments of burns & scalds, shock, stings, bleeding nose, was something that perhaps reflected the rural life of the readers; 

For  "Lime in the Eye" - bathe the eye with a weak solution of vinegar and water  (eight parts water to one vinegar),  Try to remove the lime with the corner of a handkerchief. 
Put a drop  or two of caster oil into the eye.

A Handy Hint advised  " Keep potato peelings, for after being  dried in the oven, they are useful for lighting fires instead of wood."

And not forgetting livestock - there was a recipe for  making "wet mash for domestic poultry".

The booklet is in the  collection of "Auld Earlston" - the local historical society and is an example of the fascinating little local publications which can can be unearthed and add so much colour to writing about the lives of our ancestors. 

Family Recipe Friday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers that encourage bloggers to write about their ancestors and their lives.


  1. I'm so grateful to have such an abundance and variety of fresh food at hand.

    1. How I agree when you read of the diet our parents and grandparents had to endure in those war years. Thank you for taking time to comment.


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