rushthatspeaks: (Default)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
This is a lot of the Daily Telegraph's World War II-era recipes, collected and organized. As a result, it's an interesting look at wartime British cookery and the way that recipes adapted to rationing, and probably not at this point in time to be used as an actual cookbook.

One thing that I note is that some ingredients that were evidently common are not, in fact, common to me. This may be an across-the-ocean thing as opposed to time period, I'm not sure; but fresh redcurrants are both seasonal and very expensive anywhere I've lived, fresh damsons unheard of (damson jam is mad expensive too), fresh loganberries right out; and apparently rabbit was a cheap meat. Oh, and suet. I have cooked with suet precisely once in my life, this time that [personal profile] eredien and I were using a pudding mold she had, and it had to be special-ordered. It is so assumed in this book that one knows how to make a suet crust that they do not bother with a recipe. And I think we have sultanas in this country under the name 'golden raisins' but they are not remotely standard.

On the other hand, of course a great many ingredients were incredibly scarce, and I was interested to notice which ones: dairy, certainly, most dairy, these recipes invariably use margarine and dry milk and something called 'household milk' which seems to be liquid but is distinguished from fresh, and there are many more uses for sour milk than one usually sees in a cookbook. Cheese seemed fairly plentiful, though, it's a staple here. Eggs-- everything here is with reconstituted dried egg. There's a section on how to make most egg dishes with dry ones, including how to fake hard-boiled egg for the center of a Scotch egg, how to fake scrambled eggs (with a helpful note that scrambled eggs are President Roosevelt's favorite food), how to do Yorkshire pudding with dried egg and dry milk. Many cuts of meat seem to have been prohibitively expensive, so they recommend you pot-roast everything, and make a Sunday joint by rolling a flatter piece jelly-roll style and stuffing it with forcemeat. Much fruit seems to have been around, except for some reason lemons, which were so dear that there's a recipe here for lemon curd using margarine, dried eggs, saccharine tablets and pounded lemonade drink mix powder.

There's also a fake marzipan made of almond flavoring and soybean flour, which actually doesn't sound that bad to me.

Many of the recipes here don't sound that bad, in fact. I cannot approve of boiling celery for an hour, and I have never been of the put-white-sauce-on-it-dot-with-breadcrumbs school, but the sausage pies and jugged hare and things with mutton and the things with beetroot and the salads are all completely sane, and the curries are mostly built the way I was taught to build curry, from the bottom up starting with the onion. (Mind you, I was also taught that premixed curry powder is Satanic, but that's the major difference.)

And you get things like

Herring the Great Yarmouth Way

herring, salt, pepper, margarine, two slices of bread

Scale herring, remove head and tail, open flat, clean, take bones out. Dust slightly with fine salt and pepper.
Spread slices of bread well with margarine, put herring between. Place in hot oven, bake till well browned. Serve very hot.
This is the way my mother some 70 years ago at Great Yarmouth prepared the "long-shore" herring for breakfast or supper.-- A. Hawes, Middlesex

which if we estimate this as being printed about 1940 makes this a solidly 1870s recipe, which I believe entirely, and also it sounds pretty good to me. (Margarine would not make the bread soggy. Butter would.)

So there are things in here I would consider cooking.

On the other hand, there is the chapter titled 'Potato Fare Savoury and Sweet'. The goal is to use potatoes in place of flour wherever possible, to add bulk and make things cheaper. So you get the potato bread (all right) and the potato rolls (just fine) and the potato pancake (still okay) and the potato fruitcake (uh...) and the potato steamed pudding (...uh) and the potato-jam tart with junket (NO) and the potato 'cheesecake' (ouch) and the potato-- okay, here's the piece de resistance, which, indeed, I resist:

Chocolate Truffles

No cooking is needed for these simple party cakes.

4 tablespoons mashed potato, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, almond or vanilla flavouring

Mash potato thoroughly, mix in cocoa powder, sugar and flavouring to taste. Work into stiff paste, mould in balls. Roll in cocoa powder till thoroughly coated, then in chocolate vermicelli if obtainable. Officially recommended.

... if anybody feels like making these, do let me know how they turn out.

(My wife is currently insisting that we ought to, like, right now. She had a long day. My response to this is that I don't think we have any cocoa powder of a non-gourmet grade, and also, no. [personal profile] weirdquark thinks we should have a war dinner and cook entirely out of the book. I am not certain it would be worth tracking down dried eggs for, as then we would have dried eggs. But I am cheerful to make my family celery cheese as it will probably serve them right for something-or-other eventually.)

(Mind you, [personal profile] weirdquark and I just spent an interesting few minutes googling and apparently mashed potato candy is a real thing. There seem to be two major variations, one with peanut butter and one with coconut, and one recipe claims to be Amish, so it has a chance of being Actual Food. But nobody does them in chocolate.)

All in all, an interesting experience to read, about an interesting time in cookery. (There isn't a recipe for it here, but this is about the time that carrot cake was invented.) It's a very gung-ho do-it-yourself everything-will-be-fine cheery sort of book, with a surprising number of references to various allied countries and a tendency to slap 'American' on the front of recipes which aren't. There's something called Ohio pudding-- I am from Ohio-- we have never done that to carrots. So yeah, recommended. I alternately want to cook out of it and run away screaming.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:20 am (UTC)
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
I just boggled that you don't have sultanas. Everything else, I could grok. I know that rabbit is eaten lots of places, but not here; and I think we can get suet easily enough but I don't use it for anything myself so I can cheerfully imagine a country without suet. But a country without sultanas?

(Okay, I know that's not exactly what you said. But... sultanas!)

(Aside from the different colour, they're softer and juicier than raisins; I far prefer them.)

I may actually try those chocolate truffles, though I do feel it's a bit of a cheat for them to say, "No cooking needed. Start by cooking mashed potato." But I expect they were expecting the cook to have piles of leftover mashed potato. Anyway, the eye-bogglingness of that recipe reminds me of a recipe for fruitcake that involves chocolate milk, fruitmix, and self-raising flour, which likewise sounded like it shouldn't work and yet it did. So, if/when I can get around to making mashed potato, I'll report back.

Date: 2010-11-12 08:09 am (UTC)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
Sultanas work well in sweet muffins, or scones (which may or may not be what you call biscuits?) -- or for that matter biscuits (being what you call cookies) as long as they're not overcooked which might burn the sultanas, and burnt sultanas are sad things.

But anyway, about those truffles.

First I boiled some potato without salt, then I drained and mashed it while it was still hot. I decided to forgo the milk and butter that I usually add to mashed potato on account of there being a war on. When I mixed in the cocoa powder and the sugar and a bit of vanilla essence it seemed quite moist enough anyway.

Then I tasted a bit and decided I'd try adding in some shavings of butter anyway. (The mixture was still warm enough that it melted in quite nicely.) Unfortunately this didn't help much.

They're not terrible exactly. You could easily take another one to be polite to your hostess, though if there were something else on the table you would feel the sacrifice. But if you hadn't had chocolate or sugar for a while, there being a war on, they'd probably be quite a treat.

It's just that the texture is remarkably like that of mashed potato.

Possibly more butter and/or milk might have rescued them? But I fear this may be wishful thinking. I'm a great fan of recipes that shouldn't work and yet do, but I think this one has to be filed under recipes that shouldn't work and sure enough don't.

Date: 2010-11-13 12:20 am (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
...Though actually, after they've sat in the fridge overnight, they kind of grow on you. Maybe all they need is chopped nuts and sultanas/raisins mixed in to distract a bit from the texture.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:51 am (UTC)
fulselden: Iroh slurping noodles. (Cold soba.)
From: [personal profile] fulselden
Yep, bogglement here too on the sultana front! On the Brit-food front, damsons are pretty much free by definition, in my experience - I don't think they're ever grown commercially. Though I suspect damson jam is wildly overpriced when (if?) it's actually sold in shops. My mother has sour childhood memories of ubiquitous rabbit - she grew up to be a muesli-munching hippy vegetarian.

I'm actually surprised the curries look edible - I had a feeling British attempts at curry used to revolve around gloopiness and chunks of, say, apple. But perhaps I have been maligning past Brits.

The herring recipe though is very satisfying, both as a historical artefact and on its own merits.

Date: 2010-11-11 01:18 pm (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu
Mom had a Scottish friend visit her a couple of years ago and, during their Quest to make something-or-other (probably not haggis), the universal reaction to their looking for suet was, "The stuff you leave out for the birds?!"

Date: 2010-11-11 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oddly, I know precisely where to find suet in my home town. My mother used to soften it and mix it with birdseed for a solid birdfeeder in the fall. Dried eggs, not to much.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ditto. Suet is synonymous with birdseed in my lexicon, as in something one puts in an outdoor bird feeder. We always had some.

Date: 2010-11-11 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've thought about buying bird suet for cooking, but I'm not one hundred percent sure they haven't done anything weird to it.

Date: 2010-11-11 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The place we always went to get it just had it labeled as suet. It was just the most convenient stuff to get, but then the place that sells it is this huge grocery store sized butcher shop in my city.

Date: 2010-11-11 05:32 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
(There isn't a recipe for it here, but this is about the time that carrot cake was invented.)

Do you know if carrot cake ever was officially invented (recommended by the Ministry of Food etc.), or did it just parallel-evolve from a bunch of households looking at their victory gardens and thinking, "All right, if we use this much sugar . . . ?"

I would totally eat Great Yarmouth Herring.

Those truffles scare me.

Date: 2010-11-11 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Desultory googling does not tell me.

I would also totally eat Great Yarmouth herring.

Date: 2010-11-11 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Red currents are much more common in the UK and northern continental Europe. And Canada. I got addicted to them when I lived in Bruxelles, and am always on the lookout for them around here. They are my single favoritist fruit.

I assume suet crust is just like a pie crust but with suet instead of butter/shortening/lard?

Date: 2010-11-11 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love redcurrants and try to pick them up at farmer's markets when I see them, which is usually for only like two weeks.

I assume a suet crust is a pie crust but the book does not actually give much information on it.

Date: 2010-11-11 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am terrified of your potato bon-bons.... Maaaaaake them!

Date: 2010-11-11 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The potato chocolate truffles sound both awful and potentially good. If I make them, I'll let you know how it went. After all, I'm just getting accustomed to the idea of beans as part of a sweet filling in Japanese food, so potato-based bon-bons aren't much more of a stretch for me right now.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've seen other recipes for so-called potato candy which is both made from and look like little potatoes. Sort of an uncooked fondant sort of deal. I'm pretty sure they were at least rolled in cocoa powder.

I also recall a recipe from an American cookbook of a similar era for carrot candy. Ingredients are carrots and sugar, boiled. That cookbook also has lots of butter substitutes, using top milk, vegetable oil and gelatine.

Could the lack of lemons be for saving them for the navy to ward off scurvy?

Date: 2010-11-11 07:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the bigger problem with lemons is that they don't grow in England (at least, I am fairly certain of this). They're much more of a southern Europe thing.

Date: 2010-11-11 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You could grow them in a carefully kept greenhouse if you really wanted to, but yeah, not really a staple at that latitude. I've been meaning to get a kaffir lime tree to keep in a pot in the pantry, since it would thrive at indoor temperatures and I wouldn't have to get it to fruit.

Date: 2010-11-11 02:42 pm (UTC)
chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)
From: [personal profile] chomiji

Actually, carrot candy was apparently a Jewish tradition for Passover in many communities.

Date: 2010-11-11 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah it's in the Passover section of my grandmother's Jewish cookbook that I love to read. Not in any more recent Jewish cookbooks I've seen. Trying to decide if someday I want to peel that massive amount of carrots and try it out, or if the recipe could be scaled down to a carrot or two without loosing critical mass to set up correctly.

Date: 2010-11-11 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've got a recipe somewhere from Madhur Jaffrey for an Indian carrot sweet kind of resembling halvah, which involves carrots and cream simmered down for hours and hours, and no extra sugar at all. I've considered trying it but it really literally is hours and hours, she says in the recipe 'take one good book'.

Apparently one of [ profile] weirdquark's coworkers has a recipe for potato candy which uses instant mashed potatoes, which kind of terrifies me. None of the online potato candy recipes I've found use cocoa powder in any way, though.

Date: 2010-11-11 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It sounds like we need to all pick a day sometime and make different carrot candies together while posting online updates to encourage one another. I'd have to figure out the carbohydrate exchanges first. . .

If you google Irish Potato Candy, you'll find a whole lot of recipes that are formed into potato shapes and then rolled in either cinamon, cocoa powder or a combination of both.

Date: 2010-11-11 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have read wartime reminiscences about lemons, and the loveliest ways to use a precious parcel of them. Half the joy is in imagination. Oooh, lemon curd. And save the rind for stuffing that black-market chicken. But wait. Hot toddies? One jar of marmalade?

I have a three-and-sixpenny Penguin Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katharine Whitehorn (originally published 1961, on the cusp of sophistication). It has the same odd perspective to my new-world eyes: it takes rabbits and rhubarb and mackerel and soft roes for granted, and has to explain "pimentoes" (sweet peppers) and "yoghourt." Oddly enough, Charoseth shows up under Puddings.

Some of the recipes are appalling; many are good plain stodgy one-ring dishes, that would be comforting coming in from the sleet and fog. With a little imagination (and better groceries), they'd be quite tasty. Some sound worse than they are: Toucan Mush (get it?) is a tin of tomatoes and a tin of broad beans, with a sauteed onion and some cheese. But imagine an equivalent book over here with recipes for braised pigeon or kidneys or rabbit with prunes!

It's a fun book to read. She gives advice on entertaining various sorts of guests: romantic interests; "the troglodyte in the next bedsitter"; friends "accustomed to kitchen food and drawing-room standards"; "your parents, or your parents' spies..."

And I like her recipe for curry: you will have an Asian friend who loves to cook. "They are apt to know their proportions only in terms of .01 grains of saffron per half sheep, so that they will often make enough curry for you and everyone on the staircase to feed off for a week."

Edited Date: 2010-11-11 07:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-11-11 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This book has a page entitled 'The Flourishing Green Bay Tree' in which it explains to you carefully that the bay leaf may be useful in cooking and you should get them from the gardens of people you know but also they are starting to exist in the supermarket.

Cooking in a Bedsitter sounds amazing.

The fake lemon curd recipe in this was seriously heartbreaking.

Date: 2010-11-11 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This sounds absolutely fascinating. I may need to track down a copy.

(I've cooked with tallow, although not suet, but I had to render it myself.)

Date: 2010-11-11 08:31 am (UTC)
ext_14638: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
You know, I have way too many potatoes in the house right now, and I am *appallingly* tempted to try that recipe.

(especially since it is Officially recommended, of course)

I think I need this book.

ETA: oh, and as for But nobody does them in chocolate

Oh yes they do... (
Edited Date: 2010-11-11 08:34 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-11-11 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's the only potato candy recipe I've seen with chocolate which wasn't just dipping them in it.

Mixing cocoa powder in does seem to have gone out.

Date: 2010-11-11 11:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rabbit was available because a) a lot of people kept rabbits in their back yards, and b) wild rabbits were very successfully introduced to the countryside and are _everywhere_, so poaching them has been a stable of rural cuisine for centuries.

I wonder whether household milk isn't from milk powder or similar conserve.

Date: 2010-11-11 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you are a reasonably good urban forager, I can't swear for Texas, but red currants are free in much of temperate North America. They just aren't labeled, so you have to trust that what you're getting off that bush is really red currants and not some other, vastly more poisonous red berry. I know this not because I'm a good urban forager--I'm not--but because my godchildren's mother is. She also makes mulberry jam and sand cherry preserves and various other delicious things from fruit trees here in the city people mostly regard as ornamental. She will knock on her neighbors' doors and offer to teach them to use the fruits on their bushes and trees, and mostly they say, no, just harvest them, the birds are making a mess of them anyway. And then we get the currant jelly. Apple butter. Etc.

Date: 2010-11-11 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My sister wrote her undergraduate thesis in biology on edible invasive species, including a cookbook. Asian wineberries are delicious, and you can apparently deep-fry kudzu but I've never gotten up the nerve to try it.

Date: 2010-11-11 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wild grape jelly is awesome, too, but apparently the process involves boiling off various toxins and removing them, so, um. I'm glad [ profile] porphyrin is clear what she's doing before she gives them to us. (She's a doctor, so I do trust that she knows what she's doing.)

Date: 2010-11-11 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmmmm. Not sure I trust myself to identify a redcurrant that precisely, but it occurs to me there may be people around here who know how, and what, to forage, and that I should look into that. Interesting, thank you.

Date: 2010-11-11 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lemons grow in Mediterranean Europe. So that's Fascist Spain, I think not, or coming out of the Med at a time when Mediterranean convoys were being sunk frequently and all the lemon-growing countries were in fact conquered by Hitler except Malta and what was then Palestine.

Or they grow in Florida, at the time when Atlantic convoys were being sunk frequently and there wasn't usually room on them for food.

Britain made a major effort to feed itself in WW2. It couldn't do it -- too many people in too small a space, and food still had to be imported even when the seas were full of U-boats. But nobody can say they weren't trying.

Redcurrants are seasonal, but lots of people grow them in their gardens. Redcurrants and rhubarb always offend me to buy -- haven't I got any friends? Why has nobody given me any? The first time I saw rhubarb for sale I was about twenty and I remember thinking "...You could buy rhubarb. People could. They do. It isn't one of those things where God wants you to have it or not!"

I grew up eating various meals that sometimes appeared to a chorus of "Just like we had in the war!" This greeted anything made with corned beef (bully beef, tinned) or dried eggs, but more often anything where you'd obviously use one thing and instead they'd substituted something cheaper. My grandmother was 29 and married for a year when the war started. In my lifetime she despised margerine as somebody can only if they were used to butter and forced to use marge for six years. She drank her tea sweet because Hitler could make her drink it without sugar, but nobody else was going to. There's also a story about a girl who was an ambulance driver going to (neutral) Ireland with an Irish friend who was also an ambulance driver, and in Ireland seeing a basket of eggs. A whole basket full of eggs, can you imagine. At that time the ration was one fresh egg per person per week. The basket of eggs made both girls cry -- the casual lost luxury of living in a country that didn't care what Hitler was doing in Europe. (I've thought about that basket of eggs a lot.)

Date: 2010-11-11 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
See, around where I've lived rhubarb is one of those things where God wants you to have it or not not because of whether you have friends but because it is the whims of chance and caprice that determine whether it will exist at a shop ever. Except as strawberry-rhubarb jam, which is fairly widely available. The first time I ever bought rhubarb I was at a Whole Foods and I figured they ought to, didn't see any, asked. They brought it out of the back after I gave a very thorough description, the produce stocking person hadn't known what it was and had been leaving it to refer to the management. The conversation went something along the lines of "rhubarb-- no, you spell it with an h, rh-- look, why don't I just write the sign for you? No, I don't know how much it ought to cost-- why yes I will cheerfully pay two dollars a pound have a nice day'. That was a few years back, though.

I can understand thinking about that basket of eggs a lot. It's quite something.

Date: 2010-11-12 05:50 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
See, around where I've lived rhubarb is one of those things where God wants you to have it or not not because of whether you have friends but because it is the whims of chance and caprice that determine whether it will exist at a shop ever.

It has always been my experience that rhubarb is one of those things God wants you to have, otherwise why does it keep ineradically coming up in the backyard, seriously, have we not made enough crumbles already?

Date: 2010-11-11 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With flour, it wasn't so much that it was expensive as that the wheat came from Canada, through the gauntlet of U-Boats. There are lots of "save a sailor's life, eat more potatoes"-type injunctions.
Meat was rationed not by weight but by price- you can have 2 shillings' worth per week, or whatever- so it made sense to use cheaper cuts so that you got more!
Cheese was also rationed from 1940 or so, I think it was. You're probably seeing some cheese-heavy recipes from early in the war and some making it go a long way from later on.

Date: 2010-11-11 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Most of these are fairly cheese-heavy, so I'll assume they're early. They also never say what kind of cheese. Just 'cheese'.

There's some discussion of how government flour needs to have more spices and flavorings added to it to be really acceptable, which I thought was interesting.

Date: 2010-11-11 03:30 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer
The potato substitutions remind me of Passover cooking. In fact, I suspect many of those recipes can be used for Passover.


Date: 2010-11-11 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's what I was thinking. Although, we learned, pudding with potato flour gets you nicely soap-flavored glue.

Date: 2010-11-11 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was rose-flavored, which Did Not Help.

Date: 2010-11-12 12:17 am (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer
Er, no. That wouldn't.


Date: 2010-11-11 05:47 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
It occurs to me that sometimes--as with the margarine in the Great Yarmouth herring--what's called a substitute might be preferred, either for the specific purpose or just personal preference or what a person is used to. Some people go out of their way to get chicory coffee, for example.

Date: 2010-11-11 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The sour milk seemed odd -- surely if milk is so scarce you would drink it right up fresh when you had it -- but it was probably a transportation problem too, such that it might arrive sour in the first place but you would still want to use it. Interesting to consider.

I think many more of these recipes sound dire than you seem to!

Date: 2010-11-11 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I also suspect that with rationing you want your milk to last for as long within the time period before you can get more as possible, and for the last bit of that time it will probably be sour, especially since a number of these recipes mention adaptations for people who don't have electricity or refrigeration.


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