The Delicious History Podcast Project


Greetings, Food History Lovers!

It was a year ago that I first started this blog. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’ve be fortunate enough to find that there are quite a few people out there who are interested in the tasty world of Food History. I now want to take the next step in sharing my food related historical tidbits with the world by creating a companion podcast to go with the website. I think it will be an fantastic way to build a larger following, as well as prove how fun and delicious history can be. Who doesn’t love a little food and humour with their education

Now here’s the tricky part. Thanks to a recent redundancy, I need your help you make this dream a reality. Podcasts need equipment, software, media hosting, artwork, and music – all of which need to be paid for. Because I can’t rely on the kindness of retailers to simply give me the resources I need, I’m hoping that some of my beloved readers can help me to get Delicious History onto the internet airwaves.The best part about pledging to the Delicious History Podcast Project is that every donation entitles you to a reward. That’s right, if we hit our target you not only get Delicious History in your earbuds, you also get a BONUS PRIZE. What’s not to love?

So if you love food, history or my good self, please help get Delicious History into an iTunes store near you! If you also wouldn’t mind reblogging or sharing the project with your friends and other fellow history lovers, I’d be eternally grateful.

Simply follow the link below for more info or to make a pledge –

Delicious History Podcast Project

Thank you in advance for supporting Delicious History and for making this first year in the blogosphere truly amazing.

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WWII Ration Week: Day Two


Day Two started on a somewhat less healthy note than Day One. Whoops. Let’s have a look.

Breakfast
Bacon Buttie
Tea

Lunch
Leftover ‘Everything In’ stew
A piece of wholemeal bread
Tea

Afternoon Tea
Mandarin
ANZAC Biscuit
Tea

Dinner
Bacon and vegetable pastie

One may think that I’m getting sick of eating the stew by now, but it’s quite the contrary. Admittedly, as a young woman who is usually only cooking for herself, I’m quite used to preparing meals to last over several days. Besides, the stew has only gotten more delicious with each passing day

My only other real observation for the day is that I’m quite sure that I’m going to have no problem with making my meat, vegetables and fruit last me for the entire week. To be honest, I highly doubt that I even eat 1.1kg of meat in an ordinary week. What I’m discovering is that it’s the butter and oil that are going to be the biggest issue during the last few days. As such, I’ve been saving as much drippings as possible.

One other quick issue is the fact that I work for a chocolate company and have had to be incredibly resilient about samples. In case you were wondering, adults were allowed 90g of sweets during the rationing period.

In closing, here is my recipe for the bacon and vegetable pasties I made tonight. They were incredibly tasty, and a lot less time consuming to make than I originally anticipated. The only downside is that I only have roughly a quarter of my butter ration left. As you’ll notice, I had to get a bit creative.

Ingredients

Pastry

1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
3 tsp baking powder
1 large pinch of salt
6 tbs of butter (I substituted dripping for 3 tbs)
Herbs and pepper, to taste
Water, to bind

Filling

You really can use anything you like, but I used:

1 rasher bacon, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 large mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Mixed herbs (I used parsley and chives from my garden)

Method

Preheat your oven at 200°C

Pastry

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the baking power, salt and any herbs you may like to add

Rub in the butter, or any substitute that you’re using

Bind the mixture with water. I recommend using a small amount of time, as to not get the mixture too wet

Divide the pastry into 4 pieces and roll out each one into a circle

Filling

Cook the carrots and potatos until medium soft

In a separate pan, cook off the bacon. Keep the drippings.

Add the rest of the vegetables and your herbs until cooked. Add the bacon back in.  I also added a gravy effect by stirring in some  of my leftover stew broth with flour.

Put the mixture in the middle of each pastry circle

Wet the edges of the pastry with just a little bit of water. I recommend using your fingertips

Pull over one side of the pastry and press the edges down. I also used a fork to make an edging effect.

Prick the top of the pastry and brush with a small amount of milk

Cook for 25 – 30 minutes, until crisp and golden

Eat!

WWII Ration Week: Day One


Welcome to Day 1 of my WWII Rationing Week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I highly suggest you read this post.

Let’s start by looking at what I consumed throughout the day

Breakfast
– Porridge made from whole grain rolled oats and sweetened with sultanas
– Tea

Morning Tea
– Grapes
– Tea with milk

Lunch
– ‘Everything In’ Stew.
Essentially this was chuck steak and whatever vegetables I felt like. This is a great and easy dish because it’s designed to use up whatever leftover vegetables or meat you have in the fridge.
– A piece of wholemeal bread.

Afternoon Tea

– Homemade ANZAC Biscuit
– Tea

Dinner
– Leftover stew
– A piece of wholemeal bread.

I think Day 1 went incredibly well. This is hardly surprising considering that I had a lot of supplies to work with. However, I did ensure that I stayed in a ‘waste not, want not’ mindset in order to make life a little easier later in the week. Here a few ways in which I did this:

– The chuck steak that I used for my stew had an incredibly high fat to meat ratio. As a cheaper cut this is hardly surprising. Instead of throwing away the fat-riddled meat, I kept it, along with my vegetable cuttings to use for stock later in the week
– I also kept the drippings from when I fried the steak. This is going to be quite important later when I start running low on butter and cooking oil

Yesterday I mentioned that I don’t use a great deal of butter or sugar and claimed that I would have absolutely no problem with them being rationed.

Wrong.

You may have noticed that I mentioned making ANZAC Biscuits. They turned out incredibly well, however, they also made me fly through roughly half my butter and sugar rations for the week. As such, judging from some of the other dessert recipes I want to try, I’m only going to have enough for one more sweet treat. I will also need to get a little more creative when ordinary recipes call for butter.

To finish off today’s entry I thought I would share my ANZAC Biscuit recipe with you. For all of you non-Australian or New Zealanders, these biscuits became popular with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) during WWI. They were renowned for their durability and long life,  which was perfect for families to send to soldiers fighting over the other side of the world.

My poorly photographed ANZAC Bicuits

Ingredients

1 cup flour
(I used wholemeal. This was the standard fare during WWII)
1 Cup sugar
(I used brown because it’s what happened to be in my cupboard)

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
125g butter/margarine
1 tbs golden syrup
(I used maple syrup. I will justify this because it’s what I had in my cupboard and it therefore saved me having to go and buy a whole other product. Although this may take away some authenticity, it’s adhering to the practice of making do with what one had in order to save money)
2 tbs boiling water
1 tsp bicarb soda

Method

Mix the flour, sugar and coconut together

Mix the syrup/treacle and butter together and warm gently until thoroughly mixed.

Mix the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the syrup/butter mixture and mix in well

Add the wet mix into the dry mix and bind together

Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto a lightly greased tray or parchment paper and cook for 10 minutes at 180C, or until golden brown all over

Remove and leave to cool for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to finish cooling

Eat!

In Honour of Remembrance Day


Those of you who follow Delicious History on Twitter may remember that a few weeks ago I tweeted about Remembrance Day, which will fall next Sunday – 11/11/12.

This year I wanted to do more than just remember those who have endured the hardships war. I wanted to take it a step further by experiencing a small element of what they lived through.

I have done a great deal of research into the rationing and food restrictions placed on the Australian Home Front during WWII, and I can say that it certainly puts into perspective how indulgent and wasteful modern society is. As such, for the week leading up to Remembrance Day, I intend to live off these same rations and restrictions, utilize authentic 1940s rationing recipes, and to document the experience.

I am of course aware that this will in no way compare to the hardship and loss experienced by those who have actually lived through war. However, I thought that this small gesture would give me a more informed understanding and enlightenment into how their sacrifices enabled modern Australians to live such privileged lives.

I have done my best to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the rationing amounts per adult per week, although I’m sure that it won’t be 100% correct.

Here is a list of the foods that have finite restrictions that I will be utilizing over the next seven days:

Fresh Meat – 1.1kg
I have chosen bacon, chuck steak and sausages. The latter is due to the fact that sausages weren’t rationed, and the bacon and steak because they were cheaper and more readily available during wartime.

I should also mention that Spam was a common commodity during WWII, so I’ll be exposing my body to it in the name of historical enquirey. I haven’t tried it before, and I must say that I’m rather apprehensive/terrified. In addition, thinking about it makes Monty Python invade my internal monologue.

Sugar – 450g
I actually don’t have a great deal of sugar in my diet, so I can’t see this being much of a setback. However, I do plan on doing some baking so it’ll be interesting to see if any difficulties crop up.

Butter – 225g
Same as the sugar

Milk – 1.2L
Same as the sugar and butter, but to a somewhat lesser extent. I mostly use milk in my tea and coffee.

Cooking Oil – 50g
I’m unsure as to whether this is going to be much of an issue as yet. However, I do plan on utilizing the ‘save the grease’ principle of rationing which will help stretch my budget out.

Fruits and Vegetables
There were no ration restrictions placed on fruits or vegetables, however, they were subject to availability. In order to be as authentic as possible I ordered a seasonal fruit and vegetable box from Coles. I won’t know what I’m getting until it’s arrived and I will have to make do with whatever I get.

Flour and Bread
Again, these items weren’t rationed, but wholemeal was the standard fare so that’s what I’ll be using. My main challenge here will be with the bread. I can take a month to go through a single loaf and thus keep it in the freezer. I won’t have that luxury this week and will therefore need to think of creative ways to utilize the slices that start going stale. Afterall, one wasted nothing during wartime.

FYI, French Toast is out, because unless you had your own hens, you were only allowed one fresh egg per week.

Herbs
It was highly encouraged that people kept herb and vegetable gardens (known as Victory Gardens) to supplement their diets and to reduce the strain on food demand. Luckily I have a herb garden, which will come in handy when I need to jazz up relatively plain recipes.

Tea – 45g
Tea was in short supply during WWII due to the blocking of trade routes from Asia. I’m actually quite worried about this restriction, because I drink an obscene amount of tea.

I hope you all follow my little culinary adventure through history – as I said, I’ll be documenting it daily. I’m really looking forward to the experience and hope that it makes me more appreciative for what I have, and the sacrifices made to enable my relatively cushy lifestyle.

Chocolate at War!


I bet that caught everyone’s attention!

Today we’ll be continuing Choctoberfest with a look at the role of chocolate during wartime. Interestingly enough, I don’t mean chocolate on the Homefront. This is purely an insight into how chocolate played a role in the US military during wartime. Pretty cool, huh?

Strangely,  Hershey’s have produced more than just their signature Kisses and crazy delicious Cookies and Cream Bars in the past. In fact, they’ve been heavily involved in providing rations for soldiers since before WWII .

Hershey’s involvement with the production of military rations began when Army Quartermaster Captain Paul Logan met with William Murrie, President of Hershey’s Chocolate, in April 1937. This visit resulted in the experimental production of a ration bar which would meet the needs of troops during wartime.

Unfortunately, ordinary chocolate bars melt far too easily in the summer heat, and therefore wouldn’t be viable for a soldier to carry around. Furthermore, normal bars were considered to be too tempting to be used as an emergency ration. As such,  Captain Logan outlined strict requirements for the bar, with was to be called The D Ration:

– Weigh four ounces (113.398 grams)
– Able to withstand high temperatures
– High in food energy value/calories
– Taste only marginally better than a boiled potato. Yum.

The D Ration Bar

Unfortunately, the Hershey chemists may have erred too much on the side of un-palatability. The D Ration was almost universally detested, and was often discarded or traded for more appetizing foods from unsuspecting civilians. Troops called the bar “Hitler’s Secret Weapon” due to its effect on soldier’s intestinal tracts. Also, because of how chewy it was, it couldn’t be eaten by soldiers with poor dentition. Even those with good dental work often found it necessary to shave slices off the bar with a knife in order to consume it.

The first of the Field Ration D bars were tested in the Philippines, Hawaii, Panama and at various Army posts throughout the US. The results of the test were satisfactory and Field Ration ‘D’ was approved for wartime use.

In 1939, Hershey was able to produce 100,000 units per day. By the end of 1945, production lines on three floors of the plant were producing approximately 24 million units per week. It has been estimated that between 1940 and 1945, over three billion ration units were produced and distributed to soldiers around the world.

Mmm, appetizing

In 1943, the US Army inquired about the possibility of obtaining a heat resistant bar that didn’t taste like absolute arse. After a short period of experimentation, Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was added to the list of wartime production items. This bar was destined to replace the D Ration by 1945. In July of 1971, Hershey’s Tropical Bar went to the moon with the Apollo 15 team. Reports state that it was only a slight improvement on the original D Ration bar.

In recognition of its outstanding war effort, Hershey’s was awarded the Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Award in 1942. The Corporation received a flag to fly above the chocolate plant and a lapel pin for every employee. The award was presented for exceeding all production expectations in the manufacturing of an Emergency Field Ration. This wartime honour recognized companies that consistently met high standards of quality and quantity in light of available resources. By the end of WWII, Hershey’s would receive a total of five Army-Navy ‘E’ awards.

Production of the D ration bar was discontinued at the end of WWII. However, Hershey’s Tropical Bar remained a standard ration for the United States Armed Forces. The Tropical Bar saw action in Korea and Vietnam before being declared obsolete.

The only slightly better tasting Tropical Bar

In the late 1980s, the US Army Lab created a new high-temperature chocolate bar that could withstand heat in excess of 60 °C (140 °F). It was dubbed The Congo Bar, and 144, 000 were shipped out to troops during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. While Army spokesmen said that the bar’s taste was good, troop reactions were mixed and the bar was not put into full production.

The Gulf War ended before all bars could be shipped, so the remainder was packaged in a desert camo wrapper and was dubbed the Desert Bar. It proved to be a brief novelty for consumers, but Hershey declined to make more after supplies ran out.

So it seems that chocolate has had quite a significant influence on 20th century militaristic history, even if it wasn’t particularly sweet. In closing, here are a few more interesting wartime facts about chocolate:

Advertisement for the Cadbury Ration Bar

– Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate came off the shelves in 1941 when the government banned manufacturers from using fresh milk. Instead, they released Ration Chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk powder.

– The Nazi’s began producing bombs that were disguised as chocolate bars. A more in-depth look at this amazing story can be found in one of my older posts – Death by Chocolate:  Hitler’s Camouflaged Bomb Plot

Don’t forget that Delicious History is also out there in Social Media realm sharing awesome history-related pics, quotes, facts and such! We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

 

Death by Chocolate – Hitler’s Camouflaged Bomb Plot


A big thanks to Katie for bringing this story to my attention. I majored in WWII History at uni, and my waist line currently majors in chocolate, so this is the perfect topic for me to discuss.

Newly uncovered WWII documents reveal that the Nazis were plotting to assassinate Winston Churchill with a bomb disguised as a chocolate bar. The plan was to coat the explosives with a thin layer of dark chocolate and then package them as ‘Peter’s’ branded chocolate bars. The idea was to have them smuggled into the War Cabinet’s dining room where Churchill and other important members of parliament would often meet. The device was designed to explode seven seconds after being unwrapped, killing everyone within a few metres of the sweet and sugary impact. The theory behind this plot was to exploit the Prime Minister’s weakness for chocolate.

1920’s Peter’s chocolate bar wrapper. Photo courtesy of The Candy Wrapper Archive.

Unfortunately for the Nazis, it wasn’t just their chocolate that was foiled. British spies discovered the plot and quickly warned one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs – Lord Victor Rothschild. He proceeded to alert the nation and advised them to look out for exploding candy bars. He even had an illustrator friend, Laurence Fish, draw up pictures of the bars so he could distribute them amongst the public. Interestingly, Fish’s wife found the correspondence between her husband and Rothschild in 2009. The letter was dated May 4, 1943 and was marked ‘secret’. It detailed the German plot and supposedly included a rather poor drawing of the device by Rothschild.

Suffice to say, with the plot made public, there were no chocolate bombs exploding in parliament.

A little research on my behalf also revealed that chocolate wasn’t the only item that the Nazis were planning on using to disguise explosives. German saboteurs also utilized tinned plums, throat lozenges, shaving brushes, batteries, wood, and my personal favourite – stuffed dogs. I can’t imagine how the latter would even work.

I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who contacted me after my Darrell Lea article. It was incredibly touching and I very much appreciated it.

Have a lovely Thursday!

Tealicious History: Earl Grey


I’ve always considered myself to be a tea drinker. With an incredibly British grandmother and a relatively British mother, I don’t think I ever had a choice in the matter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good coffee, but I see it as something that lights up the nerve endings in my brain in the morning. It enables me to face the day in something other than an incoherent zombie-like state. But tea? To me it is the ultimate comfort drink. It’s an old friend that warms the body and soul and always cures what ails you.

A Shit Day at Work? Tea
Head Cold? Lemon and Honey Tea
Heartbreak? Tea
Upset Stomach? Ginger Tea
Natural Disaster? Tea
Apocalypse? Tea…with a shot of rum.

I once read a story about a woman who was shot in the head in her home. Miraculously, she was hit at such an angle that she was able to make herself a cup of tea whilst waiting for the police. I was always horrified by this prospect.  Not due to the brutality of the crime, but because I knew that this is exactly what the women of my family would do, including me.

Tea fixes everything.

I adore Earl Grey in particular. Nothing makes me happier than writing my blog whilst sipping on that wonderfully scented brew. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying it, Earl Grey is an intoxicating blend of black tea infused with the oil of bergamot, an Italian orange. It gives it a lovely zesty aroma and taste that I find enchanting.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my correct opinion. I have heard my beloved Earl Grey described as tasting like dirty dish water mixed with detergent by the boyfriend some. Well to him those people I quite intelligently retort – Your face tastes like dirty dish water mixed with detergent. Yeah, take that.

The actual Earl Grey. He, unlike the tea, doesn’t look particularly appetising

So, who was Earl Grey and why on earth did he have a tea named after him? True to form, there are conflicting historical tales.

Charles Grey was the 2nd Earl of Grey and British Prime Minister between 1930 and 1834. He is still renowned for being one of the primary architects of the 1832 Reform Act. This act introduced a wide range of beneficial changes to the electoral systems in England and Wales.

The Grey family state that the tea was specially blended by a Chinese Mandarin for the Earl. Legend has it that it was made with bergamot oil to compliment the water on the Earl’s estate, which is said to have had a hint of lime to it.

Some believe that in 1803 one of the Earl’s men saved the aforementioned Mandarin’s son from drowning. He then showed his appreciation by presenting the Earl with the tea as a gift. However, bergamot oil wasn’t present in China at the time, and nor was the Earl. A far more likely story is that the Earl was presented with the tea by an envoy upon returning from a routine trip to China.

The belief in this origin story is universal, unless of you ask Twinings. Their website claims that they themselves developed it and named it after the Earl. Conveniently enough there is no explanation as to why. Every historian knows that it’s those who hold power that decide what version of history will be considered as truth, and this is no different, albeit on quite a small scale.

The tea rose in popularity due to Lady Grey, as she often used it to entertain guests in London. Others wished to purchase the tea and this is where Twinings most definitely became involved. They began mass producing the tea on a large scale and it quickly became a household name. Unfortunately for the Greys, they didn’t have the forethought to register the trademark. Subsequently, neither they nor their ancestors received any royalties from the sales of Earl or Lady Grey tea.

Because I’m sure you don’t know what tea looks like

For those who haven’t heard of Lady Grey, it was developed by Twinings and named after Lady Elizabeth Grey. It is far more delicate and fragrant than her husband’s counterpart. In addition to the bergamot oil, it contains both lemon and orange peel. I find it to have quite a flowery aroma and a very sweet taste.

Earl Grey has remained popular throughout the years and is used quite often in cooking and baking. I’ve personally tried Earl Grey flavoured macaroons and chocolate and they were both delicious.

I’d like to thank the lovely Katie for requesting this topic. As a result, I have decided to not only write about other teas, but to start an entire series on High Tea. I’ll most likely roll this out in September so it will coincide with  one of Habitat for Humanity’s annual events – High Tea for Habitat. It’s a fantastic and delicious way to raise money for a great cause. I urge you all to get a group together and participate. More info can be found at http://www.habitat.org.au/hightea.

Please leave a comment if you have a favourite tea that you would like me to explore the origins of. I absolutely love taking requests. Yes mum, I will definitely write about Russian Caravan for you.

Have a lovely weekend!

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