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!

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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.

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!