Frugal Recipes From Wartime Britain

by Colleen Moulding


These are some of the recipes my Grandmother used to feed her husband and seven children during the second world war in England. There was little fruit, scarcely any sugar, few eggs and meat, butter and nearly all foods were rationed. Families were encouraged to Dig For Victory, grow as much food as possible themselves, consequently many a flower garden found itself turned over to potatoes, carrots and onions in a desperate attempt to fill up the ever hungry children's stomachs.

Women were told that food was their munition of war. The Ministry Of Food and women's magazines of the day gave basic nutritional advice and suggested substitutes such as mashed potato for flour, sour milk for cheese, grated vegetables for fruit and whipped margarine with vanilla instead of cream, but the housewife of the 1940's had to be very creative with what little food they had queued for with ration books in hand. Here are some of the meals they cooked up.

This recipe was created by the Chef of the Savoy hotel and named after Lord Woolton, head of the Ministry Of Food.

Woolton Pie

1lb diced potatoes
1lb cauliflower
1lb diced carrots
1lb diced swede
3 spring onions
1 teaspoon vegetable extract
1 tablespoon oatmeal
A little chopped parsley

Cook everything together with just enough water to cover, stirring often to prevent it sticking to the pan. Let the mixture cool.
Spoon into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry.
Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown.
Serve hot with gravy.

Sausage and Sultana Casserole

1lb sausages
1 large onion
2oz sultanas
1 sour apple
Pinch of mixed herbs

Chop up and fry the onion.
Fry the sausages.
Cover with stock.
Add sultanas, herbs, salt.
Place in oven and cook slowly for 35-40 minutes.

Carrot Fudge

Orange essence

Finely grate carrots and cook four tablespoons
full in just enough water to cover for 10 minutes.
Add flavouring with orange essence, grated orange rind or orange squash/cordial.
Melt a leaf of gelatine.
Add gelatine to mixture.
Cook quickly for a few minutes stirring all the time.
Spoon into a flat dish.
Leave to set.
Cut into cubes.

Vegetable Roll with Potato Pastry

Ingredients for pastry:
4oz mashed and sieved potato
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8oz plain flour
3oz fat
2 tablespoons of baking powder

Sieve dry ingredients together.
Rub fat into flour and gently mix in potato.
Add just enough water to make a fairly dry dough.
Knead well.

Ingredients for filling:

11/2 cups of any mixed boiled vegetables, diced
1 pint thick gravy
Salt and pepper
A little chopped parsley

Take 1/2lb of potato pastry and roll out on a floured board.
Moisten the vegetable mixture with a little of the gravy.
Spread vegetables on to pastry leaving 1 inch all the way round.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Roll up and seal well at the edges so that gravy cannot seep out.
Place on a well greased baking tin with the seal underneath.
Brush with milk.
Bake in a moderately hot oven for 35-45 minutes.

Health Bread

11/2lb self-raising flour
1 teacup sugar
1 breakfast cup syrup
1 egg
1 breakfast cup of raisins with stones removed.
1 breakfast cup of milk.
Pinch of salt.

Mix together the sugar, flour, salt and raisins.
Beat the egg and add it to the milk and syrup.
Mix all the ingredients together. Bake in two well greased loaf tins in a moderate oven for approx. 11/2 hours.
Slice thinly after a couple of days and serve with butter or margarine.
Will keep for a month in a tin.

Sugarless Apple Dessert

Cooking apples
Condensed milk
Orange juice
Nuts or grated chocolate

Grate raw cooking apple.
Whip together with the condensed milk.
Add a little orange juice.
Arrange in dishes with nuts or grated chocolate on top.

Sausage Pancakes

1lb small sausages
4oz flour
1/2 pint milk
1/2 oz custard powder
Salt and pepper

Mix together the custard powder and the flour
then mix with some of the milk to a smooth batter.
Beat well for five minutes, stir in the rest of the milk.
Season with salt and pepper and leave to one side.
Fry the sausages, remove from pan and keep hot.
Pour off some of the fat and save, leaving enough in the pan to fry the first pancake.
Brown the pancake lightly on both sides and roll up with the sausage inside.
Keep warm.
Add some of the saved fat to the frying pan and add more batter for a second pancake.
Continue until all the batter is gone.
Serve very hot with fried tomatoes.

Honey Cakes

1 teaspoon sugar
21/2 ounces margarine
2 teaspoons honey
6oz self raising flour
1 level teaspoon cinnamon#

Beat sugar and margarine until a soft cream consistency.
Sieve flour and cinnamon then add to mixture.
Mix with a wooden spoon until it binds together, then knead with your fingers until you have a soft dough.
Break off a piece of the dough and roll it between your floured palms into a ball.
Place on to a lightly greased baking tray.
Flatten slightly.
Repeat until you have used up all the dough, when you should have about sixteen delicious honey cakes.