My previous posts about my visit to the Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum have focused on the ‘Dig for Victory‘ during the war years. Today the spotlight shines on the ‘Kitchen Front‘ and the advice given to families to ensure they grew ‘fit not fat‘ on their war time diet. Help was certainly needed to inspire the home front cook faced with shortages of today’s store cupboard essentials and recipe enhancers.
”We all think about food eternally, not because we are hungry, but because our meals are boring and expensive and difficult to come by. How browned off I am by vegetable pie and savoury butter and inferior sausage and boiled potatoes. What wouldn’t I give for orange juice or steak and onions or chocolate or apples or cream!’ (Phyllis Warner, diary entry 1941)
Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall has written a book to accompany the Ministry of Food Exhibition and recalls ”When I was asked to write a book for the Imperial War Museum about food during the Second World War I was assailed by memories from my childhood. As I was born in 1939, I cannot clearly recollect the early war years, but I remember eating my greens and drinking my milk for the sake of starving children in Russia. I also recall brains appearing on my plate, mince cooked in a variety of ways and, for pudding, many variations on a fruit theme: pies, tarts, crumbles, fools and mousses. The Ministry of Food exhibition and book focus on how wartime restrictions affected the lives of ordinary people: how they tended their vegetable gardens and allotments, how they shopped (and queued) for food, how they cooked and how they ate’‘.
Flicking through my copy of ‘thrifty wartime ways’ last week coincided with baking jacket potatoes and a perfect opportunity to pop a little something else into the oven. I opted for Flapjack for its many virtues: prepared in minutes to produce a tasty nibbly treat and using this recipe, I reasoned, a healthier option due to the rationed sugar portion. I couldn’t resist adding a little extra crunch from my 21st century store cupboard to pack a more nutritional punch (sprinklings of linseeds, sunflower seeds and flaked almonds).
making wartime Flapjacks
225g (8oz) oats
55g (2oz) butter or margarine (plus extra for greasing)
115g (4oz) golden syrup
55g (2oz) demerara sugar
(optional extras: linseed, sunflower seeds, almond flakes, dried fruit)
- Preheat the oven to 180°c (350°f or gas mark 4). Grease a 20cm (8in) square, shallow cake tin.
- In a saucepan melt the butter, syrup and sugar. Stir in the oats (and optional ingredients if using them) and turn the mixture into the cake tin, spreading evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and cut into square or rectangular pieces immediately, leaving it in the tin until completely cold before removing.
We’ve now also made a second recipe from the wartime cookbook – Pineapple upside down cake. And part 4 of my Ministry of Food exhibition posts explains how to make mock goose for Christmas when rationing was in place© Imperial War Museum images