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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I've had sort of a hair brained idea of how to raise money for a lupus charity, but need to do some research before I commit myself fully and need help from members of this site if I could (as you are usually very helpful).....

You may think me really mad but.... I was thinking of living on rations for a month (i.e. like in WWII).. I am under no illusion that it will be hard (especially because I love my food :wink2:), but it is only for 1 month and will give me a better understanding of what my grandparents went through for many years and I don't think anyone has been brave enough to do it for charity... I just thought although it may be difficult, it is different!

So what I would like is if people on the site have any memories of rationing and how people managed during those difficult years I would be grateful if you could share them with me. I know a lot of people grew their own veg and stuff... but would like to know what you did to get through those difficult years???

If you do not want to answer on this thread then please PM me!

Thanks
Claire xxx
PS as I will need to do some research I will not be doing it this year, but next year as will need to see if I can get some of the local shops on side too!
 

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Claire, what a very interesting idea. I think it is very brave! I don't really know much about what they ate except that I believe certain fruits such as bananas where a luxury. I shall be interested to find out what you learn.

Deb x
 

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Gosh! Even I am not that old !:rotfl: What a brilliant idea though.

I can only really remember sugar and sweets being rationed for some years after the war. One of my earliest life disasters, about 1951 I guess, was losing the sweetie coupons on the way to the grocer's, the first time I was entrusted to get the week's sweetie rations on my own. I had spent ages choosing the precious sweets only to find the coupons had gone from my little purse.
I was so upset I sneaked back home, got my little "fairy bike" and decided to run away to sea, the coast being "only" about 10 miles down the road.
It wasn't long before my little legs got very tired and I started feeling really hungry for my dinner. I also realised I wasn't quite sure of the way since I had only been there by bus before. To my chagrin, I had to stagger back home to find the family in uproar at my absence. That put off having to confess about losing the coupons, for about ten minutes. Much worse than losing me as far as my brother was concerned. It was years before he forgave me for depriving him of his 'gobstoppers'.

From what I have been told, many people if not most, didn't really exist simply on the rations. Family and friends in the country suddenly became very important as a source of extra rations, eggs butter, meat, bacon cheese in cheese making areas of the country and fresh produce if needed. England had been a heavily industrialised city dwelling society for well over a century and a half, so relatively few people earned their living by agriculture, but many people especially young unemployed women went out to the country as " land girls" to replace the manpower lost to military service.

The family butcher and grocer on the corner were also very important, very much a la Jonesy in " Dad's Army". Of course in those days people didn't have cars and there were no supermarkets so you did all your shopping at the local corner shops and were very well known to the shopkeepers.
If you were a reliable customer in good standing with credit worthiness you could get extra. There was also a strong barter element: goods in return for services, and exchange of goods for goods. And of course there was a flourishing black market represented by the Joe Walker 'spiv' character in Dad's Army. A blind eye was often turned to this sort of activity by the local community


In terms of repeating the experience, it's not going to do anything but good to go without sugar! ;) By this total sacrifice, you could make up for those aspects that are much harder to replicate.

But just as a matter of historical interest, my father started keeping bees in 1941. I have always understood that part of the point of beekeeping was that beekeeepers got an extra sugar allowance. This maybe so, but it doesn't at first sight make much economic sense since my father recorded in his "Gardening Notes" on the 27th February 1942 that he was given a permit for 10lbs extra of sugar. " The public pays 3 pennies and ha'pence * per lb while the beekeeper pays 6 pennies and ha' pence " manufacturer's price " ".
The sugar allowance was to feed the bees during the winter to replace the honey ( their self made winter food supplies) that had been removed for human consumption as well as selling on or bartering. Presumably the bee keepers paid more because thery could could make a greater profit from the honey one way or another. I am pretty sure all the same that by what I will call "careful management" the beekeepers would manage to acquire white sugar for their own consumption.

* In those days there were 240 pennies to the £1 so a modern penny is worth 2.40 old pennies.

Also on a practical level, you would have to deprive yourself of any imported fruit and vegetables or out of season produce. I can distinctly remember the amazement of the first banana and citrus fruit (tangerines and oranges) I ever had. The tangerine was in our Christmas stockings along with treasured chocolate and of course a new jersey, gloves and a hat, hand knitted from old unravelled ones. Obviously you are not going to start on this intensive recycling and the keeping of every single scrap of wrapping paper, paper bags, string etc etc that my mother still did until the late 90's. There was the reheeling and re toe-ing of hand knit socks, refingering hand knit gloves and so on not mention endless darning and patching, because wool and fabric were also rationed and every scrap was precious. Even our first bathing suits were knitted ! My mother made my bro's first fabric clothes ('rompers' they were called) from old black out curtains, poor kid, that had been used over the windows to stop light shining through which might guide bombers to the targets.


Many people grew vegetables and started keeping hens even in suburban back gardens. I regularly took kitchen scraps of all sorts to neighbours with hens right through to the mid 50's.
I don't know what the alcoholic drinks situation was. You would have to decide if you were going to be an ordinary city dweller worker type or more privileged class or, later on in the war, had access to extras from American forces stationed in the UK.
You will also need to decide how far you are going to recreate circumstances in your own food preparation and recipes. Will you stick to margarine and animal fats or tinned goods like peas corned beef, spam
(yuck) that presumably you rarely if ever eat these days bearing in mind you might not have any vegetable oils. I have seen references to vegetable oils but I don't know exactly what is was. Nor presumably are you going to start your own fruit and veg preserving or jam making which provided mainstays throughout the winter months.

Here is a recipe for an Eggless Omelette, if you will, from my mother's collection of wartime recipes

"Mock Omelette
All the goodness but not an egg in its makeup!

Ingredients: One can of Benedict peas, a tablespoon of egg substitute and four of flour; a gill of milk, one onze of finely grated suet, salt pepper and cooking fat [possibly pork lard or beef dripping]. Stir all ingredients together adding the milk gradually until they form a smooth paste. Pur into smoking hot fat in the frying pan and cook until the bottom is firm and brown. Stir in two tablespoons of the Benedict peas and serve surrounded by the rest of the delicious peas "

Here is another for soup titled " From the Kitchen Front ", especially poignant because of the references to wartime daily activities.

" Soup is a drink and food in one. Let me tell you of a soup I made yesterday. I had a shoulder of lamb for yesterday's dinner. My butcher boned it and broke up the bones, amd they made a grand hot soup for last nights all-night wide-awake.
I put them in a stockpot with about two pints of water and added salt after they came to the boil and simmered them quietly while I cut up two carrots a small turnip [swede/rutabaga], some outside leaves of cabbage and a small onion. I added the vegetables and three good tablespoons of pearl barley, covered the pot and forgot about it for a couple of hours.

About an hour before siren time, I grated a good sized carrot and added it to the soup and added a little more salt and a pinch of pepper. I took the hot pot of soup and six cups to the shelter [air-raid shelter]. And the beauty of that soup is that it cooks itself on the tiniest peep of gas "

There has been a lot of publicity recently about war time rations as we become preoccupied with obesity and general over indulgence in straightened times. I think you will find many resources on line for example those programmes that Sue Perkins and Giles Coren have done where they eat for a week in a given epoque. I am pretty sure they did one on wartime food.

Everything was used to the maximum. Even as a newly married young mother in the mid 60's with only one income coming in I would make a chicken last three meals for the two of us, a bit for the baby, and a good chicken soup. I am staggered to read that 30% of all food bought goes to waste. It's only in the last ten years or so that I have been able to throw away small useless quantities of prepared food rather than letting them grow legs of their own in the fridge, or eat them cold for my own lunch next day.

Keep us informed of your progress please ! Maybe LupusUK could get more participation going and I would be happy to research. It would be fun to do it with other people all following a similar plan and exchanging ideas.

Cheers
Clare
 

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Ths sounds really hard...we have become so exposed to variety and quantity. We don't reuse like my parents had to.

I remember stories of havng a chcken...roasted for dinner, the carcas and spare bits made into soup with carrots, celery, onion, parsnip, and barley.

Soup thickened the next day with flour and a little milk and left over bits from the first chicken meal and all of ths served over tinned biscuts to soften them...

This a single chcken would make 3 meals for a family of four.

Eggs were a rare commodity, so breading was done with powdered milk, mixed with a little water and a pat of melted butter.

Sugar too was rare, so desserts were made with real fruits made into compote when avalable (only in season and rarely at best)

I am not sure if this would actually save money for the charity...

Stephanie
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Clare I will think about all you have said. Steph I think you misunderstand a little I was going to get sponsored for doing this instead of a sponsored walk!!
 

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Ahhh...I did mis-understand.

Stephanie
 

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A lot of cookbooks from the 1930's (in the US, at least) are all or mostly adapted for rations. I'm wondering if similar cookbooks might exist in the UK for either the first of second wars? From what I understand, there's not a lot of depravation, just substitution. For instance, carrot cake was born of ration necessity for a sugar-less sugar, carrots turned out to be the sweet option. I'd imagine another way to make rations go further would be soups/stews and eating veg (which isn't too bad--Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian is a good start--I've been nearly 30 yrs a strict vegetarian, if you get stuck, send me a message, if you'd like.)

Best of luck!
verythankful
 

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I might be remembering wrong but I think the BBC did some programmes about living at that time and among them info on rations etc. You might be able to find info, either via their site or from their DVD and book shop.

It's certainly an interesting idea - maybe we should all join in at the same time; it might do us some good diet wise too :bigsmile:

Katharine
 

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I think the programme was the 1940s House. I went to an exhibition based on it at The Imperial War Museum. I am sure the Imperial War Museum would advise you. Don't forget the absolute Lady of Wartime Cooking was Marguerite Patton, hope that is how you spell it. She is or was still alive until quite recently. Maybe finding some of her recipes would help. Also consider a letter to Yours Magazine or Saga magazine which would be read by many people who experienced rationing. If you go ahead I will be very happy to sponsor you.
x Lola
 

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From a book my Mum gave me,
Average person's rations for one week,
Bacon and ham.................................4 oz
sugar...............................................8 oz
butter...............................................2 oz
cooking fats.......................................8 oz
meat (rationed by price )....................1 s ( i think this means a shilling)
tea....................................................2 oz
cheese...............................................1 oz
jam...................................................2 oz

This is a basic list as they had 16 other points to use on other rationed foods.
And of course they grew their own veggies to help out the food shortage.
But that was a basic list of what each person had every week to eat.

I hope this helps, i will look for more info if you like.
 

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Oh! I *so* hope you're going to video-blog, go "viral" with your experience (even links to YouTube)--you could create *so* much good free publicity for yourself and your cause (I can think of one show here in the states, The Ellen Degeneres Show, would almost be a guarantee to pick up/mention your story! I spent a little time in major metro print and t.v. journalism long ago and people *love* a free story, but even more, one with such a great cause!) That would be so amazing *and* would be fantastic in the fund-raising sense, world-wide donations (maybe set up a small website with a Pay Pal link?) You could end up inspiring others to do the same, also for Lupus!:cheer2:

I think it's exciting (although a little thrilling in the "Eee, god, what am I going to eat?" kind of way!) My mind's racing, : ) there are just ***so*** many wonderful truly creative resources open to you hopefully something included here might help (just trying to think of everything I may've possibly heard or or had):

  • Your Vegetable Garden (and foraging...your nearly "free" foods, incl. why barter is smarter:)

    Of course, everything for a while there was Victory/Square-Foot Gardened : )

    I'd think you could at least double your ration foods by "growing your own"--garden and/or indoor in pots and outdoors in cold frame (you may have to buy these foods instead of growing them, for practical purposes...) and reading up really well to learn which foods you could forage *safely* and pesticide free. To be accurate, I'd guess you'd want foods that would be naturally ready this time of year, too--vegetables, herbs and fruits whenever possible. Another "foraged" food that could be *easily* bartered for a ration item: Honey (a prolific hive in a tree or having a small hive around could *really* help things out. Around our home back in Michigan this time of year, despite the weather, bees went daffy for the lilacs that cam out in great supply in May and June--so warm-ish bees full of nectar=honey.)

    The first thing that comes to mind is, if it were me, I'd want it to be representative of the month everything from my garden (or cold frame) came in, lol : ) So, tons of cold-hardy veg--carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes...then cabbage or a cold-hardy lettuce...but when are they ready? Of course, not forgetting herbs, possible fruits (?), even flowers that can do double-duty as foods, such as Nasturtiums. Besides, it could be possible to exchange your "bumper" crops, esp. anything you've already canned, with whatever's in another's garden, too...so, there's some flexibility. I guess the key is figuring out what foods would be ready this time of year.

    In terms of foraging, just a few---mushrooms (be careful,) field greens, wild carrots (don't mix up w/ wild hemlock,) honey (of course,) chicory (a *big,*, although caffeine-free, substitute for coffee,) dandelions for greens or homemade wine (also, dandelion "milk" as well as strawberry leaves--even dried, have been used as home remedies... and, maybe you fish or in other ways hunt/trap?

  • A few unusual food ideas for stretching things ...

    Unconventional things, like geranium leaf essence sorbet (I've had it, actually really good, : ) , makes a good "sweet" possibility,) rose petals *really* do wonders for stretching tea (a Middle-Eastern chai is a fantastic hodgepodge of not-very-likely things that marry wonderfully together--black pepper, cardamon, lemon peel, rose petals...very rich w/o major costs, save, maybe the cardamon...the lemon peel is a rescued throw-away.) Speaking of things you mightn't normally think as sweets, my great gram "candied" her lemon and orange peels (since those fruits were rare treats,) as well as candying violets, rose petals and other food-safe flowers for decorations on otherwise plain cakes. And almost every family saved their bacon grease for lending flavor to plainer dishes (as well as serving as cooking oil.) (I'm not sure whether peanut butter/nuts, already preserved/"canned" foods--do they count? among rations?)

  • Recipe ideas? A few very quick ones...

    Lobscouse and Blind Lobscouse
    Mock Apple Pie (made from soda crackers, absolutely no apples--my family *swears* it tastes just like the real thing.)
    Lettuce Soup--sounds pale and strange, but actually robust and lovely-, there are almost no ingredients--basically just about 2 heads of lettuce, water, fatty, fresh bacon, pepper to taste and little else (I can find it if you need it.)
    Vegetarian Chili
    A multitude of potato soups
    Potato "pancakes"--they're DIVINE!
    Colecannon...


Hope some of this helps!

verythankful
 
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