Tuesday, October 03, 2006

“Dig for Victory”

Today, October 3rd …

The “Dig for Victory” campaign was launched in Britain on this day in 1939, in a broadcast by the Minister for Agriculture, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith.

“In normal times our own farms produce nearly half our food requirements … While of course we can rely on our Navy to keep our trade routes open, and while we will still be able to draw on food supplies from our Dominions and other countries, those supplies may not always be unlimited. It is clearly our duty, just as it is a matter of elementary wisdom, to try to make doubly and trebly sure that we will fight and win this war on full stomachs.

To do this we want not only the big man with the plough, but the little man with the spade to get busy this autumn. … Half a million allotments properly worked will provide potatoes and vegetables that will feed another million adults and 1 ½ million children for eight months out of 12.

The matter is not one that can wait. So – let’s get going. Let “Dig for Victory” be the motto of every able-bodied man and women capable of digging an allotment in their spare time.”

The advice of gardening experts was that a 35 by 100 foot garden would provide most of the vegetable requirements for a family of four or five for a good part of the year, and allotments were created everywhere, in backyards, on wasteland, in public parks - even in the earth covering the Anderson bomb shelters.

There was much advice about what to plant, and vegetables that were “substantial and sustaining”, that would be ready to eat in winter and early spring, and which stored well either in the house or in the ground were favoured, as were greens that represented “bottled sunshine”.

Parsnips were the perfect choice. They fulfilled all the above criteria (apart from the "greens" bits), were a good starchy substitute for potatoes, naturally sweet enoug to find their way into puddings (as did beetroot), and extraordinarily versatile in savoury dishes.

Recipes for the Day …

Here is a selection of wartime parsnip recipes from the newspapers:

Cream of Parsnip Soup.
Ingredients: ½ leek; 1 – 1¼ lb parsnips; 3 pints of stock or water; 3 teaspoonfuls of salt; pepper; 2 oz. flour; ¼ pint of “household” milk; 2 tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley.
Method: Put stock or water on to boil while shredding the parsnips. When boiling add shredded parsnips and leek. Boil for 20 mins; season; add blended flour and milk and simmer for 3-5 mins, stirring all the time. Serve with chopped parsley.

Parsnip Savoury.
Ingredients: ½ lb cooked parsnips or carrots, heaped tablespoonful oatmeal, chopped rasher of bacon, a little made mustard, 1 teaspoonful vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tablespoonfuls of milk or vegetable stock.
Quantity: 2 helpings.
Method: Lay the parsnips and chopped bacon in a pie-dish. Mix the other ingredients together. Spread this mixture over the parsnips and bacon, and brown for 10 minutes under the grill. Eat with bread and butter and mustard and cress.

Savoury Toast.
Ingredients: 4 oz cheese, 4 oz parsnips, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoonful dried mustard, 3 slices of toast.
Quantity: 3 helpings.
Method: Grate cheese and parsnips and mix together. Blend vinegar and mustard, cheese and parsnips, pile on toast and brown under grill.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Presidential Punch.

On this Topic …

PARSNIPS appear in the February 3rd 2006 story.
Wartime BEETROOT PUDDING appeared in the March 22nd 2006 story.

Quotation for the Day …

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. Doug Larsen.


Ziggywigs said...

Great Blog...liked your article on Dig for Victory and the recipes are good...jotted them down to try.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try the savoury toast. Bryan always says he hates parsnips. Maybe he will eat them this way. It sounds delicious.

The Old Foodie said...

I think parsnips are an under-rated vegetable, why is that? Barbara - dont tell Bryan what is in the "rarebit" and he might not even guess!