Monday, October 22, 2007

Stocking the Shelter.

The prolonged face-off between the USA and the Soviet Union that came to be called the Cold War began as World War II ended and lasted for over three decades. The Cold war never (thankfully) heated up to boiling, although it got uncomfortably warm during the fourteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. By this time many American families, at the urging of the government, had built bomb shelters in their backyards or under their houses as preparation for a nuclear attack, should it occur. The building and provisioning of the shelters spawned a whole new industry and Government did its bit by producing a voluminous amount of pamphlets and manuals on various aspects of the survival business.

Naturally, provisioning the shelter adequately was paramount. This is what one pamphlet advised:


As an absolute minimum, a 90 day supply of food is recommended; 6 months is more realistic; 24 months would not be beyond the realm of common sense


The following conditions will probably prevail in the event of a nuclear attack. Fresh milk will be impossible to obtain and canned evaporated or dry powdered milk must be substituted. Fresh eggs will be scarce. Since chickens have great tolerance for radiation, fresh eggs will probably be one of the first staples available after a nuclear attack


Buy only foods that will be enjoyed because shelter occupants will be under emotional stress. When buying shelter food select proper size containers to eliminate left-overs that might be difficult to preserve


Store, prepare, and serve the following inside shelter facilities: bacon; corned beef hash; sausage; meat balls; chili con carne; tamales; chipped beef; salmon steak; crab meat; shrimp; clams; oysters; smoked bologna; country cured ham; au gratin potatoes; spaghetti; macaroni; buckwheat mix; canned cheese; tomatoes; brown bread; flour; relish; maple syrup; oatmeal; hot cereals; baby foods as needed

It might be sensible to keep a few packages of vegetable seeds in the shelter for a do-it-yourself post-war project.

Concerned housewives of the time who wished to do their own preserving had no shortage of recipe books to turn to for advice. Some recipes sound more than a little scary today, when we are more aware of serious food-poisoning, and some sound a little unnecessary – such as one in the 1940’s The New American Cookbook for preserving nuts by canning (bottling) in a pressure cooker. The idea was to delay rancidity – which would hardly be an issue under the circumstances, one would think. The same book has many candy recipes, and this one seems to me to be a better way of preserving nuts – and it would be a great comfort food too.

½ cup evaporated milk
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or fat
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup broken nut meats.
Combine milk and sugar. Cook slowly, stirring only until sugar is dissolved, until 236o F is reached, the stage at which a drop of mixture will form a soft ball when dropped into cold water. Add butter or fat. Cool slightly. Add other ingredients and beat until creamy. Pour into greased pan. Chill.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Dinner to die for.

Quotation for the Day …

Even if only ground beef was irradiated, it would save lots of lives. Dr. Donald Thayer, USDA; 1997

No comments: