Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shadow Larders.

A spokesman at the Ministry of Food made an announcement in late October 1944 in which he disclosed that ‘food arrangements’ had been made in 1940 ‘to guard against invasion risk’. These stores were now to be released into the general pool of food resources.

The scale of the ‘arrangements’ had been huge. In practically every town and village of less than 30,000 people (about 20,000 locations), ‘shadow larders’ had been built up in case of invasion. The stored food totalled 54,000 tons at 20,000 locations.They would have enabled the immediate distribution of about 9 lb a head of ‘emergency biscuits, corned beef, tinned soup or stew, sugar, tea, and margarine. There had been practice runs to test the distribution system, but luckily it had never been needed, and now, he said, the remaining food (26,000 tons had been handed over for the use of the forces in the previous year), was to be released into the general supply system.

One wonders at the appeal of four year old margarine, but no doubt a wartime perspective made it quite attractive. I wonder what is stashed away today, in the bunkers of the movers and shakers of the world, in case of emergency?

Fats such as butter and margarine were rationed during WW II in Britain, and the British were exhorted to save the fat from meat etc that they could as this was then recycled to the manufacture of explosives. The Food Facts Leaflet number 189, in February 1944 focused on fat-saving ideas.

Try These Fat-Saving Tips.
1. Fried potatoes take less fat if they’re boiled first, so boil extra potatoes for frying later.
2. Use wrapping paper from butter, margarine and lard for greasing tins and covering food in the oven.
3. Fat left in frying pan can be strained and clarified, and re-used. Wipe out frying pan while still hot with a scrap of paper and salt – don’t clean with water.
4. After boiling fatty meats and suet puddings, allow the liquid to cool, and skim off the fat which has solidified. Use as dripping.
5. Fry herrings and sprats without fat. Warm the pan and sprinkle in salte before frying.
6. Give children dripping instead of margarine on bread.

From Food Facts Leaflet number 191, a recipe to use up some of that margarine.

Cheese and Potato Lunch.
(One of the prize-winning village recipes collected by the Women’s Institute)
Ingredients: 1 lb potatoes, ¼ teacup rolled oats, 1 teaspoonful dried mustard, 1 oz. margarine, ¾ teacup grated cheese, pepper and salt.
Method: Boil the potatoes and mash with a little milk. Season with pepper and salt and spread evenly in a sandwich tin.
While potatoes are cooking, mix in a bowl the oats, cheese, pepper, salt and mustard. Pour over this the margarine melted and mix to a stiff paste. Spread on top of the potatoes and cook in a hot oven for 10 minutes until a nice golden brown.
Decorate with parsley.

Quotation for the Day.

I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.
Erma Bombeck


valm said...

Now I definately remember Mum doing no 2,and 3 and I'm pretty sure 4 & 6 were part of her repertoire too.

Anonymous said...

How well I remember using the margarine papers to grease cake tins. Also opening out the sugar bags to ensure that not one crystal was left to be discarded.

Even now I love some dripping on bread!

Anonymous said...

This website is great!

I love reading about food history and it is so important to have that "institutional" memory in terms of what we eat. There is so much to be said for the thrifty eaters of the past and how that may come into play again.

A few years ago, I tried to do an independent study in college of historic recipes in Virginia, US (where I went to school). I never followed through (and no professor was that interested) but I'm glad to see this!