In mid-July 1939, the British Medical Association published a twelve-page booklet entitled “How to Stock your A.R.P Larder.” With World War II imminent, the aim was “to translate into practical terms the advice given by the Government that persons in a position to do so should now provide a reserve of non-perishable foods in addition to the stores they usually keep.
The suggestions were “based on scientific standards and stated to be sufficient for the needs of a household of a man, wife, and three children, or of four adults for one week.”
“The list given consists mostly of tinned and dried foods, and is as follows:
TINNED FOODS: Corned beef, 8 lb; salmon, 4 lb; sardines (or herrings) 4 lb; milk, whole condensed, sweetened, 2 lb; milk, whole dried, 3 lb; or evaporated, 7 ½ lb; black treacle 1 lb; golden syrup, 1 lb; tomatoes, 6 lb; tomato puree, 2 lb; carrots, 3 lb.
OTHER FOODS: Sugar, 4lb; plain eating chocolate, 1 lb; cocoa, loose, 1 lb; prunes, 1 lb; dried apricots, 1 lb; raisins, ½ lb; rice, 2 lb; cornflour ½ lb; haricot beans, 1lb; dried green peas, 1 lb; lentils, ½ lb; white flour, 10lb; bacon, 1 lb; eggs, 1 doz; tea, ½ lb; salt, 1 lb; cream of tartar, 1 pb; baking soda, ½ lb; and dried onions, 1 cellophane packet.
ALTERNATIVE ITEMS: Lamb’s tongues, 12 oz tin; blackcurrants 2 lb tin; spinach, 15 ¼ oz tin. Tinned lamb tongues can be substituted for some of the corned beef – 2 lb of tongue equaling 1¼ lb of beef.”
The booklet notes that in the event of prolonged strife, bakers’ yeast may not be available, in which case soda bread would be a good substitute (hence the inclusion of the soda and cream of tartar in the supplies. A recipe for soda bread was included – but unfortunately I do not have that particular piece of the booklet. Soda bread of course was not possible before the development of baking soda and baking powder, which became established in the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Here is an early American version made with buttermilk.
A correspondent of the Newry Telegraph gives the following receipt for making soda bread, stating that there is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the bod,y promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels. He says put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda, dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough; it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better; form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying pan with some metallic cover such as an oven lid or griddle; apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid and keep it so for half an hour longer, the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes, taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn. This he concludes when somewhat cooled and moderately buttered is as wholesome as ever entered man's stomach
Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1837.
Quotation for the Day.
As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.