Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wartime Cabbage.

Cabbage was a great mainstay for the British housewife during World War II. It was home-grown – sometimes literally, in garden beds and allotments – it stored well, and it was very useful to ‘bulk-up’ other dishes.

Cabbage featured in many of the Ministry of Food’s Food Facts leaflets. Nutrition being at the forefront of the Ministry’s attention, a great deal of effort went into persuading the housewife to give up her grandmother’s method of ‘cooking cabbage in chunks … for half an hour or more … until it becomes soggy … colourless, and tasteless … ’, a method which also caused a lot of its goodness (especially its Vitamin C) to be boiled away.

The Ministry advised in several of their leaflets that instead, ‘Shredding is the secret of delicious cabbage’. One leaflet included a strip ‘cartoon’ story featuring grandma learning a thing or two about cabbage cookery from her granddaughter (who had learned it from the Ministry’s leaflets), and another included a helpful little rhyme about the technique (see the Quotation for the Day.)

I have chosen two recipes for you today from the Ministry of Food’s leaflets. The first is for red cabbage, from December 1942, the second is from March 1943 and is for a substantial side-dish or vegetarian main dish with a very puzzling name.

Try cooking it this way. Slice 2 lb. cabbage finely with a knife. Put into a saucepan with a cupful of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on. Just before serving, drain, add 1 tablespoonful mixed lemon substitute, a teaspoonful of sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and shake well.

1 cabbage (shredded)
1 leek, chopped,
¾ pint boiling water
1 oz. flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 oz. grated cheese
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 eggs (reconstituted)
Salt and pepper
A little chopped parsley.
Method: Cook cabbage and leek in the boiling salted water until tender (10 to 15 minutes). Drain, and keep cabbage hot. Blend flour and mustard with a little milk, and add to the liquid from the cabbage. Boil up, add cheese and vinegar. Stir in the eggs and seasoning. Stir until the sauce thickens, but do not boil. Pour over the cabbage, sprinkle with parsley. Serve with potatoes, sautéed if possible.

Quotation for the Day.

Don’t waste fuel
On a vegetabuel
It’s more to your credit
To shred it.
Ministry of Food’s Food Facts No. 128

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