The British World War II Ministry of Food ‘Food Facts’ leaflets are an endless source of fascination to me. Over five hundred were produced, starting in 1940, and continuing for several years after the war. The leaflets were produced to assist the housewife in her role at ‘The Kitchen Front.’
WW II officially ended on September 1945. Rationing had begun in Britain in 1940, but , did not end completely until July 1954 – almost fourteen years later. In December 1945 the mood must have been one of great relief and happy anticipation. The British could not know at this point that the restrictions would often be greater in the post-war years than they had been during the war itself, as Britain diverted resources to assist the recovery of Europe.
As Christmas approached in 1945, the Ministry of Food produced its usual batch of leaflets advising about the usually slightly eased rations granted, and its recommendations for substituting and making-do, so that the season would still be festive. Here are some snippets from Food Facts leaflet No. 284, issued in mid-December, 1945.
FESTIVE TOUCHES FOR CHRISTMAS.
This isn’t going to be an easy Christmas, but it can be a cheerful one. Yes, you can make icing without icing sugar. Yes, you can still serve really luscious “cream”. Yes, you can still give the children an attractive party sweet that uses very little sugar. Try these tested recipes, and see!
FRUIT SNOW: A favourite with the children.
(Enough for 4.) Ingredients: ½ pint water, 1 level tablespoon sugar, 1 level tablespoon powdered gelatin, quarter pint fruit pulp, made from stewed or bottled fruit. Method: Heat the water and sugar together and pour onto the gelatin. Stir until dissolved. When cool add the fruit pulp and beat until the consistency of whipped cream. Serve in individual glasses or pile into a dish.
Extra sweets for the Stockings.
Ingredients: 6 level tablespoons barley flakes or rolled oats, 4 level tablespoons cocoa, 4 level tablespoons Household Milk, DRY, 1 level tablespoon syrup, 1 level tablespoon sugar, 3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Method: Toast the barley flakes or rolled oats in the oven first. Mix the milk, cocoa and barley flakes or rolled oats together. Melt the syrup and sugar in the water. Add the essence and mix with the dry ingredients. Pour into a greased tin 5 in.by 8 in. and leave overnight to set. Cut in 1 in. squares. This quantity makes ½ lb.
RICH MOCK CREAM.
To serve with fruit, trifle, or other sweet dishes.
Ingredients: 2 level tablespoons custard powder or cornflour, ½ pint milk, 1 oz.margarine, ½ oz. sugar, flavouring. Method: Blend the custard powder with a little cold milk. Warm the rest of the milk in a saucepan. Add it to the custard powder and return to the pan. Stir over heat till well cooked. Put aside to cool. Cream margarine and sugar together very well; beat in the thick custard, add flavouring, and continue to beat until creamy. This makes about ½ pint of cream similar in texture to whipped cream.
ICING using Household Milk.
For icing the Christmas cake, or small cakes or buns.
Ingredients: 4 level dessertspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 6 level tablespoons Household Milk, DRY. Colouring and flavouring if liked. Method: Heat the sugar and water gently until the sugar has all dissolved. Add the Household Milk gradually, beating all the time. Add colouring and flavouring as liked, for chocolate icing use 5 level tablespoons Household Milk and 1 level tablespoon cocoa.