Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Efficiency on the Kitchen Front (1940)

The British wartime Ministry of Food did not waste any time getting the British housewife on side and fully armed with knowledge as to how to manage within the fledgling rationing system. An article in The Times of April 13, 1940 showed that the Ministry also worked to assist the alliance between industry and the nation’s home cooks.

Efficiency on the Kitchen Front.
How £200,000,000 a Year Could be Saved.
A four-course luncheon consisting of entirely unrationed foods – fruit, eggs, sweetbreads, kidneys, vegetables, and ice pudding – was served at the Dorchester yesterday at the opening of the gas industry’s national food education campaign.
      Sir David Milne-Watson, who presided, stated the s industry had 11,000,000 customers, and the Food Minister had done well to enlist this large body of women. The largest item in our expenditure abroad was food. Imported food – 20,000,000 tons of it – cost us in peace-time £400,000,000 a year. By alteration in their catering at home the women of the country could cut half of the foreign purchases off the shopping list, and save £2000,000,000 a year. This could only be done by adopting new ideas on foods and cooking. Every housewife had to prepare 1,000 meals in a year, and therefore had an important part to play in working for victory.
     The subject was far wider than simply the avoidance of waste, vitally important though that was. It was the task of housewives to keep the whole population fit. It was a question of health and moral, as well as anti-waste. There was a great opportunity for improvement in cooking. Moreover, household peace and harmony between the sexes was much assisted by efficiency on the kitchen front. Face powder might catch a man, but it took baking powder to hold him.
     A great new profession had grown up in the gas industry – that of trained an qualified domestic science demonstrators employed as home advisers and consultants. The industry had already assured Lord Woolton that these women would extend the work they were already doing to include instruction on wartime buying, catering, cooking, and economy. There were nearly 1,000 showrooms, 200 demonstration theatres, and 400 demonstrators ready to work not merely in the showrooms, but in ever place where women could gather together to hear them.
Women Anxious to Learn.
     Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, promised that in no circumstances would he ration baking powder. He was the last person to disturb domestic felicity. He was anxious to enroll a new army for war service. There were so many who wanted to help, and now they were to be given the opportunity. He was not only fortunate, but he was grateful to the gas industry for the magnificent effort it had placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Food. Judging by the postbag following his recent broadcast, the domestic science demonstrators would find a large number of women anxious to benefit by their tuition. The demonstrators were going out on a great national crusade. Women were eager to know what to do in the national emergency.
     Miss Ethel Willans, chief woman adviser to the Gas Light and Coke Company, maintained that English women were, on the whole, good cooks. If men would take notice and praise their wives’ culinary efforts, and be prepared to try new dishes, English cooking would reign supreme.

A staple store-cupboard item for the wartime housewife was a tin of sardines. A feature in The Times a little over a week after the above article gave some ideas for their use:

Sardines are full of vitamins and make wholesome eating. As a palatable addition to the supper-table, they are much to be commended. If we do not wish to serve them quite plain there is a variety of excellent recipes to choose from.
Sardine Tartlets.
Pound the contents of a small tin of sardines to a paste with a little of their oil. Add a chopped, hard-boiled egg, pepper and salt to taste, and a drop of vinegar. Fill up small pastry cases with the mixture, and bake until nicely browned.
A Scottish Recipe.

Put in a stewpan four beaten egg yolks, half an ounce of margarine, a dessertspoonful of chutney, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir over slow heat to a fairly firm paste. Thoroughly mask the sardines (dried on a cloth) with the mixture. Egg-and-breadcrumb each separately, fry to a light brown in clarified margarine. Serve them on thin, hot, crisp toast.

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