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Bailey Tries… WWII Rationing

This was the entirety of my meals for the week.

I had such great hopes for this “Bailey Tries…”. Truly, I did. I made a spreadsheet. I printed off my checklist. I double checked everything and it all went up in flames. So, my original idea was to do a week’s worth of meals based on the UK version of rationing during WWII. I teach about this in my business class so I thought it would be interesting to experience just a taste of what it was like to be so limited. I also chose recipes that came from some of the many UK Ministry of Food leaflets that they gave out to help housewives. It really was a great plan but then I got sick. Like couldn’t eat for days sick so it became a mad panic to eat all the fresh produce I could when I felt better and through the rationing out the window. HOWEVER, I did get three recipes in before I got sick and these were the results…

Recipe #1: Beef and Prune Hotpot

Yep, you read that correctly! Beef and Prune. By now you know I am curious about a lot and while I didn’t want to make a ton of strange foods I was curious about how they “padded out” meat dishes when meat was a luxury. Apparently, the answer was prunes… Here’s the thing, it wasn’t bad at all. The prunes imparted a bit of sweetness like carrots would and it essentially tasted like a cheap version of a cottage pie. The only thing that got me was when a piece of prune would be gritty. I just couldn’t deal with that. Of course, I guess it would be different if the Nazis were attacking. (Recipe)

Recipe #2: Keep the Wolf from the Door Vegetable Stew

This was a far more straightforward dish. Veggie stew with anything and everything thrown in. It was delicious, if basic. It was cool to see how they got creative with other ingredients like using marmalade or chutney to sweeten and add flavor. Preserves were great for protecting fruit from waste and a great use of sugar when it was so limited so why not drop some into the pot. It worked well. I think I’ll make it again but add in sausage or something to give it a little extra oomph. It was very autumnal and made me long for cooler weather. (Recipe)

Recipe #3: Wartime Loaf

This was my first time cooking with whole wheat flour but this turned out great. Similar to other hand kneaded, quick breads, it was dense but would make for a great sandwich bread and really wasn’t hard to throw together. The thing that made you appreciate how easy we have it without war constraints was the little things you take for granted. No oiling the bowl for the dough to rise in because you can’t waste the fat. No butter on top of the loafs to stick the oats but only water for the same reason. It’s those things that you just so easily reach for that simply weren’t there during WWII that made me appreciate my little experiment, even if it didn't go to plan. (Recipe)


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