Spinach and Popeye


Popeye joined the American Navy in 1941 and fought through until 1945. His uniform was shown in all white during his war service. His secret weapon was tinned spinach. Voiced by Jack Mercer, Popeye along with his girlfriend, the fickle Olive Oly and his nemesis Brutus was a favorite in the cinema and later on television.

Many assumed that spinach was chosen for its high iron content but it was actually for the Vitamin A that it was selected.

In memory of Popeye and friends here are some spinach recipes from the 1942 cookbook.

Spinach (Creamed)

2lb. spinach (or perpetual spinach beet)
½oz nut fat
1 tablespoon wholewheat flour

Pick over spinach and wash thoroughly. If spinach or beet is used, the thick stalks and mid-rib are best removed. They can be cooked separately.
Put 1oz nut fat in bottom of pan, put spinach on top (add no water), tuck greaseproof paper closely down on top, put on lid and cook gently until tender, stirring occasionally (10-15 minutes).
Melt 1oz nut fat, stir in one tablespoon wholewheat flour and cook gently, then add stock from spinach, and boil up, gently stirring all the time. If there is not enough stock, a little milk should be added. Stir chopped spinach into sauce and serve on a hot dish immediately.

Spinach and Oatmeal

2lb spinach
1 tablespoon Quick Quaker Oats
½oz cooking fat

Prepare spinach and chop up. Put fat in bottom of saucepan, then add spinach, sprinkling the oatmeal through it. Cover closely and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring or shaking at intervals.


Carrot Pudding

4ozs flour
3/4 cup grated raw potato
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated raw carrot
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon treacle
4ozs breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
3ozs. cooking fat
3 tablespoons hot water
1oz chopped dates
2ozs sultanas

Sift the flour with the salt and spice and rub in the fat. Mix in breadcrumbs, sultanas, dates, potato, carrot and melted treacle. Mix well. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in hot water and stir in, seeing that it is distributed through the pudding. Turn at once into a greased bowl and cover with greased paper. Steam about 21/2 hours.


Vegetable Ragout

3ozs  margarine
1 pint vegetable stock (or water)
1 tablespoon flour
12 spring onions
A few French beans
½ pint peas
2 sprigs mint
6 small carrots
1lb. small new potatoes
2 turnips

Peel the onions and cut into pieces, using some of the green part as well. Scrub the carrots, peel the turnips,
and cut both into small pieces. Scrape the potatoes, put all into a saucepan with the margarine, and stir over heat
for five or 10 minutes, but do not brown. Add the flour, stirring it in well, then the stock, peas, beans and mint,
and cook until all the vegetables are tender.


Hungarian Potatoes

Potatoes were the mainstay of the British diet during the war. This is a dish best made with leftovers so nothing is wasted.

1lb cold cooked potatoes
3ozs grated cheese (or 2 hard-boiled eggs)
Cold cooked cauliflower
Bread crumbs
1 dessertspoon chopped parsley
1 gill sour milk
Celery salt

Slice potatoes. Place in well-buttered dish, cover with sour milk. Add a layer of grated cheese or sliced hard- boiled egg, and a little more milk, then add a layer of cauliflower. Continue in this way until the dish is full, at intervals sprinkling in the celery salt and parsley. The top layer should be potatoes sprinkled with breadcrumbs. Bake in moderate oven until brown.


Vegetable and Oatmeal Stew

On this day in 1942 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a bill that lowered the minimum draft age from 21 to 18.

1oz cooking fat
1 small cup each of diced carrots, peas, leeks, runner beans*
2ozs rolled oats
1 pint strong vegetable stock

*Frozen vegetables are suitable although not available in wartime.


Melt fat in a deep saucepan, add oats and fry until golden brown, add stock and boil gently. Add vegetables, cover closely and cook gently in oven for 1½- 2 hours, adding more stock if necessary and a little seasoning if liked.