Potato Pastry

Potato Pastry is used in a variety of recipes.

Potato Pastry (for savoury dishes)

8 oz mashed potatoes.
4 oz flour.
1 oz cooking fat.
½ teaspoonful salt.

Method-Mix the flour with the salt. Rub in the fat and work into the potato. Mix to a very dry dough with a small quantity of cold water. Knead with the fingers and roll out.

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Potato Pastry (for sweet dishes)

8 oz flour.
4 oz mashed potato.
2 oz fat.
½ teaspoonful salt.

Method-Mix the flour and the salt. Cream the fat and the potato, add the flour, and a little water if necessary, to form a rather stiff dough.

Snoek (Snook)

Snoek
Snoek

During World War II when everything was scarce, food rationing was rife and cheap sources of protein were few and far between, somebody had the bright idea to catch cheap fish in South Africa, can it and ship it to England. Suffice to say it did not go down too well over here. The Web is full of war years recollections penned by people who remember this weird fish with the hugely amusing name arriving and being inedible. A large proportion of the tins that were imported remained firmly on shop shelves (despite optimistic suggestions from the Ministry of Food – like Snoek Piquante which seems to have become a kind of shorthand for everything unpalatable about food rationing!).

A tin of Snoek cost 1s 4d and towards the end of the war the unsold tins were relabelled as “Selected cuts of fish for cats and kittens” and sold for 10p!

Edited May 2015

Whale Meat

Tinned Whale Meat Casserole
Tinned Whale Meat Casserole

The benefits of eating fish were widely proclaimed, but again it was very scarce. Fishing was a dangerous occupation in mine-laden waters and the pier was a prohibited area, so fresh fish was a novelty and a luxury.

The ultimate came, however, when the government hit on the bright idea of combining fish and meat and urged us to eat whale meat. Where, or how, the whales were caught and brought to England I do not know. There must be a limit to how much whale one ship can carry, and one whale alone would provide a lot of whale steaks, but newspapers and the wireless told us how to prepare and cook the stuff, and sure enough, in due course, it appeared in the shops. From there, inevitably, it found its way onto our table.

It had been soaked overnight, steam-cooked, and soaked again, then blanketed with a sauce, but still it tasted exactly what it sounds like – tough meat with a distinctly fishy flavour, ugh. Just this once the next-door’s cat ate it!

Yes, we laugh about it all now, yet after all these years I still cannot bear to see good food wasted or thrown away – but I think I could make an exception with whale meat.

Copyright © Anne Butcher 2003

Wartime Radio – The Kitchen Front

A festive edition of The Kitchen Front, broadcast 20 December 1941. Sisters Elsie Waters (1895-1990) and Doris Waters (1904-1978) were an English radio and stage variety double-act, best known for their comic songs and sketches, and for the Cockney char characters Gert and Daisy.

During the Second World War, millions of people listened to an early morning five-minute BBC radio programme, The Kitchen Front. With the assistance of domestic teachers, dieticians, school-meal-organisers and hospital caterers, the Public Relations Division of the Ministry of Food gave the public lasting guidance about the healthiest way to feed themselves and to make the best use of their rations.

The Kitchen Front was by far the most popular wartime food programme, and was supervised by the Ministry of Food. Here the redoubtable pair explain how to cook mutton so as to resemble turkey (a good trick, for all his flying around a stage even David Copperfield couldn’t do that)! Food formed the subject of almost 2,000 wartime BBC broadcasts; unfortunately the end of this particular recording has not survived and it ends about a minute and a half early.