I borrowed a great book from the library last week by Marguerite Patten called ‘Feeding the Nation‘. I’m reading it to try and get more inspiration and motivation to waste less food. Not that we waste a lot compared to the ‘average’ family; but we waste more than I would like to or need to.
A particular line that etched its way into my mind was “Virtually every cook in Britain behaved like a zealous squirrel – we bottled and / or dried fresh fruits, we salted beans, we prepared economical chutneys and pickles; we made the very best used of every available ingredient“.
This year I have made good use of our cooking apples for the first time ever and I even made chutney from a huge marrow. But for the past 6 years most of the apples have rotted into the ground and the marrows have been eaten by slugs. I’ve never known rationing or real hunger. All I’ve known is shops stacked high with everything I could possibly want to eat. In our culture, if we buy something and don’t like it, we have the luxury of throwing it out and replacing it with something else.
In the first few pages of the book are some examples of wartime rations, which for an adult for one week included:
1 egg (It’s not unusual for LMG to eat three for breakfast)
The picture on the right gives a weeks ration of protein products for an adult. When I showed the photo to Mr Green he said ‘Blimey; that’s one meal for me’.
Margueritte says “Our menus may have been monotonous, but both adults and children were incredibly healthy………..”
She was employed by the Ministry of food to give demonstrations in centres, markets, factory canteens, welfare clinics and outpatient departments of hospitals. She would travel around in vans with portable cookers to find people, wherever they might be, and make them aware of the importance of keeping their families well fed on the rations available.
The book covers a wide variety of recipes, some sound pretty harsh on the palette, but I’m going to have a go over the next three weeks to use some of the advice in there. She talks about making soups from vegetable trimmings and thickened with oatmeal, of fatless sponges (ewww!), omlettes made with dried eggs and there is ‘mock’ everything you can imagine – Mock goose, Mock duck, Mock marzipan and even Mock crab.
Well, I’m not convinced about a dried egg omlette or mock crab, but there are certainly a few frugal recipes in there that I’ll be trying. Eating in this way fits hand in glove with avoiding food waste, excessive packaging and making unnecessary purchases so I’ll let you know how I get on.
First up was to make my own mince pies for the first time ever – not exactly war time food, but there is even a section on the book for Christmas and street party celebrations! I knocked up 24 of the little darlings, including making my own mincemeat for Little Miss Green without all the ingredients she can’t / won’t eat.
Tonight I’m going to strip the chicken from the carcass and do something with it. I’m not sure what yet, but I’m sure I’ll get some tips from Ms Patten.
Talking of recipes, I promised the soup recipes I made last week. I’ll post them up tomorrow, but you’ll have to bear with me because I’m not much of a recipe user or developer. I’m more of a ‘throw it in’ cook – so my quantities are an estimate………..
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Tags: food waste