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Making Do During WWII

Discussion in 'The Home Front' started by Jim, Nov 17, 2006.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Beetroot juice for lipstick and winter coats fashioned from curtain material... Flowerbeds dug up to plant potatoes and chickens kept on the roof... All were routine in wartime Britain when many essentials were either rationed or unobtainable and people had to make do.

    For many people, the oddities and austerities of the daily diet are among the most vivid memories of civilian life in World War n, Food rationing was introduced to Britain in stages. A cautious beginning was made on January 8th 1940, with rationing on bacon and butter (4oz (115g) per person per week) and sugar (12oz (340g). The law declared that every householder must register with their local shops. Meat rationing followed in March and was by price rather than weight. The cheaper the cut, the more was available. From July, tea, cooking fats, jam and cheese were rationed. For eggs and milk the Government used a different rationing system; supplies were allocated to shops in proportion to the number of customers registered there. People were permitted one egg per fortnight, though supplies were not guaranteed as they were with the other rationed goods. Additionally, a points system gave shoppers a choice of foods such as breakfast cereals, biscuits, canned fruit and fish. These were all valued at a certain number of points, and customers could buy what they wanted up to a maximum of points.
    All in all it was a complicated system involving a lot of paperwork. But despite official misgivings, rationing proved popular with most people because of its fairness.

    Official Recipe Leaflets Encouraged Healthy Eating.

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    The rich were hit as much as the poor. In the better-off houses, it was reported, a weekend guest might arrive with his own little parcel of butter to give to the butler who took his suitcase. To ensure that everyone was adequately nourished, what were called British Restaurants were set up, where workers could get a meal at a modest cost: minced beef with carrots and parsnips was a typical dish. To boost the vitamin intake, the Ministry of Health, made sure that every child received daily milk, cod liver oil and orange juice. The Ministry also filled newspapers with Food Facts designed to keep the nation healthy, and to make the best of unrestricted foods, particularly vegetables. Open any periodical, it seemed, and there was “Good News About Carrots!â€￾

    Queing was a Wartime Institution. A million British Women lined up every day for their groceries, often bringing newspaper because wrapping paper was in short supply.

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  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Ministry of Food Recipes:

    War and Peace Pudding

    This pudding was made in Canada during the last war. Since then, many people have never bothered with a rich Christmas pudding.
    Mix together one cupful of flour, one cupful of bread crumbs, half a cupful of suet, half a cupful of mixed dried fruit, and, if you like, a teaspoon of mixed sweet spice. Then add a cupful of grated raw carrot and finally a level teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in two tablespoonfuls of hot water. Mix all together, turn into a well-greased pudding bowl. The bowl should be not more than two-thirds full. Boil or steam for at least two hours.

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    Carrot Croquettes

    Six carrots, 1 oz margarine, oatmeal, 1 gill of milk, 1 oz cornflour, fat for frying, seasoning to taste.
    Boil the carrots till tender, drain and put through a sieve. Add seasoning to taste. Make a thick white sauce with the cornflour, margarine and milk, and then add the sieved carrot to it. Leave till cold, then shape into croquettes, roll in oatmeal and fry in deep hot fat. Drain well and serve.

    Eat Me! Doctor Carrot and Potato Pete (Above) were propaganda figures created to encourage consumption of available vegetables.​

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  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Government recipes invited readers to try their hand at Carrot Croquettes and Carrot Fudge, Patriotic Puddings and All-Clear Sandwiches. So called Woolton Pie, a disagreeable concoction of potatoes, parsnips and herbs became something of a wartime joke.

    Meals on wheels: A mobile canteen delivers food to a bomb-damaged London suburb. Mobile laundries and baths also offered relief when homes were destroyed or when supplies of gas, water and electricity were cut off.

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    The Ministry also managed to get Spam, dried eggs and dried milk in quantities from the United States, and for the eggs, especially, some people came almost to feel a real affection. A Tynesider recalled of his wartime boyhood: We never starved but we ate some bloody funny things. Best was American dried egg. You poured a thin trickle into the frying pan, and then as it cooked it blew up like a balloon, till it was 2in thick, like a big yellow hump-backed whale. Pig's brains and cows udders were eaten. Customers could have a modest-priced meal without coupons, but they had to be careful. Sometimes, having finished a juicy steak, the restaurant-goer might see a notice saying: Horse is Provided Here.

    War on Waste: The Government encouraged thriftiness and self-reliance with such slogans as Make Do and Mend, Grow Your Own Food, Dig for Victory and Wage War on Waste.

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    Bread was never rationed in Britain during the war years, and despite its unappetising greyness the long, coarse National Loaf had its admirers. Children often had it cooked, mashed with parsnips, a little sugar and some essence of banana, to make what passed for mashed bananas.

    "Dig for Victory" was one of the great wartime slogans, first launched in a broadcast of October 1939 when the Agriculture Minister, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, called for every able-bodied man and woman to dig an allotment in their spare time. Lawns and flowerbeds were turned into vegetable gardens; office workers cultivated plots in town parks. The aim was to make Britain as self-sufficient in food as possible. Chickens, rabbits and even pigs were reared in town gardens.
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Anything Under the Counter!

    Although cigarettes and alcohol were never officially rationed, they were often in short supply. Many shopkeepers made a point of allocating their own limited stocks of small necessities to their favourite customers. Housewives often finished their shopping by asking the shopkeeper AVC? meaning Anything Under the Counter? Make Do and Mend was, above all, the order of the day. There were huge salvage drives in which scrap materials from rags to waste paper were collected and carted away to be reprocessed. Bones were salvaged to make glue for aircraft. In the great drive for scrap metals, householder's aluminium pots were collected to make Spitfire fighter planes, and parks, gardens and town houses were stripped of their ornamental iron railings, sacrificed to make ships and tanks.

    Savings Drive: Britons handed over their aluminium utensils to be made into aircraft. At home, people "made do" by mending old clothes with needle and thread.

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    In much the same spirit, ordinary people adapted service materials from army blankets to parachute silk to meet their fashion needs. Clothing was rationed from June 1941 on a points system: in principle, it allowed people to buy one complete new outfit a year.

    Meanwhile, new Utility clothing was introduced. To save fabric, mens trousers were made without turnups while women's skirts were short and straight, with no trimmings. The women's magazines were packed with handy tips on how, for example, old lace curtains might be cut up to make a dashing little bolero, and every type of ingenuity was applied in the name of style. A woman from Walsall in the Midlands remembers how shoe polish and the colouring matter used in the gravy for the Sunday joint became indispensable fashion accessories: Stockings were in short supply so girls coloured their legs with tan cream or gravy browning, very nice until it rained! A friend would draw a line down the back of your legs, with an eyebrow pencil, for the seam. Even the design of tables and chairs was influenced by war time shortages. The wood used and the amount of decoration was limited by government specifications. Utility furniture was the name given to the resulting articles, which were plain but serviceable enough.
     

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