Today, I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful Sue Barnard to the blog, with a post all about rationing during WWII, and the setting for her out-tomorrow novel, Finding Nina. There’s also a couple of recipes you might want to try…
MAKING DO AND PRETENDING
Finding Nina begins in November 1943, when World War Two was still at its height and the whole country was subject to stringent rationing. Rationing was introduced at the start of the war, to ensure that everyone, regardless of status or income, would receive an equal share of goods which were in limited or short supply.
Rations varied from month to month, depending on availability of individual items, but here’s the basic weekly ration per adult:
BACON & HAM: 4oz (100g).
MEAT: to the value of 1s 2d (equivalent to approximately £2.50 in today’s money). Obviously the cheaper the cut, the more your money would buy.
BUTTER: 2oz (50g).
CHEESE: 1oz (25g). A larger allowance (up to 8oz/200g per week) was given to those doing hard physical work.
MARGARINE: 4oz (100g).
COOKING FAT: 2-4 oz (50-100g).
MILK: 2-3 pints (1200-1800ml). 1 packet of skimmed dried milk was also available every 4 weeks. This could be reconstituted by mixing 4 level tablespoons of the milk powder with 1 pint (600ml) of water.
SUGAR: 8oz (225g).
PRESERVES: 1lb (450g) every 2 months.
TEA: 2oz (50g). (Coffee was virtually unobtainable.)
EGGS: Shell eggs: 1 every 1-2 weeks, depending on availability (if any). Dried eggs: 1 packet every 4 weeks. Dried egg could be reconstituted by blending 1 level teaspoon of dried egg powder with 2 tablespoons of water, which would give the equivalent of one fresh egg.
SWEETS: 12oz (350g) every 4 weeks.
So not very much to go on! Fortunately other foodstuffs, such as vegetables and whole-grain foods such as flour and oats, were not subject to such rigid constraints. This led to some ingenious creativity in the kitchen. As one of the characters in Finding Nina observes, people became very good at pretending.
One such example is the frequent use of potatoes. Potato Pete quickly became a national hero!
Potatoes were included in all sorts of unlikely recipes, ranging from shortcrust pastry to Christmas pudding. The latter is featured during one set of Christmas celebrations in the story.
Sift 6oz (150g) of self-raising flour with a pinch of salt. Rub in 2-3oz (50-75g) of cooking fat and add 2oz (50g) of grated raw potato. Mix well, bind with water, and roll out on a floured board. Use as ordinary shortcrust pastry and bake in a hot oven.
EGGLESS CHRISTMAS PUDDING:
1 cup of flour
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 cup of sugar
Half a cup of suet
1 cup of mixed dried fruit
1 teaspoon of mixed sweet spice
1 cup of grated potato
1 cup of grated raw carrot
1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot milk.
Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a well-greased pudding basin. Boil or steam for 4 hours.
Even when World War Two ended, rationing did not – it carried on for a further nine years, finally coming to an end in 1954.
FINDING NINA is already available for pre-order. The book is officially released on 3 June 2019, when there will be an online launch party on Facebook, with guests, competitions and giveaways. To add yourself to the guest list, click here then select “Going”. See you there!
MORE ABOUT FINDING NINA:
1943: A broken-hearted teenager gives birth in secret. Her soldier sweetheart has disappeared, and she reluctantly gives up her daughter for adoption.
1960: A girl discovers a dark family secret, but it is swiftly brushed back under the carpet. Conventions must be adhered to.
1982: A young woman learns of the existence of a secret cousin. She yearns to find her long-lost relative, but is held back by legal constraints. Life goes on.
2004: Everything changes…
Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet who was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad. She now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.
Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue’s own family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Finding Nina, which is her sixth novel, is not that book.
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