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“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. … It is evil things that we will be fighting against—brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution—and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”

Neville Chamberlain – September 3rd, 1939

On September 3rd, 1939, it was announced, that Great Britain was at war with Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and life for the British was to change drastically. I am sure you are all aware of the tragedies of WWII, but I want to focus on the one part of life during wartime Britain that I have a keen interest in. Food.

During the First World War, Britain had a food crisis, in that two years into the war, we were left with only six weeks food and from therein, food had to be rationed. There was no strict plan in force, and unfortunately many measures taken towards rationing failed. During the Second World War, rationing was re-introduced just months after war was declared, in an effort to make sure that Britain had food. Infact, during the war, Britons were at their healthiest than ever, nobody ate too much fatty foods, too many carbohydrates, etc. Rationing provided everyone with a healthy, balanced diet.

Anyway, that’s enough fact regurgitating for now, I’ve got a few more blogs planned for this week, where I can share some more!

If I were to ask most people now, what they would expect ration based meals to be like, I would expect them to be suspicious of them, expecting them to be dull, and bland meals, however, I know this not to be true. Sure, life during the war was hard for everyone, but food brought people together, and when you’re limited in the kitchen, and as they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and some great dishes were made during this time of austerity!

I’m going to share with you, a three course feast, all based on rations, and to start off with, a dish that people would have enjoyed, until 1942, when onions were rationed for two years, until 1944….

Onion Soup

Ingredients :

  • 6 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 30g butter (ration per week ranged from 227g to 57g), or margerine (ration per week ranged from 340g to 113g)
  • tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1tsp sugar (ration per week ranged from 454g to 227g)
  • tbsp vinegar
  • 1 litre of beef “tea”, made from Oxo or Bovril, for authenticity
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bread (bread wasn’t rationed until after the war, but you would have been limited to “national loaf”)

Method :

  1. Place your pan on the stove, and bring to a high head, add the butter and oil.
  2. When very hot, add the thinly sliced onions and sugar, and stir for 5 minutes, until they start to take on colour.
  3. When the onions have taken on colour, reduce heat to a minimum, and leave to sweat for around 30 minutes.
  4. Return to a high heat, and then add the vinegar to the pan.
  5. Add the beef tea, and reduce to a simmer for an hour without a lid on.
  6. Adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with some bread to dunk in.

So there is your starter for your three course, wartime feast! It’s brilliant how so few ingredients, so simple, can make something both tasty, nutritious, and on a cold night during the war, warming, which would have been a welcome treat for any air raid wardens working throughout the night, in their trusty Thermos flask!

As I said, food was something that brought people together during WWII, but one other, was music. It was important to keep morale high, and the BBC, gave big band and jazz, dance music, better slots in their radio scheduling. Also, artists like George Formby (and no, I still won’t play any Fromby numbers on my ukulele!) were played. Upbeat, jaunty music kept morale high.

The reason I’m now talking about music, is that my good friend, Lorraine “Swingaroo”, is putting on a monthly event in Preston, the “Swingaroo Vintage Dancehall“, where music from the 1920’s, to the 1950’s will be played. There will be a good mix of music, from vocal harmony groups, to big bands, to rock’n’roll, and each night begins with a dance lesson, to teach you how to do The Lindy Hop, I’ll be the one flat on his face. I’m a terrible dancer.

So yeah, this is the reason for my rationing era themed week, I want to help get you “In The Mood” for the Swingaroo Vintage Dancehall, and remember… “We’ll eat again, don’t know where, don’t know when”

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Wow, after all the hype, scandals, name calling and televised debates, it’s finally Election Day, or as I like to know it, National Not Voting Conservative Day (yeah, I’m a bleeding-heart, liberal!), most of us have been out to make our votes, even though Rupert Murdoch (boooo, hissss) has already told us how to vote, through owning far too many media companies than one man should be allowed. Knowing my luck he owns WordPress, and I’ll come to my blog in a short while, and find it heavily censored, but enough about politics, lets talk about food.

During the American election coverage (ok, I promise I’ll stop talking about politics soon), me and a couple of friends stayed up all night to follow it, with pizza and booze, and for the UK General Election, I thought I would go one better, and make food from scratch for it… well, yeah, I’m still having a shop bought pizza, but I’m terrible at making pizza, so there! But cookies, I’ve not made cookies in ages, and I decided that’s what I should make.

I instantly thought, “Smarties Cookies”, it’s one of my favourite things about getting a meal deal at Subway, the Smarties Cookies!! So tasty, and chewy and best when slightly warm. So off I popped to the village shop, they sell Smarties, surely, I’ve seen them there before… heh, I wish. The one day when I want a few tubes of Smarties… they don’t have any.

But no!, Lady Luck was on my side, as I saw in the corner of my eye, a choir of angels began to sing, as I spotted a big family pack of M&M’s! Hooray! All was not lost, and I can tell you, I walked home with a spring in my step after being rescued by Mars Inc.

Election Day Cookies, in the blue cookie, Conservatives, in the red cookie, Labour, and in the orange cookie, Liberal Democrats

Election Day Cookies, in the blue cookie, Conservatives, in the red cookie, Labour, and in the orange cookie, Liberal Democrats

Election Day M&M Cookies

Ingredients :

  • 345g plain flour
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 250g butter (softened)
  • 185g bag of Chocolate M&M’s
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp of baking powder

Method :

  1. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until it goes pale.
  3. Once pale, beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually beat the dry ingredients in to the butter and egg mixture, until it forms a stiff dough.
  5. Stir the M&M’s into the cookie dough.
  6. Roll into small balls, and place on a baking tray with baking parchment, leaving enough room for them to expand (and they will!)
  7. Bake at 20o degrees centigrade for 10 minutes (or until golden), reduce the heat accordingly for fan assisted ovens.
  8. When taken out of the oven, give the tray with the cookies on it a gentle slam onto a hard surface, to knock the air out, and make the M&M’s more pronounced
  9. Leave on trays to stiffen slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Make sure you try at least one whilst still warm, as this is when all cookies are at their best (although they’re just as good cold!)
About to take the first bite

About to take the first bite

Yummy

Yummy

Met with approval!

Met with approval!

BLOG UPDATE!! Friends have accused me of bias towards the big three parties, and insisted that I created a cookie which represented the fascist BNP… so here, I give you… “THE BNP BISCUIT!!”

"Racially Pure" cookie

"Racially Pure" cookie

NOT met with approval

NOT met with approval*

*actually, it’s still a nice cookie, but for the purposes of political commentary, a cookie representing the fascist BNP could never be met with approval, could it?

In the next blog, I promise there won’t be as much politics!! I swear!

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Yeah, so that’s the last time I consult Urban Dictionary for possible funny uses for the word “fudge”… so yeah, from my opening gambit, you may have fathomed that this post is about fudge. If that is what one fathomed, then one fathomed correctly. Here, have a piece of fudge. I’ve got loads of it.

I’ve spent all weekend (well, Friday and Saturday) making fudge. Two types. One recipe isn’t mine, one recipe is mine. Firstly I shall discuss the recipe that isn’t mine. This is a complete copy/pasta job, and I shall take no credit for it. Except when my friends eat it, and they all go “wowww, this is sooo gooooooooooood”… then I shall take all the credit I possibly can for it!

Sophie Dahl’s Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients :

  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 500g/1lb 2oz dark brown sugar
  • 120ml/4fl oz milk
  • 250g/9oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 300g/10½oz icing sugar

Method :

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and milk, and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, without stirring.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla seeds.
  4. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl, and pour the hot butter and sugar mixture on top. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until smooth.
  5. Pour into a 20cm/8in square baking tray, and set aside to cool slightly, then place in the fridge to chill completely.
  6. Cut the fudge into squares with a sharp knife, turn out of the tin and store in an airtight container.

Recipe taken from : http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/peanutbutterfudge_93630.shtml

So yeah, it is really nice, although as with all fudge, quite sickly. Just to finish off this bit, here is a picture of my peanut butter fudge I made…

Sophie Dahl's Peanut Butter Fudge

Sophie Dahl's Peanut Butter Fudge

As I said, not my recipe, but I thought that I should share it with you lovely, lovely people, and suggest that you give it a try, it’s a nice simple fudge recipe that doesn’t require a sugar thermometer. Which is good for me, as I still don’t own one, but I think with this new found skill of fudge making, I’m going to have to purchase one for myself.

But no!! Today’s blog doesn’t end here. How could I leave you, just reading my ramblings on, and not provide you with an original recipe? That would be morally bankrupt of me. I would go to sleep, feeling dirty, that I fobbed you off with a half hearted copy/pasta. No. I would never do that. Never ever. I’m good to my readers.

I don’t know about everyone, but I’m sure a lot of people from my parents generation (in their late 40’s/early 50’s) have one of those collections of recipes. Well, I have one. It has some old family recipes, and in it, I found a recipe for Chocolate Fudge.

I like chocolate, and fudge is a great medium for chocolate, but I thought to myself… well chocolate fudge is good, but it’s not terribly exciting. So, I took a list of basic ingredients with me into town, and began to buy them, looking out for something I could do to make it more exciting. A few of my ideas were (and bear in mind that I will do some of these when I get the ingredients)

  • Mocha Fudge (coffee and chocolate)
  • White Chocolate and Strawberry Popping Candy Fudge
  • After Dinner Mint Fudge (dark chocolate and peppermint extract)

Those were my three ideas, and yes, the Mocha and After Dinner Mint fudges were possible, but as walking through the shops I had some more grand ideas of how I could make the After Dinner Mint fudge, and decided that as nice as Mocha fudge would be, I’m not a big fan of coffee, and definitely have to be in the mood for it. And as for popping candy, it seems near impossible to find. Anywhere. Not even Hawkin’s Bazaar sold it, and they sell loads of sweets from when we were kids!!

So I did what any other 22 year old with a sweet tooth would do. I got the ingredients to make Double Chocolate Fudge! Hoorah!! Oh, and I’d advise using an electric whisk to do this. It takes a while to make even with one of those!

Double Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients :

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 120g dark chocolate
  • 800g icing sugar
  • bag of white chocolate chips

Method :

  1. In a large bowl, soften the butter, and then slowly beat in the condensed milk.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate, either in a bain marie, or in the microwave.
  3. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, and then gradually beat into the butter and condensed milk.
  4. Add 200g of the icing sugar, and mix it in.
  5. Add as many white chocolate chips as you want. I went for the entire bag. Incorporate into the mixture.
  6. Gradually, add the rest of the icing sugar until it forms a dough like consistency.
  7. Pour into a suitable tin lined with a greaseproof paper, and allow to set in the fridge overnight.
  8. Dice into bite sized pieces, sit in front of the tv and scoff them.
Double Chocolate Fudge

Double Chocolate Fudge

So now it’s got me thinking, what other types of fudge can I make? The one flavour which is buzzing around in my head at the moment is a two layered fudge of Rhubarb and Custard Fudge. Which would consist of a bottom layer of bright cerise fudge flavoured with rhubarb, and a bright yellow top layer, made with none other than Birds custard. I’ve just found a website (literally, just now) which does flavours, including rhubarb flavours, and they allow up to 5 samples. I don’t know if I will get approved for some samples, but be assured that if I do get samples sent for rhubarb flavourings, there will be a blog post very shortly after I get it in the post!!

I think that’s about it for this post, and MY!! What a post. Two recipes. Loads of wittering on about fudge. Blimey.

I guess one final thing to ask, what flavours of fudge would you like to try? Answers in the comments box. You see, I’m thinking about looking into selling fudge (obviously this would require me to take a Food Safety course/exam, and for my kitchen to go under inspection to make sure that it’s safe and clean enough to use for making food to sell) but it may just be worth it!

Seriously, does anyone want a piece of fudge? I’ve got a metric shitload of it!!

Kris

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Rice Puddin’

Rice pudding, I used to bloody hate the stuff when I was younger… I guess I was spoilt by getting to experience my nan’s homemade rice pudding, which then just raised the bar for all following attempts, and they never quite matched up, leading me to avoid the stuff like the plague, however, whilst reading Hugh Fearnly’s book, “The River Cottage Year” on Saturday night, during a moment of boredom as my laptop was playing up and there was nothing on TV, I came across this recipe, and Hugh was the same as me, he used to bloody hate the stuff, so I put my faith in him, got the ingredients together and gave it a bash… and I tell you what, it’s bloody lovely!! (Though I’ll still never go back to the tinned crap!)

Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall’s Rice Pudding

Ingredients :

  • 100g Pudding Rice
  • 50g Unsalted Butter, Melted
  • 500ml Single Cream
  • 500ml Full Fat Milk
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • A grating of nutmeg
  1. Preheat the oven at 140degrees C/Gas Mark
  2. Melt the unsalted butter in a pan over a gentle heat, and make sure it doesn’t get too hot.
  3. Add the pudding rice, and stir so that the rice is coated with butter.
  4. Add the cream, milk and sugar and simmer for 10 minutes on a very low heat.
  5. Whilst mixture is simmering, butter an ovenproof dish to cook the rice pudding in.
  6. Transfer mixture to ovenproof dish, grate nutmeg over the top, and put in the oven for 3 hours, stirring every half hour to break up the rice.
  7. Serve with whatever your favourite topping, be it jam, chocolate, marmalade, fresh fruit, whatever takes your fancy!!

Happy eatings!

Kris

p.s. I would put photos up, but I don’t have a camera at the moment, next time I make this I will update this blog post with a picture!!

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