What can we learn from the Home Front kitchen? Landgirl1980: Winter seems to be going on a bit in the Northern Hemisphere, doesn’t it? Although the snowdrops are looking mighty fine and the daffs are on their way, the flurries of snow and brr-some wind chill factors tell me that winter is definitely not done with us yet. Which is just as well, as I am far from ready to put away my woollen coats and knitted jumpers. I may have warmed myself with layering up my bedding a couple of months back to cut back on the heating bill, but I have been trying to make savings in other ways. All with a leaning to the past, as is my way. I often wonder how the home front coped with severe fuel shortages during World War Two. Not only was heating affected, but also cooking. With metal in high demand, each household was encouraged to give up as many saucepans and such as they could. This helped build aircraft for the forces, but also ensured that less fuel was used in general. The fewer rings going on the hob, the less coal being burned and thus, the more energy saved. Many radio programmes and homestead leaflets offered advice on how to cook a decent meal with such limited implements. Such as boiling meat and potatoes in cloth bags in the same pan. Or making one pot meals such as stew and dumplings. I confess that I have not boiled any meat in muslin myself, but I have been using my steamer an awful lot more. With only a small amount of water needed and steam at a reasonable level despite me turning the gas right down, I have made myself a hearty dinner of chicken, potatoes and veg. For those in the country, the use of a hay box was fairly common for slow cooking a stew. In honesty, I have been toying with the idea of getting my cast iron casserole dish up to a raging boil, packing it tightly into a wooden box nestled in insulating straw, and leaving it for several hours to do it’s thing. We shall see…. With water a valuable commodity for its use in dousing air-raid flames, soaking farmers fields and cooling the whirl of war industry machines, there was much propaganda to help save water at home. Using less water to clean, wash up and bathe were all encouraged, as was re-using water where possible. O n the kitchen front, folk were encouraged to only just cover vegetables, always cook with a lid on the pan and not to over boil. Convincing the veg-phobic to eat the produce from the Dig for Victory campaign was only half the battle. Ensuring that they did not make it into un-palettable, vitamin and sustenance free mush whilst wasting fuel and water at the same time, was the other. For my 21st century self, I always make sure that my veg water is used for making gravy. I am not sure if the goodness that has been cooked out of my carrots is actually in the water, but I like to think that it is. LandGirl1980 is Charly Surry, a gal with a penchant for history, head-scarves and humour. Charly is a full time retro dressing, history book reading, letter writing (the pen & paper kind), old recipe trying, hair setting, red lippy wearing, cat loving lass. The female role within both World Wars grabs her interest most, but she also has a thing for Anne Boleyn and Royal History in general. Charly runs Well Rounded Retro, an Etsy shop stocking mainly plus-sized vintage and retro. 2 Responses LollyWillowes March 1st, 2013 Well said, I’ve often wondered how on earth they managed when those dreadfully cold winters arrived and rationing was at its worst. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jambusters-Story-Womens-Institute-Second/dp/0857200461/ref=pd_cp_b_1 Might interest you. kSto March 2nd, 2013 Another tip is to save your veg peels and egg shells and boil them for soup stock. This may not have been a wartime practice because it requires water and slow simmering, but definitely something our Grans did during the Depression and before. Homemade veg stock makes for flavorful and nutritious soups.