Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for March, 2016|Monthly archive page

Wartime World,Part III: Easter Dinner, 1942

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Before we go on with our three meals a day, in “war-style,” I thought that we might be interested in celebrating Easter in “war-style.” I recently found this Easter Dinner menu in Mrs. Alex George’s column from Easter week, 1942.

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April 2, 1942

Even as the war rushed on and the news told tales of violent RAF fights against the Germans, Niagarans went about their daily lives. Friday, April 3, was Good Friday and Mayor John H. Keller, had announced in the Niagara Falls Gazette that the afternoon of April 3, would be proclaimed a civic holiday as “a considerable number of the residents of this city of Christian affiliation will participate in the afternoon services to be held in their respective churches.”

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Other major events on everyone’s minds included…will there be enough razor blades to go around? During the month of March, a rush of purchasing followed a dire news report stating that razor blade imports of high-grade Swedish steel would be entirely cut-off. Area stores, during the height of the rush, such as Walgreen Drug Company on Falls Street, said that some purchasers were hoarding a year’s supply. “Person’s who try to hoard, even if it is razor blades, should be held in scorn by the public” said one man who was interviewed by the newspaper. In the end, there were enough blades to meet the demand and a severe crisis averted.

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Another great question of the day was… can the lights be turned on the Falls again–at least during the tourist season? Several important gentlemen met at the General Brock Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, to form a committee to interview the Hydro Commission at Toronto to request that the board be allowed to illuminate the Falls from May 24 to Labor Day. Because of the war, the Falls were not to be illuminated. The committee believed that lighting the Falls would not interfere with the flow of Niagara power.

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And don’t forget those Easter Sunday outfits from Beir Bros.! Check out these popular and affordable “1942 Creations.”

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And life goes on….

 

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Wartime World, Part II:Recipes for Day One

In World War II on March 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Can you do it?  For the next seven posts I will share a day’s worth of World War II recipes. Actually I think that there may be some benefits to living life somewhat like our grandparents did during the war years.  Perhaps we would like to cut back on calories and harmful sugar, up our intake of fruits and vegetables, or save money.  I love trying out historical recipes in the most authentic way possible.  I think our cuisine is at the heart of our day and reflects upon our lives in a pretty honest way.

War Ration Book #1 was released on May 4, 1942 and given out primarily at the city schools.  It was known as the “sugar book” because sugar was the first commodity to be harshly rationed.  One half pound per person per week was the limit. (To put matters into perspective the British were allowed 8 oz sugar per person, per week).

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Other items rationed at this time included:  meat, cheese, lard, butter and oil.  One pound was allowed per person, per week.

Americans found the greatest hardship to be the cutbacks in coffee. Only one cup per day was permitted.

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December 3, 1942–Niagara Falls Gazette

 

Day One Wartime Meal:

Although rationing was the law of the land it was also vitally important for Americans to stay healthy and strong.  We did not know what the future held.  So although we had to deal with cutbacks, we had to be sure to serve our families well-balanced meals.

I love talking with the older Niagarans about this time. And I always ask them what they ate.  Of course, the Depression had made most of them wary of waste.  My family were immigrants from Italy and they had always kept “Victory Gardens” and canned everything they grew. Most of the immigrants (especially the Italians) kept gardens which were the foundation of their diet.  Meat was definitely scarce but fruits and vegetables were abundant if you worked hard.  So perhaps rationing was not that difficult for them?

Breakfast:

Porridge & Tea (or coffee)

A typical wartime breakfast would have been porridge.  Porridge oats, boiled in water, would be finished up with a splash of milk and a topping of sugar or honey.  You could also add some shaved apple for sweetness.  Very inexpensive and filled with vitamins, porridge was a good start to anyone’s day.  I bought steel cut oats.  They take longer to cook but they are the least processed and have a fuller texture and taste. I felt very old-fashioned starting my day with porridge (and my grandmother’s vintage linens, china and silver!)

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Lunch:

The Oslo Meal, or Oslo Lunch

The Oslo Meal, or Oslo Lunch, was actually served as an experiment on Britain’s school children.  It was a quick, yet nutritious mid-day meal which considered rationing as well as the children’s health.  This lunch included the following:  2 slices of wholemeal bread with a little butter (remember we made this in our first installment?), fresh lettuce leaves, grated cheese over the lettuce (I just had a few chunks of cheese), carrots, cucumber or tomatoes and a glass of milk.  An apple or other fruit would also be acceptable with this meal.

Can you imagine feeding this to our children today?  I actually felt quite satisfied after eating my Oslo Lunch.  And believe it or not, the Oslo Lunch seemed to improve the overall health of the nation’s children.

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Dinner: 

Lord Woolton Pie

Vegetarian recipes were in great demand during wartime.  How could we spruce these vegetables up to make a nourishing meal?

Lord Woolton Pie was widely served in Britain during wartime.  This dish was prepared at the Savoy Hotel in London and named for the Minister of Food, Frederick Marquis, 1st Lord Woolton.  People had their own interpretations of this recipe and used whatever combination of vegetables they had at hand.  However, the one item that was always included was carrots.  There was a surplus of carrots.  By the end of the war, the British were quite tired of the carrots.

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I haven’t made my Lord Woolton Pie yet.  I will post photos and my personal “tastiness” report as soon as I whip it up.  Hmmm…oatmeal in the pie? I may do a sort of Shepherd’s Pie topping with the crust of potato?  What will you do?

**A Little Fun**

When “Popeye, the Sailor Man,” came to Niagara Falls!

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March 1, 1943–Niagara Falls Gazette

 

 

 

Wartime World, Part One: The National Loaf

In Niagara Falls, Uncategorized, World War II on March 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm

As we embark upon our trip “back in time” to 1943 it might be wise to know a thing or two about wartime bread.  In Britain, where food was quite scarce, a ban on commercially baked white bread went into effect on April 6, 1942.  As most of the flour used to make “white” bread was imported from abroad there was a great shortage.  The Ministry of Food introduced the “National Loaf” at this time.   This gray and gritty bread was to be the staple of British cuisine.  Bakers were banned from baking any other type of bread except the “National Loaf.”  Dubbed “Hitler’s Secret Weapon,” our British allies forced it down to keep from starvation.  But surprisingly enough, the health benefits of a diet based upon this bread were quite alarming.  The added vitamins along with the the wholewheat (wholemeal) flour (as opposed to the bleached white flour they had baked with before the war) gave the British the vigor to fight and win a world war.

So I searched for the recipe for this “National Loaf.”  I thought it would be a necessity for my week of wartime recipes.  The official recipe for commercial bakers was as follows:

National Loaf recipe:

Ingredients:
(Yields: 10 loaves)
Potato Flour – 1740g
Salt Sea Fine – 140g
Tap Water – 4740ML
Vitamin C – 6g
Wholemeal flour – 5220g
Yeast – 210g

Method:
Mix all ingredients in spiral mixer for 3/5 min
Place dough in lightly oiled container, let rest for 45 minutes
Knock back and let rest for another 45 min
Scale at 1kg, first shape (round)
Rest 10-15 min, then second shape
Place bread in oiled baking tins, prove for 45-60 min at 28-32c
Bake at 208c top 204c bottom, with 5 sec steam. Open vent after 25 min, bake for a further 25 min
Remove from tins immediately and cool on a rack

Home bakers could make variations of the “National Loaf.”

I found the following recipe which I was able to make at home as my version of the “National Loaf”:

National loaf

 Ingredients

1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour
1 ½ tbsp salt
1 ½ tbsp dried yeast
1 dsp honey or treacle
450 ml tepid water 

Method

Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).

Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 200°c then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap – if it sounds hollow they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack. 

This recipe actually worked out quite well.  It probably isn’t as dry and lifeless as the commercial loaf must have been.  The honey added a bit of sweetness that made it more flavorful than I expected.  My family was not as fond of it as I was, though. Oh well… for our week of wartime eating, they will learn to like it.

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So what was going on in Niagara Falls, New York, on March 1, 1943?

While you are baking your bread to prepare for your week of wartime eating, you may be interested in what life was like here during the war.

Probably one of the most important things to know was how to feed your family.  If you did not have the ration system figured out you would have been in quite a predicament.  Even as the shortages experienced in the United States were nothing like the shortages in Europe it still was not easy.  The Niagara Falls War Council provided block leaders to assist in helping residents with questions regarding point rationing and nutrition.

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The sinking of cargo ships caused great anxiety as these ships often carried much needed food and supplies.  The British depended upon these ships for food and many food goods also came to the United States in this manner.  The Niagara Falls Gazette reported on March 1, 1943 that six US cargo ships had been sunk in the Western Atlantic during the month of February.

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It was actually a low month– however, loss of life exceeded 850 persons.  The month of January brought 30 sinkings.  The monthly average in the first year after Pearl Harbor was 45 sinkings per month.  Since December 7, 1941, the Allied and neutral nations’ cargo ships lost in the Western Atlantic numbered 616.  This was an incredible loss of food and supplies–not to mention human life.

Numbers such as these bring the practice of wartime rationing into perspective.  Cargo ships were not guaranteed to make it across the ocean.  We had to conserve and not waste.  We had to make do with what we had available.

Mary Truman, a Niagara County Demonstration Agent, felt it was the homemaker’s job to understand the rationing system.

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Budgeting the family point allowance was necessary.  Planting Victory Gardens and producing your own fruits and vegetables was also a great way to save.

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Canned and processed items were often shipped overseas and were scarce at times. Homemade soups and freshly prepared dishes were encouraged.

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There had actually been an eight day period in which “narry a can of fruits or vegetables could be sold legally anywhere in the United States” before rationed sales began.  Once the point rationing system was worked out and the rules established the market was re-opened.  Can you imagine an eight day period in which NO canned items could be legally purchased within the entire United States??  Could you survive?

Another aspect of wartime rationing was an important rule that deemed that individuals could NOT tear the ration tickets out themselves.  Whether their groceries were ordered by telephone or gathered in the store, the store employee (including delivery boys) must remove the ticket.

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Before the day was over, it became quite apparent to me that the war was the top news on every page of the Niagara Falls Gazette and it was even mentioned in most of the advertisements.  Ordinary life was certainly uprooted.  So many things to think about…do you have adequate black out screens??   Breaking blackout was a serious offense.

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And then there was the volunteer work.  If your husband was off fighting for his country you would hardly be sitting at home doing nothing at all.  There was the Red Cross–forever needing help from sewers and knitters for surgical dressings.  To be honest, I had no idea that American women made the surgical dressings during the Second World War.

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For the more adventurous Niagarans, there was the Fighting French Relief Committee.

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It wasn’t all hardship, though.  There were the movies.  Which would you like to go and see this week?

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The radio was the main source of entertainment.  Orson Welles, Blondie and Dagwood, Radio Theater, some BBC news…all before falling asleep to the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

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