BY LYNDA BRYERS
My family and I are now on day 3 of the WWII Rationing Challenge, and I hope others are having as much fun as we are! We are: me, a lapsed vegetarian, keen cook and urban gardener; my husband, a Yorkshireman and self-confessed carnivore; and my teenage daughter, a student and an experienced and experimental vegetarian. We live in social housing off Newmarket Road and as we grow a huge range of seasonal fruit and veg, this challenge had instant appeal.
In contrast to Ann, I’m calculating our weekly ration as a household, and find that that way we have plenty of rationed food for family meals. Dinner and packed lunches have been fine so far, but there has been a bit of an egg issue… I’m so used to having a boiled egg for breakfast and lunch as part of my high protein/low carb diet (go Tom Kerridge!), that we’ve already used our week’s ration!
So, days one and two have been chicken and egg obsessed. I bought the smallest, cutest chicken I could find which was luckily on special offer! Although I aspire to use locally-sourced ingredients, it’s not always affordable or convenient. Choosing a free-range organic British bird feels ethically and gastronomically good, and having a full roast dinner on a work-day evening was wonderfully luxurious. I roasted some potatoes from a huge existing bag we got from a farm in Haddenham via a petrol station on the A10 – a real bargain, but keep it quiet as there’s a limited supply! The tasty chook was accompanied by broccoli, peas, cauliflower and sweetcorn from the freezer; not from our own garden (yet), but still tasty. Gravy was made from the potato/veg water, some existing gravy stock from the fridge and a generous glug of non-rationed vin rouge. Pudding was fresh local strawberries.
Leftover chicken went into day two’s packed lunches (with salad leaves from the garden) and the evening meal – a carbonara. This also used some of the bacon (although not for the vegetarian who had a separate portion, but I’m quite used to doing that to accommodate both her and the Yorkshireman). Having used our egg ration, a hasty cheese roux was whipped-up, as I don’t have any cream in the fridge. It used an ounce or two of real butter, one person’s cheese ration, half a pint of milk, and a touch of mustard. Delicious!
The bare bones have since been boiled down to make stock. I used old veg-ends, some celery, and herbage (bay leaf, sage, thyme) from the garden, all generously well-seasoned with Maldon sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. There’s always a jug of homemade stock in the fridge. It’s used variously to create instant gravy, as the base of a quick soup or stew, or to add some tasty moisture to the dog’s dried food.
All in all, we’re not malnourished and are enjoying the challenge of thinking about where our food is sourced, and making it stretch to deliver as much flavour and nutrition as frugally possible. For Day 3 I’m taking Ann’s lead and using another portion of the meat ration (some cheap fatty beef mince) to make the WWII cottage pie. I have other culinary plans too, but will share those another time…