Zero waste for a 100 years

As I rambled about in my last blog, I have been working on a project about food and food availability locally during WW1. As part of the research we looked through lots of cookery books and magazines of the time, just the job for me I loved it.

At the outset of the war the main issue was reducing waste and being frugal. Although they never expected the war to last for over four years they did expect a tight winter. Books, government posters and magazines promoted the reduction of waste and came up with some canny ideas. As the war continued these recipes became part of everyday life.

Once again Sam Bilton who runs the Repast Supper Club came to our rescue and translated some of these old recipes in a cooking demonstration. Here is one which will stand up to the needs of  Zero Waste Week. I make this all the time now.

Stock Made from Vegetable Trimmings

Mrs C. S. Peel The Daily Mail Cookery Book (1918)

Ingredients: The well washed peelings of potatoes, carrots, turnips; the green tops and outside leaves of celery, cauliflowers, cabbage, lettuces (if not decayed), apple or pear peelings and cores; parsley stalks.

Method: Add water, or the water in which macaroni, rice, haricots, potatoes etc have been boiled. Bring all to the boil then simmer for 30-40 mins. Strain and use as a base for thick soups, sauces etc.

Cooks Comments: This is a very economical way to make what is actually a tasty stock. I kept a largish bowl in the fridge in which I put various vegetable peelings and onion skins as described above over a few days until I had accumulated around 500g or so of trimmings (although an exact weight is not really an issue). When I was ready to make the stock I also saved the water I had used to cook some potatoes and topped it up to around 2.5 litres. If you decide to include onion skins they will give the stock a brown hue, which is something to consider if you are planning to use the stock in a white sauce or summery soup 

A Taste of the Home Front

I have been missing from the shop for much of the summer, partly due to a natural need to get out in the sunshine in the garden or on the allotment but also  working on the last part of the Taste of the Home Front project that I have been working on with Arundel Museum.

With a team of eight volunteers we researched the availability of food locally during the wartime and how that impacted on the townspeople, farmers and shopkeepers of Arundel, how the town and castle answered the call for food and coped during shortages. We searched through local records, including the archives of Arundel Castle and local newspaper archives, and the stories we found showed how the town came together to win the war on the Home Front, from gardeners and allotment holders to the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers and housewives.

I had a whale of a time and found some fascinating stories which have drawn a picture of how the people of Arundel fed themselves during the conflict. With the help of Sam Bilton who runs the Repast Supper Club we reproduced some of the recipes from the time. Sam ran a day of cooking demonstrations and produced some great recipes translated for modern day use.

We are now putting these and the stories into a booklet, so here is a taster.

Potato Pastry   Mrs C. S. Peel The Daily Mail Cookery Book (1918) Ingredients 

  • 225g cold mashed potatoes
  • 110g plain flour (you could use wholemeal flour to be truly authentic)
  • 45g dripping or margarine (if using the former make sure it is at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp baking powder 

Method

  1. Following Mrs Peel’s method to make the pastry, mix the flour, salt and baking powder; rub in the dripping. Add the potatoes and mix well and lightly. Make a stiff paste with cold water. Flour a board and roll out to ¼ inch thick.
  2. She doesn’t instruct the cook to leave the pastry to rest but you could make it in advance and leave it in the fridge until it is required.
  3. The pastry has a different consistency to regular short crust but is quite pleasant. It also has a naturally sweet flavour to it.

Cook’s Comments: This pastry is as useful for sweet pies as savoury, especially a nice apple pie – Sam

 From the outset of the war people were encouraged to eat alternatives to wheat flour and potatoes were popular as they were a good source of carbohydrates and easy to grow.  Potatoes were used to bulk out so many recipes – from bread through to pastry, (see above) and they even found their way into puddings and cakes.