President Dawn Cragg welcomed members of Retford Ladies Probus Club on Wednesday 10th April, before introducing Meryl White to tell all about baking and rationing in WWII. Apparently there had been voluntary rationing from 1917, but it was shambolic, even listing things which were not available! By 1940 things had changed, everything was in place and it was rolled out on 8th June with everyone being issued with coupons, even vegetarians were catered for. Rich and poor were treated the same and you had to stipulate which shop you wanted to patronise. The public would rely on the newspapers to give them food information and there were magazines entitled ‘The Bride in Her Kitchen’ and ‘Wife and Home’.
Surprisingly eight ounces of sugar was allowed per person and Meryl made some sample cakes for the club’s members to try. One was a vinegar cake, so called because bicarbonate of soda was mixed with vinegar to act as a raising agent. Anzac biscuits were popular because they kept well also beetroot cake, which has made a comeback recently. Only wholemeal flour was used, but they tasted surprisingly good.
Carrots were used extensively in sweet and savoury dishes and it was a chargeable crime to waste food. Lord Woolton Pie was created at the Savoy Hotel in London. It was a vegetarian concoction with mashed potato included in the pastry. The eponymous Lord Woolton owned a hotel chain and was Britain’s wartime Minister of Food.
If you lost your ration book a five-shilling fine was levied, quite a lot of money, so people took good care of them.
School dinners were a way of providing children with healthy nutrition. Extra orange juice, milk and cod liver oil were given. Sugar rationing came to an end in 1953. Perhaps it should be reintroduced considering the debate about excess sugar in our diet nowadays? Meryl’s presentation was excellent. She walked among members and made sure everyone could hear, so she comes thoroughly recommended.