Crete 1941. Dammit!

The wonders of Microsoft have contrived to remove from my computer all the work on this project during the last month.

I have enough other stuff to keep me occupied around the house until 2023, so the Crete project is, pro tem. abandoned.


Update. I discovered my error. Trying to purge my “cloud” storage I failed to spot that when deleting a file in the cloud it will automatically delete it from all devices linked to the account. I thought the cloud storage was simply another annoyingly default storage location. I do have a portable back-up disk which was still plugged into my laptop, and so was purged along with all my other copies of the file.

A lesson learned. Oh, for the days of a plug-in cassette recorder and a large quantity of tapes for file storage. If you don’t remember that, then you may also be unfamiliar with 5 1/4″ floppy disks, 3 1/2″ disks or maybe even CDs. I have used them all and still own some. I now only own the hardware to read the latter.

When I retired eight years ago, I left under my desk an IBM “portable” PC (mains power and no built-in memory, but with a 256 Kb floppy disk drive and a post-card sized orange and black screen display), along with the disks used in the 1980s with the calculation (using Lotus 1-2-3 software) of our sales seasonality pattern, and some games disks based on a 4-colour low resolution display. In those days I actually understood the workings of computers!

1944 diet. day 15

Today i found in the local store a “reduced to clear” half chicken at £2.30. This is below my weekly meat ration of £2.75 (or maybe £3.00 with 2022 inflation), so I bought it, deboned it and added it to a new stew with a few potatoes, half a left-over cabbage and some root vegetables from a supermarket “stew pack”. I use the slow cooker for cooking, but a large pot on a slow gas heat will suffice.

This should make a good meal for two person/days, maybe more.

1944 Rations diet: Two weeks in.

After two weeks of trying to live on 1944 rations with 2022 shopping habits I have discovered a lot. It is not possible to buy goods as in 1944. Try buying 2 ounces of cheese, rather than a 200 gramme block.

Thus, there are two approaches to the issue. My first was to account for every amount eaten, rather than the amount allowed to be purchased. The second attempt, still being trialled, is to mark off ration coupons as a shopkeeper would have done when a pack of food is opened. I use “opened” rather than “bought” because we are likely to start the rationing experiment with a healthy stock of food in 2022 (with concern and respect for those who have not)

Two documents are attached: the first was found on the internet from someone attempting the diet for a year and the second from my own experience in the last two weeks.

An admission of guilt. I have used about six weeks’ ration of cheese in the last two weeks. I ease my guilt by claiming to have “offset” my excess consumption by my zero consumption of sugar and other commodities, but that is not the point. I failed.

1944 diet, week 2 day 2

Yesterday I attended a wake where the main foodstuffs were cold meats and doorstep sandwiches.

I had two cheese and pickle sandwiches and a leg of chicken. I could rationalise that within my WW2 rations. With no idea about how, this would affect my rations I have counted this as 1 month’s ration point against my 24-point allowance.

Today I started with two slices of toast with meat paste. Again, I have no idea about rationing of meat paste, so I have used one point of my suassage monthly meat ration.

For lunch I indulged in a portion of defrosted Woolton Pie with some extra boiled cabbage.

1944 rations diet. Day 7

Today I was unable to stick to the regulations for 1944.

We had a pub lunch with my brother-in-law and his wife. Under 1944 regulations the cost of a three course meal should not cost more than five shillings, or about twelve pounds today. The carvery roast dinner was £11.95, which fell within my budget, but I did not wish to appear rude, so an ice cream dessert followed for a further £5.95.

Trying to find a hostelry that will give three courses for twelve pounds at weekends is pretty much impossible.

But the main course was enormous and delicious. Thank you to “The Angel”, Woolhampton. And tomorrow it’s back to the proper rations.

1944 rations diet: day 5

The powdered egg has arrived. This pack is the equivalent of 21 eggs, or about 7 weeks’ rations. I have used this stuff before, for scrambled eggs, omelettes and cooking. It’s not that bad, particularly as scrambled eggs.

As predicted, the main meal was “bubble and squeak”, made with a whole leek, a slice of cabbage, an onion and five potatoes, none of which impact my ration allowance. I still have a leek and half a cabbage to find some way to use.

In the last 36 hours I have been directed to the facebook site of someone who has been dieting on WW2 rations since June, with a one year project. She has prepared a starter document which answers many of my unsolved questions about specific items under the rationing regime.

I am adopting a new accounting method. Rather than accounting for every morsel consumed, and because I share the household with someone not dedicated to the project, I will treat our larder, fridge and freezer as a general store and account for goods as they are “bought” (i.e. opened).

I will set up a spreadsheet of “coupons” and mark them off as goods are started. For example, the dried egg shown above will use about seven weeks of coupons. Therefore no more eggs will be available until the account is clear. If I should use a fresh egg, as I expect to today from a “reduced to clear” supermarket meal, that will extend the period of the dried or fresh egg rations.

I hope this will make it easier to account for and give more flexibility. We shall see.

1994 Rations diet. Day 4

Today I have made a “Woolton Pie”, named after the Minister of Food. To be more precise, I have made one medium sized Woolton Pie and three small ones for freezing. Ingredients are carrots, cabbage, swede, onions, potatoes, a leek, butter, mustard, cheese, milk and seasoning.

It involved a lot of pots and pans, (possibly even more than the Memsahib uses for Christmas lunch), but it was a good use of my excess vegetables. However, because of the way retailing is organised nowadays, I now have half a cabbage and two leeks to work with in the forthcoming days.

Searching for recipes to use these. I will start with my great, great aunt’s cookery book (inscribed 1898) for inspiration. I foresee “bubble and squeak” for lunch tomorrow.

This diet project is giving me a lot of introspection and also an insight into how my mother and her parents and grandparents lived and made do with what was available.

In the run-up to Christmas each year my Grandfather would slaughter the pig that he had been rearing and my Grandmother would begin work on it. Without refrigeration, most of the meat would be salted or sold fresh in their grocery shop (I guess subject to rationing between 1940 and 1954), the trotters cooked for a meal, the brains made into brawn (very tasty) and every other part used in some way.

Back to my ration-based diet, I am now well over my cheese consumption ration for the week after making the Woolton Pies, but I had plenty in stock and I have not needed to buy anything from my ration book this week, except cooking bacon, and I have three ration meals in hand stored in the freezer. I have sufficient bacon for the next six weeks for use in in various meals.

By the way, the Memsahib used two week’s personal ration of fresh eggs and half a week’s meat ration for her evening meal yesterday evening. I looked on enviously.

This evening, after a few days of mainly vegetables, I plan to treat myself to a meat and onion pattie with a wholemeal bun, taking my meat consumption up to 84% of my weekly ration,

1944 Ration diet: Day 4

A sad problem with trying to follow a wartime diet regime in modern Britain, unless one has an allotment or vegetable garden, is the issue of obtaining small enough ration quantities.

For example, today I needed one leek. In 1944 I might have plucked one from the garden or bought one from the greengrocer or the market. Today I have to buy a pack of three. Therefore I have to find ways to use the other two.

This is one of the problems of modern life. We are encouraged to “multi-buy” with 3 for 2 deals. “BOGOF” (Buy one, get one free) and the like. This only leads to over-consumption or food waste.

The surplus leeks will be consumed, possibly in a soup.

1944: Diet. Day 3

Watching the TV news this evening it looks like I have chosen the right time to start this experiment. There may soon be a shortage of eggs in the supermarkets – the word “rationing” was used. Fortunately I have a packet of dried egg powder on order, expected within the next day or so. Additionally the prices of milk, butter, sugar and bread are rising rapidly.

I checked my stores today and analysed that by 1944 personal ration allowances I have in stock:

  • Tea: 16 days,
  • Sugar: 2 days, but I have not used any this week,
  • Milk: 2 days,
  • Eggs: 56 days (8 eggs),
  • Cheese: 73 days,
  • Butter/Margarine: 37 days,
  • Bacon & Ham: 34 days,
  • Other meat: incalculable.

I will not need to spend any points on tinned food in the near future. Of course, some of the above will be used by my wife, who is not sharing in my strange project.

As for progress with the consumption this week, I am within the weekly ration for everything except for ham where I am at 150% and climbing because it needs to be used.