Tag Archives: rationing

Scone Chronicles – 38 – Tea in the Garden

We had tea and cake in the garden this afternoon. As Julia had gone to the trouble of baking banana bread I thought this called for a revival of the Scone Chronicles.

She has been working away in the garden all lockdown and the patio is looking like the sort of place you might find a new species of beetle. Or even a lost tribe.

As you can see, we also had Battenberg, though that came from the shop. Life really is too short to make your own Battenberg. We’ve had Battenberg nearly every week since the start of lockdown, which is one of the brighter spots of the last couple of months.It’s a very reliable cake, and usually cheap. Other budget cakes can be a bit hit and miss, while other, pricier, cakes can be be covered in calories and three or four times more expensive. There is a case to be made which suggests Battenberg is an aid to dieting, but that might be pushing it a bit, even for me.


Banana Bread and Battenberg

The banana bread was excellent – moist, tasty and light without being soggy or crumbling. Fortunately we still have some left. This is the advantage of afternoon tea at home – plenty of chance for second helpings. I won’t recommend it too heartily as I don’t want to have to queue for a table next time I’m here. It is possible for venues to become too popular and I don’t like crowds.

It’s back to work tomorrow. However, the good news is that I have two days off after that.

As I sit and think, it occurs to me that about 68 years ago my parents were married in the time of sugar rationing. I’m now, despite the recent shortages from panic buying, able to buy more sugar than is good for me. History can be a strange thing.

Later we had banana bread for supper with a nice cup of tea. It was slightly drier than when we had last eaten it, but still good. We have enough left for a couple of good slices, but will probably butter them.


Is it just me. or does the position of dried fruit and plate decoration make this slice look like a face?


Notes for Posterity

After yesterday, with its snow flurry and snow storm, this week is set to be significantly colder than a week ago. The day started with a miserable grey light, partly because of the weather and partly because we put the clocks forward at the weekend. So far, at 5.30, the day has remained grey and cold, though it has not yet rained. That is a good example of damning with faint praise.

“How was your day?”

“It didn’t rain.”

See what I mean?

The only other notable feature of the day is that it is now six days before we go shopping again. This counts as a significant milestone in a wasteland of tedium.

Today’s food intake, for people reading this in 100 years time, started with a breakfast of 2 Weetabix, milk and two slices of brown toast with strawberry jam. It was actually TESCO own brand, and the bread, being a bit dry, made very dry toast, which disintegrated as I ate it. That’s a bit of detail for future readers.

For lunch we had gala pie with the last of the coleslaw and some spinach leaves and tiny tomatoes. I’d better explain a gala pie for my future readers, as it’s likely to have been declared illegal by 2120. They are not very good for you. They are pork pies with eggs in the middle. With my customary hindsight, I really should have photographed it before eating.

To save you time, the health-related link includes the words “it’s a heart attack in a packet”.

We had a cup of tea in the afternoon with a few biscuits.

There are currently four monster potatoes baking in the oven. I bought “Wonky Veg” on Sunday and it seems to mean “Extra Large” in the case of these potatoes. It will be two for tonight and two for tomorrow, and probably some leftover bits for later.

I’m thinking of Kensington Rarebit for tomorrow.  I found the website The 1940’s Experiment yesterday when I was looking for Woolton Pie recipes. I’m thinking that it may be a useful source of recipes for lockdown.

This, of course, is an example of First World Problems – the food I have on hand would appear like a banquet to most people during the war. Here’s an interesting article on rationing in two World Wars – plus a view of what happens when the government prepares properly.



Foraging, Fear and Eating Flowers

I note that on the internet coronavirus is being linked to the Book of Revelation and the Prophesies of Nostradamus. I won’t add links to any of the relevant sites because I came away from browsing them with the impression that my IQ had been decreased.

For the sake of historical perspective – northern Italy is in lockdown, the third person died of coronavirus in the UK today and in Canada an American tourist booked out of a hotel in Toronto today, telling my son that he wasn’t happy at staying somewhere that allowed an oriental man to stay and to use the same glasses as everyone else in the bar.

This isn’t unique to Americans – people of oriental descent have been abused in the UK by people who believe that looking Chinese means that you are carrier of coronavirus.

The situation is currently showing up the deficiencies in health services, supply chains and stock markets across the world, but it’s also clearly showing that racism and stupidity are close to the surface when people feel under pressure.

In TESCO today, doing my normal weekly shop, I was faced with empty shelves and notices telling customers that we were limited to five packs of pasta per person. I bought one pack of the dozen remaining because we are having pasta bake later this week. There were only a dozen or so packs left on the shelf, but I didn’t feel the need to buy four more. The rice shelves were the same, though there was no notice on them.

It shows how far we have come as a nation. In my younger days we mainly encountered rice and pasta (in the form of macaroni) in milk puddings. Curries and pasta dishes were uncommon and pizza virtually unheard of.

I will go now, as I’ve been avoiding work all day and still have a presentation to finish.

I was happy and calm this morning, with just a bit of printing to do and a few facts to check. As the day wore on I remained unworried.

Now, as the dark closes in and doubts start to surface, the panic is starting to return and I am remembering all the things I need to do…

The header picture is a salad of edible weeds and flowers I made years ago when we had a school visit – it reminds me that we can eat weeds if all else fails, and that if I can face a class of eight-year-olds and persuade them to eat weeds I can do anything.


Book Review – Eggs or Anarchy

Eggs or Anarchy by William Sitwell

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (9 Feb. 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1471151077

ISBN-13: 978-1471151071

Between the wars the government took the view that we should produce what we were good at and import the rest. This meant we were importing about 60% of our food, as we had been doing in 1914. The problem was that the Germans had more efficient aircraft and submarines in 1939.

Fter a successful retail career, Lord Woolton took on the job of sourcing the millions of uniforms needed to equip a new army. He was surprised to find that having ordered the trousers he had to order the fly buttons via another government department.

He managed to sort it all out, and then took on the task of organising food supplies, including issuing millions of ration books and developing a system that was fair to all.

He didn’t just have U-Boats to worry about, he had Churchill and his attempts to use shipping for moving troops. Then he had to organise storage for food in places where it wouldn’t be bombed, make sure our suppliers didn’t overcharge us and iron out inefficiencies in distribution at home. The title refers to the fears that order and morale would break down if he was unable to get the rations out.

One of my favourite moments was when he told visiting American politicians that he would prefer their ships to their good wishes. He was not a conventional politician, having come to it late in life.

As for the famous Woolton Pie… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out his thoughts on that.

It’s an interesting subject, though the writing doesn’t always reflect this, and poses a few questions about food security, which we are going to have to answer in the coming years.

Thoughts about renewable energy

I watched The Apprentice last night.

At one time I used to watch in the hope that I might learn something about business. I’ve not learned anything I can use, though I do now know that every year proves there is a seemingly endless supply of idiots.

If I can find a way of converting idiots into electricity I may have found the next big thing in renewable energy.

Talking of which, we drove past another solar farm today.  It seems like every time we drive north from Nottingham we find another new field of black panels. Land use has changed considerably over the last ten years in North Nottinghamshire – first we had willow, then we had miscanthus. Currently we seem to have a small forest of wind turbines springing up and the latest fashion seems to be to cover acres in photovoltaic cells.


Solar farm in north Nottinghamshire

When I see that I feel more comfortable about using electricity, but then start to worry that we won’t need it, because if we cover the land to generate electricity there will be no food to cook.

I’m a bit worried about food, after listening to a radio programme tonight. In order to halt global warming we need to scale back on meat production (mainly on account of the methane produced by cows) and would, they calculate, only have 19 grams of meat a day. That’s 133g a week, about the weight of two moderate burgers.

In the Second World War the bacon and ham ration ranged between 113 and 227 grams. However, there was also a meat ration, controlled by price – between 1 shilling and 1 shilling and two pence (5 – 6 pence in modern terms). I’m struggling to find a comparison of prices – one I found suggests that could be about £1.50. It’s not a lot, but compared to 19 grams a day it’s a positive feast.

To add to the complexity of looking into the future it also seems that grass fed beef (as generally reared in the UK) is worse for the environment than intensively raised beef fed on maize and soya (as raised in USA). It’s not about the method or the food, it’s about the fact that grass fed beef takes longer to grow to full weight, and thus spends more time emitting methane.

Now, methane is the main component of natural gas, so is it just me, or are other people thinking that some sort of gas-collecting nappy on a cow might be an alternative to fracking? Ah, just me…

That’s not the end to it of course, there’s also milk to consider. If they were telling the truth (and I fear they are) we will only have enough milk for four cups of tea a day.

Four cups of tea a day?

I could see myself as a vegetarian, but I don’t see myself cutting down to four cups a day.


Under threat – my cup of tea