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Ideas for Shrove Tuesday

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday or as many now refer to it Pancake Day, in the past this was a day when many Christians prepared to fast or abstain from rich ingredients used in food such as pancakes. Today there are plenty of options in the shops from readymade mixes, readymade pancakes or buying flour and eggs etc. to make them from scratch. However, during World War II some foods such as eggs were not always as plentiful or they were rationed. In March 1943 an article was published in the Bulletin to inspire those celebrating Shrove Tuesday.

VARIATIONS WITH A BATTER: Thanks to "Lease-lend" we can still make a pre- war batter with real eggs. The dried eggs, whether in tins or sold loose, as most housewives will now realise, are excellent in all types of cooking. For batter particularly, they not only increase the food value, but also help the colour and texture of the mixture.

During the making of the batter, it is essential that all ingredients are smoothly mixed and well beaten, and success depends on lightness which is obtained by the introduction of cold air in the beating, and a high temperature in cooking.

The following are some ideas which the housewife may find useful in varying the simple foundation batter: Foundation Batter.-4 oz. flour, 1 tablespoon dried egg, 1 oz. dried milk, 1/2- 3/4 pint water. Pinch of salt. Sieve the flour, salt, egg and milk together, and mix with sufficient water to make a stiff mixture. Beat well, add rest of water and put aside for one hour.

1. BAKED AS FOR YORKSHIRE PUDDING: With chopped cooked meat, 1/2 lb. sausages, grated cheese and Worcester sauce, 3/4 lb. mixed cooked vegetables, scraps of cooked or tinned fish, plain sweet batter dredged with sugar before serving, 3 oz. of dried fruit or 1/2 lb. fresh fruit (dates, prunes, apples, raisins, sultanas), or plain batter served with syrup, jam or chocolate sauce.

2. FRIED: (a) Pancakes.-Stuffed with any of fillings mentioned above, or with fried potato and pickle or chutney. Served with a sweet or savoury sauce. Rolled or on top of each with the filling between. Cooked “dry " as for dropped scones which can be eaten hot stuffed with a filling, or cold spread with butter, or 1 teaspoonful baking powder added to mixture and tablespoonfuls dropped into hot fat and served with bacon. (b) Coating.-The liquid reduced to half in the basic recipe and used for coating, dried fruits (prunes and apples), fresh fruit, slices of cooked vegetable, croquette mixtures, or small strips of stale cake or bread moistened with flavoured milk. Steaming.-Increase the amount of flour by 1 oz. and use any of the variations mentioned above.

Note: For a lighter and richer batter add an extra egg and reduce the amount of liquid equivalent to this. Sugar tends to make a batter heavy, therefore dredge sweet batters with sugar after cooking.


Of course pancakes aren’t just for this time of year as demonstrated in this week’s photograph. A WVS Rally at Warmwell Airfield taken on 15/10/1957, where eight WVS members of the Swanage emergency feeding team made and cooked small pancakes on an improvised hotplate cooker with oven at a WVS Rally at Warmwell Airfield, Dorset.  Two members cooked the pancakes while others made the batter.  On the table is the shield they won when they came first in the Dorset Emergency Feeding competition.

Enjoy your pancakes!

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 27 February 2017.

Labels: Pancakes, Shrove Tuesday , WVS, Bulletin, Emergency feeding

Mobile Dinner of Champions!

The other day we got an enquiry about the types of food which were served by WVS canteens during World War Two, a question which proved somewhat more difficult to answer than you might think.

While we have in the collection many booklets on food and feeding published by the WVS they are mainly about emergency feeding for large numbers of people in rest centres or in the field, and of these, many seem to concentrate on the practical arrangements such as the erection of field cooking equipment rather than the food itself.

None of the emergency feeding booklets contain recipes, but some contain sample menus, for example the 1960 Emergency Feeding Civil Defence Handbook offers a three day plan.

Main courses were:
Shepherds Pie
Meat and Vegetable Stew
Fried Fish

Desserts were:
Boiled Fruit Pudding
Prunes and Custard

Jam Tart

This didn’t help though with our wartime question.

Delving a little deeper we found two information sheets from a 1940 canteen workers’ training scheme that show illustrative menus and give an idea of the kind of meals the members were trained to cook and serve in the mobile and station units.

Main courses were:
Steak and kidney pudding or pie
Toad in the Hole
Fish Pie
Braised Steak
Boiled Bacon
Roast Shoulder of Mutton

Liver and Bacon

Desserts were:
Stewed prunes and custard
Steamed Fig Pudding
Jam Roly Poly
Fruit tart and custard
Apricot Charlotte
Milk jelly with fruit
Baked bread pudding

However, in practice it seems that few mobile and station canteens cooked their own food, other than preparing sandwiches and rolls; instead they were provided with food by other agencies, such as the British Restaurants, factory canteens, or large bakeries.

The canteens were very busy indeed, and a domestic kitchen could not have coped with the quantities required. Also, during food rationing, it was much easier to make bulk off-ration purchases from such wholesale suppliers, rather than serving home cooked meals.

A day book we have from the Glasgow mobile canteens as well as a balance sheet for a wartime station canteen in Newport, and a small selection of quarterly narrative reports from canteen managers, do though give a good impression of the kind of food and drinks that were actually served.

The canteens served tea, cocoa, coffee (Twinings prepared a special coffee for WVS canteens, but the Glasgow canteen only served Camp Coffee), assorted mineral drinks, a selection of hot and cold meals (mince and potatoes are specifically mentioned), sandwiches and rolls (jam and cheese), soup, pies, sausage rolls, cakes (sugar cream cakes and “tea-bread” cakes). These were supplemented by sales of Cadburys chocolates, large tins of assorted and chocolate biscuits (bought from local factories) and cigarettes.

The canteen food was not free, and as the soldiers and workers paid for it; inevitably some items were more popular than others! Chocolates, pies and sausage rolls usually sold well; soup and sandwiches did not. Sandwiches particularly went out of favour when the weather was cold and the bread went hard!

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Archvisit and Sheridan Parsons, volunteer at 00:00 Monday, 16 November 2015.

Labels: Mobile Canteen, WWII, WVS, Station Canteen, Emergency Feeding , British Restaurant, Jam Roly poly, Charlotte, Steak and Kidney Pudding, Liver and Bacon, Chocolate, Sausage rolls

Reports from everywhere - November 1954

MABLETHORPE. When a party of children came here on a school treat, about 20 were swept out to sea by a sudden enormous wave. Fortunately all were saved. They were brought to us. We gave them tea and lent them clothes while we dried and pressed their wet ones. By 6 o’clock they were ready to catch the bus for home as arranged.

DARLINGTON C.B. Writing postcards in a crowded London Post Office, I was asked by a man with both hands bandaged to address a parcel for him. He thanked me saying “ I knew you would help me,” proving that even the back view of a W.V.S. uniform attracts those in need. Long may it remain so !

PADDINGTON B. A member visiting the doctor’s surgery was in uniform. While in the waiting room a harassed G.P. looked in, saw the W.V.S. member, and asked, “ Can you cope with looking out files?” An hour later she entered the surgery. “ Gosh,” said the doctor, “ I apologise, but I was hours behind and am only a locum. In the hospital I’ve just left we had two W.V.S. who did cope, and so have you! Do you want a regular job ?”

RUISLIP U.D. The Guide Commissioner asked us to find some work of public service for a 15-year-old Guide, so we arranged for her to help in the Darby and Joan Club one afternoon. She continued helping all through the holidays, serving tea and washing up, and prepared vegetables for meals on wheels when we were short of a cook. She was always smiling and willing and the old people were delighted to see her.

BROMSGROVE U.D. A demonstration of emergency feeding was said to be the best of its kind so far. Eight women who can build ovens and feed fifty people at a time assembled an oven from a few bricks, a hotplate and a dustbin within an hour. The following day the oven was tested and quickly turned out cakes and tea.