Wartime lessons for the modern cook


This seemed a fitting thing to blog about on Remembrance Sunday, a cookbook which teaches a lesson about making do and reminds us that the kitchen hasn’t always been about cling-wrapped, imported abundance.

The Thrifty Kitchen is now on sale offering traditional, tried and tested recipes that are far from being austere, but instead manage to gently remind us about the importance of seasonal food and creative use of what’s available.

In the forward to the book, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall explains further:

“Housewives were proud to play their part in helping the war effort. Many, self-taught, embraced the art of cooking enthusiastically. They used the limited resources ingeniously, respecting the available ingredients and avoiding waste. Above all they were prepared to put the time in to get a good meal out.”

She goes on to refer to an event when a group called the London Housewives’ Association gathered in Trafalgar Square in 1954 to burn a giant replica of a ration book in celebration at the end of rationing.

The Thrifty Kitchen
The Thrifty Kitchen

So the book maybe something of a tribute to the wartime cooks’ fortitude, but it most certainly isn’t dull.

In the starters, how about the wild garlic soup from Darina Allen (of Irish slow food fame), followed by Mark Hix‘s roast cauliflower with devilled lamb’s kidneys and who could resist blackberry and apple brumble from Rebecca Law.

As well as great savoury dishes, there’s also recipes for some indulgent looking cakes, jams and juices which have been donated for publication by cooks at all levels –  from big names such as Delia, right down to my own debut appearance in a cookbook. (My recipe is for Cullen Skink which is a traditional Scottish smoked fish soup).

As well as celebrating those wartime cooks, and remembering some of the traditional recipes which have been served up across the UK for decades (think delights such as scouse, faggots and lemon curd), the book has been put together to raise money for the charity Independent Age.

Independent Age works to keep thousands of older people independent and out of poverty by providing them with practical support, financial help and lifelong friendship.

It’s a charity which is making a difference to the lives of many who actually lived through the hardships of the wars we remember today.

I was happy to support them in my small way – and I hope you are to.

The Thrifty Kitchen, Wartime Lessons for the Modern Cook is published by Independent Age and costs £9.99.

Please note, if you order the book via the links in this blog post (perhaps a perfect Christmas present for the cook in your life!) it should trigger an affiliate micropayment to myself, which I will donate to the Independent Age charity too).


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