And while they probably never gave it a thought back then they’re ingenuity and resourcefulness is a great example of how to reuse, recycle and reduce – three activities at the forefront of green living.
Over the years I have collected a range of old recipe books and some of them come from the years when New Zealand was fighting in World War I and World War II. I’ve found some great recipes for you to try on Anzac Day– including the old favourite Anzac Biscuits as well as some tips and tricks for coping when times are tough.
1 cup flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups rolled oats
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp boiling water
Put the flour, caster sugar, coconut and oats in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.
Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Make balls and press onto greased baking trays. Don’t forget to leave some room for them to expand while they are cooking..
Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 15 minutes or until firm and golden brown.
Marrow fat instead of butter.
Butter was rationed during the war with each person allowed only 8 ounces or 200g a week. Which seems like rather a lot if you are just putting it on toast and sandwiches but butter was an important ingredient in the baking of cakes and biscuits so it was used up quickly. My mother remembers as a child having lard on toast instead of butter, which she says tasted quite nice.
This recipe uses very nutritional marrow fat taken from marrow bones instead of butter. These days I don’t think you’d be able to find a butcher to sell marrow fat to you, but you can extract the fat from marrow bones with this recipe.
1 marrow bone – chopped into chunks by your butcher
Get a teaspoon and scoop out the marrow which is in the middle of the bones. My bone furnished about half a cup of marrow.
In a small saucepan put about 5cm of water in the bottom and bring to the boil. Toss the marrow in and continue to boil for about a minute. You will be able to tell it is cooked because any blood on it will turn brown and the marrow pieces plump up. Drain.
Meanwhile toast your bread so that it is nice and crisp. Place the marrow on top and put under a grill until it is hot and starts bubbling.
Sprinkle with the parsley and salt and pepper and devour while it is still hot.
Imitation thick cream.
Cream was also scarce so instead they used a banana!
Beat and egg-white to a froth, add a well-mashed banana and beat for a few minutes.
How to use up stale bread.
Nothing went to waste when food was short. This is an interesting way to use up stale bread.
Cut bread and crusts into fingers and soak in any leftover gravy. Chop up an onion finely, season with pepper and slat, put in bottom of pie-dish, arrange fingers on top and cook in a slow oven until crisp.
Eggs were rationed so unless you had your own chickens in the backyard, which many people learned to do during the war, you needed to learn how to bake without them.
This is a nice easy recipe to try.
Chop 2 cups of stoned prunes. Cream 1 cup sugar with ½ cup butter and 2 cups of treacle. Beat well then add ¼ cup milk, 3 cups sifted flour with 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
Mix well, add prunes and bake in a square well-greased tin in a 180 degree oven.
Meat was also rationed which meant home cooks had to find creative ways to feed their family without it. This was a popular pie which doesn’t use meat or eggs. It works well in modern life as well.
Short crust pastry ( I used two ready-rolled frozen sheets).
Sprig of thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150g grated cheddar cheese
2 tsp mustard powder
Salt and pepper
Roll out the pastry and line a greased 23cm pie dish. Put some baking paper over the base and fill with beans or similar and bake blind in a 200 degree C oven for 15 minutes. Take the beans out, prick the base and cook for a further five minutes.
While you are baking the crust, boil the peeled potatoes until just cooked.
In a frying pan melt the butter and cook the onions, garlic and thyme on a very low heat. If you can do this for at least 15 minutes they will soften and caramelise which gives them a lovely flavour.
When the potatoes are cooked, dice, then add to the onion mixture along with the cream, cheese, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the pastry crust and cook for 15 minutes until golden brown.
Women did more than just keep the home fires burning. They also sent food overseas to the boys fighting. This was a recipe which was originally printed in this magazine in the 40s. A breakfast cup is 1.2 cups in modern times.
1 breakfast cup brown sugar
1 breakfast cup currants or nuts
1 breakfast cup cold water
2 breakfast cups sultanas
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
Mix all the above ingredients together in a pot and boil for three minutes.
When cold mix in:
1 tp baking soda mixed in a little warm milk
1tsp baking powder
2 breakfast cups plain flour.
Put into a lined tin and bake for two hours in a 170 degrees C oven.