Tuesday, 2 October 2012

"A turnip for the books", or "I clearly couldn't think of an original turnip gag"

Well, my first week or so of rationing has been a bit of a flop.  I've stuck to it religiously at home but with three evenings out last week I'm afraid I did end up eating dinner out far more than intended.  Still, I'm sure folk in the 40s took time to get in the swing of things too.  Ahem.

I'll post up a full update over the next few days but for now, I just wanted to share with you a few pics of tonight's dinner.  Probably the most commonly mentioned wartime meal, Woolton Pie.

This isn't something I've been looking forward to trying, I must admit but, after buying a cheap "stew bag" of vegetables at Tesco (£1 - bargain) and having some pastry ready and waiting in the freezer I decided it was time to give it a whirl.

For those who haven't delved into the world of wartime cookery - Woolton Pie was named after the Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, and was promoted by the Ministry as an example of a satisfying meat free main meal.  It is really just various vegetables cooked together with some vegetable extract and then topped with pastry and baked.  Not very exciting.  Not very exciting at all. 

It seems my wartime predecessors felt the same way, with the pie being very unpopular after its introduction in 1941.  In fact, Lord Woolton had to go to some lengths to "sell" this idea to the people; The Times commented:

"When Woolton pie was being forced on somewhat reluctant tables, Lord Woolton performed a valuable service by submitting to the flashlight camera at public luncheons while eating, with every sign of enjoyment, the dish named after him."

The official recipe is given below, though like all wartime recipes the exact ingredients were subject to availability.  Mine was mainly carrots, potato, parsnip, turnip and a little onion. Also, as I had a nugget of last weeks cheese hanging about and a little on the turn milk, I made a tiny bit of cheese sauce in an effort to add a bit of flavour.

(image from http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk, currently my favourite website, its bloody brilliant)

All in all, served with gravy, it was perfectly edible, if bland.  Though my bloomin' turnips didn't cook.  In the name of thrift I've fished the wee blighters out and am reboiling them for mashing with a little butter as a side dish.  Yes, saintly I know.

Anyway, photos of the real thing:

I'm thoroughly stuffed, ready for bed and have enough of this....stuff to feed me for the rest of the week.  I have a feeling that I will make this again, if not often.  As it really is cheap on the pocket and filling for the belly.

I'm full of carbs and off for an early night now - toodle pip!


  1. I really admire you for sticking to the rationing, I'd love to know, do you find it hard, because I would love to give it a try?
    Love Lil x

  2. Splendid looking supper! One can only dream of having a pie named after them. I have now mentally added this to my list of attainable achievements which also includes becoming a champion cheese roller (a gentleman should have high aspirations). Keep up the good work!

  3. Fish & chips were never rationed - rather limits your dining out options though! The Woolton pie looks much better than I imagined. Whenever I have read about it I've assumed it'd be, well, woolly.

  4. You are incredible! Seriously you are carrying this project forward, this cake looks good and I think I could take my table any day.

  5. I have been pondering this one for a while. Looks pretty bloody yummy actually - I might just have to give it a go :)

  6. Fishing out the turnips? I'm impressed with your thrift.

  7. Congrats on the rationing week I did the same thing on my blog:


    people did eat out in wartime as the Ministry of Food set up British Restaurants. I wrote a post about it on my blog:


  8. What you're doing is brilliant. Woolton pie can actually be really tasty. As a vegetarian, it's perfect for me but I cook it on the hob far longer than suggested so I can make sure the vegetables are all cooked. Lots and lots of seasoning too or it's just boiled veg! :o) It's also really nice with the potato pastry crust. Look forward to seeing what you make next :o)

  9. I make this quite often but with the addition of a tsp of Dunns River spicy seasoning and a veggie Oxo cube (which stops it being bland at very few calories!).

  10. I think it definitely needs spicy seasoning, might try that next time. I settle dfor some East London pie n' mash style chilli vinegar on the pastry. :-)

  11. Have you seen the 1940s episode of the Supersizers. They did the same Ration diet. Really cool you are doing the same!

  12. I made a Woolton pie once for me and my sister, but I had made a suet crust for mine. The veg and gravy was fine, but unfortunately the pastry was quite rib sticking due to the fact I had to use veggie suet and not the proper stuff with lovely fat in it, so I’m going to have to try again. I thought the addition of a rasher of bacon might give it more flavour too!