Friday, May 1, 2015

What I'm Reading in 2015, April: Victory Cookbook

I forgot to do this yesterday as I've been kind of busy lately, so, without further ado, here's the book I read in April!

Victory Cookbook:  Nostalgic Food and Facts From 1940 - 1954 by Marguerite Patten, OBE
This is a book I bought last year sometime and had skimmed it a lot, but had never read it cover to cover.  I figured April was a great opportunity to do this.

This, by far, is one of my favorite books period at the moment.  Victory Cookbook is actually a collection of three of Ms. Patten's books, "We'll Eat Again", "The Victory Cookbook" and "The Post-War Kitchen" The books follow Britain through the Second World War with rationing, after the war when women were starting to work more outside the home and rationing was still in effect and the post war kitchen which goes year by year from the end of the war until rationing ends.  Be sure, if you buy this book to get the British version of the book as the American version only includes two of the books (I linked to the British version).

This book is at once fascinating and inspiring.  You think you are hard up for money?  You should get these books.  When you read this book the first thing that really starts to hit home is how bad rationing in Britain really was.  Ever wanted to know about 100 different ways to mix mashed potatoes to make different dishes, including how to make a mock cream with them?  This book is for you.

I really find the books inspiring reading about the social history behind the recipes, what rationing involved and, with all of that, there are still TONS of recipes in this book, which is even better to me.

I've made some of the recipes from this book and I have to say that everything I've made has been really good.  Some of it surprises you when you look down at a basic pastry recipe made with no fat or mashed potatoes as a base and go, "Um, am I nuts for doing this?" only to find that the pastry actually does turn out in the end.  The ingenuity of the Ministry of Food to feed a population when there wasn't a lot of food to be had, as well as the ingenuity of the women in that period who had to cook with next to nothing available, is just utterly fascinating to me and a constant source of inspiration in my day to day domestic life.  And those women were dealing with no food being available and no soap or other things while their communities were being bombed and they were working long hours in factories and such to take over when the men were overseas at war.  I'm always amazed how much they did and how they managed to do it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs some inspiration in their day to day cooking as well as to anyone who wants to read more about the social history of Britain during WWII.  I majorly enjoyed this book and will continue to enjoy it for years to come.

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