Out of Helen's kitchen - The 1940's


Helen Drysdale
The Neepawa Banner

Canada entered the Second World War in 1939 and Neepawa’s airport became one of the British Commonwealth Air Training schools to train pilots. Everyone did their part, including the women who worked on the farms and in the factories producing war materials. By the end of the war, 50,000 women had joined the Women’s Army Corps (CWACS).

The lessons to conserve, improvise and do without during the depression served people well during the rationing of the Second World War. The Canadian Government put out booklets to help with the food rationing. At the heart of many of the government’s wartime food policies was the need to feed Canada’s overseas allies and soldiers. As Canadians were regularly reminded by propagandists and advertisers alike, food truly was a “weapon of war.” “Use your cook stove to cook Hitler’s goose”, one ad suggested. In addition to rationing there were also calls to plant victory gardens, preserve produce, collect fat and bones for ammunition production and to eliminate any food waste. The Canadian government and food corporations jumped on board with recipes and pamphlets designed to help housewives succeed on the home front. The forward of Wartime Canning and Cooking states, “Canadian men are on the march everywhere… so are Canadian women. Just as our Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are changing their habits overnight, so are our homemakers, adapting themselves to changes in the kitchen”. The war effort encompassed all Canadians and women did their fair share and more, achieving and sacrificing a great deal for the cause of peace and freedom.

This recipe comes from the booklet “How to eat well Though Rationed” by Josephine Gibson.

Liver loaf
1 Tbsp. chopped celery
Salt and pepper
1 cup milk
3 slices bacon
1 lb. liver
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 tsp. grated onion
2 tsp. chopped celery
Calves, pork, lamb or beef liver may be used. Pour boiling water over liver and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain. Force through the food chopper. Add bread crumbs, beaten eggs, seasonings and enough milk to moisten well. Line a loaf pan with slices of bacon. Pack in liver mixture. Bake in slow oven of 300° until firm about 1 hour.

During the war’s sugar rationing my mother in law substituted honey as her husband Wilfred was an apiarist so honey was readily available to them.

Honey Cookies
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 cup raisins or nuts
Cream butter, sugar and egg together. Mix in honey and sour cream. Stir the soda and cinnamon into the flour and mix into the creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonful on lightly buttered cookie sheets and bake at 350° till golden brown.