The word “Nostalgia” in the title is a good hook for a cookbook collector who concentrates mostly on vintage. When I first picked up The Nostalgic Cook Book by Bill Habets, I had hoped for a good bibliography. Sadly, there isn’t one. Still, the book is a treasure-trove of interesting information and recipes.
It concentrates primarily on the war and post-war years in Great Britain. Rationing had a huge effect on the nation and continued long after the war was over — like nine years after the war was over. I had no idea. This little book tries to bring back a little of the creativity required to endure food scarcity. According to the book, a typical weekly ration for one person during most of this time included the following deprivations: 6 ounces of meat, 1 egg, 4 ounces of Fat (butter margarine, lard), 4 ounces of cheese, 4 ounces of Bacon, 12 ounces sugar (later 8 ounces), 2 ounces of tea, and 2 ounces of sweets. Again, that’s a weekly allowance.
As I said in the last post, I am interested in history, so I found myself, the big vintage cookbook collector once again relaxing my dating standards and picking up a 2009 publication. Of course, foreign publications have a lot of interest for me too, so the historical angle and the fact that it was a British publication were major considerations for me so the book found its way into my cart.
There is a lot of information about wartime diets and nutrition and the tradeoffs people were forced to make. There is mention of “national bread” or “national flour” — which they say is equivalent to whole wheat, but their inference is that it is not 100% equivalent, just close. Who knows what they were stretching it with, sawdust?
The book has a lot of really cool recipes and here is a small sampling. In most cases, I’ve chosen recipes that show the character of the wartime recipes, or are typically British, or both.
I thought bacon turnovers was a nice twist. Made me hungry just thinking of it because it has that one magic word: BACON!!!! In the southern US, we’d just call this a bacon biscuit but we usually just slice it and stick the bacon in. I like the idea of baking it in.
And here we have Potato Jane? Who the heck is Potato Jane? I don’t know, but I have a feeling I’ll be meeting her very soon. Seriously, this just looks like a take on scalloped potatoes. I like it.
Mince in the Hole sounds so typically British I am amazed I’ve never heard of it. It looks very unusual, meatballs cooked into a bread binding. Sort of a meatball and dumplings concoction without the liquid. This is another one I am likely going to try.
I think this is a handy cookbook to keep around in case you find a need to ration yourself. I’m talking about you survivalists out there. If at some point you have to make the most of what you have, you might just need a little book like this. It shows the ingenuity people employed during the war when many foodstuffs were in short supply. I can see where the nostalgia comes in … nothing I have seen in this book speaks to deprivation, it speaks to survival and making do. That’s a good thing. I’m keeping this one handy.