Reviewing Rations

Last week, I had a mild moment of panic when I realized how little meat the rations provided for the three of us. I tried some quick backing and filling. Since daughter gets 1/2 gallon of milk per week, I chose to take one of our monthly adult rations of 1/2 gallon milk as 8oz heavy cream and 8 oz sour cream, to give us more options. I hit my cookbooks and came up with recipes heavy on veggies and light on meat and dairy.

It  turns out that, except for meat and cheese, the ration amounts actually provide way more food than we can use, especially sugar. One pound of sugar per person per week is totally ridiculous. We don't use that much sugar in a month, much less in a week. I could understand needing some extra sugar if we had lots of fruit to preserve, but 3# per week is industrial-scale fruit preservation. We're VERY heavy tea drinkers, but the tea ration is more than even we can drink in a week. (Yes, we drink our tea without sugar, which is looked upon with deep suspicion in the South. I was raised in California. Don't judge me.) Also, 36 ounces (12 oz x 3 people) of oil per week is excessive. I might use that much in a month, but in a week?!? And 6 sticks of butter (24 oz) for three people for a week? I'd have trouble using half that amount, even if we were having bowls of buttered popcorn every night!

Obviously, I'm American, not British. But I have to ask: What in the world was British cuisine like during the war that the ration system needed to provide that much oil, sugar, butter, and tea?!?

To recap, our current ration, per person, per week, based on the highest amounts allowed by the British during the war, is:

Bacon or Ham              8 oz
Sugar                          16 oz
Tea /Coffee                   4 oz
Meat, including Fish  1# 3 oz
Cheese                           8 oz
Preserves                       1#/month
Butter                            8 oz
Cooking oil                 12 oz
Lard                              3 oz
Sweets/Candy             16 oz/month
Milk                             1/2 gallon for children under 18 per week; 1/2 gallon for Adults per month

(I'm leaving off the egg ration because we have chickens. We're getting so many eggs that we share a couple dozen each week with our neighbors. During the war, we could have made a decent amount of extra money selling our eggs on the black market.)

Based on last week's results, I'm revising the ration to the amounts the British were allowed as of April 1945:

Bacon or Ham             4 oz
Sugar                            8 oz
Tea/Coffee                   2 oz
Meat, including fish    1# 3 oz
Cheese                         2 oz
Preserves                     1#/month
Butter                           2 oz
Cooking oil                  4 oz
Lard                             2 oz
Sweets/Candy             12 oz/month
Milk                            1/2 gallon per week under 18, 1/2 gallon per month for adults
...plus the $25 dollars per person, per week, for everything else.

A pound-and-a-half (8 oz x 3 people) of sugar per week is better, but we still won't be able to use all of it. During WW2, I could have sold my extra sugar ration on the black market or traded it privately for some other hard-to-get items (meat, chocolate, cheese, chocolate, bacon, chocolate, soap,...chocolate.) Unfortunately, the wartime black market is no more, so I have to create my own.

I've decided that for each pound of sugar we don't use, every ration of oil or butter, and each dozen eggs we give to our neighbor, I'm going to allow us black market purchases of:
1 extra soap coupon OR
2 oz sweets/candy OR
2 oz of cheese OR
4 oz of meat OR
4 oz of bacon.
I'll keep a running total on here so I (and you) can keep track of my illicit activities.

Since I'm changing everything up, I'll post this week's shopping and menus tomorrow. [Addendum: Due to a perfect storm of a flat tire, rusted lugnuts, a sloped gravel parking area, and Danny working all weekend, the grocery shopping will be delayed until Monday. Tuesday at the latest. Maybe Wednesday. Cars suck.]

Monday's recipe will be my super adaptable, super easy (except for grating the carrots, but that is what children are for, right?) Carrot Cake recipe. It can be made into breakfast muffins (with the frosting on the inside) or into a cake (with the frosting on the outside), and is our go-to favorite for birthdays.

In honor of my (age redacted) birthday, have a fun, cake-filled weekend out there in Bloggerland!!!


An Excellent Question: Why?

A reader left an excellent question in the comments, and I decided to cross-post my answer here.

deborah harvey said...
hi, kaintuck!
just found you on 'gorges grouse'. what inspired this experiment in ww II rationing?
is it saving you money?
will look in your past log to see if you already answered my questions.

Hi, Deborah! I'm glad you asked!

My initial interest in the WW2 era was sparked while rehabbing our 1940's house. When we were replacing the windows, my neighbor (who was born in this house) mentioned that his dad had told stories about how he had salvaged the windows from a house being torn down in a nearby town. He couldn't get new building materials because of the lingering effects of the depression and the looming war. But his dad needed a house for his growing family (11 children!) and managed to build one, mostly using the trees and rock on the property...and a handful of prized mis-matched windows.

Then I watched the wonderful BBC show "Wartime Farm". They mentioned that the British were, paradoxically, healthier during rationing than any time before or since. Their historians showed how they coped with shortages, worked together to support the war effort, and yet enjoyed dances and get-togethers. That got me wondering; they had so little (food, resources), were coping with the constant threat of violence, yet they were healthier and seemed to be fairly cheerful during the war? Why?

I look around America today, and we have so much. There is an absolute glut of stuff--food, clothes, huge houses, multiple cars, myriad ways to entertain or distract ourselves--yet we don't seem to be happier or healthier for all the excess. If anything, we seem more miserable as a country. Why?

So I decided to see if,
One: Is it possible to live on wartime rations and not starve to death? Will we be healthier without an unlimited assortment of food?
Two: If entertainments have to be carefully chosen because of rationing, will they mean more or be more satisfying?
Three: Can we live with fewer things--a wartime wardrobe, wartime constrains on buying stuff, wartime curtailment on travel--and still function?
Four: What changes will it make in us? What can we learn from recreating a forcibly pared down lifestyle? Will we be happier? Will we be healthier? Can we survive?

That's what this experiment is all about.


Making Soap

Since there was no way our soap ration was going to cover the amount of dish and laundry soap we use, I needed to find another solution. Luckily, unlike housewives during WW2, I have the internet to fall back on (although they had loads of cool government-issued how-to pamphlets.)

I found the following recipes, carefully totaled up our 12 monthly soap coupons (2 for 6 oz of shampoo each for daughter and me; 3 bars of soap for bath, sink, and kitchen; 3 coupons for 18oz (2 cups plus 4 TBSP) of Borax, 1 bar of soap for dishes, 2 bars for laundry; and one coupon left over for emergencies) and got to work.

First up: Homemade Laundry Soap.  (There are comprehensive pictures at the link, so I'll only post a few.)
1 bar of Ivory soap, grated
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing soda

Mix together, breaking up clumps with your fingers.

(This is two batches of laundry soap, which is our ration for the month.)
Store in a closed jar.
Measure out 1 TBSP for a load of laundry (Warm water makes it dissolve better.) Easy-peasy.

Now for the Homemade Dish Soap.

1 TBSP grated Ivory soap
1TBSP Borax
1 3/4 cups water.

Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the other ingredients, whisking to melt the soap.

Let sit for 6 to 8 hours to thicken, whisking occasionally.

Of course, if you're like me, you won't get the directions quite right when you're mixing everything up, since the instructions will be on the computer on the dining room table, while you're busy in the kitchen measuring soap, etc, and will combine everything and bring it all to a boil, which as it cools will become a lovely gelatinous mass, too thick to pour into or out of a bottle. (How's that for a run-on sentence!)

 (Thank goodness I decided to start with the basic recipe, instead of quadrupling it to get it all done at once, which was my first inclination. I'm a bit on the lazy side. Don't judge me.)

I tried adding a smidge more water and whisking gently. It's a bit foamy/lumpy in this picture. Good enough for government work.

 Okay, so it's more of a chunky gel than a smooth liquid. I'll see what the next batch (during the making of which I WILL follow the directions) turns out like.

Will the laundry soap actually clean clothes? Will the dish soap chunks actually be able to fit through the bottle spout? And what about Naomi? For the answers to these and other questions, tune in for my next soap post...whenever my chunky dish soap runs out.


Recipe: Bread

Since bread wasn't rationed, I decided to start with my bread recipe. I got it from The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flynn, page 140.  This book is chock-full of tips, tricks, and recipes for the average open-the-box cook, all in a well-written narrative. I highly recommend it.

Before we start, here's one bit of trivia from The History Channel;
In January 1943, the U.S. War Foods Administration instituted a ban on what had once been advertised as “the greatest step forward in the baking industry”: pre-sliced bread. The rule was intended to save on wax paper and metal. Since pre-sliced bread required more wrapping than a whole loaf to keep it from going stale, the government assumed they could easily conserve paper and curb demand for metal bread slicer parts by having people cut it themselves at home. The public response proved how wrong they were. Bakeries argued they had more than enough supplies on hand to meet demands, and housewives criticized the law in the media. “I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household,” began one woman’s letter to the New York Times. Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard eventually bowed to the pressure and rescinded the ban after only three months, admitting, “the savings are not as much as we expected…”
Yup, sliced bread is the best thing since...since...well, since sliced bread! Anyway, enough trivia. On with the recipe!!

 No-Knead Bread for Busy People

(All four ingredients. Complicated, huh?)
3 cups warm water (100*F)
1 1/2 TBSP yeast (1 envelope)
1 TBSP salt
6 1/2 cups (32 oz) flour--WEIGH THIS. You need 32 oz.
(cornmeal, optional. This is for if you form the bread into boules.)

Combine the water, yeast, and salt. Stir until combined.
Add the flour all at once. Stir until dough is sticky and there are no dry patches.
Cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Let rise until doubled.

I use a 2 gallon glass jar for my bread, rather than a bowl. I mark the "doubled" level on the side, and write the time I started on the top with a Sharpie. The ink washes right off with soap and water. They're also good for making kim chee, salting meat, and storing salt/sugar/etc. in way that is rat,-moisture,-and bug proof but still readily visible and accessible (I rubber band double layers of plastic wrap around the rim and the weight of the glass lid makes an air-tight seal.)

(Looks like I mis-estimated "double." I started it rising at 11:15 and it is now 3:45. Close enough for government work.)

Dump the dough out on a floured countertop. Let it rest while you oil your bread pans (or, if you want to make it into boules, while you try to locate a cookie sheet.)

Dust some flour over the top of the dough. Cut the dough into two pieces.

Flour your hands. Roll one half of the dough into either like a jelly roll (pictured) or into a round boule, tucking the ends under. Pinch out any air bubbles.

Tuck the rolled dough into your oiled bread pans, or dust a cookie sheet lightly with coarse-ground cornmeal and set the boules on it. Oil the top of the bread lightly if using a pan (to keep the tops from getting too crusty. I use a Misto.) or dust lightly with flour if making boules (because they're better with a crisp crust.) I don't usually make boules because everyone loves the crust and will eat them too quickly and not leave any for sandwiches. Plus, it's easier to get regular sandwich slices from pan-shaped bread.

Cover with plastic wrap and set to rise until doubled again, about an hour or two.

Heat your oven to 450F. Slide a cookie sheet or other shallow pan into the bottom of the oven. Slash the tops of your bread. For boules I like to slash an X, for pans I usually just slash a line down the middle. (Use a razor blade for this. You're welcome.)

Once the oven has heated up, put your bread in and immediately pour about a cup of water into the preheated pan in the oven. Be careful not to scald yourself with the steam. Bake for 30 minutes, until bread is light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cook on racks or the edge of the bread pans.

(Nom, nom, nom.)


Here We Go!!!!

Here's our rations for this week:

(That's 5 half-breasts of chicken. Plus the pound of sausage, that's our 3#9 oz meat ration for the week. I think I'm in trouble.)
 ( I forgot to include the 12 oz bacon ration and the sugar ration in the picture, since I'm taking them out of my current stores. I'll remember next week.)
Here's the rest of what I have to work with:
(I can't get the receipt picture to rotate, so you'll have to tilt your head and squint.)
Here's the menu for the next week:
Steamed rice with milk
Pasta with eggs, bacon, and garlic
Biscuits and sausage gravy
Egg in a basket
Cheese strata

Sandwiches or leftovers

Fried Rice (to use up any leftover rice from breakfast)
Hillbilly "crabcakes" with pasta salad
Zuppa Tuscana
Leek-Potato soup
One pot Tomato-basil pasta
Teriyaki Chicken
Southwest pesto chicken with pasta

Carrot cake with cream cheese icing (my birthday is later this week)
Fruit for snacks

(I'll be posting recipes for all of the above at the rate of one per week. My super-easy, fool-proof, four-ingredient, very-little-knead bread recipe will be posted Monday. With pictures from my shiny new birthday camera/phone.)

In order to track any weight lost, for the record, my BMI is 30.7 (obese), Danny's BMI is 31.6 (obese), and daughter's BMI is 24.1 (Normal). To get my BMI into the 'Normal Weight' range, I need to get down to 150# or less. Danny needs to weigh 180# or less to get him into the 'Normal' range. Daughter is already there. I'll post changes each month.

The daily exercise requirement will be filled by Beginning Callanetics. I already own the DVD, and the next one, they're remarkably effective, and I actually like the exercises...when I can motivate myself to do them. 
WARNING!!! If anyone out there decides to do Callanetics, DO NOT do what I did the first time. I bought the DVD many years ago when I was younger and stupider, sat down to watch it, thought, "Oh, these are easy!!" and proceeded to do the maximum recommended number my first day. Took me three days to stop whimpering in pain and be able to lift my legs (without using both hands) to go up or down stairs. START SMALL and go up from there. Callanetics are like Long Island Iced Teas; they sneak up on you. Too many, too quickly and you find yourself laying in a moaning heap on the floor, wishing you could take it all back. You have been warned.
 I'm going to spend the weekend making dish soap and laundry soap (and taking pictures), baking bread (and taking pictures), and attempting to remember to exercise (NO pictures.) Hope everyone out there in Bloggerland has a wonderful weekend!


Planning Stages: Soap

One thing I've been having conniptions over has been the soap rationing...namely, dish soap, laundry soap and shampoo. To recap, we get four--just 4--soap coupons per person each month for all our soap needs. One soap coupon is worth:

4 oz bar soap  or
3 oz toilet (facial) soap   or
1/2 oz liquid soap  or
6 oz soft soap   or
3 oz soap flakes   or
6 oz powdered soap.

For arguments sake, I'm classifying dish soap as liquid soap, shampoo as soft soap, and powdered laundry soap (including Borax) as...wait for it...powdered soap (I know that last one is confusing. Just go with me here.)

Today was our last grocery shopping day before we start on September 23rd. I needed to pick up some travel bottles to hold our soap rations, because you just can't buy 1/2 oz of dish soap. We're going to have to buy the bigger sizes and decant our ration into another smaller, much smaller, bottle.

Have you seen how small 1/2 fluid oz is?! You know those hand sanitizer bottles you can buy to attach to your key chain? THAT'S a half ounce. I so cannot get through a day's dishes with that little soap, much less a whole month's worth of dishes!

So I hit the interwebz in panic. I'm not going to have enough oil ration to make my own soap, so I needed another work-around. And found this: a recipe for making your own dish soap.  I'm going to try it out (I haven't gotten my new camera yet, so I'll be borrowing daughter's smart phone for pictures) and see if it works. If it does...one bar of Ivory, costing just one soap coupon, should make about 60oz of dish soap!! That's a whole month's worth of clean dishes!! (Cue angels singing.)

I'll post how it turns out, including pictures.


Planning: Gasoline Rations

Fuel rationing is turning out to be a timely subject, what with the eastern seaboard experiencing gas shortages from the Alabama pipeline leak.

Luckily, we're not affected by that particular shortage. However, according to my best guess, we're only going to have about 45 gallons of gasoline per month (if we're careful with our electricity usage) on the ration point system. That works out to roughly 11 gallons per week. Therein lies a Yuuuuuge problem.

I've been going crazy(er) trying to figure out how we were going to survive with only 45 gallons of gasoline per month. 45 gallons won't even come close to covering Danny's commute, much less trips to town for Kung Fu lessons, grocery shopping, photography lessons, and unexpected visits to the vet/doctor/library. We live 12 miles, one way, from the nearest town. Danny drives about 50 miles, one way, to work each day. 500 miles per week, minimum. At 20mpg, that's 25 gallons just for him, for one week. We're not selling the house to move closer, can't afford a new car with better gas mileage, and he can't just quit work! 45 gallons doesn't equal 100 gallons, no matter how hard I try.

Rationing just wasn't going to work. It was beginning to look like we were going to have to quit the experiment before we even began. Then I discovered the A, B, C's.

An American HBC contributor reports: "I was a teenager during World War II and remember the rationing of food, gas and other strategic items before I was drafted into the Army. Silk stockings and nylon's for ladies was unheard of. Young ladies drew a line down the back of their legs to indicate they were wearing stockings. Gas rationing: a Class "A" sticker allowed you four gallons a week; Class "B" sticker allowed you ten gallons a week and a Class "C: sticker was unlimited, meaning your vehicle was essential for the war effort.American Rationing During WW2
Who was considered essential for the war effort?
The "C" sticker was issued primarily to professional people, physicians nurses, dentists, ministers, priests, Mail delivery, embalmers, farm workers, construction or maintenance workers, Soldiers and armed forces going to duty, and several others.   Gas Ration Stickers
Danny's jobs (Medical Instructor and Flight Paramedic) both fall under the class C designation!!!! We can do this after all!!

However, for fairness sake, since we're using the American gas rationing system, I'm going to adjust the fuel allowances. Our 7-room house will still get 140 units (1050KW) of electricity per month, but instead of the 15 extra units each for personal use, I'm going to follow the American gasoline ration system. Danny will only use his car for commuting and farm work (hauling hay/animals/fencing/etc.) The 4-gallon-per-week gas ration will be used in our other car and we will use it for everything else.

That leaves me enough gasoline for about three round trips to town each week. That's not a lot, but I think I can work with that.


Planning Stages: Clothes

As I was going over the recommended wardrobe list, packing away clothes, and sorting through sweaters, I ran into a few snags (Hah! See what I did there? That were pun-ny) (...or not.)

ANY-way, as I was saying before my immature brain so rudely interrupted, the clothing list left out such things as shorts, sandals, and swimsuits. There is also no allowance for farm living. For example, if I'm going to be mucking around in the barn, I need barn boots, not tennis shoes. I also need a few items (pants, tops) that are either capable of standing up to animals or are in such a state that I don't care if they do. I also need a dedicated barn coat so I don't smell like goat every time I go to town.

So I made an executive decision to add 2 pair of shorts, 1 pair of sandals, and 1 swimsuit to the list, as well as 2 pair of barn pants, 4 barn shirts (for layers), 1 barn coat, and 1 pair of barn boots.

Here was my closet then:

(I wasn't joking about the stuffed-to-overflowing.My clothes to the left, Danny's to the right, where you can't see them.)
Here is my closet now:

 (You can actually see Danny's clothes now. He's still working on sorting, but he's getting there.)


D DAY DATE (Say that three times fast)

I need a week or so to get set up for our 'surviving WW2 rationing' experiment, so D Day is officially going to be Friday, September 23rd. By then, I need to have the soap rationing figured out, our closets pruned down to ration(al) levels, and a handful of recipes at the ready. Oh, and sort out that whole gasoline/electricity rationing...thing (waves hand dismissively.) I'm even going to buy a computer-friendly camera!

(Don't worry, I'll keep posting M/W/F until then...)


Where to Start: Fuel

Let's talk about necessities.

What is a necessity? It is something you need to sustain life. Luxuries are things that make life easier/longer/entertaining/etc. For example:

NECESSITIES: Food, water, shelter.

LUXURIES: Cars, TV, A/C, cable, "nice" houses, electricity, phones, running (hot/cold) water, central heating, radios, travel, prepared/convenience foods, internet, ready-made "fashionable" clothing, comfortable mattresses, access to education or libraries, sewer systems...you get the idea.

In my opinion, most people in the USA (and the rest of the First World) have confused "necessities" with "luxuries." Which has caused many stresses, with people demanding that their "rights" include luxuries provided as "necessities." (ObamaPhones, anybody?) But I digress...

When I hear "rationing" associated with WW2, I immediately think "food." Maybe if I'm having a good day, I might think "clothes." But it turns out one of the main things rationed (and part of the reason some of the others were rationed) was FUEL. Fuel technically isn't a necessity, although fire could arguably be considered a necessity, depending on the climate. I'd include fuel/fire under the "shelter" heading. "Shelter" could more properly be termed "An Hospitable Physical Environment, Compatible With Life." (I would personally file clothing under "shelter" also; clothes being basically a portable way of ensuring AHPE,CWL.) Fuel keeps people from freezing in cold weather, fuel makes it possible to cook food, fuel in its various forms can make life much, much easier. 

Fuel rationed included gasoline, kerosene, paraffin or lamp oil, natural gas, coal, and electricity. I couldn't find any evidence that wood (for burning) was rationed. During wartime, the military had priority for fuels. Next priority would have been fuels needed to produce food. Third in line, transporting food from the farms to the people. What was left over was rationed among civilians, and was always subject to disruption.

I had no end of trouble researching fuel rationing. I finally watched a BBC show, 1940s House, and right about 1:07, there was several shots of a British newspaper ad regarding fuel rationing. Success!!

Since part of discovering if we, as a modern family, could survive wartime rationing would include the necessary fuel rationing, I did my best to come up with my best guess as to what our fuel ration during wartime would have been:

1 Fuel unit equals:
*7 1/2 KW of electricity
*1 gallon of paraffin, kerosene, or gasoline
*500 cubic feet of natural gas
*1/2 cart of coal (I'm guessing this is a weight measure, but I'm not sure. Doesn't affect us, anyway.)

Fuel was rationed based on the number of rooms in the house and the number of people.
1 room--60 fuel units
2 rooms--70 fuel units
3 rooms--90 fuel units
4 rooms--100 fuel units
5 rooms--110 fuel units
6 rooms--120 fuel units
7 rooms--140 fuel units
Each person was allotted an additional 15 fuel units per month for person use.

Based on this, our 7-room house (4 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room) and three people, total 185 fuel units per month.

Well. Humph.

On our last electric bill, we used 1,031KW of electricity in 32 days. At 7 1/2 KW per unit, we used 138 units just to run the house, which would have left us only 47 units left for gasoline for the cars.

We use WAAAAY more than 47 gallons of gasoline each month. The only solution: we're going to have to start watching our electricity usage.

Excuse me...I have to go shut off the A/C. And a few lights....


Where to Start: Clothing, Cleaning, and Personal Items

When I bought my house, I wondered about the closets. Or rather, I wondered why the closets were so small, if there was a closet at all. The front bedroom didn't have a closet (I shaved a few feet off one end, adding a walk-in closet for the bedroom and a coat closet that opens onto the living room), the corner bedroom didn't have a closet (It is now our office), and the master bedroom and the bedroom opposite it across the hall have closets exactly half the width of the hallway, back-to-back, and about 5 feet long (I couldn't do anything about this. No room to make them larger. Sigh.) Didn't people in the 1940s have clothes?!

Well, no, they didn't. At least, not like we do today. Check out this "recommended wardrobe," covering all seasons, for women:

10 pr panties
5 slips
3 bras
4 pr tights
5 pr socks
10 shirts
2 sweaters
2 pr jeans
4 pr trousers
4 skirts
2 formal dresses
2 summer dresses
2 pr heels
1 pr flats
1 pr casual shoes
2 dressing gowns
2 nightgowns
dress coat
casual coat

No wonder they could get their entire wardrobe in those tiny 1940s suitcases! They didn't have any clothes! I am nowhere near the clothes-horse of most people I know and I have at least two to three times that many clothes (except for my Christmas dress. I don't have that yet. It's waiting for me on my wish list on Amazon.) And the men's wardrobe is just as bad:

10 pr boxers
10 undershirts
10 pr socks
4 pr jeans
4 pr trousers
2 suits
16 shirts
2 pr dress shoes
2 pr casual shoes
2 bathrobes
2 pajamas
dress coat
casual coat

Okay, okay, calm down. Breathe. We can do this. Danny and I can weed down our clothes and pack the extra away. It might be fun, kinda like shopping without going shopping. Except you already own everything. But there would finally be room to fit all our clothes in our closet. And if I'm in desperate need of some item of clothing, it turns out that used clothing wasn't rationed. I ain't too proud for Goodwill. As long as I get my Christmas dress, it's a win-win.

About that dress...

Clothes were strictly rationed during the war. Everyone was give just 60 clothing coupon points for the whole year. Here's the list for women:

Here's the list for the men:

So the dress is do-able-ish. I might even be able to swing a pair of shoes. I'm still in. Let's see what else war time rationing covered.

"Beauty is a Duty." THAT, my dear readers, was a war time propaganda slogan. Women were encouraged to always wear makeup, or at least lipstick, in an effort to look their best; to always wear their hair neat and stylish; and to stay in shape with daily exercises as part of their Patriotic Duty. Pamphlets of recommended exercises were printed by the government. News reels were distributed, demonstrating the latest hair, make up, and fashions. Hats, lipstick, and shaving soap were off ration, so women could still look stylish on bad hair days, and men could be clean shaven.

Daily exercises, wear lipstick, keep hair neat and stylish. Check. (whimper.)

Speaking of soap, it turns out soap was rationed during the war!  Not just rationed; RATIONED!

4 Soap coupons were issued per person, per month. One coupon was good for:

4 oz bar soap  or
3 oz toilet (facial) soap   or
1/2 oz liquid soap  or
6 oz soft soap   or
3 oz soap flakes   or
6 oz powdered soap.

Think of how much soap you use in a month. Bath soap, shampoo, dish soap, laundry soap, household cleaners. I just checked my bottle of Ivory dish soap. It has 24 oz. I use about two of those per month. We go through probably two bars of soap in the shower per month. And a bottle of shampoo, the big bottles, with the pump, every couple months. And what about conditioner? Is it considered a soap?  And what about the laundry?!?! Even if we hardly have any clothes, I'm still going to have to wash them sometime!

This is going to be an issue. I'm not sure how to solve it. Let's move on. What else could there be...?

What do you mean, one roll of toilet paper, per person, per week?!?! Who do you think I am, Gwyneth Paltrow?

Let me get this straight. Hardly any clothes, even less soap, next to no TP, but I'm supposed to do my Duty and always strive to look my best. (Grumble, grumble.)

(Sigh.) Well, the women of the 1940s were elegant, sophisticated, even chic. And there was a war going on when they were doing it. If they managed, I can do it.

But daily exercise?! Isn't that against the Geneva Convention or something?


Where to Start: Food

One of my biggest surprises about wartime rationing in Britain was finding out how vociferously the press fought against it. The people of Britain saw the need for rationing, but the newspapers went wild (hmm, something here sounds familiar):

Picture Post magazine described it as “the most unpopular Government decision since the war began”, while the Daily Mail thundered:
“Your butter is going to be rationed next month. It would be scarcely possible-even if Dr Goebbels were asked to help-to devise a more harmful piece of propaganda for Great Britain. Our enemy’s butter ration has just been increased from 3ozs to just under 4ozs. Perhaps because of Goering’s phrase ‘guns or butter’ has given butter a symbolical significance. But mighty Britain, Mistress of the Seas, heart of a great Empire, proud of her wealth and resources? Her citizens are shortly to get just 4ozs of butter a week. There is no good reason to excuse Mr Morrison, the Minister of Food, for this stupid decision.”
In more sober and restrained language, “The Economist” agreed:
“The methods adopted by the Ministry of Food, first to oppose rationing, and secondly to find reasons for postponement, have run the whole gamut of plausibility and ingenuity and are now verging on the fantastic.” The Ministry of Food/Culture24
At the beginning of WW2, Britain imported about 70% (20 million tons) of their food. (By contrast, America in 2016 imports in the vicinity of 20% of our food.) Something needed to change.

Basic foods were rationed to prevent hoarding and ensure that everyone had access to a fair share. During the war, Britain assigned garden allotments (average size 90'x30'), so that people could grow their own veggies. They encouraged people to raise chickens and rabbits. Pig clubs were organized to utilize food and garden scraps. Goats were recommended to eke out the milk supply.

[In the USA, by the early 1940s, the USDA no longer saw small family farms as a national asset. Instead, the USA concentrated on mass production and mono-culture farms to supply the war effort. Partly as a result of these policies, today fewer than 3% of US farms make over 63% of farm income, including government subsidies.]

Not everything was rationed. Bread was never rationed. Neither were salt, seasonal fruits, veggies, mushrooms, or restaurant meals (...to a point. Only three courses were allowed and only one of those could contain meat.) Tea was rationed in Britain but not in the USA. Fish was rationed in the USA but not in Britain. Eggs were rationed , but not condiments, which led to the creation of "Mayonnaise Cakes", taking advantage of the egg and oil emulsion without the worry of rationing. Oranges and lemons weren't rationed. Because they were so scarce, there was no need. 

So what food was rationed? In the USA; sugar, coffee, meat, fish, butter, eggs, and cheese. In Britain; sugar, tea, meat, cheese, preserves, butter, margarine/cooking oil, lard, sweets/candy, eggs, and milk. Amounts allowed on ration varied throughout the war. Other items were limited through a point/coupon system.

For purposes of our experiment, I'm going to blend the two lists of rationed items and use the upper amounts Britain allowed. Don't judge me.

For the record, we will be allowed, per person, per week unless otherwise noted:

Bacon or Ham              8 oz
Sugar                          16 oz
Tea /Coffee                   4 oz
Meat, including Fish 1# 3 oz
Cheese                           8 oz
Preserves                       1#/month
Butter                            8 oz
Cooking oil                 12 oz
Lard                              3 oz
Sweets/Candy             16 oz/month
Milk                             1/2 gallon for children under 18 per week; 1/2 gallon for Adults per month
Eggs                             1 (If you chose to keep chickens, you gave up your egg ration, but were given a mash ration in exchange, as well as being able to keep all your eggs. We have chickens. No egg ration for us.)

Since the USA restricted the use of tin/aluminum cans during the war, to save the metals for military use, I'll only buy food in glass jars, not cans, during our experiment...except for one can: The infamous Spam. I'll allow us one can of Spam per week, if we want it. Blech.

To replicate the shortages of other foods during wartime, I'm going to restrict the rest of our food by cost. After buying our ration food, I'm going to allow another $25 per person, per week, for fresh fruits and veggies. Since restaurants were not rationed, Danny will be able to eat at the cafeteria while he's at work.

I have to say, I'm curious/looking forward to seeing how much weight we lose and how hard meal planning is on the ration system. I plan to post recipes once a week or so. Once we start, I'll also post my register receipts, to keep me honest. (Everyone just ignore any extra chocolate bars...a G.I. gave them to me, I swear!)


Where to Start: Why Are We Doing This???

That's a good question...let me explain. (pause.) No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Lots of people out there in the blog-o-sphere, joined recently by various Governments, have been advising civilians to stock up/prep/homestead/whatever you want to call it. But after you've dutifully secured your can-o-seeds, your 5 gallon pails of bacon and beans, and your stash of ammo to fight the zombies...well, then what? No one really talks about how to cope with limited or no food, clothing, gasoline, or electricity.

In other words, how do you cook your bacon and beans? How do you get to work when there is very little gasoline available? How do you cope when the store shelves are empty? Do you know how to grow your own food? What happens when you can't get new clothing? Can you cope with a very limited diet of very limited food?

Inquiring mind wanted to know.

Of course, I researched food rationing first. Because...food! I loves me my food!

Everyone (at least, everyone who didn't sleep through history class) knows about WW2 Britain, Keep Calm and Carry On, ration books both in Britain and the USA, Rosie the Riveter, and all that. One thing I didn't know was that the population of Britain was healthier during the years of rationing than before or since. Infant mortality dropped, non-combat deaths dropped, obesity was nonexistent: People were just healthier.

Turns out not eating huge amounts of food, walking or biking to save gasoline, and having a purpose in life are good for you!  Who Knew???

I could go for "obesity non-existent". I could really go for "healthier!" And as an added bonus, the less food I buy, the more money I save! What's not to love about that? And...and...I could actually practice practicing my preps!! Sign me up!!!

But wait! There's more.

Food wasn't the only thing rationed. Clothing was rationed. And fuel.

Well, I guess I could do without new clothes for a year (with a guilty glance at my stuffed-to-overflowing closet.) But, wait! I haven't bought this year's Christmas dress yet! And if the "rationed food" thing actually does lead to the "obesity nonexistent" thing, I'm going to want some new clothes! But then, war time civilians would have gone through the same thing. If they coped, I can cope. And once again, fewer clothes bought means more money in our pocket. Okay, sign me up. (sigh.)

Next. Fuel.

Bo-ring! As part of the house rehab, we switched from cooking on an electric range to cooking on a kerosene stove. We get Jet A (Kerosene) for free from my husband's work. Free is good. Turns out kerosene stoves is good, too. And kerosene heaters. All I'd have to worry about with fuel rationing is electricity and gasoline. Pfft. Shut off a couple of lights, not run to town that often. How hard can it be? There probably wont be much of that "less fuel equals more money" thing, but hey, I could be wrong.

Okay, I'm in. Husband says he's in. Daughter says she's in.

(Looks around.) Now what?


New Directions

There have been LOTS of changes here at Kentucky Hollers!!!

The original purpose of this blog (at least in my mind) was to document our life as I moved from the big city to a (very) run-down 1940's farmhouse on a (very) small eastern Kentucky farm and endeavored to teach myself home renovation, how to farm, how to home school, how to cook and preserve the food I produced, and tried to follow my dreams.

Ten years later, things are totally different from the way they started. The house is almost finished, I've learned the basics of how to farm, G. has graduated and moved on to follow her dream of becoming a helicopter pilot, I married the man of my dreams five years ago, I wrote my first novel (unpublished. Trust me; you're welcome.) and I've become a fairly accomplished cook (not tooting my own horn; that's what my family says...but then again, they rely on me to feed them, so they may not be totally impartial. Hmmm....)

Time to move in a new direction.

It all started with the house.

Ten years ago, our house was...well, let's just say most rational people would have looked at it, said, "Oh, HECK no!" and bulldozed the place. But most people who know me will agree--I'm anything but rational.

When I bought it, the house needed: new plumbing, foundation work, a complete rewiring, new windows throughout, new doors throughout, the central supporting wall rebuilt, new flooring, new floor joists, structural porch supports added, and all new siding. The bathroom and kitchen both needed to be redone although they were "functional" as-is, the septic system was...elderly, there was no working heating or air conditioning, there were three unusable fireplaces that needed to be dismantled, and there was old termite damage in one part of the house. There were no outbuildings, fences, or fruit trees (there were 5 black walnut trees.) But it had a new roof, great neighbors, came with 10.6 acres and a stream, and only cost $20,000.

If only these walls could talk.

Our house dates to about 1941-2. The family who built it hauled a portable saw mill onto the property, felled the trees off the land, milled them right here, and built the house. The frame is oak, the siding is tulip poplar and some of the remaining upstairs flooring is (we think) chestnut. It is part of this land in a way no other house could be. It was sited to take advantage of the prevailing winds and the direction of the sun. Originally, it was a story-and-a-half, but sometime in the mid-80s, the upper half-story was removed and three bedrooms were added out to one end.

As we've rehabbed rebuilt the house, I've become more and more interested in the 1940s. It was a fascinating time. A world war was raging. But the populations of the U.S., as well as Britain, banded together for the greater good, despite differences of opinion or belief. For the first time, women were entering the work force en mass. Despite, or possibly because, of this, women strove to look glamorous, elegant, and sophisticated. Food and other goods were rationed. Again, despite or because of this, the general health of the population improved. Science, practicality, and style all blended together to define the era.

 What does all that have to do with this blog?

I'm glad you asked.

With our world more and more resembling the late-1930s (a lingering Recession/Depression, spreading societal breakdown, and a rumbling threat of war across the globe), I've been thinking more and more about just how people lived in the 1940s. How did they cope with the struggles of the war effort, specifically the shortage of goods and food? Which made me wonder...

Could a family today survive 1940s rationing?

We plan to find out.