Blancmange, Events, Food History, Museum, Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

V.E. Day 70th Anniversary – Memories From My Family’s Photo Album (Kent & Netherlands)

V.E. Day commemorative pins. Private collection.
V.E. Day commemorative pins. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

I am delighted to announce that I have just published a new article on my History Blog (https://comestepbackintime.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/v-e-day-70th-anniversary-memories-from-my-familys-photo-album-kent-netherlands/) ‘V.E. Day 70th Anniversary: Memories From My Family’s Photo Album (Kent & Netherlands)’. As the title suggests, this article has been inspired by a collection of photographs from our family archives featuring life in Hythe, a Kent seaside town, before and after World War Two.

Victory souvenir postcard, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Victory souvenir postcard, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

This article also tells the story of my late grandfather who served during the war with the Royal Engineers and was involved in the liberation of the Netherlands, specifically Hengelo, in 1945. The article features a wonderful twist of fate, thanks to some detective work by a Dutch historian based near Hengelo, who has traced the family my grandfather befriended during his 6 month stay there.

My grandfather who served in the Royal Engineers during World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time
My grandfather who served in the Royal Engineers during World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Schuit family from Hengelo. Dick and Henrik are the two young boys picture standing-up. My grandfather took this photograph. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
The Schuit family from Hengelo. Dick and Henrik are the two young boys picture standing-up. My grandfather took this photograph. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

The two Schuit brothers (pictured above standing), now aged 79 and 85, are still alive, one resides in Hengelo. They remembered my grandfather and we are now in correspondence with them. Hope you enjoy reading this article, it has been a wonderful labour of love obtaining oral histories, curating family photographs and researching relevant historical content.

V.E. Day commemorative silk scarf, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
V.E. Day commemorative silk scarf, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 2015, Britain will be marking the 70th anniversary of V.E. Day Victory in Europe and from Friday 8th May 2015 there will be a three-day weekend of commemorative events across the country. At 3pm on 8th May, national two-minute silence will mark the moment Winston Churchill (1874-1965) broadcast to the nation the news that war was officially over. (Follow UK events on Twitter: @DefenceHQ – #veday70)

My grandparents on their wedding day, 1940. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
My grandparents on their wedding day, 1940. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

One of the most poignant of these V.E. Day 70th events will be the lighting of a hundred beacons at various locations around Britain from Newcastle to Cornwall. In the skies above London, there will be an aerial display of Spitfire and Lancaster bomber planes, and cathedral bells will also ring-out across the country.

Souvenir card from a children's V.J. Day party, August 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Souvenir card from a children’s V.J. Day party, August 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

People are also being encouraged to organise street parties within their local community, similar to those organised 70 years ago. Although I am sure trestle and picnic tables will be employed in 2015 rather than dismantled Morrison shelters which were used in May, 1945! I have curated a selection of ‘rationbook recipes’ below from my own collection of 1940s cookery books. I hope that these will inspire you to recreate authentic period food for the event.

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Rationbook Recipes

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Date and Walnut Loaf (War-Time Cookery: To Save Fuel and Food Value, 1940)

Ingredients: 1/2 lb dates; 1 tablespoonful bicarbonate soda; 1/2 pint boiling water; 1/2 lb flour; 2 ozs margarine; 3 ozs sugar; 1 level teaspoonful baking powder; 1-2 ozs chopped walnuts; 1 egg; salt.

Method: Stone the dates and mince or chop them small. Sprinkle with the bicarbonate of soda, pour on the boiling water, and leave to soak. Rub fat in flour, add all other dry ingredients. Add date mixture when cool, and then beaten egg. Put into two greased 1/2 lb bread-tins, and bake for one-and-a-half hours in slow oven.

Honeycomb Toffee (The Bickton Cooks’ Book by Margaret Hussey, 1947)

Ingredients: 2 oz sugar; 4 oz golden syrup; 1 teaspoonful carbonate of soda.

Method: Boil the syrup and sugar together in a good sized saucepan until it turns slightly brown, remove from the fire and immediately put in the soda making sure there are no lumps. It will froth up to the top of the pan; pour it at once into a deep buttered tin and allow it to cool. When firm lift out on to a wire cooling tray and remove the paper, when quite cold tap it gently and it will break into small pieces.

Savoury Tomato Spread (The Bickton Cooks’ Book by Margaret Hussey, 1947)

Ingredients: 6 large ripe tomatoes or 1/2 lb jar of pulp, 2 ozs margarine, 4 ozs breadcrumbs; 1 or 2 eggs; 2 ozs cheese; salt; pepper; cayenne or paprika.

Method: Skin the tomatoes and cut them up. Place all ingredients in a jar or jug and stand it in a pan of boiling water till thick and set. Beat well and store in a jar. This is a very useful “spread” or sandwich filling.

Auntie Polly’s Shortbread  (The Bickton Cooks’ Book by Margaret Hussey, 1947)

Ingredients: 1/2 lb self-raising flour; 1/4 lb margarine; 1/4 lb brown “pieces” sugar; 1 teaspoonful ginger (ground); 1 teaspoonful of baking or raising powder.

Method: Rub fat into flour, add other ingredients and mix well, press into a greased baking tin and bake for 1/2 hour, in a good moderate oven. Cut up at once.

Chocolate Cake (eggless) (The Bickton Cooks’ Book by Margaret Hussey, 1947)

Ingredients: 8 ozs flour; 1 oz cocoa; 2 1/2 ozs fat; 2 1/2 ozs sugar; 1 tablespoonful golden syrup; 1 teacupful warm water; 1 teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda.

Method: Mix dry ingredients. Melt margarine and pour in centre. Melt syrup in the warm water and dissolve soda also in this. Use this for mixing. Bake in greased tin in a very moderate over for 1 hour.

Ginger Biscuits (Recipes of The United Nations by Irene Veal, 1944)

Method: These biscuits are proving to be particularly popular in war-time, since biscuits are inclined to be scarce. The method is as follows. Heat together 1 teacup treacle, 1 teacup mixed margarine, dripping and lard, together with 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger and bring just to boiling point in a saucepan. Pour into a basin and mix in at once a good 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda. Then sift in sufficient flour to make the mixture stiff enough to roll out. Use a very lightly floured board and cut the dough, which should be rolled rather thinly, cut into rounds with a cutter or glass, and bake in a good moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes, but taking care the biscuits at the back of the oven do not burn.

Cheese Aigrettes Perfect Cooking by Parkinson Stove Co. Ltd 1947

Ingredients: 1/4 pint cold water; 1/2 oz butter; 2ozs cheese; pepper and salt; 2 ozs flour; 1 egg; few drops of lemon juice.

Method: Boil water and butter together, add sifted flour, and stir till smooth. Add the yolk of egg and three-quarters of the grated cheese. Fold in stiffly-beaten egg white. Allow to cool. Heat a pan of deep fat and break into it teaspoonfuls of the mixture with a fork. Fry a golden brown, sprinkle with grated cheese, and serve very hot.

Lamingtons Perfect Cooking by Parkinson Stove Co. Ltd 1947

Ingredients: 4 ozs butter; 5 oz sugar; vanilla essence; 1 oz cocoa and 2 tablespoonfuls of hot water or 2 of coffee essence; 1 teaspoonful lemon juice; 3 eggs; 1/2 lb icing sugar; 1/2 cup milk; 8 ozs self-raising flour; coconut (desiccated); 1 teaspoonful melted butter (for icing).

Method: Beat butter and sugar to a cream. Add eggs one at a time and beat well, half milk, then well-sifted flour and rest of milk. Mix well. Use a square cake tin and line with greased paper. The cake must be one day old before icing. Bake in a moderate oven (175C) for 20 to 30 mins (check with a cake tester after 20 mins). Icing: Mix sifted icing sugar, cocoa, juice, butter and water till smooth (extra water may be necessary). Warm slightly over stove but do not boil. Cut cake into small squares, split and put jam between. Have icing rather thin. Pour over pieces of cake on a fork and pour thin icing over with a spoon. Have coconut on a paper and toss iced pieces in it till coated.

My recent attempt at making this Lamington recipe! Not the prettiest bake but don't let that put you off, they are delicious. The only tricky bit is getting the coconut on the icing without pulling-off chunks of cake! Best thing is to really make sure the icing is quite dry before rolling in the coconut. ©Viva Blancmange
My recent attempt at making this Lamington recipe! Not the prettiest bake but don’t let that put you off, they are delicious. The only tricky bit is getting the coconut on the icing without pulling-off chunks of cake! Best thing is to really make sure the icing is quite dry before rolling in the coconut. ©Viva Blancmange

Come Step Back In Time

V. E. Day commemorative silk scarf. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time V. E. Day commemorative silk scarf from 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

70th ANNIVERSARY OF V.E. & V.J. DAY – UK COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS

Germany surrendered on 7th May, 1945, and the next day was declared V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, ending World War Two in Europe. However, for many servicemen and their families, May 1945 was not their war’s end. The Allies were still at war with Japan but on the 6th and 9th August, 1945, the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, World War Two was officially at an end.

V.E. Day commemorative pins, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time V.E. Day commemorative pins, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 2015, Britain will be marking the 70th anniversary of V.E. Day Victory in Europe and from Friday 8th May 2015 there will be a three-day weekend of commemorative events across the country. At 3pm on 8th May, national two-minute silence will mark the…

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