Simplified Cooking – The Wartime Way

I am an impatient and lazy cook. I prefer recipes that are quick and simple and lean towards basic ingredients that don’t push me over my budget unless they are going to last a long time in my cupboard and be useful for other recipes too. This is why a lot of my main courses tend to be quite repetative and often basic. Even so, I enjoy the subtle variations I can make with a stirfry and that I get to use my homegrown veg which I find very satisfying.

I struggle with desserts though as good ones need making from scratch and I still want that unfussy take on cooking . I also need a good hit to stop me snacking in the evening when I get a sugar craving. So, for instance, a piece of fruit does nothing for me. Shop bought desserts are over budget and over calorie too. I want something that I can control.

This is one of the reasons I love wartime cooking, especially when it comes to desserts. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a list of ration recipes to add to my regular baking repertoire. Crumble topping is quick and easy and recipes like chocolate cake, pancakes and shortbread are tasty filler foods that don’t require a lot of or indeed any ingredients I don’t normally stock.

They are also invariably lower on calories because they scrimp on things like eggs, sugar and milk. If they are a good recipe they’ve become a staple in my diet plan which means investing in the ingredients as a cupboard staple is worth the outlay.

These are some of the wartime dessert that I’ve now added to my monthly bake list. They are from The 1940s Experiment, a ‘go-to’ for simple recipes when you’re on a tight budget. They are pretty basic, but the end results are delicious, especially if you enjoy good hearty old-fashioned English grub. I prefer a lot of these to shop bought products.

What I equally love about these recipes is that you can jazz them up and turn them into your own creation. The other aspect of this which I haven’t touched on is that because of the rationing of certain ingredients, they can be great for a vegetarian or dairy free diet where you can make suitable substitutions.

This, I have decided, is how I am going to manage through winter without piling on the pounds and having to buy readymade and breaking my money budget. I never impulse buy at the supermarket just because the shop’s close by. That’s the road to ruin in my eyes. If I want sweet snacks, then I have to make them and I find a homemade dessert far more satisfying than picking up a chocolate bar which leaves you wanting more an hour later.

Another advantage is that the calorie content is easier to control in homemade recipes and there are no hidden colourings and preservatives. I can divide ingredients so I only make what I know I can eat/store within a certain amount of time without it going off and I can portion off enough to freeze where applicable. Enjoy!

Eggless Chocolate Sponge. This recipe makes a fantastically light, chocolatey but not overly sweet cake. I made mine as a single traybake that serves 9. I’m not how you’d get enough for two sponge tins out of this as it doesn’t rise that much. I did a variation adding some tinned prunes because I found some tins of prunes in the supermarket on reduction last month then wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. It was a good idea! I skipped the icing on this one to balance it out. You’ll find that on my variation of the oat biscuits further on in this post instead. Served up with my homemade icecream this is an ideal dessert. I think morello cherries, walnuts or chocolate pieces would be tasty variations.

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Wartime Scotch Shortbread – I added a few drops of vanilla essence to this recipe and it makes a fabulous sweet treat to nibble on during the day – calorie budget allowing. You can make all sorts of adjustments to this to personalise it such as adding sultanas, glace cherries or chocolate chips.

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Bread Pudding – Add sultanas or try this version for Bread and Apple Pudding  for a delicious variation which I absolutely love. I think this is going to become a favourite of mine. Bread pudding is great because you can freeze it just like you can a crumble, meaning I can stretch the budget throughout the month and the dessert just as long.

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Eggless Pancakes – I love these savory and stuffed with stir fry veg or bacon, sausage and egg for an awesome breakfast style wrap. However, chopped banana, some Wonky Berries from Morrisons and my homemade vanilla icecream are a winning combination for a decedant dessert and because they are egg free there aren’t that many calories per pancake. This recipe is for four pancakes but I only got two large ones from it. I think I need to be more generous with the milk in the batter. Don’t make it too thick.

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Wartime Cookies. You can elaborate on this recipe as much as you like. I made a mixture of plain, raisin and peanut butter flavour as a tester. I think cherry and chocolate chip would go down very well too, and probably coconut depending on your tastes.

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I also used the plain version of this recipe to make a tray bake and topped it with the icing recipe from the chocolate cake recipe mentioned at the top of this post. Pop it in the fridge to harden and it hits the spot when you need a sugar hit.

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