A presence in the past – Veg Roly Poly with two war recipes for you to try!

In a world where time moves forever faster, where ‘the future’ is the focus for all organisational planning, we are all encouraged to ‘plan ahead if you want to get on’, it is nice sometimes just to go backwards, in time, just for a little while.

Last year,  I took the afternoon off work to listen to Ruth Goodman giving a talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum on ‘How to be a Victorian’. Fascinating stuff. And the book is interesting too.

I associate Ruth Goodman with a few TV series where she lives the life of those from the past – in particular the Wartime Farm series.  And that reminded me of Miss Reeve’s collection of wartime recipes.  Last seen in this blog,  I spent a pleasant hour or so immersing myself in the paternalistic wartime approach to guiding the nation through the trials and tribulations of wartime cooking.

I chose a few recipes to make for the week – but only managed to make one!  The first one I made is set out below (with the detailed instructions) and the second two are still set out in case any one would like to have a go!  I will get round to them though…

From ‘Wartime Recipes – Meatless Dishes’,

Wartime Recipes Hints and Tips image

I chose:

Vegetable Roly Poly

Ingredients:  For the suet crust – 1/2 lb flour, 3 oz suet, 1 tsp baking powder.  Plus 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 large potatoes, 1 tsp chopped parsley, 3 tomatoes.

Add the suet and baking powder to the flour.  Make an elastic mixture with cold water. Roll this out thinly on a floured board.  Peel and slice thinly the potatoes,  onions and tomatoes.  Scrape and grate the carrots.  Spread the vegetables over the pastry.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chopped parsley.  Roll up the pastry.  Tie in a greased and floured cloth.  Boil for three hours.  Serve with a good brown sauce.

For a very useful explanation of baking powder and what it does/how it works, try this article – well written and informative (so many cookery explanations are not!).

First (as always!) get the ingredients ready:

In true war time spirit, not many ingredients!

In true war time spirit, not many ingredients!

Make your ‘suet pastry’ and spread the ingredients onto the the surface, leaving enough space around the edge so you can gather it all together:

Perhaps reduce your ingredients a little - I had quite a large pile to fold over!

Perhaps reduce your ingredients a little – I had quite a large pile to fold over!

I tied mine up in a teatowel, already sprinkled with olive oil and flour.  Don’t put the bundle into a  pan unless you have a trivet on the bottom as there is a risk your bundle will stick to the bottom when the flour seeps out of the tea towel (yes – I had to start again!).  Boil for 3 hours and make sure it doesn’t boil dry…

It does look a bit wartime!  And not having a great camera doesn’t help either but, believe me, it was very filling AND very tasty indeed.  Quite surprisingly as I didn’t expect there to be much of a taste.

Tasty and filling. Not bad!

Tasty and filling. Not bad!


From ‘One Pot Meals’, I chose:

Wartime One Pot meals image

Scotch Broth

Ingredients: 1 oz pearl barley, 1 quart water, salt, 3 tablespoons diced carrot, 2 tablespoons diced turnip, 1 tablespoon diced potato, 2 tablespoons chopped onion or leek, 4 tablespoons shredded cabbage, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Wash, scald and soak the barley overnight in the water.  Add salt and bring to the boil.  Boil 30 minutes.  Add carrot, turnip, potato and onion and boil 10 minutes.  Add cabbage and boil 10 minutes.  Add parsley just before serving.

And finally, from one of Miss Reeve’s own recipe books from the era, I chose:

Potato Latkes recipe image

Potato Latkes

Ingredients:  4 potatoes, 2 oz SR Flour, 1 chopped onion, 2 eggs – seasoning.

Soak peeled potatoes for one hour. Drain, grate and drain again.  Mix altogether.  Cook as for dropped scones.  In hot fat in a frying pan.

Cheap – children love them – Jewish recipe.

What are dropped/drop scones?  A link to Wikipedia here will take you to all things scone-like.  And an excellent poem regarding pronunication!

So – a bit of a backward look into the past. And a bit of a go at something they’d have made in the past.  Not sure they’d have had to do it twice though! There’s a lot to be said for a trivet.


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