Pie for Saturday supper

January 6, 2013

The other night I watched a great BBC program called Regulation of the Wartime Kitchen. It was about how brave and resourceful people made themselves a happy Christmas celebration in the bunkers under London in the typical Dunkirk Spirit, while bombs exploded over their heads.

Food was scarce and mostly everything was rationed. Typically, a week would bring one egg, 4oz of margarine, 4 slices of bacon, 2 oz butter and tea, 1oz of cheese and 8oz of sugar per person. The rest was grown, raised, traded for or hunted.
Beef, pork, turkey or ham was in very short supply and the 1944 Christmas table featured stuffed and roasted rabbits, boiled carrots, carrot cake and carrot fudge (made with grated carrots and gelatin).

Rabbit…roasted rabbit, rabbit stew, rabbit pie, rabbit fill in the blank… was a good, nutritious and common food.

Old habits stick around and, I believe even as the war ended, rations continued for some years to come. The 1952 Good Housekeeping’s Basic Cookery cookbook here at West Cottage has several lovely recipes for rabbit including this one for rabbit pie.

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It begins: β€œUnless the rabbit is very young and tender, it is best to stew it for 1 – 1.5 hours, before making it into a pie.”

Today I took some frozen shortcrust pastry, stewed steak, onions and peas. Rolled the crust out, wilted the onions in a bit of butter, added the peas and beef and made a no fuss steak and onion pie…and it was yummy.

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I love old and vintage cook books. Also love vintage gardening books and those Victorian household lady’s books (mostly written by men…lol), charming old children’s books, car books…OK, let’s face it, almost all kinds of old books, but mostly the gardening books. Do you collect or love to read old books? Which ones?

Short term, Long term and good luck
A fresh start and waayyy too many challenges

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  • Reply writecrites January 6, 2013 at 12:42 am

    That sounds like wonderful comfort food to me, a sort of substitute for steak and kidney pie. I don’t collect vintage cookbooks, but I love to eat and appreciate what people make from those cookbooks πŸ™‚

    • Reply Veronica January 6, 2013 at 3:28 am

      Jennifer, there’s a wonderful recipe in this old book for a dark, rich Christmas cake. It’s no wonder some of these recipes have become favorites for over the generations. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sabra Bowers January 6, 2013 at 3:36 am

    It was a beautiful pie too. I could almost smell it from looking at the picture. Since I’m an older person, you could probably say a lot of my books are vintage. LOL I have a collection of cookbooks and gardening books that I’ve garnered over my lifetime. I enjoy reading and looking at the great photos in both cook and gardening books.

    • Reply Veronica January 6, 2013 at 4:14 am

      You know Sabra, some of these books are such treasures, aren’t they? When my dad passed away I kept every book from his library that mom didn’t want. One day I’ll have to post a pic of the library/family room in Vancouver. Wall to wall books plus a little space for a TV, lol.

  • Reply boltoncarley January 6, 2013 at 5:16 am

    i love anything retro 50’s and 60’s! doubt i’d eat rabbit pie, but i love those old cook books and lots of other stuff from then. i have all the better homes and gardens cookbooks from the 40’s. think they are fab-u-lous!
    p.s. sabra – i’m 38 and the kids assure me i’m vintage, too! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Bolton, I’m very happy to be vintage, antique, old, etc…lol. Last year I took some of my grandmother’s favorite Czech recipes from her Czech cook book and translated them for Kerstie, bound them and gave them to her as a prezzie. She loves having them.

  • Reply ebbandflo (@pomomama) January 6, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I have a similar vintage Good Housekeeping book too – always amazed me that there were instructions for actually skinning, gutting and jointing the rabbit included too. Very graphic but a good nod to when times weren’t so convenient.

    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Amanda I forgot about those kinds of cook books. I have my Larousse Gastronomique from my Cordon Bleu days, (early 20’s), and it has directions for preparing the most awful siege food. (food to be eaten where there’s nothing left to eat…like those calcium encased slugs that I’m sure people eat for the garlic butter)

  • Reply Esther Bradley-deTally January 6, 2013 at 10:14 am


    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

      LOL Esther…absolutely felt that way after eating a huge slice of that pie. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jeannine Bergers Everett January 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I have (and treasure) my father’s college thesaurus.It’s still my favorite writing tool πŸ™‚

    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Jeannine, I remember bringing a dictionary to a university open book exam 3rd year. Saved my life and helped me get a mark somewhere over 80%. Love the power of books. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Raina January 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Used to eat rabbit quite a bit as a young child in Europe. Took a French cooking class a few years ago and we made braised rabbit and I cannot say I enjoyed it…different perceptions of ‘rabbit’ today. Your steak pie looks delicious and I am quite impressed with the pastry – it looks perfect. Whenever I attempt a pie it typically looks lopsided and the pastry never turns out the way I want it to.

    Happy 2013 and the very best to you and yours!


    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Thank you Raina. I just started noticing more rabbit available in the supermarkets in Vancouver. Here in England it’s really much cheaper than mostly anything but chicken. But then, to me chicken tastes like everything. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sabra Bowers January 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Veronica, I’d love to see the picture of your library in Vancouver. My computer room is wall to wall books and I even have books in boxes. I must begin to purge some day. I love books. My dad kept a rabbit box in the field and we ate rabbit when I was growing up on a farm. I bought a rabbit in the grocery store maybe 20 years ago. Mine
    didn’t taste as good as my mother’s. When I called mother, she said I had forgotten the step of marinating it to make it tender. Haven’t tried again. Bolton, your children would think I belonged on the History Channel. πŸ™‚

    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Ok Sabra, I’ll do an explore the home library post when I get back to Vancouver. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sara v January 8, 2013 at 4:14 am

    I do love old books, pretty much any kind. However, I am especially fond of cook books. My mom has a really old Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1940s. And it has all kinds of little cartoons, hints and sayings like “Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze”. I don’t like cheese on my apple pie, but I love that saying. Love poetry books and colloquialisms πŸ™‚

    • Reply Veronica January 8, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Sara, I might have that same Betty Crocker cook book! I’ll check it out when I get back to Vancouver. πŸ™‚ (What is that thing about cheese on apple pie anyway?)

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