Kidneys and Powdered Egg, Anyone?

29/02/2024 | 0 comments

By Roz Hartley

Up in my mum’s attic last weekend (don’t ask!) I came across an old trunk full of photos, postcards and papers which we hadn’t seen before. Hoping for some good old “Cash in the Attic” discoveries, we brought it into the light and started sifting through the mottled, yellowed papers to see if we were millionaires.

A right old trip down memory lane later, but no Turin Shroud, I left clutching a delicate old handwritten book of my grandmother’s recipes which my sister was ready to throw in the bin. I, being rather more sentimental and a sucker for nice handwriting, snaffled it out of the dump pile and brought it home.

​I can remember my Granny well despite being only about five when she died. She was stocky and sturdy with tight, greying curls and always a pearl necklace. She had a twinkle in her eye, a kitchen full of melamine and a strange insistence on toilet paper that looked like tracing paper.


I made myself a big, frothy coffee and settled in a sunny spot to commune with the past… two hundred and twenty-five pages of beautiful, black-ink-penned handwriting. I flicked through, looking for something I fancied cooking;
Kidneys? Not really…. Casserole of fish?.. Could do with a better name!…
Tapioca and apples, boiled fruit cake, veal cake..…erm…. Kiss me quick pudding? Maybe. 


​Every now and then, as I turned a page, not only would I get a strong whiff of aging paper but a little scribbled note would fall out. It was these little blasts from the past which excited me the most. One was a shopping list on the back of a newspaper article from 1949, advertising Pond’s double cleansing cream for “complexions as pretty as almond blossom” and one was a succinct recipe on the front of an envelope, postmarked 1945, to a long-forgotten Mrs Briggs requiring:


1 level tablespoon of dried egg
2 ozs of butter
4 ozs margarine
Half a teacupful of warm milk

I’m not sure what this little nugget would have created but dried, powdered egg featured quite regularly in my Granny’s recipes and, not having heard of it before, I fell down a Google-shaped rabbit hole of wartime recipes.

​Rationing during and after World War 2 meant everyone with a ration book was allowed one real egg a week but you could have a tin of dried eggs every two months (one tin was equal to 12 fresh eggs). (I also learned that if you decided to keep your own chickens, you were no longer allowed your fresh egg ration but you could exchange it for chicken food!)


​Imagine that!? One egg a week! And that was only if they were available. Shoppers, like my Granny, would have signed up with a specific baker, greengrocer and butcher in their local town and would queue up once a week to pick up their rations. Often, they would get to the front of the queue to find that the last egg or loaf or pack of butter had just been given out and there was nothing they could do about it.


Fresh eggs at The Flower Farm 

​I made chocolate brownies last week and the recipe required six eggs. I thought nothing of popping to my local farm shop and buying half a dozen eggs and using them all in one cake. I didn’t have to queue, no one asked me for my ration book, I wasn’t offered a substitute of powdered egg in a tin and neither did I hear the air raid siren go off on my way home.


Fully stocked shelves at Cobbs Farm Shop

​We may be up against high inflation, global warming and doctors’ strikes but our farm shops are full of fabulous fresh food, eggs are plentiful and Spring is just round the corner. Let’s count our chickens and celebrate the good life. Omelette, anyone?


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