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Countdown to VE Day – 7 days to go – Cook for Victory

by Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs | Events, VE Day 75th Anniversary Celebrations, World War Two

On Day 7 of our VE-Day Countdown, we celebrate FOOD!

We have reached Day 7 of our VE-Day countdown, and today we are going to make some suggestions as to what you can eat to celebrate the day in 1940s style. In a strange way, the shortages of availability of some products during Lockdown is similar to the deprivations that people were experiencing during WWII, though nothing like as rigorous and not enforced by law.

Weekly Rations

Weekly Rations

On 8 January 1940 bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. Meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk, canned and dried fruit were rationed subsequently but not all at once. Discover more here:

Despite the rationing people were inventive in their recipes and used much more basic ingredients to feed their families. They rarely had fresh eggs but cooked mainly with dried eggs. Fresh food was at a premium and housewives did their best with what they had, but to get anything at all they had to queue!

Here are some of the popular foods eaten during World War II and the sort of dishes that featured in VE-Day celebrations.

  • Dripping sandwiches (Mmm, beef fat… ).
  • Lord Woolton pie.
  • Pork faggots with onion gravy and mash.
  • Homity pie.
  • Corned beef hash.
  • Liver casserole.
  • Eggless fruit cake.

Before the Lockdown Bishopsteignton Heritage had a whole programme of events planned around VE-Day. One of them was a WWII themed Lunch Club at the Community Centre where guests would be encouraged to dress for the period and listen to 1940s music while they ate. If we are lucky the event might still happen when we are out of Lockdown, but meanwhile, one of the organisers, Mal Worrall has given us this recipe for Homity Pie, give it a try!

Homity Pie

Homity Pie

You will need a 9” ( 23 cm) loose bottomed pie dish, buttered.
Oven 180 C fan.

250 gm plain flour
125 gm butter, softened
100 ml cold water
1/2 tsp salt.

500 gm potatoes
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed.
Pinch salt
1 tsp chopped thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
125 gm cheddar cheese, grated

Sieve flour and salt into mixing bowl and rub in butter until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Mix in water and pull together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in fridge for 15 – 30 mins.
Peel and thickly slice potatoes, put into pan of salted water, bring to boil and simmer for 5 – 10 mins until just soft.
In large frying pan, cook leeks in butter until softened, add salt, garlic, thyme and drained potatoes. Mix thoroughly, breaking up potatoes to bite size. Stir in cheese, retaining some for topping. Allow to cool.
Roll out pastry to overlap tin, using a pad of pastry push into sides of tin and trim edges to overhang slightly to allow for shrinkage Place a piece of greaseproof paper inside and fill with dried beans or rice.
Cook for 10 mins. Remove beans and paper, prick base of pie with a fork, trim edges and cook for 15 mins.
Add filling and smooth over evenly, top with remaining cheese and cook for 20 – 30 mins until browned.
Allow to cool for a few mins and remove from tin.
Can be eaten warm or cold. Will serve 8.

You can find more wartime recipes here:

Or why not try this colourful Union Jack Fruit Flan? If you can’t find all the ingredients you can improvise!

There is a recipe for it here:


dig for victory poster

Dig for Victory poster from the Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten O.B.E.

A major movement during WWII was to use any land that you had access to to grow your own vegetables. This was known as the ‘Dig For Victory’ Campaign, and set people up and down the country digging up their gardens to help to feed the Nation. Read more about it here:

As part of Bishopsteignton’s VE-Day programme, the Community Allotment group, BAGS, had started planting up a Dig For Victory plot at Michaels Field. It is still being  tended and is now showing it’s first signs of success.

Dig For Victory plot

Dig For Victory plot

The potatoes are up and the onion sets are in! When Lockdown is lifted you can go and join in with the growing and help with the progress of the project. Meanwhile, why not try cultivating a corner of your own garden? You can get a lot of satisfaction from ‘Growing Your Own’! Get some advice on starting here:


The Victory Cookbook, written by Marguerite Patten O.B.E. has lots of lovely recipes for healthy vegetable based dishes.  Here are a few.

WWII Soup Recipes

WWII Soup Recipes

Marguerite Patten Recipes

Marguerite Patten Recipes

If you just want to do something simple with the kids for VE-Day tea why not try some of these lovely looking goodies!


Whatever you decide to make or eat on May 8th, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! And make sure you send us photos of your event afterwards, including the food!

The BBC have made a programme about wartime food, and you can find it here:

Had our event calendar gone ahead the Bishopsteignton Women’s Institute would have been very busy! Catering for tea parties, street parties and giving a talk about their history. So now we have published their talk, you can read all about their Wartime involvement right here: