Adventures in WWII Rations

 

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“It is your responsibility, no matter how difficult the task, to see that your husband and children are well fed and happy when they come to the dinner table.” – Wartime Canada How To Eat Well Though Rationed (1943)

Since I have no husband or children to keep well-fed and happy, I assume that Wartime Canada wouldn’t object to my personal diet of Halloween candy, coffee and cheese. They obviously don’t care if I’m happy when I get to the dinner table, so they won’t mind if I just snarf down a Snickers bar while lounging on the sofa.

Despite the Canadian government’s mid-century lack of concern for adult women, I’ve taken it upon myself to see what a WWII ration diet would be like in Canada, based on this shopping list:

Weekly Market Order

Thank goodness I’m too old for Cod-Liver Oil.

Why am I shopping from a 60 year old shopping list?

Because I have too much time on my hands.

And, after a decade away from Canadian grocery stores, toaster strudels and Oreos are calling to me from the aisles like sugary sirens of doom. That’s why.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. I had originally thought that I’d follow a British ration diet, like this pretty amazing lady in the UK. However, the thought of consuming a whole box of powdered eggs grossed me out. (This, coming from the girl who likes fried crickets.)

Then, my Grandma mentioned that during the war years, they used to send eggs from their farm in Saskatchewan to their relatives in the UK, nestled in bags of oatmeal.

(I’m not sure if that was legal, so I really hope I’m not divulging any criminal family secrets here…)

Eggs weren’t as scarce here, especially if you lived on a farm. Brits could have 1 fresh egg per week. Canadians got 5.

Taking a closer look, I discovered that rationed Canadians had access to at least twice as much, sometimes three times as much of any given item. Except for tea. British rations allowed for twice as much tea. Someone in the British Home Office knew the priorities of their citizens. So if you ever hear a Canadian and a Brit reminiscing about the hardships of rationing during the war, I’d save most of my sympathies for the one who had to eat powdered eggs, and only got 1/4 of a pound of bacon every week.

I took the shopping list above, divided everything by 3 or 4 (whatever was easiest to divide), since the original list is for a family of four. I thought it looked like a decent amount of food.

I was wrong.

It’s a serious heap-ton of food. This is supposed to feed 1 adult for 1 week, but it’s easily 4 times as much as I usually buy. (And yet, surprisingly, it’s wasn’t much more expensive.) Which made me wonder – if this was the rationed amount, how much were Canadians eating before the war?

I can't eat all this in a week.

I can’t eat all this in a week.

I forgot to include the giant 4 litre jug of milk and 2 oz of cocoa in the photo. (There’s a pile of spinach leaves hiding under the jar of brown sugar, just in case you were thinking there wasn’t much greenery in the mix).

I also kept the flowers on table, to show my Mom that I haven’t killed them yet.

And you’ll notice there are no Oreos. Which is too bad, since I now have a giant jug of milk to dip them in.

 

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Adventures in Getting Settled…and Zombies.

Have you moved recently? Are you planning to move soon? Are you comfortable where you are and are just reading this post to kill time while your coffee is brewing? Don’t worry peeps. I’ve got you covered.

Now that I’m about 3/4 settled in Calgary, I have some very practical learned-from-real-life-experience relocation tips for you.

1. Run from the Undead.

Does your new city have a Zombie Survival Race? If so, sign up and run for your life. If not, you’ve clearly moved to the wrong city. Pack everything up right now and try again.

Here’s why it’s a good idea. When you’re making new friends, you’ll want to know right off the bat who’s going to leave you in the dust, who’s going to stick with you, and who you’re going to want on your team during the apocalypse. You can take months to figure that out on your own, or you can do it over 5 kilometres in one zombie infested afternoon.

You’re also going to totally impress the cute guy in the elevator when you get home covered in mud. When he looks startled by your appearance, just shrug nonchalantly and casually explain, “I was running from zombies.” Because that’s not strange or geeky at all.

Hopefully zombies are allergic to mud. If so, I'm totally safe.

Hopefully zombies are allergic to mud. If so, I’m totally safe.

2. Join Amazon Prime for Free Delivery (but make sure you’ve updated your address first)

Nobody wants to lug bulky stuff like a toaster, a dish rack, a laundry hamper and a blow dryer home on the bus all at once. And nobody wants to make 4 separate trips to the store and buy them one at a time.

And by nobody, I mean me. I don’t want to do those things.

So, I joined Amazon Prime and got most of those things delivered to my door. Except for my printer, which I accidentally had shipped to my parent’s old house. When I discovered my error, parts of the following conversation may or may not have happened…

“Hi parents. I bought a printer, but it was delivered to your old address. Do you think you could knock on a stranger’s door and convince her to hand over the goods? … Yes, I know it’s embarrassing, but you probably shouldn’t wear a mask when you go, she might get the wrong idea … No, I’m not going to ‘accidentally’ have the next order delivered to the handsome guy on the 12th floor … Because my next order is 48 rolls of toilet paper. That’s why … No, it didn’t snow today … Yes, I love you too.”

As an added bonus, each order comes wrapped in a free feline amusement device. My cat now has more furniture than I do. On the upside, I hear cardboard boxes are making a fashionable comeback. Or so Catticus tells me.

3. Make a Plan.

Not just about how to survive a zombie apocalypse. You’re also going to need to put some effort into real plans too. Why? Because you’re going to wake up every day and think that you need to do all the things at once. Your to-do list will be 100 pages long, and you won’t know where the right stores are or how to get to them, and instead of making a plan, you’ll become paralyzed with indecision and watch Netflix.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Unless you own a 16-wheeler, and your days are magically 68 hours longer than mine, you’re not going to get everything you need all at once. (Even IKEA can’t make that happen. I know, I’ve tried.) So, as some hip-hoppity rap lyrics suggest: Break It Down (down down. Ooh Ah. Break it Down. Yeah.)

Don’t go out and stock your pantry in one giant swoop. Plan your meals for the week, then just buy the ingredients and spices you’ll need for those recipes. Eventually, you’ll have all the cumin and olives and bay leaves that all respectable kitchens should have. Also, don’t forget to buy the hardware you’ll need to make the recipes. Otherwise this will happen:

Me vs. Corn - we'll fight it out until one of use needs a bandaid.

Me vs. Corn – with no can opener to intervene, we’ll just fight it out until one of us needs a bandaid.

Also, don’t put up your pictures and decorations yet. Wait until you have all your furniture in order, then figure out where your hideous green ceramic lizard from Mexico will look the most appealing. Haha, just kidding. Hideous green ceramic lizards look great anywhere. Put that little fella up as soon as you move in.

Basically, pick one or two things a day to accomplish for your home, and one or two things to accomplish for life. Go outside. Scout out a new park or library or cafe. Talk to real live people in your neighbourhood. Volunteer for something once a week. Buy a can opener.

Start making your new city feel like home. Because it’s where you’re going to be living for a long time…at least until the zombies come.

Do you have any great re-location tips? Share them in the comments!

Adventures in Trippin’…

Road Trippin’ that is.

About a week ago, my parents helped me load all my worldly possessions into a U-Haul. Well, half a U-Haul. Half of the tiniest U-Haul available. It made my lazy muscles happy that there wasn’t much to load and unload, but it also made me weary to think that I’m starting over. From scratch. Again.

This is the biggest suitcase I've ever traveled with. I'm glad it's on wheels.

This is the biggest suitcase I’ve ever traveled with. I’m glad it’s on wheels.

Well, not exactly from scratch. My parents let me raid their cupboards for things like tea towels and a coffee pot. And I inherited a lovely family chair…which I’ll never get to sit in.

Back off. Find your own chair.

Back off. Find your own chair.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Catticus didn’t discover the chair until after the road trip was over. And this post is about the road trip, so let’s get back to it, shall we? After the truck was loaded and farewell hugs and kisses exchanged, I headed west.

Even though I was listening for the alarming sounds of shattering glass or splintering wood at every bump in the road, the vast expanse of highway was as exhilarating as always. The troublesome worries about starting over fled, and were replaced by the alert serenity that comes with a good, long drive. 

Have I mentioned how much I love driving in the Prairies?

Okay, so I took this picture from the bus…but it’s the same road. 

For the first time in a long time I wasn’t thinking about what I needed to buy, what I needed to do, or whether or not I’d just made the BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER. Instead, I found myself feeling like I was completely in the present moment. I started tilting my head in a slow, magnanimous nod at every car or truck that passed, as if to say, “You may proceed.” And when they pulled back in ahead of me, and neither one of us were in a ditch, I would nod again as if to say, “Well done, fellow Asphalt Wanderer.”

It was peaceful, and almost perfect. The weather was lovely, traffic was light, and the view from the driver’s seat was magnificent, but the music was … terrible.

Normally, I would have a perfect selection of road trip tunes to help compliment the experience. But with a defunct iPod battery and no plug-in options in the U-Haul, I was at the mercy of local radio stations. Local radio stations in a sparsely populated stretch of Canada. Sometimes, I was at the mercy of a single local radio station. Like the one out of Medicine Hat that was only 5 hours in to it’s celebrated 100-hour country music marathon. 

And yet, somehow it fit. I was heading west. On my way to Cowtown. Just in time for a world-famous Stampede. A little bit of optimistic country twang seemed appropriate as I drove past fields of grazing cattle. As evening approached and I pulled over to spend the night in a hotel, I had started to think that the radio might actually be welcoming me to my new adventure. 

At least, that’s what I thought until I hit the road again the next morning. When I pulled back onto the highway, I smiled at the sight of empty lanes stretching ahead of me for as far I could see. I flicked on the radio, almost looking forward to a plucky country tune. Instead, I was blasted with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. 

Highway to Hell?

Maybe the radio really was trying to tell me that I’d made the BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER. 

Impossible. I might not be a brilliant theologian, but I’m pretty sure Hell doesn’t smell like sunshine, sweet prairie grass and grasshopper farts. 

Because that’s what Alberta smells like. And I love it. 

Who knows, maybe this province will make a country girl out of me after all.