For meatless meals

I’m lucky enough to have inherited a school cookery book from my dear mother-in-law. She was head cook at a school in the 1950’s and 60’s and I know people who had school dinners sometimes moan about them, but in those days they were nourishing, carefully planned, and for many children, particularly in rural Surrey when mother-in-law was in charge, maybe the only decent hot meal of the day. Here’s a vegetarian meal, which I can imagine would be jolly heartening and sustaining on a miserable and cold winter’s day (back before climate change!) It’s vegetarian except for the dripping – but I guess in those days, meatless meals meant those without actual meat rather than those with no meat products! I have given the exact recipe, but of course this would be for a whole school full of hungry children, so if I make it I will divide the ingredients by ten and probably have enough left to put in the freezer for another time.

Vegetable Hot Pot
(for meatless meals)

  • 10lbs potatoes
  • 10lbs carrots
  • 2lbs swede
  • 2lbs parsnips
  • 2lbs onions or leeks
  • 5lbs haricots
  • 5lbs dried peas
  • ½lb parsley
  • 10 oz oatmeal or sago
  • 5 qt. vegetable water
  • 1 tablespoon Marmite
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ lb dripping or margarine
  1. soak and cook the peas and haricots
  2. prepare the vegetables and slice
  3. arrange the vegetables in layers in a baking tin and sprinkle with the oatmeal or sago over; season. Finish with a layer of sliced potato on top
  4. add the Marmite to the vegetable water and pour over. Put the dipping on top and bake in a moderate oven for 2 – 2½ hours. Sprinkle the parsley on top just before serving.
  • N.B. – Tomato purée may be added in place of the Marmite, using 1 pt. of tomato purée. Serve with mashed potatoes and green vegetables or watercress.

What also impresses me, is that the cooks want their food to look appetising, it’s garnished with the parsley. Although it’s full of vegetables, greens – and listed elsewhere they include Brussel sprouts, spring greens, cauliflower, cabbage and spinach – are also served with this meal, plus tomatoes and watercress! The children who had this for lunch would have been set up for the day, and if they went home to an impoverished household (many of the parents were agricultural workers, or worked in the local lime pits) then at least they would have had one sustaining meal!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.