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Delicious Because of the War Recipe Book

Imagine yourself in Peter and Claire Thomas's kitchen - the rich aromas, the combustion oven and the glorious spread of food before your eyes.


Welcome to the forties and the fabulous cooking where nothing was spared and when you lived in the countryside the fresh foods were in plentiful supply. Succulent meats, crisp and tasty vegetables and baking direct from heaven.


It was more than cooking in those days, it was dedication - it was virtually a career to feed the farm workers and keep the family running. These recipes prove exactly that, with wholesome ingredients and genuine forties flavours.


Treat yourself to the tastes of the forties, buy our recipe book and get cooking now. Even more than that - every recipe book sold will contribute to bringing the Because of the War movie to life on the big screen.



When the roosters are crowing and the morning is coming to life, it’s time for breakfast in the Thomas household. The old country kitchen was always full of the most delightful smells with bacon frying and fresh bread baking. The men were preparing for a hard day’s work and would gather purposefully around the table, discussing the chores of the day and what they hoped to achieve.


The women were busy cooking up a storm and the piles of food were ravenously devoured by the appreciative workers. It was a different era and men and women worked tirelessly to keep the things running and the kitchen was really the linchpin that kept it all together.


There was plenty of other work to be done, but when morning came and the workers rose, a hot pot of tea was always on the brew and a hot and delicious breakfast would send them off into the paddocks and barns to ensure life continued as the war raged on in far-off lands.



Depending on the work agenda for the day, workers may come in for lunch, or be given a picnic style lunch at breakfast time. Take a browse through some of the delectable picnic lunches and think about packing one this weekend. Set off to your favourite spot and think about those hard-workers back in the forties, particularly where the farms had lost their sons to go off and fight in the war, in many cases women were called on to do a man’s work, and they did so with passion and skill.


If you’re not in the mood for a picnic or the weather has hit a bad spell, take a look at some of these delicious luncheon style recipes and ask a couple of friends over, or just surprise your partner with a lovely luncheon straight out of the forties.


Treats like salmon potato cakes, classic green bean casserole and egg and bacon pie. All irresistible and our easy-to-follow recipes will have you a star in a kitchen from the past, in no time.



Back in the forties no-one ever referred to the evening meal as dinner, in Australia. Commonly know as ‘tea’, this meal was the highlight of the day. In would come the workers and the day’s activities would be recalled as everyone sat around the table.


Meals were aplenty with freshly cooked meats, vegetables and potatoes always a favourite. Platters were laid out for the family to help themselves and plates were piled high.


One could not go past a roast beef or lamb for popularity, and if you were a chicken on a farm in the forties, then beware, as your life was in constant danger with every chance you’d end up on the dinner table that evening. A thought not entertained these days.


Take a look at our scrumptious potato cake recipe – a lovely side dish to any meal. There are pies and stews and a great variety of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Cottage pie was always a favourite and the Bully Beef Bomber was an old stand-by and well frequented during those war years.

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There’s nothing like a country made, warm and hearty soup served with chunky fresh baked bread for lunch or as a welcome starter to a country dinner. The Thomas kitchen always had a pot of soup simmering away on the combustion stove, the aromas teasing and tempting every visitor who was often offered a welcome bowl to keep them going until the next meal time.


Left-overs were great ways to start off a soup and vegetables gathered straight from the garden added to the healthy, home-made richness. Age-old favourites like Pea and Ham, Hearty Beef and ever-favourite chicken are featured here in these pages.


These much-loved soup recipes are easy to make and a great budget stretcher. Try them all, they’re a meal on their own and great to take into work for lunch or as a quick dinner when the day has drained you of the energy and motivation to cook up a storm. 

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Tea wasn’t complete without dessert. Children were continuously threatened that their dessert would be taken away if they did not eat their vegetables. And so they did. The reward was always a delicious pie, pudding, beautifully baked tart or some other mouth-watering delight.


You must try Irex’s bread and butter pudding, a genuine relic of the forties it was always a favourite way to use up yesterday’s bread. Remember there were no freezers, so left-overs were always recycled in the cleverest ways.


With our sedimentary lifestyle these days, it’s hard to imagine the amounts of food consumed back then, but with hard physical work from dawn ‘til dusk and kids playing hard in the farm yard, helping out with chores and most likely walking to and from school – fuel was needed and a forties kitchen provided it in the most delightful and appealing way possible.



Who can resist Colonel Falker in our lovely romance, Because of the War. Well you’re going to find these tantalising recipes from his home state of Texas, U.S.A, just as irresistible. On the whole spicier than our own Aussie forties favourites, you’ll find things like steak and chicken fajitas, deep fried guacamole and green bean casserole will have your friends and family wanting for more.


With many ingredients rationed during the war years, Texas cooks became very creative and invented new ways to spice up their foods – ways which we now take for granted. In fact, many of these have turned into fast food chains with popular treats like tacos, fajitas, chili dishes and other Tex-Mex conquests. We’ve even included such sinful delights as Apple Crisp and yes, who could resist maple syrup donuts and chocolate butter pecan pie.


So drag out your 10 gallon hat and fire up the barbie, because there’s no better way to cook a Sherry Honey Pork Chop or a Garlic Chili Steak than on an open grill.  



In the Thomas household morning and afternoon teas were a regular event. Workers would gather and the women would visit. Country life was extremely busy back in the forties, but there was always time for a catch up and a chat.


These lovely recipes are reminiscent of those times. Why not create your own ‘40’s style morning or afternoon tea and invite a few friends around? Set it up on your back verandah (deck) or perhaps under a lovely shady tree. Use a pretty table cloth and delicate china. From passionfruit sponge cake to Anzac biscuits to yummy cheese squares, we have the perfect selection of recipes to make your gathering a great success.


Bring out grandma’s old china teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl – go that extra step and ask people to dress in the forties style.


What fun you’re going to have.



Kids’ treats were vastly different than those of today. Local schools held fund-raising drives and mums everywhere cooked up batches of toffees, toffee apples, coconut ice, fudge and peanut brittle. It was always a competition at school to see whose mum had cooked up the best batch. If your mum’s batch sold out first – then you were as proud as punch and were often the favourite kid for a day, until the next thing came along.


Besides fund-raising, confectionary was prepared as treats for young and old alike. Often kept in jars or tins as a reward for a job well done. Toffees ranged from the hard variety to stick-jaw, an enemy of any dentist with its ability to stick to your teeth and nearly drag then out by the roots. Despite the pending dental disaster, these toffees were one of the favourites back in the day.


Try some of these amazing recipes and test them out on your friends and their children. I wonder what they will think of the yummy forties confectionary – or will they just stick with Mars bars and Caramello bears?



Of course, there were local bakeries consisting of big stone building featuring voluminous brick ovens. Bakers sweated in the hot Queensland climate as they used giant bread lifter tools to change the loaves from one shelf to another.


Draft horses waited in the stables, ready for the delivery run as bakers drove to the many households to deliver the bread. But in the country deliveries were few and far between and housewives baked their own bread, the heavenly smells of which would attack your senses every morning, stimulating your appetite and tantalising your tastebuds.


Scones and buns were also favourites, particularly as after school snacks for workers coming in from the labours of the day. We’ve included some of the specialties of the Thomas kitchen and we can guarantee their popularity once you get baking.



In most country homes, fruit trees and vegetable gardens weren’t just a hobby, they were a vital necessity. Of course, if you ran an orchard your supplies were overwhelming when it came to pickling time, but if you lived on a farm such as dairy, then tending a vegetable garden and fruit trees was par for the course.


And of course, there is nothing quite like good old country made jams, pickles and chutneys. For afternoon teas, meal accompaniments, sandwiches, picnics and all sorts of irresistible uses, no pantry is complete without a good choice of these tasty delights.


Our recipes come from the 40’s. You may not have a little orchard of fruit trees in your back yard or a well-tended vegetable garden, but here’s a tip – try one of your local markets, very popular on a Sunday, and you’re bound to find a plentiful supply of everything you need at very good prices.

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