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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Savoury War-time Pie

Grandmamma had heartened herself with gin now and again from a bottle produced from somewhere amongst her voluminous black skirts, and was game to the last, if a trifle maudlin.

(from a description of a Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Wives Club event)

 

Remember the war-time soup that called for everything in your compost bin? Here’s another recipe from the book I was reading at the NLS last winter (Mrs. Dorothy Constance Peel’s How We Lived Then, 1914-1918: A Sketch of Social and Domestic Life in England During the War). This time I actually tested it–veganized, of course–and my updated recipe follows the original.

Vegetable Pie with Potato Crust
(Meat shortage)

2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 turnip, the outside sticks of half a head of celery, 1/2 lb. artichokes or two potatoes, 1/2 pint bacon-bone stock and 1 oz. lentils. For the pastry, 6 ozs. cooked potatoes (mashed), 6 ozs. flour, 2 ozs. cooking fat, 1 teaspoonful baking-powder.

Wash, clean and prepare the vegetables, cut them into small pieces and arrange them in a pie-dish in layers, putting the lentils, which have previously soaked for twenty-four hours, in the centre; pour over the stock and 1/2 pint of water; put into the oven with a dish over it and bake for 2 hours (or boil in a saucepan and put into a pie-dish afterwards if more convenient). For the paste, steam and mash the potatoes, rub the fat into the flour, then rub in the cooked potatoes, add a pinch of salt and the baking powder; mix to a fairly stiff paste with a little cold water, roll out and place over the vegetables in the pie-dish, trim the edge and mark it neatly, bake in a moderately hot oven for 3/4 hour.

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And here’s my vegan version:

filling:
–two onions
–two carrots
–three sticks of celery
–one turnip
–one 6-oz. jar of artichoke hearts
–two cups vegetable stock (I used Better Than Bouillon)
–one cup lentils (soaked overnight)
–salt and pepper
–herbs and spices (rosemary, cumin) to taste

pastry:
–one medium potato, mashed
–1 1/3 cups flour
–1/4 cup Earth Balance shortening (half a stick)
–1 tsp. baking powder
–dash of salt

Preheat oven to 375º. Finely chop all vegetables (including the potato skins!) and sauté with herbs in olive oil until soft. Take off heat and add vegetable stock and pre-soaked lentils. To make the pastry, follow the original instructions (mix the shortening into the dry ingredients, then add the mashed potato, mixing together with a little cold water. It should make a nice easy-to-roll dough). Spoon the filling into a casserole dish (will yield too much filling for a pie plate), roll out the pastry and cover, sealing the edges of the pie with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, dabbing the crust with a bit of Earth Balance vegan butter if you have it.

Turned out mighty tasty, if I do say so myself!

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Edit, 17 September: Kate and Elliot tried out this recipe using two standard pie plates, and as you can see it worked out perfectly:

wartime pies

 

So you might prefer to use two pie plates rather than a casserole dish. Next time we’re going to try some new ingredients, mushrooms and whatnot.
 

4 Comments to Savoury War-time Pie

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    It was delicious! Thanks for the recipe.
    On the topic of old-time recipes, I thought you might be interested in these home remedies: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-old-time-solutions-to-domestic-problems.html

  2. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    More turnips and carrots! We also added some flour to the broth so that it was thicker.

  3. September 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Good idea!

  4. January 23, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Love the recipe. I have a scottish themed event coming up this weekend, loosely based on Robbie Burns birthday(meaning they are skipping the haggis, bag pipes and speeches–i will miss the haggis)
    This would be perfect to bring to the potluck.
    I blog on Downton Abbey recipes at downtonabbeycooks.wordpress.com and hope you don’t find me sharing your WWI recipes with my readers.
    keep on smiling.
    Pamela

  1. By on October 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.