Honey Brownies

My soon to be 18 year old daughter volunteered to help me make a dessert from the January 1940 Your Gas Range Cook Book. We chose this recipe because we were hungry for brownies and thought the ingredients were interesting.

Honey Brownies

  • 1/4 c fat
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 squares (2 oz) chocolate
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c nut meats

Cream the fat and add the sugar gradually. Add the honey and mix thoroughly. Beat the eggs and add to the creamed mixture. Add melted and slightly cooled chocolate. Mix well. Sift flour before measuring and then sift the flour, soda, and salt together. Add the sifted ingredients and nuts to the first mixture. Pour into a greased 9×9 inch square pan. Bake at 300°F for 55 minutes. Makes 3 dozen 1 1/2 inch squares.

Results

The brownies tasted more like honey than chocolate. Our first reaction was that they were rather plain and tasteless, but the more we nibbled on them the more addictive they became. The pan was empty within the hour. They were slightly chewy and cake-like. The honey was definately the strongest flavor. These weren’t very chocolatey at all. I will note that we left the nuts out of our batch because we prefer brownies without them.

These were quick to make and surprisingly tasty, but don’t make this recipe if you are craving chocolatey brownies. You might be disappointed, but you also just might find yourself enjoying them anyway like we did.

Have a wonderful week.

First Monday Menu: BBQ Chicken and Victory Garden Vegetables

The home front housewife’s Victory Garden would be keeping the kitchen stocked with fresh vegetables this time of year. Those fresh veggies were healthy and helped a family save rationing points and money by allowing them to fill up on meals that included homegrown food.

This is a light, easy to fix late summer meal that works as well today as it did in the 1940s. The chicken recipe comes from the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

Barbecued Fried Chicken

  • 2 1/2 lb fryer, cut up
  • 4 tbsp salad oil or fat
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bottled thick meat sauce
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c catsup
  • dash tabasco sauce

Wash the fryer and dry it slightly. You can reserve the backbone, neck, and wing tips for making chicken broth later. Heat the salad oil in a skillet, then add the chicken. Brown on all sides over high heat. Remove the chicken and place in a shallow baking pan. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken. Bake uncovered in a moderate oven of 350°F for one hour or until the chicken is tender, basting every 10 minutes with the sauce in the pan. Place in a broiler oven which has been preheated (unless the manufacturer’s instructions say otherwise) and allow to brown slightly. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from broiler. Put the chicken on a platter and pour the remaining sauce over it to serve. Serves 4.

Note: In true home front housewife style, I used what we had on hand to make this recipe. I used chicken breasts instead of a whole fryer, and it worked well. 

Victory Garden Vegetables

I used squash, zucchini, and onions, but any vegetable you have on hand will work. Just slice, toss in a skillet, and cook with a little salt and pepper. This is also a great way to use up any leftover vegetables you have on hand. I’ve also added garlic pepper and/or cheese to the squash, zucchini, and onions. The melted cheese adds just the right amount of gooey indulgence to the dish. 

Results

The chicken breasts were very moist and flavorful. I like steak sauce, but I very rarely use it on steaks. This was a nice way to incorporate that flavor into a meal. Seven people ages 2 to adult tested this menu and everyone loved it. Next time I might add another side dish or a dessert, but the chicken and vegetables on their own were very satisfying. 

First Monday Menu: Cheese Combination Sandwich

We’ve been relying on quick meals to help us save time this summer. July’s First Monday Menu is one of those quick meals, and it is another one that is flexible enough that you’ll be able to make do with what you have in your pantry and refrigerator.

The home front housewife would have found this sandwich spread convenient for lunch boxes or an easy meal at lunchtime while her family is away at school or work. It’s from the 1940 edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book, but the recipe’s lack of meat would have made it handy all throughout the war years.

Cheese Combination Sandwich

  • 1 c cream cheese or cottage cheese
  • 1/4 c mayonnaise OR
  • 1/4 c chopped olives OR
  • 1/4 c chopped nuts OR
  • 1/4 c chopped pimientos

Mix the cheese with the mayonnaise, olives, nuts, or pimientos. Spread between two thin slices of lightly buttered rye or brown bread.

Results

The way the recipe is written suggests the home front housewife could have used whichever of these ingredients she had on hand, or in a combination she and her family preferred. I used cream cheese and mayonnaise, and added chopped green olives and pimientos. I used whole wheat bread instead of rye because that’s what I had on hand.

This was actually a lovely sandwich. It was filling and flavorful. My testers and I all thought it had a medium strength olive taste, but the spread can be adjusted to fit your taste desires. I didn’t add nuts, but that would provide a bit of crunchiness to the softer spread and bread.

I added plain potato chips and a pickle spear. Potato chips were eaten in the 1940s. The United States government decided that potato chips were important enough to keep producing during the war years, so they would have been available to the home front hosuewife. Flavored chips were not introduced until later, so in WWII, potato chips would have been plain. Dips were not served with chips until the 1950s, although it is certainly possible people in the mid to late 1940s ate them with cracker spreads. There are no dip recipes in this edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book.

Let me know if you try this one. Happy July!

Spice Corn Syrup Cake

Today’s recipe comes from Watkins Economy Recipes. This little booklet includes 48 pages of recipes and advice on how to deal with rationing and shortages. There are sections on stretching meat and sugar that offer interesting recipes that I want to try soon. Each recipe’s ingredients list includes at least one Watkins product.

The J.R. Watkins Company began when Mr. Watkins began selling liniment door-to-door in southeastern Minnesota in 1868. The company expanded, and by the 1940s, it was the largest direct sales company in the world. Watkins products are still being sold in stores today.

Inside the back cover of this cookbook is a checklist of Watkins’ products. There are spices and medicines, cleansers and veterinarian products. It’s a fascinating, varied list. If a home front housewife had a problem, chances are that the Watkins catalog had a solution.

Today’s spice cake recipe is an example of a dessert that did not require much sugar.

Spice Corn Syrup Cake

  • 2 c sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp Watkins baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Watkins ginger
  • 1 tsp Watkins cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Watkins nutmeg
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1 c light corn syrup, preferably extra sweet variety
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c cold coffee
  • 1 c raisins
  • 1 tsp Watkins vanilla
  • 1 tsp flour to dredge raisins

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Melt shortening over hot water, mix with the corn syrup and cool. Cream mixture thoroughly. Add egg yolks and beat briskly. Add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture alternately with the coffee. Dredge raisins in 1 tsp flour and add those and the vanilla. Mix. Pour into 2 greased layer cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Test with a cake tester before removing from oven.

NOTE: I kept the Watkins brand name ingredients so you could see how many were in the recipe.

Results

I wish I could say that we liked this cake. It was so dry and didn’t have much flavor. Since it was baked in two layer cake pans, it ended up being thin, as well. We added whipped cream topping to it to try to combat the dryness, but it didn’t help much. Adding a scoop or two of ice cream makes everything better, and this cake is no exception. The raisins were a nice touch. They added a bit of texture.

First Monday Menu: Chop Suey and Strawberry Shortcake

After a long April full of deadlines, I am back to blogging with May’s First Monday Menu.

Origin stories are varied, but chop suey seems to have been invented by Chinese Americans in the late 1800s. According to Wikipedia, E.N. Anderson, an anthropologist specializing in Chinese Food, traced chop suey to a similarly named Chinese dish meaning “miscellaneous leftovers”. This fits with the dish’s use during WWII.

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In my research, chop suey pops up everywhere. It’s in cookbooks, magazine articles, and product advertising. All recipes are similar and flexible. I’m assuming it was a popular dish for using up odds and ends in the pantry. The recipe I used today came from a chapter full of suggestions on cooking with meat during shortages and rationing. Numerous recipes using leftovers are suggested, including the chop suey you see here.

I chose this particular recipe because I think it showcases the flexibility of the dish. It’s from What Do We Eat Now? A Guide to Wartime Housekeeping by Helen Robertson, Sarah MacLeod, and Frances Preston. It was published in 1942. It’s a fantastic look at how changes were affecting home front housewives’ daily lives. I am always impressed by the ingenuity and bravery of women facing numerous challenges to running a smooth household.

What Do We Eat Now? suggests using a green salad and a fruit dessert to create a meal. I added a simple salad and strawberry shortcake. My pictures show ranch dressing on the salad. I want to point out that ranch dressing was not invented until the early 1950s, so it’s not technically accurate here. I used frozen strawberries and angel food cake for our strawberry shortcake. A variety of strawberry shortcake recipes existed in early 1940s cookbooks, so home front housewives were definitely serving this dessert during war years, especially if they grew their own strawberries in their Victory Gardens.

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Chop Suey

  • 2 c shredded meat
  • 2 tbsp fat
  • 1 c fresh OR one can mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/4 c sliced onion
  • 2 c shredded celery
  • 1/2 c shredded green pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 can bean sprouts OR 2 c cooked shredded green beans
  • 1 1/2 c sliced uncooked radishes
  • soy sauce

Prepare meat. You may use cooked pork, turkey, veal, beef, chicken, or duck. If there isn’t enough, add a small amount of ham or freshly cooked meat. (Note: You can choose to use all freshly cooked meat, but this recipe was specifically for using leftovers.) Melt fat in pan. Saute onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, usually about 6 or 7 minutes. Blend in the flour. Add bean sprouts (or green beans), meat, and radishes. Heat. Season well. Serve over rice or fried noodles.

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Results

I like that this recipe shows how you can use whatever meat you have available and that some of the other ingredients are optional or may be switched out for something else. I think this recipe could be adapted to fit any vegetables you have on hand, as well.

My family was a little uncertain about trying chop suey, but I wanted to test it since I see it in so many different places in my research.  Everyone enjoyed it. Even my toddler loved this one. It was surprisingly flavorful and definitely filling. We used shredded chicken, green beans, and rice, but I think this would be just as good with turkey or beef served over noodles. I make sure all of my kids go to college armed with an arsenal of easy to make recipes. Chop suey will be a useful addition.

Let me know if you try a version of chop suey.

Have a great week!

 

First Monday Menu: Chicken a la King and Sour Cream Cocoa Cake with Mocha Frosting

This month’s menu comes from the 1940 edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book. This is a great cookbook from the beginning of our wartime period. I like comparing cookbooks from 1940 to cookbooks from later in the war years. Most of the later ones include advice and recipes for cooking and entertaining while dealing with rationing and shortages. Many also include recipes and tips for the working woman.

Today’s entree is a recipe many people still make today. We served our chicken a la king over spaghetti. You can also substitute salmon for the chicken.

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Chicken a la King

  • 2 c cooked diced chicken
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • green pepper, minced
  • pimiento, cut in thin strips
  • 1 c mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 c chicken stock or milk
  • 1 c sour cream or evaporated milk
  • 4 tsp sherry
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter, add the peppers and mushrooms, and saute until light yellow. Lift out. Blend the flour with the seasoned butter. Add the chicken stock and cook until thickened. Add the chicken, and when it’s hot, add the cream combined with the beaten egg yolks and the mushrooms, pepper, and pimiento. Add the sherry and serve immediately. Don’t cook after adding the egg yolks because the mixture may curdle. You can stand it over hot water if needed. You can also use 1 can of red salmon, boned and skinned.

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Results

This was very filling, but also a bit bland. While we were eating we discussed what we would do differently, and we all agreed the chicken should have been seasoned more. Adding some garlic and using cream of mushroom soup for part of the liquid were other suggestions. I looked up a couple modern versions of this recipe and found that the 1940 recipe and the 2019 recipes were almost identical, so perhaps we are just fans of spicier food in my family. Overall, it was good, but not something I can see myself making again.

Sour Cream Cocoa Cake

  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 3/4 c boiling water
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg whites

Mix cocoa in boiling water and stir mixture until smooth. Cool. Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add cocoa mixture to creamed mixture. Sift flour, salt, and soda together. Add dry ingredients alternately with cream to the first mixture. Beat until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into pans lined with waxed paper and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) for 30 minutes. Makes 2 (9 in) layers. Spread Mocha Frosting between layers and on top.

Mocha Frosting

  • 1 1/2 tsp Mocha extract or strong coffee
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3/4 c chopped nuts

Mix the extract or coffee with the sugar and stir into the water, gradually, smoothing out the lumps. After the frosting is spread on the cake, 3/4 c chopped nuts may be sprinkled over the top.

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Results

I feel like this cake was playing an April Fool’s Day joke on us. The top layer broke. The frosting was extra runny and either soaked into the cake or slipped right off the cake stand and onto the counter. We had to make a double batch of the frosting to have enough. It was also fairly time-consuming with lots of steps involved in the cake itself. I was worried about how it’d taste.

I shouldn’t have worried. It was delicious. It was moist and milk chocolatey, and definitely filling. The frosting had a very mild mocha flavor and was more like a glaze than a frosting. The cake was so wonderful, though, that a heavier frosting would have been too much. We’ll definitely make this one again.

I hope the weather has been kind to you this week. Let me know if you try any of these recipes!

 

 

Spiced Apple Toddy

This is just a quick post today to help you through any chilly weather you might be experiencing. My kids call this “fancy cider”. Enjoy!

The current weather across much of the United States is cold and snowy right now. At my house, we have been battling rain and sand storms for the past week. I thought many of you might appreciate a warm treat, and this is one that you might already have the ingredients in your pantry. I’ve made many similar recipes, but this particular one is from the 1943 cookbook Double-Quick Cooking for Part-time Homemakers by Ida Bailey Allen.

Notes:

I’ve also used packaged cider mix combined with water, cloves, and lemon juice to make “fancy cider”. This works fine. It just isn’t as attractive as using the lemon slices. It’s a great option, though, when it’s cold outside and you don’t want to leave the house to buy a lemon.

Spiced Apple Toddy

Ingredients


4 c sweet cider or apple juice
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 lemon

Directions


Heat cider, cloves, and half the lemon sliced to a boil. Strain into cups, and serve with thin slices of fresh lemon, each stuck with two cloves.

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