Monthly Archives: October 2018

Victory Lunch Boxes: Introduction and Chili-Peanut Sandwich Filling

The home front housewife had many new challenges when World War II began. Shortages and rationing made cooking challenging due to having to learn new recipes with new ingredients and new ways of cooking. Those changes also led to changes in how packed lunches were planned and prepared. Leftovers from meals the night before were used in new and creative ways. Housewives became especially adept at planning meals with those leftovers in mind. Working men needed one type of lunch while school children might need something else entirely. And don’t forget that the housewife herself needed to eat, too. That had to be planned with the packed lunches so food wouldn’t be wasted.

I want to do a short series on Victory lunch boxes over the next week or so, then I’d like to add a regular lunch box post that will explore recipes, planning, tips for packing the food, advice on the best lunchboxes and Thermos to keep your food safe and fresh, and suggestions for lunch box menus for all types of people that might need to carry a meal with them during the day.  I will definitely include period recipes for different lunch box foods.

One of my favorite sources is a 50-page pamphlet from 1943 called 300 Helpful Suggestions for Your Victory Lunch Box. It’s called a “hook-up cook book” because it was designed to be hung at eye level so the cook could more easily read the recipe. The hole in the center of every page was created to be hung on small nails that the housewife would attach to her upper cabinets or a shelf. This also kept the cookbook protected from splashes and dirty fingerprints.

This first page has an introductory passage that speaks directly to housewives. The first lines suggest that careful food management will win the war. “Food management, one of wartime’s most important jobs, rests squarely on the shoulders of the American homemaker. Food will win the war and make the peace only if it is administered wisely by the meal planners of the nation so that supplies will be adequate to meet the ever-increasing demands.”

As with many other wartime publications, women were encouraged to do their part to win the war from on the home front. The passage says this is a way that housewives can contribute directly to winning the war. And they weren’t wrong, Women banding together to make sure rationing and other programs worked really did help contribute to victory.

My next post will start this series, but for now, I’ll leave you with a sandwich filling recipe from the pamphlet I mentioned above.

Chili-Peanut Sandwich Filling

1/4 c. peanut butter (We used creamy since we were adding in chopped peanuts.)

2 tbsp cream

2 tbsp chili sauce

1/4 c. finely chopped salted peanuts

Combine peanut butter, cream, and chili sauce. Add the peanuts. Mix well.

We toasted our bread first, then spread a layer of the filling on one slice. We were all a little hesitant to try this sandwich, but it ended up being pretty tasty. The chopped peanuts gave it a nice crunchy texture. The peanut butter wasn’t too thick due to the addition of the cream and chili sauce. I could taste the chili sauce, but it surprisingly complimented the peanut butter well. My husband added jelly to his and said that the combination of the sweet jelly and the chili flavored peanut butter was wonderful.

This would be a great option for a lunch box sandwich. The protein from the peanut butter and the carbs from the sandwich would be filling.

I’d recommend trying this one. It’s super easy to mix together and is a nice change from traditional PB&J sandwiches.

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Baking without…Sugar: Spicy Raisin Cookies

This recipe is next in the “Baking without…Sugar” series. It’s difficult to make sweet desserts and treats without sugar, but home front housewives did their best using the resources they had at hand. These spicy raisin cookies are from a December 1944 Woman’s Day Kitchen recipe. The recipe would have cost 27 cents and it was published in the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day. 

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Spicy Raisin Cookies

2 1/2 c. sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

3/4 c. raisins

1 egg, well beaten

3/4 c. molasses

3/4 c. sausage fat

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Add raisins. Add combined egg, molasses, and cooled melted fat all at once. Mix this well. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes.

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Results

First, a couple of notes. The recipe called for a grade B egg. Grade B eggs are not available where I live. I substituted Crisco for the sausage fat. I also adjusted the cooking time. Fifteen minutes in my oven resulted in cookies with burned bottoms. Ten minutes worked much better.

The cookies were a little on the dry side. They were not overly sweet. The raisins added a nice chewy texture. I think these would be nice with some chopped nuts added into the batter, and maybe a few more raisins. There’s definitely a molasses taste to them, so if raisins or molasses aren’t your favorites, I’d skip these.  I had the same 9 testers as before, and everyone said that these were not their favorites, but they weren’t terrible, either. I think that if I was a home front housewife on the last of my sugar for the month, these would make a decent dessert to hold my family over until we were able to get more sugar to bake with. If I wanted something sweeter, but without sugar, I would go with the Rolled Maple Lace Wafers instead.

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