I wanted to start off December with a different kind of First Monday Menu. I’ve been researching different holiday menus, and I thought I’d add a few here so you can see what a Christmas dinner in the early 1940s might have looked like.
Holiday meals at the beginning of the decade would have looked much different than a dinner served during the rationing years. The menus I have chosen to feature here are from 1940 and 1942.
Your Gas Range Cook Book
This first two are from the January 1940 Your Gas Range Cook Book. It’s a 135 page softcover book that was distributed by the Wyandotte County Gas Company of Kansas. The back pages include a note from the company’s Home Service Department encouraging homemakers to look into CP (Certified Performance) gas ranges. I’ve included the two page spread of both menus so you can see some of the recipes.
The American Woman’s Cook Book
The next menus are from The American Woman’s Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer. I have the 1940 edition. The menu items are listed in the order the cookbook listed them.
- Oyster Cocktails in Green Pepper Shells
- Ripe Olives
- Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing
- Apple Sauce
- String Beans
- Potato Puff
- Lettuce Salad with Riced Cheese and Bar-le-Duc
- French Dressing
- Toasted Wafers
- English Plum Pudding
- Cream of Celery Soup
- Bread Sticks
- Salted Peanuts
- Stuffed Olives
- Roast Beef
- Yorkshire Pudding
- Potato Souffle
- Spinach in Eggs
- White Grape Salad with Guava Jelly
- French Dressing
- Toasted Crackers
- Plum Pudding, Hard Sauce
Better Homes and Gardens
The December 1942 issue of “Better Homes and Gardens” has seven menus! I’ll list one of them here, but I hope to try out one or two of them before the month is over. Each menu lists a main dish, vegetables, a salad and/or accompaniment, a dessert, and something else that would be nice to add to the meal. I found these menus to be more housewife friendly.
- Yule Roast–Standing Rib
- Whole Onions
- Browned Potatoes
- Cranberry Stars on Pineapple Slices
- Jellied Plum Pudding with Ruby Crown
- Hot 8-Vegetable Cocktail
- Cheese Appetizers
The notes for this menu calls it a dinner in the English Tradition. They suggest starting things off by adding whole cloves and allspice to the 8-vegetable cocktail, heating it up, then straining it into a crystal cup and topping it with a lemon pierced with cloves. The magazine also says to top the broccoli with tiny pimento stars. Those cranberry stars on the pineapple? There’s a note about having cream cheese mixed with lemon juice added to stars cut from canned cranberries.
Here’s the recipe for those cheese appetizers.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- dash of cayenne
- 3 c bite-size whole wheat cereal
- 3/4 c grated American or Parmesan cheese
Melt butter. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, cayenne, and cereal. Sprinkle with cheese. Toss gently until cereal is cheese coated.
I think it’s interesting that plum pudding was listed in each book or magazine. Do you eat plum pudding for Christmas dinner? It feels so old fashioned to me, and I wonder when we stopped seeing plum pudding as a Christmas dinner staple. I’m tempted to add one to my table this year.
Are any of the rest of the foods here on your must-cook holiday dinner list?