Monthly Archives: March 2020

WW2 Ration Cook-in: Beverage

I’m splitting up the beverage and dessert today because this is grocery day and I need ingredients for my dessert. I’m hopeful that my local store will have what I need. I’ve heard rumors that they even have toilet paper!

Today’s recipe comes from the booklet 300 Tasty, Healthful Dairy Dishes published by the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940. I was looking for something different to try, so I thought I’d make this shake recipe. It’s not a shake like we know now. It’s more of a flavored milk drink with ginger ale.

Ginger Pear Shake

  • 1 8oz can pears
  • 1 qt milk
  • Ginger Ale

Press pears though sieve. Mix pulp and juice, add milk, and pour into tall glasses. Fill glasses with ginger ale.

Results

I’m disappointed in this drink. I love pears, so I was excited to try a drink with pears in it. The shake tasted like milk and ginger ale, and was a little too chunky for me. We tried with different amounts of ginger ale, and didn’t like any of them. We also tried without the ginger ale and it just tasted like milk. This is one recipe I don’t recommend. If you are looking for a period drink, there are several others on the blog that are delicious. Click the drink tab for more ideas.

Don’t forget to join us on Instagram! There’s still time to cook with us!

WW2 Ration Cook-in: Snacks

Cake is one of the best snacks, right? I chose this cake and frosting combination because it reminded me of the cakes we ate growing up. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that so many recipes are familiar to me from my childhood. That means that the recipes stood the test of time. People were still making them regularly 40 years later!

Today’s snack is from a 1944 cook booklet that was full of recipes using Royal brand baking powder. I’m including the full page with the recipe for both the frosting and the cake.

Results

The recipe says to make as a layer cake, but we made it as a sheet cake like shown in the picture. My three youngest daughters made the cake for me and did a fantastic job! The cake was extremely moist and the chocolate flavor was just right. The frosting tasted like caramel, just like the frosting I remembered from my childhood. If you make this, the frosting is a bit finicky. You might have to adjust the ingredients a bit to make it to your liking. I’d also double the frosting recipe to make sure there is enough for your cake. My entire family loved this cake and I’ll definitely make it again.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram, too. We’d love to have you cook along with us. It’s never to late to join!

WW2 Ration Cook-In: Dinner

Ida Bailey Allen wrote Double-Quick Cooking for Part-Time Homemakers in 1943 for women who found themselves both working at jobs outside of the home as well as being responsible for the running of her household. The book had recipes and meal ideas, but it also gave women tips on how to manage both aspects of their lives efficiently.

I decided to make a meal out of the “Double-Quick Sunday and Holiday Dinners” because it is, after all, Sunday today and my daily challenge is dinner. The chapter suggests that Sunday is a great day to make one of your family’s favorites. It goes on to stress that it’s just one of their favorites, though, because “nearly all of your energy belongs to your employer”. I’m going to include the other meal suggestions in a photo below.

Cheeseburgers

  • 1 lb chopped raw beef
  • 1/2 c each chopped celery and carrot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 soft round rolls
  • American cheese

Mix the beef with the vegetables and seasonings. Shape into eight flat round cakes. Broil or pan fry until done. Split the rolls. On half of the rounds, put American cheese sliced thin. Toast under broiler until cheese melts. At the same time, toast the remaining halves of the rolls. Pour over any drippings left from cooking and put together sandwich fashion with the meat cakes.

Notes

Our grocery store was out of celery, so I just used carrots. We are having a hard time getting quality produce where we live. It’s very frustrating, but it’s only been a month, really, since we’ve had shortages here. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been to deal with rationing and shortages for years. It makes me think about the people who lived through the war years and how rationing shaped their everyday lives.

Results

I was really pleased with these. They were so much better than I expected them to be. Even my 2 and 5 year olds liked them. The carrots added a nice flavor. Usually I load my burgers up with vegetables and condiments, but no one added anything to these. They were perfect the way they were.

The meal was also quick to make, just like the cookbook suggested it would be. I followed the recommendation in the photo above and served the cheeseburgers with a fruit cup and cold drink. I will also note that carrots and other vegetables were often added to ground beef to stretch the meat so a pound of meat would go a long way. People were always on the lookout for ways to save ration points and this was a common one. Crackers were also used in place of the vegetables.

Please join us on Instagram as we keep going with the WW2 Ration Cook-in challenge. We’d love to have you! Use #ww2rationcookin so we can see what you create!

WW2 Ration Cook-In: Lunch

Shortages in my hometown have forced me to adjust my meal plans for today. The closest small grocery store is thirty minutes away. The nearest major grocery store is an hour and a half away. We are only making one trip a week and are trying to stay out of town as much as possible, and have been utilizing our small local store. Normally this is not a problem.

During our last grocery run, however, there were still serious shortages. I had planned on adding soup to this lunch menu, but the ingredients were not available. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, I think it’s an interesting tie to the food rationing and shortages that I write about.

I love Spam advertisements from the 1930s and 1940s. They were colorful and fun, and during the war years were helpful to the home front housewife because they provided meal ideas during a time when meal planning had become more of a challenge. A 1938 Spam ad included a quick recipe for an open-faced hot Spam sandwich. I decided to try to recreate that idea.

This is a typical Spam ad from late 1942. The ads are usually colorful, full page ads that portrayed conversational situations that made their product look and sound appealing.

Hot Spam Sandwich

Butter a slice of bread. Slice the Spam and put two slices side by side on top of the buttered bread. Add a slice of American cheese over the Spam. Broil until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Top with a slice of toasted bread. Other ingredients may be added before or after broiling. Some suggestions include fried egg, onion, peppers, or any sauces or condiments desired. Serve warm with soup and potato chips for a warm, filling lunch.

A note about potato chips: Production of potato chips temporarily came to a halt during WWII. They were deemed to be non-essential and potato chip factories were told to stop production. Protests helped change the War Production Board’s mind, and potato chips continued to be made. Potato chips were a popular wartime snack, especially when sweet snacks were not as available due to sugar shortages and rationing. They also were popular with troops overseas.

Results

Spam was a staple in American pantries during the war. It’s also a staple in mine since I do a lot of wartime-style cooking. I prefer Spam fried. I think most of my family does. I also find it rather salty to eat very often. The hot sandwich was filling, but I think that next time I’ll fry the the Spam instead.

I can see the appeal of canned meats. They weren’t rationed and helped a home front housewife add meat and protein to sometimes limited diets. Victory garden vegetables could be used to add some flavor and texture variety. This would be a quick and low point lunch that would be handy to have in a home front housewife’s cooking arsenal.

Day 3 of the WW2 Ration Cook-In is dinner. Join us on Instagram by following along or cooking with us. Use #ww2rationcookin so we can see what you make! Don’t forget to visit the other hosts’ websites and Instagrams to see what they are creating.

Www.history-preserved.com

Www.victorykitchenpodcast.com

Www.kate-lavender.com/blog

Www.worldturnedupsidedown.com

WW2 Ration Cook-In Day 1: Breakfast

In case you missed my post yesterday, I’m taking a quick break from my lunch box series to host and participate in an Instagram challenge. Today’s theme is breakfast.

While I was looking through my WWII era cookbooks, I ran across a recipe that was almost exactly the same as a favorite breakfast recipe my dad made us when we were growing up in the ‘80s. My dad didn’t cook much, but this was something he made as an occasional treat for breakfast.

The recipe comes from the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book. I was happy to see that they offered flavor variations, so I included those, too.

Cinnamon Toast

Spread 6 slices of white, whole wheat, or raisin bread with 2 tbsp butter, margarine, fat, or salad oil. Trim the crusts if desired. Blend 1 tsp cinnamon with 3 tbsp granulated sugar and sprinkle over the bread. Place in a moderate oven at 350 degrees F or in the broiler oven until the sugar melts. Cut into strips or triangles and serve warm. Brown sugar, honey, grated cheese, or a mixture of 1 tsp each of orange juice and grated orange rind and 1/2 c granulated sugar can be substituted for the cinnamon mixture.

Notes

I used white bread and butter. I used the broiler option, and I also added a little more cinnamon to the cinnamon mixture. My local store was out of oranges, so I had to skip the orange peel in the orange version. I decided I wanted to make some using the method my dad used when we were kids. He just buttered the bread and added the sugar and cinnamon separately before putting the bread in the broiler. Putting the sugar and cinnamon on separately does make a difference in the way the end result looks. It also tastes a little different when you make it that way. I think it’s because there ends up being quite a bit more cinnamon on each piece of toast. You can see the difference in the pictures below.

Results

Out of all of the recipes I’ve put on this blog, this one has been the favorite by far. I made 18 pieces of toast and they were devoured in just a few minutes. I do have a large family, but these sweet toast slices disappeared especially fast. I also enjoyed the nostalgia of running across the recipe and making it for my kids to enjoy like I did when I was little.

Each person had their favorite today, so there was no verdict as to which the best version was. Two people liked the honey version best. Several people loved the orange. My dad’s method of making the cinnamon sugar ones was a hit, as well. I was surprised at how much I liked the brown sugar toast. My personal favorites were the orange and, of course, my dad’s version. All were sweet and just the right combination of crisp crust and chewy middle. I highly recommend any of these. I would suggest adding some sausage and bacon, and perhaps an egg to round out the meal.

Please join my friends and I on Instagram to either follow along or cook with us as we work our way through the different themes. I’d love to see what you come up with. Remember to use #ww2rationcookin to share what you’ve made. I hope to see you there!

WW2 Ration Cook-in Challenge

I’m taking a short break from lunch box packing to host a challenge on Instagram. I’ll be posting everything here, too, so you can follow along.

I also hope you will join us! A few of us decided to host a ration cook-in. It’s strange to be writing and talking about shortages and rationing when we are dealing with shortages and supply challenges today. We thought it would be fun to have a cook-in while we are all at home. It will be a 10 day event with 7 different themes and it starts tomorrow!

I really hope you head to Instagram and follow along there. I would love it if you’d cook along with us! Just use #ww2rationcookin so we can all share what we’ve made.

The other hosts have great blogs (and a podcast!) as well as Instagram pages. Check out what they are up to.

www.history-preserved.com

Www.victorykitchenpodcast.com

Www.kate-lavender.com/blog

Www.worldturndupsidedown.com

Victory Lunch Boxes, Part 2: Supplies for Packing

I hope this post finds you well. I know that the past few weeks have been challenging, and I know that the next weeks and possibly months have the potential to be even more so. I wish you peace and health in all of this uncertainty.

Since I am not venturing out to any stores, I’m going to stretch the lunch box posts out a bit while I plan for being rather isolated for a while. Today, let’s look at what supplies were needed for packing a satisfying lunch box. If you missed the first post in the series, you can find it here.

Our home front housewife has all of her grocery shopping done, and now she’s ready to pack some lunches. Let’s peek at some wartime advice to see what supplies she’ll need.

Attention Home Front Housewives:

Make a convenient cupboard a packing station. By keeping all of your packing supplies together you’ll save time when preparing lunches. You’ll also know at a glance when you are running low on things you use frequently. In addition to packing supplies, you can store commonly packed food items here. Make a space in the refrigerator for frequently used items that need to be kept cold.

What supplies should you keep on hand in your lunch box cupboard? Here’s a handy list to help you plan ahead.

Supplies

  • bread board and bread knife
  • variety of other knives, graters, kitchen shears, peelers, and so on
  • something to carry the lunch in–more on that later
  • vacuum bottle
  • string, rubber bands, tape, or other fasteners
  • measuring tools
  • mixing spoons, spatulas
  • small bowls for mixing relishes, sauces, and sandwich fillings
  • both waxed and unwaxed paper cups with lids
  • wide mouth glass jars with lids–jelly or mayonnaise jars work well
  • waxed paper for wrapping foods
  • paper napkins
  • toothpicks
  • wooden utensils (metal isn’t allowed in certain factories)
  • small containers of salt, pepper, sugar
  • butter in a covered dish
  • any seasonings, sauces, relishes, spreads, dressings that don’t need to be kept cool

The Lunch Box

Whatever you choose for a lunch box should be lightweight and easy to use, but it should also be large enough to provide room for a satisfying meal. The carrier should have room for a vacuum bottle even if you are able to purchase beverages at work or school. Vacuum bottles are wonderful when you want to carry along a warm soup. These bottles come in different sizes to suit your needs.

A lunch box can be made of metal, canvas, cardboard, paper, fabric or plastic. In fact, most any material will do as long as you can thoroughly clean it often. Cardboard is the least desirable option as it needs to be replaced often and cannot be cleaned well. Paper bags can use a cardboard core to help keep items from getting smashed before lunch time.

Not that you have all of your groceries, and you have your lunch box cupboard well stocked, let’s take your favorite lunch box and pack up a lunch. That’s where we’ll start next time.

The images today are from Your Victory Lunch Box, published by Dell Publishing in 1943. I think they show the variety of supplies and the inside of a lunch box packing station perfectly. I especially like the color photo because it shows how several of the supplies have been used, as well as offers a look at how two kinds of lunch boxes might have been packed.

Until next time, stay healthy and safe!

Victory Lunch Boxes, Part 1: What do I pack?

I think I’ve mentioned before that I live on a very rural ranch. Sometimes when it rains, we get stranded at our house until the roads dry out enough to drive on. That’s my situation right now, and since I can’t go to town for groceries, I’m going to use the upcoming week to write about boxed lunches. I’ll split the topic into three parts. Today I’m writing about what foods a home front housewife should choose to pack. Next, I’ll tell you how she would have packed them. Finally, I’ll give you some menus and recipes for different lunch packing scenarios. Some tips and tricks will be thrown in, too.

Since I know you might be wondering, we have supplies for cooking for ourselves, but not the ingredients necessary for the lunch box recipes. We live in a place where this kind of rain doesn’t happen often. This has been an unusually wet year. The inconvenience of being stranded occasionally is offset by many perks of living where we do, and thanks to modern meteorology we can prepare ahead of time for situations like these.

On to the lunch boxes!

I have a large collection of cook books and pamphlets from the war years. Many of them have entire sections on lunch box packing. In fact, more than one cookbook said that lunch boxes were part of the war program. Since more and more people were working outside the home, well packed lunch boxes were an important part of the day’s nutrition.

I’ve mentioned before that the American government was pushing healthy eating as a way for home front fighters to help win the war. Healthy citizens made for stronger populations, and healthy boys grew up to be strong soldiers. Wartime publications stressed the importance of eating a good lunch during the workday to keep fueled and healthy.

So what would the home front housewife be shopping for?

Most of the cookbooks I have suggest the same types of foods in a lunch box food guide that closely follows government food guidelines. Here’s a typical guide.

  • meat, eggs, poultry, cheese, fish: These can be combined in a main dish, salad, or sandwich.
  • vegetables: At least one serving in sandwich fillings, salads, main dishes, or in relishes.
  • fruit: At least one should be included, but it can be in any form.
  • bread: numerous sources stressed that the breads included should change frequently to provide variety.
  • milk: The lunch box seems to have been a way to help get your daily milk quota in. This was a pint for adults and a quart for children. The milk could be a drink, in a main dish, in a soup, or in a dessert.

Tips for the Home Front Housewife

  • Your Gas Range Cookbook, published by the Wyandotte County Gas Company in 1940, suggested that children’s lunches for school should include a hot dish, milk, fruit, and a surprise for children to look forward to discovering. Their suggested menus include surprises like cookies and hot chocolate.
  • Your Victory Lunch Box, 1943, stressed the importance of variety. Creating variety in textures, color, and flavor helped make lunch box lunches more appealing and less monotonous. Adding color and variety in packing materials was also suggested for an appealing looking lunch.
  • Plan today’s meals with tomorrow’s lunch in mind. This was good advice for both packing a lunch and eating at home, but nearly everything I read about lunches included this as a way to make preparing lunches easier and more economical.
  • Keep in mind how long lunchtime is. Someone with a short lunch period needed foods with little or no prep time. A long lunch period allowed for more complicated meals.
  • Working butter or margarine into a creamy spread with a fork made it easier to handle at lunch time.
  • Include small containers of salt, pepper, and sugar.
  • Keep in mind that some things work better in different forms. For example, a whole tomato packed with some salt often worked better than slices on a sandwich.
  • Fill sandwiches, but avoid overfilling so they are not messy.
  • Canned meats are excellent for lunch box meals.
  • Again, look for variety when shopping. Ease of eating was important, but variety was just as important. For example, breads could be varied. Raisin bread, rye bread, muffins, rolls, cakes–these all counted.
  • Raw vegetables are both refreshing, and provide variety in texture, flavor, and color. You could put them on sandwiches or eat alone.
  • Grinding meats with relish or salad dressing keeps the sandwich moist. Mixing condiments with butter and spreading over bread also helps keep a sandwich from being too dry.
  • Besides milk, other suggested drinks included lemonade, iced tea, fruit juices, and vegetable juice.
  • Don’t forget dessert! Having a sweet treat is a nice way to finish the meal. Muffins, cookies, fruits, carefully packed cakes, and even custards and puddings were good suggestions.
  • Creative packing methods make it possible to take most kinds of foods with you in your lunch box. Don’t feel like sandwiches, while a very handy option, are the only thing you can pack. Hearty soups, meatloaves, salads, and pasta dishes are all possibilities.

That looks like a good place to stop for today. Next we’ll look at supplies for packing lunch boxes, tips for hard to pack items, and why having a dedicated lunch box packing station was a good idea.

The images today are from the back of a pamphlet titled “War-time Lunches” from the Philadelphia Electric Company. They show a list of suggestions for thermos dishes, sandwich fillings, and breads to add to your lunch box shopping list.

More posts in this series:

Victory Lunch Boxes, Part 2

First Monday Menu on a Tuesday

I know that this is a day late, but it includes possibly my favorite recipe I’ve ever made for this blog.

I started soaking the beans on Monday. Does that count?

I got this menu from one of my favorite little cookbooks, 300 Helpful Suggestions for Your Victory Lunch Box. Since I’m including three recipes here today, I think I will split this post into two. Today I’ll include the recipes and later this week I’ll write about packing lunch boxes during the war.

Let’s get right to the recipes.

Minestrone

  • 1/2 c navy or pea beans
  • 6 c water
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped
  • 4 c beef broth
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 c shredded cabbage
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 (No. 2 1/2) can tomatoes
  • 1/2 c macaroni (1 inch pieces)
  • salt and pepper

Cover beans with cold water and soak overnight. Drain and place in soup kettle with the water and chopped bacon. Simmer until beans are tender. Add beef broth, vegetables, macaroni, and seasonings. Cook for 30 min. Serve with grated Italian style cheese. Serves 6.

Sandwich

  • Sliced hard boiled eggs spread with chopped stuffed olives. Use mayonnaise as a spread on top piece of bread.

Orange Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 3 oz package cream cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp orange juice
  • few grains salt
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1/4 chopped nuts, optional

Mash cream cheese with a fork. Add orange juice gradually, beating until fluffy and smooth. Beat in salt and orange rind. Add nuts if desired.

Frost gingersnaps and stack three or four together, leaving the top one unfrosted.

Results

The minestrone was amazing. This is now my favorite minestrone recipe and probably my new favorite soup. The bowl I have pictures of didn’t have a lot of broth in it, but there was broth in the pot. I wanted to make sure you could see all of the ingredients. It was hearty and filling. I highly recommend this recipe. Note: We forgot the grated cheese! It was terrific even without it.

The sandwich brought mixed reactions. I love eggs, and I love green olives stuffed with pimientos. but I discovered that I don’t like them together. Several of my testers did like it, though, so you might want to give it a try. The recipe came from a list of filling ideas for lunch box sandwiches. I’ll include some more options in my next post.

The gingersnap cookies were good and the cream cheese filling was sweet and lightly orange-flavored, but it wasn’t the version we started out with. The original recipe created frosting that was really runny and didn’t taste good. We decided to try to fix it. We added more cream cheese and powdered sugar until it reached the consistency and flavor that we wanted. We added a little more orange juice to keep the orange flavor. We used store-bought gingersnaps. I think a home front housewife would often have used purchased cookies for lunchboxes. Stacking three or four as suggested really didn’t work, so I made little cookie sandwiches instead. My two year old preferred dunking individual gingersnaps in the filling.

To sum this all up, I recommend the minestrone. I’m not a fan of the sandwich filling, and the orange cream cheese filling is good if you add powdered sugar to sweeten it up.

These were all recipes intended for lunch boxes in 1943. There’s so much information in this cookbook. I’m looking forward to talking about packing your lunch 1940s style a little later this week. If it’s chilly where you are right now–try the minestrone! Have a great week.