Monthly Archives: August 2020

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh rarebit is a melted cheese sauce containing a variety of ingredients traditionally served hot over slices of toasted bread. The 1941 recipe book 500 Snacks: Bright Ideas for Entertaining has a basic recipe for Welsh rarebit in the “hot entrees” section, and it includes several options to change it up a bit (more on that in a minute). I decided to use the basic recipe and eat it as a more modern snack. We scooped the melted cheese sauce up with hot soft pretzels.

Welsh Rarebit

  • 2 pounds American cheese, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • few grains cayenne
  • 1 c beer
  • toast, bread croustades, or crackers

Melt cheese and butter in a double broiler, add seasonings, then beer. Stir constantly until smooth. Serve on toast, bread croustades, or crackers. Serves 8.

Results

This recipe made a perfect melted cheese dip for our pretzels. If you love melted cheese sauces, give this a try. It’s delicious. You can just slightly taste the beer if that is a concern for you. I’m curious about the other variations on the recipe, too. I think this is definitely one of those dishes that you can add a number of ingredients to make it a little fancier. Meat, green onions, peppers–there are so many possibilities. I’ll leave a copy of the recipe variations here so you can see what other offerings the recipe book included.

The cheese sauce thickened and hardened very quickly, so if you use this as a dip, you might want to keep it over heat or in a fondue pot. If you are pouring it over toasted bread slices, I think the thicker sauce would actually work in your favor. It would be less messy.

I hope you try a variation of Welsh Rarebit. It’s a versatile dish and makes a great quick and easy snack.

Washing Machines, 1940s Style

With seven kids and a rancher husband, having two washing machines is incredibly helpful. What is not incredibly helpful is when they both break down within days of each other. I have spent the last week thinking about nothing but washing machines, so it’s no surprise that today’s post is all about washers in the 1940s.

Of course, new appliances were hard to come by when factories switched to producing war goods, but that didn’t stop home front housewives from dreaming about what their post-war kitchens and laundry areas would look like. In fact, advertisers used images of futuristic post-war kitchen technology to encourage people to buy war bonds to fund their dream kitchens after the war. Tantalizing ads of electric dishwashers and efficient refrigerators were published during the war years, enticing women to plan to spend their money on the new items as soon as factories could begin to crank them out after the war. This is an example from the back cover of the December 1942 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. (Note that this was a kitchen for a $6000 home. If only we could buy a $6000 home today! I put this in an inflation calculator and a $6000 home in 1942 would cost $95,374 in 2020. A $6000 home in 1946 would cost $79,723.)

I’ve gathered several washing machine ads, one from 1942 and many from 1945, to show you what washers home front housewives were both using and dreaming of during the war years.

Better Homes and Gardens, December 1942.

This Bendix Automatic Home Laundry is found in many home front housewives homes.

Good Housekeeping, September 1945.

As 1945 went on, more and more ads for things like refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances appeared. In September, I found two ads for washing machines. In October there were three. By November, there were six–five ads and one article.

Note that both the Easy Washing Machine and the Thor Automagic Washer wash and damp-dry clothing. The Thor Automagic Washer also washes dishes, including pots and pans.

Good Housekeeping, October 1945.

This Westinghouse ad tells home front housewives that the washer isn’t available now, but they will start making them as soon as possible. This is just a tempting peek at what’s to come.

Lovell washing machines ads look more like an advice column than an advertisement and tout the machine’s labor-saving capabilities.

The Bendix machines allow home front housewives to leave the house while the machine is running due to the fact that it automatically empties, cleans, and shuts itself off.

Good Housekeeping, November 1945.

The first two images are from an article about “best-planned kitchens” that include convenient work areas for both food prep and laundry chores.

This Westinghouse ad echoes the idea of combining the kitchen and laundry to help save time and energy.

Here’s another Thor Automagic Washer ad. They wash your clothes and your dishes with just a quick switch of the tubs.

Here is a second Easy Machine advertisement showcasing its convenient and fast washing, damp-drying, and ironing features.

The Bendix machine damp-dries clothing so they are ready for the dryer or the clothesline. Notice that the ad encourages the home front housewife to be put on the “first to be served” list for quick post-war service.

Post-war appliances are also mentioned in this Lovell ad. Saving money on a Lovell machine will allow you to purchase more of the “wonderful, labor-saving” post-war appliances.

I wish you a happy week and appliances that don’t break down. See you soon.

Using What You Have: Clothing

My 6 year old and I have been reading a book about a little girl that lived during the Depression. Her mother made her clothing out of other family members’ old worn out clothes because they didn’t have money to buy anything new when the girl outgrow her things.

During WWII, home front housewives were again using old clothing to make new children’s garments, but this time it was likely due to fabric shortages. Since factories were busy making things for the war effort, products like fabric, kitchen appliances, radios, and new cars got put on hold.

I found this article that I wanted to share with you from the July 1943 issue of Woman’s Day. I think it has great photographic examples of the idea of making do with what you have when it comes to clothing your children.

I hope August is going smoothly for all of you. Stay safe and healthy.

Cactus Fruit Lemonade

I want to do a quick post today about cactus fruit lemonade because I know that not everyone lives near prickly pear cactus. In our part of Texas, prickly pear can quickly overrun an area and become a problem. Kept under control, the plants are useful and beautiful. Cactus flowers are some of my favorite flowers here and you can use most of the plant as food if it is prepared correctly. The most difficult part is dealing with the cactus spines.

My 14 year old son got up early today to harvest some cactus fruit, and I woke up to freshly made cactus fruit lemonade. It’s light and refreshing and has a flavor that is somewhere between watermelon and cucumber. It’s perfect for a hot August day.

Below are some images of the flowers and of the cactus fruit. Aren’t the flowers lovely?

First Monday Menu: Stretched Hamburgers

This menu is adapted from a menu in the August 1943 Woman’s Day magazine. It was in an article called “Low Point–Low Cost Chopped Meat Recipes” that included several menus with themes like “Summer Sunday Dinner”, “Canning Day Dinner”, and “Victory Garden Dinner” to help the home front housewife plan ahead. This hamburger recipe came from the “Supper on the Back Porch” menu. It was submitted to the magazine by Miss Sara Best of Chadbourne, North Carolina.

Stretched Hamburgers

  • 2 tbsp fat
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c crumbled dry bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 pound chopped meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c left-over mashed potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley

Melt 1 tbsp fat in saucepan. Add flour. Add the milk slowly and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add bread. Cool slightly. Add other ingredients and mix well. Chill for 30 minutes. Shape into 8 patties, brown on both sides in remaining fat.

Results

We rounded out the meal with a tossed salad and cantaloupe. We put the patties on toasted buns. Everyone enjoyed the stretched burgers. I ate mine without any toppings to see how it tasted on its own, but other people who tried them added toppings like mayo, mustard, tomatoes, and so forth. They were very filling and really tasty. They didn’t taste exactly like a regular hamburger, but they made a really good sandwich.

The mashed potatoes made the patties fall apart while cooking. I think they still would have been good, but maybe not as filling, without the mashed potatoes. You might consider leaving the mashed potatoes out if you are planning on grilling them outside so you don’t have to worry about the patties falling apart.

The recipe did help stretch the meat. We also made regular hamburger patties for anyone who wanted them. With the same amount of meat, the stretched hamburger recipe made 9 patties and the hamburger alone only made 5. I think we also expect recipes that extend meat or sugar or flour to not taste good, and these stretched hamburgers prove that those recipes can taste just as good as the original versions.

I would definitely make these again. The cantaloupe and salad were perfect complements to the burgers. This time of year the cantaloupe is extra juicy and sweet here. We often buy local cantaloupe and have it with nearly every meal. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see it again here before summer is over.

Let me know if you have a favorite “stretch” recipe. I’d love to try it.