First Monday Menu: Halloween

I’m switching things up a little this month. Instead of the usual menu, I’m going to show you what to cook for a Halloween party, 1942 style.

Wartime shortages brought about new challenges in party planning. The booklet Wartime Entertaining by Ethel X. Pastor was part of The Victory Series of books that were full of wartime advice. This particular volume promised “hundreds of unusual and economical ideas for every social occasion in wartime.” The motto of the series was Nothing Counts But Victory. Luckily for us, there was advice on how to throw a Halloween party.

Tips for A Home Front Halloween Party

  • Write invitations on cutouts of black cats, cauldrons, scarecrows, pumpkins or witches. Use black or orange paper. Instead of just a note, consider writing a catchy jingle to add to to the fun.
  • Room decorations can be simple or casual. Spread a few sheaves of corn around the room, or stand up some stalks of corn and add some fall leaves. Orange and/or black candles or bulbs can create an eerie atmosphere.
  • Large cutouts of of black cats, witches, or pumpkins can be pinned to the walls.
  • Tablecloths in Halloween colors add a festive touch. Old sheets can be dyed orange, yellow, or red to be used as a tablecloth if you don’t have one in the appropriate color.
  • Halloween themed games can be fun to play. Pull fortunes from a witch’s cauldron, bob for apples, or have a costume contest.

Now for the Food!

The booklet calls for a menu of cider, doughnuts, orange and black candies, ice cream molds with a pumpkin, or a made-with-honey pumpkin pie. The honey was to be used as an alternative to sugar since sugar in the United States had been rationed since the spring of 1942.

I can give you a head start with the cider and doughnuts. For the cider, I thought we could revisit this yummy Spiced Apple Toddy from 1943. It’s a great choice of beverage for this time of year.

Here is a doughnut recipe from the New American Cook Book, 1942 edition. We rolled ours into balls instead of making the traditional doughnut shape.

Doughnuts

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 well beaten egg
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp clove
  • 1/16 tsp mace
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cream sugar and shortening together. Add egg and milk. Mix well. Mix and sift remaining ingredients. Add them to liquid mixture and mix thoroughly. Turn out on a slightly floured board to roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter. Fry in deep, hot fat (375°F) until dark brown. Drain on unglazed paper. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Makes 2 dozen doughnuts.

Results

The doughnuts were lightly spicy with a barely crispy outside and a soft center. The confectioners’ sugar added a bit of sweetness. These were really good on their own–no dipping sauce, glaze, or frosting needed. The cook book also suggests making crullers by using the same recipe, rolling out the dough to 1/2 inch thick, then cutting it into 3 x 1/2 inch strips. Twist and roll each strip, then fry as above. The rolled doughnut balls were quick to make and were nice for little hands to hold. My youngest kids loved them.

I have several fun Halloween posts coming up this month. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. Until then, I wish you an October full of good weather and good health.

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