Author Archives for Shawna

Baked Apples with Sweet Potatoes

The original recipe, “Apple Stuffed with Sweet Potatoes,” is from the 1941 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. We adapted the recipe to make a delicious and quick snack, but the original recipe is perfect as a sweet side dish or a dessert.

Forgive today’s photos—I took them after sunset so it was dark in the house. I’ll try to remember to take a few more next time we have this as a snack or dessert.

Here’s the original recipe.

Apple Stuffed with Sweet Potato

Core large red apples and cut crosswise into two circles. Allow one half for each person. Place in shallow baking pan with cut side of circle up. Fill core and cover cut side of apple with brown sugar and bake slowly until tender.

Have ready well seasoned and smoothly mashed sweet potato. Pile on top of apple, swirling potato into attractive peaks. Cover with melted butter and place into oven long enough to reheat and brown lightly.

Pineapple rings can be used in place of apples. If you do this, flavor the sweet potato with the pineapple juice.

Our Snack Version

We cored and sliced the apples and then followed the instructions above, covering each slice with brown sugar and baking. We then covered each slice with mashed sweet potatoes and butter and browned the slices a bit. You can mash canned sweet potatoes to really speed things up.


This is one of our favorite snacks. The apples are warm and soft, and the brown sugar, sweet potatoes, and butter make this a sweet treat that we never seem to make enough of. If you crave a little crunch, adding chopped nuts would add that extra bit of texture. Make more than you think you’ll need—you can never have too many!

First Monday Menu: Wrapping Up Summer

Due to weather and supply issues at our local supermarket, I decided to give you a round-up of menus. I hope this gives you some ideas for some last-minute outdoor meals before summer 2020 slips into the history books completely.

I’ve used the January 1940 Your Gas Range Cook Book for menus in the past because it has such a wide range of suggestions for a relatively small cookbook. Today I’m sharing recipes for a “Summer Broiler Menu” that would be easy to take out on the porch or patio.

The 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book is another cookbook I’ve often used for menu ideas. When looking for inspiration for outdoor meals, I ran across a section about picnics. The typical picnic fare was included, but the section suggested that men would prefer to be able to cook at least one dish over an open fire. Folding portable grills were discussed, pointing out that they could also be used in the living room fireplace. I can imagine using one in your fireplace when bad weather forces you to change picnic plans. You wouldn’t have to give up your picnic entirely!

The cookbook also reminded the reader that brick or stone fireplaces built in a backyard made it easy for the host to cook meat outside while the hostess cooked the rest of the meal inside before bringing it out to serve buffet style or at a table on the lawn.

For packing the more usual picnic items, the option of packing all sandwich fixings and letting picnickers make their own meal was introduced. This method helped make certain everyone got a sandwich made the way they preferred. No more guessing for the picnic packer.

I also really like the idea of a Bring Your Own Steak Supper. Have you done this before? Did it work well? I think I’m going to put this in my calendar to try next summer.

Let me know if you would like me to test any of these suggested recipes. I see several that I’d like to try in the future. We have a lot of warm weather left this year where I live and we often eat outside, especially in the fall when the heat becomes more manageable and the bugs aren’t as hungry.

I hope the upcoming season is filled with good food and good weather wherever you are.

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.


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.


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.

Chocolate Mallow Pie

I’m not sure what it is about this summer, but we are eating a bunch of marshmallows. We have been enjoying s’mores several times a week, last week we tried the ice recipe with marshmallows in it, and I didn’t realize until just now that today’s recipe also has marshmallows in it.

Marshmallows have quite a long history. The first known marshmallows were eaten by the Ancient Egyptians. Over the years they have been used as both a sweet treat and for medicinal purposes. By the early 1900s, they were being sold as candy and used in a variety of recipes. A home front housewife would have used marshmallows frequently in her cooking, especially when making desserts.

This chocolate pie uses marshmallows both in the pie filling mixture and as a decorative topping. The recipe is from the 1941 251 Superb Pies and Pastries cookbook published by the Culinary Arts Institute.

Chocolate Mallow Pie

  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 3/4 lb marshmallows
  • 1 baked pastry shell
  • 2 bananas, sliced lengthwise
  • 6 marshmallows, cut into halves

Mix cocoa and water to a smooth paste and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Cool, then add vanilla and salt. Heat milk, and add marshmallows. Fold over and over until marshmallows are about half melted. Remove from heat and continue folding marshmallows until smooth and fluffy. Chill about 15 minutes, then combine with cocoa mixture and chill about 25 minutes longer, stirring twice. Pour chocolate marshmallow mixture into pastry shell and chill until firm. Arrange slices of banana on top of pie in criss-cross pattern and decorate with halves of marshmallows. Makes one 9 inch pie. You can use pineapple strips in place of the bananas.


My daughter and I decided to decorate the pie a little differently than the recipe called for. I wish I would have thought to buy or make whipped cream for it because I think that would have looked nice on top, as well. The pie was very bitter. My husband likes bitter chocolate, but even he thought this pie was too bitter to enjoy. Unless you enjoy your chocolate pie this way, I’d keep looking if you are in the mood for a new chocolate pie recipe.

I hope you are safe and well. See you in August.

Lemon Marshmallow Ice

It’s been so hot here. I wanted to try to find a cold treat to keep us cool in the triple-digit heat. There are many ice recipes, but I had never seen one with marshmallows before. I decided to try it out. This recipe is from the 1941 Montgomery Ward Cold Cooking: It’s Easy cookbook.

Lemon Marshmallow Ice

  • 24 marshmallows
  • 5/8 c water
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp grated lemon peel
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Melt marshmallows with water in a double broiler. Add lemon juice, grated rind, and salt. Let partially freeze. Fold egg whites into mushy fruit mixture. Freeze. Stir again when the mixture is partially frozen. Serves 6.


This didn’t turn out like I expected. There definitely wasn’t enough for 6 modern sized servings. If I make this again, I’ll probably double or triple the recipe. There were at most 4 servings with the recipe as it is.

The consistency was somewhere between melted ice cream and marshmallow fluff. It wasn’t bad, it just was different than I thought it would be. The mixture never froze–it stayed the texture of melting ice cream. It was in the freezer for more than a day, so freezing time was not a factor.

The ice was very lemony. In fact, if you are not a fan of strong lemon flavors, you might consider making adjustments to the amount of lemon juice needed. I thought the strong lemon was fine, and I enjoyed the combination of lemon and marshmallow. A couple of my testers felt the lemon was way too strong. The ice is also very sweet, almost to the point where it isn’t refreshing.

I think my quest for a cool treat will continue. August temperatures usually show no mercy here, so I’ll keep looking. Do you have an ice recipe that you love? Let me know.

Until next time, stay safe and cool.

Canning: How Much Do You Need?

My family has been canning this past week. My husband has been canning different things with my kids. I love that this has turned into a family affair. He made several kinds of jelly with my second oldest daughter, and salsa with my youngest son. Canning, and cooking, are things that the entire family can enjoy. My two youngest daughters, ages 3 and 6, help cook almost every day.

I’ve been doing research on canning in the war years, and I came across this page in the July 1943 issue of McCall’s. This is what they say a family of four will need “from now until next summer”. We are a family of nine. I can’t imagine how much my family would need!

Below the image, I’ve included the amounts listed in case the print in the photo is difficult to read. Many of the fruits and vegetables listed here would come from a Victory Garden. Housewives would also can onions, carrots, pickles, jams, and a variety of other things. I remember my grandma’s basement storage pantry being filled with an enormous variety of different canned foods.

You can look forward to more about canning in the coming weeks. To round out this month, I’ll have a recipe for a cold treat later this week, and we’ll look at advice from the July 1943 issue of Woman’s Day aimed at helping the home front housewife conserve fabric.

Vegetables: 10 pints peas, 4 pints greens, 12 pints beets, 8 pints corn, 12 pints string beans, 14 pints lima beans, and 28 quarts tomatoes.

Fruits: 10 quarts sour red cherries, 5 quarts raspberries, 5 quarts blueberries, 5 quarts blackberries, 15 quarts peaches, and 5 quarts pears.

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