Author Archives for Shawna

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.

Carrots Baked in Milk

This recipe is from the February 1943 issue of Woman’s Day. I mentioned earlier this month that I wanted to explore this issue a bit more because of the recipes and articles explaining rationing or offering suggestions for meals that used available foods. These carrots are from an article about using winter vegetables when many popular fresh vegetables weren’t available. Plus, carrots baked in milk added not only vegetables but dairy to the home front family’s diet. In 1943, this recipe cost 14 cents to make for a family of four.

Carrots Baked in Milk

  • 4 c ground or shredded raw carrots
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1/2 c evaporated milk
  • hot water
  • 1 tbsp margarine

Place carrots in greased 1 1/2 qt casserole. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and flour. Add onion and milk. Add just enough water to cover. Bake in moderate oven at 350°F for 45 minutes. Five minutes before removing from oven, dot top with margarine.

Results

I’ll admit that I was a little worried about what this recipe would turn out like. I like carrots, but I had never eaten them this way. I was pleasantly surprised. The carrots were still crisp, and the other ingredients had combined to create a thick gravy that had a constancy similar to slightly runny mashed potatoes. I wasn’t sure that I would like the combination of textures and flavors, but they complimented each other very well. Most of my testers liked the dish. The only one who didn’t was the one who doesn’t like carrots.

I recommend this carrot recipe as an interesting accompaniment to meat dishes on your menu. It’s easy to make, and at least for my family, is a fresh way to cook carrots whether you buy them at the supermarket or grow them in your Victory Garden. Let me know if you try these out and enjoy your bonus day tomorrow. See you in March.

Frosted Apricot Milk

It was really warm here today, and I wanted to find a cold drink recipe to enjoy outside. I found an interesting one, but I’ll be honest–we modernized the instructions. I very rarely do that when I’m working with historical recipes. I try to keep the methods as historically accurate as possible. We turned this recipe into a modern milkshake by putting all of the ingredients in a blender, but I still wanted to share it with you.

The recipe comes from a 48-page booklet published by the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940. It’s called The Dairy Book and it is part of a series of specialty cookbooks that include titles about breads, candies, leftovers, and so on. The cookbook was created to provide home front housewives a variety of recipes that helped add milk to the diet, something the introduction stated was hard to find at the time. The cookbook has a variety of recipes that range from desserts and beverages like today’s Frosted Apricot Milk to appetizers, soups, and entrees.

Frosted Apricot Milk

  • 1 c cooked apricots and juice
  • 3 c milk
  • 1/2 pint vanilla ice cream

Press apricots through a sieve. Mix apricot pulp and milk. Put ice cream in a pitcher. Pour milk mixture over ice cream. Stir until slightly mixed. Serves 4-6.

Results

We pureed the apricots in a food processor. Then we put the milk, apricots, and ice cream in the blender and mixed it well. If you followed the recipe it would be a lumpier mixture, but we really like the smooth texture of a milkshake. The apricot flavor was mild. If you make this, you might consider adjusting the amount of apricots to add more flavor.

This was an easy milkshake recipe for today. Using a blender and food processor is much less labor-intensive than using a sieve and stirring by hand. I think it’s valuable to occasionally make these recipes in a more modern way. Adapting recipes makes it easier to add them to our repertoire of dishes we eat in our everyday lives, keeping old-style, often forgotten recipes alive for more generations to enjoy.

One last note: Warm pureed apricots also make a nice sundae topping.

Let me know if you try this recipe. Which method did you use?

Green Beans Tossed in Brown Sauce

The Carnation Company published a small booklet-size cookbook during the war that contained recipes made with evaporated milk. They stressed the importance of milk in the diet and reminded the home front housewife that milk had proteins that would take the place of meat proteins when meat was scarce or when rationing points were running low. Carnation also wrote that their milk provided “valuable minerals and vitamins, and through irradiation, contributes extra ‘sunshine’ vitamin D”. Carnation suggested substituting evaporated milk for cream and diluting it with water to use in place of regular bottled milk.

Green Beans Tossed in Brown Sauce

  • 1 1/2 its green beans or 1 No. 2 can
  • 1/2 c finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 c enriched flour
  • 2 tbsp butter or other fat
  • 3/4 c liquid from beans
  • 2/3 c Carnation Milk
  • Salt to taste

String the beans and wash them. Cut diagonally. Boil with onion, covered, in 2 c salted water until tender. (If canned beans, use their liquid.) Drain, saving 3/4 c liquid. Slowly brown flour in heavy pan, stirring constantly. Add butter, stirring to blend. Add bean liquid. Cook until sauce begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and cook until thickened. Lightly toss in the beans. Salt to taste. Heat but do not boil. Serves 6.

Results

We used French cut canned green beans because that’s what we had in our pantry. The resulting dish was green beans in a mildly flavored, creamy gravy. It was rather bland, but not unpleasant. It would compliment many different main dishes, but would not be the most memorable part of the meal. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly what you want for a specific meal. We ate this with our favorite cheesy mini-meatloves. It did not distract from the taste of the meatloaf at all and provided a filling side dish. If you are looking for a more flavorful green bean side dish, try Green Beans in Mustard Sauce.

Let me know if you try this recipe. What did you think?