Author Archives for Shawna

Baking without…Eggs: Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze

By 1945, rationing and shortages had created challenges for home front housewives. Cooking practices changed due to the lack of ingredients needed for certain recipes or meals. It was difficult for families that were used to eating meat and potato meals to adjust to less appealing cuts of meat and dishes made with ingredient substitutions.

Women’s magazines of the time period often had articles that helped women figure out how to make new wartime meals appealing to their families. In the January 1945 issue of Women’s Day, there is an article called “You Can Bake Without…” and has ideas for recipes made without eggs, sugar, milk, or shortening. As a series, I’m going to make the recipes from each of these categories. This month, I’ll bake without eggs. Next month I’ll bake without sugar, and so on. Join me this week for the egg-free desserts.

Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze

The cocoa cake recipe recommended using a large loaf pan, but we chose to use a bundt pan instead so we could add a glaze. The cocoa cake recipe was from the Woman’s Day article but the glaze was from a period cookbook. A fun tidbit–this cake cost 23 cents to make in 1945.

Addie from Sugar Addie’s baked this cake. She makes more than just wartime food and is an especially talented baker. You can follow her on Instagram: @sugaraddies. Of course, History in the Kitchen is also on Instagram. Come join me at @history.in.the.kitchen.

On to the recipes!

Ingredients

1/2 c. shortening

2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. buttermilk

2 1/2 c. sifted cake flour

1/2 c. cocoa

1 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c. hot water

Cream the shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Then you add 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and beat well. Then add the sifted dry ingredients, alternating with the water and remaining buttermilk, and mix well. The recipe calls for a greased and buttered 12 x 8 x 2-inch pan, but the bundt pan worked great for us. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

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Chocolate Coating

We thought the cake needed something to top it off, so we looked through my cookbook collection to find the perfect chocolate glaze. This one came from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook‘s 1944 edition. It’s actually a chocolate coating to cover frosting, but it worked perfectly as a glaze for this cocoa cake.

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

2 tsp butter or margarine

Melt chocolate and butter and blend.  Let the cake cool. Use a spoon to pour the frosting over the cake. The recipe says that this frosting can also be used as a coating for other types of frosting, as well. We used it by itself for this cake.

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Results

The cake was fluffy, bouncy, and moist with a fudgy layer at the bottom. It had a nice milk chocolate flavor, and the frosting was smooth and mild. This was a big hit with everyone who tried it. I liked that the chocolate isn’t too intense. It was pretty quick to throw together, but the bundt cake pan and the chocolate glaze made it attractive enough to take as a potluck dish or to a family get-together.

Looking for part 2 of this series? Here it is: Crumb Cake Part 3 is here: Baking without…Eggs: Prune Cake

Third Time’s a Charm?: Spiced Blueberry Pie

Making the blueberry pie for the Summer Lawn Party turned into quite the pie adventure.  As promised, here is the recipe and the experience my daughter and I had troubleshooting it.

Round One

We followed the recipe exactly, using frozen blueberries as suggested. Here are the ingredients.

Pastry for a two crust pie

3 c frozen or canned blueberries

1 tbsp flour

1 c brown sugar

1 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp ground cloves

 

We thawed the blueberries to try to keep the pie from being too watery. We lined the pie with dough for one crust, and put the berries into the pie. We sprinkled the pie with the flour and brown sugar, then dotted it with butter. We then dusted the cloves over the top of the brown sugar. We cut a few slits in the top crust and placed it on the pie. We baked it for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduced the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for another 30 minutes.

The pie turned out incredibly runny. It had a really nice spicy- sweet layer right below the crust from the brown sugar, cloves, and butter. We definitely needed bowls when we ate this. It was a nice balance of sweet and a bit tart. The textures of the crust, blueberries, and the brown sugar layer complimented each other well. We finally decided to use the pie as an ice cream topping, and try the recipe again with some adjustments to the ingredients.

Round Two

For the second version, we used fresh blueberries and changed or added the following ingredients.

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp flour

4 tbsp butter

We mixed the flour and cornstarch into the blueberries, but kept the rest of the recipe the same. The resulting pie was still runny, but not quite as watery as the first pie. It still had a nice layer of the sweet brown sugar mixture, and was ultimately used for ice cream topping again due to the consistency of the filling.

Round Three

For our final pie, we purchased cans of blueberry pie filling. Everything else in the recipe was the same. We had hoped the canned filling would help thicken the consistency of the blueberries, but the third pie also suffered from the same watery filling.

Results

The pies were delicious. Despite the runny filling, the flavor was just right. The winning part of this recipe is the brown sugar and clove topping right beneath the top crust. Adding this pie to ice cream was a big hit. We used both a vanilla and a blackberry ice cream. It made a perfect summer dessert. Even my one year old wanted more, so I count it as a success. I’d make this again just to use it for a topping. It definitely didn’t work as a pie for us.

Do you have suggestions on how to thicken the filling? We’d love to hear them and would try this recipe again to test them.

 

 

 

 

 

Green Beans in Mustard Sauce

During World War II, Woman’s Day magazine included a section at the front of each month’s issue that was called the “Woman’s Day War Food Bulletin”. This section included information about current rationing issues and offered tips for canning, gardening, and shopping. The shopping portion included a list of plentiful foods and ways to cook them.

Victory gardens were in full swing by July 1943 and were providing families with food they could use in daily meals. Victory gardens were a great way to make sure families had fresh vegetables and fruits without using rationing stamps for canned products. This allowed each family to use points for other foods they needed. Canning the harvest also helped families make it through lean times. Recipes that helped a woman deal with the multitude of fruits and vegetables the gardens produced were helpful, especially when trying new vegetables for the first time, or when a staple was becoming boring.

Green beans were popular in gardens, and Woman’s Day had the home front housewife covered when it came to finding new ways to fix them.

Green Beans in Mustard Sauce

This recipe calls for 3 cups cooked green beans and asks that you keep 3/4 cup of your cooking water for the sauce.

Sauce:

1 1/2 tbsp bacon fat

3 tbsp flour

2 tsp prepared mustard

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

3/4 c undiluted evaporated milk

3/4 c vegetable cooking water

Add the flour and seasonings to the bacon fat in a saucepan, then gradually add the evaporated milk and water. Stir constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add the green beans and stir until they are coated with the sauce mixture. Let them warm in the saucepan, and then they are ready to serve with your main dish.

 

A couple notes: I crumbled up 3 bacon strips and added them to the finished beans. I had an extra cup of green beans and added them. There seemed to be a perfect amount of sauce for 4 cups, so if you like less sauce on your veggies, consider adding more green beans.

 

Results

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The green beans were evenly coated. The sauce had a mild mustard flavor and was thick enough to cling to the beans as you lifted them with your fork. It had the consistency of a thick gravy. The bacon added a nice crunch and good flavor. These beans would be the perfect complement to pork chops, chicken, or a steak.

This dish could definitely be made with either fresh or canned beans, making it the perfect Victory garden recipe. It was quick and easy to make.

 

 

 

First Monday Menu: Summer Lawn Party

I know this isn’t the first Monday of this month–it’s not even a Monday!– but what better way to kick off a blog than a fun menu from 1940?

On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be cooking an entire meal based on either a published menu or recipes from 1940-1945. This month it’s a summer lawn party from the Wyandotte County Gas Company’s 1940 cook book. Just so you know, Wyandotte County is in the eastern part of Kansas and includes Kansas City.

Summer Lawn Party

The star of the menu is a spiced chicken baked in a mustard-based sauce. Add some yummy torpedo rolls, corn on the cob, and a crisp salad to round the meal out. Pour yourself a refreshing  glass of iced tea, and finish things off with a slice of spiced blueberry pie.

I was a little surprised that this chicken recipe was suggested for a lawn party. I usually try to find foods that are easy to eat while standing and chatting, and this didn’t seem to fit the bill. With the sauce you’d definitely need a napkin, and a knife and fork to cut the meat into manageable bites. That’d eliminate the portability, and it just seems messy. I was intrigued by the mustard, horseradish, and brown sugar combo in the sauce, though. We made a few adjustments to both the menu and the recipes as we went, but tried to keep the recipes as close as possible to the 1940 version. My daughter Addison helped me cook this month.

Let’s start with the chicken.

Spiced Chicken

The spiced chicken called for a whole chicken cut up for frying, but we used chicken breasts because that’s what our family prefers. We pounded the chicken breasts flat with a mallet to help ensure they cooked all the way through. The recipe said to dredge in flour and seasonings, but didn’t specify which seasonings. We used 2.5 cups of flour with 2 tablespoons garlic pepper. We placed the flour coated breasts in a baking pan and moved on to the sauce.

Sauce:

1/2 c. prepared mustard

1/2 c. prepared horseradish

1/2 small box of Mexican Chili powder

1 c. vinegar

1/2 c. brown sugar

3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp salt

1 garlic clove

We used 1 tablespoon chili powder and added some extra garlic. We like our garlic! We mixed everything together and spread it evenly over the chicken breasts. We baked it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. When it was done, we placed each breast on a bed of rice as the recipe suggested, and covered it with more of the sauce from the baking dish.

Torpedo Rolls

The Torpedo Rolls recipe called for using your favorite roll dough, and gave instructions of how to start the rolls before adding the “torpedos”. We took a short cut and used pre-made dough already shaped into rolls. We pressed holes halfway down into each roll and added a dollop of wild plum jelly that Addison canned last year with plums from our ranch. Then we followed the cooking instructions on the package. Using pre-made dough made easy work of this recipe.

Spiced Blueberry Pie

We felt the spiced blueberry pie recipe had a mistake somewhere in it. We followed it exactly and got a pie that just didn’t work. We tweaked the recipe and baked a new pie. You can read about the pie here: Spiced Blueberry Pie

Results

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The chicken was much more flavorful than I had expected. The dish had a very strong mustard aroma, and that made a few members of our dinner party question whether they’d like it or not. The sauce was tangy and very similar to honey mustard. The chicken was tender and juicy and there was enough sauce to add a bigger kick if needed. We added enough garlic that it gave the sauce added texture that you can see in the photos. The rice helped ease the bite of the sauce. I served this to a combination of 8 adults and children and only one person disliked it, mainly because she doesn’t like mustard.

The torpedo rolls were fun and well liked. The jam added a sweet touch and the rolls were soft and moist. The jelly was a little firmer than it had started out, but I liked the thicker texture. I’d like to try these in combination with other kinds of jam or jelly. Next time we might make these from scratch, but our shortcut worked well and proved to be a quick addition to our meal. I also liked the sweetness of the jelly mixed with the tangy kick of the sauce. I can see these being a versatile, easy side for a variety of meals, or even for a quick after school snack.

As for the menu being for a lawn party, I think it’d work best for any get together where there was ample seating and table space. This could very well be an outside event, but a place to sit would be a must. Cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces before the party could help it become more manageable. The recipe did call for a full chicken, and while drumsticks would also be more portable, the sauce would still be messy.

The menu makes for a nice summer meal that I would serve again.

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Welcome to History in the Kitchen!

Welcome to History in the Kitchen!

I’m Shawna.

I’m a folklorist, historian, and writer with a passion for women’s history. Join me as we journey back to the early 1940s to explore the kitchen life of a home front housewife. We’ll recreate recipes from vintage menus and discuss war time kitchen conveniences and struggles. We’ll delve into rationing and canning, ingredient substitutions and Victory Gardens. We’ll look at the war time government’s role in American kitchens, and American housewives’ role in winning the battle on the home front. Plus, we’ll talk about fun things like entertainment, clothing, and shopping–all from the home front housewife’s point of view.

An American housewife’s world in the early 1940s revolved around her family, food, and kitchen. A lot of time went into meal planning, food preparation, and kitchen clean up. Rationing and shortages added extra challenges. Grocery shopping changed after rationing took effect. Many people turned to gardening and canning to help them through lean times, and these were skills that many people had to learn. Many kitchen tools and appliances weren’t being manufactured anymore due to wartime production restrictions and/or demands placed on factories. We’ll visit all of these topics and more in a fun, light-hearted way.

All recipes will be from sources published in 1940-1945. I’ll use a variety of sources and we’ll chat about why they were important or useful to American women. I also have a collection of vintage glassware, cookware, and related kitchen items that I’ll showcase as we go. Not all of them will be from the war years, but I truly believe that these items should be used and shared.

Thanks for coming along! There’s lots of food and fun ahead and I’m excited you’re here!

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