Desserts

St. Valentine’s Luncheon

This is a quick post to give you a menu from the Wyandotte County Gas Company’s Home Service Department’s 1940 cookbook, Your Gas Range Cook Book. I’ve included three of the recipes.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuna Fish Loaf with Mushroom Sauce

Note that the mushroom sauce is included in the recipe but needs additional ingredients. This makes 6 servings.

Heart Beet Salad

The “heart” in this salad comes from a cookie cutter. The recipe makes 6 servings.

Valentine Meringues

There’s a lot going on in this recipe. Additional supplies are listed in the directions.

Baked Indian Pudding Revisited

I found another baked Indian pudding recipe to try this week. If you missed my previous post about baked Indian pudding, you can catch up here. I found today’s recipe in the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, and it was not adjusted for rationing or shortages. We whipped this up this afternoon to compare to our previous pudding.

Indian Pudding De Luxe

  • 2 c bottled milk or 1 c evaporated milk and 1 c water
  • 6 tbsp corn meal
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c sour milk or sour cream

Scald milk over low heat, then stir in the corn meal very slowly. Remove from heat and add next 8 ingredients. Just before turning into a 1 1/2 qt casserole, add the sour milk or sour cream gradually. Bake in a slow oven of 275°F for 2 hours or until a silver knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Stir once during baking. Serve warm with cream or with Vanilla Sauce. Serves 4-5.

Results

This Indian pudding recipe was much better than the previous one. We ate it warm with cream and also tried it plain. It reminded me of a rather bland pumpkin pie filling. If you like pumpkin pie, this might be something you would enjoy, but you should consider increasing some of the spices. It was less lumpy than the first pudding we made, but it still had some unwanted lumps from the corn meal. When you mix the corn meal into the milk, really take care to mix it well. Eating this with ice cream is definately a great suggestion.

I don’t think we will make any more Indian pudding. This was more edible than the one we made a few days ago, but it still isn’t a favorite. It says it serves 4-5, but I’m not sure we’ll finish it and there are quite a few of us. I’m glad I decided to try a different recipe, though. The addition of things like eggs made a big difference in the taste and the texture of the pudding. I’d only recommend this recipe if you are a huge fan of Indian pudding or if you are curious about 1940s wartime recipes.

I do want to mention that I found some other recipes that included ingredients like chopped apples and raisins, but I think I’m ready to move on from Indian pudding. I can’t imagine they would taste all that much different. If you’d like me to go ahead and test another recipe, let me know.

Hopefully the next post will be about something a bit tastier.

Baked Indian Pudding

This has been a bad week for recipes. Monday’s brownies were probably the worst brownies I’ve ever eaten. Wednesday I was snowed in and decided to try a butter extending recipe. That didn’t work out and will have to wait for another February day. Today we made a baked Indian pudding and didn’t fare much better. I want to include even the recipes that aren’t great, so today I present to you Baked Indian Pudding.

This recipe is from the February 1943 issue of Woman’s Day. It was in an article called “Purse String Recipes”. The recipes were adapted from old favorites to keep costs down for the home front housewife. To do this, they made substitutions and cut back on certain ingredients. I picked baked Indian pudding because it sounded like it would be a comforting treat on a cold evening.

Baked Indian Pudding

  • 1/3 c corn meal
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger

Scald 2 1/2 cups of the milk in upper part of double boiler. Combine corn meal with 1/2 cup of the remaining milk and stir gradually into the scalded milk. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add molasses, sugar, salt, and ginger. Pour into buttered baking dish. Bake in slow oven at 300°F for about 1 hour. Stir in remaining cup of milk and continue baking for 2 hours. Serve warm with top milk.

Results

Baked Indian pudding was runnier than most bread puddings I’ve had. It tasted a bit like gingerbread, but had an aftertaste that was off-putting. There were clumps in the pudding despite thorough stirring. None of the testers enjoyed this recipe even though this type of dish is usually well liked at my house. I don’t think that adding my usual scoop of ice cream would have helped this pudding. It wasn’t good, but it was better than Monday’s brownies!

I hate to think that families had to resort to eating foods that were so changed from their original recipes that they became unappealing shadows of themselves. How often did they have to make do with meals based on recipes that made barely edible dishes? Were there recipes that used substitutions that were tasty? What were the flavorful wartime dishes in a home front housewife’s arsenal of recipes? That’s something I hope to explore this month.

As for this pudding today–I wonder if the regular, non-adapted dish was any better. I found several more early 1940s Indian pudding recipes and I think I’ll try them this week. Then we can compare. Perhaps we don’t like Indian pudding no matter what the recipe is. I’m looking forward to finding out.

Does your family have a similar pudding recipe? I’d love to hear about it.

First Monday Menu: Variety-Vegetable Macaroni Casserole and Bargain Brownies

This month I want to explore recipes that were created to help home front housewives deal with rationing and shortages. I’ll write a bit more about that later in the week. Today’s menu is interesting and I want to get straight to it.

Variety-Vegetable Macaroni Casserole

The main dish recipe comes from the February 1943 issue of Woman’s Day. You’ll see several things from this magazine this month. It’s fascinating. It’s the first issue to include the “Woman’s Day War Food Bulletin” that explained rationing, gave updates to that and other government wartime programs, and provided advice on how to live with all the changes that were happening. There were numerous recipes in each of these food bulletins, and they were aimed at finding solutions to problems the home front housewife might be struggling with that month.

This particular magazine issue really dives into rationing and what it meant to everyday people. I can’t imagine the fear and uncertainty that came from having to completely change your shopping and eating habits. I’m sure people wondered if there would be enough food to feed their families. Woman’s Day and magazines like it helped home front housewives feel more confident about moving forward and adjusting. The magazine is filled with recipes like today’s casserole. This casserole comes from an article about how to make satisfying meals with macaroni, noodles, and spaghetti. They are offered as being cheap menu choices, and only two of the twelve recipes included meat. Today’s casserole cost just 28 cents for four servings.

The Variety-Vegetable Macaroni Casserole recipe calls for a soup bunch. Although this is occasionally available in modern supermarkets, it is not something many people where I live have heard of. In the 1940s, groups of vegetables were bundled together as a kind of soup starter kit. We created our own bundle of shallots, celery, turnips, carrots, potatoes, and parsley. Cabbage was a separate ingredient in the recipe, but we would have added it to the soup bunch if it hadn’t been.

  • 1 soup bunch, thinly sliced
  • 2 c shredded cabbage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 8 oz package elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 2 or 3 slices of cheese

Barely cover vegetables with boiling water and add salt. Cover and cook for ten minutes. Drain, reserving liquid for soup, etc. (Note: not needed for this recipe) Add pepper, margarine, macaroni, and milk. Pour into two quart casserole dish. Bake in slow oven at 300°F for 45 min. Put cheese on top 15 minutes before removing casserole from oven.

A few more notes: We doubled the recipe and it worked well. We guessed on the amounts of our soup bunch ingredients. If you find that you have too much, you can freeze the vegetables for later. They would be great in several kinds of soup. The recipe says to save the vegetable liquid for soup. This was a common thing to do to prepare for later meals, but the liquid is not needed for this recipe.

Bargain Brownies

This recipe comes from What Do We Eat Now? A Guide to Wartime Housekeeping, a 1942 book by Helen Robertson, Sarah MacLeod, and Frances Preston. Even though I don’t think of brownies as cookies, there were several brownie recipes in the cookie section. The authors said they concentrated on recipes that didn’t use a lot of sugar and didn’t have too much fat. They said that any of the recipes in the section would be great in a lunch box or sent off to soldiers at camp.

  • 1 c chopped peanuts
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • few grains salt
  • 1/3 c cocoa
  • 1/3 c melted fat
  • 1/3 c dark corn syrup
  • 1 egg

Grease a shallow eight-inch pan and line it with wax paper. Grease the paper. Bake in a moderate oven at 350°F for 15 min.

Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Blend fat and corn syrup. Stir in a well beaten egg. Add dry ingredients gradually, stirring them in as added. Add peanuts. Turn into prepared pan and bake.

Note: This was added at the bottom of the recipe: “These brownies are not sweet as we are accustomed to having them. They may be spread with cream chocolate frosting if desired.”

Results

The variety-vegetable macaroni casserole was delicious. It was easy to make, and it’s a flexible recipe. You really could add in any number of vegetable combinations and it would be tasty. It’s meatless, so it didn’t require rationing points for meat. If she had fresh vegetables in her garden, or leftovers from prepping another meal, the only thing the home front housewife would really have to purchase would be cheese and macaroni.

The casserole was warm and hearty. With the macaroni, turnips, and potatoes, it was a meal that would fill up hungry family members. Every one of my testers went back for seconds. There were just enough vegetables with the macaroni. This is also flexible–you can add the amounts of each vegetable that you prefer. We rarely eat turnips, so I was happy to use them in this casserole. The only things we might change for next time would be adding a bit more pepper and more cheese slices across the top.

I don’t recommend the bargain brownie recipe. Unless you are interested in what this specific wartime recipe is like, I would not make these. If you are looking for a brownie recipe to go with this menu, I’d suggest Honey Brownies instead.

The bargain brownies’ batter was more like a dough. We had to press the mixture into the pan. After they were baked, they were the driest, crumbliest brownies I have ever dealt with. They tasted like squares of solid cocoa powder. I know that the recipe stressed that they were not sweet, but these were inedible. I even took a second bite to try to evaluate them from the point of view that brownies didn’t need to be sweet and that during the war people had to make changes to their food. There is no way I would ever eat an entire brownie. They were bitter and so powdery dry that it was difficult to chew and swallow them.

I have tried numerous recipes that called for substitutions or adjustments from this time period. Some were delicious, and some were just ok. Never have I tried a recipe that I couldn’t take more than a bite or two. I know that there are better wartime recipes than this.

I’m going to try to find another brownie recipe that I can add to this post this month. The Honey Brownies I linked above were good, but not as chocolatey and sweet as a traditional brownie. I’ll see what I can find. In the meantime, let me know if you try out the casserole. I think you’ll be pleased with it.

National Peanut Butter Day: Peter Pan Apple Crumble

To celebrate National Peanut Butter Day, here is a tasty recipe from “Peter Pan Peanut Butter in your Daily Diet,” a booklet the home front housewife could have sent for in 1945. I found out about this collection of peanut butter recipes from a Peter Pan peanut butter advertisement I used in my peanut butter frosting post. I managed to find a copy so I could share some more peanut butter goodness with you.

My 13 year old son made this apple crumble. It was his first attempt at making something other than cookies and pancakes. I am really proud of how well he did. I’m sure he’ll join me here again in the future.

Peter Pan Apple Crumble

  • 3 tbsp Peter Pan peanut butter
  • 1/2 c sifted flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/3 c finely chopped peanuts
  • 6 medium sized cooking apples

Sift flour with sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Cut in peanut butter and butter until mixture is crumbly. Add peanuts. Peel apples and slice thin. Place in well greased baking dish. Sprinkle peanut butter mixture evenly over the top of the apples. Bake in moderate oven (350°F) for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°F and bake 10 minutes longer or until brown. Serve hot with cream. 6 servings.

Results

I love a good apple crumble. I’ve never had one with peanut butter, so I was definitely intrigued. This didn’t disappoint. I think I prefer a classic crumble, but the addition of peanut butter and peanuts was an interesting change. The crumble wasn’t as sweet as a classic crumble. The peanut butter was the leading flavor, and the chopped nuts added a bit more crunchiness than you usually get from similar dishes. I didn’t have any cream to use, but I think that would have been lovely. A large scoop of vanilla ice cream would be an ideal addition to a bowl of peanut butter apple crumble, but then again, I think most things are greatly improved with a scoop or two of ice cream.

Forgive my lack of pictures. We inhaled the entire dish before I realized I needed more pictures of it. I wanted to make sure the recipe was posted before the day was over, though. After all, National Peanut Butter Day only comes once a year. Enjoy!

Starlight Cake

In January 1945, Betty Crocker was touting a New Method of cake baking that would save the home front housewife half of her batter mixing time. Using Gold Medal flour, the folks at General Mills’ Home Service Department created a one bowl method of cake batter mixing that was to revolutionize baking. This Starlight Cake recipe is straight from a Betty Crocker advertisement from that month.

Results

This was a nice cake. It was moist and tasted the way a white cake should. We used a plain white buttercream frosting. When I was growing up, my mother made a fluffy anise flavored white frosting that would be perfect on this cake. I need to find that recipe! Gum drops were an interesting addition that added a bit of color. Definitely try this when you need a basic cake recipe to fix up with your favorite tasty frostings. If you have a great frosting recipe, I’d love to hear about it.

Did you know that tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Day? Remember that Peter Pan recipe booklet I mentioned a few posts ago? It’s here and I’m going to test a recipe from it to celebrate the day.

Warm Up with a Good Book

Perhaps you are the type of home front housewife who would rather stay in on a cold winter evening and curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book. I’m here to help. Here are five suggestions based on a January 1945 Woman’s Day book roundup.

A note on finding these books: I’ll let you know at least one place you can find these books if I can. Worldcat.org is a great resource, too. Just type your zipcode and the title in and they’ll provide you with a list of libraries near you that have the book on their shelves.

Just in case you want to follow up your reading with a movie night out, here’s a link to some movie suggestions.

America Unlimited

by Eric Johnston

Eric Johnston was the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce. This book records his thoughts, hopes, aspirations, and beliefs about issues of the early 1940s. Johnston claimed that most Americans shared his views. This would be an interesting look at a political opinion from the war years.

We Live in Alaska

by Constance Helmericks

This book is available used on on Amazon. The author and her husband moved to Alaska in 1941 and explored the Yukon in a homemade canoe. There are a few sequels to their adventure if you find this first one enjoyable.

Watching the World

by Raymond Clapper

Raymond Clapper was a journalist and a radio news analyst and commentator. While covering the war in 1944, an airplane he was riding in collided with another plane during the invasion of the Marshall Islands. After his death, his wife put together some of his best material and told the story of his life in this book.

Cluny Brown

by Margery Sharp

This humerous coming of age story follows a young English woman in 1938 on her adventures after she is sent into service in the countryside. It was made into a movie in 1946. This book is easy to find. It’s even available as an audio book.

Enjoy Your House Plants

by Dorothy Jenkins and Helen Van Pelt Wilson

This book has chapters on everything from ferns to succulents to orchids. There’s advice on caring for numerous types of indoor plants. I love my house plants, so I’m excited to try to find a copy of this one. I’d like to compare their advice with what is suggested care today.

While you are reading, you might like to munch on some cookies or a slice of coffee spice cake. Stay warm and enjoy your weekend!