Main Dishes

WW2 Ration Cook-in: Victory Lunch Box

I took today’s Victory Lunch Box menu from The Good Housekeeping Cook Book. They have a section with lunch box menus, and today’s menu was created specifically for a business girl. Almost all of the cookbooks and other materials I have separate lunch box menus into categories. There are usually sections for hard workers, working girls, housewives, and school children. I’ll be writing about some of those differences when I finish up my lunch box series later this month.

I don’t have a lunch box to show how all the items would be packed, so I put them on a regular plate. This is the exact lunch box menu, though, and would have been packed in a thermos, paper cups, and waxed paper.

Menu

  • Corn Chowder
  • Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwiches
  • Fruit Salad
  • Saltines

I’m amazed at how much food is included in the menus. Almost all that I’ve seen have called for more than one sandwich. Sometimes the menu includes several sandwiches with different fillings on different breads. Sandwich fillings range from complex mixtures to plain butter.

Corn Chowder

  • 1 2”sq fat salt pork (we used bacon)
  • 1 lg onion, sliced
  • 2 lbs pared white potatoes (4 c diced)
  • 2 c boiling water
  • 1 12oz can whole grain corn
  • 4 c bottled milk, scalded OR 2 evaporated milk and 2 c water, scalded
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika

Cut salt pork into 1/2” cubes and brown well in large sauce pan. Add onion and cook tender. Add diced potatoes and water, cover and cook until potatoes are tender. Add corn, milk, and seasonings. Heat and serve. Serves 6 as a main dish.

Due to shortages at our small local grocery store, we had to use red potatoes instead of white, and we used the evaporated milk and water option listed above.

Results

This was a wonderful, filling meal. The corn chowder was warm and flavorful. I think it would be perfect in a thermos tucked into a fall or winter lunch box. It was very hearty with ingredients that complimented each other. With the addition of one or two sandwiches, this probably would have been too much for me to eat. The fruit salad I have shown in the photos is a favorite family concoction made with fruit and whipped cream.

There’s one themed day left in the WW2 Ration Cook-in challenge. It’s not too late to join us! Check out your other hosts over on Instagram. Use #ww2rationcookin so we can see what you make!

WW2 Ration Cook-In: Dinner

Ida Bailey Allen wrote Double-Quick Cooking for Part-Time Homemakers in 1943 for women who found themselves both working at jobs outside of the home as well as being responsible for the running of her household. The book had recipes and meal ideas, but it also gave women tips on how to manage both aspects of their lives efficiently.

I decided to make a meal out of the “Double-Quick Sunday and Holiday Dinners” because it is, after all, Sunday today and my daily challenge is dinner. The chapter suggests that Sunday is a great day to make one of your family’s favorites. It goes on to stress that it’s just one of their favorites, though, because “nearly all of your energy belongs to your employer”. I’m going to include the other meal suggestions in a photo below.

Cheeseburgers

  • 1 lb chopped raw beef
  • 1/2 c each chopped celery and carrot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 soft round rolls
  • American cheese

Mix the beef with the vegetables and seasonings. Shape into eight flat round cakes. Broil or pan fry until done. Split the rolls. On half of the rounds, put American cheese sliced thin. Toast under broiler until cheese melts. At the same time, toast the remaining halves of the rolls. Pour over any drippings left from cooking and put together sandwich fashion with the meat cakes.

Notes

Our grocery store was out of celery, so I just used carrots. We are having a hard time getting quality produce where we live. It’s very frustrating, but it’s only been a month, really, since we’ve had shortages here. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been to deal with rationing and shortages for years. It makes me think about the people who lived through the war years and how rationing shaped their everyday lives.

Results

I was really pleased with these. They were so much better than I expected them to be. Even my 2 and 5 year olds liked them. The carrots added a nice flavor. Usually I load my burgers up with vegetables and condiments, but no one added anything to these. They were perfect the way they were.

The meal was also quick to make, just like the cookbook suggested it would be. I followed the recommendation in the photo above and served the cheeseburgers with a fruit cup and cold drink. I will also note that carrots and other vegetables were often added to ground beef to stretch the meat so a pound of meat would go a long way. People were always on the lookout for ways to save ration points and this was a common one. Crackers were also used in place of the vegetables.

Please join us on Instagram as we keep going with the WW2 Ration Cook-in challenge. We’d love to have you! Use #ww2rationcookin so we can see what you create!

WW2 Ration Cook-In: Lunch

Shortages in my hometown have forced me to adjust my meal plans for today. The closest small grocery store is thirty minutes away. The nearest major grocery store is an hour and a half away. We are only making one trip a week and are trying to stay out of town as much as possible, and have been utilizing our small local store. Normally this is not a problem.

During our last grocery run, however, there were still serious shortages. I had planned on adding soup to this lunch menu, but the ingredients were not available. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, I think it’s an interesting tie to the food rationing and shortages that I write about.

I love Spam advertisements from the 1930s and 1940s. They were colorful and fun, and during the war years were helpful to the home front housewife because they provided meal ideas during a time when meal planning had become more of a challenge. A 1938 Spam ad included a quick recipe for an open-faced hot Spam sandwich. I decided to try to recreate that idea.

This is a typical Spam ad from late 1942. The ads are usually colorful, full page ads that portrayed conversational situations that made their product look and sound appealing.

Hot Spam Sandwich

Butter a slice of bread. Slice the Spam and put two slices side by side on top of the buttered bread. Add a slice of American cheese over the Spam. Broil until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Top with a slice of toasted bread. Other ingredients may be added before or after broiling. Some suggestions include fried egg, onion, peppers, or any sauces or condiments desired. Serve warm with soup and potato chips for a warm, filling lunch.

A note about potato chips: Production of potato chips temporarily came to a halt during WWII. They were deemed to be non-essential and potato chip factories were told to stop production. Protests helped change the War Production Board’s mind, and potato chips continued to be made. Potato chips were a popular wartime snack, especially when sweet snacks were not as available due to sugar shortages and rationing. They also were popular with troops overseas.

Results

Spam was a staple in American pantries during the war. It’s also a staple in mine since I do a lot of wartime-style cooking. I prefer Spam fried. I think most of my family does. I also find it rather salty to eat very often. The hot sandwich was filling, but I think that next time I’ll fry the the Spam instead.

I can see the appeal of canned meats. They weren’t rationed and helped a home front housewife add meat and protein to sometimes limited diets. Victory garden vegetables could be used to add some flavor and texture variety. This would be a quick and low point lunch that would be handy to have in a home front housewife’s cooking arsenal.

Day 3 of the WW2 Ration Cook-In is dinner. Join us on Instagram by following along or cooking with us. Use #ww2rationcookin so we can see what you make! Don’t forget to visit the other hosts’ websites and Instagrams to see what they are creating.

Www.history-preserved.com

Www.victorykitchenpodcast.com

Www.kate-lavender.com/blog

Www.worldturnedupsidedown.com

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!

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.

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.

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