Baking without…Sugar: Spicy Raisin Cookies

This recipe is next in the “Baking without…Sugar” series. It’s difficult to make sweet desserts and treats without sugar, but home front housewives did their best using the resources they had at hand. These spicy raisin cookies are from a December 1944 Woman’s Day Kitchen recipe. The recipe would have cost 27 cents and it was published in the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day. 

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Spicy Raisin Cookies

2 1/2 c. sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

3/4 c. raisins

1 egg, well beaten

3/4 c. molasses

3/4 c. sausage fat

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Add raisins. Add combined egg, molasses, and cooled melted fat all at once. Mix this well. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes.

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Results

First, a couple of notes. The recipe called for a grade B egg. Grade B eggs are not available where I live. I substituted Crisco for the sausage fat. I also adjusted the cooking time. Fifteen minutes in my oven resulted in cookies with burned bottoms. Ten minutes worked much better.

The cookies were a little on the dry side. They were not overly sweet. The raisins added a nice chewy texture. I think these would be nice with some chopped nuts added into the batter, and maybe a few more raisins. There’s definitely a molasses taste to them, so if raisins or molasses aren’t your favorites, I’d skip these.  I had the same 9 testers as before, and everyone said that these were not their favorites, but they weren’t terrible, either. I think that if I was a home front housewife on the last of my sugar for the month, these would make a decent dessert to hold my family over until we were able to get more sugar to bake with. If I wanted something sweeter, but without sugar, I would go with the Rolled Maple Lace Wafers instead.

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Baking without…Sugar: Rolled Maple Lace Wafers

Sugar was first rationed in 1942. It was the first consumer commodity rationed but was soon to be followed by items like meat, coffee, and processed foods. Beginning on May 5, 1942, each person could receive a half pound of sugar a week. A pound of granulated sugar contains roughly 2 cups. In 1942, this was cutting the average family’s sugar consumption in half.

Home front housewives struggled to adapt to cooking with new restrictions, and magazines and cookbooks provided recipes to help them find appealing dishes for their family meals and desserts. This series of recipes is from the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day. For recipes that don’t use eggs, check out that series beginning with Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze

This recipe is the first of three that don’t require sugar. Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. These little cookies still tasted terrific, they just weren’t anything like the recipe suggests they should be! More on that in a minute.

Rolled Maple Lace Wafers.

1/2 c. maple-flavored pancake syrup

1/4 c. margarine

1/2 c. sifted flour

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

A few grains of salt

Combine the syrup and margarine in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. When it is at a hard boil, keep it there for 30 seconds. Sift the remaining ingredients together and add them all at once to the syrup and margarine mixture. Stir briskly. This dough will be lumpy. Drop half teaspoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet about 5 inches apart. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute. Remove each wafer from the cookie sheet and roll it around a round handled spoon, then place it on a rack to cool. Don’t bake more than 8 cookies at once because they will harden too fast to roll on the spoon. If they do harden too much, you can return them to the oven for a few seconds.

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Results

The cookies should be little rolled wafers. We tried over and over to get this recipe to work, but we finally gave up and just baked them as cookies. Our cookies were too cakey inside to allow them to roll without breaking. The recipe says it makes about 2 1/2 dozen wafers, but if you make cookies the size of the ones you see here, it only makes about a dozen.

The cookies were tasty. They were soft and tasted like maple syrup on a pancake. They did taste better fresh out of the oven, so warming them when cold would probably be best. We ate them with tea and milk.

 

The Dishes

The cookies are displayed on an Anchor Hocking Vintage pattern snack set from the 1950s-1960s. These snack sets are handy for serving everything from sandwiches to cookies. We’ve used them for brunches, luncheons, afternoon teas, parties, and bedtime snacks. I’m not sure why these don’t seem to be made anymore. They are amazingly versatile.

The Perfect Patriotic Playlist from WWII

Music has long been a way to help us process strong emotions about important events, not just for happy days like birthdays and weddings, but also for difficult times. During World War II, music took a patriotic turn as we first watched and then participated in the fighting overseas.  Since today is a day of remembrance for Americans, I thought we could revisit some of the songs that helped us get through the war years.

 

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

Andrews Sisters, 1941

This is one of my very favorites. It has just the right amount of pep and optimism. I chose this video because the Andrews Sisters are fun to watch in action.

 

Remember Pearl Harbor

Eddie Howard and his Orchestra, 1942

 

Vict’ry Polka

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, 1943

 

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)

Andrews Sisters, 1942

This was one of the most popular versions of this song. The song was originally an updated version of a 19th century English folk song that was used in a 1939 musical. The lyrics were changed when the war started, and the song became a huge hit.

 

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

The Merry Macs, 1942

 

God Bless America

Irving Berlin, 1938

Originally written by Berlin in 1918, it was revised in 1938 just in time to be a big hit during World War II. Kate Smith was well-known for singing this song.

I’ve included two versions. The second one is with the Victor Military Band and you can find it here:

God Bless America

 

G.I. Jive

Johnny Mercer, 1944

 

Just in case you are looking for more…

The links above are to archive.org. Original recordings are uploaded so visitors can hear what they sound like. Be careful–exploring the site can be addictive! There are plenty more options there as well as songs from different eras to add to your playlist.

History on the Net also has a page with a great selection of patriotic World War II songs.

 

Ginger Ale​ Frost

This will be my last drink post for a while. It’s a good drink for those warm first days of fall. I’ll be continuing the “Baking without…” series and I want to visit some lunch box recipes and wartime lunchbox packing tips. I also have few non-recipe posts coming up. I hope you’ll enjoy what’s in store for the coming weeks.

I wanted to include this recipe because it involves a little more prep than the others I’ve written about. It also is a good example of how cookbooks and magazines included help for the home front housewife in the form of tips and substitution ideas. This recipe suggests using corn syrup in place of half of the sugar required for the drink. This helped the housewife save some of her sugar rations for other recipes.

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Ginger Ale Frost

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. hot water

5 whole cloves

1 3″ stick cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 c. orange juice

1 c. canned grapefruit juice

3 1/2 c. pale dry ginger ale

ice

Boil the sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Add spices, and let stand for 1 1/2 hours. Strain through several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Add the fruit juices and chill. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and pour it into ice-filled glasses. This makes 6 1/2 glasses before adding the ice. Corn syrup may replace half of the sugar.

I didn’t have cheesecloth, so I used an empty tea bag as a strainer. This worked really well but made pouring each glass a slow process. Slow, but not tedious.

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Result

This is a lovely spiced ginger ale. It got mixed reactions from my testers. You can definitely taste the spices, but the grapefruit juice is not overpowering. One tester who dislikes grapefruit juice liked this drink, but another who dislikes nutmeg didn’t like this at all. This recipe is a bit time consuming, but I enjoyed it enough to recommend trying it at least once.

First Monday Menu: 1943 Lunchtime Rationed Menu

One of the challenges during the war years was creating menus that were varied, healthy, and appealing. As time went on, more and more commonly eaten foods either became scarce or were subject to rationing. Women’s magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks frequently contained articles or chapters with information and tips for meal planning with changing food availability.

The early 1940s saw many specialized publications aimed at teaching women to can, plant a Victory garden, or care for specific appliances, for example. These ranged from small pamphlets to larger softcover books and booklets. Many of these not only included information about canning or refrigerator care, but also contained recipes, meal planning tips, and menus. These publications were distributed by appliance companies, energy companies, and so on to both promote their business and offer help to homemakers.

Today’s menu comes from one such booklet. It’s the ABC of Wartime Canning by Josephine Gibson. In the foreword, Gibson explains that she wanted to include recipes to help homemakers create meals regardless of what was rationed or scarce. The copy I have seems to be a sample copy showing where you could have your company information printed on the cover prior to distribution.

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This booklet is full of interesting information. I’ll write a post on it in the near future. Today’s menu comes from a page titled “A Week’s Point-Saving Menus for a Family of Four (at a Moderate Cost)”. I chose a lunch menu because I think sometimes lunches are more difficult to plan, especially when it needs to be quick, yet healthy, or when the entire family might not be home.

 

Lunch

Scrambled Egg Sandwiches

Baked Apples

Cocoa

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Addie from @sugaraddies was on hand to help me out again. We scrambled eggs with chopped red pepper and onion. The onion and pepper could have been store-bought or grown in a Victory Garden. Many people raised chickens, too, so the eggs might have been from home instead of the store. There were shortages of eggs at times, but they were never rationed in the United States.

We sliced a loaf of French-style bread, buttered the slices, and toasted them lightly in the oven.

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We used a baked apple recipe from The Good Housekeeping Cook Book as a starter.

Baked Apples

6 large firm red apples

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. water

2 tbsp granulated sugar

cream

Core the apples, then pare them to about 1/3 of the way down from the top. Arrange in a baking dish. Boil the water and the 1 cup sugar together for 10 minutes and then pour this mixture over the apples. Bake at 350° until tender. Baste frequently. Cooking time depends on the apples. It might take up to an hour. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar over each apple.

Put the pan under the broiler and baste often. Watch them carefully until the sugar melts and the apples are a light brown. Serve hot or cold with plain or whipped cream. Corn syrup can replace half the sugar.

If desired, the apple peelings can be cooked with the sugar and water for 10 minutes to color the syrup. Remove after this step.

Baked Stuffed Apples

Using the above recipe, add a cooked prune, a cut-up pitted date, or raisins just before sprinkling with sugar and placing under the broiler.

We sliced our apples in half and scooped out the core. We added raisins and brown sugar when we sprinkled the sugar over each apple.

Results

With the addition of cocoa, this would make a filling lunch for a cool or rainy day. I like that this menu used several things that could have been grown at home or purchased without using ration points. It’s also a meal that would appeal to adults and children. Those baked apples are a delicious treat!

Notice that the recipe for the baked apples include a note that corn syrup could be substituted for half of the sugar in the recipe. This was to offer the housewife a way to stretch her precious sugar rations.

Summer Drinks: Cranberry Pineapple Ale

This cranberry pineapple drink hit the spot after a long hot day. It’s also a very pretty drink to serve in a clear glass pitcher. The weather was pleasant this evening and I took my glass onto the patio to enjoy outdoors.

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In my last post, I mentioned that the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book had a terrific drink section. There was not just a varied selection of beverages, there were also helpful tips for the WWII home front housewife. Today’s drink was listed under fruit drinks, and there was a reminder that fruit drinks were a great way to get part of the daily two quarts of liquid suggested to maintain health in the 1940s.

Cookbooks from this time were interesting because they often needed to address kitchen appliances that were both very modern and more old-fashioned. A discussion about ice is a good example of this. In the mid-1930s, many people were switching to electric refrigerators that were finally more affordable than before. During WWII, factories stopped production of non-essential goods, but large numbers of people had electric refrigerators in their kitchens. The Good Housekeeping Cook Book includes advice to housewives with both electric and ice refrigeration since there were still too many families with ice refrigerators to leave that information out of the 1944 edition.

The home front housewife was also warned that warm weather and party seasons put a strain on a home’s ice supply. Thank goodness there were ice-making plants that could provide crystal clear ice in a variety of styles if the housewife was a smart planner and ordered ahead! This ice would come carefully delivered in a container and ready to use when needed.

A well-stocked cupboard insured the home front housewife could stir up a variety of refreshing beverages. Suggestions for canned or bottled items to keep in stock included fruit juices, tomato juice, vegetable juice, ginger ale, carbonated water, and colas. Fresh fruits like limes, lemons, and oranges were great to have on hand.

I find the idea of having a stocked drink cupboard appealing. None of the recipes I’m including on my blog are difficult or time-consuming to make, and they are much more fun than the beverages typically served in our home. All of my kids have enjoyed the new drinks this past week, My one-year-old loved today’s cranberry pineapple ale.

I love that this cookbook, even though it is filled with quaint advice, can also provide us with good ideas and tasty recipes 74 years later.

Cranberry Pineapple Ale

1 pint cranberry juice cocktail

2 1/4 c. pineapple juice

1 1/2 c. pale dry ginger ale

ice

Combine juices and ginger ale and serve over ice. Enjoy!

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Summer Drinks: Grape Rickey

The Good Housekeeping Cook Book has a wonderful drinks chapter. I think it’s my favorite out of all of the early 1940s cookbooks I own. It’s 21 pages of recipes ranging from hot chocolate to spiced fruit punch to chocolate banana milkshakes. In addition to the recipes, there are tips for making different types of beverages, including how to make the perfect pot of coffee and the perfect cup of tea. There are suggestions to help the drink maker extract juices from fruits to add to the recipes and helpful hints on how to deal with rationing and shortages.

I love this chapter so much that I’m going to add a few more drinks this week, then revisit it when the weather gets colder.

This Grape Rickey is another great summertime drink. It’s more tart than sweet and is incredibly refreshing. Since it is still over 100° here every day, drinks like this are a welcome addition to an afternoon snack.

Grape Rickey

4 c. grape juice

6 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tbsp powdered sugar

3 1/1 c. carbonated water

ice

Combine the fruit juices and stir. Add the carbonated water. Our pitcher wasn’t large enough to add the ice directly to the mixture, so we added it to glasses. You could also add it to the pitcher before serving. It makes about 7 3/4 cups before the ice is added. This was enough to serve generous sized drinks to 6 people with enough for some of us to have refills.

If you are interested in more summer drinks, you might like a Ginger Cream or a Frosted Chocolate Soda.