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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