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First Monday Menu: Chicken a la King and Sour Cream Cocoa Cake with Mocha Frosting

This month’s menu comes from the 1940 edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book. This is a great cookbook from the beginning of our wartime period. I like comparing cookbooks from 1940 to cookbooks from later in the war years. Most of the later ones include advice and recipes for cooking and entertaining while dealing with rationing and shortages. Many also include recipes and tips for the working woman.

Today’s entree is a recipe many people still make today. We served our chicken a la king over spaghetti. You can also substitute salmon for the chicken.

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Chicken a la King

  • 2 c cooked diced chicken
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • green pepper, minced
  • pimiento, cut in thin strips
  • 1 c mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 c chicken stock or milk
  • 1 c sour cream or evaporated milk
  • 4 tsp sherry
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter, add the peppers and mushrooms, and saute until light yellow. Lift out. Blend the flour with the seasoned butter. Add the chicken stock and cook until thickened. Add the chicken, and when it’s hot, add the cream combined with the beaten egg yolks and the mushrooms, pepper, and pimiento. Add the sherry and serve immediately. Don’t cook after adding the egg yolks because the mixture may curdle. You can stand it over hot water if needed. You can also use 1 can of red salmon, boned and skinned.

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Results

This was very filling, but also a bit bland. While we were eating we discussed what we would do differently, and we all agreed the chicken should have been seasoned more. Adding some garlic and using cream of mushroom soup for part of the liquid were other suggestions. I looked up a couple modern versions of this recipe and found that the 1940 recipe and the 2019 recipes were almost identical, so perhaps we are just fans of spicier food in my family. Overall, it was good, but not something I can see myself making again.

Sour Cream Cocoa Cake

  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 3/4 c boiling water
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg whites

Mix cocoa in boiling water and stir mixture until smooth. Cool. Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add cocoa mixture to creamed mixture. Sift flour, salt, and soda together. Add dry ingredients alternately with cream to the first mixture. Beat until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into pans lined with waxed paper and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) for 30 minutes. Makes 2 (9 in) layers. Spread Mocha Frosting between layers and on top.

Mocha Frosting

  • 1 1/2 tsp Mocha extract or strong coffee
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3/4 c chopped nuts

Mix the extract or coffee with the sugar and stir into the water, gradually, smoothing out the lumps. After the frosting is spread on the cake, 3/4 c chopped nuts may be sprinkled over the top.

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Results

I feel like this cake was playing an April Fool’s Day joke on us. The top layer broke. The frosting was extra runny and either soaked into the cake or slipped right off the cake stand and onto the counter. We had to make a double batch of the frosting to have enough. It was also fairly time-consuming with lots of steps involved in the cake itself. I was worried about how it’d taste.

I shouldn’t have worried. It was delicious. It was moist and milk chocolatey, and definitely filling. The frosting had a very mild mocha flavor and was more like a glaze than a frosting. The cake was so wonderful, though, that a heavier frosting would have been too much. We’ll definitely make this one again.

I hope the weather has been kind to you this week. Let me know if you try any of these recipes!

 

 

First Monday Menu: Ham Baked with Orange Slices

My husband recently had surgery. His recovery is tough, so we have been hunting for quick and easy meals to cook. I thought I’d find a WWII meal that fits the bill for this month’s First Monday Menu.

The ham recipe I used is from the 1943 cookbook Double-Quick Cooking for Part-time Homemakers by Ida Bailey Allen. I’m fascinated with this cookbook right now. It was aimed at single working women and wives who worked while their husbands were at war. There are menus with quick recipes and detailed instructions for creating the meal as efficiently as possible. The author gives tips for meal planning and avoiding food waste, as well as recipes and menus for every situation you can imagine. There’s even a chapter on gift foods for servicemen. This cookbook is fairly new to my collection and I’m excited to show you more of what’s inside it.

For today, though, let’s get to our meal.

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Ham Baked with Orange Slices

1 lb ham cut in 1/4 in thick slices

1 orange, sliced

Whole cloves

Fine bread crumbs

Place the ham in a baking pan. I was able to get 6 large slices in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Stick two cloves into each slice of orange. Lay these around the ham and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Pour a little bit of orange juice over the ham and bake in a hot oven at 400-425°F for twelve to fifteen minutes.

 

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Before Baking

 

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Fresh From the Oven

Results

Since I was trying to keep things simple and fast, I served corn and fruit salad as sides. Corn is a favorite in my house, and the fruit salad was made with drained canned fruit cocktail, sliced bananas, and whipped topping. The ham was juicy with a mild orange flavor. We tasted the baked orange slices, but the consensus was that they weren’t very tasty. The ham, however, was delicious. I was able to serve 6 people.

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The meal was very easy to make and easy to clean up after. It was exactly what I was looking for today. I think that this would definitely be a good choice for a homefront housewife during WWII. There’s not much prep required, cooking time is minimal, and a woman could feel good about serving healthy food while still having time to do other things in the evening.

I’m also going to teach my teenagers this recipe. It’s an easy one for someone just learning to cook and a good option for young adults on a budget who are craving a homecooked meal.

Let me know if you try this one.

 

Baking without…Milk: Yeast Rolls

A warm homemade roll is a welcome addition to almost any meal. My seventeen-year-old daughter has been baking homemade bread almost daily, so I gave her this recipe to try out. My two oldest daughters are tremendous bakers and I love when they bake for me. This recipe makes about 2 dozen rolls.

This is from the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day. To learn more about this series, you can start with Baking without…Eggs: Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze.

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Yeast Rolls

1 cake yeast

1/4 c warm water

1/2 c boiling water

3 tbsp margarine

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 c cold water

1 egg, grade B

4 1/2 c sifted flour

melted margarine

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Pour boiling water over margarine, salt, and sugar. Stir until dissolved and add the cold water. Add the yeast and the well-beaten egg and mix well. Add 1 cup of flour and beat until smooth. Add the remaining flour, turn on a floured board and knead a few minutes. Place in a greased bowl, brush the top with melted margarine, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Knead lightly. Return to the greased bowl. When double in bulk, shape, and place in greased muffin tins. Brush with margarine, allow to rise again until doubled. Bake in a hot oven, 400°F for about 15 minutes.

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Results

These were moist and soft with a slightly crispy outer layer. My daughter said the dough looked dry while she was working with it, but the rolls were nice and moist when they were finished. My personal favorite way to eat them was fresh from the oven slathered with margarine and peach preserves. I have a 20-month-old whose favorite food is bread and she gave these the toddler seal of approval.

Of the twelve recipes in the Woman’s Day  “You can Bake without…” article, this was the only recipe that wasn’t for a cake, cookies, or other dessert. I’m glad they chose to include yeast rolls.  Rolls and breads were a large part of a person’s diet and rationing and shortages affected those foods, too. Plus, rolls were useful and versatile. Last night’s rolls could be included in today’s lunch box or this afternoon’s after-school snack. Rolls go with meats, soups, salads, and pastas. There aren’t many other foods that go with everything like a roll does.

Speaking of the Woman’s Day article, there are three recipes left. I’ll probably make those in March. There are several other topics I want to visit before I return to “Baking without…Shortening”. I also got some really interesting new cookbooks that I’d like to show you.

Let me know if you try these delicious rolls. I think you’ll like them.

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First Monday Menu: Hot Prem/Spam Sandwich and Orange Lily

World War II era magazine advertisers often used recipes featuring their products to entice housewives to buy their brands. I wanted to use a recipe from one of those magazine ads this month. I chose a hot sandwich made with canned meat that looked versatile, quick, and filling. Canned meats were popular because they were not rationed, they lasted a long time, and didn’t need refrigeration. They could also be eaten cold or hot, and they could be added to a variety of recipes. Since you can eat Spam and other meats straight out of the can, it was a handy food for soldiers, too.

This recipe is from a 1942 Prem ad. Prem is still being made, but I couldn’t find it anywhere near me. After some research, I found that Spam would make a good substitute. Does your grocery store have Prem? Have you tried it? I’m curious how it compares to Spam.

The other recipe in this menu is from the 1940 edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book. It is a drink that I think would be refreshing with any meal. Since this menu could also be a breakfast menu, I thought that the juice was a nice option.

Hot Prem/Spam Sandwich

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

2 tbsp chopped celery

1/2 tbsp green pepper

1/4 tbsp grated onion

salt

pepper

canned meat like Prem or Spam

toast

Beat two eggs slightly. Add milk, celery, green pepper, and onion. Add salt and pepper. Scramble over low heat, stirring constantly. Pan fry 2 slices of Spam or Prem. Serve on slices of toast. Makes 1 sandwich.

Note: This recipe truly only makes one sandwich. It’s easy to increase amounts to make enough for more.

Orange Lily

1/2 cup white grape juice

2 tbsp orange juice

1 tsp sugar

Fill glass half full of shaved ice. Add juices and sugar. Fill with chilled water. The cookbook suggests serving with two straws poked through a thin slice of orange.

Results

I think a lot of people are a bit apprehensive about eating Spam. It honestly is not bad at all. This sandwich was very similar to eating eggs on toast with some sausage or bacon. I added hashbrowns as a side. The meal was very filling. This is a nice choice for breakfast or a quick lunch.

I can definitely see the appeal of canned meats to the home front housewife. When ration points were running low, canned meats could help stretch what a housewife had and could add flavor to meals when food supplies were limited. This meal is a good option for people in a hurry or on a budget, as well. It’s hearty and quick to get on the table.

The Orange Lily drink was delicious. I did have to tweak the recipe a bit for my family’s tastes, though. When you add water and ice, the drink becomes more water than juice. I made a big batch of it in a pitcher and didn’t add any water. We just added ice in the individual glasses and that made it perfect for us. I also found that ice cubes worked better than shaved ice. The shaved ice we tried melted immediately. I also recommend stirring the mixture occasionally so the sugar doesn’t gather at the bottom of your glass or pitcher.

Let me know if you try either of these recipes. Have a great week!

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Baking without…Milk: Coffee Spice Cake

The second recipe in the “Baking without…Milk” series is this delicious coffee cake. It’s from an article in the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. I also have a 1941 recipe booklet called The Bread Basket that I’ve been wanting to use for a while. The booklet is full of bread recipes using Fleischmann’s Yeast. There are pastries, cakes, rolls, and a variety of other breads. I had my teenage daughter help me since she makes wonderful bread from scratch. We decided to add a cinnamon topping from The Bread Basket since it also doesn’t call for milk and would have been a recipe housewives in 1945 might have chosen to add themselves.

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Coffee Spice Cake

1/2 c lard

1 c sugar

2 eggs, grade B

3 tbsp molasses

1/2 c cold strong coffee

2 c sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

Cream lard, add sugar and cream until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time and add molasses. Beat well. Add coffee alternately with mixed and sifted dry ingredients. Bake in greased 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan in a moderate oven (375°) for 40 minutes. You can also bake in two 8-inch layers for 25 minutes.

Cinnamon Topping

6 tbsp butter

3/4 c sugar

6 tbsp sifted flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, mixing well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed well and crumbly.

Results

After having the past few cakes turn out dry, I was expecting the same from this coffee spice cake. I was very wrong. It was moist and delicious. The cinnamon topping disappeared into the cake while it baked and added a really nice cinnamon flavor. This is a great cake for a brunch or breakfast, and it would be perfect for an afternoon tea or coffee get together. Try adding some vanilla ice cream! The recipe does have coffee in it, but we mainly tasted the molasses and the cinnamon from the topping we added.  The cake is quick and easy to make and I heartily recommend it.

Here is another from this baking without milk series: Baking without…Milk: Orange Marmalade Cake

The “Baking without…” series begins here: Baking without…Eggs: Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Victory Lunch Box: Split Pea Soup

One of a home front housewife’s jobs was to pack lunches for her family. Her husband, if not at war, would need a lunch for work. Her children needed packed lunches for school. If she was part of the growing number of women working outside the home, she would need a lunch herself. Of course, packed lunches weren’t the only option Americans had for lunch, but they were a great way to save money, stretch food, and make sure every member of the family had a nutritious meal three times a day.

Many magazines and cookbooks included menus that provided leftovers to be used the following day in a lunch box. This soup could be part of an evening meal and then put in a small vacuum container the next day and tucked next to a sandwich or some fruit in a lunch box. This kind of soup was especially good for lunch boxes because it was hearty and filling. Add some bread and you had a meal that could get you through an afternoon at the factory or at school.

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Split Pea Soup

1 lb split peas (you can also use Navy beans)

2 qt boiling water

ham hock or leftover pieces of ham

3-4 cloves

1 onion

1/2 bay leaf

a piece of red pepper pod

3 1/2 c irradiated evaporated milk

salt to taste

Pick over peas, wash, cover with cold water, and soak overnight. Drain, add the boiling water, ham, cloves, onion, bay leaf, and red paper. Bring to a boil. Cook slowly until the peas are tender. Add milk and salt to taste. Makes about 3 1/4 quarts.

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Results

I used red pepper flakes instead of the red pepper pod. I also only used about half of an onion. We all peppered our individual bowls of soup. I also made the soup one night and then reheated and put it in a small thermos the next day to see how it would be in a lunch box.

The first night the soup was delicious. It was thick and warm and made a filling meal with the addition of bread.  Having had a chance for the flavors to mingle overnight, the second-day soup in the thermos was even better. I added some homemade bread that my teenage daughter baked, and had a satisfying lunch. I think that adding some fruit, a sandwich or a dessert would help anyone get through their afternoon without a need for a snack.

This recipe comes from a 50-page booklet that was specifically written for housewives who needed ideas for packing and planning lunches. It’s from 1943 and is part of a series of “Hook-up” cookbooks. There is a hole in the middle of each page that allows the housewife to hang the booklet at eye level. This helps keep the booklet clean and makes it easier to read the recipe. The picture on the front of the booklet shows the soups packaged for lunch boxes in waxed paper cups.

 

 

 

First Monday Menu: Vegetable Chowder, Popovers, and Dutch Apple Cake with Lemon Sauce

For the first Monday of August, we went with something light as the main dish. This menu is from Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes (1941)It was listed in the  “inexpensive everyday meals” section. This recipe book deserves a post of its own, so I’ll have that ready for you later this week.

The recipes in this book are written a bit differently than I’m used to, so it was a little more difficult to determine what the ingredients were and how much of certain items was needed. In fact, the apples in the apple cake were only mentioned once when the recipe called for pressing apples into the batter. There was no other mention of how many apples we needed, or if they were to be peeled and sliced, and so on. I’ve tried to fix that for you here because these are great recipes that should be tried in today’s kitchens.

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Vegetable Chowder

1/3 c. half-inch cubes salt pork

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 c. half-inch potato cubes

1/2 c. diced celery

1/2 c. half-inch parsnip cubes

1 c. carrots, cut in thin strips

1/2 c. green peppers, chopped

1 qt. boiling water

3 c. hot milk

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 c. dried bread crumbs

1 tsp chopped parsley

Serves 6.

Cook the salt pork in a saucepan until crisp. Remove the pork. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potato cubes, celery, parsnip cubes, carrots, green peppers, and the water. Cook about 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the milk, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and parsley.

Popovers

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 c. milk

2 eggs, beaten until light

Mix and sift the flour and salt. Add the milk gradually so the mixture doesn’t get lumpy. Add the eggs. Beat 3 minutes with an egg beater. Pour into hot, well-greased iron gem pans at 450°, then decrease heat to 350° for 15 minutes. This recipe makes 2 dozen.

Note: We baked ours in muffin pans and adjusted the time in the oven accordingly.

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Dutch Apple Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp butter

1 egg

1 1/4 milk

2 apples, peeled and sliced

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix and sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 3 tbsp sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingrediants. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and milk. Stir into the first mixture. Put this in a shallow buttered pan and press the edges of the apple slices into the dough. Sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cinnamon. Glaze with lemon sauce.

Lemon Sauce

1 c. sugar

3 tbsp flour

pinch of salt

2 c. boiling water

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp butter

Mix sugar, flour, and salt and gradually add the water, stirring consistently to keep the mixture smooth. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest,  juice, and butter. Pour over cake.

Results

The vegetable chowder was very bland. We added onion powder, garlic powder, and beef bouillon to try to add some flavor. It helped, but if we made it again, we would use broth instead of the water. It was a nice light soup for a hot summer day. The popovers were light and fluffy and went well with the soup.  They had little air pockets in them that would have been a great place to put some jam and butter.

The cake was the star of this menu. Three different people commented that it looked like a giant apple cinnamon roll. It was sweet and warm and gooey. The lemon sauce added a bit of tartness. It would make a great weekend breakfast and would shine in a brunch spread. Addie (@sugaraddies) placed the apples in a rosette, an idea that really worked well in the round pan. We’ll definitely make this again.

 

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