Tag Archives: first monday menu

First Monday Menu: Spinach Soup and Lemon Rice Pudding

Today’s menu comes from Ida Bailey Allen’s Double-Quick Cooking for the Part-time Homemaker. The chapter titled “Time Saving Family Luncheons and Dinners” includes a week’s worth of menus and recipes for both lunch and dinner. Lunch menus also give suggestions for carried lunches and variations for the homemaker’s midday meal.

I was really excited to try the lemon rice pudding with apple whip sauce but was a little worried since my last few puddings haven’t turned out very well. I’m happy to say that today’s menu was a success!

I used the “Fifth Day” luncheon menu. I did switch the luncheon and the dinner soups because we still are having shortages of certain ingredients.

Luncheon Menu

  • Spinach Soup (celery in the original menu–I switched this)
  • Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwiches
  • Lemon Rice Pudding
  • Tea for adults
  • milk for children

Spinach Soup

  • 1 lb chopped raw spinach or 1/2 pkg frosted spinach
  • 1 qt boiling water
  • 2 bouillon cubes OR 1 tsp brewer’s yeast extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp enriched flour
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 c light cream or evaporated milk

Combine spinach and water and boil 10 minutes. Add the bouillon cubes or extract, salt, pepper, and the flour stirred smooth with the butter. Stir until boiling, then gradually stir in the cream or evaporated milk. Serve as is, or sieve. Serves 4-6.

Note: We used raw spinach, bouillon cubes, and evaporated milk.

Lemon Rice Pudding

  • 2 c cooked rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c sugar OR 1/3 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 c milk
  • juice and rind 1/2 lemon

Mix the ingredients in the order given. Pour into a shallow oiled pudding dish. Set in a pan of hot water and bake slowly in a moderate oven, 350°F until firm in the center, about 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold with melted jelly or Apple Whip Sauce.

Note: We put the full amount of sugar in, but then added a drizzle of honey, as well. It took much longer than 30 minutes to bake. It was more like 2.5 hours before the center was firm and it probably could have stayed in the oven a while longer.

Apple Whip Sauce

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar OR 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 c grated raw apple
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually whip in the sweetening, apple, and lemon juice. Serve at once with puddings, or in place of whipped cream on gelatin desserts.

Note: We used powdered sugar. This really needs to be served immediately or it begins to separate.

Results

The spinach soup was warm and creamy. If you like spinach, chances are you’ll enjoy this soup. It’s not incredibly filling, so I was appreciative of the toasted peanut butter sandwiches. I thought the nuttiness and slight crunch of the toasted sandwiches went well with the soup.

The lemon rice pudding with apple whip sauce was delicious. I was surprised by how long it took to bake compared to what the recipe suggested it would take. It took so long after the rest of the meal that I lost the daylight I needed to take pictures and actually ran outside to take them in what light was left. Artificial lighting at night often makes my pictures too shadowy. I think you can still see what it looked like, though. It was creamy and lightly lemony. The sauce tasted more like apple juice than I expected. It was refreshing and sweet. I liked the pudding equally with or without the sauce.

I’m happy the lemon rice pudding turned out well. This was a nice menu and I’d recommend all of it. I think the soup was a handy recipe for a home front housewife. The spinach could have come from a Victory garden, helping to cut costs. All of the recipes include options in their ingredient lists so you can customize them to work with whatever is in your pantry. I found this helpful today, and I know it was helpful then.

Stay safe and well. Let me know if you try any of these recipes.

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.

Christmas Menus

I wanted to start off December with a different kind of First Monday Menu. I’ve been researching different holiday menus, and I thought I’d add a few here so you can see what a Christmas dinner in the early 1940s might have looked like.

Holiday meals at the beginning of the decade would have looked much different than a dinner served during the rationing years. The menus I have chosen to feature here are from 1940 and 1942.

Your Gas Range Cook Book

This first two are from the January 1940 Your Gas Range Cook Book. It’s a 135 page softcover book that was distributed by the Wyandotte County Gas Company of Kansas. The back pages include a note from the company’s Home Service Department encouraging homemakers to look into CP (Certified Performance) gas ranges. I’ve included the two page spread of both menus so you can see some of the recipes.

The American Woman’s Cook Book

The next menus are from The American Woman’s Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer. I have the 1940 edition. The menu items are listed in the order the cookbook listed them.

Menu 1:

  • Oyster Cocktails in Green Pepper Shells
  • Celery
  • Ripe Olives
  • Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing
  • Apple Sauce
  • String Beans
  • Potato Puff
  • Lettuce Salad with Riced Cheese and Bar-le-Duc
  • French Dressing
  • Toasted Wafers
  • English Plum Pudding
  • Bonbons
  • Coffee

Menu 2:

  • Cream of Celery Soup
  • Bread Sticks
  • Salted Peanuts
  • Stuffed Olives
  • Roast Beef
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Potato Souffle
  • Spinach in Eggs
  • White Grape Salad with Guava Jelly
  • French Dressing
  • Toasted Crackers
  • Plum Pudding, Hard Sauce
  • Bonbons
  • Coffee

Better Homes and Gardens

The December 1942 issue of “Better Homes and Gardens” has seven menus! I’ll list one of them here, but I hope to try out one or two of them before the month is over. Each menu lists a main dish, vegetables, a salad and/or accompaniment, a dessert, and something else that would be nice to add to the meal. I found these menus to be more housewife friendly.

Menu:

  • Yule Roast–Standing Rib
  • Whole Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Browned Potatoes
  • Cranberry Stars on Pineapple Slices
  • Mayonnaise
  • Jellied Plum Pudding with Ruby Crown
  • Hot 8-Vegetable Cocktail
  • Relishes
  • Cheese Appetizers

The notes for this menu calls it a dinner in the English Tradition. They suggest starting things off by adding whole cloves and allspice to the 8-vegetable cocktail, heating it up, then straining it into a crystal cup and topping it with a lemon pierced with cloves. The magazine also says to top the broccoli with tiny pimento stars. Those cranberry stars on the pineapple? There’s a note about having cream cheese mixed with lemon juice added to stars cut from canned cranberries.

Here’s the recipe for those cheese appetizers.

Cheese Appetizers

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of cayenne
  • 3 c bite-size whole wheat cereal
  • 3/4 c grated American or Parmesan cheese

Melt butter. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, cayenne, and cereal. Sprinkle with cheese. Toss gently until cereal is cheese coated.

I think it’s interesting that plum pudding was listed in each book or magazine. Do you eat plum pudding for Christmas dinner? It feels so old fashioned to me, and I wonder when we stopped seeing plum pudding as a Christmas dinner staple. I’m tempted to add one to my table this year.

Are any of the rest of the foods here on your must-cook holiday dinner list?

First Monday Menu: BBQ Chicken and Victory Garden Vegetables

The home front housewife’s Victory Garden would be keeping the kitchen stocked with fresh vegetables this time of year. Those fresh veggies were healthy and helped a family save rationing points and money by allowing them to fill up on meals that included homegrown food.

This is a light, easy to fix late summer meal that works as well today as it did in the 1940s. The chicken recipe comes from the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

Barbecued Fried Chicken

  • 2 1/2 lb fryer, cut up
  • 4 tbsp salad oil or fat
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bottled thick meat sauce
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c catsup
  • dash tabasco sauce

Wash the fryer and dry it slightly. You can reserve the backbone, neck, and wing tips for making chicken broth later. Heat the salad oil in a skillet, then add the chicken. Brown on all sides over high heat. Remove the chicken and place in a shallow baking pan. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken. Bake uncovered in a moderate oven of 350°F for one hour or until the chicken is tender, basting every 10 minutes with the sauce in the pan. Place in a broiler oven which has been preheated (unless the manufacturer’s instructions say otherwise) and allow to brown slightly. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from broiler. Put the chicken on a platter and pour the remaining sauce over it to serve. Serves 4.

Note: In true home front housewife style, I used what we had on hand to make this recipe. I used chicken breasts instead of a whole fryer, and it worked well. 

Victory Garden Vegetables

I used squash, zucchini, and onions, but any vegetable you have on hand will work. Just slice, toss in a skillet, and cook with a little salt and pepper. This is also a great way to use up any leftover vegetables you have on hand. I’ve also added garlic pepper and/or cheese to the squash, zucchini, and onions. The melted cheese adds just the right amount of gooey indulgence to the dish. 

Results

The chicken breasts were very moist and flavorful. I like steak sauce, but I very rarely use it on steaks. This was a nice way to incorporate that flavor into a meal. Seven people ages 2 to adult tested this menu and everyone loved it. Next time I might add another side dish or a dessert, but the chicken and vegetables on their own were very satisfying. 

First Monday Menu: Chop Suey and Strawberry Shortcake

After a long April full of deadlines, I am back to blogging with May’s First Monday Menu.

Origin stories are varied, but chop suey seems to have been invented by Chinese Americans in the late 1800s. According to Wikipedia, E.N. Anderson, an anthropologist specializing in Chinese Food, traced chop suey to a similarly named Chinese dish meaning “miscellaneous leftovers”. This fits with the dish’s use during WWII.

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In my research, chop suey pops up everywhere. It’s in cookbooks, magazine articles, and product advertising. All recipes are similar and flexible. I’m assuming it was a popular dish for using up odds and ends in the pantry. The recipe I used today came from a chapter full of suggestions on cooking with meat during shortages and rationing. Numerous recipes using leftovers are suggested, including the chop suey you see here.

I chose this particular recipe because I think it showcases the flexibility of the dish. It’s from What Do We Eat Now? A Guide to Wartime Housekeeping by Helen Robertson, Sarah MacLeod, and Frances Preston. It was published in 1942. It’s a fantastic look at how changes were affecting home front housewives’ daily lives. I am always impressed by the ingenuity and bravery of women facing numerous challenges to running a smooth household.

What Do We Eat Now? suggests using a green salad and a fruit dessert to create a meal. I added a simple salad and strawberry shortcake. My pictures show ranch dressing on the salad. I want to point out that ranch dressing was not invented until the early 1950s, so it’s not technically accurate here. I used frozen strawberries and angel food cake for our strawberry shortcake. A variety of strawberry shortcake recipes existed in early 1940s cookbooks, so home front housewives were definitely serving this dessert during war years, especially if they grew their own strawberries in their Victory Gardens.

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Chop Suey

  • 2 c shredded meat
  • 2 tbsp fat
  • 1 c fresh OR one can mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/4 c sliced onion
  • 2 c shredded celery
  • 1/2 c shredded green pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 can bean sprouts OR 2 c cooked shredded green beans
  • 1 1/2 c sliced uncooked radishes
  • soy sauce

Prepare meat. You may use cooked pork, turkey, veal, beef, chicken, or duck. If there isn’t enough, add a small amount of ham or freshly cooked meat. (Note: You can choose to use all freshly cooked meat, but this recipe was specifically for using leftovers.) Melt fat in pan. Saute onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, usually about 6 or 7 minutes. Blend in the flour. Add bean sprouts (or green beans), meat, and radishes. Heat. Season well. Serve over rice or fried noodles.

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Results

I like that this recipe shows how you can use whatever meat you have available and that some of the other ingredients are optional or may be switched out for something else. I think this recipe could be adapted to fit any vegetables you have on hand, as well.

My family was a little uncertain about trying chop suey, but I wanted to test it since I see it in so many different places in my research.  Everyone enjoyed it. Even my toddler loved this one. It was surprisingly flavorful and definitely filling. We used shredded chicken, green beans, and rice, but I think this would be just as good with turkey or beef served over noodles. I make sure all of my kids go to college armed with an arsenal of easy to make recipes. Chop suey will be a useful addition.

Let me know if you try a version of chop suey.

Have a great week!

 

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.