Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ration Point Humor

I was delighted when I stumbled by pure accident upon this January 1943 newspaper article in an Indiana newspaper (The Hammond Times) about one man's food rationing "predictions". I skimmed a bit and immediately cracked up laughing until I was teary eyed. No doubt the author, Henry McLemore, wrote the article tongue-in-cheek, and it is such a treasure I had to share it!
Here it is:

Prediction On Rationing of Food - Love, Romance, Music, And Friendship Will Be Affected by Point System

"At the risk of becoming known as Nostradamus McLemore I am going to make a few prophesies on the far reaching affects of the general food rationing plan which goes into operation on Feb. 2.

"It will influence love and romance. It will influence music. It will influence people and lose them friends.

"The effect of the ration plan on love and romance is as obvious as Venus deMilo has never won the national bowling championship. Do you think for a minute that in the future a man with a great big appetite would even consider courting a girl with a great big appetite? No indeed, when there are sparrow-like eaters running alone loose with just as many 'points' in their ration book as the hefty eaters.

Consider Her Appetite

"From now on the real charm of a maid for a man will not lie in blue eyes, or dimples, or skill in needlepoint, bur rather how she tucks away that food when it is placed in front of her.

"Just as heiresses have been warned to guard against someone marrying them for their money, light eating girls will be cautioned: 'Are you sure that its you he loves, my dear, and not all those ration points you have left over each month?'

"Men, of course, face the same danger. The most eligible man in town may be the fellow with stomach ulcers. Girls who like their food are going to think twice before plighting their troth to a man who needs 700 or 800 points a day to keep his 6 feet, 200-pound frame, moving around. When in inquiring into a suitor's background parents will care more about the oats he has eaten than the ones he has sown.

"The ration plan will result in a thousand new songs. Already the 'slap-happy Wagners' of Tin Pan alley are hard at work composing immortal songs to the food shortage.

Some Song Titles
"'I Met a 700-Point Baby in an A. & P-ee Store'
'My Heart Went on a Riot When I Met a Girl on a Diet'
'My Heart is All A-Flutter Over a Gal who Doesn't Like Butter'
'I Can't Ration My Passion for You'.

"Just wait and see, there'll be some even worse than these.

"As for friendship, the food you serve a guest in your home is going to show plainer than any of your other actions how much you think of him. Give him a dinner that cost you more points than Notre Dame gets in a season and he will think of you as a true friend. On the other hand, give him a dinner which his knowing eye will quickly see hasn't cost you  more than a few measly points from your ration book and he will never again shake your hand with the same fervor. 

"For the first time since the founding of this country friendships are going to be made and lost over such items as canned sifted peas, dried apricots, catsup and noodle soup.

"In the future, ration points will determine the great hosts and hostesses of the country. Those who are willing to sacrifice all week to really give a bang-up dinner on Saturday night and not necessarily the wealthy, will be the famed entertainers.

Those Big Dinners

"Already old Nostradamus McLemore can see the society columns. A big dinner will be written up like this:
'The highest point dinner of the season was given last evening by Mr. and Mrs. Gus Riboflavin. Mr. and Mrs. Riboflavin, who has existed on plentiful cereals for a fortnight in order to give the 2,700-point dinner, were so weak that they had to be helped from the table at an early hour. The dinner started with a 60-point appetizer, was followed by a 200-point clear soup, a 500-point entree and they shot the rest of the points on the salad and dessert.'

"Maybe this all sounds far-fetched, but wait and see. Nostradamus McLemore has never made a wrong prediction on general food rationing in the United States." 


Hahahahahahaha!!!!! This is the most hilarious thing I have read in a long time! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Clearly, this man is a bit miffed with the whole idea of ration points, but as he couldn't do anything about it, he chose to poke fun at it. What a wonderful gem from history! I'm so glad I dug it up! :-D

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quiet

It's been pretty quiet around here lately, especially compared with last year's fun ration recipe project. It's been a needed break as the beginning of this year is proving to be quite busy! I've got three different teaching commitments and I've been working hard on writing my book. Yes, it's felt a little crazy!

I have been thinking about my sewing goal, though. I'm hoping I'll get something made this week. So, stay tuned!

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Little Modern Archaeology

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I've been doing some research for a book I'm writing set in WWII. (Go figure. Ha!) :-) The other day I stumbled on this fascinating article about Freeman Field, a military airfield, in southern Indiana where during WWII, they sent captured Nazi aircraft and sent them to Freeman Field to be reverse-engineered. After the war they buried the planes and plane parts on the outskirts of the Field.

I'm from Indiana myself, so the idea of Nazi fighter planes being buried in some Hoosier field in the country is so funny and bizarre! I love that they're making the effort to find and dig them all up.

My family and I are planning a trip to Indiana this coming summer and I'm hoping to stop by the Freeman Field to see their museum and the things they've dug up so far. So cool!

Check the article out HERE.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Studies in Rationing

It feels like it's been ages since I've posted on here, and I am still catching up in things around the house from the holidays. I can already tell I miss posting about ration recipes, but I got something thrilling in the mail today that cheered me right up!


Studies In Rationing
United States & Great Britain!
These books have been on my list to get for a long time. They are the only copies I've seen for sale anywhere, so I am super excited to finally have them to look through! You won't be surprised if I tell you that they are very DRY to read. They are basically reports on rationing in the U.S. and Great Britain. The 2nd volume's title reads: An Analysis of Selected Rationing Programs in the United States During World War II by Carolyn Shaw Solo. This set was published in 1950-51 and was undertaken by Harvard University. Bravo for them!

It is, of course, the best thing to read original recipe documents and even women's first hand accounts, but to be able to see behind the machinery of how the government ran things and why they rang things in the way that they did adds a whole different dimension to the story of rationing! Very exciting stuff. :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What's Next?


So, what's next for my blog? I had a couple ideas I was hashing over. I thought about further exploring the 1940s, but from an entertainment angle - films, books, magazines, games, etc. I think that idea would be a lot of fun! But in the end, my desperate need to start working on our Revolutionary War reenacting outfits won out. It's sad, but I simply don't have time to do it all! (Why does this come as a surprise to me??) haha!

So, for my next project for 2015, I'm going to have a goal of sewing at least one historical garment every month and posting about it. Of course, I'm at liberty to do more, but I'm only holding myself to one per month. I have to remember that I have a lot of responsibilities like homeschooling and a service calling in my church as well as the good ol' 3 C's - cooking and cleaning and child raising. :-)

I'll post soon about the first sewing project of the year - as soon as I figure out what that is! I hope you'll join me.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winner Announced & Lessons Learned

The winner of the amazing Health for Victory booklet is...

Heather M. H.!

Thanks to everyone who entered! And thank you so much for stopping by to check out some of the amazing and interesting recipes I've experimented with in 2014. I appreciate every single visit. :-) I hope you'll continue to come back and try some of the ration recipes I've featured here.


 

So, through a year of cooking my way through all kinds of WWII ration recipes I've learned a lot. Among the things I've learned are:

1. The cooks of the  '40s were awesome at portion size. They never ceased to amaze me.

2. There are great ways of replacing sugar in recipes like using jams/marmalades, sweetened condensed milk, cake crumbs, canned fruit syrup, and molasses!

3. There was a huge different between the rationing experiences of the Brits compared with the Americans. The Americans had much more variety in ingredients and recipes.

4. I conquered some fears to try some odd recipes involving liver, Jello (and salt!), gelatin-enhanced butter, tomato aspic, crazy whipped cream alternatives, and soya flour. I gotta be honest. Some of these recipes ended up being tossed to the chickens. :-)

5. The British and the Americans were endlessly creative in getting their nutrition into their wartime diet. Nutrition was up there in patriotic duty with doing your bit in war/volunteer work and buying war bonds.

6. I will never think of packing a lunchbox in the same way ever again. Using slices of a quick bread loaf (like the delicious Orange Honey Loaf) to change things up for a sandwich is brilliant!

7. The women of the home had a really tough job balancing war work, volunteering, childcare, home care, and meal preparations with the added stress of dealing with rationing and ration points/tokens!

8. Frequent desserts became a standard part of the American diet during the 1940s. Comfort foods and sweets were all part of boosting morale and they've stood fast in our culture to this day.

9. Fat was invaluable. They needed to save every last drop.

10. It's always good to try new foods and recipes, even if they seem scary at first, because they might turn out to actually be pretty good... but if not, at least you tried it! You can always learn from every experience whether good or bad.

Haha! I've always loved this poster!
And finally, here is a list of the top 10 best and the top 10 worst recipes that I tried this year! I thought it might be good to have a recap and a future reference. :-)

There were a whole lot of yummy recipes, but I had to narrow it down somewhat!

Top 10 Best Recipes:

1. Prune Nut Cake
2. Cornish Pasties
3. Mint Tinkle
4. Beet Relish
5. Oatmeal Drop Cookies
6. Raised Chocolate Cake
7. Cocoa Syrup w/ Honey
8. Pork Roast Victory Dinner
9. Praline Cookies
10. Hot Potato Salad w/ Frankfurters
(Bohemian Kolache and Peanut Brittle would have come next... Yum!)

Top 10 Worst Recipes:
1. Scotch Eggs
2. Sandwich Fillings - Liver & Onion
3. Tomato Aspic
4. Scones
5. Chinese Chews
6. Whipped Cream (British version)
7. Soya Fudge
8. Lemon Sunshine Salad
9. Frankfurter Casserole
10. Knox Gelatine Spread

What a fun and educational year it has been! I'll be sad not to be trying out a ration recipe every week and posting about it anymore, but I think I'll still try one out periodically and write about it on here. There's no one saying I can't, so ha! :-)

Be adventurous and try some WWII ration recipes! 


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 52 - Strawberry Refrigerator Cake

I have my son to thank for the last ration recipe of my project! I was making last week's recipe, the Peanut Brittle Ice Cream, and on the next page he saw the recipe for Strawberry Refrigerator Cake. He loves strawberries, so when he saw that he begged me to make it. haha! I had a few recipes I was debating about, but he was so cute about asking me, and it was a technique of the time period I haven't experimented with yet, so I thought why not? Not to mention, I thought ending the project with a celebratory cake was a great idea!

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For me, refrigerator cakes are something I associate with the 1950s, but they apparently date much earlier than that. In the 1940s, more people than ever had replaced their ice boxes with refrigerators thanks to widened availability of electricity. The air circulated better and they kept things cooler; not to mention you didn't need large blocks of ice delivered. Many refrigerators even had little frozen compartments big enough for making ice cubes, but little else. (Frozen food was still in its infancy.)

I wish I knew when refrigerator cakes first came on the scene, because whoever discovered them were geniuses! The best thing about them is that you make them quite a few hours in advance. When dinner comes around, you pull it out of the fridge and you've got a fabulous dessert! An added benefit is that you don't waste any fuel baking it in the oven. Plus, there is no sugar used in this recipe at all - just sweetened condensed milk and vanilla wafer cookies. That would have been a big bonus for saving on your sugar rations.

I am entirely new to refrigerator cakes, so I was excited to try this one out. I also love that the ingredients are very simple: sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, strawberries, egg whites, and vanilla wafers. I doubled the recipe because I wanted to be sure to fill my deep spring-form pan to the top. :-) Otherwise it would probably fill a regular 8"-9" round cake pan.


Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice. Stir until it thickens.

Slice the strawberries and add to the bowl. Stir gently to incorporate.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the strawberry mixture. (Yes, there will be raw egg whites in this recipe! Remember, we don't bake this cake.)

Looking good and it tasted pretty yummy too!

Line a spring-form pan or a "narrow oblong pan" with waxed paper. 

Put down a layer of the strawberry mixture, covering the bottom in a good thickness - maybe 1"?

Put down a layer of vanilla wafers. Continue layering until the strawberry mixture is used up. End with a layer of vanilla wafers.


Layering is all complete! I was worried everything wouldn't fit!
Refrigerate the cake for 6 hours or more. I'd say the taste definitely improves with time. I made the cake in the evening and we tried it the next morning for breakfast. :-) Then we ate the rest after dinner. I felt it tasted much better 24-hours later.

Carefully remove the spring-form pan and the wax paper. I have no idea how you'd manage it in any other kind of pan. Maybe just skip the wax paper lining part? 

It's beautiful!!

I still had to remove the bottom of the spring-form pan, so I had to invert it onto a plate and back again. *sigh* You can see my glorious cake got a little squashed because of that process. Oh well. It's the taste that truly counts!
Look at those layers!
I gave this great-looking cake a try and it was quite yummy! The texture of the filling was very nice. It reminded me of a mix between a Cool Whip pie and a very soft cheesecake. It was pleasantly sweet and lemony with the added texture and flavor coming from the strawberries. I really thought the strawberries would streak the filling pink, but they didn't. The cookies weren't as soft as I thought they might be when I first tried it in the morning, but by the evening (24 hours after making the cake), they had softened up nicely. The cake was light, but held its shape well. 
My son, who originally requested this cake absolutely loved it, as did the rest of my family! It was gone by the end of the day - always a sign of great culinary success!

You can tell the cake held its shape fairly well, even after sitting out for an hour. 
If you don't mind the raw egg whites, this cake is a wonderful one. Definitely give it a try! 
Strawberry Refrigerator Cake
Metropolitan Cook Book - approx. 1942-43

The other recipes I was considering come from a resource I didn't get to use for this project. I got this sweet little reproduction book from my good friend Mairi that she found over in Scotland. It's called "War-Time Cookery to save fuel and food value".


Remember that I said it was a reproduction? Take a look at those rusty staple stains!! I have to say I love that about the Brits. They fully embrace the flaws and imperfections in their original historical documents! Even the rusty staple stains are in the reproduction. Love it!!!

I thought these recipes looked interesting. If I had more weeks I would definitely have given these a try.


I thought I'd show my little baking corner where I've worked on all my ration recipes:  

Me with my last ration recipe. Thanks for following along! :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - End of Project Give Away!

To celebrate the coming close of my project next week, I wanted to sincerely thank all of you who have followed me on this fun and crazy adventure of making one ration recipe a week for the year 2014. I hope I've inspired you to try some of these amazing historical recipes, and if not, I hope I've given you something interesting to read and learn about at least! :-)

As an extra special thank you, I wanted to give away* one of the amazing resources I've depended on for this project - an original copy of the August 1943 Westinghouse Health for Victory Meal Planning Guide!


This issue focuses on the importance of getting "the basic 7" into wartime meals. It has some fabulous food photos and is an intriguing historical look at the ration diet. The best part is that it has tons of recipes!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below with: 
1) your first name
2) which ration recipe post was your favorite and why 
3) which ration recipe you'd like to try

The deadline is December 30th. I'll randomly select a winner next week on the 31st! 

Make sure to check back when I announce the winner, because I'll need your mailing address if it's you!

P.S. Even if you haven't followed this project all along the way, but have stopped in a few times, this give away is for you too! I appreciate every visit to see what I've been cooking. :-)

*This blog is not-for-profit! So, no advertisements from me, no required Facebook likes or Twitter blurbs or anything. It's just purely me saying THANKS! :-) 
And since this is out of pocket for me to ship, I'm sorry, but I can only ship to the U.S.A. or APO addresses. 

Project 52: Rationing - Week 51 - Peanut Brittle Ice Cream

I was having a hard time coming up with my last couple recipes to try. It's just so hard to choose! I was going through my books and I found a resource that I bought awhile back, but hadn't used for this project yet - "Metropolitan Cook Book". I couldn't believe I'd forgotten about it! When I saw the recipe for Peanut Brittle Ice Cream I knew I'd found this week's recipe! Ice cream has been on my list of ration recipes to make too, so it was perfect.

To me, peanut brittle, like candy canes, means Christmas is here. :-) Usually a bunch of festive ice creams come out around Christmas-time like Peppermint Ice Cream, but I honestly can't say that I've seen a peanut brittle flavor in the stores. I don't know why. It seems an obvious combination to me.

The interesting thing about WWII and ice cream is that ice cream production was stopped during the war because of the milk and sugar rationing. If people wanted ice cream, they had to make it themselves with ingredients that were available.

While folks on the home front weren't able to get commercially produced ice cream, soldiers fighting overseas were definitely served ice cream! The October 1943 cover of the Health for Victory guide features a photograph of a sailor happily digging into a dish of ice cream. Inside the cover it explains:
"Remember the story of the aircraft carrier, Lexington? Doomed to sink as a result of the terrific battering she took in the Coral Sea Battle, her  men delayed abandoning ship until they had made a gallant attempt to eat up the ice cream supply. Later reports said that they went over the side with their helmets packed full of the precious stuff!" haha!

It goes on to say that "thanks to Science" and a device called the "mechanical cow" that converted dry milk into "milk that tastes as sweet and fresh as that you get from your dairy", Navy ships and submarines were able to serve their troops milk foods like ice cream on board. It continues, "Ice cream and other milk foods have a value far beyond morale, as the Navy well knows. These foods are so important to the health and well-being of our men that some means had to be found to provide them - even undersea or underfire." So cool!

Since all that milk was being dried and sent overseas to the fighting troops, it made milk a lot harder to come by for Americans. As a result, some of those homefront ice cream recipes got pretty creative!

Well, just glancing at this recipe I knew that this was not going to be your average ice cream recipe. To begin with, the base is made using evaporated milk... thickened with flour! Sounds kinda gross, doesn't it? You'll just have to wait to find out! :-)

To start with I had to make peanut brittle from a ration recipe. This recipe alone could have been its own recipe for the week, because it is definitely not like the peanut brittle you might think of today!

The biggest difference I figured out is that it doesn't use baking soda to make it all foamy and it also called for lemon extract! Also, regular shelled, salted peanuts are used which I like, because I'm not a fan of those red skinned peanuts that are commonly used in peanut brittle. Another funny thing about this recipe is that it has you pour out the candy once it's done cooking and then when it's cool enough to handle you're supposed to stretch it. Strange! The stretching did make a difference in the final texture - making the candy much thinner and easier to eat.

I didn't really document the making of this one, because the nature of candy making does not mesh well with stopping to take pictures!

Before stretching
After stretching
 Then you break it up into little pieces. The lemon flavoring gives it a really interesting, but pleasant taste. My family and I loved it! I actually think I like it better than modern peanut brittle.
Here's the recipe:

Okay, now on to the ice cream portion of the recipe!
I needed evaporated milk, flour, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla. Why in the world did I need lemon juice for vanilla ice cream you wonder? I have no idea!



Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and 1/2 cup evaporated milk diluted with 1/2 cup water.

Heat this mixture over the stove in a double boiler or whatever fancy contraption you come up with instead - like mine! haha! Heat it, stirring constantly, until it becomes thickened. Then you stick it in the fridge to chill - maybe about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
In the meantime, stick an unopened can of evaporated milk in the freezer to chill while your sugar/milk mixture is chilling in the fridge. Interesting, eh???

After the hour is up for the can of evaporated milk in the freezer, take it out and measure 1 cup of the milk into a bowl - it will have slightly crystallized. And then you whip it! That's right! It's another way of making whipped cream, folks. I wish I'd known this when I did my whipped cream ration recipe back in October!

Lovely whipped evaporated milk!
It only whipped up to soft peaks, but still, I was impressed!

 Next, you chop up the peanut brittle, though I really should have followed the recipe when it said to grind it up. I wondered what the point was if you lost all that lovely peanut brittle texture, but the reason is because the whipped evaporated milk isn't strong enough to suspend those huge candy chunks which will just sink to the bottom otherwise...

Take the chilled sugar/milk mixture out of the fridge, mix in your chopped/ground peanut brittle.

Carefully fold the whipped milk into the sugar/milk mixture. Mine didn't want to mix at all. It was partially because of those huge chunks of peanut brittle. *sigh* That's what happens when you don't follow the recipe! 
My cute 7 year old son was nice and took this picture for me!
 Pour the mixture into a "refrigerator" dish and freeze it for 3 hours.

Peanut Brittle Ice Cream
It looks good, doesn't it? The texture was interesting. The whipped topping froze separately on top while the sugar/milk mixture sank to the bottom. Nothing a little mixing won't solve once partially frozen, I think. 

I tasted this one really eagerly. I mean, Peanut Brittle Ice Cream sounds so divine! I'm sad to say that that stinkin' lemon juice in the recipe ruined it for me. It was so hard to enjoy a vanilla ice cream that was masked by that weird tang of lemon. Arrg! Luckily, it's an easy thing to solve - just leave it out! As for the texture, it was nice. I think the evaporated milk worked wonderfully, and thickening with flour was a pretty good idea. I didn't notice the flour in there at all. 

This is not the only ration ice cream recipe out there, but those will have to wait for another time. :-) If you're not up to making your own ration ice cream, I suggest that you get your favorite plain Jane vanilla ice cream, chop up some peanut brittle and mix it in. Oh my! That's a winning combination if there ever was one. 

If anything, definitely make that peanut brittle. It's quite the awesome stuff, and different, which in this case is a good thing!


Metropolitan Cook Book - date unknown, approx. 1942-3
Notice the Peppermint Candy one too!

 As a bonus, here is the inside foreword to my wartime Metropolitan Cook Book. Strangely, there is no date, but the information in the foreword is unmistakably WWII and really interesting.
Enjoy!



And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!