Saturday, November 22, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 46 - Bohemian Kolache

Better Homes & Gardens
Cook Book Wartime Section
1945 edition 
As my project winds down, I'm scrambling to try and find recipes in sources I've neglected and get in the last few recipes I feel are important to experiment with as a representation of the period. I know I won't fit them all in, but it's been fun going through and trying to select those last golden gems! Like the recipe I made today.

This week's ration recipe for Bohemian Kolache sounds so exotic doesn't it? I looked it up and found on wikipedia that a kolache (coming from a Czech word) "is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States." Sounds yummy to me!

I wanted to make a bread and I wanted to use my 1945 issue of the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book again. I think I've only made one or two things out of it. So, when I saw this sweet bun recipe that called for mace I was intrigued! Mace is one of those ingredients that not many people use and not many recipes call for, but I love it. Mace comes from the outer covering of the nutmeg seed. So it tastes a lot like nutmeg, and yet it's also a bit peppery.

After making these, I really felt that these kolache would make a fabulous breakfast bread for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's day. The only catch is that it needs to be made the day before as it requires 4 separate risings - 3 if you cheat like I did. If you start in the morning, you should have it done by the early afternoon.

I love this nifty wartime insert they included in the Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks
published during WWII.
 On to the recipe! This recipe calls for flour, sugar, salt, mace, grated lemon peel (I used dried), yeast, shortening (I used butter), milk, and eggs.

Scald the milk. Combine the sugar, mace, grated lemon peel, shortening and the scalded milk.
Sugar, salt, lemon peel, mace, and shortening.
 Cool the mixture to a lukewarm temperature. Soften the yeast in the mixture for a few minutes. Add in the eggs and flour and beat well. I found the dough to be too sticky so I added another handful of flour.

 Beat the mixture well. I beat with my electric mixer first and then hand beat it.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. At this point the recipes says to punch it down and let it rise again, but I skipped the second rising and went straight to rolling it out.

Roll out the dough to a 1/2" thickness.

 Cut 1 1/2" rounds. The recipe says it makes 2 dozen, but I'm pretty sure I got more out of it than that. Place them on a greased cookie sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with fat - I used butter.
Aren't they cute? The fact that you had to cut them out was another
reason why this recipe intrigued me.
Cover and let the kolache rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Once they've risen, use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each one.

Put a dollop of jam in the center. Now, the recipe calls for orange marmalade. Unfortunately, I didn't have any orange marmalade, so I used a homemade blackberry-plum jam instead. It tasted good, but I think any berry flavor is too strong and overpowers the lovely mace flavor. A jam with a more delicate flavor like orange marmalade like they suggest or maybe even apricot is perfect for these.

Next, you cover and set these in a warm place again to rise and get puffy. *sigh* I know! It's a lot of steps, but it's worth it.

Bake in an oven preheated to 400º F (though I think 375º F would be better) for 15 minutes. Mine turned out too browned. Next time I think I'll try a lower temperature.

Finally, all done! Let cool and enjoy!
These little buns were lovely! They were soft and fragrant and the mace really stood out... until the blackberry kicked in. I really wish I'd had the orange marmalade. I think even sprinkling a bit of powdered sugar or a light glaze drizzled on top would be a nice touch. There's always next time, I suppose! 

I know these require a lot of risings, but I'd really encourage you to give these a try for your next holiday breakfast or gathering! 

Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book - 1945 ed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A New Look

I've always been cautious about changing the look of my blog because I liked it so much as it was, but I thought it needed a change. It's been awhile since I first started the blog and I've been happily surprised to see I've gotten over 11,000 page views! Wow! Thanks to everyone who visits and even if you don't leave comments, it makes me happy to think that I can share the love of history with others even if it's in a small way.

Also, I realized I only have 7 more ration recipes left. Aaaah! Where did the year go? I can't believe the project is almost done. I do have another idea in the works, though I'll go into that at the end of next month. Until then, enjoy the remaining 7 ration recipes!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 45 - Frankfurter Casserole

Whalemeat Steak Casserole!
Now this is one British wartime casserole
I would gladly pass on. Yikes!
Frankfurter Casserole. Yep. It was one of those things that I knew I should probably make, but it scared me. I mean, how good could a frankfurter casserole possibly be? What came to mind was a nightmare casserole born out of the Depression and continued stubbornly into the '50s. But since I pledged to try scary recipes for this ration project I figured I should finally get it out of the way.

We all know that casseroles save time and can feed a lot of people. They're good at using leftovers or hiding less than desirable ingredients. You can also use a lot of inexpensive ingredients for a nice, filling meal. All these reasons are what make casseroles a good ration recipe.

First of all I want to share where I got this recipe.

I realized that I've been neglecting a fabulous source for recipes - women's magazines! The only one I've used for this project was the Campbell's soup ad and that's not even technically a recipe. I gleaned this week's recipe from McCall's May 1942 issue. It was part of a fabulous article entitled "How to Keep A Man Convinced You're Beautiful". (!!!) The entire premise of this article is saying that, sure, you can put on a new dress and he might notice, but put these recipes on the table and he'll think you're the most beautiful woman in the world. Have a look:

click image to enlarge

The beginning is priceless: "A misty veil or a new dress the color of your eyes can go a long way toward persuading a man you're pretty. I'll grant you that. But if you want him to think you're downright beautiful, and to keep on thinking so year after year, never forget that there's nothing on earth more becoming to you than his favorite pie! (Now how's that for a million-dollar beauty secret, offered to you absolutely without extra charge!)" hahaha!

I also just adore the men's quotes before each recipe:
"Honey, you're a picture to take back to camp!"
"None of these young things is a patch on you!"
"Sweetheart, I swear you get better looking every day!"

haha! I just love this stuff. This article says a lot about the attitude towards women and the expectations on them at the time. It also makes an interesting statement about the image of men. Fascinating things to think about!

Let's get on to the recipe. Yes, it's that time. If the thought of making a frankfurter casserole still scares you as much as it did me at first, you needn't let it. This recipe actually took me completely by surprise.

This recipe has quite a few ingredients: 5 cups bread crumbs, onions, butter, poultry seasoning, water, frankfurters, canned tomatoes, more onions, mustard, sugar, whole cloves, and a bay leaf.

Saute the onions in the butter until lightly golden and translucent.

Combine the onions with the bread crumbs, salt, poultry seasoning, and water. Put the bread mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish.

Slice the frankfurters in half, spread each with some mustard.

Lay them down over the bread mixture in the casserole pan. The recipe actually didn't specify which side up, but this made the most sense to me.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350º F for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the canned tomatoes (juice included) with the sugar, whole cloves, the rest of the onions, and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve with the frankfurter casserole. (You're essentially making a very basic and fast ketchup-type topping, but don't expect exact ketchup flavor when you eat it.)
Frankfurter Casserole

This recipe totally redefined what a casserole is for me. When I think casserole I usually think of a meat, a starch like potatoes, rice, or pasta, and cheese as the glue to hold it all together. This had none of those things and I was delighted! You might have suspected it, but the bread mixture was pretty much a very basic stuffing recipe like you'd make at Thanksgiving. It tasted like it too and was quite yummy with the frankfurters. Add some canned cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans and you could call it "Poor Man's Thanksgiving Dinner!" :-) I thought the tomato topping wasn't bad on top. It wasn't my favorite, but it adds a nice flavor contrast to the rest of the casserole.

Did my husband start swooning over my beauty the minute he tasted this casserole? Uh... no. In fact, he said it was "interesting" and scarfed it down before he left for Scouts. I think his tastes tend to run toward spicy, Asian, or Italian. But that's okay. He tells me I'm beautiful every day anyway. :-)

In the end, I'm glad I tried this recipe, even if the thought of it was scary at first. It just goes to show that you can't let your assumptions about a recipe prevent you from giving it a try! So go ahead - give it a try. You just might like it!

Here's the recipe:

Sorry for the less than stellar picture. The recipe continues and says:
"onion, bay leaf, sugar, salt and cloves. Simmer 15 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and cloves. Serve with frankfurter casserole.
Serves 4."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 44 - Southern Tomato Cream Soup

It was a chilly day on Monday when I went looking for a dinner recipe idea. As usual, I had no idea what to cook, but tomato soup and grilled cheese came to mind as being something easy. It's not usually the best option, only because half the family likes the grilled cheese and doesn't like the tomato soup and the other half likes the tomato soup, but not the grilled cheese. *sigh* Well, I ignored these well-known family preferences and decided to make a ration recipe for tomato soup.

I've always wanted to make homemade tomato soup. What's funny is that I cook a lot of things from scratch, but tomato soup has always, in my mind, been something that came from a can. I grew up with my mom putting milk in it. I always hated tomato soup. Then I married my husband who was appalled that I put milk in it (and then wouldn't end up eating it). He then taught me the other way to make it with just straight water - and I actually liked it! As much as anyone can like it who doesn't like tomato soup.

As for today's ration recipe for Southern Tomato Cream Soup, it's got milk in it. But I kept an open mind, especially because it called for chopped green peppers. Interesting!

Milk was one of those things that the US government encouraged everyone to have in their diet, and not usually just by drinking it. There were all sorts of recipes to get milk in your diet including puddings like the tapioca pudding I made early on in this project. Putting it in tomato soup was also another way as we'll see.

Soup was also one of those things you could usually put together quickly. I love that most 1940s soup recipes are simple and fast.

For today's recipe the ingredients called for are tomato juice (I like more texture so I used crushed tomatoes w/ some water added), green peppers (I didn't have enough from my garden, so I used some dehydrated ones that I reconstituted), butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk.

Saute the chopped green peppers in butter.

Mash the flour and butter together until they're a nice paste.
If you blend the flour this way it keeps the soup from getting lumps. It's a nice, easy technique that works like a charm!

Once the green peppers are tender, add the tomato juice (or crushed tomato watered down a bit) and spices and bring to a boil. Add the butter/flour mixture and stir until melted.

Next add the scalded milk. It's important to scald it so that it's hot to begin with when adding it to the soup and I think it also helps keep it from curdling. (I added in my reconstituted green peppers at this point.)

Dish it up and serve!

This soup was actually pretty good! I thought it was a nice cream soup and was surprised that the tomato flavor is not as prominent as I thought it would be. The green peppers add a lot of flavor for how little you put in. It's still not my favorite, but it's a nice change from the same ol' soups we usually have.

My husband was excited about the green peppers and he seemed to really enjoy the soup. Our son, who usually devours tomato soup didn't like it. He's more of a "canned tomato soup with water added" kind of kid. Our daughter who usually hates tomato soup, or tomato anything for that matter, claimed she didn't like it, but then kept stealing licks with her spoon. :-)

August 1943 Westinghouse Health-for-Victory Magazine

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

See My New Tab Above!

I've just put up a new tab in the links bar at the top of the page called "Museums & Living History". Ranting and musing about museums, living history, and the like is something I like to focus on in the blog now and then, so I realized that I thought it would be cool to have a place where all those related posts would be easy to access. Check it out!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hope Lodge - 1777 Whitemarsh Encampment Reenactment

The Front of Hope Lodge
We were up in Pennsylvania visiting friends for Halloween and it just so happened that they live 10 minutes from this beautiful Georgian house called Hope Lodge in Fort Washington, PA. November 1st & 2nd a Rev War encampment was scheduled and we were planning on our two families going there all together. Unfortunately, it turned out to be cold, windy, and rainy on Saturday! However, my friend Katherine and I decided to brave the weather and go on our own since she said that Hope Lodge is rarely open. I'm so glad that we did!

Hope Lodge from the side
There weren't a lot of spectators there, but I really admired the reenactors for braving such harsh weather. I once participated in a reenactment in December and I ended up with hypothermia! So, I can really empathize with those dedicated souls that turn out in the cold months! Luckily, the house was warmer and we enjoyed a self-guided tour. I don't recall ever touring a Georgian house and I was totally in love with all the symmetry that is characteristic of that style. The house is also an interesting study in what really was Colonial (they loved color and it didn't always match!) and what later generations thought was a Colonial style (black & white). Not sure where the color got lost in translation, but things like that happen.

Another highlight was meeting a Benjamin Franklin impersonator - my first! He had an awesome sampling of some of Franklin's electrical experiments and some of them were functioning. Very cool! He was also loads of fun to talk to, so I'm glad he waved us over. We were just going to walk by his tent without going inside.

We were only able to stay about an hour because of the chill, but it was such a fun little trip. I think we'll try to make it again next year and hopefully the weather will be kinder and we can bring the husbands and kids.

Enjoy some pictures!

Sitting Room in Hope Lodge
It's painted in a gorgeous Prussian Blue color -
a popular and very expensive color for the late 1700s.

I'm always on the look-out for interesting museum signs and my friend
Katherine and I both thought it was really nice that they showed a blueprint
of the house and where the room we were looking at was located.
They had this throughout all the signs in the house.

The featured room is highlighted in red on this sign. Even better!

This dining room was just as dim as the photo shows.
It also features the interpretation of Colonial Revival style
in the 1920s and '30s - black and white. Kinda boring.
Give me Prussian Blue any day!

The housekeeper's room was lovely and very bright. That
red door is a secret passage into the front sitting room.
I love secret passageways!

The cellar. I've never been in an historical home's cellar, so
I thought this was quite the treat! I also had some cellar envy.
Our own home's cellar has rock walls, but the ceilings are much lower (5'8"),
has a cement/dirt floor, and the rock walls are much more rough & hand-hewn. 

The dairy room. There was a water trough that ran all the way around that held water to keep the room cooler. The slatted doors allowed for air circulation. Cool!

The Scullery. There was a separate building out back behind the house
that was the summer kitchen.

Root cellar. No doubt this would have been chock full of stuff
back in the day.

Upstairs bedchamber. Lovely!

Another bedroom. Love the bed and there's that Prussian Blue again!

Some reenactor ladies in the hall outside the bedrooms.

A reenactor/museum volunteer roasting a chicken
over the fire. I loved this method of roasting.
The chicken spun on the string and she'd use the drippings to baste
it now and then. I bet that chicken tasted amazing!

Benjamin Franklin and I standing in front of his table of
cool electrical experiments

Benjamin Franklin introduced soybeans used as tofu to the Americans.
I didn't know that!
Here is a microscope he would have used along with slides covered in mica to allow the light to shine through.
Mica is a stone that can break into very thin flakes - thinner than they could make glass at the time.

Leydon jars, a glass charging tube with fur, the infamous kite & key, a battery
(the row of glass plates), and various other instruments
My friend Katherine testing out the battery.
Apparently, Benjamin Franklin was able to explode gunpowder from a distance
using a similar type of battery he created. In fact, Franklin invented the term "battery".
Ha! Another thing I didn't know.

Katherine and I got a picture with the red coats.
They tried to get us to say "Long live the king!"
Instead I said, "Hurrah for General Washington!"
They weren't too fond of that. hahaha!