Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ration Recipe: Mincemeat Coffee Cake

Mincemeat Coffee Cake
The New American Cook Book, ca. 1945

I was itching to finally get back to ration cooking, but I didn't count on how overwhelming it would be just choosing what to make! There are so many choices...

So, I flipped through my New American Cook Book, ca. 1945, and found this recipe for Mincemeat Coffee Cake. This was just the ticket, because I've been sad that I wasn't able to make anything with mincemeat for Christmas due to my recovering from a surprise C-section and baby arrival!

This recipe was easy and pretty fast, which is always a plus when making a cake. Especially when you're trying to squeeze it in between making supper and eating supper. haha!

Here's the recipe:


It's pretty straightforward! Even so, I managed to mess part of it up. Those 5 tablespoons of butter do NOT all go into the bottom with the brown sugar. Notice it says only TWO tablespoons of butter go in the bottom, the rest goes into the cake. Silly me! But then, you know by now how notorious I am for not reading directions very thoroughly... I remedied my mistake by pouring off some of the butter and adding oil to the batter since I'd already put everything into the pan and butter was pooling around the sides. *sigh* You'd think I'd learn my lesson about the "reading the recipe through" thing!

I was tempted to add vanilla to the cake, but I stayed strong and didn't. Good for me! I think the cake tastes fine without it, though vanilla wouldn't hurt!

Another note I had is about the oven temperature. 425ΒΊ F seems excessively hot, and the top of the cake did get dark golden brown (what my son calls "burnt" even though it's not). So, it would be worth experimenting with a lower oven temp like 375ΒΊ and lengthening the baking time.

And finally - the recipe doesn't mention anything about flipping it over, but it could've been assumed you would do it since all the yummy stuff is on the bottom. I just went ahead and flipped it like a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and I feel like it was meant to be. All those yummy mincemeat juices trickled down the sides and softened up the golden "burnt" top of the cake quite well. Plus, it's just really pretty, don't you think?


The crumb was delicate and moist, and the mincemeat was the perfect accompaniment to the rather plain cake. A very nice treat, to be sure! Definitely give this a try. It's perfect to make if you have some leftover mincemeat filling from Christmas.




Friday, December 30, 2016

Goals for 2017

I've loved using my 1930s double waffle iron. It sure makes some tasty waffles!
I'll post about the recipe soon!
I can't believe 2017 is just around the corner! I've had a lot on my plate with our baby in the NICU and Christmas, but now that the holidays are winding down, I've been thinking about my goals for my blog in the coming year.

One thing I'm determined to do more of is ration cooking! I've added quite a few more ration cookbooks to my collection, so I have a lot of material to play with - especially banana recipes. I'm not sure why, but I have this weird fascination with the banana recipes from the 30s and 40s - and surprisingly there are a lot! In fact, I just ordered a 1940s banana cookbook! Isn't that wild? haha! A whole cookbook dedicated to bananas. I've run across some banana recipe doozies in my other cookbooks, but one I'm definitely going to try is banana donuts. Why has this recipe disappeared in today's world? Banana Donuts seem totally logical to me!

So, anyway, I'm hoping to cook at least 2 new recipes a month and post about it. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm trying to be realistic. Our baby will be coming home soon, and then I'll have my hands full for sure! Two is a good number, I think, and if I can manage, I'll do more.

My second goal involves sewing - of course! I have a whole host of sewing projects in the works, and they're piling up! Here's a short list: 1940s little girl's jumper, 1930s/40s house dress for me, 1940s overalls, late 1700s short gown and jacket, late 1700s corset (finally! sheesh! I've had this pattern for 2 years now! Maybe 3?), and possible a boy's waistcoat as my son keeps getting taller, and I'm pretty sure he's grown out of the one I made him. And I'm thinking some 1940s baby clothes too for our newest addition. I'm hoping we'll make it out to 2 or 3 events this year: Graeme Park, PA; Conneaut, OH; and Ike's Farm, PA. I wish we could do more, but it's been so long since we've had a little baby, I'm not sure what to expect!

My third goal involves writing, though that isn't too related to this blog. I'd like to finish the first draft of the modern love story I'm working on and get to work on the 2nd draft, but then I'd like to dig into the research for my second WWII novel I have planned. It involves American agriculture and education - both of which I know so little! I have a few leads to start off with, but I think the research alone is going to take me a good portion of this year, if I'm lucky. I'm wondering if I might be able to squeeze in a research visit to the National Archives like I've been dying to do since I moved out to Maryland! Wouldn't that be fun??

So, the goals are nothing new, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic. I think I have some fun adventures ahead for me!

Here's to a Happy and Fantastic New Year!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Baby and A Dress

I've mentioned on here that I was expecting a baby in February - well the little guy arrived 8 weeks early! There wasn't anything wrong with him, but my body had a hard time handling the pregnancy, so my doctor took him out. He's in the NICU now, and I'm extremely grateful for modern medicine and the incredible technology that makes it possible for tiny, preemie babies to thrive! We're counting down the days/weeks when we can bring him home. In the mean time, I'm slowly recovering and gradually easing back into life sans-pregnancy.

I've missed writing on my blog (and writing in general), so I thought I'd put up a post on something I've been wanting to write about for awhile. I have very few family heirlooms, but one special thing I do have is my maternal grandmother Lenore's 1930s bridesmaid dress from her sister's wedding. It's made from a lovely, light blue dotted Swiss cotton, and shows all the markings of being home made. It's a beautifully simple dress, and makes me wonder where things have gotten so crazy with weddings that now we have to buy $200+ bridesmaid dresses for a one-time event! I know not everyone spends that much, but this dress just speaks to me of simplicity, frugality, and focusing on the occasion, not on what was worn.

Here are some pictures featuring different aspects of the dress:

It was very hard to get a good picture with adequate lighting for this delicate, sheer dress, but here it is! It's quite long and petite. I remember trying it on as a teenager and barely being able to squeeze into it. I was a pretty skinny teen, but I was no where close to being as petite as my grandmother!
I imagine an under dress was worn with it, as the fabric is very sheer.

I think the dress's silhouette of the dress is very iconic of the 1930s. The more I learn about this decade of fashion, the more I love it!


This dress has a side zipper enclosure as well has a front bodice partial enclosure using metal snaps. I think these methods of closure were pretty common for the time.

The construction of the dress is very basic, and I think it could be replicated fairly easily. 
Front Bodice

Back Bodice
 I think the sleeves are adorable!

Here is a detail of the button. They're not glass, but I'm not sure what they are made from.

 Here's a detail of the lace and the fabric. The lace is so delicate! I wonder if that is home tatted lace...

And finally, some stitching detail! The seams have been pinked, and much of the dress looks hand sewn, though the main seams may have been done on machine. 

I wish I had a photo of my grandmother in this dress! I know one exists. In fact, I may remember seeing one as a kid. I hope I get to see it soon. This dress is a wonderful treasure, and how fun it would be to have the photo of her wearing it to make it all complete. 😊

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Historical Recipe: Candy Cane Cookies

I have fond memories of making Candy Cane Cookies as a kid. But whenever I tried making them as an adult, they never worked out very well - until this year!


The recipe we made came from my mom's 1960s or 70s Betty Crocker cookbook which fell apart ages ago. Yes, it may be a stretch that I call these "historical", but since the recipe came out before I was born, I'm going with it. Luckily, you can easily find the recipe online still! Here's the link.

A few notes though. Once the dough is all mixed up, and before you add the red dye to half, if your dough looks more like soft chocolate chip cookie dough (i.e. drop cookie consistency), then you definitely need more flour - or it won't work no matter how long you chill it! We ended up having to add an entire 1 1/2 cups more flour until it had some more body to it. Then we chilled it over night.

Once the dough is chilled, you have to work quickly while handling it, because it warms up in your hands pretty fast. My kids and I had a fun time making the candy cane shapes, candy cane sticks, wreaths, and knots. And when we ran out of white, we made a couple red chickens cookies. haha!

The recipe is a bit of an ordeal, but so iconic for the season, and definitely worth eating and sharing!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Free Ebook Link

Starting today until December 10th, you can get my ebook, The War Between Us, for free on Amazon! Here's the link!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Giveaway!


To celebrate the one year anniversary of publishing my WWII historical fiction book, The War Between Us, I'm giving away 3 signed copies of my book on Goodreads!

<-------- Check out the link to the left to enter the giveaway! <---------

And if you'd like to learn more about my book, just check out the "My Author Page" tab at the top. I work hard to keep this blog non-profit, and try not to advertise for personal monetary gain on here. If it's something I'm giving for free, then I think that's a different category. :-)

Also, next week, in honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, from December 6th - 10th, you can snag my e-book for free on Amazon. I'll post a link for that later.

I just really want to make it possible for people to be able to read my book, learn about the story of a lesser-known American minority during WWII, and to (hopefully!) enjoy a historical fiction to further instill that love of history! This was my way of honoring the sacrifice and memory of so many during such a tumultuous time in our American history.

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ration Recipe: Squash Gems

I've encountered several recipes for what are called "gems", which are essentially muffins. I haven't figured out why some are called muffins and others are called gems, but Squash Gems sounded quite delightful, so with squash season upon us, I thought I'd give them a try!

I decided to add some dried zante currants (mini raisins), because I like things in my muffins.

 It looks pretty tasty, doesn't it? Well, it was! It had a delicate flavor and was a nice addition to breakfast and as a snack.

Mmm!

As you can see, it's a pretty standard muffin recipe. I just love that they're called gems. It makes them seem more special somehow! πŸ˜‰

Squash Gems
New American Cook Book, ca. 1945

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Success!

I'm so happy to have won NaNoWriMo! (National Novel Writer's Month) I wrote 56,000+ words by the 24th, and while my first draft isn't finished, it's got a great start. Hooray! 😁

I'm hoping to get back to posting more on here now that most of the craziness of writing is behind me. Holiday times is always full of such delicious food and recipes to try, and exploring war-time recipes is no exception.

I was thrilled to have found a recipe for Vanilla Wafers in my copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book! It's one of those modern things that you don't think of making yourself, because it's easy to just go buy them in the store. But, I've noticed that store-bought Vanilla Wafers have this weird waxy after taste that I don't like, so I'm excited to try out this vintage recipe for them.

Besides that, there are so many cookie and cake and pie recipes to try, I'll never catch up! haha!
But I did want to share a 1940s Berry Pie recipe that I tried a few months ago that turned out really yummy. I love that this recipe is simple, uses honey, and you can use any berry you happen to have. When I made it, I used blackberries. So delicious! I even attempted a lattice-top crust, and with the help of my puzzle/logic-minded son, it turned out pretty well! I wish I could find the photo I took of it, but I can't. Oh well! Here's the recipe!

I think this came from one of my Westinghouse Health-for-Victory cookbooks, but I'm not sure which one. It's definitely from a wartime book in my collection though!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

AWOL

After a month of solid posting, I'm going to be a bit scarce around my blog for a while. I'm attempting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month), where I have to write a novel of at least 50,000 words by November 30th! I'm working on a new book (though old in concept), and am excited to get this last push of writing done before I have my baby. I miss writing and working on a book, so this will be a good goal. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Day 31: Coca-Cola Halloween Party + a Bonus Recipe!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

The last post in my series is this fantastic Coke ad from the November 1944 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. For wartime Halloween, parties over trick o' treating were really encouraged, and this is a great illustration of that. I really like the action in this picture and seeing all the teens' costumes - especially that weird ghost one with the pumpkin head! haha!

Halloween Coke Ad
Ladies Home Journal, Nov. 1944
I also found an interesting article about Halloween in wartime that I thought you might enjoy:
America in WWII - "A Wartime Halloween". Wartime affected Halloween traditions quite a bit!

And now for the bonus recipe!

My friend, Loris, loaned me her October 1941 issue of Woman's Home Companion, since she knew I was working on this project. The back of the magazine had this huge, amazing looking Pillsbury ad, and it immediately caught my eye. I thought it would be the perfect ending to my series along with the Coke ad.

Cranberry Apple Pie
Woman's Home Companion, ca. 1941
Cranberry apple is a fantastic combination, but this recipe is interesting in that it has you add orange juice and ground orange rind to the pie crust. Yum! The only problem - it calls for halving the cranberries. Man, what a pain! haha!


I also love these little bits on the side.

Here's a variation for Mock Cherry using cranberries and raisins! What a neat idea! I will definitely have to test that one out.

A standard apple pie, with not only white sugar, but brown as well. This magazine was published before the war and sugar rationing, so no being shy with granulated sugar here!

Now the really cool thing - each bag of Pillsbury had Thrift Stars you could collect and turn in for silk stockings and other "valuable merchandise." Pretty cool! Too bad we still can't do that... haha!

Thanks for joining me for my series "A Month of Autumn Wartime Recipes & Food!" It's been a lot of fun, and I hope you've come away inspired with some 1940s wartime recipes to try. 

I had so much fun, I just might do a series for each season, though maybe only posting once a week during the season. I have a busy time ahead with expecting a baby this winter and all! :-)

Have a wonderful autumn season!