Friday, September 19, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 37 - Molasses Lemon Pudding

I was very interested in this week's ration recipe for Molasses Lemon Pudding that I found in Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes. Initially I was interested because a pudding made with molasses and lemon sounded so bizarre I just had to try it! But then as I was making the recipe I realized that this was a pudding made without any milk whatsoever!

This recipe would have suited the Brits well, I think, since it doesn't have any milk. The amount of sugar would have been a bit of a hang up though. It calls for 1 cup and then molasses on top of that. One cup of sugar would have been a lot to give up all at once for just one pudding recipe, but I'm sure you could get creative if you needed to, using honey or golden syrup to replace some of the sugar.

As for today, if you or someone you know has a milk intolerance like in my family, this pudding recipe is worth a look.

Ingredients for this ration recipe include sugar, cornstarch, salt, molasses, water, lemon juice, lemon peel, butter, and eggs. On another note - a whisk is a must for this recipe!

In a double boiler (or a metal or glass bowl set over a pot of water) combine the sugar, salt, and cornstarch with a whisk, then add the cold water, boiling water, and molasses. Whisk to combine and heat over hot (boiling) water until it thickens. I found that I had to whisk it frequently as the cornstarch would thicken at the bottom, but not on the top and it was getting clumpy.

Meanwhile, whisk the two eggs until light-colored.

Heating up the molasses pudding mixture.
The eggs, lemon stuff, and butter are waiting to go in.

Once the molasses mixture thickens, scoop out and slowly add some of the hot mixture to the eggs while whisking. Then slowly add the egg mixture back into the molasses mixture whisking the whole time. (This process of tempering the eggs helps keep them from curdling when you add them to the hot pudding.) Heat and whisk until very thick.

Whisk, whisk away! 

Remove from heat and fold in the lemon juice, butter, and lemon peel.
Stirring in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon peel

Dish out into individual dishes and serve hot.
Molasses Lemon Pudding
 It looks a bit like caramel pudding...

Well, folks, let me tell you that this recipe totally took me by surprise! I tasted the pudding before I added the lemon and the molasses flavor was very distinct. I wasn't a total fan. But after adding the lemon, the taste was transformed! This pudding was amazingly yummy. The lemon was the most dominant flavor while the molasses had become a complex background note. I really loved it hot. I did put it into the fridge to chill to see the difference. Once it becomes cold the lemon is more subdued and the molasses is more pronounced. Eating it hot, in my opinion, is the way to go.

The texture was nice and smooth, but the key to that was definitely all that whisking. The downside of using cornstarch, I suppose.

This is definitely not your typical pudding recipe, but I'd say it's definitely worth a try!

Molasses Lemon Pudding

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine sugar, cornstarch, cold water, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Stir in boiling water and molasses. Cook over hot water until thick. Beat eggs until very light. Gradually stir in some of pudding; return mixture to remaining pudding in top of double boiler and cook until very thick. Fold in lemon juice, butter, and lemon peel. Divide into dessert dishes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Savoring the Past" w/ Jas. Townsend & Son

I just love these 18th century cooking videos created by Jas. Townsend & Son! They are completely awesome. Even my kids (ages 7 & 4) watched quite a few of them with me and enjoyed them, especially the ones featuring Jon's little girl. It's been great supplementation for our Revolutionary War studies and has gotten my son excited about trying a few of their recipes. He wants us to make the currant jelly which is perfect because I have red currants sitting in our freezer waiting to be made into something delectable.

These videos have also gotten me freshly inspired to get to work making our Rev. War clothing so we can be ready to go to an event next year. Just seeing all their cool tools and cooking dishes..! *sigh* As a teenager I drooled over their print catalog which was chock full of everything you could possibly dream of to use at a reenactment or a museum.

This whole time I had no idea they were from my home state of Indiana. I wish I'd known when I lived there! I could have gone to their physical store. I guess that means when we make our mid-west road trip next summer, we'll be taking a little detour... Haha! And I am super stoked to be getting their most recent catalog in the mail soon. Hooray!

Awhile back in the first weeks of my project, I did a ration recipe for Scotch Eggs. I was interested to see that Jas. Townsend & Son had a video about making Scotch Eggs. You can watch it below:

It's amazing how different these 18th century Scotch Eggs are from their WWII ration cousins. Using a boiled egg would be so much easier than reconstituted eggs! I'm going to have to try this version. I think it would make a fabulous breakfast on the go or at an encampment, don't you?

There are so many of these fantastic food videos that they've made. You really need to check some of them out. (They even have a full-length film called "Crimson Bond" and a zombie movie! haha!)

And be sure to check my Historical Food Blog links on the left for their blog "Savoring the Past". You can find all their 18th century recipes on there.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 36 - Vegetable Beef Soup w/ Biscuits

Some weeks I need something super fast and super easy to do for this ration project. This week was one of those. My dinner-time creativity is scraping bottom, so it's been a struggle lately. I was glad I remembered this recipe I had seen in the July 1943 issue of the Westinghoue Health-for-Victory booklet. It was a winning recipe tip sent in by a reader:

I didn't have unexpected company, but I needed a time saver, and this recipe was so simple! 

So, while I waited for my husband to come home I made up the biscuit dough. I've mentioned on here before that I've had to switch to a gluten-free diet for health reasons. I didn't want to miss out on this yummy-sounding recipe, so I used a ration biscuit recipe but substituted a gluten-free flour mix + some xanthan gum as a binder for the all-purpose flour. I was glad I used a ration biscuit recipe because I noticed an important difference between that recipe and my usual recipe - a 4 tablespoon fat difference. The ration recipe called for 4 Tbsp. shortening while my usual biscuit recipe calls for 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp.). I really love the less fat being used, just because sometimes I don't want to use a whole half cup of butter. It's kind of expensive! I was actually out of butter this time, so I used lard. Hooray!

Once the biscuit dough was mixed up I put it in the fridge and ran to the store almost as soon as my husband walked through the door and could be with the kids. (Aren't I clever! haha!) I picked up the soup she recommended - vegetable beef (thank you, Campbell's!), but had to settle for a gluten-free lentil vegetable soup for me. I imagine many soups would work as long as they didn't have noodles or a ton of rice in them.

I poured the 2 cans of soup into the casserole dish along with the needed water, stirred, then cut out the biscuits and laid them on top - just like you would with dumplings. I did the same with my soup. It was a bit thicker and didn't need water, but I added a little so it wouldn't dry out too much. (Lentil soup is more stew-ish to begin with.)

Then I baked them for 1/2 hour at 400ºF. The biscuit recipe says 450º, which would have probably gone faster. I didn't mind having a 1/2 hour to myself though. :-)

I think they turned out looking rather nice!
My gluten-free lentil soup w/ biscuits

Vegetable beef soup with biscuits
 The soup was quite a success with husband and son. They loved it. My lentil version was very delicious too. Our 4-year old daughter is always suspicious of new things, but will sometimes try them. After some resistance she tried a biscuit I pulled off the top and ate the whole thing. She got a big high five. :-)

Kudos to Mrs. Whipp and her time-saving, ration-point saving, and unexpected company-saving dish!
Vegetable Beef Soup w/ Biscuits

Here is the biscuit recipe I used from the same July 1943 Westinghouse issue.

You might want to keep this one on file for when you have some unexpected company pop in or have a really busy night!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 35 - Hot Potato Salad & Frankfurters

I wanted to pick a special, but familiar recipe for the holiday week and was happy to find this interesting 1940s take on potato salad for Hot Potato Salad and Frankfurters. It really should be called Hot Potato Salad with Frankfurters, Bacon, and Boiled Egg. I love that this recipe is so protein heavy since I'm not a fan of a lot of potato salads out there. This one, though, is almost a main dish unto itself.      One thing that I found interesting is that the recipe has you boil the potatoes and then peel them. I've always peeled my potatoes first. And while the Brits wouldn't approve of jacket-less potatoes, boiling them actually helps save on potato. Peelers removes some of the potato meat, but boiling and then peeling using a thin paring knife to lift the skin off, makes the skins only peel off paper thin - no potato meat included. Pretty nifty! 

For this recipe you need 5 medium potatoes, 4 frankfurters, 8 slices bacon, and 2 boiled eggs along with the other odds and ends you see below:
 Potatoes, bacon, skinless frankfurters (hot dogs), boiled eggs, salt, onion, vinegar, black pepper.

Boil the scrubbed potatoes in water until tender all the way through. In the mean time fry the bacon which you cut into 2 inch pieces.

Slice the hot dogs and mince 3 Tbsp. of onion. Set aside.

Once the bacon is crispy, remove to drain on a paper towel and pour off half the bacon fat.
Mmmm. Bacon. We love bacon around here.
It's the only meat my 4 year old will eat reliably.

Cook the hot dog pieces and minced onion in the bacon fat until nicely browned. You'll probably need to drain off all the extra fat so your potato salad isn't greasy. I had to do that.

Once the potatoes have cooled a little, peel the skins off. Then dice the potatoes. Add to the hot dog and onion mixture. Mince the boiled egg and add it in. Stir in the salt, pepper, and vinegar. Mix until well combined.

The recipe has you heat the potato salad over the stove top until all the ingredients are heated through. I just skipped this step and went straight to eating it, because I really couldn't wait.

Oh, this hot potato salad was so good! It was really tangy from the vinegar. I might have liked a little bit less, but it was still really good. All the protein in there from the meats and the egg really hit the spot. It was awesome. And the bacon had a really good crunch, even when it was cold. (I ate it both ways - fabulous!)

This recipe is a winner. You might like to make it for the next pot luck or holiday party. You won't find this one at your grocery store deli, that's for sure!

Recipe from
Westinghouse Health For Victory Meal Planning Guide
December 1942
P.S. Sorry, just an hour late on posting this for week 35! I'll have another recipe for this week coming soon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 34 - Pigs In Clover

   Ever since seeing BBC's "Wartime Farm" series, I've been fascinated with the idea of a "pig club" that many rural folks in Britain participated in during WWII. The concept is this: a group of people in a community were given permission to raise a pig, feeding it from their collective food scraps. Then come slaughter time the government claimed a portion of the meat and those in the pig club could divide the rest amongst themselves.

Pig clubs were a great way for several families to benefit from raising a pig together - the responsibility was shared and the meat was shared as well. As far as I'm aware, no rationing was involved for this program. The government did take its share, but still. It was yet another great idea the Brits had for conserving resources, but also making a way for families to have a little extra meat that didn't have to cycle through the rationing system.

Of course, this gets my modern sensibilities working... Many people have heard of a "cow share". This usually just means you split up a cow with a bunch of other people to stock up the beef as food storage in the freezer and to also get a better price per pound. The farmer does all the work though.

I like the idea of this pig club even better. Everyone is more involved and it brings a better sense of community. Everyone pools their food scraps and might even share in the care of the pig and at the end the pig is butchered and you all get to split the meat. You'll know what the pig ate, how it lived its life, and bond with your neighbors. Sounds fun to me! (We've been wanting to raise a pig in the woods behind our house, so you never know. I just may start a pig club myself!)

This week I chose another British recipe, this time using pork sausage. And once again it was chosen purely on the name. Isn't Pigs In Clover the greatest name ever? As the recipe advertises, it is a very "wholesome" and economical dish.

It calls for 6 sausages, cabbage, and 6 potatoes. That's it. I almost couldn't believe it. What supper recipe only calls for three ingredients? Apparently, this one does!

I used sweet Italian sausage, white potatoes (they were on sale!), and a mixture of red cabbage and brussel sprouts which I had in my fridge and which were not aging very gracefully. It felt good to put the cabbages to use instead of wasting them. I don't currently have a pig to feed scraps to, but our chickens enjoyed the wilted cabbage leaves, though.

So, starting off -
Wash and scrub the potatoes until clean.
Core the potatoes with an apple corer. Save the cores! I sprayed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with that garlic salt blend from Trader Joe's and baked them with the other potatoes. They tasted awesome - like really huge, round French fries.

If I had been thinking, I should have made the holes double-wide. I barely fit 3 sausages-worth into the 6 potatoes as a result. So, doubling the hole space, I'm sure, would have fit all my sausages. The recipe wasn't really specific on the hole size...

Split the sausage casings with a sharp knife.

Peel off the casings leaving only the meat.

Breaking off pieces of the sausage, stuff it into the potato holes, packing it in as you can until they are full. If you let them overflow like I did, the sausage ends get really dark and crispy, but I liked that. I thought they tasted good.

Bake in a 400º oven for between 45 minutes to an hour until the potatoes test done with a fork. 
While the potatoes are baking, put the chopped cabbage in a lidded pot with some water (enough to not let it burn) and steam until soft. I seasoned mine with salt and pepper. Then put the cabbage in a dish and lay the finished pork potatoes on top and serve hot.

My husband really loved this meal. I only ate the potato cores and some extra sausage since eating a whole potato will give me a headache, but I felt the meal was filling and nicely simple. Those Brits know how to eat without fanfare, that's for sure! It's a good reminder of how good the basics can be.

Enjoy! Feel free to liven it up. 
I bet stirring in some crispy bacon with the cabbage would be sensational...
From Victory Cookbook by Margeurite Patten

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 33 - Fish Bake

This week I wanted to look into the less common, non-rationed sources of protein encouraged by the government to use during wartime. Fish is a big one.
WWI US Food Administration Poster
I've always liked this U.S. Food Administration poster from WWI. It makes a very good point - cows, pigs, and chickens all needed to be fed and cared for while fish took care of themselves. They used no resources that people could also use. It was wise for the government to encourage people to eat self-sustaining fish.

World War II was no different. Even more than before, the country's resources needed to be used in the most efficient way possible and fish was still an excellent self-sustaining protein.
Here's a poster from WWII encouraging the catching and use of fish as a wartime staple.

WWII U.S. government poster

Rabbits were a great protein choice too since you could feed them off scraps, they reproduced quickly, and their protein is the densest by ratio of how much food they consume - much better than cows or pigs. I had never seen any wartime posters encouraging the raising of rabbits for meat, though. So then I just did a search and look at what I found!
British WWII poster
Read this fascinating British rationing article.
Horse meat was even used. Even though automobile use was hampered by the rationing of gasoline during the war, the advance of the car and truck continued to overtake many jobs previously done by horses. So what else can you do with a surplus of horses?...
I can't even imagine what horse would taste like. Is it much like beef, I wonder, since they eat similar things? 
Check out this photo:

I chose this week's ration recipe for Fish Bake from the British Victory Cookbook by Margeurite Patten. I didn't have rabbit or horse on hand, but I did have a large haddock I purchased mostly out of surprise that I found it. Haddock is a very difficult fish to find in the states for some reason.

When I was in Scotland I had the most amazing soup called Cullen Skink that was made with haddock, a common fish for over there. I always wanted to try making Cullen Skink, but I never got around to it because I wanted to make it with haddock which I could never find. I finally got the haddock, but still didn't get around to making the soup. (Sad isn't it?) Since I had the fish and I haven't tried a fish-based ration dish yet I thought I'd give it a try this week.

Fish Bake is a typical, simple-fare British dish. Fish, potatoes, onions, parsley, milk, and salt & pepper. That's it! It's one of those recipes where you could bake the fish in advance and make the casserole later, which is pretty convenient.

1 1/2 lbs. haddock, potatoes, onions, parsley, milk, salt & pepper
 Grate the onions and potatoes (keep the peels on the potatoes). Chop the parsley. Put a layer of potatoes in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Season well with salt and pepper. Layer in the onions, parsley, and then a layer of fish. Repeat layers, ending with potato.
potato layer

onion & parsley layer

fish layer

completed Fish Bake casserole

Cover with a greased paper or even aluminium foil. Bake in a moderately hot oven (375ºF) for 30 minutes.

This recipe was pretty good! I don't know if I seasoned it enough, though. I'm always shy with salt because I'm afraid I'll over salt things. So, it was a little bland, though filling and hearty.

Our family is used to eating fish with my homemade tartar sauce, and so we tried it with that on there and I thought it improved the flavor a bit more. I just feel it needed something acidic like lemon juice or malted vinegar.

Overall, it's a nice light casserole for a summer dinner. It would be easy to include other vegetables or herbs that you have on hand, grated/chopped and added in with the onions. The recipe is a fairly blank canvas for creativity!
Fish Bake
Fish Bake from Victory Cookbook by Margeurite Patten

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 32 - Scones

Ack! This is the first time I've been late in posting my ration recipe. Not bad for 32 weeks and not being late once until now, even while on vacation! (Yeah, that's pretty awesome, huh? haha!)
I did do the ration recipe, so I didn't technically miss. I do have excuses and because it's my blog I get to list them:
1. I'm working on a book right now and it sucked a lot of time this week. That's pretty exciting!
2. Did I mention that I'm a homeschooling mom? Yeah, we started school this week.
3. Procrastination. Mostly born out of the fact that this week's recipe was, in my opinion, a bust, and that's a little depressing.

Okay, enough of that. Here we go.

Remember the ration week for Knox Gelatine Spread? Well, this week I decided to give the spread a try in one of their recipes. I was worried about it going bad just sitting in my fridge and wanted to use it up in one go. I went back to the Knox Gelatine booklet and decided on Scones since they sounded interesting and it's been awhile since I've baked something for my ration recipe weeks.

A quick note about rationing, though. I was reading on the National WWII Museum's website about rationing and it struck me that I haven't discussed the reasons for rationing completely. I thought their website gave a great summary. I'm still learning about rationing so I was glad to find such a great, straightforward website that talks about it. Here's a quote from their site:

"Food was in short supply for a variety of reasons: much of the processed and canned foods was reserved for shipping overseas to our military and our Allies; transportation of fresh foods was limited due to gasoline and tire rationing and the priority of transporting soldiers and war supplies instead of food; imported foods, like coffee and sugar, was limited due to restrictions on importing.

"Because of these shortages, the U.S. government’s Office of Price Administration established a system of rationing that would more fairly distribute foods that were in short supply. Every American was issued a series of ration books during the war. The ration books contained removable stamps good for certain rationed items, like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. A person could not buy a rationed item without also giving the grocer the right ration stamp. Once a person’s ration stamps were used up for a month, she couldn’t buy any more of that type of food. This meant planning meals carefully, being creative with menus, and not wasting food. More than 8,000 ration boards across the country administered the program."

So, in other words, you still had to pay for the food with money, but you also had to have the correct corresponding ration stamp. I love that they mentioned the limited use of gas and tire rationing as well as the priority in transporting soldiers and not food... It was just a totally different world back then. Interesting, isn't it?! Man, it makes me want to go back to being a girl and playing store, and we could use ration stamps as well as money. Wouldn't that be fun? :-)

Okay, so for this week's ration recipe you need cake flour, Knox Gelatine Spread, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk or light cream, and sugar.

Cake flour, Knox Gelatine Spread, salt, milk, baking powder, salt, and eggs.
Those eggs came from our chickens! We're just starting to get 3 eggs a day.
 Sift the dry ingredients together. (Only put in 2 tsp. of the sugar though and reserve the rest.)

Cut in the Knox Gelatine spread until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Separate one of the eggs and add the other egg to the yolk.

 Add the egg + egg yolk and the milk to the flour mixture until it comes together to form a ragged dough. If there's still a lot of flour left, though, definitely add a little extra milk.

Now this is where the recipe wasn't clear. Normally with biscuits and the like, you'd knead the dough for a few strokes to get it to come together more, but with scones you definitely don't want to do that. Unfortunately, I did and they made my scones turn out tough. It wasn't until later that I remembered my experience making scones some years ago and you pretty much just patted the dough together to avoid kneading it at all. On top of that when you added the cream you mixed it gently by hand. Well, I tried to follow this ration recipe the best I could so... Oh well.

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

Cut dough into 3" squares and divide each square into two triangles. (I didn't measure, and just eye-balled it. So, I'm not sure if the portions are correct. The recipe didn't mention how many portions, so I wasn't as careful this time.

Put the triangles on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush on the egg white, then sprinkle on the reserved sugar.

Bake at 450ºF for 10 minutes. Serve hot or serve the next day by cutting in half and sandwiching a spread between.

The booklet also had quite a few ideas for spreads using the Knox Gelatine Spread. So, for a bonus I thought I'd post some of those recipes too.

I opted for the orange marmalade and spread mixture since I had some marmalade to use up.
 The recipe said to blend the two ingredients together.

 And then it said to warm it over a pot of water on the stove to get the gelatine to dissolve. This step confused me, but I did as it said. Then I put the mixture in the fridge and it never set up again. It's still soupy. That is so weird and frustrating! So if you make this with marmalade and plain butter, skip the warming part!

The scones were unfortunately not very tender. And the spread was soupy. So I was bummed about this week's recipe. It just didn't turn out. Not to mention I'm not fond of straight white flour recipes. I just think they taste pasty and lacks depth. Can you tell I grew up eating whole wheat bread? :-)

I guess now is as good a time as any to mention, too, that for health reasons I'm having to eat gluten-free. It looks like it might be a permanent change in my life and it was really depressing to face this change smack in the middle of this project. It was devastating, actually. I've been trying to be creative and choose ration recipes that don't involve flour, especially since I did a lot of baking recipes toward the beginning of this project. I decided to cheat a little this week, but it's just not fun for me when I can't (or am not suppose to try) the recipe I make! I thought I could get by with others being my proxy for eating, but that's no fun either and my family doesn't have the same palette as me and it's hard to comment on their experience. *sigh* 

I'm still debating about approaching ration recipes involving flour with gluten-free flour and xanthan gum, but the historian in me is fighting against that idea. I have to think about it for awhile longer. So, I'm going to continue to be creative in this project. Finishing the project is the most important thing right now to me, so we'll see how it goes!

Here are the recipes:

Recipes from Knox Gelatine Booklet

Have fun with these! Some of them sound pretty good.
Just use regular butter if the Knox Gelatine Spread freaks you out. :-)