Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ration Recipe Directory

I've put up a new tab called "Ration Recipe Directory". I thought it was time to organize the recipes from my "Project 52: Rationing" project according to type to make it easier for you to find the one you want. As I make new ration recipes in the future, I'll add them to the list too.

I hope you keep coming back to try a ration recipe or two!

Check out the final post of my project to see which recipes I tried were the top 10 best and top 10 worst recipes if you want to have a good place to start.

Project 12: Sewing - 18th Century Girl's Shift

For February's goal I wanted to finish my 5 year old daughter's 18th century shift I had started a month or so ago. It's been nice finishing up all these loose-end projects. And the most important part?I made the deadline! Hooray!

I actually ended up making 2 shifts. From the start I want to say that I am not going for 100% authenticity here. As I'm starting a new time period, the important thing right now is getting us outfitted and ready for going to an event in period clothing, and the thought of hand-sewing all of our clothing is a bit much for me! So, both of these are machine stitched and since these are underclothing where not much of it will be seen, I felt totally justified in cheating. haha!
(Oh my gosh - I never would have said such things 15 years ago as a Civil War reenactor! I think I was a bit of a snob...)

Don't get me wrong. Authenticity is important, but as I've learned over the years, everyone goes at this hobby from their own level and as they can afford - which is a huge factor.

Okay! So, this first shift is actually a Tea Dress brand dress that I found at a thrift shop. It's such a cute dress, but the collar was always too wide for my girl's shoulders. It's a simple yellow cotton, so I thought I could modify it to become a shift. I just turned over the collar, threaded in a narrow cotton tape and was done! Hands down the easiest project ever! But I didn't feel right in calling it good for this month's challenge. So, on to the next shift!

Here is the shift I made from Mill Farm Patterns' 18th century girls' shift pattern.

You might notice that the body of the shift is on the bias. It's on the bias not because the pattern called for that, but because I was making this shift from an old white linen bias skirt I had and then just added on sleeves. It's kind of strange on the bias. but it works though!

 These gussets gave me a world of trouble. The directions weren't clear enough in telling which way to turn the gusset to attach it to the other side of the sleeve and then the body of the shift. I figured it out eventually though. My experience in making shifts before definitely helped, but a beginner might be a bit lost! The pattern for the shift was just two different sets of measurements to choose from and a drawing. Nothing too detailed.

And here is the shift on my little girl! I didn't have enough length in the skirt for growth tucks, but this is just a make-shift shift (haha!) and I'll probably just make her a bigger one later on down the road.

February's Project
Clothing: 18th century girl's shift
Fabric: 100% linen

Saturday, February 21, 2015

WWII Ration Recipe - Eggless Applesauce Cake

Today it was blizzarding outside and our old house is a bit chilly, so baking a warm, comforting cake seemed just the thing to do this afternoon! My goodness, how I've missed cooking ration recipes and posting about them! In fact, I had just announced to my husband I was going to make a new ration recipe (and I was all happy and bubbly about it) when he said, "Aren't you supposed to be working on your sewing challenge instead?" haha!

He's right! I've been working on my daughter's chemise and while it's a simple thing to make, those darn underarm gussets get me every time! So, it's still in progress.

Anyway, on to the new WWII ration recipe! I'm not going to be posting anymore of the tutorials or do much historical background, but I'll still post a picture of the finished product and the recipe so you can try it for yourself. I probably won't try anything too crazy again, not unless it's irresistible! haha!

Today I flipped open the February 1944 H-for-V booklet and immediately found this Eggless Applesauce Cake with raisins and nuts that sounded perfect! You should read the other stuff too about "Food Front Flashes". I especially love the updates on crop yields on the left. It's good to know! :-)

The weird thing about the recipe is that it calls for 2/3 cup sugar, but in the directions it says honey instead of sugar. I used the honey and liked the flavor which seemed to complement the applesauce. I also used a chunky applesauce which was very nice!

I put the cake in my recently acquired bundt pan. I sure could have used a bundt pan last year during my project!

Look how pretty it turned out!

 The cake was rich and moist.

I made a raisin butter sauce to pour on top. It was really good. Hubby was impressed, and even my 5 year old little girl who abhors raisins or nuts ate the whole thing. It must have been good for her to agree to do that!

Eggless Applesauce Cake with Raisin Butter Sauce
About the Raisin Butter Sauce: I had super crystallized raisins, so I boiled them in water that just covered the cup needed for the recipe. I drained the raisins and then added them to the batter, reserving the raisin water. Then I heated the raisin water to simmering, added a big knob of butter, a few pinches of salt, then mixed a tablespoon of cornstarch with about a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar which I whisked into the raisin/butter water. It thickened up into a nice sauce and it was quite lovely on top of the cake!
I just couldn't let all that good raisin water go to waste! :-)

Give it a try!

And Happy Lunar New Year!! (a day late)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fake Food for History

Yeah, It's been a little quiet around here. Sorry about that! It's been part hibernation due to wintery weather, part busy birthday season in our family. This week I'm hoping to finish up a chemise for my 5 year old little girl to post about.

In the meantime I wanted to share an article my step-mom shared with me about a woman who makes fake food for museums. You may have seen fake food when you've gone to historical museums. I've wondered a time or two where they get the food and I'll admit in my inner thoughts I made fun of it because it's fake and sometimes silly-looking in such a static environment.

After reading this article, though, I've gained a greater appreciation for this obscure art for creating fake food to compliment historical homes and museums throughout our country in helping to educate and create a certain atmosphere.

Wonderful stuff!

To read the article go here.

One last thing - I recently found a wonderfully talented woman that drafts 18th century corset to your measurements and she can make them lace front AND back (hooray for not feeling claustrophobic)! I'm super excited because of all the corsets out there, the late 18th century ones intimidate me the most. But if I'm going to make my Rev War clothes I have to have a corset first. Now I just need to get her my measurements...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Project 12: Sewing - 1940s "Swing" Dress

Sewing this dress was fraught with frustration! I stumbled on the step for the shoulders (again), the sleeves didn't fit and therefore when I thought I was done, I wasn't because if you can't get the dress on over your head, then you're not done are you?? And then I ran out of thread. Aack! But I survived. 

I'm just pleased that I finally made the 2nd deadline I made for myself! Well, it's not completely finished - I need to sew in the snap tape and hem the skirtline, but other than that, it's done! I plan on doing the rest this afternoon.

Here is my dress in disgrace. I should have taken a picture before I ripped out the sleeves that were too small. Apparently my body doesn't conform to standard sizes. Ha!

I'm even wearing my '40s hat!
And the dress has shoulder pads
(my '80s self is still in denial about it)
Here is the dress with finished sleeves that fit! I'm hiding the side that still needs the snap tape. Also, I need to find a more serious '40s-style brooch. I'm not sure exactly what they looked like then, but I'll do some research and then go hunting at an antique mall. Oh, goody!! :-)

I'm not sure about this style of dress on me. I can definitely see why girdles were so popular for smoothing out the curves. I could use me some of that! Haha! The pattern itself wasn't too difficult, except for the shoulders. I'm pretty sure the drawing in the pattern is inaccurate. It caused me a world of anger and frustration and if I was a cursing person, I would definitely have used a few choice words. Luckily, I restrained myself.

I used rayon for the fabric and it was pretty nice to work with - it stayed put where I pinned it and took a bit of abuse when I ripped out my sleeves. (I was pretty mad, okay?!) The only downside is that rayon does not like to be ironed.

I'm finding that this sewing challenge this year is not going to be as simple as my ration project last year. Sewing is a different ballgame altogether and more of a test of my patience and perseverance. It'll be good for me though! I'm looking forward to working on something for someone else - like a nice and simple shirt for my son. He's going through a growth spurt right now, and, by golly, he better not outgrow the shirt I make for him by the summer!

January's Project
Clothing: 1940s "Swing" Dress
Fabric: 100% Rayon

Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's Coming...Soon!

Gray Pinstripe Rayon
I'm using for my 1940s dress

For this year I set a goal to sew one historical piece of clothing every month this year. This month I've been working on my 1940s dress. I'll admit - I put it off to last minute. This month has been so crazy with two new teaching commitments on top of our regular homeschooling. My 1940s dress pattern pieces have been languishing in my sewing basket for a few months pinned to the fabric and everything, just needing to be marked and cut out. I determined that this month I would finally get that one out of the way so I can focus on making our late 1700s clothing.

Well, I finally got the pieces cut out, marked, and even all the hard parts of the dress sewn, but I wasn't able to finish it by the end of this month. :-(

Today was really busy. I went on a trip to D.C. to the Museum of American Art with some girlfriends of mine. And then I went with my friend Christina on a crazy trip to IKEA (never go on a Saturday, people!! What was I thinking???) So, now I'm home and exhausted and don't feel like sitting at a sewing machine to make my deadline. But I am comforted in knowing that most of the hard parts of the dress are done, and I am definitely going to finish it this week! I will be posting pictures soon. I'm not going to make it like a tutorial, I'm sad to say. I do love sewing, but it's a lot more complicated than baking!

Anyway, I'll be back soon with pictures of the finished dress!

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


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


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 ran things in the way that they did adds a whole different dimension to the story of rationing! Very exciting stuff. :-)