Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ration Recipe: Upside-Down Meat Loaves

It was time to try another recipe! I put this recipe on my June menu (I'm trying to be good about menu planning...), but I decided to try it today. I didn't have all the exact ingredients, but I made it work, which I think is the point about cooking while on rations.

I took this recipe for Upside-Down Meat Loaves from Meta Given's The Modern Family Cook Book published in 1942. I really love this cookbook, but I'll save my waxing poetical for a special post about it. 

This is actually just your standard meatloaf recipe, except you bake it in a muffin tin and there are apricots involved. Mixing fruit with meat isn't uncommon, but this was an interesting pairing, because in my experience, apricots can be kind of tart.

The recipe has you soak 10 dried apricots, but I didn't have any, so I just reconstituted some freeze-dried apricots I had. I think some fresh, dried apricots would have worked better, because you use them whole and they tend to be sweeter/sweetened. Just like Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, you put the apricot on the bottom and the meatloaf mixture on top. Then you bake it, invert the pan, and there you have it!

I really should have greased the muffin cups, because they didn't come out very easily, but oh well!

The meatloaf itself was nice, the apricots were a weird, tart counterpoint which I thought the fat in the meat would mellow, but it didn't. In the end, it just tasted odd. Nothing a little ketchup and mustard couldn't solve! haha!

I'm going to have to try it again using the single dried apricot on the top of each mini-meatloaf. Also, I'd like to try the meatloaf the recipe mentions ("Meatloaf No. 1") which uses a meat mixture of pork, beef, and veal. Interesting! I used the recipe for "Meatloaf No. 2" which is much more standard - ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, milk, salt, & pepper.

Upside-Down Meat Loaf!
 This is still worth a try and an interesting concept! I'm sure you could come up with your own tweaks!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ration Recipe - Rhubarb Banana Pudding

 This was a recipe I saw in one of my more recent ration cookbook acquisitions: The Wartime Cook Book. It definitely caught my eye! I mean, rhubarb and bananas?? Who does that? I was telling my friend and fellow WWII-era fan, Loris, about it and she told me that banana recipes were all the rage in the 1920s and 30s. I had no idea! After learning that it made sense. They had to try all the banana combinations out there, didn't they? haha! And you know what? This turned out to be a really interesting dessert.

The only improvement I'd make is to double the bread cubes. There wasn't nearly enough bread to soak up all the moisture, even though it doesn't seem like much liquid is added. A lot of juice comes out of the bananas and the rhubarb too, which I didn't really consider. I ended up adding more bread cubes after baking and that made it a lot more like a bread pudding. Next time I'll double the bread cubes.

I'll be honest. The color is nothing to get excited about. It's this weird green/tan color. But if you cover that in whipped cream, you're good to go. The flavor is so interesting! It's mildly sweet, but tart. Kind of like apple, but without the apple flavor. The banana is a very subtle flavor in the grand scheme of the pudding. But the bread cubes browned in butter add the perfect note of salty fat that the pudding needs. I think it's pretty good! My family isn't a fan, so I'm slowly eating it by myself. Good thing I have plenty of whipped cream! :-D

Here's a fun picture from the cook book.

This phrase is at the bottom of every page!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #11 - Red

For March I sewed a 1930s blouse, but because of a few set-backs I didn't finish it until the beginning of April. (I'm really late posting about it too. Sorry!) I'm really happy with it! And it turns out, that doing a mock-up can be a good thing. Usually, I don't bother, but I didn't want to ruin my nice, more expensive material. This is a bonus, because now I have 2 blouses to wear. Yay!

And I love, love, love this material! It's a super 1930s-style print, fun, and colorful, and it really makes me happy to look at it. I even bought special vintage buttons to go with it! 
So here's the breakdown:

The Challenge: November - Red

Material: 100% cotton print

Pattern: Wearing History 1930s Smooth Sailing Blouse

Year: 1930s

Notions: cotton thread, 1940s casein buttons

How historically accurate is it? 99% The pattern is a modern one, but based off originals.

Hours to complete: approx. 8-10 hours

First worn: Saving it for a WWII event this weekend at Graeme Park, PA

Total cost: about $45 for fabric and original buttons

This is a weird picture of me, but I don't have many photos of me wearing it yet.
I'll take a bunch at the event!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ration Recipe: Red Flannel Hash

Red Flannel Hash
I'm slowly making my way through the list of recipes that captured my interest from Cooking on a Ration by the fabulous Marjorie Mills. Last week I gave Red Flannel Hash a try. This was one of the more complicated recipes only because I had to make another recipe first - New England Boiled Dinner - in order to make the Red Flannel Hash. Using corned beef was optional for the hash, but I had some leftover corned beef from post-St. Patrick's Day, so I definitely wanted to put it in.

First step was to make the boiled dinner. It made a LOT. Carrots, cabbage (You're supposed to boil the cabbage head whole, but I didn't do that since I was on a time crunch.), turnips, onions, and beets.

Since I cooked the corned beef another time, I couldn't use the broth from that, so I cooked the veg and chopped corned beef in vegetable broth instead. We had that for dinner as a kind of soup which was pretty tasty. We didn't have it with the beets, which you cook separately, because they were too hot to chop, and I was feeling lazy.

Boiled New England Dinner, sans beets
Then, another day I chopped up the beets, ran a portion of the boiled root veg through my food processor, then added the bread crumbs. Then I shaped them into patties to cook in some oil. It did not hold together, so I added some fine cracker crumbs and an egg before it finally did. I didn't serve it with vinegar which would have been good, but with a garlic sour cream, kind of like latkes? Anyway, the Red Flannel Hash was good, but different. I wouldn't say it was a favorite with the family, and I barely got the kids to try it. I think they're still wary of beets.

I don't know if I'll make these again, but it was a good experience. And it's an interesting way to use beets, which I do love!

Red Flannel Hash
Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cool Websites!

I've found some really neat WWII websites!

I was in Pennsylvania yesterday and drove through Abington. I passed a sign that said something about Abington and WWII. I was driving too fast to read the whole thing, so I made a mental note to look it up when I got home. Well, this morning I did a search and found that Abington, PA is the home of the WWII Lecture Institute, dedicated to connecting with WWII veterans so they can share their stories with the public and to preserve their memories for future generations. So awesome!! You can check out their website here. They're looking to expand to neighboring states, including Maryland, so that is really exciting!

The second website I found I am really excited about. I was searching online for a Michigan factory my great-uncle said he worked at during WWII. I stumbled on the website for the Heritage Research Center LTD. They have a really cool way to look at wartime production during the war organized by state, then broken down by city. It lists the different companies, what they normally produced, and then what they produced during the war. This is completely fantastic for research! Take a look at their site here. I have it set to Michigan, but you can choose a different state from the drop down box.

Online resources have really come a long way. There is so much quality research we can do from the comfort of our own home. I am so grateful for that!

Happy researching!

P.S. I dug more into the WWII Lecture Institute and their website is sadly out of date. I hope their institute is still going though. How sad if it wasn't!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ration Recipe: Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice
Lately, I've been trying to be better about menu planning to help us save money on food and so I don't feel so overwhelmed when dinner time comes and I have no idea what to make! I've been planning one month at a time which has been nice. This month I was determined to fit in some ration recipes.

Last night's menu included Spanish Rice which I found in my book Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills, ca. 1943.  Something I've noticed about 1940s "ethnic" food, is that the recipe is the most watered-down version possible of that ethnic food. They just didn't use a lot of spices. This recipe called for more spices than usual - salt, pepper, paprika, and a teeny bit of cayenne pepper. I was quite surprised! And I really couldn't resist. I had to add some garlic powder. I know I shouldn't have, but the Spanish Rice was just begging for garlic, and I couldn't say no! Other than that I followed the recipe. I only keep white short-grain rice around (aka sushi rice!), just because I love the texture and long-grained rice kind of grosses me out sometimes. I'm sure that the recipe would taste a bit different if I used long-grain rice.

I had to laugh that the recipe said to sprinkle "buttered bread crumbs" along with shredded cheese over the finished Spanish Rice. (I melted some butter and tossed the bread crumbs in it.) Then you bake it in the oven. It pretty much turned it into a casserole right there with the bread crumbs. haha!

Well, I shouldn't have laughed. This recipe was killer! (though I'm sure the garlic powder helped...)

After sauteing the onions, celery, and peppers in my cast iron skillet, I cooked the rest of the Spanish Rice in there. Next, I cooked the chicken I was serving with the rice in onion/pepper scrapings and seasoned it with cumin, garlic, salt, and paprika. Then once the chicken was done, I cooked some Trader Joe's frozen grilled corn in the same pan. All those blended flavors were so, so good. And the Spanish Rice was really delicious!

It makes me so happy to eat a successful Ration Recipe. I think the addition of black beans would have been great too, but I am definitely going to be making it again.

Give it a try!

Another 1930s Quilt

I haven't forgotten about my March sewing challenge! I finished my 1930s mock-up blouse and am still working on the actual blouse, but should be finished soon. I'll hopefully be posting about it within the next week.

Last Saturday I took a nice trip alone to the antique mall. I love wandering large spaces with hundreds of booths stuffed full of cool antiques! One of the stalls was 40% off everything and had quite a few quilt tops with awesome vintage fabric! It was so hard to decide on just one. A few of them had nice examples of 1930s fabric, but it was mixed in with later period fabrics like what I suspect was 60s or even 70s. I finally settled on a lovely, simple quilt top with all 1930s fabrics. I'm excited to get this one finished - I just need to get some cotton batting and pick out a fabric for the back. I'm thinking of tying it too, so it theoretically could be finished quickly!

Here's my quilt top! Isn't it so pretty? I don't have any heirloom quilts from family, so it's going to be nice having this one at least. :-) 

Take a look at these cool fabrics!

I really like this one!

Something I noticed with some of the quilt tops that were there, was that even though vintage fabrics were used, the construction looked new. So, with this particular quilt, it's hard to say whether the construction is as old as the fabrics, but for me it was the fabric that was important. And the whole thing is in great shape. I'll have to re-post about this again when I get it all finished!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ration Recipe: Carrot-Oatmeal Cookies

Carrot-Oatmeal Cookies
Spring is officially upon us! At least that's what our plethora of daffodils, sprouting rhubarb, and leafing berry and lilac bushes are telling me. I am so excited for another berry season and so excited for my four (FOUR!) rhubarb plants. I am going to have rhubarb coming out of my ears... :-D Perfect for trying a 1930s recipe I found for Rhubarb and Banana Pudding!

So, yesterday I had some ground up carrots lying around, and I wanted to make another ration recipe. So, I turned to my trusty wartime cookbooks. I am becoming more and more convinced that I really don't need to search on the internet anymore for recipes. I have more interesting and delicious recipes at my fingertips than I know what to do with. And once again, for my carrot dilemma, my Westinghouse Health-for-Victory cookbooks came to the rescue!

 The recipe is for Carrot-Oatmeal Cookies. They sounded super yummy. When I was making them, I was putting in the teaspoon of cinnamon, a whole teaspoon of nutmeg, raisins and nuts, and I had the impression that I was making carrot cake, but with rolled oats...

I liked the currants in my Hot Cross Buns so much, that I used the rest of them up for this recipe and they were the perfect size! I don't mind raisins in my cookies, but the smaller the better, really. And usually I hate nuts in my cookies, but I think with the rolled oats and raisins, the pecans I put in worked well. The recipe I was using called for shredded carrots, but mine were chopped in a food processor. Oh well! The dough tasted fantastic, but the real test came after they were baked.

Fresh out of the oven, my daughter and I sampled the cookies. They were awesome! Mildly sweet, with a great texture and chew with the oats, but nice flavors with the spices and nuts and raisins/currants. This recipe is a keeper for sure, and a great way to use up extra shredded or finely chopped carrots! It's a nice change from regular oatmeal cookies too.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Ration Recipe: Easter Nests

I found the recipe for Easter Nests in my April 1943 Westinghouse Health-for-Victory cookbook. I've been saving this one until Easter came around (of course!). I was so excited to finally get to try it. What interested me, besides the cute name, was the glazed Hot Cross Buns with jelly beans on top. It just sounded so fun to eat, and I knew my kids would love it too.

I've never made Hot Cross Buns before. I've always heard about them - isn't there a nursery rhyme somewhere? In my typical glazing over of the recipe, I didn't see the addition of cinnamon and allspice until it was time to make it. So, I was especially pleased and surprised that instead of plain bread rolls, they were going to have some spice. They're lightly sweet too with 1/3 cup sugar and a 1/2 cup of raisins. I've had a bunch of dried currants sitting around crystallizing, and didn't want honkin' huge raisins in my sweet buns/ So, I covered the currants with a bit of water, microwaved them until the water was simmering on the edges, drained the currants and added those. They were the perfect size!

Just mixing up the dough was heavenly with the fragrance of the spices and the currants. Mmm! I was confused at first that it didn't say to knead the dough. I did knead it some to get the dough to come together, but I think the less handling the better so the buns are nice and light and not chewy like a bread roll.

Using the Hot Cross Buns recipe for the Easter Nests, you cut the dough out using a donut cutter, though the recipe wasn't clear on whether you were cutting out the middle hole too. It would make the "nest" part make more sense. Thinking back, I'm realizing that after rising, the hole wouldn't have been that big and my little jelly beans wouldn't have fallen through. Geez. Silly me! In the end, I left the centers in and the "nest" wasn't very apparent, but the taste was still there. :-)

Then you let the buns rise, bake them, and glaze them with a vanilla icing. Finally, the jelly beans grace the top!

These really are divine little buns! So, so delicious! They taste spicy and sweet. The glaze is just the perfect touch without making them over-sweet. The jelly beans add a nice fruity punch. I felt like I was eating the cross between a cinnamon bun and a donut - a really odd sensation, but still extremely delicious. I think these may become an Easter tradition as the dessert right along our Shepherd's Pie made with ground lamb. Love it!

Now, even if it's not Easter, you need to go and make these.

I mean it.

Recipes from the April 1943 Westinghouse Health-for-Victory magazine.

Go. Go and make them.

It's calling you... MAKE ME!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

From the Archives: Vintage Cookbooks Part 2

I've been sitting in bed resting after a nasty case of stomach flu and was finally able to take more pictures of some of my vintage cookbooks and pamphlets. So thrilling! In this post, I showcase one cookbook and two fun pamphlets.

1. The Settlement Cook Book or "The way to a man's heart", ca. 1938

Oh man, that title! And the cover illustration. Oh boy. haha!

This cookbook really caught my eye, and I actually had the choice between two different editions - 1938 or 1945. I didn't see anything particularly wartime-related in the 1945, so I went for the earlier one because of all the lovely hand-written recipes in the end pages.

The cover was also all grimy, but it's the kind with a shiny shellac kind of surface to it, so I cleaned it and it looks and feels much better!

Lizzie Black Kander, the author of this book, was an extraordinary woman! She was a Jewish woman who contributed much of her life to helping immigrants. She helped establish a Settlement House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin modeled on Jane Addams's Hull House. The Settlement Cook Book was first published in 1901 as a pamphlet of recipes for the students of her cooking class at the Settlement. The book continued to be published, and by 2004, it had sold 1.5 million copies. It is still in print. 

You can read more about this woman's amazing contributions at the Jewish Women's Archive.

Aren't these hand-written recipes great?!

 What I love about this cookbook are the different menu ideas for camp cooking, wedding meals, and different holidays - even Washington's Birthday!

2. Spry's What Shall I Cook Today? - 124 thrifty, healthful tested recipes, ca. approx. 1940s

This is just a fun little pamphlet produced by the food company featuring their product - Spry. Spry was a shortening. I love all the photos and illustrations!

Front and back covers

I love this Spry pastry mix. I wonder who came up with the idea first? Bisquick or Spry?
What's great, is that they tell you how to make your own, so you don't have to buy the pre-made stuff and can save money.
Now all I need is that nifty tin to keep it in...

Yay! Cake!

This recipe for Butterscotch Cake sounded so yummy!
 3. Toastmaster's The Party's On - New Games and Entertainment Ideas, ca. approx. late 1930s-early 1940s

This is a very small pamphlet with party ideas including games and recipe ideas all featuring: toast! Of course, there's a nice advertisement inside featuring Toastmaster's latest toaster and waffle maker models. It's unique because it's reversible - one side for adults, the other for kids.
The adult party ideas

The Kids' side with ideas for their own parties
 I like the idea that they emphasize about children - that the toaster helps them feel they can do everything themselves for their own party. Their independence is assured by the toasters "automated design" without burned fingers! :-) This pamphlet inspired me enough to put a scene in my recently-published book The War Between Us, where my characters have a toast party. It's such a great idea! Why don't we do these anymore??

Check out the peanut butter and mayo idea under the Children's Parties section! I grew up eating Peanut Butter & Miracle Whip (aka salad dressing) sandwiches. This is the first reference for that combination that I found! 

This series will be continued with more fascinating cookbooks soon!