Thursday, April 17, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 15 - Oatmeal Griddle Cakes & Molasses Syrup

I realized that working on this project would be a lot easier if I more fully incorporated the recipes into our every day cooking. Like Tuesday morning, for instance. I wanted to make pancakes and bacon for the kids, but instead of going to my usual recipe for pancakes, I looked up a recipe in my October 1934 Westinghouse Meal Planning Guide. The Oatmeal Griddle Cakes sounded good and they made use of molasses and a small portion of flour, so that interested me. I also found an interesting Molasses Syrup Spread for pouring on top of the griddle cakes.

I just have to say that I am loving these Westinghouse Meal Planning Guides! I wouldn't say I'm trying to collect them all, but each one has different and wonderful information about American rationing and one company's ideas in helping Americans make the most of their food rations. I'm tempted to try and track them all down to get the complete picture of American rationing from this source. :-D

We woke a little late, so I was in a hurry to get these griddle cakes made. So, while the bacon was sizzling, I set to work. I usually double my pancake recipes so we can freeze or refrigerate the leftovers later, so that is what I did with this recipe too.

The recipe calls for sifting the flour, salt, and baking powder. An interesting thing is that the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of flour! That is an amazingly small amount of flour for pancakes. It also called for a lot of baking powder. I was concerned that it called for 1 tsp. of salt, which I feel is a lot, but after tasting the griddle cakes later, I thought the salt was fine. The recipe got more intriguing as I went along.
Sifting the flour, salt, and baking powder

Add the 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats! That is a lot of oats!

Whisk together an egg, 3/4 c. water, 3/4 cup of milk, 1 tsp. molasses, and 1 Tbsp. butter. I was amazed at the amount of liquid, but since there are all those oats, it made sense.

Combine the water/milk mixture with the oat mixture. It thickened up rather quickly. Not only that, but the baking powder made the batter extra puffy. It already looked really yummy.

Pour the griddle cakes out onto a hot griddle. One recipe makes 8, and doubled it makes 16.
You can see how fluffy and thick the batter was!
Flip. These took much longer to cook since they were so thick.

I then made up the Molasses Syrup Spread which was very simple. Molasses, lemon juice, and butter. I'll admit I cut the recipe by a fourth. If I didn't like the taste, I didn't want to waste all that molasses. The regular recipe called for 1 cup! Whew!
Molasses Syrup Spread
It was very runny.
Oatmeal Griddle Cakes with Molasses Syrup Spread

First, I tried the griddle cakes with the Molasses Syrup Spread. Let's just say... it was interesting. The syrup would be an acquired taste. The flavor was a bit too strong for me. Then again, I might have put too much on the cakes. I don't know. 

So, then I tried the griddle cakes spread with a bit of butter and maple syrup. Oh my, it was so good! I only had one with a couple strips of bacon and a half cup of milk and I was full. That is strange for me who usually eats three pancakes and then feels hungry later, because they're just not that satisfying. That one griddle cake was so hearty, it lasted me until almost lunch time. I think that says a lot right there. My son had only one who usually has two and my daughter had half who usually has one. It's not because they didn't like them, but because they both said they were full!

I'd say this is one of the most exciting recipes in my experiment so far. Not only does it follow some rationing basics by using a small amount of flour, oats, and molasses as a sweetener, but the fact that so little filled and fueled us for so long is the most astounding thing! I've read in many rationing primary sources about making sure you feed your family filling foods, but this was the first time I experienced it for myself. The funny thing is, is that I'm not a stranger to oats at all. We love oatmeal and anything made with oats. So, I am just thrilled that these were so filling and that I lasted so long on just one. Amazing!

Later my hubby had some and he said he really loved the texture on them. It's got that heartier substance from the oats, but inside they're strangely... creamy. It's hard to describe, but they're so good!

You'll have to try them and see for yourself. I'd recommend using pure maple syrup on top though. The artificial stuff just won't be the same with these griddle cakes. You could even try applesauce on top or another fruit topping. Don't forget that they freeze well too!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 14 - Sandwich Fillings

     This week is another week of sandwich fillings! Like I said in last week's post, there are a lot of interesting sandwich fillings from America's 1940s wartime era. Sandwiches were an easy option for making for a lunchbox, but if you're anything like me it would be hard to come up with new sandwich ideas day in and day out. Housewives were encouraged to "not make lunchtime boring" and to change the sandwich filling every day to keep things interesting. Westinghouse published a great many sandwich filling recipes to help with this challenge. 

Lunchtime, as all the meals of the day during wartime, was considered very important. In the 1944 Westinghouse Health-For-Victory Year 'Round Meal Planning Guide, they have a few paragraphs talking about the importance of lunchtime:

"Lunch is a mighty important meal... About one third of the day's intake of food can easily be taken care of at lunch, say the authorities. Workers need a good lunch to ward off that "midafternoon slump". Many an accident is caused by the carelessness due to fatigue. School children, too, need a nourishing noonday meal. Perhaps most of all, the woman in the home should stop for a really nutritious lunch, because housework needs to be supported by good food, almost as much as anything a woman does. 

If you pack a lunch box keep these things in mind -
A Good Lunch Must Nourish... it has a big job to do
A Good Lunch Must Taste Good... or it may not be eaten
A Good Lunch Must Carry Well... or it will be unappetizing"

I really love that part talking about how the woman at home needs a nutritious lunch because "housework needs to be supported by good food". It's really a good point, actually. 

Now on to this week's sandwich fillings. 

First up - Bacon-Cheese Sandwich
This one sounded really tasty. Cream cheese and bacon? How could you go wrong?

Bacon, cream cheese, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, milk
This recipe was super simple. You just blend everything together...

Everything in the container

Blended together! It smelled and looked awesome.

Next up - Cottage Cheese-Cucumber Spread.
This one sounded nice and refreshing.

Cottage cheese, onion, salt, pepper, cucumber
The recipe was a little more involved as it involved carving the seeds out of the cucumber, chopping it up, mixing in the salt and the letting it drain for awhile.

Hollowed out cucumber

I minced up the onion and cucumber together in my food processor.

Salted cucumber and onion draining

The recipe does call for moist cottage cheese, but I'd recommend draining the cottage cheese for awhile too as today's cottage cheese is almost soupy sometimes.

Added pepper to my mix.
And now for the taste!
Bacon-Cheese on the left, Cottage Cheese-Cucumber on the right.
They were both delicious! The Bacon-Cheese tasted exactly like a cheese ball you'd eat at a party. It's really yummy on bread! As a family for lunch we just ate the rest of it with crackers. :-) I was a bit nervous about adding the horseradish, but I didn't end up tasting it at all because the cream cheese covered the taste up. I might add more next time for more of a kick.

The Cottage-Cheese Cucumber was very nice and refreshing. I think I'd drain the cottage cheese more and amp up the onion though.

So glad this round of sandwich fillings were so tasty!

Here are the recipes:

Here's a bonus recipe! I didn't end up having time to make this one, but you should give it a go and see what you think!
The numbers after the recipe title are the food groups that the recipe covers.
See the photo at the top of the post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 13 - Sandwich Fillings

Spring was in the air. And I thought the idea of an old-fashioned picnic sounded lovely, but Old Man Winter is having his last laugh with us poor east coasters. I can't even get serious about getting my garden in because it keeps snowing every week! I seriously need to get tilling and planting those early crops!

Well, to spite the weather I'm going to focus on an interesting, picnic-friendly category of rationing recipes this week - Sandwich Fillings. I'll be doing this in two parts - one this week and one next week featuring 4 recipes total just because there are so many interesting sandwich fillings! Maybe I find these recipes so fascinating because my ideas for sandwich fillings aren't very creative - peanut butter & jam, peanut butter & honey (with banana), cheese, lunch meat, egg salad sometimes or tuna. That's about it.

However, my one claim to fame for crazy sandwich fillings is that I grew up eating peanut butter & Miracle Whip sandwiches with crunchy iceberg lettuce. Yum! I know you may be inwardly cringing, but it's good! There are a few of us out there that love this combination. I've personally met one of them. I always wondered where this odd sandwich filling idea came from. My mom said it came from the side of a Miracle Whip jar in the '80s or something. So, I even e-mailed Kraft to ask about it, but they said they didn't keep info like that. (Why not?!) Then, out of the blue, I found an early reference for it! My friend Lori recommended the Toastmaster pamphlet recipes from the '30s/'40s and so I ordered an original copy online. Perusing through the recipes for children's party recipes I found a reference to spreading toast with peanut butter and mayonnaise! Eureka! Finally, I have historical proof that I'm not crazy! Mwahahaha!

The 1940s had all sorts of crazy but interesting fillings to go between slabs of bread. For example there were things like bacon & pickle, ground carrot with raisins & peanuts, soybean & carrot, egg & frankfurter, ground liver with onion & pickle, liver with hard-boiled eggs, and peanut butter with things like bacon, chili sauce, chow chow, olives, beans, yeast, prunes, carrots, and celery! Some of those peanut butter ones are a bit shocking like bacon and yeast.

I discovered all these thrilling filling varieties in my growing collection of Westinghouse Health-For-Victory Meal Planner cookbooks.
Westinghouse "Health-for-Victory Meal Planning Guides"
1944 Year 'Round Edition,  July 1944, June 1944
 These are a lot of fun to read through and they provide a lot of recipes, including a whole section on Sandwich Fillings, which is great!

I picked a couple that stood out to me as odd or that I felt were unique to the time period.

First up - Ground Liver Filling! This recipe comes from my 1944 Year 'Round Edition Health-for-Victory Guide.

Beef Liver, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, salt, pickles & juice, mayonnaise, onion
 You're feeling sorry for me, aren't you? You can believe I was feeling sorry for myself once I got the liver cooking. Ooh, the smell! Not my favorite, let me tell you.

Cooking beef liver... I'm sorry if you're a vegetarian and you're reading this.

1 cup cooked liver

Grind up a cup of liver with a bit of onion and half a pickle spear and 1 Tbsp. pickle juice. 

Combine liver mixture with mayo, Tabasco Sauce, salt and pepper to taste. (Do I have to?!)

Right away my brain said, "Dog food." But by no means should you think that!
This whole time I'm putting on a brave face.

I put off trying the liver filling in favor of making up my next sandwich filling. Who wouldn't?
Next up is the most interesting Peanut Butter & Bacon! I was actually excited to try this one. Remember, I grew up on peanut butter & Miracle Whip, so this combination didn't phase me.

Crispy bacon, peanut butter, mayo.

The recipe for this one is quick - combine peanut butter, crisply cooked bacon, and mayo together.

The mixture looked strangely glossy from the mayo.
Spread on the bread time!
Okay, it's the moment of truth!
I took a few deep breaths before taking a bite of the liver sandwich. Oh man... Let's just say it was far, far, far from my cup of tea. Just to be sure, I had my husband take a bite and he said it was "interesting". I would say it was downright disgusting, but if that's all there was to eat I would muscle it down with a lot of ketchup or some other strong-flavored food... like the peanut butter & bacon sandwich! 

Liver leftovers, people!
Now the peanut butter & bacon sandwich was fairly nice and was the perfect chaser to that liver monstrosity of a sandwich. The peanut butter covered up every other flavor, even the bacon which I couldn't taste at all, but which added a nice crunch. I guess that's one way to get some more protein in. Needless to say, I finished the peanut butter & bacon and ignored the rest of the liver sandwich. 

Whew. I'm glad I got that liver over with! (To be fair, I don't mind liver mixed up with some ground beef in a meatloaf. It's actually quite tasty.) 

Next week I'll be showcasing two more interesting sandwich filling recipes straight from 1940s rationing! Woohoo! Thank you, Westinghouse.

I dare you to try it! Ha!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 12 - Whole Wheat Bread

I was excited to finally get around to making a loaf of ration bread for this week's recipe. There's nothing so comforting as a fat slice of freshly-baked bread! I anticipate making a few bread recipes this year just because there are so many recipes for bread out there, even in the 1940s. Not to mention American and British bread recipe are sure to differ in some ways. It will be fun trying out the different kinds!

I chose an American recipe out of my Grandma's Wartime Kitchen book. It looks a lot like a regular bread recipe except it uses maple syrup as a sweetener and unsifted wheat flour (the bran is not removed). It still uses all-purpose flour, though. It promised to be a delicious loaf of sandwich bread which is what I needed. Next week I'll be talking about sandwich fillings and will be highlighting a few unique spreads. I couldn't just use store-bought bread, so a loaf of homemade was a must!

There's nothing too fancy about this week's ration recipe. Below is the recipe with a few of my comments:

Whole-Wheat Bread

1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or butter (or a mixture)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup warm (105º to 110º F) water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 tsp. yeast)
3 to 3 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 cup unsifted whole-wheat flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form at edge of pan; stir in maple syrup, shortening, and salt. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool to 105º to 110ºF. (or until it feels just warm to the touch instead of hot.)

2. Combine warm water and yeast in a cup and set aside for yeast to soften.

3. When milk mixture has cooled, add 3 cups all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, beaten egg, and yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. (If you don't have a stand mixer to do all the mixing and kneading, a Danish dough whisk works amazingly well for stirring the dough! It works even better than a spoon and saves some elbow grease.) 

4. Turn dough out onto a work surface sprinkled with some of the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Knead 5 minutes, adding as much of remaining flour as necessary to make the dough manageable. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm place until double in size - about 1 hour.*

5. Generously grease a 9-inch loaf pan. Shape dough into a log and fit into greased pan. Set aside in a warm place until double in size - about 45 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on top.** Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting. I know it's hard to wait!

*Notes: Modern bread-making scientists have found that 2 risings isn't strictly necessary. Feel free to follow the recipe, but if you're in a pinch for time, after kneading, just skip ahead to step 5 and proceed from there. The bread still turns out great!

**Thanks to a King Arthur Flour recipe, I discovered that there is a sure-fire way to tell if your loaf is truly done - no tapping to hear a "hollow" sound needed! The tool you need is a thin-needled food thermometer. After the baking time is done, stick the thermometer into the center of the loaf. If it reads between 190º and 195ºF, then it's cooked all the way through. If the temp is lower than that, just stick it back in for a few minutes. It's amazing and so simple!

The bread turned out wonderfully! Especially, when it's still warm and soft, the maple syrup is surprisingly apparent and it's a lovely taste. Aah! I adore homemade bread. :-)
Whole-Wheat Bread from
Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Building A Museum Exhibit - Part 2

In the first part of this very tiny series I talked about a few exhibit techniques and gave a few examples. In this second part I'll be talking about the process of actually putting together an exhibit - a behind the scenes look. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever personally seen museums advertise a look at how they put their exhibits together, but as a teenager I was curious about it. Visitors only ever get to see the end product and rarely get to see the process of idea development, artifact selection, exhibit building, and text writing along with the messy, hectic things that go on behind the scenes as the final countdown to the grand opening approaches. So, I'm hoping to give you at least a little glimpse using an exhibit I personally worked on while working for the Utah State University Museum of Anthropology.

Creating a new exhibit in the Museum of Anthropology was one of the assignments for our Intro to Museum Work Class. I requested special permission to redo this exhibit and had three other girls from my class working with me. The exhibit was used frequently, because learning about the Great Basin is required learning for 4th graders in Utah. And as the exhibit needed a serious face lift, I felt it was an important project. We had about 3 months to finish our work.

The picture below is the Great Basin exhibit we had to revamp.

Boring, white background. Not all the artifacts were labeled and none of them explained which collection they came from.
Another huge problem was that there were some replicas mixed in with original artifacts, but as there weren't proper labels, the visitor would have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Pictures weren't labeled very well either.

We stripped the exhibit down and got planning.
Exhibit under construction!
This was the depth of the case we had to work with. It was pretty narrow, so we had to get creative with the space we had.
The exhibit space was narrow and long.
We had several meetings talking about what exactly we would cover in the exhibit. The history of the Great Basin region is very long, so we decided to cover the native peoples who hunted & gathered during a specific time range. We had to choose appropriate artifacts from the museum collections to go with the information we wanted to convey. (This was harder than you'd think!) We also decided on color schemes and drew up plans on where the information and artifacts would go in the exhibit.
Once we had approval from the museum director for our ideas, we put in a paper mock-up.

Our exhibit mock-up of artifacts, text, and exhibit structure.
You can also see the paint chips in there for our color scheme.

Next we painted the exhibit with the creamy yellow we had chosen. We wanted the exhibit to be a different color than any other exhibit in the museum. This yellow was a great choice which made it really stand out! Once it dried, we put the paper mock-ups back in and constructed the base of our structure - a desert floor with a food cache. We had some great tips from an exhibit constructor at the Idaho Museum of Natural History for building our food cache. The main material used? Rigid insulation foam! I wish I had pictures of how we put that together. It was a huge mess cutting the foam and none to easy either.

Painted exhibit with mock-ups and foam structure
The next steps were finishing the desert floor and food cache, finding pictures of edible plants Great Basin Indians used, writing up text, and finding an appropriate map to be used in the exhibit. (A map was essential!)

We had to be careful in what natural materials were placed in the exhibit. We used sterilized playground sand stuck to dyed drywall plaster, washed rocks, plastic plants bought from the craft store, and cedar bark kept in a freezer to kill any bugs present and then used to line the food cache. Bugs in a museum full of wool and cotton artifacts is a nightmare! So, extra caution is always necessary and vitally important.

Another important aspect of putting together an exhibit is that if you use photographs or artwork, you need to make sure you have permission to use the images in your exhibit. Being that we were a non-profit university museum, we didn't have any problems getting permission, but it took a lot of time and we had to be really on top of it making sure we heard back from everyone. The plant pictures came from a great academic botany website where botanists post pictures of plants from all around the world. It was an awesome resource for us and the photographs were beautiful. 

During this whole time we were also doing research on the Great Basin and writing and rewriting text for the exhibit. 

The exhibit slowly coming together!
We still used replicas in our exhibit, but needed to add a scissor snare to the atlatl and the bow we already had. So, we commissioned a student who made excellent replicas (and who puts them to use in the wild!).

One of the original inspirations was to have projectile points seemingly floating in the air. To do this we had to choose projectile points from the collection and mount them to a piece of plexi-glass by drilling holes in the plexi-glass and attaching the points using museum wax and fishing line. Then we suspended it from the ceiling of the exhibit. It turned out awesome!

In the final stages of the exhibit construction we had to make up the exhibit sign, text, photos, and map in Photoshop, print them all off and send them off to be mounted on foam core and cut. The Photoshop work alone took many, many hours. There were a few mistakes in the foam core mounting, so we had to get some redone. Then we mounted them inside the exhibit case, mounted/hung/set in the artifacts, cleaned the glass, hung the sign, and we were done! Whew!

Our completed exhibit!
Can you see the "floating" projectile points?
After hundreds of combined hours, we had a completed exhibit. We were really proud of how well the exhibit turned out and how it became a beautiful addition to the museum. It gives me warm fuzzies inside that so many students are learning about the Great Basin through our hard work and passion put into this exhibit! I feel it is such a great honor.

Well, there is your inside look at constructing an exhibit. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below!