Monday, April 28, 2014

Ft. Frederick, Maryland

Friday our two kids and I went out to the 18th Century Market Fair at Fort Frederick, Maryland. If you live within a day's drive and are newly into reenacting or want to have a one-stop place to buy all things 18th century reenacting - this is the event to go to! There were 140 sutlers. Can you believe it? There was a lot to see. Besides the vendors, many reenactors themselves had blankets out of things they were selling.

One camp we stopped at had caught my eye with a sign about a tent for sale for a stinkin' good price. It was a unique, oblong rectangle shape with scraped wood poles, two door openings and even a hole for a camp stove pipe. I called my husband and we decided to get it since we're wanting to get into Rev War reenacting. I am pretty excited! We met the couple halfway yesterday morning to get the tent from them on their way back home. Once we got home, we didn't lose any time setting it up to dry out more since we had rain this weekend. The kids have had a blast playing in it.

At the event, we saw a few interesting things that I never typically saw at least at a Civil War event. A very cool, but surprising thing we saw was a man dressed in period clothing with a real peg leg. It was wood and hand carved and everything. He cut a very striking figure and I totally give him props for going the extra mile with his impression. 

Here are a few pictures:

My kids in front of a gigantic pile of horns - polished and unpolished. The polished ones were really pretty!

My kids at the flagpole inside the fort
It gives a good perspective in how tall the fort walls are.
The fort has been restored. For a long time it was apart of a man's farm.

One of two of the barracks buildings

A view from a platform at the top of the fort wall. It was a nice view of the event.
There were a lot of people, but not an overwhelming amount.
 I was pleased to see that one of the barracks had a museum established upstairs. I found this exhibit's techniques interesting and thought I'd share. One thing I liked was how they had basic information in larger text with more details in a smaller font. That was perfect for me as an exhibit skimmer.

Using the ledge to display items

Multi-layer maps with one printed onto plexi-glass.
It had a really cool effect. I wonder how you get stuff printed onto plexi-glass like that...

A side view of the plexi-glass
I'm always interesting in the nitty-gritty - how did they hang that thing?

"Tools of an 18th Century Farm"
I thought this one was really cool - a hands-on exhibit case where you could touch and examine the labeled tools.
All the blades were very dull.

My kids investigating an apple peeler

Two gentleman talk while my son looks on.
The man on the left gave a presentation about 18th cent. military things in relation to the fort (which we did not attend).
My son loved studying this replica of a 1755 map of the American colonies. 

A peek through a hole in an outside corner of the fort.

I loved this food vendor!
They had lovely spiced cider and lemonade for sale in green glass bottles with corks. And their food was interesting and appropriate for the times. They really went the extra mile which was appreciated!
They even had a sign posted that verified the rat catcher had visited them and declared them "rat free". Haha!
It's true too, because I saw the rat catcher with a cage, rat, and all. He looked like one of those grisly characters out of a Dickens' novel.
 We'll definitely be going again next year, and hopefully we'll go to camp and dress in 18th century clothing!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 17 - Florida Milk Shake

It has finally warmed up here in northern Maryland and at last it feels like spring! The sun is shining and it is a great day! We got chicks for the first time last month and they are out in the coop & run my husband built. It's a life-long dream come true for me to have chickens and if all things go well we'll have eggs this summer!

I realized I hadn't tried any rationing recipes for beverages and I liked the sound of this sunny drink for a fine spring day - Florida Milk Shake. The interesting thing about this is that it uses evaporated (or "tinned") milk along with orange and grapefruit juices and I was absolutely convinced it would taste like an orange cream-cicle.

The recipe comes from my fun Lysol Victory Cook Book. I love the little blurbs they put before each section of recipes focused around one of the "Basic 7" food groups.
"Citrus Fruits and Tomatoes.... you need them every day."
I'm not sure how widely available oranges and grapefruits were through the war for Americans, but I'm sure they were available to some extent. For the east coasters, theirs would have more likely come from Florida, hence the name of the recipe, unlike today where it seems that California produce extends to all four corners of the country. Using evaporated milk would have saved on your fresh milk rations, and frankly the citrus is so strong, I don't think you'd have been able to tell the difference. Not to mention, I think the fact that it's evaporated milk might have something to do with it not curdling when adding the grapefruit juice which is pretty acidic. My chemistry is a bit fuzzy in this area, but that's my guess anyway.

The recipe was very simple.
Orange juice, grapefruit juice, evaporated milk, water, sugar, salt, and ice

Simply combine all the ingredients in a "shaker". I think the recipe is referring to a shaker used in making cocktails? In my case I used my mixing pitcher.

Shake or plunge - whatever.

Sprinkle with nutmeg and enjoy!
Florida Milk Shake

In the end, I was surprised that it didn't taste like an orange cream-cicle at all. It was just refreshingly citrus with slightly more body to it than just regular juice. The nutmeg added an interesting spicy element to it too. My kids weren't huge fans, but I liked it.

I just love that they have the recipe divided in half for you. It makes my job easier!
I made the 3 portions recipe.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 16 - Orange Honey Loaf

Orange Honey Loaf

A few weeks ago, my friend Lori and I swapped cookbooks for a bit. I recently acquired a 1945 Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book with a wartime insert at the front. She has the same cookbook, but it's a 1943 edition and the wartime insert is a bit different than mine. So, since we both enjoy reading WWII recipes & cookbooks, we decided to swap! It's been fun perusing the different recipes. During the war, BH&G published their cookbooks as usual, but to help with wartime-friendly recipe ideas they put an insert at the beginning. How thoughtful!  :-)

For this week's recipe I decided to try a recipe from Lori's 1943 cookbook and I was intrigued with one for Orange Honey Loaf - a sweet, orange flavored quick-bread with a little note at the end of the recipe stating you could put cream cheese between two slices for a nice wartime lunch sandwich. What a fun idea! Don't you think that would be a nice change from a regular ol' sandwich with regular ol' bread? I wouldn't mind taking that for lunch.

Flour, orange juice, honey, orange peel, baking powder & soda, 1 egg, butter, and pecans

You start off by creaming the shortening (in this case softened butter) with the 1 cup of honey. That is a lot of honey!
butter & honey

Add in the orange peel and beaten egg. So, I had to fudge it a little at this step. I had a spice jar of dried Valencia orange peel, but no fresh orange peel, which I'm pretty sure is what they were implying in the recipe. So, I used 1 Tbsp. of the dried orange peel and cheated even more by putting in food-grade orange essential oil to make up for the dried peel. My kitchen smelled lovely, let me tell you!

(A note about the honey - it makes a difference in which type of honey you use depending on how strong you want the honey flavor. Clover is the mildest and wildflower is one of the strongest with other honeys falling somewhere in the middle. Orange Tupelo, a divine orange blossom honey, is expensive, but it would be awesome for this recipe since the honey strength is a tad more than clover. I used a mixture of a lighter honey with wildflower and it turned out with a nice distinctive honey taste without being overpowering. Be careful in purchasing your honey too. Since there aren't many labeling laws for honey in the U.S., many brands of "honey" are mixed with additives like corn syrup and aren't 100% pure. If you go for local raw stuff, that would be your best bet.)
Honey, butter, orange peel, & egg combined

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. I used white whole wheat flour because it's what I had on hand, though it is a newer type of wheat that is not authentic to the times. Aah, well! The flour type is very forgiving in a recipe like this. You can use all-purpose, whole wheat, or a combination of the two and it will turn out well. That's the great thing about quick breads.

Alternate stirring in the orange juice...
I'm telling you, a Danish dough whisk is awesome! 

...and the flour.

Stir until all is incorporated.
Looking good!
Stir in the nuts. The recipe calls for walnuts, but I get a mild reaction to walnuts, so I used pecans instead.

Line the bottom of the bread loaf pan with wax paper. Now, I've seen this instruction in other 1940s recipes, and it always made me nervous. I don't know why, but something about putting waxed paper in the oven... I needn't have worried because it worked like a charm! I greased the whole dish first and then put the paper in, so it stayed down great. I'm not sure if that's how they did it back then, but it worked really well for me.
greased & lined loaf pan
Pour the batter in and bake at 325ºF for 65-70 minutes. My oven is a bit cooler, so it was in for 75 minutes.

Voila! A gorgeous sweet quick loaf of honey & orange goodness courtesy of 1943. I could distinctly smell the honey and orange as it was baking.

This bread smelled heavenly!
I ate one warm slice plain and one with butter. Both were a different experience, but tasted awesome!

I even tried a bit of cream cheese between two mini slices of the bread to try their lunch box suggestion.
It was pretty tasty! The cream cheese adds a distinctly tangy taste that works well with the citrus. I wouldn't mind packing this for lunch.

Give it a try!

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 1943 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!