Sunday, May 25, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 21 - G-I Fruit Bars

Happy Memorial Day! 

Don't you just love this little article? I love all the
 insight into how the boys in service made
such a "mad scramble when the box
was opened". 

We just got back from a homeschool conference down at Virginia Beach, VA. They had some field trips planned for the dads and kids and I went with my husband and kids to one that was on the Norfolk Navy Base. We got to see the navy helicopters and went on one of the active naval ships which was one of the most amazingly interesting tours I've been on in a really long time. 

Later when I was in one of the conference classes a navy jet roared overhead and it was loud. The presenter, though, put it into perspective right away. She said, "I know the jets are loud, but we love that sound. It's the sound of freedom and it's the sound of our navy keeping us safe, so we love our navy and the jets." I was astounded because I had never thought of that before, but how true her statement was. I am extremely grateful for the military and all of their hard work and sacrifice now and in the past to preserve our freedom.

In honor of Memorial Day I've been saving this special recipe for making G-I Fruit Bars. I found this recipe in the July 1944 issue of the Westinghouse Health-For-Victory magazine. I love all the sound advice this article (above right) gives for which type are the best cookies to send and how to take care in packaging them. I think it's still good advice for sending homemade cookies today!

As for the recipe itself, I was surprised how much sugar this recipe calls for. One cup of brown sugar and additional white sugar! You would have used a lot of your sugar ration just for these cookies. The cup of dried fruit lends quite a bit of sweetness itself.

Quick oats, lemon juice, flour, sugar, dried fruit, lemon peel, water, brown sugar, salt, milk, shortening
You start off by mincing the dried fruit. I used a combination of fig, apricot, apple, peach, and prune. Awhile back I found a big bag of mixed dried fruit at Costco and used a lot of that for the recipe. I can imagine you could just go for one type of dried fruit like apricots, raisins, fig, or even strawberry, though that would be an expensive option.
Minced dried fruit. I chopped the fruit the best I could with a knife, then finished it in the food processor to get it this fine.

Put the dried, minced dried fruit in a small pot with the water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick. Add the lemon juice & lemon rind. I only had orange rind, so I had to use that. You'll need to watch the fruit carefully, to prevent scorching.
minced dried fruit, sugar, & water

Cooked until thick
Meanwhile, combine the sifted flour, brown sugar, and salt.

Cut in the shortening until it resembles meal.

I didn't quite go for the meal texture, but I did my best...

Mix in the rolled oats and press half the mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 pan.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the bottom crust.

Press the remaining oat mixture over the fruit mixture.

Bake at 350ยบ F for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Okay, this is where it got tricky. The recipe says to cut 1" x 2" sized bars and that it makes 32 bars. I tried really hard to cut them that small, but could only squeeze 28 out. In today's society this pan would furnish between 9 & 12 portions. Cutting 28 pieces means for a small cookie, but after tasting them I thought the small size was just right.

These cookies are very rich and full-bodied in flavor. The oat mixture lends a wonderful texture to the sticky intenseness of the middle. I got mixed reviews from other people. The adults seemed to like them, while a few kids did not. I think it might have been the flavor combo of the fruit mixture. I think an all apricot or all strawberry would have gone over better. I liked it the way it was though. One of our guests commented on how they thought it tasted like a glorified Fig Newton. I can see how he's right!

G-I Fruit Bar


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Historic St. Mary's City, Maryland

I could have sworn I've written about Historic St. Mary's City on here before, but I can't find any posts through searching, so I guess not!

St. Mary's City hosts two homeschool days a year which makes for a great field trip. It's a 17th century colonial village at the far southern tip of Maryland right by the water. They boast a sailing ship The Maryland Dove, various original buildings including a court building where the 1st law for religious freedom was passed in the American colonies, and they are actively excavating archaeological digs run by the local college. They have a few historical interpreters who dress in costume, but speak in present day terms at the main site and at the ship. Down the road at the tobacco farm, however, they dress in period costume and act in 1st person which makes for some interesting experiences. They interpreters speak with an east London type accent (at least to my ears) and I always find it amusing to listen to them. I've been happy to see children interpreters working there. I would love to get my kids involved in that type of thing when they're a bit older. They have a nice garden there too with enormous fig trees that I greatly admire.

Since I love looking at museum exhibits and new ways of interpreting history, I thought I'd show you a few pictures.
Outside the Council Chamber Inn

Inside the Council Chamber Inn
What I love about this building is that instead of completely restoring the building, they left it as a basic structure with suggestions of where things would have been, including this reconstructed fireplace. Notice how it isn't resting on the ground so that you can see the original floor they excavated. Archaeology education at its finest.

Cellar Archaeology
They excavated hundreds of crab claws!
Only at an archaeology museum do they delve into the importance of excavated trash. I love it!

A window to the original floor.
This is a super cool way of showing the original floor in an up close & personal way while making the building practical for everyday use by visitors.

They also had a really neat activity that impressed me that had the children dye lengths of wool yard to compare the colors of the natural dyes. While they didn't soak long enough to make it really dark (the black walnut was done in advance because of how messy it was), the dye was enough to tell a difference. This activity was a wonderful balance of hands-on without being too involved and the end result was something simple and easy to see. I love activities like this!

Over at the tobacco farm I was thrilled to see a pile of trash outside the house.
Way to keep it real! The only thing missing... the downright rank smells, but maybe it's a good thing, right?

Project 52: Rationing - Week 20 - Ham Turnovers

I saw this recipe for Ham Turnovers in Grandma's Wartime Kitchen and got excited. I've been in a cooking slump lately with regular meal planning and it was the first recipe to peak my interest. I knew I had to make it for dinner one night.

The great thing about this recipe is that you could essentially put any leftover meat and veggies in the turnover which is a great way to reduce wasted leftovers. And an interesting thing about these turnovers is that the pastry part is biscuit dough instead of the usual pie crust. Biscuit dough uses less shortening/butter than pie crust, so if you're looking to save fat for rationing purposes, this is a good idea.

Once again, a nice easy recipe with simple ingredients: leftover ham, dill relish, mustard, and milk. That's it! I doubled the recipe because I wanted to freeze leftovers. (And just for kicks, I made a few ham and cheese ones as well and they were awesome!)

Ham, dill relish, mustard, and milk

Combine all the ingredients
Combine the ingredients and prepare the biscuit dough.
Biscuit dough
Roll out the biscuit dough and cut into squares. I doubled the biscuit dough recipe as well to accommodate all that extra filling I made.

Fill the squares with the ham filling, fold over into triangles, moisten the edges and seal. Easier said than done, let me tell you! If the dough is too soft you might need to chill it for an hour before working with it.

Ham Turnovers - raw

Ham Turnovers - baked

Yes, the ham poked a hole and I was lazy about sealing the edges... Haha!
The ham turnovers turned out really well! They were tangy from the relish and mustard, and the biscuit dough had a lovely, buttery texture and it didn't taste overly fatty like pie crust sometimes can. Adding some leftover cheddar cheese wouldn't be a bad addition to tame the tang.
Inside a tasty ham turnover...
Give it a try. Like the recipe says, these turnovers would make a nice change from the regular lunch sandwich.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Health For Victory Magazines

I've been making a lot of references to my Westinghouse Health For Victory guides for my rationing project. These have been wonderful primary sources for ration recipes and hold valuable information about the time period. There are quite a few of them, so I decided to upload pictures of the front and back covers of the issues I have thus far. This not only helps me keep them all straight, but I'm hoping it will be helpful for others who have an interest in these magazines.

Check out my Flickr album to see!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 19 - Plymouth Bread

I needed to make some bread for dinner, and thought it would be the perfect time to try out another rationing recipe. I wanted to try something different and was pleased when I found this recipe for Plymouth Bread in my October 1943 Westinghouse Health-For-Victory books. This recipe is in several of those books, so it makes me wonder if it was fairly popular or historical and had been around for quite awhile, especially with a name like "Plymouth Bread". 

What's unique about this one is that it uses cooked cornmeal. Using cornmeal to replace part of the flour was a smart way of saving on rationed flour.

What I also like about this recipe is that it makes use of molasses - a ration point-friendly sweetener. I like finding new uses for molasses. :-)

Another interesting aspect of this recipe is that it calls for 1 cake of yeast. I did a search and you can still get cake yeast. I'm tempted to order some because quite a few ration bread recipes call for it. The measurements are different than granular yeast. The Red Star company had some helpful info on their site. Unfortunately, since I didn't have cake yeast I had to convert to the granular yeast. My guess is that they used 1 oz. yeast cakes, but I'm not sure. If the recipe did mean a 1 oz. cake, then the equivalent would be about 4 - 5 tsp. granular yeast which would be about right for a 2 loaf recipe.

Back to cornmeal - the first step in the recipe is to boil a 1/2 cup cornmeal in 2 cups water. Cook it for about 15 minutes until it is thoroughly soft.

Stir in the molasses. What a pretty color!

Scald the milk, cool, then add the yeast which has been softened in 1/2 cup water to the cornmeal mixture. (I put in 2 heaping teaspoons of yeast, but since this recipe makes 2 loaves, I should have added 4. My bread took a long time to rise as a result!)

Add the flour and stir to make a stiff dough.
All the ingredients in the bowl.
 If you don't have a stand mixer, don't despair! One of the most useful, most essential non-electric tools if you make muffins or cookies or bread a lot is - the Danish whisk. You can buy one on Amazon for an inexpensive price and it is truly amazing how easy it makes mixing bread dough! And it mixes muffin batter like a dream without over-mixing. It's just awesome, alright? Okay, infomercial is over now! :-)
Shaggy dough before kneading
 One thing I noticed is that this was a very moist dough. I added an extra 1 1/2 cups of flour during kneading and it was still sticky, even though the texture did become smooth. I decided it must be because of all the molasses and gave up when the texture was right, even if it was extra sticky.

Dough kneaded until smooth, formed into loaves and placed in generously greased bread pans.
 Now, I cheated again and skipped the first rising. Feel free to follow the recipe, but I didn't want to wait!
Two amazing-smelling loaves of bread.
You'll notice that one loaf is flatter than the other. I have to include silly mistakes, because I want people to realize that all is not always perfect in the blogging world (which is okay!) even if it appears that way. So, my silly mistake was that I covered both loaves with a baking cloth to rise. I decided I needed to spritz the towel with water to keep the loaves moist. Well, when I was pulling it away, the cloth stuck to one of the loaves and deflated the top! I was really bummed, but we ate that one first and it was of course just as delicious as the prettier-looking one. Next time, I'll just leave well enough alone.

Here's the recipe for this delicious bread! It's got a wonderful crumb and very pleasant, springy texture. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 18 - Cocoa Syrup with Honey

Are you one of those people that loves hot cocoa at any time of the year? My kids are those people. They requested some this morning. I guess it was a little chilly, but it wasn't that chilly. However, I had seen this interesting rationing recipe for Cocoa Syrup with Honey and thought it would be a good time to try it. It was their lucky day!

I love how simple this recipe is and it made me realize that I am much better off making this syrup to store in the fridge than using a store-bought powder mix with all the junk in it. You just warm up a mug of milk, add a tablespoon or two of syrup and there you go! Homemade WWII cocoa goodness.

I just got this neat little booklet published in 1942. It's one of the earlier Westinghouse Meal Planning Guides. I'm not sure when they started doing the wartime issues. It's something I still need to look into more. It's got a different look from the later issues, though, which is why I like it.

 One of the greatest gems in this booklet is this fascinating look at the times:

How interesting that women were still using this wide variety of stoves in 1940s America! It's hard to think about sometimes in our modern times of mostly either electric or gas.

The recipe is pretty basic for hot cocoa - cocoa powder, sugar, salt, honey, vanilla, boiling water. As far as rationing standards, 1 cup of sugar is a lot, but it makes a lot of syrup that would have lasted for quite awhile. Adding the honey does help stretch the sugar in the recipe though.

In a pot, slowly pour the boiling water into the cocoa powder and stir until well-combined.

Add the honey. Heat and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar and salt. Heat and stir for 5 more minutes.

All nicely blended and heated

Pour into a jar. It fit perfectly into a quart mason jar. Fit with a lid and once cooled, put into the fridge. It keeps for several months.

When you want to use some, heat up a mug of milk. Then add a tablespoon or more to taste. Stir and enjoy!

Yummy mug of hot cocoa
 Was it kid approved? That was the real test...

Yes it was! The kids both gave it a big thumbs up. 
Well, more like a cocoa-mustached smile of approval. :-D

I, myself, thought it was quite tasty. To be honest, I thought the honey would be overpowering, but it wasn't. I could tell the recipe had a sweetener other than sugar, but it was hard to identify the honey flavor in there, so I think that's good in this case. 

Here is the recipe for Cocoa Syrup with Honey along with a few bonus beverage recipes. I'm especially interested in making that lemonade syrup. It would be the perfect thing to have on hand for hot summer evenings!