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!

From the Archives: Vintage Cookbooks

Since embarking on my ration project in 2014, I started collecting wartime cookbooks and pamphlets. I have found some real treasures along the way! I wanted to share with you some of my recent acquisitions. They're not all wartime cookbooks but are still a lot of fun.

The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cook Book, ca. 1954
 I was interested in this book because I have so many of the Westinghouse Health-for-Victory cook book pamphlets. It's quite a few years after the war, but I was curious to see how many recipes from the wartime pamphlets made their way to this book.

The Silent Hostess by GE, ca. 1932
 I got this cookbook from my friend, Mairi. I love the look. It's classic early 1930s. Cookbooks like this are important when looking at wartime cooking, because books like this would have been sitting on women's shelves and would have, no doubt, been used and still have been part of their cooking repertoire.

Mirror Cook Book, ca. 1937
This cook book put out by Mirro, an aluminum company, also falls into the pre-war category. They were well known for their cookie cutters and pans.

Toll House Tried and True Recipes by Ruth Wakefield,
ca. 1946
The only thing I knew about Toll House was that there were some famous chocolate chip cookies by that name. (And yep, the recipe is in this book!) I had no idea it was a New England inn. This cookbook is full of their "tried and true" recipes. I like that it's from 1946, because they've just been through the war and I'm curious to see if any recipes show wartime restriction influence. Besides food recipes, it includes other things like tips and tricks for the kitchen and even the rest of the home with stain removal recipes and first aid hints. It's a fascinating book, besides having a great chocolate chip cookie recipe! ;-)

Coupon Cookery by Prudence Penny, ca. 1943
I love this cookbook, just by virtue of its title and author's name! It has a handy chart at the beginning for the reader to be able to track the changes in product points at the store. From what I've read it was very confusing for the grocers and the customers! Unfortunately, no one wrote in this book, which is such a shame. I would have loved to seen their notes on the price changes. 

The Wartime Cook Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, ca. approx. 1942 

I really like this book. It's got some great photos throughout, including quite a few of Red Cross workers. It was published, I believe, at the beginning of the war. A friend of mine who knows a lot about the Red Cross during WWII said all the women are wearing pre-war uniforms, so that's why my guess is that the book was published 1942. Perhaps they used photos from before the war, and the U.S. didn't even enter the war until the end of 1941. 

Also, I've found some really interesting recipes including Rhubarb and Banana Pudding, which I plan on trying just as soon as my rhubarb starts growing. My friend Loris told me that bananas were huge during the 1930s, so finding a recipe like this isn't that surprising. I'm so excited to try it!



Here's one example of the Red Cross photos in this booklet as well as a fun Red Cross luncheon idea!

Stay tuned for more vintage cookbook posts! (Yes, I have quite a few cookbooks...)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Indiana Historical Society Museum - Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Indiana Historical Society Museum!

I wanted to start off with this photo of the beautiful main lobby. I love those giant pocket watches hanging down. It's a great tie-in to the "You Are There" exhibit theme. 

Now this is the exhibit that I got all giddy about. I really couldn't wait to share it with you!

Conservation and Preservation

This exhibit talks about what conservation and preservation are, why they're important, and how it's done. I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this exhibit. This is one of those "behind the scenes" type of things that you usually don't get to see in museums, but this exhibit throws open the doors and tells you how it's done. Just completely awesome with a capital A!

I love what this has to say: "We understand our history thanks in large part to the items of the past that have survived to share their stories." *sigh* Yes! Artifacts with provenance are so valuable to helping us understand ourselves and where we've come from.


Besides these signs explaining the importance of preservation and conservation, they had a computer available where you could research various aspects of those things through their Pinterest board which included pictures and videos from youtube. We watched one video that explained the process of marbling paper like what you see in old books for the end papers. That was so neat and a great use of technology in an exhibit!

Now we're getting to the really exciting part!!! Eeeeek! Allow me a moment to compose myself... Haha!

So, this wall was super cool. It had various materials mounted and they encouraged you to touch it. You could clearly see the damage the dirt and oils from your skin (and others' as well!) cause the materials. This is such an important concept for people to understand when touching "old things" like books, textiles, artifacts, etc. Your skin oils can do a lot of damage!


THEN, just down the hallway was - their conservation lab!! *geeky squeal!* It actually brought back a lot of memories of my internship in the archives at my alma mater Utah State University. We didn't have those fancy blue vacuum tubes attached to the ceiling, but a lot of the other stuff I recognized. It's so neat that you can watch them at work, though when we were there, there wasn't any one working.

Then, the absolutely most coolest part ever, was that they had a great activity for the kids. They got to repair paper! And not with Scotch tape! haha! But the correct, archival way. Man, this brought back memories too. The woman gave us paint brushes, a bone folder, a damp sponge, rice paste, rice paper, and an "old" piece of paper that we got to tear and then repair. Oh man, this was so cool. You may not be able to tell, but I was really, really wishing I could have had a project mat all to myself. haha! My kids had fun repairing the paper though. :-)

After using the paint brush to spread the rice paste on the rice paper, the flat scalpel-looking tool to pick it up and place it on the paper, you then brush the fibers of the rice paper all pointing out across the paper and then using the special fabric (I can't remember the name of the stuff... it's kind of like interfacing), you use the bone tool to smooth and take away the excess rice paste by rubbing it with the bone folder. (I think I remembered everything correctly.)
This was such a great learning experience for my kids, and a great reminder to me of how easy it is to repair paper the correct way!


This part of the exhibit was really interesting. The archives found a  picture of this man that had all the classic damage that could be done to old paper and used it as a learning tool. How amazing is that? You can see the touch screen below where you could see the process of damage and what likely caused the different damages. There was a time progression of  the damage as well which was fun to watch.



I really like this cut away of the details of how a sewn book is bound. Very cool educational tool!

One of my favorite experiences from my archives internship was being able to completely rebind a book. I had wanted to use the book loom, but my manager didn't offer, so I asked special permission to rebind a personal book of mine - a U.S. History textbook from the 1880s. I got to take it apart, sew it and bind it. Through sewing it, I found out my book was missing pages! It was such a rewarding experience and it's something I still have. I loved it and have seriously considered getting myself a book loom. But really, I already have way too many hobbies. haha!

This last thing was a great use of a window. This part of the exhibit talked about watermarks in paper. Each little cut-out window is filled with a paper to showcase its watermark. So awesome.

The very last thing that totally sold me on this museum being the most awesome, spectacular museum ever was their gift shop. Yeah, it was a typical museum gift shop... except for the fact that they sold conservation materials!! I'm not kidding! Rice paste, rice paper, archival boxes, Mylar sleeves, bone folders... oh my gosh. I almost freaked out in a big way when I saw that. hahaha! Needless to say, I went home with an archival box and a huge stack of Mylar sleeves. I wish I had an excuse to buy all the other paper repair stuff, but my husband was already looking at me like I was weird to get so excited about Mylar sleeves. Well, my 1940s magazines and V-Mail are happy and safe in their new little homes now!

I'm serious when I say that if you're passing through Indianapolis, you should make this museum a place to stop. They're right on the canal which is a popular spot for biking, walking, and paddle boating. When we went, we even sat on the grass and had a picnic. It's a huge bonus, too, that they have their own free parking lot. They have some fantastic new exhibits coming up soon. I wish I was closer, because they sound like they're going to be so much fun!