Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ration Recipe - Woodrow Wilson Hermits

wikipedia commons
These cookies have been on my Cooking on a Ration recipe to-make list for some time. They just sounded fun! And since when do you get to think about our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, while making cookies? Like, never. So, here's to you, Woodrow! These cookies were pretty dang good!

I couldn't find very much on why these particular cookies are attributed to Mr. Wilson, but I did find this interesting article about his wife!
Here are two websites that talks about U.S. Presidential recipes:
A Taste of the Past: White House Kitchens, Menus, & Recipes
Food Timeline - U.S. Presidents

Now about making the recipe -
The batter was suspiciously like brownie batter, and I didn't even put in all the liquid it called for. Then it says to shape the cookies using a knife wet with milk. I was wary of this method too. Luckily, the recipe gave me a little out - it said I could make them as bars, which was a relief! So, that's what I did.

And surprise! They turned out like cake. What???

But that was okay, because they were really good. It reminded me a lot of a gingerbread cake, but with raisins in it. (I used zante raisins, otherwise known as "currants". They're not true currants, but that's okay. I love them because they're tiny raisins and people don't mind them as much as the big, regular-sized raisins.)

My kids love these hermits. It makes a great snack, or a great breakfast. Just pretty much any time.

Give them a try! Let me know if you make them as actual cookies. I'm really curious now!

Woodrow Wilson Hermits
Cooking on a Ration, ca. 1942
P.S. My friend Katherine found this other recipe and a history of hermits at the Joy of Baking website. Apparently they're called "hermits" because of how long they can store. And it's true - ours have held up really well and still taste great! Of course, I wish mine looked like the ones on the Joy of Baking website. I'll definitely have to try them again.

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!