Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ration Recipe: Oatmeal Drop Cookies

Another cookie recipe! Yeah, I've been on a cookie kick lately. Yesterday I wanted to make some kind of cookie recipe, but I wasn't sure what I was in the mood for. I half-heartedly chose Oatmeal Drop Cookies from The Modern Family Cook Book by Meta Given, ca. 1942.

Well, if I thought I had a regular oatmeal cookie recipe on my hands, I was totally wrong! This little recipe ticks all the boxes of a great ration recipe - low sugar, low fat, whole grains.

I thought it would be fun to compare the Oatmeal Drop Cookies to my favorite Oatmeal Cookie recipe from a modern Better Homes & Gardens cookbook:

The Modern Family Cook Book by Meta Given, ca. 1942
modern Better Homes & Gardens (1990s)

First off, the 1942 version has you sift the flour twice which affects the texture of the cookies. They're not as close and chewy. You can tell that the rest of the preparation is very different from the modern one too. Once you cream the shortening and sugar together with the egg, you add the oats. I had to read that step twice, because I'd never had to do that before! 

After mixing up the whole thing, it was a little watery, but it firmed up pretty quickly from the oats soaking up the liquid. Then, there are the nuts. I don't think I've ever had nuts in oatmeal cookies before - just raisins or chocolate chips. I used pecans, like usual.

So, the final result was a light-textured cookie, not as dense in oats, but still retaining that oatmeal cookie flavor. The nuts were quite nice too! This recipe is also nice in that it uses a bit less fat and sugar per cookie than the modern recipe. They're the type of cookie that you don't feel gross after eating - it's not super buttery and it's not super sweet either. That's a good thing!

The modern recipe is still my favorite, but this older version is still pretty tasty.

Oatmeal Drop Cookies
P.S. You can check out another Oatmeal Drop Cookie ration recipe I tried back in 2014 from a different cookbook. The recipe is really different from this one!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ration Recipe: Shredded Wheat Macaroons

Shredded Wheat Macaroon
I've really missed ration cooking, so late last night after the kids were in bed I dug up this little gem for Shredded Wheat Macaroons in my favorite wartime cookbook - Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills. Doesn't that recipe just sound like so much fun? Or maybe ridiculously healthy and gross? Haha!

I wasn't expecting this one to taste very good. You know, maybe really branny and wholesome. But I wanted to try it anyway just because it sounded so weird and intriguing! 

Luckily, I had some shredded wheat taking up shelf space from when I made Armenian Dessert. I was so glad to finally get rid of that box! These macaroons cookies whip up very similar to regular coconut macaroons. For the 2 cups of Shredded Wheat Biscuits, I used 2 packages of three biscuits and it came to a little over 2 cups. For the nut meats I used pecans, which I think was perfect for this kind of cookie. Almonds would be too hard, and walnuts would be too strong-tasting. I ended up using an extra egg white too, because the mixture was too dry. 

I crammed all 24 onto one cookie sheet since they don't spread at all. When they came out, I tried some warm.... Holy cow! They were good! That almond extract and pecans were the perfect addition of flavor for the rather bland shredded wheat. My husband and I had to stop ourselves from eating them all otherwise our kids wouldn't have gotten any. The hazards of baking late at night, I suppose! haha! And strangely, it felt like I was eating breakfast... 

The next day the cookies were much harder, and therefore the danger of shredding your palate goes up, but they were still really yummy. 

Overall, a surprising recipe, and one I wouldn't mind making again. I guess that means I have more buying of Shredded Wheat cereal in my future. Who knew?!

Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills, ca. 1943

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Bit of This and That

Organizing in progress
(Do you see the hint of chaos on my sewing table?) haha!

I've been a little quiet on here for a while. Life happens which is inevitable of course, especially with a 2 month old baby!

I've been trying to keep up on some of my projects. I've done some work on a 1930s quilt I'm sewing, which I've posted about on Instagram. I've nearly gotten my 18th century petticoat complete. It just needs to be hemmed and the tape drawstring to be put in. I'm in the process of cleaning out and organizing my sewing closet. I've even dabbled a bit at my writing, though that's been more sparse than I'd like. Ah well!

Lately, I've been trying to beef up our family's WWII Boy Scout impression/display in preparation for this season of reenacting. It's been a lot of research and acquiring of items, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit! There's just something about camping and scouting in the first half of the 1900s that fascinates me. It's just so cool! I was really excited to purchase two original photographs of a Cub Scout troop from the mid-late 1940s with a teepee in the background.

Anyway, I just tried a new ration recipe that I'll post about really soon and hopefully I'll be finished with my petticoat this week! So, stay tuned!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Historical Recipe: Mince Meat Cookies

Yes, I know. Another mincemeat recipe! But making the Mincemeat Cake did not use up all my mincemeat, so when I saw this recipe for cookies I was thrilled. They definitely have a more Christmas-time vibe, but that was not going to deter me. I found the recipe in the Toll House Recipe Book, ca. 1946.

Making the dough was pretty easy. I actually halved it and that still made over 2 dozen cookies, so if you make this, prepare to have a lot of cookies. Since the dough has to be chilled overnight, I tasted it just to see... and it was really good!

Even after refrigeration, cutting the cookies was no picnic.
The dough is ridiculously sticky!
The next morning I sliced and baked all the cookie dough and those cookies turned out so yummy. And even if you're not crazy about nuts in your cookies (like me), I'd have to say that the nuts add a much needed texture. I used pecans and chopped them pretty small.

Overall, this is a really nice cookie and a great way to use up leftover mincemeat from Christmas. (I made these a few weeks ago, by the way. Just wanted to mention that in case you were shocked by the mention of Christmas in February! haha!)

These cookies were awesome, especially fresh out of the oven! They're spicy and crunchy and taste vaguely of Christmas, but I think you could make these any time really. 

I'm not sure what to say about storing them. When I put them in a container, they got all soft the next day. I preferred the crunchy edges. So, I might experiment with leaving them out overnight to dry out a bit? I don't know. One thing I do know - don't stack them together, because they'll stick.

Definitely try these if you can. They're pretty tasty and really different. You'll be the envy of your cookie-loving friends! 

Mince Meat Cookies
Toll House Tried & True Recipes, ca. 1946

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Historical Recipe: Quick Bran Cinnamon Rolls

A picture of the Quick Bran Cinnamon Rolls
from the Kate Smith Breakfast Recipe Book, ca. 1940

Let's take a quick moment to ponder the title of this 1940 recipe from the Kate Smith's Breakfast Book for Quick Bran Cinnamon Rolls.

Is this recipe quick? Meh.

Biscuit cinnamon rolls. Yummm!

With bran. Okay, still yum!

ca. 1940

I have had a crazy sweet tooth lately. It might have something to do with having a nursing infant around. Or maybe not! Either way, I've been wanting to bake something else out of my Kate Smith's Breakfast Book and finally settled on this recipe for cinnamon rolls. (I still have a box of Grape Nuts that needs to find its way into more of her recipes. I mean, come on. No one's going to actually eat the cereal as is in this house!)

The recipe consists of making the Bran Biscuits and modifying it into cinnamon rolls. Not a weird concept by any means. The Bran Biscuits call for Whole Bran Shreds. I have no idea what those are, and I don't think you can get them anymore. They don't sound very appetizing. Anyway, to substitute I used Bran Flakes. I love eating bran flakes with raisins. (Not Raisin Bran. Coating raisins in sugar is  just gross and redundant.) When I get to the bottom of the bag, instead of forcing myself to eat the flake dust at the bottom to salvage the few remaining whole flakes, I dump it into a container to save for recipes such as this one. They worked perfectly!

A recipe of Bran Biscuits rolled out and ready for the butter/cinnamon/brown sugar mixture.
 The recipe is really straightforward. Nothing too fancy going on here.

I didn't take a picture of them before being baked. I was in too big of a hurry to eat them already!

And need I say how yummy they were? I say were, because they have gone the way of all things amazingly tasty. My whole family loved them. If you're going to have biscuit cinnamon rolls, you might as well get the bran on and make these!

I can't say they look really impressive, but it's the flavor that counts with these babies!

And you can forget about these being "good-for-you" like it says in the picture at the top, because they have twice the butter than regular cinnamon rolls. Ha! The bran just makes you feel better about eating them. Right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ration Recipe: Banana Tea Bread

I was so excited to find and purchase a 1940s cookbook pamphlet dedicated entirely to bananas! I don't know what it is about banana recipes from the early 1900s, but they are so fascinating. Mostly because they can be so bizarre! I wanted to try some of them

With my eye on the banana recipes in my future, I wanted to try the one for Banana Tea Bread from The New American Cook Book, ca. 1945. Definitely not a scary one, but I wanted to see what made it a tea bread and different from a regular modern banana bread.

This recipe looks pretty much like a banana bread recipe, except maybe for not using vanilla. So, you know what I did? I tasted the complete batter without the vanilla, then added it. And it was definitely better with the vanilla, though it wasn't bad without. I'd just like to say it improved it by a smidge. Yeah, it's cheating on the recipe, but at least I tasted the batter beforehand! Ha!

The end result was not that surprising except for one thing. It really tasted like banana bread like you'd expect, except - the texture was very light! When I think of banana bread I think yummy, but dense. But this bread had all that sifting going on, and that makes a huge difference! The crumb is much more delicate. So interesting!

The New American Cook Book, ca. 1945

This is definitely a keeper. I'd recommend trying it, just to experience that wonderful, light texture.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ration Recipe: Mincemeat Coffee Cake

Mincemeat Coffee Cake
The New American Cook Book, ca. 1945

I was itching to finally get back to ration cooking, but I didn't count on how overwhelming it would be just choosing what to make! There are so many choices...

So, I flipped through my New American Cook Book, ca. 1945, and found this recipe for Mincemeat Coffee Cake. This was just the ticket, because I've been sad that I wasn't able to make anything with mincemeat for Christmas due to my recovering from a surprise C-section and baby arrival!

This recipe was easy and pretty fast, which is always a plus when making a cake. Especially when you're trying to squeeze it in between making supper and eating supper. haha!

Here's the recipe:

It's pretty straightforward! Even so, I managed to mess part of it up. Those 5 tablespoons of butter do NOT all go into the bottom with the brown sugar. Notice it says only TWO tablespoons of butter go in the bottom, the rest goes into the cake. Silly me! But then, you know by now how notorious I am for not reading directions very thoroughly... I remedied my mistake by pouring off some of the butter and adding oil to the batter since I'd already put everything into the pan and butter was pooling around the sides. *sigh* You'd think I'd learn my lesson about the "reading the recipe through" thing!

I was tempted to add vanilla to the cake, but I stayed strong and didn't. Good for me! I think the cake tastes fine without it, though vanilla wouldn't hurt!

Another note I had is about the oven temperature. 425ยบ F seems excessively hot, and the top of the cake did get dark golden brown (what my son calls "burnt" even though it's not). So, it would be worth experimenting with a lower oven temp like 375ยบ and lengthening the baking time.

And finally - the recipe doesn't mention anything about flipping it over, but it could've been assumed you would do it since all the yummy stuff is on the bottom. I just went ahead and flipped it like a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and I feel like it was meant to be. All those yummy mincemeat juices trickled down the sides and softened up the golden "burnt" top of the cake quite well. Plus, it's just really pretty, don't you think?

The crumb was delicate and moist, and the mincemeat was the perfect accompaniment to the rather plain cake. A very nice treat, to be sure! Definitely give this a try. It's perfect to make if you have some leftover mincemeat filling from Christmas.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Goals for 2017

I've loved using my 1930s double waffle iron. It sure makes some tasty waffles!
I'll post about the recipe soon!
I can't believe 2017 is just around the corner! I've had a lot on my plate with our baby in the NICU and Christmas, but now that the holidays are winding down, I've been thinking about my goals for my blog in the coming year.

One thing I'm determined to do more of is ration cooking! I've added quite a few more ration cookbooks to my collection, so I have a lot of material to play with - especially banana recipes. I'm not sure why, but I have this weird fascination with the banana recipes from the 30s and 40s - and surprisingly there are a lot! In fact, I just ordered a 1940s banana cookbook! Isn't that wild? haha! A whole cookbook dedicated to bananas. I've run across some banana recipe doozies in my other cookbooks, but one I'm definitely going to try is banana donuts. Why has this recipe disappeared in today's world? Banana Donuts seem totally logical to me!

So, anyway, I'm hoping to cook at least 2 new recipes a month and post about it. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm trying to be realistic. Our baby will be coming home soon, and then I'll have my hands full for sure! Two is a good number, I think, and if I can manage, I'll do more.

My second goal involves sewing - of course! I have a whole host of sewing projects in the works, and they're piling up! Here's a short list: 1940s little girl's jumper, 1930s/40s house dress for me, 1940s overalls, late 1700s short gown and jacket, late 1700s corset (finally! sheesh! I've had this pattern for 2 years now! Maybe 3?), and possible a boy's waistcoat as my son keeps getting taller, and I'm pretty sure he's grown out of the one I made him. And I'm thinking some 1940s baby clothes too for our newest addition. I'm hoping we'll make it out to 2 or 3 events this year: Graeme Park, PA; Conneaut, OH; and Ike's Farm, PA. I wish we could do more, but it's been so long since we've had a little baby, I'm not sure what to expect!

My third goal involves writing, though that isn't too related to this blog. I'd like to finish the first draft of the modern love story I'm working on and get to work on the 2nd draft, but then I'd like to dig into the research for my second WWII novel I have planned. It involves American agriculture and education - both of which I know so little! I have a few leads to start off with, but I think the research alone is going to take me a good portion of this year, if I'm lucky. I'm wondering if I might be able to squeeze in a research visit to the National Archives like I've been dying to do since I moved out to Maryland! Wouldn't that be fun??

So, the goals are nothing new, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic. I think I have some fun adventures ahead for me!

Here's to a Happy and Fantastic New Year!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Baby and A Dress

I've mentioned on here that I was expecting a baby in February - well the little guy arrived 8 weeks early! There wasn't anything wrong with him, but my body had a hard time handling the pregnancy, so my doctor took him out. He's in the NICU now, and I'm extremely grateful for modern medicine and the incredible technology that makes it possible for tiny, preemie babies to thrive! We're counting down the days/weeks when we can bring him home. In the mean time, I'm slowly recovering and gradually easing back into life sans-pregnancy.

I've missed writing on my blog (and writing in general), so I thought I'd put up a post on something I've been wanting to write about for awhile. I have very few family heirlooms, but one special thing I do have is my maternal grandmother Lenore's 1930s bridesmaid dress from her sister's wedding. It's made from a lovely, light blue dotted Swiss cotton, and shows all the markings of being home made. It's a beautifully simple dress, and makes me wonder where things have gotten so crazy with weddings that now we have to buy $200+ bridesmaid dresses for a one-time event! I know not everyone spends that much, but this dress just speaks to me of simplicity, frugality, and focusing on the occasion, not on what was worn.

Here are some pictures featuring different aspects of the dress:

It was very hard to get a good picture with adequate lighting for this delicate, sheer dress, but here it is! It's quite long and petite. I remember trying it on as a teenager and barely being able to squeeze into it. I was a pretty skinny teen, but I was no where close to being as petite as my grandmother!
I imagine an under dress was worn with it, as the fabric is very sheer.

I think the dress's silhouette of the dress is very iconic of the 1930s. The more I learn about this decade of fashion, the more I love it!

This dress has a side zipper enclosure as well has a front bodice partial enclosure using metal snaps. I think these methods of closure were pretty common for the time.

The construction of the dress is very basic, and I think it could be replicated fairly easily. 
Front Bodice

Back Bodice
 I think the sleeves are adorable!

Here is a detail of the button. They're not glass, but I'm not sure what they are made from.

 Here's a detail of the lace and the fabric. The lace is so delicate! I wonder if that is home tatted lace...

And finally, some stitching detail! The seams have been pinked, and much of the dress looks hand sewn, though the main seams may have been done on machine. 

I wish I had a photo of my grandmother in this dress! I know one exists. In fact, I may remember seeing one as a kid. I hope I get to see it soon. This dress is a wonderful treasure, and how fun it would be to have the photo of her wearing it to make it all complete. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Historical Recipe: Candy Cane Cookies

I have fond memories of making Candy Cane Cookies as a kid. But whenever I tried making them as an adult, they never worked out very well - until this year!

The recipe we made came from my mom's 1960s or 70s Betty Crocker cookbook which fell apart ages ago. Yes, it may be a stretch that I call these "historical", but since the recipe came out before I was born, I'm going with it. Luckily, you can easily find the recipe online still! Here's the link.

A few notes though. Once the dough is all mixed up, and before you add the red dye to half, if your dough looks more like soft chocolate chip cookie dough (i.e. drop cookie consistency), then you definitely need more flour - or it won't work no matter how long you chill it! We ended up having to add an entire 1 1/2 cups more flour until it had some more body to it. Then we chilled it over night.

Once the dough is chilled, you have to work quickly while handling it, because it warms up in your hands pretty fast. My kids and I had a fun time making the candy cane shapes, candy cane sticks, wreaths, and knots. And when we ran out of white, we made a couple red chickens cookies. haha!

The recipe is a bit of an ordeal, but so iconic for the season, and definitely worth eating and sharing!