The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Menus * Substitutes * Cooking Recipes

As I touch this delicate paper cookbook/pamphlet, Wartime from July 1944, it starts to fall apart in my hands. My husband, a flea market-yard sale devotee, garnished this piece of history for me a couple of months ago. I thought I would share some of the interesting parts of this wartime food legacy with you.

Wartime rationing is not anything most of us have had to deal with in our lifetime. These were times when you didn't have strawberries in the dead of winter; no one knew about nutritional packaging, there were no TV dinners or fast food joints. In those days you barely had enough butter.

Recipe: How to Stretch Butter
1 envelope gelatin
1 lb. butter
1/4 cup cold water
1 14 1/2 oz. can evaporated milk
salt to taste

Soften the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water (about 5 minutes). Place over hot water and stir until the gelatin is thoroughly dissolved. Soften the butter but do not melt it. Gradually whip the milk and dissolved gelatin in to the butter with an egg beater or electric mixer. Salt to taste. A little yellow vegetable coloring may be added if desired. Pack in a glass container and chill before using. DO NOT USE FOR COOKING. This recipe yields 2 lbs.

Americanism was promoted when the US was at war in 1944. The opening line of the foreword "We, as a nation, are great meat eaters ." The closing line "This series has been carefully prepared with the hope that it will be of real practical value in helping your family and every other family using them to be healthy and happy American citizens."

The Lunch Box chapter continues with the Americanism. "Good foods and proper ones are the bases of healthy, strong bodies. Healthy men and women are vitally necessary to win this war. Yet many workers are not eating the proper foods to give them energy and "pep."

Here is a peppy recipe for a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich:

Butter two slices of bread. Spread one slice with peanut butter and one with jelly. Put the two together and brush the outside with melted butter. Sauté in butter in a heavy skillet.

Note-Marmalade, or jam may be used in place of jelly.

In 1944 there were Seven Basic Foods:

Group 1
Green and yellow vegetables-some raw, some cooked, frozen or canned
Group 2
Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, raw cabbage or salad greens
Group 3
Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits - (raw, dried or canned)
Group 4
Milk and milk products -fluid, evaporated, dried milk or cheese
Group 5
Meat, poultry, fish or eggs, or dried beans, peas, nuts or peanut butter
Group 6
Bread, flour and cereals - Natural whole grain or enriched or restored
Group 7
Butter and fortified margarine - (with added vitamin A)

In addition to the seven basic foods, eat any other foods you want.

Wartime offered a 2-week menu planner so one could appropriately take advantage of the leftovers, no waste. Probably the most unusual combination I saw recommended was a bacon and pickle sandwich on enriched white bread.

In the Vegetable Cooking section one can learn how to cook Jerusalem Artichokes. I didn't fathom that this was something grown in the US at that time.

What a gold mine Wartime is for a view of how we lived in the US during 1944. I hope you enjoyed this snippet of history.


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