Tag Archives: wartime cooking

How to Make Three Big Messes . . .

20 Dec

. . . Out of a smallish one.

At the party on Sunday we needed some extra space for the hot food, so we unloaded what had been the microwave stand, and shoved it out of the kitchen into the dining room. I haven’t needed it a for the microwave since we remodeled the kitchen in 2013, so I’d been using it to store (i.e. pile up) cookbooks. The Squire put them in a carton and stuck it in the laundry room.

I worked at my “temp job” on Monday, so he stacked every thing on the end of the dining room table for me to sort out when I had the chance. Honestly, he was hoping I’d dispose of some of it, but I am genetically unable to toss out any sort of printed matter. Pass it along, Yes. Trash it, NO.

So now, it is spread all over the table. I tried just making stacks of things. I have cook books and pamphlets from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. A book on how to use your new electric icebox. Another on what to serve and how to manage a dinner party if you do not have a maid. Back in the day, Baltimore Gas and Electric used to have two-page giveaways, full of hints and recipes.  (I have several years worth of those, if you’d like some.) Wartime recipes from both my mum and my grandmother. Betty Crocker recipes from the 50s and 60s.  And we won’t even mention the newspaper clippings!

The Wartime booklet is interesting. Hospitality during the war was an important way to enjoy companionship and keep up your spirits, but with butter and sugar – among other things – being rationed, it was tricky. Cakes were made with honey or corn syrup instead of sugar. Mum told me that even wedding receptions during the war were more akin to covered dish suppers than the catered affairs we think of today.

Speaking of newspapers, I found a 32-page Baltimore Sun insert from December, 1973, full of international recipes and stories from Baltimore homemakers. Bavaria, Russia, Poland, Romanian, Venezuelan, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Estonia, and the West Indies. You can gain a couple of pounds just reading this collection. Not just cookies, but meat and vegetable dishes, customs and traditions.

I’ll probably end up piling it all back onto the microwave cart, no further along than when we started.