The Social Experiment

This blog is about understanding and exploring what my Grandmothers experienced by living on the home front during World War II. I am going to be living, as best as I can, to the US rationing standards of 1945. This is a social experiment, not only to connect to my families past, but to explore new way to live environmentally and socially responsible. I hope to show, that by living as our grandparents did, we can reduce the amount of waste that our society throws out and live healthier and more simple lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hurray Meat!!

Yesterday- I stopped by my brothers and sister-in-laws home and they gave a wonderful gift. I am now a proud owner of beef! They had bought a part of a cow from a family farm. They were nice enough to give me the neck bone cuts (I am hoping to make stew with them) along with a pound of hamburger and a roast.

It got me thinking about how did families deal with meat? Did some of them share a Cow – like my family? I know that some people raised rabbits to eat – and I seriously thought of this…. But I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to kill the rabbits. I can archery hunt deer and skin fish… but those rabbits are just too cute!

I am very excited for the taste of beef again. I am starting my third week of Turkey (I cooked and stewed a turkey breast three weeks ago and have frozen it in portions) and I am getting tired of the taste. I think I may start to observe meatless Mondays and Thursdays – just for a break in what I eat.

Next week I will definably be eating beef- Hurray for Beef!

The Joy of Lefse

In preparing for Christmas… I looked at my stock of butter and sugar. What I discovered is that I do not have a lot left. I have three sticks of butter left – and at 16 points a pound- I am unwilling to purchase more. I did discover that I have a new sugar ration coupon that I can fill this week – which is good for five pounds of sugar… but that has to last me two and a half months. I came to the sad realization that I cannot bake Christmas cookies like I did before. No fruit cake. No spritzes. No Peanut butter stars.

Oh- but I can still

make Lefse. This wonderful treat of Christmas (for Scandinavians) made from potatoes, ¼ cup of butter, 3 table spoons of sugar, a cup of milk, and two cups of flour. Hurray for Lefse!!

This Saturday, my mom and I measured out the left over mash potatoes from thanks giving – and it was enough for a whole batch of Lefse. SO we put on our aprons, plugged in the griddle, and started working.

Lefse is not the easiest thing to make. It requires you to rice your potatoes, mix in your ingredients, then to roll out a spoon full of dough on a floured board. Then using long sticks – the flat dough (you should almost be able to read through it) is placed on the griddle and baked for 4-5 minutes. Presto! Lefse!

The challenge is that I like Lefse with a little butter and sugar on it – I did discover it is wonderful with apple butter on as well! (And that is only a 2 point stamp!) There is still the taste of Christmas in the times of rationing.

It was fun to work hard with someone else - and now both of our freezers are full with Lefsa (about 3 dozen large circles that is cut into 4's). I can imagine that is what the canning circles were like- everyone working together to put up food for winter.

Stay tuned to hear about my war cake (it is a substitute for fruit cake from 1940’s)…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stretching Meat

I think the hardest thing for me is getting use to stretching meat. I will state right here that I have never been a fan of beef... but every once in a while I really miss it. So far – I pretty much eat a lot of poultry, fish, or go without. It is amazing how many ways you can get protein without eating meat!

Well I tried this new recipe from “Grandma's Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked” by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Jean Anderson. It is called Veggie burgers. This recipe uses potatoes, carrots, unions, and an egg to make ½ pound of Hamburger feed 6-7 people. It is a basic recipe for a meat loaf… but instead of bread (which I didn’t have) it uses shredded (8 cups) of vegetables and a big helping of chili powder.

I was not sure I would like it… but I don’t think I will ever eat hamburger plain ever again! It is the best meat I have ever eaten … and it made enough for a full week of lunches.

In the pictures- I made homemade pickled beets to go with it. Ummm – beets are the best!

This picture shows a meatless night. I curried a pile of vegetables and cracked an egg on top for protein. The crock pot has my steal cut oats cooking for breakfast the next morning. The kettle has a beautiful tapioca pudding for desert (I had to cut the sugar in half, only one egg, and did half milk, half water to save on the amount of milk used... it still tasted good :)

Milk, milk everywhere – not a drop to drink!

This Monday- I got up and went to pour milk on my oatmeal. Much to my surprise – it came out in like old Elmer’s glue. It had soured! I had to decide what to do – throw it out… and not get milk again until Tuesday (my shopping day) or to use it to make some food. I looked at it … and it had not turned different colors – nor had it gotten fuzzy… So I decided to cook with it.

Looking through the 1944 “Good House Keeping” book – I discover that I could use it to make biscuits, bread, and doughnuts. Like any coffee respecting individual – I decided to make doughnuts.

The recipe didn’t call for to many rationed items… I did have to use ¾ cups of sugar and half of my Crisco rations… but I thought that was a fare exchange for a sweet treat. (A modern substitution that I did do is make them out of stone ground wheat… at least I could say they were kind of healthy).

I had to mix up the dough then let it chill for an hour… so I used that time to cook my meals for this week. (To make it fun- I put on “the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!” and splurged on my beer rations… having a pint of Finnegan’s while I worked.) I had cooked a Turkey breast the week before... and had been eating turkey with a rice/plumb side dish. I had saved the drippings and the carcass (the bones). I put the carcass in my stew pot and made a nice turkey and egg noodle soup for this week. It is nice that this one turkey will feed me for three weeks. I also mixed up some biscuits (using the last of the sour milk) with soy flour to go with the soup.

Making the doughnuts was fun… I cooked them using the shallow oil method... to conserve my oil – and the recipe made 3 ½ dozens. They are the old fashion style – they are not covered in frosting or anything but the dough is slightly sweet and uses cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg to add flavor. They are just perfect for dunking in the thin rationed coffee.

Making these doughnuts helped me understand what a sacrifice woman made to make sure there were plenty of homemade doughnuts available for soldiers going off to war. Many women volunteered to make doughnuts and then hand them out to the men on trains as they traveled through their towns. Some women, in the Red Cross and the USSO, had doughnuts for soldiers who came in from the front lines… I can just imagine how the taste of those doughnuts would have brought the soldiers home, to their warm kitchen, just for a little while. How simple of a recipe... but how important it was.

I felt good at not wasting food – using all that I could. The doughnuts were a tasty treat at my workplace and I froze a few as well. I never knew that sour milk could taste so good!

Here you can see my weeks worth of food... I have turkey soup, soy sour milk biscuits, and blessed doughnuts!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pot roast Update

I realised that I never updated the Pot roast!

It was wonderful!!! I ate it for a week and a half. It was so good - I never did get a picture of it after it was cooked ! I ate it all up. Here is a picture of the oatmeal bread that I made... Now I have an over abundance of pumpkin in my freezer - so I believe I will be eating pumpkin pudding and bread for a while :) Does anyone have suggestions on what else to use pumpkin for that doesn't use to much sugar?

WWII Extra Curricular

Some of you know that I have taken up a new hobby. In researching this hobby – I was surprised to find out that it had mostly died away- but during WWII – this became a popular hobby for women. The reemergence started in New Zealand then spread throughout the world. It is the hobby of Spinning.

Like many woman during the war – I have learned how to wash raw wool (again in my bathtub J), Dry it, pick out the weeds and seeds, card it straight, and finally spin it into lovely yarn (to make warm scarves, mittens, and hats for our fighting soldiers). I have to say I never knew how much work it is!

I bought two pounds of unwashed wool. I will tell you it is nasty! I started by washing a half pound. It is washed in very hot water with dish soap. You put the water and soap in, then lay the wool into it (no agitation or you get felt). Once it is washed three times and rinsed twice … it is laid out to dry. Once dry… the fibers are pulled open to get rid of any twigs and seeds that are stuck in. Then it is carded between two huge cards (they look like dog brushes for Clifford the big red dog). Once carded, it can be spun. I use an Ashford spinning wheel (that I received from my aunt – nicely decorated by goats chewing on it).

Even though it is a lot of work – I see the value of it. If there was not a lot of wool production – due to the war… it provided processed wool for knitting. The other thing it provides is a way to release stress. There is a meditative quality of hearing the rhythm of the wheel spin… then the feel of the wool in your hands. It is my favorite thing to do when I come back from a really hard day at the hospital. When spinning – all your cares drain away and you are left with the joy of having made something.

What a wonderful thing it would have been for these women that had the whole world’s cares on their shoulders.