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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When I dont want to Ration...

I must apologize at the long time that has passed since I have last posted. I can tell you that a lot has happened … which has given me a good honest look at rationing.

The biggest thing that has happened is that my little brother surprised me and my whole family with the announcement that he is getting married, oh… and the wedding is this coming Friday. My brother also surprised me at asking me to make the wedding dress – and I surprised myself by say yes!

So when I am not at work- I have been crafting a wedding dress.

If I was following WWII Rations – I would use very little fabric, and possibly cut down someone else’s wedding dress and remake it or to use the families linen table cloth for fabric. I couldn’t convince my soon-to-be sister-in-law to agree to that… So I did not follow rations for her dress. This is good because it is 100% silk – which was mostly used for parashoots.

There truly is something amazing at making your own clothes… especially something that is so special. I had a lot of time to think about their wedding, and pray for their new life together. And I know this sounds very cheesy – but each stitch (there was a lot of hand hemming and beading) holds my love for them and my hopes for their happiness.

I understand how wonderful (and to be very honest – how extremely stressful) it would have been for mothers and daughters to get together and sew the wedding dress. I also see how it was easier to wear your best outfit when getting quickly married while someone is on leave (which is what my grandmother did). I had a month to make the dress and it was very close to getting it done…

This wedding also opened up a new aspect of rationing for me – I sooo want to wear a new dress to the wedding!!!! I actually went shopping for one. It was my first time in a department store since August…And each dress I tried on – was nice… but I didn’t want to waste my one new outfit on these clothes. I did end up buying a pair of jeans that I needed… but couldn’t buy a dress. I then went home and dug through my fabric boxes for material for a dress – but I ran out of time to make a dress. So completely frustrated… I dug through the back of my closet and found that I have a perfect dress for the wedding in my closet. I figured out I can wear one of my old jackets with it and it makes it super cute – kind of bohemian. Add some great shoes in bold colors – and Presto! I had the perfect outfit already in my closet.

This makes me wonder – how many times do I buy things… just because I want something new, or I am board…? Whereas, if I used a bit of creativity- I have perfect outfits already in the closet.

This month I discovered that it is more special to make a dress or discover new options instead of buying new ones.
(Stay tuned for updates on how a Rationed Christmas went… as well as trying new types of meat and a look at what truly is the taste of Christmas? All of this will be posted after the wedding :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When to be a creative cook?

In the past two weeks I have learned a valuable lesson… when to creatively adapt recipes to available ingredients and when it is better to not experiment.

Lesson one: Tapioca Pudding

I have to say that since I started rationing – I have made a lot more pudding. It is great, it uses milk (which fresh is not rationed) and there doesn’t have to be a lot of sugar in it. My favorite pudding is tapioca. It just tastes like a warm hug!

I planned to make tapioca and I soaked the beads in milk for a day. When I started to make it- I didn’t realize that I was short one cup of milk! What to Do? I still wanted my pudding (yes I know it is kind of extravagant with 2 eggs!) But I could just taste the warm, gooie, yumminess. Well- I didn’t have any powder milk or canned, but I did realize that I had soy flour. I have drunk soy milk before, and technically wouldn’t soy flour in water equal soy milk?

I have now discovered that it doesn’t taste like soy milk. It tastes like flour. Yucky, awful flour.

Most people would say that the pudding was ruined – but I found if you put a ¼ C of vanilla in it… it didn’t taste too bad. I do think it was a waist of eggs and sugar.

Lesson 2: Yogurt

Trying to be point thrifty… I decided to make my own yogurt. Again – fresh milk was not rationed… but yogurt was. I went to the store and bought a gallon of skim milk (problem #1). I had my own plain yogurt for the starter (problem #2 – the yogurt was 6 months out of date … it didn’t smell or taste bad so it should be ok?). I cooked my milk till it looked hot enough – It needed to be an exact temperature and I didn’t have a thermometer (problem #3). Then let it cool – eventually putting in the starter.

I let it sit in the yogurt maker for a day. I couldn’t wait to see what happened. Much to my surprise – when I opened the top… there was cheese! Somehow I made a very soft cheese! Realizing that there was no way to rescue the yogurt… I put the curds in a cheese cloth and let it drain.

I am not sure what I will use the cheese for… or if it is safe to eat… but lesson learned here is that if a person is going to make something… actually follow the directions!