December 8, 2017

"A Man Could Propose to This Pie" WWII Era Recipe: Pecan Pie

WWII Era Recipe: Pecan Pie

Recipes for the earliest versions of pecan pie date back to the 1880s but the dish didn't reach its height of popularity until the 1940s when sugar rationing made this sugarless dish a good alternative to other pies. Older recipes tend to favor molasses while newer ones tend to favor corn syrup. The Karo corn syrup company helped popularize it in the 30s and 40s. 

Pecan pie has strong southern associations due to the cultivation of pecan trees there. It is currently the official dessert of the state of Texas, which is fitting, because the earliest recipes that are most similar to pecan pie today started popping up in the 1880s in Texas.   

I chose to make the Grandma's Old Fashioned Molasses version because, ahem, I'm giving it to a man--I mean--because molasses is the best nutritional substitute for sugar according to Sweets Without Sugar (1945), a book dedicated to wartime sweetener substitutes. (We'll see.)  I also used margarine as my shortening to keep in theme with WWII era substitutions. 

WWII Era Recipe: Pecan Pie WW2

WWII Era Recipe: Pecan Pie WW2


- 2 Eggs, Beaten
- 1/2 Cup light Corn Syrup
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/16 teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Shortening, melted
- 1 Tablespoon Flour
- 1 Cup Chopped Pecans
-  1, 9 inch unbaked Pie Shell

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your pie pan with crust, a little on the thicker side. Mix eggs, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla and salt. Add melted, but cool-to-the-touch, shortening. (Or else you'll have omelette in your pie.) Mix in your nuts and pour the mixture into your pie crust. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then serve with whipped cream and cherries.

WWII Era Recipe: Pecan Pie  World War Two

November 13, 2017

WWI Era Recipe: Pumpkin Candy and a Riddle

World War I WW1 Recipe Pumpkin Candy

I saw this recipe and just had to see how our predecessors used such a trendy, fall flavor combination! I think this is the first recipe I've made that used corn syrup, it could have just as easily been substituted with more sugar or honey.

For whatever reason I imagined this as a hard candy but it is a softball stage candy that could probably be pulled into a taffy.While many period recipes do not please the palates of two time periods, this one is pretty delicious and I can't wait to make it again. The flavor is delicious but not too strong and for a candy it's not super sweet. I didn't add the nuts but they would have been a decent addition. 

If you are making this with canned pumpkin (which is arguable partially squash anyway) be sure to get canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. I highly recommend lining your pan with parchment paper and letting the candy sit for an hour or two before cutting. This recipe made about a 12" x 12" square pan of candy. Wrap the pieces in wax paper and enjoy!

World War I WW1 Recipe Pumpkin Candy

Found this puzzle while reading a period magazine and thought it would be something fun to try while my candy was cooking. I did not make much progress in it but you might have a better time of it:

Spinning Wheel, 1914

October 25, 2017

WWI Era Turkish Delight Recipe

"I am now on a hospital ship bound for somewhere, and I don’t know where...I have been wounded in the foot, but not seriously. You know what things are on an hospital ship, plenty of everything. I shall have a good yarn to tell you when I come home, and I don’t think it will be long. It isn’t half hot our here, and it doesn’t half make you stare to see a seven foot Turk in front of you. It makes you think you are going to have Turkish delight for supper..." -Private Charlie Cox in a letter to his parents Sept. 28, 1915

WWI Recipes Candy Turkish Delight

I'm very happy I had a chance to make this. I was hoping I could make something delicious to send on over to Newville but it's been quite the week. I found this recipe while researching Trench Cake and ending up finding a recipe for "Trench Fudge" (apparently there's no information anywhere about what trench fudge is) above this deliciousness.

Turkish Delight, also known as, Lokum, Lumps of Delight or Turkish Paste was created in the late 1700s in Turkey. According to the Arabic name, rāḥat al-ḥulqūm, they were likely developed as a throat soother. The candy became very popular in the West during the 1860s. Popular flavors included rose water, lemon, orange, honey, and molasses. The oldest recipes rely on the sugar and fruit Pectin to gel. The addition of gelatin is very typical of the time period. Gelatin was made for centuries as a result of boiling bones but gelatin desserts became very popular at the end of the 19th century. It was at this time Jell-o appeared.

No post on Turkish Delight would be complete without mention of C.S. Lewis and Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. There's a really good article on the popularity of Turkish Delight during the time period and how the difficulty of the recipe and the amount of sugar involved made Turkish Delight seem like a ridiculous luxury during the food rationing of WWII.

The Recipe:   

WWI Recipe Candy Turkish Delight
World War 1 I Recipe Turkish Delight Candy


The result ended up being better than expected. I was afraid it wouldn't gel but in the morning it was perfectly solid. The gelatin flavor is a little strong. Other contemporary recipes call for the addition of lemon or orange oil and I think that would be a good addition. This recipe can also be made with vegetarian gelatin.
I used a greased 9 x 6 " loaf pan. If I was to make this again I would probably use whole nuts so that they don't all float to the top. The times I used were very approximate as I was cooking in between calling a tow truck andwaiting for it. :) I might have done around 7 minutes for each boil. I was worried it might not gel but I had no issues. I covered it with a cloth when I left it to set over night in in the refrigerator to try to keep some of the moisture off.  Once cut, I made sure they were well coated in powdered sugar which dulled the candy to a peachy-orange color. 

I've read conflicting advice from "keep in an airtight container" to "keep in a paper bag," and read storage estimates from 3 days to 3 months. I put 1/2 in an airtight container, the other half I wrapped individually in little bits of parchment paper.  If either method keeps them good by next week, I'll be sure to send them on to the event and leave an update here on which method is better.

Hope you enjoy!  

October 9, 2017

On Dying

I am sorry that this is so long. This is something I don't like to talk about but I've had enough inquiries that I thought it best to address it as I hate it when a blogger you follow ghosts leaving you to wonder how the story ended. People have been asking where I have been and if I've stopped blogging etc. The truth is, the past few years I've been really sick and I don't like to talk about it.

Getting sick started a few years ago and it was a slow process. My joints would hurt and I'd be tired. My hips always hurt. I was just getting old, it was nothing to worry about. College took up a lot of my time but I still was dancing, painting, writing, reading, reenacting and doing all the things I loved.

But my junior year things started to get weird. I was really tired despite sleep. I was stressed out but not excessively so. I was always a fairly good student but I was having trouble remembering things.

I failed a test and my professor asked me to come see him. He didn't understand how I didn't get any these questions right when I was discussing the topics in depth in class a day prior. He even added that my grade was statistically improbable. I would have gotten a better grade if I didn't even read the questions and just guessed.  I had a hard time explaining it either. My professors decided it was testing anxiety although I never had that before. I was happy to have some kind of explanation. I was functional by my recall of specifics was terrible.

But my memory got worse and worse. I once got stranded at school because I forgot my purse, phone and money and couldn't remember any phone numbers to call to get someone to pick me up. I was afraid to touch my hair because it would fall out in clumps. I went to the doctor. He didn't take me seriously.  He said I was just stressed and should start keeping lists. (If any of you know me, you know I'm an insane list maker. So this suggestion was ludicrous.)

Student teaching was a nightmare. My coop teacher had just had twins and needed some time off so I was more or less on my own. Standing that long started to become an issue. I had to sit or lean. I was excessively tired. It was stressful enough without the memory issues. I would walk from the back of the room to the front to write something on the board and forget what I was going to write on the way up. My spelling was terrible and I dreaded those occasions when I would stop half way through a word on the board because it didn't look right and I would have to turn to that slightly smug AP student to nod that my spelling was correct but I was so thankful they were there. By this point I knew there was something seriously wrong but I didn't have the time, energy or money to try and address it and the doctor before said nothing was wrong.

It's a horrible feeling to be sick and not know what's wrong. Over the next few years, everything got worse. I was too tired to spend much time at reenactments. I went from dancing every night to a couple times a week here and there. My hip joints hurt as much as ever. Reading was a nightmare. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I had so little energy, I did what I had to do and went home to sleep. My relationships with people were virtually nonexistent. Even my boyfriend stung me with "All you ever want do when I come over is stay in bed!" I learned a lot about photography at this point. Painting took too much effort but I could learn about photography in bed. 

I didn't just lack energy. I physically spent 18 hours a day lying on the floor, hardly able to drag myself to the kitchen to get something to eat. The bed hurt. Everything hurt. It was hard for me to do easy tasks like opening doors. I couldn't stand very long. I went to work and spent most of my days pretending nothing was wrong. Work was hard because my energy was so limited, I was always on the verge of tears. My friend's mom said I should go get checked for Lyme and I kept putting it off. I finally dragged myself to the doctor and was diagnosed with Post Treatment Lyme Syndrome, and later Hypothyroidism and Cushing's Disease likely brought on by the Lyme.

I'm not going to go through everything it took to get diagnosed and sorted out but it was so many doctors and doctors appointments. And TE$TING. Lots of TE$$$TING. It was hard to work and paying for all of my medical bills was killing me. I needed another job but it was virtually impossible. I thought knowing what the problem was would fix everything but it didn't. I stopped going to my doctors appointments because I didn't have the energy to make the appointments, find the doctors, fight with insurance. The medicine that was supposed to fix everything didn't do anything. I was spending so much money and not feeling any better.  It was around this time that my family found out what was going on. A childhood friend died from complications due to Lyme, she was getting hip surgery. My family was pretty adamant that I continue with everything although I had long lost interest in trying.         

I had to take pills. Lots of them. But this pill has to be taken without food, another with food, one couldn't be taken with calcium, one was calcium, some made me sick but I had to take them anyway, some didn't work and we had to try new things, most of them I couldn't pronounce. Almost all had some sort of negative side affects but that was only if I remembered to take them. Which I didn't. I still hurt and I still had memory issues. I was very depressed, still had no energy, could barely leave the house. It even became hard for me to carry the weight of my camera.

To go from someone who was used to being able to remember lectures word for word and the page numbers where I read a particularly interesting passage a few years prior who would make art, write, go hiking, camping, sailing. I was devastated. Who are you even after you can't do anything that makes up your very being? Looking at the shell of my life and watching everyone living theirs was SO hard. I watched friends dance and going out at night and I knew I couldn't do those things I took for granted. I let so many people down. I couldn't stay out long with friends. I couldn't volunteer like I used to. I'd forget to show up. And even if I went, what good was I? I wasn't much good physically and I wasn't much good in the way of conversation. I was good for nothing. It was so dark and I wanted to be dead. I felt like a burden on everyone. My only real connection to the outside world was through social media.

 I spent a lot of time dying and about a year dead.

I'm feeling so much better now. Whatever odd cocktail of pills I'm on seems to be working good enough and I'm getting better at knowing and working within my limitations. I still have my bad days and weeks, but I'm out of the house. Sometimes, I'm overly excited that I went out (please bear with me, it's like everything is new.) Even things I did for years are new. I'm relearning so much. The pain is manageable. I'm so thankful to everyone who has stuck through this with me! I hope to be blogging again soon!

September 17, 2017

WWII Era Tomato Soup Cake (You Read that Right) Recipe

Soup to Nuts Cake WWII Tomato Soup Cake

This was one of those recipes I came across that sounded so weird I just had to try it for myself. The recipe is called "Soup to Nuts Cake" but has gone by many names including "Tomato Soup Cake" and "Mystery Cake." The recipe first made an appearance during the depression but made a resurgence during WWII as a way to make cake without eggs and only using a little butter.

Similar recipes were advertised as holiday fare likely because they used a lot of sugar. During WWII sugar could be substituted with maple flavored syrup, corn syrup, molasses, honey or sorghum and all of these substitutions would be complimentary to the flavor of this cake.  

Tomato Soup Cake


-1 Cup Sugar
-2 Tbs Butter
-1 can Tomato Soup
-1 tsp. Baking Soda (dissolved in the soup)
-1 tsp. Baking Powder

-1 Cup Raisins
-1 Cup Walnuts, chopped
-1 tsp Cloves, ground
-1-2 tsp Cinnamon
-1/4 tsp Nutmeg
-1 3/4 Cups Flour


-3 oz of Cream Cheese
-1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together and add soup. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into a greased cake pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool completely. For icing, mix powdered sugar and cream cheese together.  

I ended up only making half of the icing and drizzling it rather than icing the whole cake-there's a war on, after all. I realized after I made my batter that the bundt style might not have been the best for such a chunky batter but it ended up keeping its shape quite nicely.

Soup to Nuts Cake WWII Tomato Soup Cake

I was hoping to bring this little mystery cake to the Eisenhower Farm event for our home front display and as a little adventurous eating for our company but a tragic, completely unforeseen event befell us. I forgot the cake in the freezer and didn't realize until we were halfway there! So this little hunk of mystery is going to have to hang out in the freezer until next event and I will publish a part 2 to this post "Fear Factor: WWII ration cooking edition."  

I thought I would include some of my favorite pictures from the event for those of you who couldn't make it out. Enjoy!