Monday, June 9, 2008

Old Fashioned Frugality

1942 War Ration Book

Last week on Tammy's website she posted about her frustration with keeping her grocery budget low. A lot of people are struggling with the sub-prime lender problems, unemployment (I live in Michigan which has the highest unemployment rate in the country right now), rising gas costs and higher grocery bills. I had a conversation with my grandma who is my biggest mentor about how hard it is right now. She always has a gentle way of reminding me that things have been worse and that they will get better again. My grandma told me the story of growing up during the Great Depression and marrying in 1942 during the height of the war. She told me how tight her grocery budget was and some ideas of what her and my grandpa ate. It seemed to be a lot of humble and cheap meals, but they were homemade and she always found a way to save her rations for a special treat. I have a large cook book collection and my favorite ones are the really old ones. I also came across this war ration book at a garage sale. I do not know the person who originally owned them. I also have a few old fashioned "saving stamp" booklets. I remember my mom using S & H Green stamps growing up. The biggest lesson about them is delayed gratification. You had to SAVE UP your stamps to earn items that you wanted. You didn't just go and charge them. So my real "tip" for this week is to remind everyone that we all have different reasons for the things that we buy based on what is important to us; ie: allergies, food preferences, number of family members etc.. Just do your best and cook from scratch as much as possible. I have also included two frugal recipes. Even though my grocery budget is pretty tight, I'm grateful that I can go to the store and purchase anything that I like without restrictions. For more great tips check out Tammy's Recipes.

Inside the ration book- notice how they had dated each line to split it up through the month.

Back cover of ration book.

Ration book and stamp saving books.

Front cover of a war ration cookbook from 1941. I imagine it was given out for free or with a purchase of Swans Down flour or Calumet Baking powder.

Grandma DeKraker's Eggless Chocolate Cake

2 squares Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening (during wartime they often used lard)
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine chocolate and milk in top of double boiler and cook over rapidly boiling water for 5 minutes, stirring occcasionally. Blend with rotary egg beater; cool.
Sift flour once, measure, add soda, salt and sugar, sift three more times. Cream shortening; add flour, vanilla, and chocolate mixture and stir until all flour is dampened. Then beat vigorously for one minute. Bake in two greased and lightly floured 8-inch layer pans for twenty minutes or until done.
My grandma states that she usually sprinkled the top with powdered sugar to make it pretty.

No-Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Mixture will be thick. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not over bake. Let cookies stand briefly before removing to cooling rack. Yields 2 dozen.

Here is the cookbook open. Notice there is an eggless chocolate cake recipe there and other ones that have been modified to reduce rationed items.That recipe uses "soured milk" in it. My grandma states that chocolate cake recipes were the most popular because everyone still had birthdays and celebrations.


Sonshine said...

Thanks for sharing!! Oh what rich history in that book!!

I remember my mom doing S&H green stamps too!

Kirstin said...

What a cool looking book! That would be fun to browse through.

Joy said...

What a great post! Thanks so much for taking the time to blog about this. I think I'll try the peanut butter recipe.


Happy to be at Home

Anonymous said...

My great-grandma saved her last ration book of the war with all the stamps still in it. I remember her explaining how they used lots of substitutions and special recipes to make do without certain ingrediants. There are reprint cookbooks from this era that show this.

Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" said...

One of the benifits of delayed gratification is that once you obtain the item you have been saving for it has value.

For instance, if you get to have an ice cream cone everytime the ice cream truck rolls around, it is just another ice cream cone, nothing special. However, if you save all your pennies all summer long and finally at the end of August you get to have the ice cream cone it is something special and it have value.

I think that those who have lived through the depression are a great example of frugality. They have so much to teach us about everything!

Jen@BigBinder said...

Well, hi! I can tell from your links and references we live in the same town :) I came over from Tammy's blog, how nice to stumble upon yours! I love the post about Old Fashioned Frugality; very interesting :)

Jennifer-Ancientgamecupboard said...

Thank you for this! I think it's important to be reminded that things aren't as bad as they were then. I think the recipe book is fantastic - what a wonderful resource :) We have so much to learn from those who've gone before us.