More Pandemic Cooking
April 16, 2020
For breakfast this morning I had cottage cheese and the last two chocolate chip cookies that miraculously escaped Terry’s laser-like scrutiny. That and my second cup of coffee without milk. Normally I eat cereal for breakfast, but like I said—no milk. Last night we had pizza—our first food not prepared by me in six weeks. That’s the best seasoning of all—made by someone else. My nephew Zach, who also shops for us, took the order and picked it up at a local restaurant. We know how fortunate we are to have him and Kelsey do this for us.
But! We’re out of milk. It makes me think of rationing during the war. Sometimes people used evaporated milk as a substitute. I had an uncle who reluctantly did that, but I can still hear him explode, “Blue John!” when it went into his coffee. He was of the opinion that canned milk was so free of cream that it turned the coffee blue. We did without a lot of stuff then. Mostly I was too young to notice or care, but we couldn’t get certain essentials. Like bubble gum. I remember with what great joy I bought my first post-rationing bubble gum.
I was thinking that must’ve been hard for the adults—no rubber for tires, rationed gas and sugar. No shoe leather. But those people were just coming out of the Great Depression. They were used to not having much. Now we’ve been spoiled. Too much food available. Too much everything available, so it seems hard to do without things we’re used to. Maybe it’s supposed to be a character builder.
Years after the war, when I was in eighth grade my home ec partner and and I won first prize for our “Wartime Carrot Cake,” A blue ribbon! So, don’t ever let anyone tell you I’m not a prize-winning cook. Sugar had been rationed to 8 ounces a week per person, so often carrots and raisins were used to naturally sweeten cakes and biscuits. Here’s a recipe that sounds close to the one we used:
Wartime Carrot Cake
Heat oven to 425
8 oz self-rising flour
3 oz oleo or cooking fat (lard!)
3 oz sugar
4 oz finely grated carrots
2 oz raisins
1 dried egg(!) or fresh if available
A little milk or water
Sift flour into a bowl. Use a pastry blender or a couple of forks to rub in the fat. Add remaining ingredients and mix, adding enough milk or water to make it sticky. Pour into a greased baking tin and bake till golden in color. I wonder how long that is? I wasn’t able to kitchen test this recipe cause we are out of flour and sugar. And dried eggs. Thankfully we have toilet paper.