Leddy Library's Archives & Special Collections invited the public to celebrate 2020's Archives Awareness Week (April 6-12) by participating in the Historic Home Cooking Challenge. The challenge has ended, but historic home cooking never goes out of style. Try your hand at cooking one of the daily historic recipes found below.
The Archives and Special Collections team carefully selected recipes using ingredients you probably already have at home from a historic, special edition cookbook released during the Second World War (1939-1945). The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book (1943), by Ruth Bertolzheimer, was a popular American cookbook that was also widely used in Windsor.
The use of the word ‘Victory’ in the book’s title was meant to boost morale on the home front when citizens were weary but the war’s outcome was still highly uncertain. North Americans felt the impact of the war right in their kitchens, where some popular items were scarce and commodities like sugar and meat were officially rationed.
The Library has selected five recipes that capture this challenge for you to try at home.
- Monday, April 6: Maple Nut Brittle; Peanut Brittle
- Tuesday, April 7: Cucumber Sauté
- Wednesday, April 8: Halibut Creole
- Thursday, April 9: Baked Bean Roast
- Friday, April 10: Caramel or Burnt Sugar Cake
The wartime rationing of sugar meant that many desserts of the 1940s are not as sweet as modern recipes; however, people would often save their sugar rations in order to make candy or cakes for special occasions. While there is nothing sweeter than victory, the only prize associated with the challenge was the reward of trying something new.
Share your Historic Home Cooking Challenge experience with Leddy Library online by uploading your recipe photos and videos to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, tagging @LeddyLibrary and using the hashtags #AAW220 #LLHHCC.
- “Maple sugar” = maple syrup. You could also try substituting corn syrup or honey.
- “Granulated sugar” = white sugar.
- “Nut meats” = any kind of nuts you like, without their shells.
- Don’t have parsley or chives? Try substituting your favourite herb or spice.
- No halibut on hand? Substitute any cut and kind of whitefish, salmon, etc. No fish at all? Try it with chicken or tofu!
- In wartime, fats were in high demand (used in munitions production), so this recipe doesn’t assume you have a specific kind available. Try using butter, margarine, vegetable oil, olive oil, shortening, lard… whatever you’ve got.
- This recipe makes two round cakes which you can stack as a layer cake and garnish with your favourite icing or drizzle OR serve as a single layer shortcake, with fruit or ice cream.
- You’ll end up with more burnt sugar syrup than you need – try using it in place of vanilla in some other baked good recipe, or as a drizzle to moisten your baked cake.