As I’ve mentioned before, I love old cookbooks. They provide a glimpse into another time and what homecooked dishes were important to cooks and bakers.

One cookbook that was dropped off at the Courier Express/Tri-County Sunday office is from 1942. From it’s name “WCED Victory Cookbook” I know it is a local cookbook even before I see the recipes from cooks and bakers residing throughout the area. When I first came to work for the Courier Express it was one of four local media companies owned by the Gray family. The other three were the Gray Printing Co. in Falls Creek, which printed and bound the cookbook, and two radio stations – WCED and WOWQ. This cookbook was, of course, long before I joined the newsroom team.

The cookbook’s editor is listed as Virginia Wade. An internet search for that name brought this information to light. Although her married name was Virginia Wade Ryder, she was generally known as Virginia Wade. She “was one of the outstanding radioio personalities in the state. She interviewed many outstanding persons during her daily ‘talk’ shows” on WCED in DuBois.

The cookbook was dedicated to “homemakers everywhere – their job is of utmost importance in wartime or peace. But this cook book is especially dedicated to the housewives of Elk, Jefferson and Clearfield counties who through their interest and co-operation have made this book possible.” It also contained a “homemaker’s pledge” from Wade. The pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my family, to give them to the best of my knowledge wholesome, nourishing meals, and yet inexpensive. And in order that my country and family will not want, I’ll waste not.”

World War II was taking place at this time in our history. Although flour wasn’t being rationed, sugar was. All sugar sales ended on April 27, 1942. Then on May 5 of that year, rationing began. People were allowed 1/2 pound of sugar per person per week. Several of the recipes note that they are sugar-free. In one portion of the book there is a instruction on substituting other things for sugar, such as honey for cakes and cookies, corn syrup in strawberry preserves and apple jelly and in apple sauce.

When using the honey substitute, the instruction tells the baker to “reduce the liquid in the recipe 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and to have the flour measurement scant. If the cake has chocolate, dates, raisins, nuts or mixed fruits in it, then the same amount of liquid as used in a cake with regular sugar is needed. For all other types of cakes, replace 1/3 to 1/2 of the sugar with honey.

In the strawberry preserves, one cup of corn syrup, white or dark, is used with one cup of sugar and one quart of strawberries. Combine all three ingredients in alternate layers and let stand for two hours. Then heat the mixture to boiling and let it “sizzle” for about 40 minutes, then skim off the white foam and pout it immediately into hot, sterilized jars. Thus you have a reduced sugar version of strawberry preserves.

For the apple jelly it calls for a 50-50 equal measure of sugar and corn syrup. Cook the apples until soft, drain them and add lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar/corn syrup. Season to taste then boil it rapidly until it jells.

And for the apple sauce, it calls for paring, coring and slicing the apples while boiling a quart of sweet cider for every quart of prepared apples. When the cider has boiled down to about half its original measure, add the apples and cook slowly, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When the mixture begins to thicken add two cups of sugar and 2 cups of corn syrup for every four quarts of apples. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and one of allspice and cook the apple mixture until it remains in a smooth mass when cooled.

A recipe for Molasses Cake found in the cookbook, clearly states that is uses “no sugar, eggs or milk” was sent in by Mrs. D. Wayne Holton of New Millport.

Molasses Cake

(No sugar, eggs or milk)

2 cups molasses

2 tsp. soda dissolved in 1 cup hot water

1 tsp. ginger

4 cups sifted Occident Flour

1 cup lard and butter mixed

1/2 tsp. salt

Add molasses and stir well to mix thoroughly. Then add hot water in which soda has been dissolved. Sift the dry ingredients and add slowing, beating well until thoroughly blended and smooth.

Bake in a large cake pan well greased and lined with wax paper in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 45 minutes.

Another interesting recipe that used honey was the Victory honey cookies from Miss V. Leotta Bouse of Johnsonburg.

Victory Honey Cookies

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup honey, warmed

1 egg

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm water

2 tsp. soda

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Just enough Occident Flour to make a soft dough. Then roll out and bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not make stiff.

A quick web search for Occident Flour gave the answer as to what type of flour this was. Occident Flour is all-purpose flour. It may also have been a brand name since it is capitalized in the cookbook.

As we draw closer to Easter, I hope to share some more recipes from this book, especially the Hot Cross Buns recipe and the Nut Rolls recipe.

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