I love this photograph. I love that lady and her little girl. I know that little girl called her “Mother” and she was very excited to make something with that jar of home-canned peaches. Mother was excited, too. She had a respectful, obedient, tidy daughter, and we know her house was tidy, too. (And would you look at all those perfect curls?!) Father came home from work and everyone sat down at the table together, said grace, and cleaned their plates in anticipation of some yummy peachy dessert. I miss 1940 and I wasn’t even there.
Recently, I received a wonderful package in the mail.
It was sent to me by one of my readers and it included several pamphlet-style books about home-canning and gardening plus a big, big, big book of recipes. One of the pamphlets was from Atlas, a maker of home-canning jars. It includes instructions for how to seal jars with the old-fashioned glass tops and bail wire.
I actually have an old Atlas jar. It’s one of the “Special Mason” jars. Wish I had one of those “Good Luck” jars! I love old Atlas jars, so it was neat to look through the book. I always wondered how that worked with that type of seal and lid.
The Atlas book is dated 1939. I couldn’t find dates on most of the rest of the materials, but I suspect they are all of a similar era. Is this the original Ball Blue Book of Preserving?
I love the message inside.
“….Yes, Mrs. U.S.A., Miss U.S.A. too, we thank you for all the fine things you are and do.”
I think every cookbook should start out like that. Don’t we all like to be appreciated? The book contains a number of canning recipes and canning how-to’s. Ball’s been at it for a long time! But my favorite of everything was this big red book. Food for Health and National Defense, A West Virginia Cookbook.
The cover notes it came from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, with the name of the original keeper of the book handwritten on the front. It appears to be something that was somewhat handmade, typed on an old-fashioned typewriter, filled with tried-and-true recipes from women across the state plus tacked-in additions of newspaper and magazine clippings. It’s a peek into the mindset of an era. They weren’t concerned about fat back then, that’s for sure. They were all about bacon fat and lard. I love these people. I like this recipe for creamed corn and ham in a cornbread ring. They suggest serving it with an apple-and-celery salad and butterscotch pudding for dessert.
Then there’s Brunswick stew with grapefruit salad, cheese and crackers for dessert.
They paid attention to dessert. These were dessert people. They knew how to live. Check out this double feature.
They were worried about shortages. These were frugal people. They knew how to do without. No mincemeat because sugar is scarce?
They had a recipe for that!
I like this pancake dessert idea.
You roll up pancakes with a filling of sugar, cream, and syrup, then ladle fruit on top. There are lots of ideas and tips in the book for the frugal homemaker. Like how to make lard. (I want to make lard! I have so much in common with the 1940s housewife!)
They were making their own yeast, too!
Some of the recipes are hand-scrawled.
There are notes about things in the works to try.
I wonder how those cabbage rolls worked out? I know I want to try this refrigerator ice cream!
And the country johnny cakes!
Maybe not this liver loaf….
But most of the recipes in this book look delicious. Most of them make me want to run to the kitchen and make….. Defense Cake!
That’s what’s wrong with America today. We’ve forgotten that truth, justice, peace, health, and happiness all start with…..