Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Although canned foods were commercially available in America as early as the 1820s, for many years canned foods were considered tasteless at best, and potentially hazardous at worst. Cooks who did use canned foods were often criticized as being lazy. By the 1930s, however, that reputation had completely reversed, as canning technology improved and efficiency and economy were prized. Cheaper canned goods brought expensive foods such as pineapple within the reach of ordinary Americans. The Good Housekeeping Institute promoted canned foods in quick dishes to make for company, such as in this 1933 recipe for pineapple upside down cake.

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Oatmeal Macaroons

This super quick, super easy recipe comes from War Economy in Food, a recipe booklet published by the U.S. Food Administration during World War I. The macaroons use oats and corn syrup to reduce the amounts of wheat and sugar used. In addition to saving wheat and sugar, the recipe also saves on time and dishwashing – it only uses one bowl, and only takes about 20-25 minutes from start to finish!

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War Bread

From The Economical War-Time Cook Book, this recipe was designed to save white flour during World War I, substituting rye, wheat, and cornmeal instead. Although the United States never had official rationing during the first World War, Americans were still urged not to waste food, especially wheat, meats, fats, and sugar. Corn, “the food of the nation,” was promoted in particular as an economical alternative to flour.

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Mrs. Macnab’s Scones

This recipe was collected by Scottish folklorist F. Marian McNeill and published in her 1929 book, The Scots Kitchen. She writes, “Mrs. Macnab was the wife of a farmer who lived near Ballater. Such was her reputation as a baker that King Frederick of Prussia and other distinguished guests at Balmoral used frequently to go over and have tea with her. It is not possible to impart Mrs. Macnab’s lightness of touch, nor the wine-like air of these regions, which doubtless contributed to her visitors’ enjoyment; but here, at least, is the recipe for her celebrated scones.”

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Broonie

Broonie is a traditional oatmeal gingerbread from the Orkney Islands in Scotland. This particular recipe comes from the folklorist F. Marian McNeill, who collected traditional recipes for her 1929 book The Scots Kitchen. Although she collected recipes from all over Scotland (I made another of her gingerbread recipes in this post), she was born and raised in Orkney, so broonie may have been familiar to her from her childhood.

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Sour Milk Ginger Bread

This gingerbread comes from Foods That Will Win the War, a pamphlet and recipe book instructing cooks how to save food during World War I. Although the United States never had official rationing during the first World War, the U.S. Food Administration ran an aggressive propaganda campaign urging Americans not to waste food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Gingerbread was perfect for this, since the use of molasses as a sweetener means that it can be made without any added sugar at all.

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