Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patriots say: "Don't Buy Things! Pay More Taxes!"

Hard to believe where we've ended up. In World War II thrift was encouraged. Not buying products was patriotic. So was paying taxes. Taxes went to fight the War. Doubt it? Just look at the ad below. The woman in the picture is being told not to buy what she wants, and that it is cheaper to "pay as we go" - paid willingly, taxes would help all Americans in the future by ridding ourselves of the debt we took on to fight the Nazis and Japanese. Do you think you would make that sacrifice today? Would your friends? Would your neighbors? What kind of country are we now?

Save Those Crumbs

During the War That Changed the World Americans needed to save even stale bread. Today, when we're economizing to save money, it makes sense, too. Keep your bits of bread to make croutons. Dry them in the oven. It's easy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Victory Gardens Take Root in San Diego

The county of San Diego, working with charitable organizations and volunteers, has gone further than most places in establishing new victory gardens as you will see from this video:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Economy Spiced Cake

Perfect for the 21st Century recession, this WWII recipe from Royal Baking Powder was a way for busy homemakers to add a sweet dessert to their busy wartime schedules. Let us know if you like it (recipe below).

Economy Spice Cake

¼ cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 cups cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons Royal Baking Powder (or other baking powder)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening; add sugar slowly, beating in well. Add unbeaten egg, beat well. Blend water and syrup. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with liquid to first mixture. Bake in 2 greased eight-inch layer cake pans in moderate oven at 373 degrees F about 25 minutes. Makes 1 two-layer cake.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

WWII Bread Pudding

A recipe that restricts the use of sugar. The original instructions claimed the dessert to be "Inexpensive, Easy and Nourishing."

1 envelope gelatin
2 cups milk
½ cup light or dark corn syrup or 1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoonful salt
4 slices white bread (2 ½ cups cubed)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoonful vanilla
nutmeg, if desired

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In a Pickle for the Fourth of July

This recipe is culled from a WWII cookbook that helped Victory Garden growers make the most of their produce. It's another example of saving money, and a good way to show some patriotic pride this July 4.

Sweet Cucumber Pickles (Short Process)

1 gallon cucumbers
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mixed spices
1 ½ quarts vinegar
1 cup water

Wash and dry fresh cucumbers. Cover with brine (1 cup salt dissolved in 1 gallon cold water). Let stand 24 hours. Drain. Puncture each cucumber in 2 or 3 places with needle. Simmer (do not boil) ½ of the sugar, the spices, vinegar, and water 30 minutes. Add cucumbers. Simmer 15 minutes. Let stand 2 days. Drain off the liquid. Pack the pickles in hot jars. Add the remaining sugar to the liquid. Boil 5 minutes. Pour, while hot, over the pickles and seal at once.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Victory Cake

So called Victory Cake was designed to make use of fewer eggs and less sugar and other rationed items during WWII. When it comes to the sweetener you can substitute light corn syrup for the honey. The original 1943 recipe was published by the makers of Royal Baking Powder (you can certainly substitute another brand). So bake for Victory, and let us know how you liked it.

One-Egg Cake

1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey
1 cup milk
2 cups cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons Royal Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Cream shortening well; add sugar slowly, beating in well. Add beaten egg and vanilla; beat until blended. Blend honey and milk. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with liquid to first mixture. Bake in greased square pan (8 x 8 x 2 inches) in moderate oven at 350 degrees F about 1 hour or in 2 greased eight-inch layer cake pans at the same temperature about 30 minutes. Makes 1 eight-inch or 1 two-layer cake.

Friday, June 19, 2009

WWII Recipe: More With Less - Canned Peaches

Sugar and other foods were strictly rationed during World War II. This authentic war recipe from the National World War II Museum shows homemakers how to turn a can of peaches into a mouth-watering jello-ed dessert. Try it and let us know how you enjoyed it.

Peach Fantasy
(Serves 6; uses ¼ pkg.)

1 envelope gelatin
¼ cup cold water
¼ teaspoonful salt
1/8 teaspoonful ground cinnamon and cloves mixed
½ cup hot canned peach syrup or hot water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup canned peaches mashed
2 tablespoonfuls lemon juice
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Soften gelatin in cold water. Add salt, spice, hot water or hot syrup. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add sugar, mashed peaches, lemon juice. Chill until mixture begins to thicken. Beat until frothy. Fold in beaten egg whites. Turn into mold that has been rinsed in cold water. Chill until firm. Serve in sherbet glasses. Garnish with peach slices. May be served with custard sauce made from leftover egg yolks.

Note: Any other available fruit may be substituted for the peaches.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Digging In at Buckingham Palace

The Queen, it seems, has a new hobby - growing veggies. For the first time since WWII a victory garden grows at her palace in London.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can Do!

First it was Victory Gardens. Now add canning as another lost WWII art that's resurfaced during the Recession. Canning fruits and vegetables is experiencing a revival as US cooks seek to save money by preserving the fruits of their labors. Here's an article in the New York Times that documents the surging interest. And here's a list of canning do's and don'ts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to Sew a Button

As a society we've lost track of how to do simple things like darning socks and sewing on buttons. The illustrated instructions at left were part of a WWII primer for boys that taught them how to make simple repairs themselves, saving money and resources for the fight. Today, there's no war but a pressing need still to learn these simple tasks. Thanks to the Web we can benefit from the following instructions. Listen up:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Make Do and Mend"

When the going gets tough, the tough turn back the clock. A new poll in Britain indicates older people, some who remember WWII and post-war rationing there, have resurrected their old survival techniques. A total of 70 percent of people 50+ said they were employing cost-cutting tricks they learned from their WWII-era parents. What's more, young people are growing increasingly thrifty as well. The poll found 84 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds saying they should learn WWII economic survival skills and benefit from them. Look for tips on this blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wartime, Cookies & Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, something sweet: WWII Caramel Refrigerator Cookies. These were made with brown sugar (the white variety was rationed, of course). But you didn't come for a history lesson - you came for cookies. The recipe is here, collected by Laura Flowers, an Idaho photographer. We're lucky she likes sharing her photos and observations with us. Thanks, Laura. We'll be posting more recipes. What sort would you like to see? Leave your comments below.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Home Front & Mac and Cheese

Kraft introduced the boxed macaroni and cheese dinner in 1937. World War II forced Americans to improvise in the kitchen. With rationed meat and dairy products, working Americans, especially women in the war plants, turned to semi-prepared food products for fast meals. Today, the recession is forcing us into a similar situation, but now it's money and time we're trying to save. Jerry Kolber, a New York television producer, has come up with a series of recipes and a manifesto at a new blog Three Dollar Dinner. The name describes his idea: fast, cheap and delicious meals. Here, for example, is a modern recipe for macaroni and cheese:

Garlicious Mac-a-Cheese

Cost per Person: $2.40
Total Work Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total Cost for Four People: $9.60
Calories per Serving: 500

Mac and cheese in a box is the classic “I’m eating on a budget standby.” But since you end up adding milk anyways, all your paying for is dried cheese and less-than-excellent noodles. You can make delicious garlicky macaroni and cheese all by yourself at home, for about the same cost and about 100 times the deliciousness and healthiness (yes, even healthier than Annie’s Naturals, though that’s not a bad choice if you’re really in a hurry).

This is called Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese because that sounds like a superhero name, and I’d let this Mac and Cheese duke it out with any other mac and cheese any day of the week.

8 oz. macaroni (whole wheat or white elbows or penne) - $1.69
1 free range eggs - $0.32
1 organic onion - $0.60
1 6 oz bag organic or natural shredded cheddar - $3.99
Three tablespoons crushed garlic - $0.25
1/2 cup breadcrumbs - $0.25
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (3 ounces) - $2.00
1 cup organic milk - $0.50

Salt and pepper


Step 1 (3 minutes)
In a large pot bring water to boil and add the pasta. Cook for as long as box suggests (usually about 9 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2 (4 minutes)
Scramble the egg in a large bowl for about fifty whisks. Add the milk, two tablespoons mustard, four teaspoons salt, and all the cheddar cheese to the bowl and mix. Grease your large casserole dish (should be about 9 inches by 7 inches, but exact dimensions don’t matter).

Step 3 (3 minutes)
In a small bowl mix the 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Step 4 (35 minutes)
When pasta is done cooking, drain it in a strainer. Now add it to the bowl of milk and cheese and egg, mix gently and then pour into the casserole dish. Top with the parmesan/breadcrumb mixture and put it in the oven for thirty minutes.

Step 5 (3 minutes)
The top should be brown and crusty. If it’s not, you can put your oven on “broil” and toast the top by placing the casserole under the broiler flame for 2 or 3 minutes. Handle with care – it’s hot.

Serve and watch as they pass out from the overwhelming pleasure of Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Save on Books

Paperbacks became popular during the War. Cheap and portable, the books benefited from the condition of "hurry up and wait" during wartime which left servicemen and others hungering for a way to while away the time. Lending libraries grew in popularity, too. Meet today's version: the Paperback Swap. The free site allows you to swap books (hardcovers included) with others by registering and listing nine books you'd like to receive from other members and nine books from your library you are willing to mail to other people. The only cost is the postage for sending your book to another reader. Reading was never cheaper.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sign of the Times? It's Dollar Store

Sales at the chain are way up. Also at Dollar Tree. The more frugal we get the bigger these guys grow.

Scrap and Recycling - Savings or Not?

Rubber, iron, silk, aluminum. There was no end to what the Allies asked consumers to donate. And consumers responded. Though some of their efforts were wasted, as this interesting article tells us. There's still no easy way to recycle tires, for example. But it was useful. It helped a lot. It's important to remember recycling is a community effort, which is what recycling programs need to remember today. As we begin to put away money for a rainy day, we are reusing things more. Sometimes it takes a little motivation - financial or patriotic - to get people to go out of there way. Save and reuse. It's a good thing to remember.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rumors, the New Flu and Pvt. SNAFU

Now that the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning of a stage 6 global pandemic connected with swine flu that surfaced in Mexico, there's been a whirlwind of rumors connected with the virus. To remind everyone to keep their cool, here's a reminder from the WWII Home Front. From Warner Brothers, the same studio that gave us Bugs Bunny, the story stars a sleepy Private Snafu, not the flu, but it illustrates how the baloney starts flying when rumor replaces fact. Keep that in mind in the upcoming days, and enjoy the show.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Flu, World War II and You

While this blog usually addresses savings and budget tips learned in WWII, we noticed there's great concern about the swine flu in Mexico and decided to see how the World War II Home Front coped with the flu. (World War One resulted in the great Spanish Influenza. WWII did not see anything so deadly.) During the Second World War, mass troop movements also created a perfect storm for influenza, with a severe outbreak during December-January in 1943-1944. In the first week of January 1944, for example, doctors reported 126,000 new cases across the country. The flu was even blamed for a subsequent lemon shortage, as ill people used the citrus in home remedies that winter. Then, posters like those above, were used to remind the public to take precautions against sickness. Today, the same good sense applies: cover your cough, wash your hands, and stay home if you're ill being among the sensible precautions to take. For the latest flu news visit the Center for Disease Control's website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Michelle's Victory Garden for You, Too?

First Lady Michelle Obama's new White House garden is the first one since Eleanor Roosevelt plowed a plot of lawn during WWII when patriotic Americans raisied 40 percent of all the nation's greens on similar home plots. The Obamas' garden has received all sorts of praise -- and even grumbling, it's reported, from large agri-business worried that America's recession-stressed consumers will trade convenience for fresh, home-grown produce. A Victory Garden is one more idea in your own budget arsenal. More about the gardens here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Savings is a Smart Idea

WWII was a savers paradise. With access to consumer goods restricted Americans squirreled away their pennies. We're doing so again. In the last year US personal savings rate have climbed from near zero to almost 4 percent. And the American Bankers Association is rolling out an educational campaign to teach kids savings tips. It's a good thing for everyone. So remember the slogan "The Most You Can Save is the Least You Can Do" and start saving for a rainy day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Verdict is Victory: Gardening Saves You Money

First time gardeners and even those hardened, hoe-in-hand tilling veterans are sometimes plagued with doubt. Am I saving money growing my own green stuff? Or is gardening an expensive indulgence? Good news today from the Wall Street Journal. Columnist Neal Templin reports that yes, a garden saves you money. The trick? Keep capital costs low, says his source, Cornell University's Lori Bushway, who says you can "easily triple" your investment. Reap what you sow!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eat The View: Turning your lawn into a garden

By now everyone's heard about the Obama's plans to install their own Victory Garden at the White House. The organization Eat the View is dedicated to inspiring people to grow more of the food they eat, saving them money and helping the planet. Check them out. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Taxes to Beat the Axis"

It's getting close to April 15, and it is hard to believe that Americans once paid their taxes gladly, as a patriotic duty. Donald Duck did in Disney's 1942 WWII cartoon urging Americans to pay their taxes to "beat the Axis." (Donald's total income in 1941 was $2051. He paid S13 to the government) Whatever you may feel about the IRS it does take a little of the sting out of paying to remember that civilization - roads, schools, national parks, police - cost money. Like it or not, we're all in it together.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mint-ing Money

One of the reasons the 1950s and 1960s were boom years economically was because people learned how to save during WWII. Today, free personal finance sites like Mint.com can help you learn how to save. Mint emails you whenever you exceed your pre-set budgets - tracking credit card, savings and checking accounts. It won't do everything for you, and it can't make you save money, but it shows you where you're spending cash and can help keep your savings on track. That's a Victory to us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Feats with Meat: How to Save $ Today

Rationing during the Second World War forced people into all sorts of compromises. Our recession is doing the same thing, so we thought it might be worthwhile to head over to AskMen.com - a how-to site for the hapless dudes among us - to discover if they had any suggestions for saving money on meat cuts. They did. Here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hot Chicks

Raising your own chickens, like WWII families did, is suddenly all the rage. The media's full of stories on how to care for your flock. But you might want to go back to a 1943 tome entitled "Chicken Raising Made Easy." Published by the US Agricultural Department during the War, it offers a step-by-step guide to get your flock to rock in your own backyard. It's not available on Google book search, but it is for sale as an E-book.

We have no cluck with that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yes, We Can!

Canning your own food is a great way
to save money. There are some tips on
this WWII poster, but if you find them
hard to read, here's the Ball Company's
website which has the basics, some
great how-to videos, and suggestions
on preserving your food. Who knows?
Maybe the Obamas will even can
the produce they are raising in their
new garden at the White House.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Spend $10. Save $650."

That's the promise of the Burpee Seed Company's version of a Victory Garden it calls a "Money Garden" -- $10 worth of vegetable seeds planted in a small sunny spot will yield $650 worth of produce. What are they not factoring in? Your time, for one thing and the cost of gardening equipment. That said, growing fresh vegetable in your own backyard is quite gratifying. And it can save a lot of money, if you plan properly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Depression Kids

The New York Times interviewed people in their 80s and 90s to find out how they and their families survived the Depression that lasted until Pearl Harbor. Ingenuity is the shortest answer. People weren't tougher then. They did what they needed to do to survive. And they shared.

The Victory Garden of Tomorrow

We've been delighted to stumble across the work of graphic artist Joe Wirtheim of Portland, Oregon. Joe designs modern graphic posters evocative of the "Can Do" spirit of WWII's Home Front, but updated for today's green world. This poster at left is about recycling, but he has many more you can see here that are for sale. We like his command to raise your own chickens. More people are starting to do just that. Keep 'Em Flying, Joe.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sandwich Spread

We've heard of guns and butter, but not mustard and butter. French's Mustard came up with a way to make butter (which was rationed) go further with this recipe:
*4 tbsp. of French's mustard
*1/2 cup of butter softened at room temperature
*Blend together, cover and keep in fridge as spread

Was it tasty? The man in the ad thought so. What about you?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Real Value

Somehow in our race to acquire more stuff we lost the insights the Greatest Generation possessed. They made do with out a lot of plastic from Big Box retail stores. Or flat screen TVs. Or video games. Were they less happy than we? WWII was hard to live through, with many inconveniences, but people enjoyed books, music, movies (they don't make them like that anymore) and each other. We like this poster, for it contains an essential truth. Conserving what you have and supporting other people, not buying things, is what's important.

Your Victory Garden: What Goes Where?

Successful gardening requires some thought. Luckily there are plenty of guides online.

Better Homes and Gardens has a planting guide for an heirloom vegetable garden. And it's free (but you have to register with them). Heirlooms are old-fashioned, delicious vegetables and fruits that our grandparents were likely to grow - before science turned a tomato into a tasteless red orb more suitable for shipping than eating. Back the attack on high-cost groceries and start planning your planting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kitchen Memories

The National World War II Museum, located in New Orleans, is collecting WWII recipes to preserve the memory of how we cooked and what we ate during the War that Changed the World. Talk to your grandparents, or dig up recipes yourself, try them and share your suggestions with us.

"Meatless Mondays"

Meat rationing came to America in 1942. Cooks scrambled to substitute and stretch their what meat they could find. The government promoted "meatless Mondays" and encouraged nutritious meals without rationed proteins. Today we can still learn from the Greatest Generation by substituting expensive meat with alternatives. The website Meatless Mondays has a selection of recipes. Get creative and save!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Savings Fight: Value Investing

Can you afford to save money? Can you afford not to? A simple trick is saving on a regular, timely basis - having the money deducted from your paycheck - to place in a bank account or to buy stock. The WWII poster at left, which encouraged workers to buy war bonds, shows how regular savings make a tidy nest egg. For stocks this is called "value investing." Here's an easy-to-understand primer on the subject.

Your Victory Garden: When do I Plant?

Spring's here. And if you want to save money a garden is a good place to start. During the War American families produced 40 percent of the nation's vegetables in their own backyards. We've posted tips on getting started. Here's a good guide from the American Gardening Association on when to plant your produce.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Your Victory Garden: Getting Started

The nation's oldest WWII Victory Garden is the Fenway Victory Garden in Boston. It's still going strong, the picture at left was taken during their produce contest last year. One of the reasons for its success is the sensible advice dispensed on the Fenway's website. Here's a page on tips to getting your own garden going. Though this guide's written for New England weather in mind, the knowledge is useful anywhere. Yes, you can!

Little Bits Mean Large Savings

Here are a few handy reminders on what to do with food scraps and leftovers. The advice works as well today as they did 60 years ago. The 'V' stamped on the pages is for Victory in the kitchen.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New Victory Garden

Interest in Victory Gardens has never been higher, according to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Here's an excellent primer on how to get started "growing your own."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Interest in Interest

World War II savings bonds were a way for Americans to help fund the War and help themselves, too. With few new consumer goods being produced, many people saved their money, buying War Bonds to help finance the fight. US Savings Bonds are still offered by the government. Here's a calculator to figure out how much money you might make.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Piggy Butter

A reader of Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette remembers WWII and Depression-era sandwich recipes. While lard is no longer considered a healthy food, the point of Americans surviving and thriving without access to expensive gourmet grocery stores is well taken.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cooking Up a Savings Plan

It's easy. Perhaps this poster will remind you, as it reminded those during the War Years, that using up your leftovers is not only wise, but a way to save your hard-earned cash. Epicurious has great suggestions for leftovers. This poster is from an enormous collection of WWII-era posters at Flickr.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

This image from a WWII recycling drive in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a reminder that our grandparents were no slouches when it came to reusing old cans, bottles, tires and trash. It saved them money and helped the war effort. As a reminder, some modern recycling tips and a thank you to the Ann Arbor District Library's Image Gallery.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No-Sugar Cake

Sugar was rationed in the War, so cooks made do with less. In the modern world there's a focus on less refined, more natural cooking. Try this wartime recipe for Honey Cake.

There are more recipes here, too.


1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (some butter can be used in place of some of the shortening)
1 cup honey
1 egg, well beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sour milk (1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar)
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Cream shortening in bowl. Add honey and egg.

In bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add alternately with sour milk to shortening mixture. Add nuts.

Pour batter into greased and floured 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Smooth top of batter with spatula. Batter will be sticky. Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes or until done.

Recipe makes about 12 servings.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forest For the Trees

Wood goes to War. Stay with this 1942 video clip from the US government and you'll see a range of wood products, including some hip-looking patio furniture, that were produced during the war and which even included silverware.

What's Up, Doc?

Carrots are on the menu. A wartime recipe awkwardly entitled "Carrot Fudge" may be worth a go. Try it and post your results.

Orange essence

Finely grate carrots and cook four tablespoons
Pour in just enough water to cover for 10 minutes.
Add flavoring with orange essence, grated orange rind or orange squash/cordial.
Melt a leaf of gelatin.
Add gelatin to mixture.
Cook quickly for a few minutes stirring all the time.
Spoon into a pan.
Leave to set
Cut into cubes

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Green Was Our Valley?

It's hardly two minutes, and the narrator's voice is a little slow, but this You Tube clip reminds you of the "green" values on the Home Front in WWII. Reuse. Recycle. Conserve. What goes around . . .

Hitting the Snood Button

I'm not sure if they're back in fashion, perhaps someone can post, but here's a free knitting pattern for making a ladies' snood - or hair net - all the rage back in Tommy Dorsey's day.

Victory Gardens Now

Americans planted "Victory Gardens" in WWII to save food for the troops. You can fight today's Recession - saving money for yourself - the same way. Here's a news clip about gardening today.

Recipes for Victory

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans wants your Home Front Era recipes according to this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The museum is undergoing a major expansion with a new restaurant. Perhaps they'll use them.

Two Cooks and a Cabbage

We forget that Britain was fighting two years before us. Here, a 1941 clip from across the Pond on how to cook cabbage. Nutritious and still cheap today.