Every book has a story

Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Nostalgic Dining for Thanksgiving.

Six and a half pounds of brown sugar to a half teaspoon of mace, it says here, but it adds that the mace is optional. I guess so.

I was just checking out this vintage 1946 copy of Army Recipes, or, as it was known officially, War Department Technical Manual TM 10-412. It is a little stained here and there, so I expect it has seen some use (the section on Chocolate Sauce has been dripped on.) It has no notes which I have seen so far, so there are no reviews of how the food came out, but there don’t seem to be bullet holes either, so I expect things went okay.

Recipes are geared toward feeding a company, so each is expected to feed 100 soldiers. The pumpkin pie recipe cited above was supposed to produce 18 pumpkin pies, each cut into six pieces. Ingredients are measured by weight and by utensil. Those six and a half pounds of brown sugar was also “5 no. 56 dippers”. No. 56 dippers were the largest of three utensils it was assumed you had with you, the others being your mess cup and your mess spoon. I am not perfectly clear on how much these held, for this same recipe calls for 1 1/2 ounces of cinnamon (6 mess kit spoons) and 1 1/2 ounces of salt (3 mess kit spoons). Salt may be heavier than cinnamon. I haven’t had time to check on this.

There are dishes here you can try for Thanksgiving, if your traditional fare is beginning to pall. I see recipes for Carrot Pie, as well as String Bean, Beet, and Pea Salad. (There is a note here that you must refrigerate your greens as soon as you have washed them: the longer greens stay at room temperature, the more vitamins are lost. Again, I have not checked on this.) Perhaps you would find this Cabbage and Chipped Beef Salad a more patriotic choice for the holiday. Or maybe you fancy Spanish Steak (Swiss Steak recipe plus green peppers.)

If you want a Thanksgiving reminiscent of the Home Front instead, we have this 1943 edition of Cooking On a Ration, or Food is Still Fun. With recipes like Rice and Peanut Butter Loaf, what else can food be but fun? (Edible would be nice.) There’s also a Cottage Cheese Loaf, in which the cottage cheese holds together a collection of peas, celery, bread crumbs, and onions, which you then cover with chili sauce. In fact, a great deal of attention is given to sauces or “wheedlers”, since with these you may cover a multitude of substitutions. I do not know what sauce I would serve with this Baked Liver and Apples: even for a devotee of Turkey Liver Pizza, this seems a bit desperate. (There are no liver and apple recipes in the Army cookbook, which may be why the country is still around. There IS one for Liver Chow Mein.)

I wouldn’t mind trying this Strawberry Meringue Pie, though. This is not the cookbook I thought it was, for the classic recipe for mock apple pie using lemon juice and salt cracker is not here. They scorn to use the word “mock” for anything here, and try not to be cute in the slightest in making up names to camouflage the contents (though Lima Bean Loaf could use all the help it can get.) They call a cheap cut of meat a cheap cut of meat and either pour something over it (interesting Barbecue Sauce recipe here) or serve something filling with it (They give the war credit for introducing people to pancakes or waffles as an evening entree instead of part of breakfast.)

Well, whatever you’re eating, have a happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc. (Did you know yesterday was Tasteful Tuesday? I hope you didn’t have the Baked Liver and Apples.) The library is pretty thoroughly locked up from Thursday to next week, though you should try to come in and see the Black Friday specials at the A.C. (Approaching Chanukkah) McClurg Bookstore. Otherwise, sit back after Thanksgiving dinner, hand everyone a book to read and (wait for it) listen to the readers digest.


I'll rush to the store to buy some ingredients tonight so I can try some of the cuisine listed above. My coworkers can happily (?) expect leftover Lima Bean Loaf next week at work!

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