Wartime Menu Challenge: March Dinner - Corned Beef

I'm so thrilled with myself that I actually got it together to make this whole menu! When I said this was a menu challenge, I wasn't kidding. It's going to be a huge challenge for myself to actually follow a menu. Most of the time I wing it, which means that most of the time I'm figuring out last minute what we're going to have. Not always the best approach to dinner time. I'm hoping I'll be learning a lot throughout this challenge about how nice having a menu can be, not only for sanity's sake, but for the budget as well. 

The first day's dinner menu was supposed to be this:
Corned Beef
Mustard Sauce
Diced Beets
Green Cabbage Salad
Cherry Upside-Down Cake

In all the menus I've read about in my resources, they say that adaptation of the menu is to be expected, but that if you are going to change the menu, make sure you replace like with like to maintain the nutritional elements. Because of this, I took a little liberty in adapting to my family's tastes. So, this is what it really ended up being:

Corned Beef
Mustard Sauce
Diced Beets
Green Cabbage Salad Mixed Greens Salad w/ dressing
Cherry Upside-Down Cake
Herb & Garlic Bread w/ Butter
Coffee/Malt-Cocoa Water

The next dinner menu calls for breading and frying slices of corned beef, so I had to be careful not to cook the beef to the falling apart stage like we usually do. I cooked it in the crock pot with a bit of water, and it turned out delicious! (I like getting our corned beef from Trader Joe's this time of year because they don't put a bunch of junk in the brine. Plus, just look at all those spices!)

I roasted the beets in the oven, though not for long enough. They were firmer than I liked, but I ran out of time. They actually tasted really yummy with the salad! Then again, I love beets. 

I am pretty darn proud of these scalloped potatoes! I used a 1940s recipe, but any scalloped potato recipe will do that uses a white sauce with cheese added. I sprinkled the bit of cheese left on the top with a sprinkling of parsley and popped it in the oven. So yummy! I broke down and finally got a mandolin slicer a few weeks ago, because I knew this challenge was coming up. I am so glad I did! It really cut down on my prep time and the potatoes were perfectly uniform in thickness. I can't believe I didn't buy one before now!

I recently bartered with a friend to get a used bread machine in exchange for eggs, and I have loved playing around with it! I made an herb bread with garlic powder in it. Man oh man, was that good! It didn't seem right to not have bread with this meal, so I added it in. And here's the entire, delicious meal!

Last, but certainly not least, was Cherry Upside-Down Cake for dessert. I used a recipe from my 1945 Watkins Cookbook. Watkins was a company that produced baking powder and various extracts - you can still buy their vanilla today. So, of course the cookbook is filled with uses for Watkins brand stuff. Which led partly to a big mistake... 

I used this recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake and substituted in canned cherries. (Not cherry pie filling!) Well, where it says "3 teaspoons Watkins..." I stopped reading and assumed it said vanilla. So, without stopping to think that that's an awful lot of vanilla, I poured and mixed it all in. I soon realized my mistake. It only calls for 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla! Yikes! 

Don't worry... this has a happy ending.

The cake turned out magnificently! I tried a piece nice and warm from the oven... Oh my goodness. It was delicious! The extra extra vanilla actually fought it out with the cherries to make a lovely balance. Tart cherries, warm flavorful vanilla cake. A happy mistake for once! Hooray!

I  may have had some of this for breakfast...

 and lunch... heeheehee...

And here's a special little bonus - the Watkins product pictures from the cookbook! I love photos like this, because if you're looking for original vintage kitchen stuff, pictures like these can help date labels. Plus, I love seeing what they made back then - like Mixed Fruit extract! Interesting!

Stay tuned for the next Wartime Ration Menu challenge installment!

P.S. You know when something is so obvious that you don't even notice it? That's the way this month's menus were. I pulled the menus from the March 1942 McCall's magazine... when food rationing hadn't even started yet! Doh! I talk more about it in this video and how this month's wartime recipes are still useful even if they're not technically ration recipes:


  1. That sounds fun! So glad the vanilla mistake turned out well. We've had our share of mix ups like that. A few years ago, I was making rhubarb crumble and one of my sons was helping with the crumble part. He put in a couple of tablespoons of salt instead of sugar. It ended up in the trash. LOL


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