Exploring Early 20th Century Lady Mags: Recipes During Times of War

October 1, 2014 • Diet

Mary Elizabeth’s War Time Recipes, Containing … Recipes for Wheatless Cakes and Bread, Meatless Dishes, Sugarless Candies, Delicious War Time Desserts [etc.]  is a fascinating piece of history. Yes, that is the actual title. Dating from 1918 during World War I (towards the very end of the war), Mary Elizabeth instructs her readers on the fine art of cooking during a time when many ingredients either could not be found or were very rare and therefore extremely expensive. Not only is it a firsthand account of the ways people made do during war time, but is also a testament to how the war was felt by civilians. It is somewhat foreign to those of us  living places like the United States–I can’t recall there ever being a shortage of anything since the Iraq War began and it’s been over ten years. Never have I had to cook without sugar because no store was able to stock it. It’s a weird feeling, looking back at documents such as these; I feel so lucky and at the same time, like such a whiner. I complain when I don’t have Hellman’s mayonnaise and have to settle for Blue Plate (uck)–I can’t imagine having to make mayonnaise every time I wanted it.

So are you interested in some of Mary Elizabeth’s war time recipes? Of course you are! I present to you recipes for Wheatless Strawberry Shortcake, Pineapple Ambrosia, and Baked Peaches.

Wheatless Strawberry Shortcake


1 cup oat floar

1 cup barley flour

2 cups milk

1 tbs shortening

2 tbs honey

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder


1) Sift the dry ingredients together, making sure to mix in the shortening well.

2) Add the beaten egg, honey, and milk

3) Put the batter into muffin tins and cook until done (The original instructions say for 20 minutes, but that was in a 1918 oven, so gauge your time with that in mind.

4) Split the cakes down the middle, butter them, then pour mashed strawberries, sweetened with honey, over the bottom layer. Put the top on and cover with whipped cream, sweetening with honey when desired.

Pineapple Ambrosia


1 pineapple

1/2 lb of marshmallows

2 cups of whipped cream sweetened with honey

Juice of half of a lemon


1) Shred a fresh pineapple (but not too finely) with a fork.

2) Cut marshmallows into small pieces and mix it with the pineapple

3) Let the mixture stand on ice for a few hours.

4) Before serving, mix two cups of whipped cream and the lemon juice in with the pineapple.

5) Serve immediately.

Baked Peaches


12 peaches, whole and fresh

1 cup honey

2 cups water


Whipped cream


1) Wash the peaches and place them in a baking pan.

2) Pour the water and honey over them

3) Cover the pan and bake until they are soft

4) Serve them ice cold, topping them with whipped cream and a little bit of rum just before serving.





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