Orange Butter Cookies (1967) ★★★★

This recipe comes from a 1967 volume of Boys' Life, a magazine which has been printed by the Boy Scouts of America since 1911. It was printed in a column called Tim's Tips, which featured Christmas cookie recipes.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:

I was nervous about these cookies! I had to re-read several times to make sure I wasn't missing a leavener. Oh - and as a disclaimer, I used a mixture of butter and margarine in my batter. The batter was very wet and sticky, even after being chilled for several hours. After chilling the dough, I baked a batch. They came out very pale and soft inside - almost cake-like. But the edges were very crisy and brown. I thought maybe it was because I had used a hot pan, but I got the same result when I re-baked with a cold pan and frozen cookie dough. Taste-wise, they're nice, but perhaps a tiny bit bland. The citrus zest was definitely there, though. I think they just needed a bit of vanilla. I thought they were good, but not great. I would eat them by choice, but I'm not sure I'd make this recipe again myself. Mr. Man really loved them, though!

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Boys' Life, vol. 57 no. 12)

The original recipe is delicious and easy to follow. Add a splash of vanilla, if you fancy.

Banana Tea Bread (1940) ★★★

Hello! Yes, I am still alive! I'm nearing the end of a 2 week summer vacation, which was spent mostly cleaning and sleeping. I really wanted to make a recipe for the blog, but it's difficult here. Honestly, I've been feeling a little defeated lately because it seems my baked goods never quite work out properly. But I had some ripe bananas (they go moldy within a day in this heat - blech!) and they were literally falling apart, so I made up my mind to make something historical!

The recipe comes from a WWII banana-themed cookbook, which I've used before. This time the source I used said it was published in 1940, while the source I used last time said 1941. Amazon lists one dated 1942. I'm not sure if these are multiple editions or some confusion, but regardless, it is clear this is an early 1940s book.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:

This recipe comes together pretty quickly and easily. As a note, I don't have a sifter, so I just whisked some flour really well before measuring. The batter is really light and fluffy. I baked it in two thin loaf pans, as I don't have a regular 9x5 or 8x4 pan here. In my little Japanese convection oven it took 40 minutes to cook those thin pans.

I'm giving this 3 stars, but I think its more of a 3.5. The recipe without modifications is sort of blah, but I think even with some vanilla it would really improve. Maybe the use of butter instead of shortening, too. That said, the texture of the bread is nice and soft. I would happily eat this banana bread, but its not going to be my go-to recipe.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from to serve them found at And Everything Else Too)

The original recipe is easy to follow! My only suggestion would be to add in some extra flavor with vanilla, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc. 

Strawberry Eclairs / Boiled Icing (c.1909) ★★★★

This is a recipe I've had in my drafts for quite a while now, but just never got around to making.
It comes from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book, published around 1909. This cookbook is a good example of an early publication from a magazine. These kinds of cookbooks, compiled by readers and tested by committees became quite popular. For example, in Canada in the 20th and 21st century you can find a lot of cookbooks from Chatelaine, a women's lifestyle magazine.

This recipe sounded like a fun and summery take on the traditional eclair. Here in Japan it's already averaging 25 degrees during the day, so it's perfect weather for such a treat.

Original Recipe:

Strawberry Eclairs
Boil together in a saucepan one cup of 
boiling water, one-fourth cup of butter 
and a speck of salt. As it begins to boil 
stir in one cup of sifted flour. Stir con-
stantly until the mixture leaves the sides 
of the pan and cleaves together in a ball.
When partly cool add four eggs, beating 
them in one at a time. Drop carefully
in long narrow strips, some distance
apart, on buttered tins, and bake in a 
moderate oven until well risen--about
thirty minutes. Leave the oven door 
open a few minutes before removing the
eclairs, to prevent their falling. When
they are cool split one side, fill with
sweetened strawberries or jam. Spread
with boiled icing colored with strawberry 
juice.--Annabel Lee.

Boiled Icing
Boil one cup of granulated sugar with
one-fourth cup of water, until the syrup
hairs when dropped from a spoon. Have
ready the beaten white of one egg. Pour
the syrup slowly upon the egg, stirring
constantly. Flavor the same as the cake
and spread on the cold cake, when the
icing is stiff enough not to run. Cut in
squares or slices.


Because I have only a Japanese measuring cup, I adjusted the measurements.

The choux pastry:
For the water, I used 237ml.
For the butter, I used 57g.
For the flour, I used 125g.
I only added 3 eggs, to account for modern large sized eggs.
I baked at 180C in a convection oven for around 25-35 minutes, depending on size.

The icing:
For the sugar, 200g.
For the water, 60ml.

The Verdict:

Overall, not too bad.
The pastry itself is kind of bland and gross on its own. It is a tiny bit eggy in taste, which I dislike. They were also a bit soggy inside, since the recipe didn't say anything about letting out the steam. However, these work alright as a vessel for a filling and icing.
I used a combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam as a filling. It worked nicely. Just jam on its own it alright, but using fresh strawberries really makes a difference. The icing is lovely and marshamallowy. I am a big fan of boiled icing. However, my icing didn't get very pink (I used the juice of 4 medium strawberries). Also, there was a ton of icing left over, which was kind of wasteful.
So, these aren't my favorite dessert, but they have some nice aspects to them. They were pretty quick and easy to prepare, as well. I probably don't like these enough to make them again, but if I did love choux pastry, I would probably enjoy this dessert a lot more. It's mostly personal preference here, so I give this recipe four stars.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book)

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1 cup flour, sifted
3 eggs
strawberries, or jam to fill

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg white
juice from strawberries, for color

1. In a saucepan, add the water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil and let the butter melt.
2. Add the sifted flour and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and comes together in a ball. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If desired.
3. When the dough is partly cool, add the eggs, one at a time. When the dough is smooth, put it onto the prepared baking sheet in fairly narrow strips. I used a plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe the filling on.
4. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size. They should be crisp and golden.
5. When done, cut them in half or poke a hole in them to let the steam escape. Return them to the oven for 15 minutes to cool (oven off). Then let them cool completely before filling and icing.
6. To make the icing, mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes or until it reaches 245 degrees. Add the strawberry juice. Have the egg white beaten to stiff peaks in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup, while beating the egg white. Beat until cool and fluffy.

Chocolate Fudge Cake (1941) ★★★★

I know I've been MIA for a while here. I promise, its not because I have abandoned the blog! I have actually been busy researching for a big blog post. The problem is, it didn't start out so big. Somehow it snowballed into a huge project, so unfortunately its nowhere near ready to share yet.

So what is it about? Food rationing in Canada during WWII! I know, I know, theres TONS of information out there about wartime food rationing. But what I found was, there's hardly anything about Canada. And what little information there is is often incomplete or misleading. So I'm on a mission!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a Canadian wartime recipe.

Original Recipe:

                            CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE
1 egg                                 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter                    2 tsp. cocoa (large)
1 tsp. salt                          1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. soda                     1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour milk
     Beat egg, add sugar slowly, then melted butter. Sift flour, cocoa and 
baking powder and add to egg mixture, beating well. Dissolve soda in 
sour milk and add alternately to cake mixture with the hot water. Cook 
in a moderate oven.
2 tbsp. cocoa                    1 cup hot water
2 tbsp. butter                    1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
     Mix altogether and boil until thick, stirring constantly, and spread 
in centre and on top of cake.
---Mrs. D. H. Green.

The Verdict:

So as soon as I went to make the cake batter, I noticed that I managed to pick the ONE RECIPE that was missing an ingredient. See, the first step is to beat the egg and add the sugar....but oh wait, there's no sugar on the ingredients list! I saw that most of the other cake recipes in the book called for 1 cup of sugar, so I went with that. 
Also, as a disclaimer, I have a weird Japanese measuring cup, so everything was measured by grams on my scale or in liquid milliliters. 
I baked the cake in my convection oven at 180C, which is 356F. It took about 35 minutes.

This cake is pretty good! The cake itself was very moist, and a little heavy. It is a bit bland, but its not surprising, considering it only had 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder. However, its not necessarily a bad thing. The filling is pretty sweet, so I was glad that the cake wasn't strongly flavored. The filling is kind of like a fudge sauce. Mr. Man said it tasted like hot chocolate. Its definitely not an amazing chocolate cake, but I could see this being great for wartime and it definitely wins for ease and budget. Overall, we all enjoyed this cake and we will definitely finish it, so 4 stars!

Modernized Recipe:

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
2 heaping teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour milk (substitute buttermilk or 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar mixed with enough milk to make 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup hot water
1 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 355F. Grease a cake pan. It's helpful to line the bottom with paper, too.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg. Slowly beat in the sugar. Add the melted butter, being sure that its not too hot (otherwise it will cook the eggs).
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into the egg mixture. Beat to combine. It will be thick like cookie dough, but don't worry if you can't get everything combined.
4. Mix together the baking soda and sour milk. 
5. Alternate adding the milk mixture and hot water to the batter. Mix well to combine between each addition. The batter should be smooth and fairly runny.
6. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
7. Prepare the filling by mixing everything together and boiling until smooth and thick. Let it cool before putting it between cake layers and on top. Make sure the cake is cool before filling, too.

A Supper Drink (c.1936) ★★★

Peppermints are not really a big thing here in Japan. Sure, you can buy little breath mints, but you can't get real peppermints here - or at least not in my rural area. Luckily I thought to bring some along from Canada, so I broke out my one and only package of Wilhelmina Pepermunts.

I am half Dutch, so peppermints are kind of special to me. My grandfather always kept peppermints near at hand - in his pocket, in the car, and in his greenhouse. I remember one time when I sneaked into the greenhouse just to raid the peppermint stash. His peppermints were usually the cheap bulk barn kind. On the other hand, Wilhelmina is a pretty famous brand, with over 120 years of history, so I figured they were an appropriate choice for this recipe.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:

You know, I'm not actually a big fan of milk. I get a milk box every day with my school lunch, but I never drink it. However, I didn't mind this drink! I wouldn't pick it over, say, hot chocolate or apple cider, but I could definitely finish a cup of this. I did find that two peppermints didn't really affect the taste much, so this is definitely a recipe where you can adjust to suit your tastes. I gave the rest to Little Y and she enjoyed it a lot, too.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Delicious milk dishes and drinks)

1 cup milk, boiling
strong peppermints, to taste

1. Place the peppermints into the boiling milk and stir until dissolved.
2. Drink while hot.