Food Recipes of the Repeal Era and Beyond, Part III
Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 9, 2007
As G.I.s fought and drank their share of allocated beer rations during WW II, beer also served limited duty in homefront kitchens. While the National Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland, chose to seemingly ignore the war with a compilation of regional recipes for oysters, crabs, ham, pigs’ feet, sausage and chops, all to be enjoyed with National Premium Beer, the neighboring Gunther Brewing Company of Baltimore published a wartime booklet titled Designed For Wartime Living. This publication served as a combination cookbook and canning guide for the homegrown bounty of neighborhood Liberty Gardens. The booklet also offered conservation hints for the household, as well as game and quiz novelties. Pictured throughout the book were women portrayed as factory workers, military personnel, nurses, and housewives. Women were leaving their kitchens and entering the wartime workforce as Rosie the Riveter and other positions that had traditionally gone to men.
While the recipes in the Gunther booklet displayed the obvious cooking practices of wartime rationing (Stuffed Bologna, Macaroni With Left-Over Meat), there were the occasional bits of fancy, including some “man-filler” food recipes that called for beer for “When Your Man Comes Home.” Interestingly, food recipes using malt syrup are absent from the booklet, and light or dark corn syrup is recommended in lieu of rationed sugar. The lack of malt syrup usage in the WW II-era kitchen strengthens Gussie Busch’s old argument that the malt syrup industry’s plethora of food recipes was truly a cover for the syrup’s real use in home kitchens…homebrewing.
Here are a few food recipes from the Gunther recipe booklet that encouraged the use of beer in WW II kitchens:
ESCALLOPS [SCALLOPS] OF VEAL WITH BEER SAUCE
1 1/2 pounds of veal escallops
3 tablespoons margarine
3 tablespoons grated cheese
3/4 cup Gunther’s Beer
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cream
METHOD: Dip escallops in seasoned flour and brown in melted margarine. Remove to service platter and keep warm. In a double boiler melt the cheese in the beer. Mix eggs with cream and add to hot beer slowly, stirring over low heat and continue cooking, stirring steadily, until thickened to sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over escallops and brown lightly under broiler. This should serve 4 or 5 people.
The wartime Gunther recipe booklet wasn’t the brewery’s first attempt to tie their beers with food. An earlier, sixty-four-page effort, complete with an extensive cross index for easy recipe selection, began with an introductory endorsement by “The Gunther Hostess,” who set the stage for “…colorful Old Time recipes which have come down from Colonial times, using beer as an ingredient…” With a mention of “B.D., meaning ‘before the depression,’” the booklet emphasized shortcuts for home efficiency, economy, and downright frugality, including a section on “What To Do With Left-Overs.”
What better way to use up kitchen leftovers than with a homemade pot pie, followed up with an interesting beer cake?
GUNTHER POT PIE
2 tbsp chicken fat
1/2 lb. sausage, sliced
1 cup cooked meat, chopped
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1 cup lima beans, cooked
1 bottle Gunther’s Dry Beer-y Beer
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
standard recipe for biscuit
METHOD: Melt fat slowly in sauce pan, fry sausage lightly and remove from pan. Add garlic and tomato, sauté. Mix seasonings and add with sausage, chopped meat, sliced egg and cooked vegetables. Cover with beer and boiling water. Simmer slowly 10 min. Grease a casserole, place meat and vegetables in alternate layers, cover with biscuit crust and bake in quick oven (400°) until well browned.
GUNTHER FRUIT CAKE
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Gunther’s Dry Beer-y Beer
2 cups raisins
1 cup shortening
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp [baking] soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups sifted flour
METHOD: Wash and pick over raisins, cook with water to cover for three minutes; drain and cool. Cream sugar and shortening, add flour sifted with baking powder, and beer, alternately. Dissolve soda in hot water and add. Fold in spices and raisins. Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes at 350°. Test with straw. If it comes out clean and dry, your cake is done. If cake browns too rapidly, cover with brown paper.
Remove from pan and cool. Cover with Chocolate Butter Icing.
This earliest Gunther recipe booklet is also an uncomfortable reflection of a different era, including a number of pictures in the booklet of black porters smiling while serving groups of well-dressed white diners and party-goers. One picture in particular would have never made the Political Correctness guidelines of today, with its portrayal of a smiling, elderly, white-suited servant balancing a tray of Gunther bottled beer saying “Have a bottle of beer, Suh! De driest, beeriest beer in de land, Suh!”