Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Julie Hilton Steele saves time the WWII way

ATTENTION, Speedbo Soldiers, the war isn’t over yet!
We are half way through the month, fighting for writing time, trying to fulfill our calling, and getting our goals met. 
But the enemy is upon us. 
The fun is wearing off.
The family isn’t quite as respectful of our time as they were two weeks ago.  Our children want an energizing snack before swim practice or youth group.  A husband needs to be fed before his evening meeting. A phone call comes requesting help for a sick friend whose family needs sustenance.   We are in that awful “sagging middle!”   We are ready to surrender.  But now is not the time to give up.

My goal this month is to finish a WWII manuscript I have been working on for too long. That might be why I am deep in battle analogies. My story is inspired by my pediatrician, a woman who believed in good health and nutrition and lived through far more harrowing ordeals than Speedbo prior to coming to America from Europe.

Many people on the home front during WWII held down jobs raised their families and grew vegetables in their victory gardens.  They seem to put us to shame. But they also had help. I have been neck deep in WWII cookbooks, etiquette manuals, and government posters.  I found tips for helping the war effort, making meals stretch, and not wasting time or resources.   I found this wartime list in Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: WWII and the Way We Cooked by Joanne Lamb Hayes and thought about how it might apply to us Speedbo soldiers today.

Rules for Wartime Eating (from Women in National Service, WWII):

1)      Keep a list of the seven basic food groups in your kitchen and your purse. Follow it when you plan and when you buy.   Speedbo-ers: Keep track of what you still have on hand as you go through the rest of the month.  You won’t spend more time writing a grocery list than you are writing a scene.

2)      Don’t plan on servingmeat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese all on the same day. Speedbo-ers: Don’t overdo or spend too much time cooking full blown meals with meat as the entree. Salads and sandwiches count as a meal.

3)      Start the day off right with breakfast that counts as a real meal.  Speedbo-ers: Are you skimping on breakfast to get to the keyboard? Set out breakfast for the family the night before. Set up the coffee pot. But most importantly, EAT before you start your day.

4)      Make a hearty soup, or cereal with fruit or milk, your main dish at lunch or supper twice a week. Speedbo-ers: Meals do not have to be big to be nutritious. Soup can be put on the stove while you write. Kids love breakfast for supper.

5)      Don’t waste. Try foods new to you. Eat fresh foods first. Conserve canned supplies.  Use bread crumbs in stuffing; bones in soup, remnants or meat and vegetables in stews.  Cook potatoes in skins.   Speedbo-ers: Don’t waste what you have. Save every bit of leftovers and have a “tapas night” with dabs of each dish on small plates, filled in by fruit and microwaved baked potato skins. The candlelight and exotic restaurant experience will overcome “aw, leftovers!”


I asked my dad if chocolate was scarce during WWII. He told me he worked at a general store. The owner kept candy under the counter and only brought it out for special customers.  Chocolate bars were in K rations for soldiers because they provided quick energy. What if we had our writing chocolate rationed? Here is a recipe that helps you cope. This version of the microwave cake is great for low carb, gluten-free and allergy plagued folks like me.  It has no flour, little sugar, and just one egg. Pretend it is WWII and you are dealing with rations.

One Minute Flourless Chocolate Cupcake:

1 egg

2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Tablespoon sweetener (you can add more but it is best to wean yourself off a lot of the sweet stuff)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Dash vanilla

Mix first ingredients and then add baking soda, stirring well.
Pour into greased ramekin or another 4 inch diameter Pyrex bowl. (I often skip the greasing and it works fine)
Microwave one minute or until baked.
Test with toothpick.
Turn over onto plate, top with fruit or powdered sugar or eat plain and remember the ration days.

 Thanks so much for guesting on Yankee Belle Cafe, Julie! I didn't know chocolate was a ration food for soldiers! -- Virginia


  1. Go Julie! Love all the old WWII stuff you posted. Thanks for the reminders!


  2. Thanks to you both. I hope both of you are surviving Speedbo.

    Peace, Julie

  3. That can't possibly be a sounds more like a chocolate omelette! Which is kind of a nifty idea. :-)

    Love the WWII ambiance -- and that do it poster. I've always loved that. And what a great idea to turn it into a Speedbo motivational poster!

    1. Kav, my husband said the one he tried was almost like a pudding. :)

    2. I can pass on the chocolate omelette but I'll go for pudding!

    3. I love these pics.... I had to do World War II research for a novella and it was so much fun... what a walk down memory lane these are! And not our memory lane, but I remember these types of pics being vintage when I was a kid....

      That war had such a huge, lasting effect on so many folks. Julie, great post!

      Although I'm laughing at the breakfast thing.... :)

  4. Kav, I was surprised it doesn't taste eggier. But such is the beauty of vanilla, cocoa and sugar!

  5. LOVE it!
    Thanks for sharing these things.
    Looking forward to reading your WWII story.
    I'm a fan of that era...
    Such courage and sacrifice, 2 attributes in seemingly short supply today, May being an exception. BOL!

  6. Hey, Julie! Welcome to the cafe :) Do you have everything you need? Virginia did a good job showing you around the kitchen, right?

    World War II is such a fascinating era. We stand here on the other side and marvel at the way the country came together to fight that war...but I know they didn't think they were doing anything special. It doesn't feel fun or noble to sacrifice month after month, stretching into years. It's tragic to know so many young men are dying in those horrendous battles. And then, afterwards, when news reached the US about what was really happening in Germany during those years.... It wasn't a good time to be alive, but it was a good time to survive.

    And here we are, needing to cut back, do without, live simpler lives...and have our chocolate cake, too! What a deal :)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Thanks for the tips! And great post. Thanks, Julie! (I like the comment about the sweetener, by the way!)

  8. Julie, all that research sounds so interesting! I bet you're having fun with the story.

    Thanks for the recipe! My husband had a woman at church give him a piece of flourless cake last week. He loved it! I'll have to try this for him.

    Thanks, too, for the tips on meals! I always have to remind myself that sandwiches count. In fact, last night I had ground beef and almost cooked a casserole or spaghetti. But then it hit me that grilling burgers was the way to go! It was quick and easy. I just added carrot sticks and chips. :)

    1. Mmmm, grilling burgers. I remember doing that....

      We haven't had much snow this year, and if we don't get our usual April/May rains, we'll be in for another drought year.

      Which means a summer-long fire ban.

      Which means no charcoal grills.

      I'm asking for a gas grill for Mother's Day. I know my carnivores will be in favor of that!

    2. Jan, I love my gas grill for ease of use. And yesterday was gorgeous and warm! In the low 60's.

  9. Oh, JHS, you're here!!! You're really here!!!! Happy days are here again!!!!

  10. I am really here. Loved writing this post and finding the "Chocolate for Soldiers" poster. Love to encourage folks to soldier on.

    Peace, Julie

  11. Missy and Jan, Washington DC is my birthplace and the location of my story. It is so much fun on a number of levels.

    Peace, Julie

  12. This is fantabulous, Julie.


    And now I'm hungry too ... :|


  14. Thanks so much. I am having a lot of fun with the research. Not so much with weasel word editing.

    Go forth and eat chocolate!

  15. What a fun post, Julie!

    I was thinking of your heroine today. We had to attend a testing workshop and on the way back, one of the teachers was telling me that she spoke German when she was a child, but that during the war, her German father told her to stop speaking it because it wasn't the thing to be caught doing.

  16. I have WWII ration books upstairs in my stuff from my mother's house. Talk about reality check... ration coupons for mother/father/baby.

    The baby is in her seventies now.

    But those were rugged times. God bless the heart and soul of those folks! I wonder if we would man-up the same way? I hope so.

  17. It has been a great reminder for me too.

  18. It has been a great reminder for me too.

  19. Wow! Awesome post! Now I'm craving chocolate. lol
    Your book sounds like a well-researched gem, Julie! Thanks for the recipe!