1940's Old-Fashioned Raisin Bars

Old-fashioned, as in vintage 1940's, this recipe is finally one that is blog-worthy! I'm in the process of preparing a sampling of Depression-era foods for a program that deals with that topic. Going into this project I thought it would be an opportunity to go through my rather extensive collection of vintage cookbooks and to try out made-from-scratch recipes. I assumed that these old-fashioned recipes would be tasty  . . . but soon found out that was not always the case. One batch of muffins went directly into the compost container! Other recipes were okay but not something that I'd every make again, let alone share. For the most part,  I'd describe them simply as depressing foods of the Depression!
Spices were generally avoided during the Depression  as they were  thought to stimulate the appetite and thus  encourage overeating in a time when food was often scarce. However, this recipe contains a triad of spices along with dried fruit. Consequently, it is full of flavor and has a tender and moist crumb (unlike the dry and tough above mentioned muffins).
Another favorable factor -- this made-from-scratch recipe is easy to make.

Old-Fashioned Raisin Bars   Make one 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" sheet pan of bar cookies
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Combine raisins and water in a saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat and add butter; cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add to a mixing bowl: raisin-water & butter solution, sugar and egg.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly blended.

  5. Stir in walnuts.
  6. Spread evenly in a  greased and floured (or lined and sprayed) 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" sheet pan. 
    I lined pan with overhanging foil so that I could lift entire batch of baked cookies out of pan for easting cutting.
  7. Bake in preheated 350° oven about 20 minutes or until surface springs back when lightly touched with fingertips.
  8. Cool.
  9. Frost and cut.
    To cut -- simple lift the foil out of the pan and  the bars can be easily cut. 
Frosting -- mix together:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Milk -- enough for a spreadable frosting

Recipe without photos . . .
Old-Fashioned Raisin Bars   Make one 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" sheet pan of bar cookies
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Combine raisins and water in a saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat and add butter; cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add to a mixing bowl: raisin-water & butter solution, sugar and egg.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly blended.
  5. Stir in walnuts.
  6. Spread evenly in a  greased and floured (or lined and sprayed) 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" sheet pan. 
  7. Bake in preheated 350° oven about 20 minutes or until surface springs back when lightly touched with fingertips.
  8. Cool.
  9. Frost and cut.

Frosting -- mix together:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Milk -- enough for a spreadable frosting


Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers

Serve with potato salad & coleslaw.
Recently we were in New Bransfels, TX for several weeks— golfing, sight-seeing and just relaxing. It was an opportunity to meet  new people and develop friendships. Among other things, we discussed food (no surprise there). This is a Taste of Home recipe (created by KT Rehrig, Allentown, PA) that Sharon Wall, Canada, recommended. 
The recipe makes 8 grilled burgers; we made them into larger steak burgers (served without buns) and cooked them on the griddle. However, we will definitely do the bun version later.

Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers   Makes 8 burgers
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (18 oz.) jar salsa, divided
1 cup crushed baked tortilla chip scoops (I just used regular tortilla chips)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning (I used homemade taco seasoning)
If making burgers . . .
   8 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
   8 lettuce leaves
   8 slices tomatoes
   8 slices red onions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.
    Cooked quinoa
  2. In a large bowl, mash black beans.
  3. Add 1 cup salsa, tortilla chips, taco seasoning and cooked quinoa; mix well.

  4. Shape into eight 1/4-in.-thick patties.
  5. Grill, covered, over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until heated through. (Or, cook on a griddle on in a frying pan.)

  6. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and remaining salsa, or serve as a black bean steak" without the bun.

To bake patties: Preheat oven to 350°. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through, turning once.

Recipe without photos . . .
Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers   Makes 8 burgers
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (18 oz.) jar salsa, divided
1 cup crushed baked tortilla chip scoops (I just used regular tortilla chips)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning (I used homemade taco seasoning)
If making burgers . . .
   8 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
   8 lettuce leaves
   8 slices tomatoes
   8 slices red onions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.
  2. In a large bowl, mash black beans.
  3. Add 1 cup salsa, tortilla chips, taco seasoning and cooked quinoa; mix well.
  4. Shape into eight 1/4-in.-thick patties.
  5. Grill, covered, over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until heated through. (Or, cook on a griddle on in a frying pan.)
  6. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and remaining salsa, or serve as a black bean steak" without the bun.
To bake patties: Preheat oven to 350°. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through, turning once.

Easter Peppernut Buns

Although these is not what I typically think of when thinking of peppernuts, recipes like this one were brought by German Mennonites who immigrated from Russia  to the U.S. in the 1870s. Having read several of Norma Jost Voth's books on Russian Mennonites cookery, I was also aware that peppernuts were not just confined to Christmas. Mrs. Voth relates stories of eating peppernuts and drinking fresh squeezed lemonade during the summer. And, then I discovered that with a little frosting and some sprinkles, you could turn the yeast peppernuts into Easter buns.
I used a recipe from Mrs. Voth (“Peppernuts, Plain and Fancy," 1978, pp. 67 & 69) and just added sprinkles.

Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.

2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.

3.  Beat in eggs.

4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.

5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl.

6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)

7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.

8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.

9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)

10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly.
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands.

12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.

13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).

14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.

15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,     
The buns are ready and the table is set.

Recipe without photos . . .
Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.
2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.
3.  Beat in eggs.
4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.
5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl. 
6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)
7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.
8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.
9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)
10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly. 
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands. 
12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.
13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).
14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.
15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,   

Roasted Chickpea Gyros w/ Tzatzika

A low-fat, low-cholesterol sandwich alternative . . .

Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads
1 cup tzatzika (recipe follows)
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.

Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Recipes without photos . . .
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.