Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Rationing Challenge, Day 3

As I suspected, this rationing thing gets easier as you go through the week, coasting on the containers you've already opened. On Day 3 of our Rationing Challenge, we didn't use a single additional point of either red or blue foodstuffs. We did continue to slowly deplete our supplies of sugar and oil, using a couple of teaspoons of sugar for cocoa, a quarter-cup of oil to make two loaves of whole-wheat bread, a half-teaspoon or so to drizzle over popcorn, and a few teaspoons to brown some chicken for dinner. At present, it looks like we're in no danger of running through our sugar supply, but we might need to start another quart of oil before the end of the week. Fortunately, the chicken itself did not cost us any points from our dwindling stock of red points, since poultry wasn't rationed. Neither was the fresh fruit we ate with our lunch, or the fresh salad greens we picked for our dinner from our Victory Garden. Brian did sprinkle a bit of sun-dried tomato on top of the salad, but that item doesn't seem to be listed anywhere in the rationing chart, although dried beans and dried fruits (prunes, raisins, and currents) are.

Day 3 (June 3)
  • No points used
RED POINTS: 22 used, 10 remaining
BLUE POINTS: 45 used, 51 remaining

One question I'm wondering about is what we'll do on Friday, when we're signed up to donate baked goods at the Minstrel (our favorite folk club). Normally, we just fix a batch of brownies from a mix and add in a cup of chocolate chips; this easy and relatively inexpensive recipe seems to be far more popular with the hungry crowds than much more labor-intensive home-baked goodies like oatmeal cookies. But if we do that, I'm not sure how the baking mix and chocolate chips should count against our week's sugar ration.

So perhaps we should just break with our usual practice and bake something from scratch so that we can accurately track the amount of sugar we use. And as long as we're doing that, maybe we should try one of these special wartime recipes, many of which are designed to minimize the use of sugar (which was rationed) and eggs (which were often scarce). A quick search on "molasses cake" also turned up several interesting hits, many of which contain no white sugar—but they tend to use lots of butter, perhaps enough to completely use up our remaining red points. I also found a recipe for peanut butter cookies in the Pillsbury Cookbook, which calls for only a cup of sugar (half white, half brown) and half a cup of "margarine or butter" (the peanut butter, which wasn't rationed, adds the rest of the necessary moisture). It makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies, which would give us 32 for the Minstrel (2 cookies per customer) and leave 10 for us to enjoy at home.

There's also this pumpkin gingerbread, which uses only half a cup of sugar (plus half a cup of molasses). It calls for a half-cup of butter, too, but the recipe says that when it was left out by accident, the cake still "turned out fine." And pumpkin puree doesn't appear on the rationing chart, so it wouldn't cost us any blue points (unless we add the raisins, which would use four). The only drawbacks are (1) we haven't made this before, so I'm not sure how good it is; (2) we might not get enough servings out of one loaf; and (3) it definitely wouldn't leave any leftovers for us. Unless we made two loaves, in which case we'd still be using up a cup of sugar. Decisions, decisions....
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