Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Rationing Challenge, Days 4 and 5

Five days down, two to go, and our supplies of red and blue points are holding out pretty well. Tuesday night we ate leftovers, and Wednesday we had breakfast for dinner (eggs with potatoes, onions, and mushrooms, plus toast), so the only new item we've "bought" in the past two days was a jar of jam for the toast. So our tallies for the past two days are:

Day 4 (June 4)
  • No points used
RED POINTS: 22 used, 10 remaining
BLUE POINTS: 45 used, 51 remaining

Day 5 (June 5)
  • Strawberry jam, 8 oz. jar: 3 blue points
RED POINTS: 22 used, 10 remaining
BLUE POINTS: 48 used, 48 remaining

The one item that's becoming a problem, ironically, is the sugar. I assumed at first that a pound of sugar would be plenty to get us through the week, but at the time I was thinking only of how much white sugar we use in its raw state; I wasn't factoring in the amount of sugar in the box of brownie mix we normally use for Friday night. If we replace that with a home-baked recipe, we'll use at least a cup of sugar, and we're down to about that amount already.

Part of the reason we have so little left is that I received a comment on Monday's post about how the artificial sweetener I've been substituting for half the sugar I use would probably have been rationed as well. I decided that the easiest way to account for that would be to count out the teaspoons of sugar I'd replaced with artificial sweetener over the course of the week into a separate container. So with those gone, we have just a cup left. I've now switched to using half sugar and half stevia, which is a natural non-nutritive sweetener rather than a "chemical-using product," and thus probably wouldn't have been rationed. This morning I actually tried making my breakfast cocoa using only stevia, but the result definitely wasn't satisfactory; unlike the aspartame I've been using, the stevia has a distinctive off-taste, a bit like mouthwash. It's not too noticeable with half sugar and half stevia, but all stevia is definitely a bit icky. Maybe I should try making my cocoa with molasses. 

Alternatively, maybe we should try substituting molasses for the brown sugar in the peanut butter cookies we're making tonight. That way, we'd use only half a cup of sugar, and we'd have half a cup left to get through the rest of the week. This cooking site says you can replace up to half the sugar in a recipe with molasses, but for every cup you replace, you should use 1/3 cup extra of molasses, plus a half-teaspoon of baking soda to cut the acidity, and also cut the liquid in the recipe by 5 tablespoons. That's an awful lot of tweaking for a recipe we've never made before.

What I really need is one of those Depression-era cookbooks with recipes specifically designed to use less of the foods that were rationed. I just did a quick search and managed to turn up this one, published by General Foods in 1942. It includes recipes for several cakes that substitute corn syrup or honey for all or part of the sugar. Maybe one of those would be just the ticket. The only problem is that most of the recipes only make an 8-inch cake, and we have to provide 16 servings. But we could multiply one of the recipes and still use less than a cup of sugar. I'll run the recipes by Brian (he's the baker in the family) and fill you in on the results.
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