This is an article written by the Dining Hall Manager at the East Carolina Teachers Training School, which was a two-year college for people becoming teachers. The school later became East Carolina University.
What We Are Doing to Conserve Food and Keep Down Waste
NANNIE F. JETER, Manager of the Dining Hall
All of the fats and waste grease [are] not good for food I make into soap. A full description of the making will be given elsewhere. This soap is used practically for all dishwashing and scrubbing. We are using about half the quantity of sugar that we used this time last year. Our desserts consist mostly of fresh, canned, and dried fruits. When eggs were not obtainable some time since, and the girls were hungry for some Sunday cake, I went to my old-time recipe book. I glanced at the fruit cake used so often in my early housekeeping days, and below I give the ingredients:
FRUIT CAKE OF 1890.
1¼ lbs. butter
1½ lbs. sugar
1½ lbs. flour
1½ doz. eggs
2 lbs. raisins
2 lbs. currants
1 lb. citron
2 tablespoonfuls cloves
2 tablespoonfuls nutmeg
2 tablespoonfuls mace
2 tablespoonfuls cinnamon
1 tablespoonful ginger
2 wineglasses brandy?
I was short on sugar, brandy, and some of the fruits, so I changed the recipe to the following, which was pronounced a success and good substitute:
FRUIT CAKE OF FEBRUARY, 1918
2 cups Oleo or lard
1 cup brown sugar (can be omitted and put in syrup)
2 cups molasses
2 cups sweet or sour milk
3 eggs (or omit and put more milk)
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of soda
2 tablespoonfuls of ginger
1 tablespoonful of cinnamon
1 tablespoonful of vanilla
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup jam
1 cup preserved orange peel
2 spoonfuls of baking powder
8½ cups sifted flour
Bake in a greased mold for two hours.
In my early days of housekeeping I did not think a breakfast could be served without meat, but now we all eat and enjoy our meatless breakfasts. When we serve meat or gravy, we do not serve butter.
Cutting down the per capita amount of flour, fats, and sugar were the problems that all had to solve, and the director of supplies worked constantly on this.
When the general call was made for the cutting down of the amount of white flour, the buyer bought graham flour, an increased amount of oatmeal, grits, and hominy. Graham flour biscuit[s] have been on the table once a day since September.
Cornbread without eggs is served once every day; and sliced Graham loaf makes the third meal.
On Sunday morning the hearts of the girls have always been gladdened by the sight of “Sally Lunn“ muffins. When eggs were scarce and high we had to disappoint them, and when I crossed the campus I was greeted with, “Oh! Mrs. Jeter, when are we to have some more muffins?” At last a crate of eggs came, and I was afraid to use them as freely as formerly, and, calling my ally, the bread cook, we made the same quantity of bread, using exactly half of the eggs formerly used, and everybody was pleased and no one knew the difference. In the fall when the Food Administrator called upon the people to cut the amount of white flour from five pounds per week for one person to four pounds, the school was serving a fraction over two and a half pounds. We are using far less than that now. Fresh pork has been almost cut out.
Last year we served bacon about three times a week. This year it is a treat about once a week–two-thirds cut. Last year we had ham once every week. We now serve it about once in two weeks. An increased amount of cereal might seem to mean an increased use of sugar, but raisins and dried figs served with the cereal takes the place of sugar. Some skeptical person might ask if the girls are getting enough to eat. I defy any school to show a healthier, handsomer, or better fed crowd of girls.
The amount of beef used has been cut down perhaps to one-fourth of the former amount. This is no longer the foundation of the fare.
With all of these changes in our manner of living, I am pleased to say that I have not heard a complaint, from president’s office to kitchen help.
The housewife must learn to plan economical and properly balanced meals which, while properly nourishing her family, do not encourage overeating or waste. It is her duty to use all effective methods to protect food from spoilage by dirt, heat, mice, or insects. She must acquire the culinary ability to utilize all left-over food and turn it into palatable dishes for her family. If only one ounce of food a day goes to waste we will in one year lose 1,300,000 pounds of food.
This is a war that will be won by the women of our land. The kitchen is a place of infinite possibilities, a laboratory of interesting experiments, an altar upon which the sacred fires burn. The domain of the housewife has been raised from obscurity and hard labor to a position requiring brains to conceive and system to operate.
Domestic Economy takes its place beside Political Economy, and “woman’s sphere” stretches from Dan to Beersheba, and from the hearthstone to the Capitol.
Citation: Jeter, Nannie F. “What We Are Doing to Conserve Food and Keep Down Waste; Electronic Edition.” Documenting the American South. https://docsouth.unc.edu/wwi/jeter/jeter.html. Accessed 21 August 2023.
- What were the women at the North Carolina teacher training school learning to do? What made this more challenging?
- How do the two different fruitcake recipes show evidence of food conservation?
- How does the author believe women at home will contribute to the war effort?
Currants: small, seedless raisin like fruits
Citron: pale-yellow fruit similar to lemons but larger and with a thicker rind
Mace: spice tasting like nutmeg this is ground from layer between nutmeg shell and its outer husk
Oleo: butter like substitute; margarine
Per capita: per person
Graham flour: coarse-ground flour made from whole wheat
Hominy: dried corn with hard outer part removed after soaking in water and a chemical called lye
Sally Lunn: type of sweet bun
Skeptical: having an attitude of doubt
Fare: food; diet
Palatable: able to be eaten; agreeable taste
Obscurity: being unknown
Hearthstone: being at home; hearth part of a fireplace