Wartime Potato Drop Cookies

Mashed potatoes with roast beef. Boiled potatoes with capon and cranberry sauce. Fried potatoes with eggs and sausage gravy. The humble potato compliments most foodstuffs in no uncertain ways. But potato drop cookies with a glass of milk? The author of the 1918 cookbook Everyday Foods in War Time assures readers that these thrifty, potato-based cookies are indeed a treat.

Wartime Potato Drop Cookies

Hot mashed potatoes, 1 1/2 cups
Sugar, 1 1/4 cups
Beef or mutton fat, 1 cup
Flour, 1 3/4 cups
Baking powder, 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
Cloves, 1/2 teaspoon
Nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon
Raisins, chopped, 1/2 cup
Nuts, chopped, 1/4 cup

Combine the ingredients in the order given and drop the mixture by spoonfuls on a slightly greased tin. Bake the cookies in a moderate oven.

Economical Recipes From Orchard Hill Farm: Gingersnaps and Chowchow

An 1894 edition of Good Housekeeping includes a delightful and informative article on the everyday workings of a small farm in the Ozarks. The “brave and cheerful” housewife at this farm, called Orchard Hill Farm, is “a self-appointed committee of ways and means to see to it that the outgo does not exceed the income.” Indeed, the good farm wife shares a number of ingeniously economical recipes with the journalist from Good Housekeeping. For instance, upon praising the farm wife’s excellent coffee, the journalist finds that it was half sweet potato; “chop them fine, dry and roast them, then grind,” the farm wife reveals, “I use a tablespoon of sweet potato to every tablespoon of coffee.”

Below are two very economical recipes from Orchard Hill Farm: ginger snaps and chowchow, a pickled vegetable stew. Feel free to reduce the quantities given in the recipes; they are intended to feed large crowds of hungry farmhands.

Ginger Snaps

One half gallon of sorghum, two tablespoonfuls of ginger, two tablespoonfuls of salt, one teaspoonful of black pepper, one tablespoonful of cinnamon, two large cupfuls of lard, two tablespoonfuls of soda flour to make a very stiff dough. Bake quickly. This makes a bushel of ginger snaps.


Two quarts of cucumbers, two quarts of green tomatoes, two quarts of onions, two quarts of cauliflower or cabbage. Soak in a weak brine over night. Cook separately until tender. For the paste use one gallon of vinegar, one large cupful of flour, one pound of mustard, one and one half pounds of sugar. Stir the paste until it boils then pour it over the vegetables.

Great Depression Baking: Ginger Ice Box Cookies

Here’s a simple yet tasty recipe for Ginger Ice Box Cookies from Great Depression Recipes, a fascinating site on Great Depression cooking. These cookies contain a generous amount of molasses, which lends them a rich and spicy flavor. In fact, molasses, which was once in danger of “disappearing as an article of commerce” according to an 1897 edition of Good Housekeeping, enjoyed a comeback during the first part of the twentieth century. No longer was it used merely for distilling rum, as it was during the latter half of the nineteenth century; rather, thanks to war and economic blight, molasses appeared in all sorts of baked goods as a substitute for its more refined, and hence more expensive, relation–white sugar.

Ginger Ice Box Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs, beat well
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cup flour
1 cup nut meats

Cream sugar and shortening. Add well beaten eggs, then the molasses. Sift all dry ingredients and add to the first mixture. Add nut meats. Form into rolls and place in refrigerator to chill (overnight is best). Cut into thin slices with sharp knife and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F.) for 12 to 15 minutes.