Happy 14th Birthday, Grandma!

Grandmas BirthdayToday would have been my Grandma Barb’s 85th birthday. In 1944 she turned 14. Her life, along with several other strong women in my family, has inspired my WWII Food Rationing project.

My grandmother enjoyed a night in with her youngest sister and her future husband. A year later, on her 15th birthday, she got word that the same future husband had landed in France as part of the 3d Army 11th Armored Division marching into the Battle of the Bulge.

I can’t say for sure if Grandma Barb had a birthday cake. I like to think that she always had cake for her birthday. The family recipe collection contains more cake recipes than anything else.

For her honorary birthday party tonight I settled on the Service Cake and Victory Icing recipes from Betty Crocker’s “Your Share” pamphlet.

1/3 C shortening creamed together with 3/4 C sugar and then blended with 2 eggs. I sifted in 1 1/2 C flour and 1/2 C milk with 1 tsp. vanilla. The Victory Icing was made by boiling 3/4 C light corn syrup, poured into 2 egg whites (stiffly beaten) and blended with a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract and 1/2 tsp. of orange extract.

The cake is not the light and fluffy version of birthday goodness we think of today. I wasn’t sure what to do with the icing. It was more like whipped cream, lacking the sweetness. As far as birthday cakes go, I’m thankful for the progress birthday cakes have made in the years since rationing.

I have lots of memories of Grandma’s birthday parties over the years. I don’t remember the cakes. Instead, the memories are of cousins, aunts and uncles all together. I guess it’s not the sweetness of the cakes that make the memories good, after all.

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