A New Brunswick couple are discovering new recipes and rediscovering others as they cook their way through the Victory Cook Book.
In a project called Cook for Victory New Brunswick, Matthew Dick and Janet Mlodecki are preparing and eating recipes from a cookbook compiled by the Women's Institute in Carleton County in 1942. A picture and review of the recipe and resulting dish is posted to their Instagram account, also called Cook For Victory New Brunswick.
Mlodecki, who lives in Sackville, said she was given the book by a friend and showed it to Dick, a history buff, when the couple first started dating in July.
"I've been flipping through it and just enjoying owning it. I've kept it because I love this form of history, the idea of being able to kind of relive these recipes and these ideas."
The cook book's intent when compiled during the Second World War was to offer recipes with simple ingredients so women could keep their families fed and do it cheaply.
In September the couple decided to test out some of recipes. Mlodecki said they flip through the book and decide which ones to try.
"Then we make them and we try them and sometimes they're fantastic and really interesting and sometimes they're horrifying and I don't know how people ate them," she said.
Dick, who lives in Fredericton, said he recognizes some of the recipes in the book from things his great-grandmother and grandmother made that are still family favourites. One of them is called Dutch Salad, a cucumber and onion salad made with a sour cream dressing that is mashed together.
"That's something that we kind of enjoy every summer at a barbecue or whatever."
Dick said it's obvious some of the recipes in the book are really scrimping on the ingredients.
"You can pretty well tell from the outset which ones are going to be successful and which ones aren't."
The worst so far? Both agree it was the hot tuna dish.
"It was palatable enough for the dog but as Janet stated in the comment on that post, it's essentially wallpaper paste mixed with tuna."
The best? Chocolate pie.
"My great-grandmother used to make a (from) scratch chocolate pie similar to that," said Dick.
And even though his was runny, he said the pie did firm up after being in the fridge overnight.
Mlodecki said she wonders if the recipes were an oral history.
"Like you would know how to make them because you watched your mother make them and you watched your grandmother make them."
But Mlodecki said when they wrote the recipe out it seems the actual amounts weren't always correct.
"Now I know next time I make carrot pie that I'll have to add a lot more cornstarch."
On average, it costs about $5 or less to make each recipe, even at today's costs, Mlodecki said.
"That's incredibly frugal and they taste good. Most of them. Not the wallpaper paste."
Both Mlodecki and Dick said they are having fun with the recipes.
"The things that we are actually making are good and they don't take exotic ingredients, they don't take wild things. I think the strangest ingredient I've seen so far is a can of pineapple," Mlodecki said.
The couple plan to keep picking recipes. Mlodecki said they'd definitely be making something from the book for Thanksgiving.