Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Carrots, Oil, Veterans . . . They’re a Match

vets at the WW II memorial in Washington, D.C.

Happy Veterans Day.

When we lived in Southern Idaho we had a neighbor, Emilie, who immigrated to the United States from Germany. Emilie was a little girl under Hitler’s regime. She vividly recalled playing next door with her Jewish friend when the Gestapo barged in and dragged Emilie and her friend’s family to the backs of waiting trucks. Emilie’s mother saw the commotion and ran frantically across the yard waving her daughter’s birth certificate in the air and shouting, “She’s not a Jew! My little girl is German.” After checking the certificate the Gestapo unloaded Emilie, but hauled away her friend’s family. Emilie never saw them again. She told us many stories of foraging through the woods with her sister and mother for rabbits and greens to help their poor diets.

Southern Idaho has magnificent thunderstorms and Emilie hated them. Though in her seventies, she hid in her closet with a pillow over her head and quivered during the flashes of lighting and booms of thunder. One day a thunderstorm broke while she was visiting us. She nervously fussed at our kids to come to the center of the house, then begged us all to climb under the supper table with her for protection. The look of terror in her eyes at each streak of lightning and crash of thunder reflected a little girl quaking at exploding bombs in the night sky. She trembled with each rumble.

Emilie always made sure our children ate butter while they were at her house. She constantly warned me to keep plenty of oil in their diets. In her German accent, she’d say, “Honey, I vremember how sickly we got because we didn’t have any fats in our diets. The thin little vrabbits we ate didn’t offer much and we didn’t have any oil or butter. I vremember when we finally got oil after the Occupation, we fried our potatoes in it and it tasted soooo good.” She’d smack her lips and say, “Now, honey, it’s not the oil you’re thinking of—it was thick, green motor oil, but our bodies were so starved we ate it vright up.” Emilie’s eyes would brighten when she told or retold about the American Soldiers’ driving down the streets after the war handing out oranges and gum. They were heroes to Emilie and the starving, depleted German families. She thanked the heavens for American Veterans.

Occasionally, we receive e-mails and pictures from our friends and acquaintances that have sons and daughters serving in Iraq. Some pictures show our friends’ sons in army fatigues kneeling in front of schools with smiling Iraqi girls lined neatly beside them. Others show soldiers helping the Iraqi citizens—holding their children and laughing. A few show soldiers moving tanks and vehicles. One showed a soldier standing on the runway she engineered. I imagine many Iraqis thank heavens for American Veterans.

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Americans officially thank the heavens for veterans. To soldiers everywhere, past and present, thank you. Thank heavens for American Veterans.


It is said that Carrot Cake was a by-product of World War I. A military cook had gallons and gallons of cooked carrots left on the shelf after the troops returned home. Rather than feed them to the chickens or hogs, he created carrot cake. Its popularity quickly spread across the country. I suppose the cream cheese frosting aided his efforts and what with all the butter, oil and cream cheese, my friend Emilie would most definitely approve of this recipe.

I don’t suppose my carrot cake recipe is much different from yours, but here it is for you to compare or use if you don't have one of your own.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
¾ cup chopped nuts

Sift all dry ingredients. Add oil and stir well, add carrots and eggs. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour into an ungreased 9”x 13” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup butter
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 T milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 pound of powdered sugar
pinch of salt
½ cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat until creamy. Spread on cake and sprinkle with nuts.


Jill said...

Wow, your story of Emilie is amazing. I've read so many novels set in WWII, but it's just not the same thing as knowing someone or hearing someone's story first hand. It's humbling really and so hard to comprehend the fear and suffering that went on.

Barb said...

That is so interesting about Carrot Cake as a by-product of WWI, I've never heard that. I think I have told you before that my British friends tell me that their mothers and grandmothers remember fats being a scarcity and how they encourage us to make a priority to have fats in our food storage.

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

Wow, that is such an amazing story.
Thank you for that.

Emma J said...

What a great post! And a great reson to make carrot cake!

Lucy said...

Ditto what Jill said. I've read things like that before but how chilling to know that you knew her. Makes the event more real.

I think it's crazy that as recently as World War II, developed countries had starving people. I know there are many countries now that suffer from hungry citizens, but, we're so far removed from it all. seems impossible to be so hungry you'd eat motor oil.

michelle said...

Amazing. Marc's mother was a girl in London when it was bombed. As horrible as that was, watching your friend's family be herded into a truck is even more horrifying! Wow.

Becky said...

Wow...what a great reminder of the blessings I am surrounded with daily. Thank you.