WWII Ration Cards + Recipe

WWII ration books, a sugar thermometer and recipe
WWII ration books, a sugar thermometer and recipe

 In 1913, Marianna Pilarski, my grandmother left Poland with her parents. Her family followed Uncle Stanley to Denora, Pennsylvania. At sixteen, she left home to work at an inn where she honed her baking skills, renowned to this day.  She also met and married Patrick Sheridan, an Irish American, my grandfather. Was it her easy laugh or his sweet tooth that sealed their intercultural alliance? 
These World War II ration books, my grandmother's sugar thermometer and a recipe in her hand invoke mealtimes at the Sheridan’s, then living in Connecticut. In 1942, sugar was the first foodstuff to be rationed; German U boats blocked sugar ships coming from Brazil. Gram maximized the weekly share, 1 cup per person. My mother remembers an uninterrupted supply of homemade vanilla cake with chocolate icing, gingerbread, loaf bread and dinner rolls on the table.  And poppy seed bread or fruit pies too, what I miss from my grandmother's kitchen.  My great grandfather, Dziadek, spoke no English and drank black coffee with vinegar. (In photos, he looks as stern as his breakfast.) My Mom says sugar for his coffee was a must as was powdered sugar used to garnish Kruschiki, bow cookies brought to weddings, piled high in laundry baskets.
I inherited my grandmother’s baking instincts if not her prowess. Her sugar thermometer is the one I still use.  But, until she died, I could never make a decent pie. I still haven’t mastered Kruschiki.  “Too tough,” she said but never taught me her secret. 

Place(s): Poland, Connecticut
Year: 1913

– PM

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant