Cheese food on the Homefront

Velveeta has an undeserved rap. It is what it is, but it isn't what a lot of people think it is. It's a product made mostly of cheese, but has nothing in it that isn't perfectly okay to eat. It's mainly just got emulsifiers to stabilize it and keep it from separating when it melts, as regular cheese will often do. Actually, it used to be better; more flavorful and less salty, but I digress. For making inexpensive melty sauce dishes, it had its place on the Homefront, for sure, and if you ever eat a cheeseburger from a fast food place or buy American cheese, you have no cause to be snobbish about Velveeta. 

This is from a 1944 issue of Cine-Mundial (the Spanish-language Moving Picture World,) and I was very proud that I had to look up only a handful of the terms after interpeting the recipe. I never studied Spanish, but it has sort of rubbed off on me over the years. At least, to read simple things.

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Melt 1/2 lb. Velveeta in double boiler. Mix with 3/4 cup milk,
remove from heat and allow to cool. Add 3 egg yolks,
1 3/4 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon
mustard powder. Incorporate 3 egg whites beaten until meringue (stiff.)

Pour the mixture into 6 well-greased pudding molds. Place in
a tray with hot water for 30 minutes hornéense slow fire.
Take the souffles from the molds and serve with tomato sauce.

It seems hornéense has to do with baking, so I guess they just mean
"in a slow oven," like 300º.

Oh! With Velveeta also is made a rich and smooth cheese sauce
to serve with vegetables and meats!


Le da un rico sabor a sus comidas means "gives a rich flavor to your meals."


Notes on this new page and project

First of all, I'll work more on this page than my main "blog" through the winter. But there'll be updates there from time to time, about concerts or operas I attended, bits of Christmas or food or snow. This weekend, the Met is live-streaming Falstaff. I'll have something to say about that. And I did promise two people I'd share Thanksgiving dinner photos...

The main focus this winter will be the WW2 American Homefront, but with serendipity included, such as the introduction of a new film or singing star, intriguing advertising, etc. Most of the material will come from 1940-1943 Photoplay and will focus on the Hollywood Homefront, but beginning in 1944, that publication started a renewable copyright, so there's little Photoplay material online from that point forward.

1944-1945 material comes mainly from the following magazines:

Popular Mechanics
Radio Mirror
Good Housekeeping
The Rotarian
Popular Science

and will focus more on everyday life, home economy, and emerging technology. I have a few industry yearbooks for more celebrity material. However, I'm not presenting it strictly chronologically. And I'm not in a particular hurry; I fuss over these things and at the same time, try not to spend too much of my day looking at a screen, but upcoming topics will include the butter shortage, Frankie Sinatra, and the emergence/changing perceptions of the "negro" in Hollywood's consciousness. That said, you can't be taking any of this too seriously. I'm no scholar, just a wandering dilettante. 

The page is of a wide single-column format to make the most of some of the images.

Hey, how about that temporary prune shortage? Prunes were an important component in desserts because they helped with sugar rationing. For most cake recipes, you'd have to save up a couple eggs, unless you had chickens. But baked and steamed puddings could be made without them, or with only one.

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Hollywood and the Homefront

I think my first big project here will be about the Homefront, as Hollywood related to or pretended to relate to it. Advertising and editorials in Photoplay and LIFE, a few stories of what was going on, reactions to who fought, who boosted morale, and who objected, here in the United States.

Sometimes what people knew just at the moment could later be seen in a different light. For example, Lew Ayres is a topic all on his own. He was a serious conscientious objector, and people said, "But wait, he played that great war hero in that movie!" They were angry that he would not fight. Well, the movie was All Quiet on the Western Front. Have you seen it or read the book? It affected him deeply—how could it not?—and he refused to take up arms. But he did his bit nonetheless, and all the bits mattered. But more on that later.

Something I noticed in the 1940 issues of Photoplay is that they were already hinting toward economy and making the most of what you have, talking to girls and women about sewing patterns and interchangeable wardrobe pieces. How to make things last. A few months later, still before America entered the war, there were several articles on how the stars cooked with preserved food. And then there was a whole campaign about making America Strong! by having everyone eat lots of eggs, drink lots of milk. Rations came later; sugar was one of the first commodities to be limited.

Finally, the motion picture industry had a careful position to maintain. Always there were people crying for more lightheartedness, and other people saying they had a duty to seriousness and propaganda. Eleanor Roosevelt had some very intelligent things to say about it all. The studios themselves had stars they wished to protect, and a position to maintain; to be thought of in a positive light whenever the war ended.

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But in between posts on this subject, I'm likely to add random or serendipitous items, as well, so I'll make sure the titles reflect the content.