Thursdays are for cooking….

| June 6, 2019

Army recruiting poster

Anyone ever pull KP in the Army?  Was it Beetle Bailey that was always pulling KP for some silly thing he did?

Baby red potatoes

Here’s your standard K-rats contents from World War II. The paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne carried K-rations as well as D-rations.  Those 24,000 men came stocked with a three-day supply of K-rations and two days of D-rations, which were meant for survival..

K Rations

U.S. ARMY photo

The K-rations carried over into Korea and thereafter to Vietnam, until C-rats came along. I kept hearing stories about using McIlhenny’s sole product, tabasco sauce, to spice the food up a bit.  And the Hershey Company was asked to produce a chocolate bra that could withstand heat up to 120F, and weighed only 4 ounces, was high in food energy value, and tasted just a little better than a boiled potato.  You may have gotten something similar if you were in Vietnam and got the tropical Hershey bar.

Meanwhile, per my mother, rationing was going on at home. You couldn’t get butter, according to what she told me, so oleomargarine, which was whipped corn oil back then, was available. When I asked her where the butter went, because the troops at the front certainly weren’t getting it, she said “Nobody knows!” (It went to the UK, Ma.) There was also gasoline rationing, and because the Germans were prowling in the Atlantic, to block and sink ships carrying food supplies to the UK, the Civil Air Patrol enlisted spotters everywhere to look for German aircraft, cars had shades over their headlights to reduce nighttime detection, people put blackout shades in their windows, and – well, things were tough all over, but people dealt with it. Silk stockings were available, but extremely pricey, because silk was going into parachute production. At some point, nylon became the thread for producing women’s stockings and parachute canopies, among other things.

Everything was recycled, too. Nothing usable was thrown away: glass, newspapers and tires were collected, fats of all kinds were collected. The mountains of trash that are collected today might astonish people who put up with rationing back then.

I sometimes think we’re a bit spoiled now, despite the after-effects of the September 11th hijackings and destruction that followed.  We take far too much for granted.

So, taking into account that rationing at home was an ongoing part of daily life, I looked for a World War II recipe that can be made with modern baking products, and here it is.


Recipe from “Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked” by Joanne Lamb Hayes
·         2 cups of unsifted all-purpose flour
·         3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
·         3 teaspoons of baking powder
·         ¼ teaspoon of salt
·         ¼ cup of shortening
·         ½ cup of milk
·         ½ cup of pureed winter squash puree
·         Preheat oven to 375oF. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
·         Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture forms coarse crumbles
·         Combine milk and squash puree. Add to flour mixture and stir together just until all flour mixture has been moistened. Spoon out onto greased baking sheet to make 12 biscuits.
·         Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
·         Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to serving basket and serve warm.
I would say “serve warm with butter” but butter was rationed and mostly unavailable. However, I see no reason that these biscuits cannot be served warm with butter.

Category: Economy, Historical

Comments (46)

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  1. OldSoldier54 says:

    You ain’t lived until you’ve had pots n pans at the Brigade mess … ;P

    • Alan Cagle says:

      Amen OS54. My one time, the cook made me a ‘handyman’ for odd jobs since we had one too many KP’s. The worse was using a towel to get the blood from a chiller that defrosted meat. UGH. It took an hour, sitting on the floor and wringing out that cloth, but he gave me 30 minutes off.Yah for the Army

  2. Claw says:

    “And the Hershey Company was asked to produce a chocolate bra”

    Mmmm, sounds good. I wonder if it had to “Lift and Separate” before unwrapping?/smile

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Hahahahahah! And I proofread that 3 times!!! I’m leaving it in!

      I was doing laundry. My mind was on that. Yeah, that’s it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!! (Moral: If you’re gonna screw up, do it big time!)

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Is the chocolate bra matched with a pair of marshmello panties and graham cracker heels? If so I want some more! (dodges a thrown box of Snuggle, grabs a buttered squash biscuit and beats feet)

      • RGR 4-78 says:

        Mmmmm, chocolate bra, I wonder if they sell those at Fredricks of Hollywood?

        Dolly Parton could cause a diabetic emergency.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      You guys are SO BAAAAADDDDDD!

      (Ex-PH2 looks for cast iron frying pan, sees it’s involved in cooking sausage patties, and retreats.)

  3. rgr769 says:

    Due to a badly sprained ankle, I spent three days on KP duty. Being “pots and pans man” is a bitch. Not easy to get all the crap burned onto the bottom of a ten gallon pot clean.

    • Claw says:

      I was “pots and pans man” also when I did my turns. Nobody screwed with you and you could actually take a smoke break when you wanted.

      Being DRO sucked./s

    • thebesig says:

      KP duty in the Navy is three months long if you’re a fleet sailor. Don’t know how they do it for those who are on shore duty. I returned for another 45 days as the KP duty NCOIC.

      The Master Chief in charge of the food division saw me working the juice lines, saw the difference in my work quality from that of the others, then decided to reward me. He asked me to go for a walk with him. At the end of the walk was the CPO mess. He told me that’s where I’d be spending the rest of my 90 days. Turned out to be one of the best-darned duties that I did when I was in the Navy. :mrgreen:

  4. Buckeye Jim says:

    Not that I want to sound like a cynical bastard, but a lot of the “re-cycling” then was not really usable but having the civilians participate was very good for morale, both military and civilian.

    Similar to today, when a lot of the recycling is not economically feasible but it makes the “recycler” feel good about him/her self.

  5. rgr769 says:

    Uh, most of us who served in the RVN never saw a K-rat. I was issued C-rats that had dates on them back to 1958, IIRC. I also recall that when I went to ROTC summer in 1967 and previously in 1965-66 training excercises, we were issued C-rats. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the Marines were still eating Korean War vintage K-rats in 1965.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I got different stories from different people on the K-rats v. C-rats. Some of them did get the K-rats, others never saw them. It’s kind of a mixed bag.

      • rgr769 says:

        Actually what we have been calling C-rats are the Meal, Combat, Individual (MCI). In 1958, they were phased in as a replacement for both the K-rat (individual survival ration) and the C-4 ration (similar to the MCI).
        Wikipedia has an excellent article on the C-rat. The first C (individual) category rations were developed in 1938. A and B rations are the mess hall or field kitchen prepared food (fresh food and canned or otherwise preserved food).

        • RGR 4-78 says:

          The ” C-4 ration” provided explosive bowel movements.


          • Hondo says:

            And heated many a can of C-rations, I’ve bee told. (smile)

            • rgr769 says:

              That is why I had to be the sole carrier of C-4 in my company. That way there would be some available when we had to detonate an unexploded bomb or artillery shell we found in the field.

            • timactual says:

              Indeed. And boiled many a cup of water for coffee or cocoa. For some reason Claymores were constantly being used even when no contact was made. I actually felt guilt about “misusing” Claymores until I tried using the officially authorized and freely issued “heat tabs”.

              • rgr769 says:

                I used to inspect them regularly to make sure they weren’t cannibalized for the C-4 in them. Pretty stupid move when we never have a shortage of heat tabs. Pretty hard for a soldier to explain to his squad or platoon leader that the Claymore you are carrying is worthless because you used its explosive to heat C=rats.

                • timactual says:

                  You actually used heat tabs? We tried, once, but they were too painful. Literally. You couldn’t get within six feet of them without choking and weeping. I would rather heat my Cs with a CS grenade.

                  • rgr769 says:

                    If you don’t sit there with you mug over your little B-2 can improvised stove, they aren’t a problem. I know C-4 does a better job, but it is not what we supposed to be using it for. Obviously, you never had your ass chewed because the company’s issue of C-4 was gone and there was none to blow a bomb on arty shell with, which could be used by the enemy to make booby traps (IED’s). Maybe they changed the formula for them, but in 1970 the heat tabs weren’t a problem; my CP section cooked with them every evening in the field.
                    We also used those small cans of Sterno you could buy at the PX.

    • timactual says:

      1958 C-rations? You got the new ones. When I was in Germany in 1966-67 we ate C-rations once a week in the Bn. mess hall.

      “… the Marines were still eating Korean War vintage K-rats in 1965.”

      At least a few Army units were eating Korean War vintage C-rats as late as 1969.

      • UpNorth says:

        “At least a few Army units were eating Korean War vintage C-rats as late as 1969”. Yes, we were. After the first few times we carried C-rats to the field, we just stopped looking at the dates.
        But the ham and lima beans did make for good entertainment when we threw them in the fire.

  6. 5th/77th FA says:

    We cooked and chowed down on everything I had posted on last week’s Thursdays are for Cooking. And then some. Another pot of chicken n dumplins plus a meal of country fried cubed beef beast, smashed taters, zipper peas and more cornbread. Still repacking and freezing the leftovers. Kinda quiet and depressing here ar Firebase Magnolia since the last of the company left yesterday pm. Only thing we didn’t get to was Graybeards ‘nanna cake. Sister in Law snagged my ‘nannas & combined them with her ‘nilla wafers to make a ‘nanna pudding. It didn’t last long at all. I will get to that cake tho.

    We did have a large time.

    • timactual says:

      Curse you! Since my wife turned vegetarian I have not been able to indulge my taste for such haute cuisine. Is that grounds for a divorce? Can I move in with you?

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Yes it is grounds, and sure why not. Gotta bring the wife tho, someone has to fetch a sandwich on occasion or cold beer. Bring Ex and AnotherPat and of course AW1Ed. Ex for her soups, AP for the cookies & SEC Games, and ‘Ed for his crabcakes and other culinary meat grilling abilities.

        And going by Ex’s post on the Friday FGS, we may have to parade around armed and bare chested now and again.

  7. Sapper3307 says:

    After WW2 my grandfather would not allow SPAM in the house, EVER.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      They still munch it up in England. And it comes in other flavors now, such as hickory-smoked SPAM.

      • timactual says:

        You can put lipstick on a pig, or spray paint a turd, but they still are not palatable. England, as we all know, is NOT a source of edible food.

    • The Stranger says:

      Oh come on. It ain’t THAT bad. I’ll eat me some spam and eggs a couple of times a year. Fry it up and it’s pretty good.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Spam hash doesn’t need anything other than a nonstick skillet to cook it. Well, and a spatula.

  8. I ate C’S in the Navy and ARNGUS. The peach jam smelled like toe jam and those ham and lima beans (ham and mother fuckers) were something else. I ordered 2 cases (A&B) of MRES back in 2017 with an inspection date of 2020 in case of any Florida hurricanes coming ashore.

  9. Boiling Mad CPO says:

    I was in charge of a CVS landing force locker back in early 60’s. Many case of rations from WW2 stored in that space. I opened as many as I wanted and tried everything. Nothing suited me except for the 4 cigs.

    Old Golds, as I recall. Very stale but they were free.

  10. USMC Steve says:

    I must respectfully beg to differ. At the end of WW II the K ration was quickly phased out. It lacked bulk, so even though you ate, you were always hungry. The chocolate D ration bars or bras, came in 2 ounce and 4 ounce sizes. They were made to not taste too good, so the troopies would not always be breaking into them to eat them. The first “c” rations had three menus and came with two cans, one with the meat unit, the other with bread (crackers) and candy and such. During Korea, the C ration got expanded into the C-2 and C-3 rations with more menus. In the late 1950’s, out came Meals, Combat Individual. These are always refered to as C rations, although that is not what they are. They are more evolved. The cases were initially packed two meals each of six different menus and in about 1967 they were packed with one each of 12 different meals. Believe it or not, there was even a meat loaf meal, but no one I have talked to ever got their hands on one. As bad as Ham and Limas sucked, the meat loaf must have been a killer.

    • timactual says:

      ” As bad as Ham and Limas sucked…”

      Careful, there! You are speaking of the meal I loved! As a matter of fact, I just bought some dried Lima beans and ham.

  11. sgtcpt says:

    My Mom was a little girl during WWII. She can remember her job was to mix the yellow coloring packet into the Oleo by hand, otherwise it was a colorless mass no one would use. I remember getting “C rats” in ROTC in 1982 stamped “Cigarettes Removed”. Some of them dated to the late 60’s.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Oh, lawsie, that takes me back! My grandma was still buying the pack of colorless oleo with the yellow dye in a little “button” that she had to break to mix the dye into the oleo.

      That was in the 1960s, for Pete’s sake, and she did that right up to the day she had to go live in a nursing home.

  12. Jeff says:

    At Parris Island in 1982 we still were issued c-rats on field maneuvers. Our drill instructors would dig through the boxes to remove the little packs of Marlboro’s and the green match packs before we found them! Sometimes they didn’t get them all!

  13. Berliner says:

    I do enjoy the recipes. I spent a couple days working radios with a French Infantry platoon in Berlin on a joint U.S., British and French field exercise.

    We were in our “field training area” in the Grunewald,,+Berlin,+Germany/@52.4682848,13.221221,9189m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x47a850c7fc0baf23:0x6e2915d1cd5667e6!8m2!3d52.4833853!4d13.2657999
    (a district in west Berlin with a large a forested park. The forest was decimated for firewood following WWII and replanted in the 1950’s with German precision – like rows of corn in places.)

    The French field ration was mostly hard bread, a chunk of cheese, a can of liver pate’, a chocolate bar and only 1 warm can of Schultheiss bier. Repeat for supper. Breakfast was bread, cheese chunk and instant coffee – no bier.

    Fun fact: Teufelsberg Berlin, which translates to Devil’s Mountain, is the former Army Security Agency listening post, now a canvas for grafitti. It sits on a hill built from rubble from WWII bombing of Berlin. Our company training area was nearby across the lake from the nude beach at Teufelssee, or Devil’s Lake.

  14. Commissar says:

    Other than the “KP” the drill sergeants used to put skinny kids on during basic so they could stay above the minimum weight..,

    The days of actual KP I have done throughout my time as a junior enlisted were each among the the harder days in the Army. It is a tougher job in the field too. No rest. No real breaks. Even meal times were like 10-15 minutes.

    There are a lot of tough jobs in the Army. Some physically harder, some mentally harder, some both, but as far as balls-to-the-wall constant work day in and day out; I would say military food service is up there among the toughest.

    • timactual says:

      KP was hard? Jeez, you have led a sheltered life.

      “. No rest. No real breaks.”

      Welcome to the world of real work. A lot of working-class folks do that until they retire. Or drop dead.

      Not to mention “active service”.

      • Commissar says:

        You have no idea what my life was like and a guarantee you were more “sheltered” than I was.

  15. Huey Jock says:

    Yeah, I did KP back in 66. Pots n pans, outside pits etc.
    Then came the all-expense-paid-vacations to beautiful and exotic SEA. I’ll take the C’s over the LRRPS any day.

    • timactual says:

      Really? LRRPS were a sought after rare delicacy in my little world. They may not have been terribly good, but they were different. I still remember them fondly.

      • rgr769 says:

        Lurp rations were tasty. Plus, you didn’t have to lug all those cans in your already heavy ruck. Anyone who preferred C-rats obviously didn’t eat nothing but them for weeks. My supply sgt coul get almost anything for a case of lurps.