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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ration-Era Recipe: Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Banana Frosting

 So, a while ago I returned to the Spry shortening cookbook to test out a recipe for peanut butter cupcakes.  I paired it with the banana frosting from the same cookbook.  I mean, let's be honest, there are few things in life that are better than the peanut butter-banana combination.

These cupcakes were very simple to make, but unlike any cupcake I've ever tasted before.  They were extremely dense and moist - imagine biting into a sweetened spoonful of peanut butter and flour.  While the banana frosting didn't looking very appetizing, it was perhaps the best part of the cupcake.  It was made with fresh bananas and was creamy and sweet, but not overly so.

Even though I like the basic result the recipe produced, I was doubtful of its true success.  So, I decided to test them out.  I brought them into the office on a Friday for some our staff and volunteers to sample, and they were a hit with our volunteers, especially our WWII veterans there that morning.

So I know the photo of these cupcakes don't necessarily say "Mouthwatering".  (Clearly my photographer husband was off-duty the day I made these).  But if you're a peanut butter nut like me, I would certainly recommend that you try this recipe for yourself.  They're delicious.  Especially when eaten fresh - still warm from the oven!

Here's the recipe:


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Voices by Land, Air, and Sea: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Were There

As I have mentioned before, one of the highlights of my job is speaking with and listening to our WWII veterans.  We are honored to have many World War II veterans in our area, and I have been privileged to get to know some of them over the past five years.  Last Tuesday, the D-Day Memorial allowed our patrons to get to know these veterans as well.  The Memorial hosted a special event as part of our winter Lunchbox Lecture series.  For an hour, four local D-Day veterans shared their personal experiences to a packed house. 

Because our on-site visitors enjoyed the program so much, I wanted to offer you the same opportunity.  Below you will find videos of each veteran's story. Browse them at your leisure, but as you watch, it is my hope that you see why these men and women (and so many others like them) are so special and why it is important to preserve their legacy for future generations. 

- Megan

Meet Our Panel of D-Day Veterans

Click here to view Buster Shaeff's video
Charles "Buster" Shaeff
United States Navy
Buster Shaeff joined the Navy at the age of 17.  On D-Day Shaeff carried a platoon of 2nd Ranger Battalion troops to Point-du-Hoc.  He ferried three boatloads of troops to the beach that day.  On his third run, a hedgehog tore a hole in the bottom of his LCVP.  Shaeff continued ferrying troops through July 1. Nearly one million soldiers would come ashore by early July.

Click here to view Bill Overstreet's video
Bill Overstreet
United States Army Air Force

Bill Overstreet was flying at 20,000 feet on D-Day.  He was part of the U.S. Army Air Forces' 357th Fighter Group.  He spent eight hours over Normandy before returning to England to refuel.  Overstreet flew over 100  missions during the war and was shot down three times.  Overstreet discusses his many close calls and his recollections of the time leading up to the invasion.

Click here to view Carter Fisher's video
 Carter Fisher
United States Navy, USS Arkansas

Carter Fisher was on board the USS Arkansas as it took position some 4,000 yards off Omaha Beach.  The USS Arkansas participated in the bombardment of Cherbourg, which fell to the Alllies the next day and fired in support of Operation Anvil, the invasion of Southern France.  The USS Arkansas also provided support for the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.


Click here to view Evelyn Kowalchuk's video

Evelyn "Chappy" Kowalchuk
818th Air Evacuation Squadron

Evelyn "Chappy" Kowalchuk was one of 500 flight nurses during WWII and found herself on the beaches of Normandy on D+3.  Mrs. Kowalchuk served with the 818th Air Evacuation Squadron and help evacuate wounded troops from Omaha Beach.  For her military service she was awarded the Air Medal, the ETO Ribbon, the French Legion of Honor, and the American Theater Ribbon and has credit in the following campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love in Wartime: A Valentine's Day Special

This week we have a special guest blogger, my colleague and fellow educator, Felicia Lowrance.

With Valentine’s Day coming up on Thursday, we thought it would be appropriate to write about love in wartime.  After thinking about this topic for many days and reading a lot of letters written by women to their significant others during the war, it was something that I overheard yesterday at our lunchbox lecture with a few veterans that really stood out and prompted my writing.  A guest asked one of the wives of a D-Day veteran if they were married before he went off to war.  Her response went something like this:  “Oh no!  We lived on the same street but he thought I was just a silly teenage girl.  I won him over through the mail.  The farther away he got, the better I became.”

This made me think about courtship during the war.  Many young couples were separated as the men went to fight in the European or Pacific theaters, and letter writing became the main form of communication.  In their book Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Homefront, Judy Litoff and David Smith have complied letters written by women to their sweethearts, husbands, sons, fathers, and sometimes even (as in the case below) to men they had never meet but were asked to write to by a family member.  Relationships that would be fostered through dates and talking, now had to be fostered through the use of letters.  The letters in this book may only show one side of the conversation but through them we can read descriptions of daily life, what women on the homefront thought about advancements the troops were making, and how love was fostered during WWII.

This letter was written on June 6, 1944 by Barbara Sanz.  Her brother convinced her to write letters to his buddy Lester “Mac” McClannen, a cryptographer in the Army Air Corps stationed in England. 

Dear Mac,
                Now I understand why I have not heard from you.  The “Day” has come.  I can’t explain the feeling I had when I first heard of the Invasion.  I heard it when I walked in the [beauty] shop this morning, I was stunned.  We all knew it was coming and were happy that it is started, so it can all end soon.  When it actually happens it’s a shock. It was such a gloomy day, rained all day. That didn’t help much. We had the radio going all day. The President gave a prayer tonite that the nation was to join.  Believe me, when I say I put my whole heart and soul in that prayer and will continue to pray knowing that you and the other boys have help and come out on top. And as for you especially, Mac, do take care of yourself. I am still anxiously waiting to meet you and will keep on waiting. You must promise me your “first date.” Or am I being selfish? Then you can see your “other girls.”
                Everyone was so quiet today. It’s a day that I’ll never forget. It was like the day War was declared. That was also a gloomy day. I hope you will still receive my letters. I will write as often as I can. I know letters mean so much to you boys. Wish I had time to write everyone of them…
                It’s so cold here again I had to build a fire tonite. It was so comfy in the house tonite and I was wondering how “comfy” you are. It almost makes you feel guilty when you’re enjoying the comforts of home and thinking of the hardships you boys have.
                There isn’t must more I can say to you to you tonite, Mac, I just don’t feel real cheery tonite, although I hope I’ve cheered you up a little by letting you know I’m thinking of you and praying for you.
                God Bless You, Barbara[1]

By October 1944 and into the early months of 1945, letters were being signed with “sweetheart” and “love.”  One month after Mac’s homecoming in August of 1945, Mac and Barbara were married. 

- Felicia

[1] Litoff, Judy Barrett and David C. Smith. Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home front. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1991. 45-47