Excerpted with permission from Homefront Cooking: Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom from American Veterans and Their Loved Ones by Tracey Enerson Wood, Beth Guidry Riffle, and Carol Van Drie. Copyright 2018 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Homefront Cooking brings you a collection of treasured family recipes and photographs from military service members past and present, and their loved ones. Recipes are accompanied by brief stories and memories related to the recipe, military service, and/or lifestyle. All proceeds from this work will be donated to a charitable organization in support of veterans.
My great uncle, Timothy Cusack, fought in World War I. My great-grandparents saved the letters he wrote from the front, and they have been passed down through the generations. Sweet and wistful, they shed light on what was important to a young man, torn from his home and family, and thrown into the horror of war.
The themes in his letters resonate today as much as they did then. Love of family. A sense of duty to country. A longing for home. A need to communicate, to know how loved ones are doing, and to assure his family of his well-being. Private Cusack begged for letters from home; it seemed that knowing the details of their daily lives kept him going.
And food. Although not a major preoccupation, most letters mention the availability, the cost, and the enjoyment of food. He described a great feast, with beer, wine, and a roast pig. He complained about the cost of fresh eggs and other delicacies, but delighted in eating them. This is not so different from today.
Private Timothy Cusack did not make it back to the family he wrote to with so much love. He was buried in France on November 8, 1918, just three days before the Great War was over.
This book is dedicated to all who have served, in peace and in war, whether at the front lines of a foreign conflict, or saving tin foil and eating blueberries for dinner on the homefront.
May every meal be a celebration of life and love.
—Tracey Enerson Wood
Daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, niece, cousin, and friend of veterans
St. Petersburg, Florida
Come as You Are!
When my husband, Barry, was promoted to Major, we celebrated with a house party.
Living in Burke, Virginia, outside of DC, most people were accustomed to formal receptions and dinners. However, we were both raised in the Midwest town of Flint, Michigan, where a typical gathering was very casual. So our invitations suggested that guests wear “Michigan casual” clothing—jeans, flannel shirts, sweaters, etc.
Our menu was equally casual and very hometown: Coney Dogs like those featured at Angelo’s Coney Island, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, and beer. Most of our guests were unfamiliar with the taste of steamed Koegel hot dogs, smothered in the wonderful, spicy sauce. The dogs were topped with chopped onion and mustard. Mmmmmmmm!
Although we had prepared an ample amount of Coney sauce, we ran out early and needed to cook up a new batch.
Recipe: Coney Island Hot Dogs
Pot Luck—Dishes Meant to be Shared
Approximately 20 servings
1 teaspoon shortening
1 pound ground beef
2 medium onions, finely grated
6 ounces tomato sauce
½ teaspoons garlic powder
6 ounces water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoons prepared mustard
4–5 hot dogs, ground (preferably Koegel Vienna’s)
20 hot dogs and buns
Additional chopped onions and mustard
Brown ground beef in shortening, then drain.
Combine next 7 ingredients with beef. Simmer until thick.
Serve on top of hot dogs with more mustard and chopped onion.