Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

An Invitation to a Wartime World

In Recipes, Uncategorized, World War II on February 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Maybe it’s time we look back and remember the darkest days of World War II.  We have seen all of the movies.  We have read so many of the books.  We have spoken with the older people who remember it well.  The fear, the deprivation.  Times were so very difficult and yet…don’t we all sometimes wish that we could go back to the war years? We want to experience it ourselves.  There were also so many really good things about the era.  People pulled together for victory.  There was something greater than just themselves at stake.  They bravely accepted the sacrifices they were asked to make.  They went without so much.  They recycled.  NOTHING was wasted.  They helped their neighbors.  They pulled together and in the end they were the winners.

Jean and Henry

My grandparents, Jean Fortuna and Henry Borgatti at Niagara Falls, about 1943.  My grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and my grandmother worked for Bell Aircraft where she made bomb kits for the war.  

Over the next couple of weeks I am inviting you to step back in time with me.  It will not be March of 2016 anymore.  It will be March of 1943.  We will look back upon the news, fashion, entertainment, rationing and most importantly:  wartime recipes.  For what is more critical to our daily life than our daily bread?  For seven days we will not only immerse ourselves in real daily life of March 1943…we will also prepare wartime inspired meals three times a day.  We will see if we have what it takes to live during wartime.  And we will not just stop in wartime Niagara Falls.  We will also slip into Canada and England, too.  Some of our day’s meals will be the average rationed foods enjoyed by our allies.

Ration book

Until I began to seriously research the English diet during WWII, I hadn’t actually realized the extent of the hardship these people experienced.  Along with the very real threat of bombings (by May of 1941, 43,000 British citizens had been killed at home and 1.4 million made homeless) the British were hungry.  Very very hungry.  Before WWII, Britain imported 50% of its total food and much of this came from Europe.  They were cut off from much of the world during the war.  As a result the Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, oversaw a rationing system that would get the British through the hardest times.  In June of 1941, Lord Woolton appealed to American women to sacrifice to an even greater extent in order to help their British allies.  Americans were asked to go without even more in order to allow the United States government to ship food to Britain and thereby bolster food supplies as well as morale.  Could we do it?


March of 1943 brought even harder times.  German u-boats sank twenty-seven merchant ships on the Atlantic Ocean between March 16 and March 20.  Food rationing greatly expanded.  In the United States ration stamps were now required to purchase meats, cheese, canned milk, butter and other fats and all canned and processed foods.  It didn’t matter how much money you had if you did not have enough points leftover to purchase the items you required.  The way we fed our families changed.  Waste was a crime.  Every morsel of food was ingested.  Fruits and vegetables were the staples of our diet and the government promoted widespread canning–even giving more sugar out to those who canned.  Victory Gardens were integral to the war effort.


From the Niagara Falls Gazette 

Can you imagine a world like this?  Strangely, the people of Britain actually became healthier during their darkest hour.  Their lack of sugar and meats coupled with their uptake in whole grains and fruits and vegetables made them stronger and more vigorous.  I started thinking, maybe we can enter their world for a short time as a sort of experiment.  Truly feel what it was like to live in March of 1943.  Maybe coming back to 2016 we will find we are also better and fitter having experienced a sliver of life during wartime.

russian family

Niagarans were asked to help the Russians during March of 1943.  

So will you take the challenge? Get out your reddest lipstick ladies and fix your Victory curls.  We are heading back to 1943.  Bring an apron, too, as we will be doing a lot of cooking.

Cookbook ww2


The Story of Niagara’s early Italian-American culinary traditions

In Recipes, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on July 14, 2014 at 6:19 pm
Mama D'Avolio from Macri's Italian Grille

Mama D’Avolio from Macri’s Italian Grille

If you are interested in a history of Niagara’s early Italian culinary traditions, then this is the book for you! Written and compiled by The Italian Research Group at the Lewiston Public Library this is the story of your favorite restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, pizzerias and so much more.

Buon Appetito is now available at the following website:


When a Recipe Tells a Love Story

In Antique Shoppe, Niagara in Love, Recipes, The Armenians of Niagara Falls on December 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

ration book and recipeIt’s funny how some things fall into your lap and tell a love story.

A few years ago I purchased an old ration book holder from a little antique shop in Lewiston. It was particularly interesting because it had belonged to some local people that my grandmother actually knew–the chiropractor, Dr. Emilio Settimi and his family. But even more fascinating was the secret that was tucked away inside the tattered cover. Carefully typed and folded inside, stained with cookie encrusted hands, was a recipe for “Date and Nut Cookies” and a love story.  Beside the heading was a name in parenthesis: Angela Kevorkian. I’m not sure if this recipe was typed by Angela Kevorkian or how it ended up inside the Settimi’s ration book holder. Regardless, the story of Angela Kevorkian was too sweet to put to sleep.

Kevorkian recipe

It began on May 19, 1912, with a man about to go over Niagara Falls.

As in so many other stories (that Niagarans know so well) a man (named Henry J. Lutz–a candymaker) happened to fall into the Niagara River. As he was being rapidly carried toward the American Falls, a young Armenian laborer (who could not swim) could not help but come to the aid of the drowning man. Without hesitation, Iram Kevorkian, waded out 22 feet into the river at a point which was only 150 feet from the brink of doom. As Lutz drifted past, he caught him with a pikepole. Kevorkian slid two or three times on the slimy rocks in which his feet clung to for dear life. He called for help and suddenly other men joined in to help Mr. Kevorkian save Mr. Lutz from certain death. In the end, both men survived and Kevorkian was awarded the Carnegie Silver medal for heroism.

Strangely, in just about the same spot, two years later, Kevorkian witnessed another individual in peril on June 4, 1914.  He was responsible for rescuing this man, as well. For this act of heroism, he was awarded the Geoge E. McNeill medal.

When asked about his heroic deeds, Kevorkian replied:

Those were the most beautiful experiences in my lifetime. They call it courage. Well, something about courage is that you act quickly without knowing you have it…

And as every hero must have his admirers….Iram Kevorkian’s act of kindness found its way across an ocean and into the coffee parlor of a popular cafe in Vienna where a group of ladies sat discussing a news article.

Now there’s a fine young man to meet…they said to one another.

One of those ladies, Angela Jurasek, came to America shortly after this.   Tragedy came upon her, too, but this time by fire.  She broke her ankle while escaping a terrible conflagration that ravaged her second floor apartment in Flushing, New York, and found herself recovering in a hospital.  It was then that fate began to work out her little scheme.  For Iram Kevorkian had left Niagara Falls for a short time to take a job in that same hospital in Flushing.

And there she was.  His co-workers had raved about the beautiful woman with the broken ankle one too many times.  He convinced a friend to switch duties with him so that he might meet this lovely lady and soon he was carrying dinner trays to Miss Jurasek on a daily basis.  She became his wife one month later.

Of course, it was inevitable that the couple would honeymoon in Niagara Falls.   And it was then, at the brink of Niagara’s thundering beauty, that Mrs. Kevorkian decided that this is where she wanted to make their home.  They lived here for quite some time and operated the Vienna Tailor and Dressmaking Shop at 446 Third Street.

And they lived happily ever after in Niagara Falls, New York, eating wonderful Date and Nut Cookies.

Holiday Recipes; Niagara Falls, 1939

In Recipes on December 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Holiday Recipes; Niagara Falls, 1939