Old-Fashioned Apple Cookie Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 6, 1913: I made some cookies this morning—and fortunately we all have pretty good teeth.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm—I wonder what kind of cookies Grandma made, and what went wrong.

Maybe Grandma made Apple Cookies. They’re wonderfully moist—and a little chewy (but I don’t think that they’d require good teeth to eat.)  :)

Old-fashioned Apple Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup milk

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup unpared apples, chopped

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream sugar and butter, then add egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and fruit. Add walnuts, apples, and raisins. Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: approximately 48 cookies

Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Boiled Ham

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, September 4, 1913:  I guess most any one could guess what followed for today.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

ham1This modern ham is NOTHING like hams a hundred years ago. Old-time hams were smoked in smoke houses,  salty, and very flavorful (and probably had lots of nitrates that weren’t good for us).   (Picture Source: Real Simple)

The threshers were at the Muffly farm. The previous day Grandma wrote that the threshing machine had arrived.

Neighbors and the threshing machine operators would all be helping with the threshing. And, the men who came to help expected a big meal. Grandma, her sister Ruth, their mother, and perhaps some neighbor women would have spent the day cooking and serving a huge meal—and then they would have washed mountains of dishes.

What did foods did they serve?  . . . desserts .  .  . potatoes . . .meat. . . .

Ham was popular back then.  I bet they served incredible ham that had been cured and smoked on the farm the previous winter.

Here are the directions for cooking a ham in a hundred-year-old cookbook:

Boiled Ham

Select a medium-sized ham; soak overnight in cold water. Clean and wipe; cover with cold water; bring to the boiling point, and then simmer until tender, allowing thirty minutes to the pound. Cool in water in which it was cooked. Take off the skin, sprinkle with sugar, and cover with seasoned cracker crumbs. Bake twenty to thirty minutes. Decorate with cloves, garnish with parsley and lemon, and serve hot or cold.

A more aromatic flavor is given to the ham if a bouquet of sweet herbs and one half cup each of onions, carrots, and turnips are boiled with it. Many baste the ham, when baking with cider.

Lowney’s Cook Book – Revised Edition (1912)

Here’s a few previous posts with recipes for seasonal foods that may have been served to the threshers:

Open-faced Apple Pie

Pickled Cabbage (Pepper Hash)

Pickled Beets and Eggs

Spiced (Pickled) Crab Apples

Hundred-Year-Old Suggestion for Serving Watermelon

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, August 11, 1913:  Am busy planning.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was planning for the Sunday School picnic. The previous day she wrote:

We have decided to have our S.S. picnic next Wed. .  .

I wonder what she needed to plan. . . . activities? . . . what food to bring?

August would be the perfect time for watermelon.

Grandma probably wouldn’t have done anything as fancy as the suggestion for serving watermelon in  Ladies Home Journal:

An  unusually nice way to serve watermelon is to have the pulp removed from the whole melon which has first been cut in halves, and replaced on cracked ice in half of the rind arranged in bowl fashion. Cone-shaped portions may then be served individually in sundae glasses, or cut in cubes in sherbet-cups.

 Ladies Home Journal (July 1911)

Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Making and Marketing Sun-Preserved Preserves

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, August 6, 1913: That’s all.

Strawberries

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yesterday, I shared an article about “new’ gadgets a hundred years ago that can be used to making canning easier. Since Grandma didn’t write much in this diary entry, I’m going to dig deeper into one statement in that article. It said:

Canning is a great improvement over the old-fashioned way of preserving fruits pound for pound, and if canned properly fruits will retain their fresh and natural flavor.

Ladies Home Journal (May, 1913)

I wondered what that meant and then came across another article about Sun-preserved Preserves. That article contained a letter from a reader explaining how to make and market sun-preserved preserves.

Sun-preserved Preserves

The thing I knew I could do better than most people was to make preserves. My specialties were sun-cooked strawberry and cherry preserves.

I chose only the finest, most perfect fruit, seeding the cherries carefully by hand. I weighed the fruit and made a syrup of an equal amount of the best granulated sugar, using just enough water to melt the sugar and prevent burning. When the sugar was melted I dropped the fruit in carefully and let it boil, about five minutes in the case of the strawberries and ten minutes for the cherries.

I then removed the preserves to a large platter and placed them out in the sunshine, covering closely with large pieces of glass. It may be necessary to use mosquito netting also. About two days of direct sunshine usually cooks the preserves sufficiently. I tried to put them in glass jars while still hot from the sun’s rays. This is not necessary, but they are nicer if canned before the juice sets.

The next problem was to find a market for my wares, which were strictly first class, and, beautiful in shape and color. For these I must ask a good price.

I lived about a hundred miles from a large city, in a village where there was no market for my goods at any price, so I took to scanning the society columns of the city papers and thus listed the names and addresses of the people I wanted to reach. To these I wrote personal letters describing my preserves and setting my price. To a few prominent ladies I sent small samples. The responses were numerous enough to give me several very busy summers.

Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

Sometimes when I read old recipes like this one I just roll my eyes and throw up my hands.  These directions don’t sound like they would produce a safe, sanitary food—yet Sun-preserved  Preserves apparently were considered a gourmet food a hundred years ago. So I googled “Sun Preserves” and found a New York Times article that explains how to make them  using modern processes and procedures.

Blackberries on July Menus

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, July 21, 1913:  Picked blackberries this morning and rather enjoyed it. My time seems very much occupied these days. I help load hay, which I really don’t mind so very much and then there is my music to keep me busy and some other things.

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mmm, blackberries. . .  A hundred years ago, berries and other fruits were only available for a few weeks a year when they were in season.  The July, 1913 issue of Good Housekeeping provided menus for the month.

Two of the July menus included blackberries. Note how blackberries are served for both breakfast and dinner on the Thursday menu. 1913 July menu

Even in the mid-1900s people still primarily ate seasonal foods. I can remember being so excited when I was a child when the first blackberries . . . or strawberries. . . or raspberries came into season. And, then we’d have a plethora of berries, and we’d eat them two or three times a day for the next week or two. By the end of the season, I never wanted to see another berry again—but by the time the next year rolled around I’d again be anxiously anticipating the ripening of the first berries.

Old-fashioned Cherry Bread

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 2, 1913:  It’s most too hot to do anything important so I need to write about the weather. Oh yes, I recollect, I did pick some cherries this afternoon for one thing.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mmm—cherries! What were Grandma’s favorite cherry foods? . . .maybe she made old-fashioned cherry bread.  (This recipe is a favorite of one of my sons—and he always wants me to make it when he visits. Either sweet or sour cherries may be used.)

Old-Fashioned Cherry Bread

Bread

2/3 cup shortening

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 cup pitted fresh cherries (or 1 pound can cherries), drained (reserve juice)

Glaze (optional)

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

approximately 2 tablespoons reserved cherry juice

Bread:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pans or three 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 2 1/2 inch loaf pans.* **   Beat together shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, milk, and almond extract, and beat until mixed. Finely chop cherries and gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans. Pour into pans. Bake full size loaf pans 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Smaller pans will take less time.) Partially cool and then remove from pans.

Glaze:  Beat together until smooth: butter, confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and cherry juice. Use more or less cherry juice to get desired consistency. Spread over loaves. Let the glaze drip down the sides.

*I usually use one 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan and three “personal” loaf pans (approximately 5 1/2 X 3 X 2 inches).

**If planning to remove bread from the pans, cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of each pan. Grease pan, then put wax paper into pan. Grease wax paper, and then flour pan.

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Previous posts with cherry recipes that you may enjoy include:

Old-fashioned Cherry Pudding

Old-fashioned Cherry Pie

Walnut Chocolate Cake Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 23, 1913:  Nothing much doing.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today I’m going to go back to a post I did almost two years ago on August 13, 1911. That post was about the difficulty of interpreting old cake recipes using modern techniques, ingredients, and stoves.

The post included a lovely picture of Walnut Chocolate Cake from Lowney’s Cookbook (1907)—but I didn’t actually make the cake. 

Somehow every time I flipped through the Lowney’s Cookbook that picture kept pulling me back. It felt like I’d wimped out—and that I still had some unfinished business with that recipe.

So I finally gave in—took a deep breath and made a stab at interpreting the Walnut Chocolate Cake recipe for modern cooks.  Here are the results of my efforts:

Walnut Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3  cup milk

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup walnuts, chopped (+ whole walnuts to decorate top of cake)

Chocolate buttercream frosting

Vanilla buttercream frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 X 8 inch cake pans. If desired, line with waxed paper to make it easier to get the cakes out of the pans.

Combine all ingredients except walnuts and icings, and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (reserve remaining walnuts).

Evenly divide the batter between the two pans. Bake until done (approximately 30 minutes).

Remove cakes from pans while still warm (approximately 15 minutes after removing from oven). After the cakes are cooled put one cake on a plate and thinly spread with chocolate frosting.  Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of chopped walnuts on top of the chocolate frosting.

Top with the second cake layer. Ice with the vanilla frosting. Decorate with whole walnuts.

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The bottom line: The cake was heavier than the typical modern cake—but delicious, and well worth the effort of trying to interpret the old recipe.

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