Old Lemonade, Iced Tea, and Currant Punch Recipes

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

Saturday, June 29, 1912:  Put the hammock up this morning after having quite a time with Ruthie. She’s my boss absolute. It’s gotten very hot now.

Photo source: Wikipedia

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

Sisters!  Was the disagreement about the hammock or something else?

Grandma’s mother bought the hammock the previous day. With the weather turning hot—it sounds like she bought it at the perfect time.

Laying in the hammock with a cool drink sounds like the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.

Here’s a couple recipes for cold drinks from a 1912 cookbook:


Boil two cups of sugar and four cups water until a rich sirup is formed. Add one cup lemon juice. Dilute with ice water.

Iced Tea

Make tea. Serve in glasses with crushed ice, with one tablespoon lemon juice in each glass.

Current Punch

4 cups currant juice

4 cups sugar

12 cups water

6 lemons

6 oranges

2 cups tea

Boil sugar and water five minutes; add tea, juice, lemons and oranges sliced, and a large piece of ice.

Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Ranking Old-fashioned Candy Recipes

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

Thursday, March 28, 1912:Nothing really of great importance. Now that Ruth is at home I don’t have to do as much in the morning as I was accustomed to doing. Ruth made some fudge this evening. It was Jimmie’s earnest desire.

Sugar Taffy

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

Whew, I’m amazed how often fudge or other candies are mentioned in the diary.

Over the past 15 months, I’ve made 7 different candy recipes. Below I rank them from my personal favorite to my least favorite—and provide links to the post that contains the recipe.

1. Sugar Taffy—This recipe turned out fantastically and tastes much better than modern taffy. My family ate all of the taffy within a day or so.

Cocoa Fudge

2. Cocoa Fudge—This fudge recipe was excellent—however, the recipe only made a small amount of fudge. I’d double (or triple or quadruple) the recipe if I made it again.

3. Chocolate Fudge- No. 1—This is also a very good fudge recipe. I had a difficult time deciding whether to rank Cocoa Fudge or this one higher.

4. Butterscotch— Old-fashioned butterscotch isn’t anything like the artificially-colored orange butterscotch disks that they make today. Instead it is rather it is similar to Werthers Original Candy.

5. Chocolate Fudge No. 2—This fudge contains molasses and has a very old-fashioned taste, but I  loved the complex undertones. I especially liked it when I added walnuts.

6. Sour Cream Fudge—This is a light-colored fudge that does not contain any chocolate. It had a good taste although I had to cook it a very long time (over an hour) and even then it seemed a bit soft.

7. Coffee Candy—This candy  had a great taste, but I didn’t get something quite right because it crumbled. A reader suggested that it might make a good ice cream topping.

Comparison of Hundred-Year Old and Modern Recipes for Devils Food Cake

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

Tuesday, February 27, 1912:  Quite uneventful. Ruth went up to Oakes this evening, but I staid at home and studied my lessons.

Devil's Food Cake (Hundred-Year-Old Recipe)

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

Since this diary entry is self-explanatory, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

I recently bought a 1912 cookbook off EBay. My daughter glanced through it and noticed that the devils food cake recipe seemed very different from today’s recipes.

So we decided to compare a devils food cake made with a modern recipe with one made using a hundred year old recipe.

In the early 1900s angel food cakes and devils food cakes were seen as the polar opposites—one was white and light; the other dark and heavy.

The cake made with the hundred year old recipe was a dense chocolate spice cake. The recipe called for mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes ?!?!), cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts.  It reminded us of gingerbread–though ginger was not an ingredient. I’ve never eaten anything exactly like it—but the cake was very good and I’d make it again.

100 Year-Old-Recipe

Calumet Devil’s Food Cake (Chocolate Spice Cake)

2 cups flour

2 level teaspoons Calumet (or any other brand) baking powder

2 level teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup warm mashed potatoes

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13 X 9 X 2 inches. Melt butter and chocolate. Combine with all of the other ingredients except nuts. Beat until well-blended.  Stir in nuts.

Pour into pan. Bake approximately 45-50 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Adapted from the recipe in Calumet Baking Powder Reliable Recipes (1912)

The modern devils food cake recipe that my daughter made was from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. The recipe called for red food coloring—but otherwise seemed similar to other modern chocolate cake recipes. The cake was awesome.

Devils Food Cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate (cool)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon red food color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or two 9-inch or three 8-inch round layer pans. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low-speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high-speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).

Bake oblong about 40 minutes, layers 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

(Recipe suggests using chocolate or cream cheese frosting.)

Interpreting Old Recipes: The Case of Coffee Candy

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

Saturday, December 30, 1911: I came to grief today. Had a knock down and drag out. Am ashamed to launch into details. Suffice to say it was my own fault and nobody dies. Picked out some walnut pits for my candy. Ruthie made it because she said she would. I haven’t as yet tried the experiment, and don’t know how. Will be glad when this long vacation is over.

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

Whew ,sounds like some fight. Was it with her six-year-old brother Jimmie? Grandma mentioned on the 26th that she and Jimmie were turning into “fight cats.”  And, on the 27th she wrote that Jimmie was making things lively with a switch that he made from a lower branch of the Christmas tree.

Or maybe the fight was with her older sister Ruth. On November 27  Grandma wrote that her sister had pummeled her.

Making Candy

Grandma frequently mentioned made candy in the diary—and I’ve enjoyed replicating old-time candy recipes.

Grandma had her sister Ruth to help ensure that candy “experiments” were successes–I’ve been on my own and have occasionally failed. Coffee Candy was one such failure.

I found the recipe for Coffee Candy in a 1907* central Pennsylvania cookbook called the  Lycoming Valley Cook Book. It was compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church .

Coffee Candy

Boil together, without stirring, until thick enough to spin a thread, one-half cup strong coffee and two cups sugar. Remove the pan from stove and place in a dish of cold water. Beat rapidly until it creams. Stir in a cup of chopped nut meats, pour into a flat tin and cut into squares.

I cooked the candy until it formed threads at the soft crack stage  (270-290 degrees).  I  didn’t stir while cooking—though I did dip a spoon into the pan several times to get a little of the boiling syrup to test what stage it was at.

After I removed the mixture from the heat and put it in a dish of cold water I beat it. Large coffee-flavored granules formed rather than a creamy candy.

I stirred nuts into the granular mix, and firmly pressed into a buttered pan. The candy didn’t want to stick together very well when I pressed it into the pan, but I hoped for the best.

However, when I tried to cut the candy, it crumbled into small pieces. The Coffee Candy looked terrible, but the candy still had a very nice taste—and I enjoyed eating it.

I must have cooked the candy too long (or maybe not long enough) . . .or maybe dipping the spoon into the boiling syrup to test it caused the boiling sugar to crystallize . .  or . . ??

Next year  I’ll have to experiment a little with this recipe and try to figure out what I did wrong.

Other  old-time candy recipes that I’ve more successfully made include:

Two old fudge recipes (including one that calls for molasses)

Cocoa Fudge

Sugar Taffy


* I got the recipe out of a 1992 reprint of the  1907 book.  Kwik-Kopy Printing, Williamsport PA published the reprint.

Brown-Butter Macaroni

Sunday, April 23, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry again today I’m continuing to share other relatives’ memories of Grandma. My cousin Stu told me to ask his mother (and Grandma’s daughter) about the macaroni story.  This is what Aunt Eleanor told me:

When we lived in suburban Philadelphia in the ’60s, the kids and I would visit upstate, first with my parents – until my father died and after that with my mother.  We chose mid-August because that way we could catch the Swartz family reunion (on the third Saturday) and also because the tomatoes and sweet corn were at their absolute peak.

Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descendents at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, 1963 (Click on photo to see a larger version of it.)

On one visit after my father died, I offered to make brown-butter macaroni as a contribution for one of the meals. That’s just plain macaroni cooked al dente, drained, and then dressed with a small amount of browned butter.  My hand must have slipped or something, and way more macaroni went into the pot of boiling water than I intended.   By the time it was boiled and dressed, it was a LOT of macaroni.

My mother, never one to keep silent on such matters, complained that I’d cooked too much macaroni.   And I, never able to accept her criticism passively, said no, that was about the right amount, the kids really liked their macaroni.  Then dishing up as the kids were gathering round, I took advantage of my mother’s hearing deficit to whisper to them (rather forcefully), “You kids better help me out here and eat all of this!”  And I’ve always been so proud of those little soldiers.  My mother and I ate normal portions, but the kids ate all the rest.

Eleanor Kurtz

I had never heard of brown-butter macaroni so asked Aunt Eleanor several questions about how to make it. As with many old recipes there aren’t precise instructions, but she gave me some general directions.

Brown-Butter Macaroni

Cook 2 cups of macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente (follow package directions); drain. Meanwhile melt and lightly brown (using care not to burn) 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Stir the macaroni into the browned butter; put in a dish and serve immediately.

My husband Bill and I really liked the brown-butter macaroni—and finished the entire bowl of it. Brown-butter macaroni has a delicate taste and tastes similar to some excellent pastas that I’ve eaten in upscale restaurants.

Easter and Goldenrod Eggs

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

Sunday, April 16, 1911:  Easter Sunday, no chocolate eggs were in evidence. I went to Sunday school this morning. Went over to Stout’s this afternoon. Miss Carrie wasn’t at home though, having gone away to spend Easter.

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

It sounds like Grandma’s family didn’t celebrate Easter in 1911—though other families in the area apparently participated in extended family gatherings since Grandma’s friend Carries had gone away to spend Easter.

Grandma’s maternal grandparents lived in Turbotville, and her mother, Phoebe Derr Muffly, had 7 siblings—many of whom lived within 15 miles of the Muffly farm. It is somewhat surprising that the extended family didn’t gather to celebrate Easter.


I had lots of fun experimenting with dying eggs using onion skins two days ago—now I have lots of hard-boiled eggs that need to be used.

Goldenrod Eggs are an old-fashioned traditional Easter food.

Goldenrod Eggs with Chopped Ham

Goldenrod Eggs

6 slices buttered toast

6 hard-cooked eggs

2 cups white sauce*

1/4  teaspoon salt

few grains cayenne

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Remove shells from eggs; chop whites finely; add to White Sauce. Press yolks through a sieve and add seasonings. Pour White Sauce over toast arranged on a platter, and garnish with yolks of eggs.

This dish may be very attractively arranged by placing spoonfuls of finely chopped ham around the toast.

*White Sauce

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

few grains cayenne

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter, add flour, seasonings and liquid. Stir until the boiling point is reached. Boil two minutes, beating constantly.

Lowney’s Cook Book (1907)

Old-time Chocolate and Fruit Ice Cream Recipes

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

Sunday, February 26, 1911: I went to Sunday school this afternoon and staid for church and catechize. The walking was extremely bad, but still I went. We had chocolate ice cream for supper. We all rather like it, so we have it occasionally which is about once in a week.

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

I’m amazing how often the Muffly family had ice cream. This is the fifth time they’ve made it since the diary began on January 1–ice cream was previously mentioned on January 22, February 8 (and it was banana ice cream on the 8th! I’m amazed that bananas were available in rural Pennsylvania), February 12, and  February 23.

A century ago ice cream freezers were the new-fangled thing—and with the ready availability of ice during the winter months, ice cream made the perfect dainty winter dessert. (A hundred years ago, young people preferred lighter foods which they called dainty foods.)

I found directions for making ice cream in an old cookbook that was published in 1911.

Chocolate Ice Cream—Use the vanilla recipe, adding four ounces of grated chocolate to the milk before scalding and using a couple ounces more sugar than for the vanilla cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream—Add to one egg slightly beaten one sup of sugar, one tablespoon of flour, and a speck of salt. Pour on one pint of scalding milk and cook for twenty-five minutes in a double boiler. When cool, add vanilla and one pint of thin cream.

Fresh Fruit Ice Creams—Prepare fruit by sprinkling sugar. Let it stand one hour, press through a sieve, and stir into ice cream when the cream is frozen to a mush. All fruit ice creams are made in substantially the same way, but where seed fruits, such as currants, are used, the carefully strained juice only must be added. This can be put in the freezer with the cream and not reserved until later, as in the case of the mashed fruits. Grated pineapple, with the addition of a little lemon juice, makes a particularly fine fruit cream.

The Butterick Cook Book (1911)

For detailed directions from the 1911 cookbook see the Vanilla Ice Cream posting.