Did you know that branded dry mustard has existed for at least two centuries? I didn’t until I saw this advertisement for Stickney & Poor’s Mustard in an 1918 issue of American Cookery which said that the brand had already been around for a century. Who would have guessed?
I’m befuddled by ad’s graphics and text. What the heck is the thing that looks like a Christmas ornament on ice skates?
I’ve eaten stacks of pancakes with bacon on the side for years . . . boring. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes.
The hearty giant pancakes embedded with bits of bacon are cooked in a skillet, and are cut into triangles to serve. The pancakes were a delightful taste treat that took me back in time to the days of hungry hard-working gold and silver miners in remote locations.
The old recipe also indicated that, if preferred, smaller, more typically-sized pancakes could be cooked on a griddle.
8 thin slices bacon cut into small 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups milk
Put the bacon pieces in a skillet, and cook over medium heat until the bacon just begins to crisp; stir occasionally while cooking. Remove from heat and set aside. Reserve a small amount of the bacon fat to grease skillet.
In the meantime, put cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, shortening, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined.
Option 1 – Large Pancakes that are Cut into Triangles: Generously grease a skillet with bacon fat. (I used a 6 inch, cast iron skillet). Heat skillet until hot using medium heat, then spoon 3/4 inch of the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the cooked bits of bacon. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the batter is bubbly; then turn the pancake over and cook the other side. Remove from heat, and cut into triangles. Cook additional pancakes until all the batter is used.
Option 2 – Regular-sized (3 – 4 inch) Pancakes: Heat a greased griddle until hot; then spoon or pour approximately 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Sprinkle bits of cooked bacon on the top of each pancake. Cook until the batter is bubbly, then flip pancake and cook the other side.
I made several ingredient adjustments when I made this recipe. The old recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt. I didn’t use any since the bacon was salty. The old recipe also called for the use of condensed milk and water. In the mining camp far from town, it made sense to use canned condensed milk – but since I had regular milk in my refrigerator, I used substituted it for the condensed milk and water. Additionally, the batter seemed very thick, so I used a little more milk than the combined amount of condensed milk and water called for in the old recipe.
During World War I food in the U.S. was very expensive, and people worried about food shortages. Here’s excerpts of what Harvey Wiley, a popular food expert who led the laboratories at the Good Housekeeping Institute, had to say:
The victory in this war will be won by those nations which have the best and most abundant supply of food. Bread is more important than munitions. The nation that is hungry will first be ready to yield. We must see to it that none of the Allies is put in such a position. To this end everything that can be done to awaken the American people to their responsibility must be done.
We must stop wasting food in our kitchens and on our tables, and we must conserve the whole of the food product that is edible.
Our people must be taught how to eat in these times of stress. The teachers of home economics and domestic science throughout the country should be mobilized to carry messages to the people. The welfare of the nation is at stake. The success of our Allies is in the balance. It seems strange to speak of an army of diet experts, but such an army is just as important as one carrying modern rifles and sharp bayonets.
Vegetable Chowder with Meat is the ultimate comfort food. This hundred-year-old recipe makes a delicious hearty soup that is perfect on these cold winter days. This flavorful soup features carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, onion, and celery, as well as a little barley. I used beef in this recipe, though other meats would also work.
2 cups tomatoes, diced (or use 1 16-oz. can of tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Put the meat and water in a stewing pot or dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil using high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour. Add barley and cook for an additional half hour. Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, celery, and tomatoes. Continue cooking for an additional hour. Add salt, pepper, and parsley. Remove the meat from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot. Reheat until the soup is hot, and then serve.
When I saw this poem in a hundred-year-old issue of American Cookery Magazine, I had an immediate negative reaction. Did the magazine’s editors really think that they could convince consumers that everything in food advertisements was true? Didn’t cooks back then realize that the purpose of advertisements was to sell food, not to provide the most accurate information?
Then I thought –
Even though I’m cynical about advertising, I read food ads. They must have value to me. Soon I was pondering, “Why do I read food ads?”
Here’s the reasons, I came up with:
Food advertisements are fun to read.
I like to laugh at how over the top some ads are.
I read them to learn about new products.
I read them to find “good deals.”
Hmm . . . maybe the old magazine was right, “food ads help me out so much.”
I’m always on the look-out for “healthy” hundred-year-old cookie recipes, so I was thrilled when I came across a recipe for Honey Wafers. The recipe uses honey as the primary sweetener – though it does contain a small amount of sugar.
Old-fashioned Honey Wafers are delightful with coffee. They have a distinct honey flavor, with mild undertones of lemon. Don’t expect these cookies to taste like sugar cookies.
I used a 2-inch in diameter round cookies cutter when making these cookies. This was a good size. Small is better. The honey is very predominant, and made for savoring.
These cookies got relatively hard after a day or two, but were still good. They could also be softened by putting in an airtight container with a slice or two of apple.
2 3/4 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour can be substituted.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2-4 tablespoons milk, if needed
Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine butter, sugar, honey, and lemon extract in a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, stir to combine. Add flour, stir until well-mixed. If the mixture is too dry, add milk to create a dough with a consistency that can be easily rolled.
On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
There’s been a lot of inflation over the past hundred years. A century ago, you could get a meal of roast lamb, mashed potatoes, bread (2 slices), and butter for only $.20 at the employees’ cafeteria at Filene’s Department Store in Boston. What would a similar roast lamb meal cost today?
According to an online Inflation Calculator website, a dollar a hundred years ago is worth about $19 today. That suggests that the lamb dinner should only cost about $3.80 today. Whew, that’s way too low. I can’t even buy a latte for $3.80. . . or has food increased in price much faster than overall inflation?