Hundred-Year-Old “Japanese” Tablescape

Source: American Cookery (November, 1916)

There was a lot of fascination with foods from far away places a hundred year ago. It may seem presumptuous today, but back then people believed that the world was getting smaller, and there was  interest in how people served foods in other countries.

Tea houses were very popular in the United States in the early 1900’s, and it was widely believed that the Japanese knew how to serve tea and other foods very elegantly and gracefully.

Here is the description of how to create a “Japanese” tablescape in a hundred-year-old magazine:

A Japanese table, exquisitely dainty and unpretentious, is that decorated with day lilies. It is laid with a snowy crash runner, and has crash plate doilies. The shallow white center flower bowl contains four claw feet holders, and from these, tall spikes of the white lilies rear their fragile heads above their own bloom. Note the arrangement at the base, and observe how the lily leaves are clustered to form pads, thus accentuating the green and white effect against the snowy background.

A white marble statue of Buddha at each end of the center receptacle under the shelter of a tall lily boom, reminds one of  Sir Edin Arnold’s lines to the Great Lord Buddha:

“The dew is on the lotus,
Rise great Sun!”

Blue and white Canton dishes add the final note of color to this dainty luncheon table.

American Cookery (November, 1916)

When I read this description, “crash runner” and “crash doilies” made no sense to me, so I looked up “crash” in the online Free Dictionary, and found that crash is a type of cloth:

Crash: A coarse, light, unevenly woven fabric of cotton or linen, used for towels and curtains.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Charlotte

I was thrilled when I found a dreamy hundred-year-old recipe for Strawberry Charlotte. This blush pink classic mousse, topped with strawberries, has a light citrus taste and colorful flecks of orange peel.  Strawberry Charlotte is a light and creamy cold dessert that’s perfect on a warm Spring day.

I molded in the  Strawberry Charlotte in individual ramekins (custard cups), rather than using a large mold. I unmolded one for the photo – and served the remainder in the ramekins. Whether on top or bottom, the strawberries worked perfectly in this luscious, creamy dessert. I want to make Strawberry Charlotte again using a large mold. It would make an impressive, beautiful dessert.

Here is the original recipe:

The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Strawberry Charlotte

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Time: 40 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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approximately 1/2 pound strawberries (1 cup crushed strawberries)

1/4 cup sugar + 3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cold water

2 packets unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup strawberry juice (from crushed berries) + additional water

grated rind of 1 orange

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cups heavy whipping cream

Hull and slice strawberries, then crush with a fork.  Place in a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the sugar to draw the juice out of the berries.

Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water. Let sit for at least a minute.

Drain crushed strawberries, reserving the strawberry juice. Measure the juice and add additional water to make 1/2 cup liquid. Put the juice and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the gelatin mixture. Continue stirring until completely melted. Stir in  3/4 cup sugar, the grated orange rind, and lemon juice; immediately remove from heat. Set aside.

Put the whipping in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Set the pan with the gelatin mixture in a larger pan that contains cold water and ice cubes. Stir the gelatin mixture until it begins to thicken. Then gently fold the gelatin mixture into the whipped cream, one third at a time.

This recipe makes 7 – 8  cups – and would work nicely in a 9-10 cup mold. Arrange the crushed strawberries in the bottom the mold  and then spoon the whipped cream mixture into the mold. (Or use individual molds or ramekins. If individual molds are used, divide the strawberries and whipped cream mixture across the molds.). Chill in the refrigerator until firm (at least two hours).

To serve, quickly dip the mold in hot water, then gently slide the Strawberry Charlotte onto serving plate.  If ramekins are used, may be served without unmolding, if desired.

Outdoor Furniture a Hundred Years Ago

Caption: Garden things never fail to give a pleasant little comfortable thrill that is worth more than money. (Source: Good Housekeeping– June, 1917)

I’m not into keeping up with the Jones, but I’m slightly envious of people with beautiful patios and outdoor rooms filled with stylish lawn furniture. People a hundred years ago also wanted nice outdoor furniture. According to an article in the June, 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping:

Garden furniture reminds one of cool summer drinks to be served.

Hundred-Year-Old Chicken and Ham Turnovers Recipe

Both a century ago and now, cooks have asked the question, “What should I do with the leftovers?”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Chicken and Ham Turnovers that is a wonderful way to use leftovers. The turnovers were yummy and easy to make, and the accompanying sauce added just the right amount of zing.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Since the recipe indicates that a “”buttercup biscuit” or a “rich biscuit dough in which the yolk of an egg is used,”  I searched for a hundred-year-old buttercup biscuit recipe. I failed to find one, so I went with a biscuit recipe I found and added an egg yolk (and reduced the milk a little to compensate). Here’s the old biscuit recipe:

Source: Larking Housewives Cook Book (1917)

When I made this dish, it seemed a tad salty so when I updated the recipe for modern cooks, I reduced the salt. Here’s the updated recipe:

Chicken and Ham Turnovers

  • Servings: 2-3 servings
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Filling

1 cup cooked chicken, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

1/3 cup cooked ham, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

Biscuit Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening or lard

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg yolk

1/2 – 2/3 cup milk

Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ketchup

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine diced chicken and ham in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender or two knives going in opposite directions.  Stir in egg yolk and 1/2 cup milk. The dough should cling together and be of a consistency that it can be rolled. If needed, add additional milk. On a prepared surface, roll the dough out and cut into rounds approximately 5 inches in diameter. (I used an inverted cereal bowl to cut the rounds.)  Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture on one side of each round, brush water on the edge of round, fold over and press edges together. Put on rounds on a baking sheet, and brush with milk. Put in oven and bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and serve with sauce.

While the turnovers are baking, make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan; stir in the flour and pepper. Add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, then  slowly add the chicken broth while stirring continuously. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

 

Cooking with Electricity a Hundred Years Ago

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1917)

I’ve been doing A Hundred Years Ago for six and a half years now. Over that time I’ve noticed many changes. One is that electricity and electrical appliances were much more common in 1917 than what they had been in 1911. Here’s an excerpt from a June, 1917 article in Good Housekeeping that  promoted the use of electric stoves:

“But cooking by electricity is so expensive,” says the average housekeeper when the question of installing an electric range in her kitchen is broached. But is this so?

Against the cost of operation must be charged the savings in time and energy which the use of electricity insures. At the same time, the savings in wear and tear on utensils and household furnishings that will result from the use of a fuel which produces no smoke to discolor walls, woodwork, or curtains must be considered.

Old-fashioned Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

When I saw a recipe for Raisin and Rhubarb Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Raisins and rhubarb, rhubarb and raisins. . .  I knew that the alliteration was what drew me to the recipe . . .but, I kept thinking, what does this recipe taste like? Would I like it?

So before I knew it,  I was making a Raisin and Rhubarb Pie.  I was rewarded with a lovely taste sensation. The sweetness of the raisins perfectly balanced the zesty rhubarb to create a scrupulous old-fashioned pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon flour

pastry for 8-inch (small) 2-crust pie

milk

sugar

Heat oven to 425° F.  In a bowl put egg, sugar, salt, and flour; stir until mixed together. Add raisins and rhubarb, stir gently to combine. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° F. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.

1917 Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice Advertisement

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1917)

I have vague childhood memories of people telling me that Puffed Rice was good for me because it was made by shooting the rice grains from a cannon – though I was clueless as to why shooting the grain made it more nutritious. Well, now I know; it’s easier to digest. The cannon (or gun) promotion for Puffed Rice has been around for a long time. I found this ad in a hundred-year-old magazine.