Some things just go together like St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef – and, of course, for me it was only a small leap until I was asking, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes for corned beef?
I’m happy to report that I found an excellent hundred-year-old Corned Beef Hash recipe that was simple to make and a great way to use any corned beef left over from St. Patrick’s Day. However, there was one little glitch. I couldn’t bring myself to try the serving suggestion.
Here’s the original recipe:
Pour a ring of ketchup around the Corned Beef Hash? It might make a lovely presentation (though I tend to think not), but I’ll never know for sure.
And, I didn’t serve the Corned Beef Hash with baked bananas. Baked bananas may be tasty, but the 1919 cookbook didn’t include a recipe for them, and I don’t know how to make them. I must be lacking a bit of common cooking knowledge that most cooks had back then . . .sigh.
3 tablespoons broth that the corned beef was cooked in or water (I used water.)
Melt shortening in a skillet that has a lid; add corned beef, potatoes, and broth or water. Sprinkle with paprika. Gently stir to combine. Cover pan and cook using medium low heat until hot and steamy (and until most of the broth has been absorbed or evaporated). Stir occasionally. Do not allow the potatoes to brown. Remove from heat and serve.
Today we worry about whether fats are good fats or bad fats. Is a fat saturated or unsaturated? Does it contain trans fats? Does it contain mono- or polyunsaturated fats? Will it increase or decrease cholesterol levels?
A hundred years ago people had different questions about fats. They asked questions like:
How can I get the most calories for the least cost? (Amazingly more calories were seen as better back then.)
Does the fat provide sufficient vitamin A? (Fats with more vitamin A were considered better.)
Here’s what a woman wrote in a 1919 magazine article about how she selected fats to serve her family:
When it became necessary to pay two cents for every tablespoon of butter we used in our family, and I knew that we were paying that sum just to satisfy our palates with that specific flavor, I then and there decided that something must be done. I knew that a calorie of energy is as valuable from one source as another and that, measure for measure, other fats than butter would give the same energy.
In choosing a butter substitute, I found that oleomargarine, made largely from beef-oil, contains some, at least of this Fat Soluble A, and if I increased the family milk supply so that the children were getting nearly a quart each day, oleomargarine could replace some butter. I then I could give the family butter only where its flavor was most desirable and expected, and realize that it matters little whether we use lard, cottonseed oil, suet, or the most expensive imported olive oils, from the standpoint of fuel obtained, I could use any clean and wholesome fat in cooking with a perfectly clear conscience.
I found it economic and patriotic, too, to clarify every bit of fat, mixing hard and soft kinds together to get a degree of hardness satisfactory to use in bread, cakes and pastry and in all my cooking. Of course, it costs in time and labor, but save in food and money, and just now there is less food than time or labor.
from “How My Family Saved Fats” by Jessamine Chapman Williams (American Cookery, February, 1919)
The article said that oleomargarine was made from beef oil (tallow?). Today oleomargarine is just called margarine, and is generally vegetable oil product.
Carrots are one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables. They contain lots of vitamins A, K, and B6, as well as potassium and other minerals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Flemish Carrots. This dish contains a mixture of carrots and onions that is served in a lovely beef-broth sauce which brought out the natural sweetness of the carrots.
I always find March to be a difficult month for cooking. I like to serve locally-grown, seasonally-appropriate food – yet I’m tiring of the same-old, same-old winter vegetable dishes. This recipe is a nice twist on sautéed carrots.
Using medium-low heat, melt butter in a skillet that has a lid. Add carrots, onion, and parsley; cover skillet. Stir occasionally and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Add flour, salt, sugar, and pepper; stir gently until blended. Increase heat to medium. Gradually add beef broth while stirring constantly; heat until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
When I made this dish, I substituted butter for the Crisco shortening that was listed in the original recipe.
I was surprised to see an advertisement for a oven thermometer in the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery magazine. Cooks had a bit more information about oven temperatures than I’d previously realized.
Cooking with wood and coal stoves a century ago could be challenging. Hundred-year-old recipes never indicated the exact temperature that should be used when baking food in the oven. Instead the recipes said things like use a “high temperature” or a “medium temperature.” And, the cook was left to her (it was generally a woman in those days) own devices to figure out how to regulate the temperature. For example, more wood or coal might be thrown on the fire to get increase the temperature.
I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old snack and appetizer recipes. I recently found a recipe in a 1919 cookbook for Cheese and Rice Fritters. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a subtle cheese and tomato flavor. And, they were amazingly similar to an hors d’oeuvre that I recently had at a catered event.
Cook rice following package directions with the following substitution – replace half of the water called for on the package with tomato sauce. (Any remaining tomato sauce can be saved and used in another recipe.) Puree cooked rice. (Cook’s note: I’m not sure how the rice was pureed a hundred years ago. I used a blender to puree the rice – and that did not work very well. I think that a food processor might work better.)
In a mixing bowl, combine approximately 1 cup of pureed rice, salt, paprika, baking powder, and flour; stir until thoroughly mixed. (There may be extra rice that can be eaten or used in another recipe.) Add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. If dough is too dry, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water; if too moist, add 1 or tablespoons of additional flour.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into hot shortening. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
I used more rice than called for in the original recipe because 1/4 cup did not seem like enough to end up with 1 cup of pureed rice.
1919 magazines were filled with articles about World War I, and how the U.S. and other countries were returning to normalcy following the end of war.
During the war, Americans conserved food and were able to send huge amounts of flour and sugar to Europe to feed the troops and others in need.
At the end of the war there was lots of sugar stockpiled in Europe, and people wondered what should be done with it. Here’s what the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery had to say about this:
Cookies! Yanks Eat Millions
More than 6,000,000 old-fashioned American cookies have been manufactured in France and distributed with the compliments of the American Red Cross to the soldiers in service, the wounded in hospitals and to scores of canteens. Within a month it is expected that 700,000 will be made a day. At present the output is 200,000 a day.
It is the belief of Red Cross officials that the manufacture of cookies will not be affected by the cessation of hostilities.
It is pointed out that there is a six-months stock of sugar and one and a half years’ supply of flour in storage for making the cookies.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Blueberry Duff in the February, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping. Duffs often are steamed puddings – but this recipe is very easy to make and calls for baking the duff in the oven.
This Blueberry Duff is moist, rich, and spicy. It contains molasses, well as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
The recipe calls for canned blueberries. I’m fascinated by what people ate during the winter months in the days before modern transportation allowed produce to be shipped thousands of miles. In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.
1 15-ounce (1 pint) can of canned blueberries (DO NOT use blueberry pie filling. This recipe calls for canned blueberries.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup barley flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses
whipped cream, optional
Drain canned blueberries; reserve both juice and berries.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put all-purpose flour, barley flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, molasses, and blueberry juice in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; put lid on dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from dish by running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting on a plate.
Serve either warm or cold. If desired, serve with whipped cream.