1919 Ideal Weight Table for Women

Weight and height table, female
Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Some things haven’t changed much over the past hundred years. Similarly to now, people worried about their weight back then.  A 1919 home economics textbook even contained a table that showed the “ideal weight” by height for a 30-year-old woman.

The book also offered advice for women about the importance of improving their eating habits:

Many women say, “Oh, I know I’m fat, but I feel all right anyway.” Nevertheless such women should practice those habits which will keep weight down automatically, no matter how well they feel, because (1) excess fat is unattractive from the appearance standpoint; (2) overweight after 35 years (according to the best insurance statistics) is closely associated with a high death rate; (3) an excess weight particularly handicaps efficiency in work or recreation.

Every homemaker, then, should closely estimate her own dietary. If she has servants and merely makes the beds or does light dusting, etc., then she needs only approximately 1,800-2,400 calories daily; but if she does most of her housework, including the heavier work of room cleaning, laundry work, etc., then she will need more nearly 2,500-2,800 calories.

Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Hundred-year-old Recipe for Bread Stuffing

bread stuffing in bowl

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to stuffing, and I still use the bread stuffing recipe in my 1976 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty Crocker calls for combining bread crumbs with lots of butter, minced onion and celery; and then seasoning with sage and thyme. That recipe is tasty – but this year I wanted to make an authentic hundred-year-old recipe, so was thrilled to find a Bread Stuffing recipe in a 1919 magazine.

The hundred-year-old recipe skips the onion and celery – and uses poultry seasoning instead of the individual spices that I usually use. It also calls for an egg that acts as a binder to help keep the stuffing from falling apart.

The seasoning for the old recipe was just right, and is perfect for those who want an authentic, old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

bread stuffing recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Bread Stuffing

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Note: This recipe makes enough stuffing to stuff a 2-3 pound chicken. Double recipe for a 5 – 6 pound chicken; quadruple for a 10-12 pound turkey.

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 cups soft bread crumbs (tear bread into 1-inch pieces)

1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl stir together, butter, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add bread crumbs and egg; stir gently until thoroughly combined. Scoop stuffing into chicken or turkey body and neck cavities. Cook poultry thoroughly. Remove stuffing from poultry, and place in a bowl. Fluff with a spoon or fork, and then serve. May also be served cold.

1919 Wheatena Advertisement

Advertisement for Wheatena with girl pushing wheelbarrow
Source: American Cookery (December, 1919)

Many cereals come and go over the course of a few years – remember Cinnamon Mini Buns cereal? . . . or Dinersaurs? But a few cereals have been around for more than a hundred years. For example, Wheatena has been produced since the 1880s.

I’ve never actually eaten Wheatena – but this 1919 advertisement makes me want to give this old-time cooked cereal a try. What’s not to like? It has a tantalizing nutty flavor, is nourishing, is easy to prepare, AND it tastes good.

Old-fashioned Nutted Cream

molded Nutted Cream on plate

Holiday gatherings when I was a child meant lots of relatives crowded around a table – with all the leaves added, and topped with two or three mismatched tablecloths – in a tiny dining room with floral wallpaper on the walls. The table would almost sag from all the food – turkey or ham (or maybe both), stuffing, mashed potatoes, pickles, creamed vegetables  . . .  and molded salads or desserts. Back in those days, molded foods that contained gelatin were salads – today, similar food are often considered desserts.

There was always just a bit of drama surrounding the molded salad. They were unmolded shortly before we ate to help ensure that they looked their best. But, there always were questions about how long the mold needed to be dipped in hot water to successfully unmold it. If it wasn’t dipped long enough, the salad might only partially come out (and look like a mess) . . . and if it was dipped too long, it might partially melt (and look like a mess).

So when I recently came across a recipe in the November, 1919 issue of American Cookery for a gelatin and cream salad (or dessert) with nuts, I just had to give it a try. There were just too many memories to pass over it – and just enough risk to make it seem like it a fun, yet slightly challenging recipe to try.

I’m pleased to report that the Nutted Cream recipe was a huge success – and I didn’t have any trouble unmolding it. The creamy salad (or dessert) with embedded nuts had just a hint of sweetness, and was a delightful treat.

In many ways the Nutted Cream seemed surprisingly modern – and if I’d put it in individual cups, instead of the mold, it would be similar to some lovely desserts that I’ve recently had at very nice restaurants.

Here’s the original recipe (and a picture!) in the 1919 magazine:

Nutted Cream on Plate
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)
Nutted Cream Recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nutted Cream

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 packets unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

1/4 cup hot water

3 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3  cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts.) + (if desired) additional nuts for garnishing

Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water. Let sit until softened (about 2 minutes).  Add hot water, then place the small bowl in a pan that contains hot water. Stir the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove small bowl from the pan. Set aside.

Put the whipping in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar while continuing to beat, then gently stir in the walnuts. Set aside.

Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture in a 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 mixture.

Spoon whipped cream mixture into an 8-cup mold.  Chill in the refrigerator until firm (at least two hours).

To serve, quickly dip the mold in hot water, then gently slide the Nutted Cream onto serving plate. If desired, garnish with additional chopped nuts.

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

piece of cake with chocolate frosting

When I make chocolate icing it often is tasty, but isn’t as smooth and glossy as I’d like. Well, I think that I’ve found the cause, as well as the solution, in a 1919 magazine article.

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

If a chocolate icing is beaten too much before spreading, the gloss will be lost. It should be spread while it is yet a little “runny,” so that it flows of itself to a great extent over the surface of the cake. Sometimes if a knife-blade, dipped into hot water is used to smooth the icing, it will restore the gloss.

American Cookery (December, 1919)

Traditional Carrot Pie

slice of carrot pie

Old-fashioned carrot pie is a delightful fall pie. It is very similar to pumpkin pie – but a little lighter and sweeter.

Here’s the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Carrot Pie Recipe
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1919)

Two medium, “grocery-store” style, long, slender carrots are not nearly large enough to make 1 – 1 1/4 cups pureed carrot. The recipe must be calling for the large, thick relatively short carrots that home gardeners often raise. When I made the recipe, I used a 1-pound bag of carrots, and ended up with about the right amount of pureed carrot.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:   

Carrot Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 pound carrots

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 – 9-inch pie pastry

Peel and slice carrots. Put carrot slices in a saucepan and just barely cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are tender (approximately 20 – 25 minutes). Remove from heat and drain; then press through a sieve or puree (I used a Foley mill.) Measure the pureed carrot. There should be approximately 1 – 1 1/4 cups.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine all ingredients (except pie shell) in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (about 50-60 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

How Many Dishes Do I Need?

List of dishes
Source: Housewifery by L. Ray Balderston (1919)

I used think that I have too many dishes, but then I can across a list in a 1919 book, and realized (at least by the standards of a hundred years ago), that I may not own enough dishes.

With regard to table equipment, the number of individual dishes is controlled by the size of the family, and the kind of service desired. Most housewives would choose dainty service and good style, and would prefer to have convenient dishes in adequate number and appropriate silver, even if less expensive china , and silver and glass is chosen. For such a standard, which is strongly recommended, buy twice as many of all individual dishes, glasses, and silver, as the number in the family. This makes possible entertaining with much less worry and work, and relieves one of the feeling of not having enough. It is certainly a reasonable standard to choose china, glass, and silver which is not expensive to replace and is, therefore, not a source of anxiety to the housewife.   

Source: Housewifery by L. Ray Balderston (1919)