A hundred years ago people didn’t have markers that could be used to write labels on canning jar lids. They also didn’t have printers to print labels or even clear tape that could be used to attach labels to the jars. Back then newspapers often printed labels that could be cut out and pasted on jars of freshly canned food.
I generally prepare posts for this blog fairly quickly – but today’s post is an exception. It’s taken me over five years from the time that I first thought about doing this post to actually posting it.
I recently was browsing through a hundred-year-old magazine and saw this tip:
Sometimes the women folks can’t remember when they put up certain cans of fruit. Paste a dated slip of paper on the side.
Farm Journal (August, 1915)
The old tip reminded me that back in 2011, which was the first year I was doing this blog, that I’d scrolled though some old microfilms of hundred-year-old issues of the Milton (PA) Evening Standard, and had been surprised how the newspaper regularly printed labels for commonly canned foods – cherries in July, tomatoes in August, grape juice in September . . .
I copied a page with labels for tomatoes from the newspaper and planned to do a post on it – but somehow I never actually got around to writing that post and quickly forgot about it until I saw the Farm Journal tip. So here is the post – better late than never.
Eggs and tomatoes make a nice pairing, so I was excited when I saw a new way to make eggs and tomatoes in a hundred-year-old cookbook – Poached Egg in Tomato.
Preparing the tomato shell for the egg reminded me of scooping a pumpkin but on a much smaller scale. And, it was fun to slide the egg into the tomato shell, and cover it with a circle of parchment paper that I’d cut out.
The Poached Egg in Tomato was delightful with toast. The one downside – it took longer to bake than I anticipated. I had to delay breakfast because it took about 45 minutes for the egg white to fully set.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut the top of the tomato and gently scoop out the pulp, then set the tomato in a ramekin or custard cup. Break the egg into a small bowl, then slide the egg into the tomato shell, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut circles from a piece of parchment paper that is the same size as the ramekin; then cover the filled tomato with the parchment paper circle.
Place the ramekin into a small cake pan or other oven-proof dish or pan. Gently pour hot water (approximately 125° F.) into the pan until it is about 1 inch deep. (I use the hottest water that comes out of my tap.). Place into the oven and cook until the egg is desired firmness (approximately 45 minutes).
I recently came across a glossary in a hundred-year-old cookbook that defined 62 words. I was surprised that several words that are commonly used now (for example, mayonnaise) needed to be defined in the early 1900s; that the meaning of several other words had shifted across the years (for example, hors d’oeurves); and that noir was an important food-related word back then.
Even since then I’ve been pondering the following question: If I wrote a cookbook in 2016 and decided to include a glossary, which 62 words would be the most important words to define?
2 cups sliced purple plums (plums that are still somewhat firm work best)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
Pastry for 8 inch (small) 2-crust pie
Heat oven to 425° F. In a bowl combine the plum slices and the lemon juice. Add the sugar and flour, stir gently to combine . Turn into pastry-lined pie pan, and dot with butter. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 10 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.
With its long vise-like fingers this device reaches down into the boiling water and lifts out the jars with safety.
The July, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping had several photos of canning equipment. Some of the pictures make me think about how much has changed over the past hundred years in how we can; others make me think that it hasn’t changed all that much.
An excellent improvised canner is a wash boiler with a wire frames which may be purchased separately in sizes to hold gallon, quart, or pint jars. Any other receptacle with a tight-fitting lid may be used or an outfit may be purchased complete.
This water-seal canner has a thermometer, a safety valve, and a pet-cock. It confines steam under pressure, and in it vegetables are canned with one cooking.
The dog days have summer have arrived – and there’s nothing like sitting in the shade sipping lemonade on a hot summer day. I usually make lemonade using just lemons, water, and sugar – but when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe which suggested that back then they colored pink lemonade by mixing in a little red-colored jelly (currant, crab apple, etc.), I just had to give it a try.
According to the old recipe, the best lemonade is “a little too sweet, and a little too sour.” Using that criteria, the Pink Lemonade I made was perfect. It was refreshing and delightful . . . and a lovely shade of pink.
1/2 cup tart red jelly (currant, crab apple, etc.)
3 – 6 lemons (depending upon size)
mint sprigs or lemon zest for garnish (optional)
Put the sugar and 2 cups of water into a saucepan using medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and continue to boil slowly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool slightly then beat in the jelly. (I used homemade Crab Apple Jelly, but Currant Jelly or any other tart red jelly would work well). There may be flecks of jelly in the liquid even after beating, that’s okay.
Squeeze lemons, and stir lemon juice into the sugar mixture. Strain the liquid. Some of the jelly (as well as the lemon pulp) will not go through the strainer. Discard this jelly, it will have already colored the lemonade.
Chill the strained syrup. To serve, mix the syrup with 6 cups water, and serve over ice. If desired, garnish with mint sprigs or lemon zest.
The syrup will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Individual servings of lemonade can be made by mixing some of the syrup with water in a glass – proportions can vary to taste.
The old recipe called for 3 lemons. When I made this recipe, 3 didn’t seem like enough; so I doubled it and used 6 lemons.
I tend to picture women’s activities a hundred years ago being somewhat constrained by the times and their clothes. I was pleasantly surprised to see an article in the July, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal titled, “Girls’ Frolics in Wood and by Stream: Merry Times on Hikes and Around Streams” that contained lots of picnic and campfire ideas. Here’s a few suggestions for a surprise boat trip:
A surprise boat trip was the pleasure awaiting a crowd of girls invited by their hostess to meet at the boat landing at three p.m. Soon they were moving up the river on a “voyage of discovery.”
A half hour’s ride brought them to a beautiful grove, where they landed, and search parties were sent out in different directions. In a short time triumphant cries were heard over the discovery of large watermelons found hidden in secluded spots. (A boat with supplies had been sent up the river ahead of the party.) After justice had been done to the melons the girls went upstream until they landed and were told to raid the country.
The enthusiasm of the moment sent everyone forth to discover this time ears of corn. These were loaded into the boat, and the party again set forth toward other lands, in search of whatever they might find. . . fruit hanging from branches of trees.
The last voyage brought them to land just about sunset. They did not need to search long before many parcels were found, containing ham, bacon, beefsteak, sandwiches and marshmallows, which, with the corn for the corn roast and the fruit, provided a substantial supper. Further search brought them to a pile of wood for a bonfires, just waiting to have the match put to it.
It was not long before the girls were sitting around a roaring fire, cooking their meal, and last of all, toasting marshmallows and telling stories as they watched the fire die out. The trip down the river by moonlight was not the least of the afternoon’s enjoyment.