Old-fashioned Braised Carrots

Braised Carrots in Serving DishSome old rules of thumb and beliefs about nutrition are true. For example, my mother always told me to eat carrots so that I could see better at night. She was right. It’s true that carrots contain lots of Vitamin A which may make it easier to see in the dark.

Carrots are also a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K; and, they are high in fiber, and low in calories.

The bottom line is that carrots are a very nutritious vegetable. But, except for nibbling on the occasional raw carrot, I seldom eat them. So when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Braised Carrots, I decided that it was time to try a carrot recipe.

The Braised Carrots, when made using beef broth, taste and have a texture similar to carrots in a beef stew. It makes a nice vegetable side dish. The carrots are cut lengthwise into long strips which makes for a nice, somewhat unique, presentation.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Braised Carrots
Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Braised Carrots

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

water

6 carrots

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup stock or water (I used beef broth.)

Fill a Dutch oven half full with water. Put on stove and bring to a boil using high heat.

In the meantime, wash and peel (or scrape) the carrots; then quarter lengthwise. Put carrots in the boiling water and cover. Remove from heat. Let sit until the water has cooled (about 45 minutes). Drain.

Preheat oven to 375° F. In the meantime, on the top of the stove, melt butter in an oven-proof skillet using medium heat. Gently put carrots in the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes. May be gently turned once or twice. (The carrots were difficult to turn without breaking, and they didn’t really seem to need to be turned, so I did not turn most of them. They did not brown, but became more tender). Add stock or water, and put in oven for a half hour. Remove from oven, and put in serving dish. Spoon some of the liquid over the carrots.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Hundred-Year-Old Advice for Making Breakfast a Pleasant Meal

Two images of young women eating breakfast - one well-groomed; the other not
Source: Household Arts for Home and School, Vol. 2 (Anna M. Cooley & Wilhelmina H. Spohr, 1920)

Is it important to look your best at breakfast? To be frank, I don’t often give much thought to how I look at breakfast, but then I read some advice in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:

Breakfast is an important meal, not only because of the food that is eaten, but because it marks the beginning of the day and exerts its influence upon the members of the family for the entire day. The members of the family who leave home to work like to enjoy the memory of an attractive breakfast table surrounded by a happy family. It makes them eager to return to their homes as early as possible after the day’s work.

There is too often a temptation to neglect the details of the meal, and too often the personal appearance of the members of the family is neglected. Everyone should appear at the breakfast table as dainty, fresh and clean as possible. Curl papers, untidy hair, and careless dress do not help to start the day rightly, and no girl should feel that she has the right to come to the dining room until she can present a pleasing appearance.

Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. 2) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

"Modern" Pound Cake Recipe

sliced pound cake on plate

Old-time pound cake recipes often called one pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. However, a 1920 promotional cookbook for Snowdrift shortening contained a recipe for “Modern” Pound Cake that called for Snowdrift instead of butter; and didn’t call for equal proportions of the other ingredients.

Recipe for Modern Pound Cake
Source: A New Snowdrift Cook Book (1920)

The recipe may not be a traditional pound cake recipe – though the use of shortening doesn’t exactly seem modern either – but, in any case, “Modern” Pound Cake turned out wonderfully. The cake is moist and rich, with a  hint of lemon.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Modern Pound Cake

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup shortening

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon mace (optional)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°  F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Put sugar and shortening in a mixing bowl; beat until combined. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts, milk, baking powder, salt, and (if desired) mace; beat until combined. Add flour and beat until well blended.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

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1920 Coffee Trade Association Advertisement

promotional advertisement for coffee
Source: Good Housekeeping (1920)

Is drinking coffee a good or bad habit? People have been asking this question for more than a hundred years.  A 1920 promotional advertisement by a coffee trade association called the Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States claimed that the debate was over – and that coffee is good for us. 

However, a quick online search suggest that the trade association was over-optimistic, and, that the debate continues. According to the Mayo Clinic there are both benefits and risks related to drinking coffee:

Coffee may offer some protection against:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver disease, including liver cancer
  • Heart attack and stroke

Coffee still has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. For example, it can temporarily raise blood pressure. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding need to be cautious about caffeine. High intake of boiled, unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild increase in cholesterol levels.

Old-fashioned Individual Chicken Shortcakes (Chicken & Biscuits)

Two Individual Chicken Shortcakes on PlateWith all that is happening in the world, I’m in the mood for homey and comforting foods. So when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Individual Chicken Shortcakes, I had to give it a try. This is really a recipe for old-fashioned Chicken and Biscuits. Whatever it is called, this dish hit the spot. The biscuits were flaky, and the chunky chicken gravy was warm and hearty.

Here is the original recipe:

individual chicken shortcakes on plate
Source: Balanced Daily Diet by Janet McKenzie HIll (1920)

When I updated the recipe, I used butter instead of shortening when making the chicken gravy.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Individual Chicken Shortcake (Chicken & Biscuits)

  • Servings: 5-6 Shortcakes
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Biscuits

2 cups pastry flour (all-purpose flour also works if pastry flour is not available)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

approximately 2/3 cup milk

butter, if desired (use when assembling)

Chicken Gravy

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups cooked chicken (coarsely chopped into approximately 1/2-inch cubes)

To Make Biscuits: Preheat oven to 450° F.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixture bowl. Cut in shortening. Add most of the milk and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. Add more milk if needed. Roll dough on a prepared floured surface into a rectangle 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares. Place squares on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 -15 minutes (or until lightly browned).

To Make Chicken Mixture: Using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually, add chicken broth while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until it thickens. Add the chicken, and stir to combine.

To Assemble: Split the biscuits, and butter, if desired. Put 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the bottom half of each biscuit. Put other half on top, and spoon another 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture on top. Serve.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Suggested Food Dollar Distribution,1920

Pie chart showing distribution of food dollars
Source: School and Home Cooking (Carlotta C. Greer, 1920)

Today when people talk about how each dollar that is spent on food is distributed across categories, they are often referring to how much farmers get compared to processors, retailers, and others. For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2017 farm producers got 7.8 cents of each dollar spent on food, while the retail trade received 12.6 cents, and 36.7 cents went to food services (restaurants).

A hundred-years-ago, the division of each dollar spent for food often referred to how the cost of foods purchased by consumers should be distributed across food categories.  A 1920 home economics textbook said:

How Much to Spend for Food

Anyone, no matter how ignorant or thoughtless, can get rid of money. But it takes a wise person, one who understands values and quality to get value received for money spent. Whether one is purchasing for all the meals of a family or is only selecting a luncheon or one meal, it is desirable to spend money wisely.

The five food groups may serve as a basis for the purchase of foods. It has been suggested that each dollar used in buying foods be divided into 5 parts of 20 cents each.

Out of every dollar spent use:

20 cents, more or less, for vegetables and fruits

20 cents, or more, for milk and cheese

20 cents, or less, for meat, fish, eggs, etc.

20 cents, or more, for bread and cereals

20 cents, or less, for sugar, fat, tea, coffee, chocolate, flavoring

School and Home Cooking (Carlotta C. Greer, 1920)

Old-fashioned Cinnamon Toast

slice of cinnamon toast on plateWhen I recently was browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, and came across a recipe for Cinnamon Toast, memories came flooding back. I have warm, fuzzy memories of eating Cinnamon Toast, as well as fun memories of making Cinnamon Toast that bring to mind people I hadn’t thought of in years.

When I was a child, Cinnamon Toast was the perfect after-school snack. Open the door, take off coat, put a couple slices of bread in the toaster, and toast. Then spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and voila – a delightful, sweet treat.

I also remember how my mother always made Cinnamon Toast when I didn’t feel well, and how it always made a miserable day seem a just little bit better. Similarly, I always made it for my children when they were ill, and not hungry for the usual foods. And, I’ve noticed that, as adults, they make Cinnamon Toast for themselves when they are sick.

When I make Cinnamon Toast, no recipe is needed. It is so simple to make. But seeing the hundred-year-old recipe for Cinnamon Toast reminded of another day, many years ago when I did make Cinnamon Toast using a recipe.

It was my first day in junior high, and I was feeling very grown up going from one class to another. Then I was brought back to earth when I got to home economics, and the teacher said, “Today we are going to learn how to make Cinnamon Toast.” And, she actually gave us a recipe. My friends and I tried to suppress giggles. A few of the more daring girls (only girls took home economics back then; the boys took shop) whispered, “This is stupid. Doesn’t everyone know how to make Cinnamon Toast? Does she think we’re little kids?”

But the bottom line is – recipe or no recipe – Cinnamon Toast is the ultimate comfort food.

Here’s the original recipe:

Cinnamon Toast Recipe
Source; The Cook Book of Left-Overs (1920) compiled by the More Nurses in Training Movement

The hundred-year-old recipe calls for brown sugar, while I typically use white. Either type of sugar works. When brown sugar is used, the Cinnamon Toast has a slight hint of caramel.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cinnamon Toast

  • Servings: 1 serving
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 slice bread

butter

Put the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir until mixed. Set aside.

Toast bread then spread with butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. (Save any extra of the sugar and cinnamon mixture to use on another piece of toast.)

If desired, melt the sugar mixture on the toast – Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the toast on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish, and put in the oven for 1-3 minutes or until the sugar is melted; remove from oven and serve immediately.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com