Hundred-Year-Old Advice on Why We Should Eat Fish

The introduction to the “Fish” chapter in a hundred-year-old cookbook explains why we should eat fish:

Fish

If more fish and less meat were used in the daily meals, it would help to reduce the cost of living. Fish provides the same nutrients as meat at a much smaller cost, and furnishes a food that is not only palatable but easily digested.

Whitefish, haddock, halibut, cod, flounder, smelts, perch, pickerel, sunfish and crappies belong to the white-fleshed family. Salmon, shad, lake trout, butterfish, and herring being to the red-fleshed family.

As the white-fleshed fish is considered more easy of digestion than the red-fleshed, it should be selected for invalids, convalescents or those suffering from weak digestion.

Fish should be eaten while fresh and in season; then it provides a delicate protein food. Stale fish is poisonous, so great care should be used in its selection. Fish contains albumen, and as albumen (which is like the white of egg) coagulates at a low temperature, it should be cooked at a temperature below the boiling point for water.

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

I find the last sentence about cooking fish at a temperature below the boiling point of water a bit befuddling.  Have you ever heard that it was important to cook fish at low temperatures? I often put fish in the oven at 400° F. or sear on top of the stove using high temperatures.

Old-fashioned Tomato Succotash Recipe

I always thought Succotash was a mixture of corn and lima beans, so I was surprised to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Tomato Succotash. The recipe called for seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, corn, green pepper, and onions – so, of course, I had to give it a try.

The medley of vegetables was delightful.  This recipe is a keeper. And, I know that it will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

I’m not sure what is meant by “green corn” in the recipe. When I made the recipe, I took it to mean tender (perhaps slightly immature) corn.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Tomato Succotash

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 large tomatoes

3 large ears of corn , cooked (tender corn is best)

2 tablespoons butter

1/ 2 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Peel and slice the tomatoes, set aside. (I put the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then removed from the hot water and put briefly in cold water. The skins are then easy to slip off the tomatoes).

Cut the corn from the cob. Set aside.

Put the butter in a large skillet; melt using medium heat. Add green pepper and onion; saute until tender. Stir in the sliced tomatoes, corn, salt, sugar, and paprika. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve.

Old-fashioned Peach Tapioca Dessert “Without Cream”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for the perfect peach dessert – Peach Tapioca Without Cream.  The name is a bit misleading. This luscious, refreshing dessert is topped with almond-flavored whipped cream.

The peaches are embedded in a delightful, thick, sweet, tapioca sauce made with water, sugar, and lemon. The use of water rather than the usual milk or cream creates a lovely new dimension that’s unlike any tapioca I’ve ever eaten.

This recipe was published in Good Housekeeping in 1917.  At the time, food prices were rapidly rising due to food shortages cause by World War I. Cream was expensive – so the recipe called for making the tapioca with water instead of cream. But apparently the recipe author couldn’t bring herself to totally eliminate the cream and decided that people could afford to use a little cream that could be whipped into a delightful topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)

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

Peach Tapioca without Cream

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 40 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Peach Tapioca

1/2 cup granulated tapioca (Minute tapioca)

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

juice and grated rind of  1/2 lemon

3/4 cup sugar

6 large peaches, pared and thinly sliced

Combine the tapioca, water, and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer gently while continuing to stir; cook until the mixture is clear and thick (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and sugar. Added the sliced peaches and gently stir to combine. Put into a bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream.

Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and almond extract; beat until combined.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Mint Sauce for Ice Cream

 

Last week I did a post on a hundred-year-old recipe for Mint Syrup. In that post, I said that the syrup could be used in coffee (it’s delicious) – but several readers suggested that it would be wonderful on ice cream, especially if it was mixed with chocolate syrup.

Well, great minds think alike – and it goes across the years. The magazine that contained the Mint Syrup recipe, also contained a recipe for Chocolate Mint Sauce for Ice Cream.

This sauce was much thicker than most modern chocolate syrups, but it was delightful on vanilla ice cream. The hundred-year-old recipe calls for lots of brown sugar and only one tablespoon of cocoa. I expected the syrup not to be chocolaty enough – but I was wrong. It had just the right amount of chocolate with the brown sugar apparently contributing to the rich flavor.

Here’s the original recipe. (I’m also including the Mint Syrup recipe, so that you don’t need to go back to last week’s post.)

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

I found this recipe challenging. When I made it, the sauce quickly hardened into a candy-like consistency. I reheated it and added butter. I then removed from the heat and stirred rapidly until the sauce began to thicken – and it again got too thick, so I  added water (quite a bit of it), and stirred until the consistency seemed right for a sauce.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks – though I feel like it still needs a bit more tweaking. If you try this recipe, I hope you’ll add comments about how well it turned out – and whether you made additional revisions to the recipe.

Chocolate Mint Sauce

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Chocolate Mint Sauce

2 cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup mint syrup (see recipe below)

1/2 – 1 cup water, if needed

Put the brown sugar and cocoa in a sauce pan; stir to combine. Gradually add the milk while stirring. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and cook until it forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water (238° F.).  Remove from heat, stir in the butter. After the butter has melted,  add the mint syrup.  Stir rapidly until the sauce begins to thicken; add water if the sauce is too thick.  Serve on ice cream.

Mint Syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; then add the mint leaves. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; strain and cool.

1917 Picture of a Tea Wagon

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

I get ideas for posts from many sources.  The inspiration for today’s post was a comment by a reader, Mona Gustafson Affinitolast week.  She is writing a book set in the early 1900’s about her father called My Father’s House. She asked:

Have you run across tea wagons?  My sister  remembers fondly visiting the neighbor lady who served lovely little sandwiches and cookies, beautifully laid out on a tea wagon. My mother requested one for years, but, sadly, never got it. I’m trying to understand why as I work on “My Father’s House.”

This week I was flipping through 1917 issues of Good Housekeeping, and low and behold, there was a photo of a tea wagon illustrating an article on “Outdoor Meals.”

The caption of the photo contained the only mention of the tea wagon, but Mona, I hope it helps.