The Time Budget

woman washing dishes

Sometimes time seems to fly by and I get little accomplished. Maybe I need a “time budget.” A hundred-year-old magazine had an article written by a homemaker who described how she used a time budget to keep organized:

The Time Budget 

Before I discovered the magic secret of the time budget my housekeeping drove me to despair. There was always a mob of duties clamoring for my attention at the same time, and not enough hours in the day for half of them, to say nothing of opportunity for needed rest and recreation.

A magazine article opened my eyes to the possibilities of a definite plan for the housewife’s working day. At once I adapted the suggested schedule to my particular needs and began to follow it. And, what a transformation it worked!

Formerly, on some days, I would drudge from morning till night, not even taking time to put on a fresh dress for evening, and sometimes I would give up the unequal struggle and simply loaf through the day. Now, instead of either dawdling along aimlessly, or desperately attacking anything I happened to think of, everything goes by the clock. There was a definite time for getting breakfast, washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, setting other rooms to rights, bedmaking, each day’s special task, lunch, washing dishes, rest period, dressing for the afternoon, several hours for recreation or congenial employment, dinner, and an outing or a restful evening at home.

The daily time budget involves several other worry-saving methods. One is the children’s schedule, by which the routine of their day is fitted into my plans. Another is the making of menus for a week at a time. The plan which contributes most to my own health and happiness is the weekly schedule, by which the various tasks necessary for the upkeep of the house are allotted to particular days. I no longer bear the burden all at once, but do each days’ allowance- clearning the kitchen, polishing the silver, or mending – and everything is kept in order with a minimum of worry and drudgery.

The use of a time budget is a financial blessing as well. Supplies can be bought more economically for a week or a month, than if someone is sent in frantic haste for a can of something or other a few minutes before the meal. Then, too, the practice of economizing, in time leads, to a greater care in the expenditure of the household money.

In my case the time budget has proved to be an undoubted success, and I am sure my family now enjoys my society more than when they sed to find me discouraged, cross, and – I may as well admit it – untidy, at the end of a far form perfect day. H.S.S.

American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

Old-fashioned Orange Cookies

Orange Cookies

A cookie (or two) makes a nice snack, so I decided to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Orange Cookies. The cookies had a nuanced, but zesty citrus flavor, and were lovely on a hot summer day. They would also work well in the winter on a holiday cookie tray.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Orange Cookies
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) compiled by the First Baptist Church, Alpena, Michigan

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Orange Cookies

  • Servings: 50 approximately cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

grated rind of one 1 orange

1/4 cup orange juice

1 egg

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups flours (a little more may be needed)

additional sugar (granulated)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Put butter and sugar in mixing bowl; cream together. Add grated orange rind, orange juice, egg, and baking powder; mix together. Then add 2 cups flour, stir to combine. If the dough is too sticky to roll, add additional flour.  Roll to 1/4 inch thickness (or thinner if a crispy cookie is desired). Cut into circles or shapes using a cookie cutter. (I cut them into 2-inch circles). Put on prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle sugar on the tops of the cookies. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Automobile Picnics

Chalmers Light Six Car
Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 1, 1914)

The weather is delightful. It’s time for a picnic. Here are some hundred-year-old tips for an automobile picnic.

For picnics the beverages and hot dishes may be prepared at home and carried in thermos food jars. The cold dishes may be packed in a small portable refrigerator. The biscuits, sandwiches, cakes, and cookies should be carefully wrapped in wax paper and packed in boxes. Ice creams may be taken in the freezer. Hot sandwiches and bacon may be cooked over the coals or on a portable oil or alcohol stove. In some menus it may be desirable to omit or modify a few of the dishes, if the food is to be carried several miles.

For Luncheon and Supper Guests (1922) by Alice Bradley

Rhubarb en Casserole

Rhubarb en Casserole in dish

Rhubarb is one of my favorite spring foods. These days many fruits are available year round, but rhubarb remains seasonal – which always makes it seems extra special when I finally get some. This year I decided to try a hundred-year-old recipe for Rhubarb en Casserole.

The recipe was simple, and only called for three ingredients – rhubarb, brown sugar, and raisins –  which are mixed together and then put in a casserole dish and baked in the oven until the rhubarb is tender.

The Rhubarb en Casserole was delightful. It was nice combination of tart and sweet with lovely caramel undertones. I’ve eaten many rhubarb dishes over the years, but most call for white sugar. I think  this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a rhubarb recipe that called for brown sugar, and it added a nice new flavor dimension. Rhubarb en Casserole can be served either hot or cold.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rhubarb en Casserole
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rhubarb en Casserole

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups unpeeled rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put cut rhubarb in cold water, then drain. Add brown sugar and raisins; stir to combine. Put it in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, and cover. Bake until the rhubarb is tender – about 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

1922 Skimit Kitchen Cream Separator Advertisement

Advertisement for Skimit Kitchen Cream Separator
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1922)

Cooks today worry about the high cost of food. They also worried about food costs a hundred years ago, and tried to save money whenever possible. For example, some cooks apparently skimmed cream from the top of a bottle of milk to save money. Back then homogenized milk was just being introduced to the consumer market, so the milk that most people drank was not homogenized. This means that the cream and milk separated, and that the cream would float to the top. The milk beneath the cream was basically skim milk. If whole milk was desired, the jar or bottle of milk needed to be shaken before using to get the cream and skim milk to recombine. The Skimit Kitchen Cream Separator sounds like it could be used to easily remove the cream from the top of the milk.  Who would have guessed that kitchen gadget drawers a hundred years ago may have contained a milk skimming tool?


One Egg Chocolate Cake

piece of cake on plate

I’m always intrigued by old cake recipes that have titles which emphasize the use, or non-use, of a specific ingredient. For example, I recently came across a recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake. Why was the number of eggs stated in the title? Were eggs really expensive back then? . . . or maybe the recipe was aimed at families that raised chickens, and the chickens didn’t lay many eggs during the winter so cooks were looking for recipes that used few eggs. . . or. . . ?

This recipe made a  9-inch square cake, and was very tasty. I never missed any reduction in eggs.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) Compiled by First Baptist Church, Alphena, Michigan

I followed the recipe directions and grated the chocolate, then melted it by adding a little hot water and stirring. I was surprised how well this process melted the chocolate  – though think that the baking chocolate probably could be melted in the microwave to avoid the extra effort of grating the chocolate.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

One Egg Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10 - 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup  butter, softened

1/2 cup grated baking chocolate (about ounces of chocolate)

2 tablespoons hot water

approximately 3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the grated baking chocolate  in a measuring cup, then add hot water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup.  Set aside for at least 2 minutes.

Put sugar and egg yolk in a mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add butter, milk and chocolate mixture, baking soda, vanilla, and flour; beat until smooth. Put in a greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean (approximately 35 minutes). Frost if desired