Hundred-year-old Tips on Ways to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

spatula in green bowl

Here are some hundred-year-old suggestions for ways to spend less time in the kitchen.

Waste no minutes in the kitchen:

  • Dough, batter, whipped cream, or egg white may be scraped from a bowl with a spatula in half the time required with a spoon or other utensil.
  • Hot baked puddings and custards will not stick to the baking dishes if the dish be first rubbed over with fat and then dredged with sugar.
  • Cakes, loaf or layer, are quickly removed from loose-bottom aluminum cake-pans and the washing of the pans is a very simple matter.
  • Use a “magic cover” when rolling out soft dough of any sort. When through work, scrape the cloth with a knife, if necessary, then shake out of doors. Wash the stockinet on the rolling pin often.
  • A Scotch bowl of cast-iron with bail for lifting used for no other purpose than frying, tends to simplify this mode of cooking. If the fat be strained after use and returned to the bowl after it has been carefully wiped out, no delay is occasioned when frying is again in order.

American Cookery (February, 1919)

30 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Tips on Ways to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

  1. I wonder what kind of cloth a “magic cover” was? Might it be a cloth covered in wax? My mother taught us to use waxed paper to roll out dough. Now I’ve seen wax covered cloths for sale at the food co-op to use instead of plastic wrap when covering leftovers to put in the refrigerator. Wonder if it’s the same sort of cloth. It’s a way to cut down on plastic waste.

    1. The “Magic Cover” may have been a Brand Name. It’s simply the ribbed cotton stocking that fits snugly over a rolling pin, to prevent the dough from sticking to the pin. Both my Gran and Mom used them, every time. I was negligent in the care of mine and got FLOUR WEEVILS eating the old flour and dough left on mine! That’s why they suggest to “wash often”, which probably meant weekly, NOT monthly! LOL

      1. Oh dear – bugs can get into things so quickly. You’re probably right that “wash frequently” meant weekly and not monthly. It also suggests how often cooks must have used their rolling pins a century ago if the cloth cover only needed to be washed “frequently.” I only use my rolling pin once every several weeks – and sometimes there are gaps of probably several months between uses – so if someone wrote these directions today, I think they’d say “wash after every use.”

  2. Barbara Rodgers, I am guessing you are right. I have a waxed cloth bread wrapper (purchase from King Arthur Flour) that works fairly well, and I still keep wax paper on hand for these tasks. I loved reading this post. Thank you, Sheryl.

    1. I have a cloth rolling pin cover that came with my pastry cloth. I’m guessing that they called rolling pin covers “stockinets” years ago.

  3. I don’t have a clue what a cast iron “Scotch Bowl” is, but I’m going to look it up. I love cast iron cookware.

    As just sort of a random observation, it’s interesting that in 1919 there were published references on how to save seconds from cooking so you could get the heck out of the kitchen, while now there are hours and hours of television programming on how to cook this or that which would result in a person spending hours and hours in the kitchen.

    1. Sometimes I think that many people who spend lots of time watching cooking shows only occasionally cook, but that they want to it be a special event when they do, and don’t mind spending lots of time on small details. Whereas, many cooks a hundred years ago had to put three meals a day, 365 days a year on the table so they were looking for ways to save time.

    1. I’m not sure what a “magic cover” was, but it sounds pretty cool. It almost sounds like a name that an advertising expert might have come up with.

  4. I enjoyed these hundred year old tips! And couldn’t help but wonder what the writer would have said about the modern appliances we now use to speed up things in the kitchen.

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