I love to browse through old community cookbooks. Sometimes the recipes have unusual names that intrigue me. This is one of those times. A 1923 cookbook published by the General Welfare Guild of the Beaver Valley General Hospital in New Brighton, Pennsylvania had a recipe for “A Homely Way to Cook Potatoes.” Can potatoes be “homely?”
The recipe called for putting potatoes, onion, parsley and seasonings in a saucepan with water, and then boiling the mixture. The recipe was easy to make. The potatoes reminded me of old-fashioned parsley potatoes. And, the homely potatoes (dare I say it?) were attractive.
Here’s the original recipe:
I’m not exactly sure how much “4 large tablespoon butter” is, so I used four tablespoons of butter. It also did not seem like boiling water needed to be used in this recipe. I just used cold water. I’m sure that it took a little longer to heat, but that was okay with me.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
A Homely Way to Make Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 large onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup water
Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Serve immediately.
14 thoughts on ““A Homely Way to Make Potatoes” Recipe”
As I found out when I was in England in the late 70s, “homely” has a different meaning there and is a compliment. Chances are that the person that wrote that was still using some old English PA words. One of my favorite old words is “redd” as in redd up the house.
It’s fascinating that “homely” might have been a compliment. I never thought about how the word might have had a different meaning.
As a young person when I was in England, I found out many words have different meanings including the word pants. I was doing my student teaching and at the time most teachers were still wearing dresses and skirts to work. My fellow American and I went to the headmaster, a male, and asked if we could wear pants to work. Pants are underpants there. I’m sure they laughed for days.
What a fun story!
Goodness, redd up the house still exists as a phrase in my PA family but it is an old fashioned saying I think. Also I agree from living in England more recently that “homely” there means what we would call “homey” or something comforting and home like and that is what I expect was meant in this usage.
I actually did a post on “redding’ up the house years ago when I was posting my grandmother’s diary entries. https://ahundredyearsago.com/2012/08/17/trying-to-red-up-the-house/
This actually sounds like good comfort food, perhaps the author meant “homey” as in homelike, or homely meaning simple and unadorned? I think 100 years has changed our definition of many descriptive words.
In the U.S. today, “homely” has a negative connotation -but you may be right that a hundred years ago it could have meant homey, simple, or unadorned. It’s interesting how the meaning of words change across the years.
Another fun find you share with us, Sheryl. Homely potatoes!! I also liked how the recipe tells you to set the pan “on fire.”
Sometimes old recipes make me smile. What an intriguing way to tell the recipe readers to cook the potatoes!
Homely sounds good to me! Potatoes , I be lost in I didn’t have potatoes around.
I’m like you. I’d also be lost if I didn’t have potatoes around. They are definitely one of my go-to staples.
Looks attractive and for sure is a comfort food!!
It is a nice way to serve potatoes.