Chapter Headings in 1921 Cookbook

Chapter 7 Heading
Source: The Science of Food and Cookery (1921)

H.S. Anderson, the dietitian at Loma Linda Sanitarium, published a cookbook called The Science of Food and Cookery in 1921. The sanitarium was operated by the Seveth Day Adventist Church. Over the years the sanitarium grew and expanded, and is now Loma Linda Unversity.  According to the cookbook’s introduction, it was “not merely a vegetarian cookbook, but a treatise on food and nutrition as well; and as such we send it forth on its mission of health.” Many of the chapter headings include a quote that lays out the book’s philosophy.

Chapter 18 heading
Source: The Science of Food and Cookery (1921)


Hurry-Up Cake Recipe


piece of cake on plateYesterday was hectic, and I hadn’t even selected a recipe to make for this post by mid-afternoon – let alone made it. So when I flipped through a hundred-year-old church cookbook, and saw a recipe for Hurry-Up Cake, I immediately knew that it was just the recipe I needed.

Hurry-up Cake is a moist and tender spice cake – and it’s easy to make (of course). It contains a delightful mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. It’s the perfect cake to make when you’re in a hurry – or when you’re not.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Hurry-Up Cake
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book by the Ladies of the West Concord Union Church (Concord Junction, Massachusetts, 1921)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Hurry-Up Cake

  • Servings: 8 -10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/3 cups brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat for 3 minutes. Put in a greased and floured 8-inch square pan. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean (approximately 45 minutes). Frost if desired.

1921 Advice About Ice Quality

ice cubes in glassConsiderations when determining ice quality have changed across the years. Here is what it said in a 1921 home economics textbook:

Ice is frozen water, and is just as pure as the water from which it was made. Ice from a pond should never be dissolved in drinking water or other beverages. Artificial ice is made by freezing water in tanks, the freezing temperature being secured by the evaporation of ammonia. This ice should be much purer than ice from ponds, lakes and rivers. 

Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews

Valentine Milk Biscuit Novelties

Heart-shaped biscuits on plateHappy Valentine’s Day!

You might enjoy this hundred-year-old recipe for Valentine Milk Biscuit Novelties. These sweet biscuits with a cinnamon and sugar topping are tasty and easy to make,

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Valentine Milk Biscuit Novelties
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Winter, 1921)

The original recipe makes a lot of biscuits so when I updated the recipe I made it for half of the old recipe.

Valentine Milk Biscuit Novelties

  • Servings: approximately 20 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened

3/4 cup milk

melted butter

sugar and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450° F.  Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter. 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 with heart-shaped cookie cutter. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for approximately 12-20 minutes (or until lightly browned).

1921 Menus for Children’s Valentine Parties

Menus for Children's Valentines Parties
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Autumn, 1920)

Valentine’s Day parties used to be one of the big annual elementary school events. Remember making valentine “mailboxes” out of shoeboxes? . . . And, remember reflecting on who to give which card? And, the anticipation and suspense before opening the valentines?

A hundred-years ago Valentine’s Day parties were also popular. A 1921 newspaper recipe supplement contained several menus for children’s valentine parties. Some of the recipes, like Brown Sugar Cracker Tarts, sound intriguing; others less so. Somehow heart-shaped minced ham sandwiches and heart-shaped creamed cheese sandwiches don’t quite work for me.

Old-fashioned Coconut Pie

slice of coconut pie on plateSometimes I crave classic old-fashioned cream pies.  I recently came across a lovely recipe for Coconut Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook. This pie differs from many modern coconut pies because, in addition to the usual milk, egg yolks, and coconut, the recipe calls for grated lemon rind and lemon juice. The lemon adds a lovely sunny note to this rich creamy pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Coconut Pie
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition (1921)

When I updated the recipe I updated the spelling of coconut. “Cocoanut” is an archaic way of spelling coconut that I sometimes see in old recipes and cookbooks.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter melted

grated rind and juice from 1 lemon

1 cup grated coconut

1 10-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, butter, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind and coconut. Pour into pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F.. Bake additional 60 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

1921 Kitchen Design and Layout

Source: Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews

A 1921 home economics textbook offered these recommendations for a well-designed kitchen:

The Kitchen

The kitchen is a workshop where food is cared for, prepared, cooked and served. 

The most convenient kitchen has windows or doors on two sides of the room, so that when these are open, a cross draft of air clears the room of smoke and odors. 

The kitchen should be the cleanest room in the house. The most sanitary kitchen has walls finished in materials that can be washed, such as oil paint or tile. Walls and woodwork should be light in color, because this makes the room seem more cheerful and also makes it easy to “see the dirt”, which then may be removed. 

Hard-wood floors may be oiled or waxed and used without covering. Soft-wood floors may be covered with linoleum or cork carpet, or they may be painted. 

The kitchen should have built-in cupboards with plenty of space for utensils. 

The sink, with a drain board at each end, should be set where there is plenty of light, and it should be open underneath to avoid the dampness often found in sink cupboards. 

The kitchen may have a built-in ice-box arranged to be iced from the outside of the house. Some kitchens have a dumb waiter to the basement. Kitchen floorplan

If an ironing-board is used in the kitchen, it may be built into a space in the wall, being let down when needed and folded back when not in use. 

Other devices sometimes found in the kitchen are: a closet for cleaning implements, such as broom, bucket and brushes; a cupboard for the leaves of the dining-table, and a built-in kitchen cabinet. There may also be a pantry. 

Each housekeeper decides for herself how to make the kitchen a well arranged and equipped workshop. In a well arranged kitchen the equipment is so placed the housekeeper can use it without losing time or wasting strength in walking. 

Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews