Old-fashioned Lemon Star Cookies

frosted star-shaped cookies on plate

Cut-out cookies are so much fun to make, and it’s a wonderful family activity, so I’m always on the look-out for hundred-year-old recipes for cut-out cookies. I recently found a wonderful recipe in a 1919 magazine for Lemon Star Cookies. The frosted cookies are sprinkled with chopped walnuts, and have a delicate lemon flavor.

I used buttercream frosting, though other types of frosting could be used. Any type of walnuts would work well in this recipe, but I had some black walnuts so used them. The bold, richness of the black walnuts combined perfectly with the sweetness of the frosting and the lemon in the cookies. This cookie is a winner – whether the cookies are cut into stars or some other shape.

Here’s photo of the cookies in the old magazine:

Frosted star-shaped cookies on plate
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

All was good. The cookies tasted wonderful, and they looked similar to the photo of Lemon Star Cookies in the old magazine. Then the Saturday newspaper arrived on my doorstep. There was a beautiful feature showing how to make decorated cut-out cookies. It included directions for making royal icing, piping the icing to make an outline around the edge of the cookie, and then “flooding” the cookie with additional icing.

I suddenly realized that my cookies weren’t as awesome and picture-perfect as I’d thought a few minutes earlier. That said, the buttercream frosting I smeared on the top of the cookies with a knife is probably very similar to what cooks did a hundred years ago – so I keep telling myself that at least my cookies are authentic even if they aren’t Instagram perfect.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Lemon Star Cookies
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

Lemon Star Cookies

  • Servings: 50 - 60 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used butter.)

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 cups pastry flour (all-purpose flour can be substituted)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon lemon extract

white frosting (I used buttercream frosting.)

chopped walnuts (I used black walnuts, but the typical walnuts that are sold in stores also would work well.)

Preheat oven to 400° F. In a mixing bowl, cream the  butter (or margarine) together. Stir in the eggs, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon extract. Stir until well-mixed. Refrigerate dough 1/2 hour or until chilled.

On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes using a star cookie cutter (or use other shaped cutters, if preferred). Place on greased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks. Ice the cookies with the frosting, and then sprinkle chopped walnuts in the center of each cookie.

Hundred-Year-Old Advice on How to Easily Make Drop Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie dough on spoon

As the holiday baking season approaches, I’m always on the outlook for tips that will make it easier. So I was pleased to find advice for how to more easily make drop cookies.

To Drop the Cookies Easily

When making cookies or drop cakes, try using a teaspoon. Dip it in hot or cold water each time before putting in the mixture, and the dough will slides from the spoon without the aid of a knife or other spoon to push it. 

W.M., Me.

Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1919)

To be totally frank, I wonder whether this tip actually solves a major problem. Many cooks use cookie scoops to quickly drop nearly uniform balls of dough on a baking sheet when a lever is pressed. I still use a spoon, and I often push the dough from a spoon using another spoon. But, it goes very quickly, and I never really considered pushing the dough off the spoon to be a problem. It almost seems more time consuming to dip the spoon in water between the dropping of each cookie – but maybe others will find this tip very helpful.

Old-fashioned English Pudding with Hard Sauce

steamed pudding on plate

Steamed puddings are a traditional holiday food which once were slow-cooked on a wood or coal stove that was used for both heating and cooking. They are less popular now that our stoves aren’t constantly operating; but there are some wonderful hundred-year-old steamed pudding recipes that worth the time. For example, English Pudding is a tasty dessert favored with cloves and other cozy spices. It is delightful  when served warm with Hard Sauce.

Here are the original recipes:

Recipe for English Pudding
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)
recipe for hard sauce
The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

I anticipated that the Hard Sauce would be extremely thick, but smooth; however, when I followed the recipe the Hard Sauce it was so dry that it clumped somewhat. It was tasty – but just did not look quite right. I think that additional butter or water may be needed. This is the second time that I’ve made Hard Sauce using hundred year old recipes – and it did not turn out quite as I expected either time. Maybe Hard Sauce had a different consistency a hundred years ago than what it does now. 

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

English Pudding with Hard Sauce

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

English Pudding
1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup milk

2 cups flour

1/2 baking soda

1/4 ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins

Put shortening, molasses, milk, flour, baking soda, ground cloves, mace, and salt in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in raisins.  

Put the mixture in a greased steamed pudding mold*, and steam for 3 hours. Remove from mold and serve warm with Hard Sauce. (This pudding is also excellent cold without the Hard Sauce.)

*Notes: I used a 2-liter mold, but had some extra space at the top and a smaller mold could be used. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).

Hard Sauce

1 cup sugar

1/4 butter

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, then slowly add the sugar while stirring constantly. While continuing to stir, add the lemon extract and vanilla.

Note: To make a smoother hard sauce, additional butter or water may need to be added.

1919 West Bend Roaster Advertisement

Man holding roasting pan
Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1919)

Thanksgiving is a day for family, memories, and traditions. Even the most mundane parts of the day have meaning. I roast my turkey in a granite-ware roasting pan that is similar to my grandmother’s – though I have memories of a beautiful stainless steel roasting pan that my mother used, and sometimes think I should use a stainless steel pan like hers. And, then I come across a hundred-year-old advertisement for an aluminum roasting pan that will “last forever,” and wonder if any are still around.

The big day will soon be winding down, and I’ll be using lots of elbow grease to wash my roasting pan. Maybe I’m too wedded to tradition. One friend swears that disposable roasting pans that only cost a few dollars are the way to go; another insists that plastic roasting bags make the best juicy, tender turkeys- and that cleanup is a breeze.

Whatever foods you are eating today; and, however they were prepared, have an awesome day!

Happy Thanksgiving

Hundred-year-old Cranberry Sauce Recipe

bowl of cranberry sauceIt just isn’t Thanksgiving without Cranberry Sauce. Some years I make the whole berry sauce recipe printed on the bags of fresh cranberries; other years I grit my teeth and buy a can of jellied canned sauce.  But, I have vague food memories a wonderful smooth homemade Cranberry Sauce that was served at Thanksgiving gatherings when I was a small child.

So, I was thrilled to find a classic smooth Cranberry Sauce recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine. The Cranberry Sauce contained tiny bits of cranberries, and was a delightful blend of sweet and sour.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Classic Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

4 cups cranberries

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (scant 1/2 cup) water

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sugar

Wash cranberries, then place cranberries and water put in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Stir in the baking soda, then reduce heat and simmer until the berries have softened and burst (5-7 minutes). Skim any froth that rises to the top while cooking. Remove from heat, and press through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill.) Place the pulp in a clean pan and stir in the sugar. (The berry skins should be discarded.) Cook until the mixture begins to boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and put the cranberry sauce in the serving dish. Cool in refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be covered to prevent a thick “skin” from forming on the top.

(Cook’s note: Today many cranberries are sold in 12 ounce bags – which is 3 cups of cranberries. If using one 12-ounce bag of cranberries, make three- fourths of this recipe. This would mean using a little less than 1/3 cup water, 3/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups sugar.)

1919 Ideal Weight Table for Women

Weight and height table, female
Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Some things haven’t changed much over the past hundred years. Similarly to now, people worried about their weight back then.  A 1919 home economics textbook even contained a table that showed the “ideal weight” by height for a 30-year-old woman.

The book also offered advice for women about the importance of improving their eating habits:

Many women say, “Oh, I know I’m fat, but I feel all right anyway.” Nevertheless such women should practice those habits which will keep weight down automatically, no matter how well they feel, because (1) excess fat is unattractive from the appearance standpoint; (2) overweight after 35 years (according to the best insurance statistics) is closely associated with a high death rate; (3) an excess weight particularly handicaps efficiency in work or recreation.

Every homemaker, then, should closely estimate her own dietary. If she has servants and merely makes the beds or does light dusting, etc., then she needs only approximately 1,800-2,400 calories daily; but if she does most of her housework, including the heavier work of room cleaning, laundry work, etc., then she will need more nearly 2,500-2,800 calories.

Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Hundred-year-old Recipe for Bread Stuffing

bread stuffing in bowl

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to stuffing, and I still use the bread stuffing recipe in my 1976 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty Crocker calls for combining bread crumbs with lots of butter, minced onion and celery; and then seasoning with sage and thyme. That recipe is tasty – but this year I wanted to make an authentic hundred-year-old recipe, so was thrilled to find a Bread Stuffing recipe in a 1919 magazine.

The hundred-year-old recipe skips the onion and celery – and uses poultry seasoning instead of the individual spices that I usually use. It also calls for an egg that acts as a binder to help keep the stuffing from falling apart.

The seasoning for the old recipe was just right, and is perfect for those who want an authentic, old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

bread stuffing recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Bread Stuffing

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Note: This recipe makes enough stuffing to stuff a 2-3 pound chicken. Double recipe for a 5 – 6 pound chicken; quadruple for a 10-12 pound turkey.

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 cups soft bread crumbs (tear bread into 1-inch pieces)

1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl stir together, butter, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add bread crumbs and egg; stir gently until thoroughly combined. Scoop stuffing into chicken or turkey body and neck cavities. Cook poultry thoroughly. Remove stuffing from poultry, and place in a bowl. Fluff with a spoon or fork, and then serve. May also be served cold.