I’d never heard of Baked Bananas, so was intrigued when I flipped through a hundred-year-old cookbook and saw not one, but two, recipes for Baked Bananas. The first recipe involved peeling the banana, adding several ingredients and then baking. The second recipe just called for baking the banana in the skin. Over the years, I’ve learned that the easiest and simplest recipes are sometimes the best, so I decided to go with the second recipe.
The Baked Banana was sweet, creamy, and soft – and a nice change of pace from just peeling and eating a banana.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put bananas in shallow pan or baking dish; cover. Place in oven and bake until the skin is very dark (almost black). Remove from oven, and let cool slightly; then remove the pulp from the skins and place in serving dish. Sprinkle with sugar.
Both a hundred years ago and now, there were recommendations for distributing calories across nutrient groups.
Here are the 1921 recommendations:
An ideal distribution of the calories is one-tenth protein, three-tenths fat and six-tenths carbohydrate. In a dietary of 2400 calories this would be 240 protein, 720 fat, and 1440 carbohydrate.
The New Cookery (1921) by Lenna Frances Cooper
And, here are the 2021 recommendations (Actually they were published in 2015, but they are the most current recommendations.):
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA, 2015) recommend that an adult’s total daily calories come from the following:
45–65 percent carbohydrates
10–30 percent protein
20–35 percent fat
Some nutritionists recommend a ratio of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat as a good target for healthy weight loss.
A 1,500 calorie diet with 40 percent carbohydrates translates to 600 calories per day from carbs. Using a ratio of 4 calories per gram (g) of carbs, a person on this diet would need to eat 150 g of carbohydrates per day.
This 1,500 calorie diet would also include 450 calories or 112 g of protein, and 450 calories or 50 g of fat per day.
As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, I find that I crave comfort foods. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Chicken à la Crème, I decided to give it a try. Chicken, sliced mushrooms, and chopped red pepper are embedded in a rich, creamy sauce that is served over toast.
This recipe is a keeper. I’ll definitely make Chicken à la Crème again. It is quick and easy to make, and very tasty.
Here’s the original recipe:
Is Chicken à la Crème another name for Chicken à la King? A few years ago I made a recipe for Chicken à la King that was similar to this one. Both recipes called for chicken and mushrooms. This recipe called for red pepper; Chicken à la King called for green pepper as well as for a small amount of onion. For this recipe, the sauce was a white sauce; the sauce for Chicken à la King was made using cream, chicken broth, and lemon juice.
Here’s the Chicken à la Crème recipe updated for modern cooks:
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter; stir in salt and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the chicken, mushrooms, and red pepper. Bring back to a boil; remove from heat. Serve over toast.
I often make boiled potatoes. I think that they are out of style and considered old-fashioned; but, to be totally honest, I enjoy meals that feature meat and boiled potatoes. A hundred years ago boiled potatoes were more popular than they are now. Here are some 1921 tips for cooking potatoes:
The method used in cooking potatoes has much to do with the food value. Baking or boiling “in their jackets” saves the food value. Peeling and then boiling causes some loss of the mineral matter and protein, since these foodstuffs are found just under the skin of the potato and may be lost when it is pared, unless very thin peelings are removed.
Potatoes, to be cooked, should be put in boiling water, not in cold, as soaking peeled potatoes in cold water draws out the starch and also causes a loss of protein and mineral matter. Potatoes should never soak in cold water after they are peeled, if all of the food value is to be saved. If they are old and withered, they should be freshened by soaking before the skin is removed. Potatoes should be removed from the boiling water as soon as they are done.
Baked potatoes, when done, should have the skin broken or pierced with a fork to all the escape of the steam, which would cause the potato to be soggy.
Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews
I just realized that I don’t follow these directions. I generally peel potatoes before boiling them – and I put them in cold water which I then heat. For holidays, such as Thanksgiving, when I make a lot of boiled potatoes to mash for mashed potatoes, I’ll peel the potatoes several hours ahead of time, and let them sit in cold water until it is time to cook them. Probably many of the nutrients are probably lost . . sigh.
And, when I make baked potatoes, I pierce the potatoes with the point of a sharp knife prior to baking – to allow steam to escape and keep the potatoes from exploding – rather than waiting until they removed from the oven.
Even though I don’t often think about it, a wide range of commercially-produced foods were available a hundred years ago. Cornflakes was one of those products. According to Wikipedia, William Kellogg invented cornflakes in 1894 to serve to patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. They were first mass-marketed in 1906. And, soon thereafter, people began, not only eating them for breakfast, but also using them in recipes.
I came across a recipe for Cornflake Fancies in a 1921 church cookbook. The recipe is made by folding cornflakes and coconut flakes into beaten egg whites that have been sweetened with sugar, and then placing heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet. They are then baked until lightly browned The Cornflake Fancies were light and airy, and reminded me a little of Coconut Macaroons, but with a slight crunch from the cereal.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg whites in bowl and beat until stiff. Gradually add the sugar and salt, while continuing to beat. Fold in the cornflakes and coconut. Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture about 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake until set and lightly browned (about 10 – 12 minutes). Remove from oven, and let sit for about two minutes, then remove from the baking sheet with a spatula. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
Church cookbooks, both a hundred years ago and now, often contain advertisements from local businesses. The ads can help defray the cost of producing the cookbook, and can increase profits if the cookbook is sold as a fundraiser.
These advertisements are often very basic – yet I enjoy looking at them. They provide insights into the community and the times. For example, these advertisements from a 1921 Massachusetts church cookbook compiled by ladies of West Concord Union Church (Why are they called “ladies” rather than “women”? And, though perhaps it is obvious given the year, why did just “ladies” compile the cookbook rather than church “members”?) suggest that many homes regularly purchased ice (For an ice box?), that fresh fish was readily available, and that the area was fairly rural.
Au Gratin potatoes are a nice comfort food, but they can get boring, so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Tarts a la Gratin. A muffin tin is lined with pastry dough, then filled with diced au gratin potatoes. The resulting tarts were tasty, visually appealing, and a nice change of pace. They reminded me a bit of the savory hors d’oeuvres served by hotels at events – though they were tastier than many of those hors d’oeuvres.
Here’s the original recipe:
I substituted butter for the lard when I made this recipe. Rather than using left-over cold potatoes, I made boiled diced potatoes which I immediately used in the recipe.
When I made the sauce, it seemed rather thin for a tart filling, so I coarsely mashed a few of the diced potatoes and stirred them into the sauce to make it thicker before adding the remainder of the diced potatoes. This worked well.
3 – 4 medium potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups diced potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese + additional cheese to sprinkle on the top (I used cheddar cheese.)
pastry dough (enough for 1 2-crust pie, or use approximately 4 pre-rolled sheets)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into circles. Line the space for each muffin in a muffin pan with the circles of pastry dough. Fit each circle, trim, and flute edges.
Put the diced potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). Drain potatoes. Remove about 1/3 cup of the potatoes from the sauce pan; put in a bowl and coarsely mash using a fork. Set aside both the mashed and diced potatoes
Melt the butter in another sauce pan, then stir the flour and salt into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup shredded cheese, continue heating until the cheese melts. Add the diced potatoes. Stir to combine.
Spoon into the pastry shells, and sprinkle additional shredded cheese on top. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the top begins to brown (about 30 minutes).