How Many Vegetables Should be Served at a Meal?

pot roast slices, potatoes, and carrots on plateI never thought much about how many vegetables to serve at a meal until I read recommendations in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook, but my first thought was “the more the better.” That’s not exactly what the old book said:

Too many vegetables should not be served at dinner; the general rule of serving two is a good one to follow. Lettuce is usually served with any salad and would make the third. In choosing the two, it is better to select one starch and one green vegetable; the two being pleasing in taste when eaten together.  

Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews

Old-fashioned Macaroni and Green Peas

Macaroni with Green Peas in Bowl

I recently came across a nice vegetarian recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook. Macaroni and Green Peas can be served as either an entree or a side dish. The dish is vegetarian (not vegan, since cream coats the macaroni and peas). The cream adds flavor and richness to the dish.

recipe for macaroni with green
Source: The New Cookery (1921) by Lenna Frances Cooper

The source of this recipe, The New Cookery cookbook, contains nutrition information for each recipe. This is the only hundred-year-old cookbook that I’ve ever seen with this much information.

This recipe didn’t make very much- and according to the nutrition information – the entire recipe only contains 604 calories. The old cookbook indicated that the serving size was 4 ounces which seems small for this type of dish. In my opinion, if this recipe was made as the main dish, there would be enough for 1 generous serving. If it was served as a side dish, it would make enough for 2 servings.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Macaroni with Green Peas

  • Servings: 1 - 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/2 cup macaroni

1/2 cup green peas (fresh, frozen, or canned) – I used frozen peas. I put them in boiling water until they were hot, then removed from heat and drained.

1/2 cup light cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat water in a saucepan to boiling; add the macaroni and cook 7-9 minutes until al dente. Remove from the heat and drain. Add a little cold water, then drain again. Add cream, peas, and salt; return to stove. Using medium heat, bring to a boil; reduce heat  and simmer 5-10 minutes until the cream thickens into a sauce while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.

Old-fashioned Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwich on Plate

I often make toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch (actually I make grilled cheese sandwiches, but I call them toasted cheese sandwiches), so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches.

The old recipe called for toasting the sandwiches in the oven (or over a coal fire!). It also called for making a cheese filling that contained grated cheese, dry mustard, and paprika – rather than just using slices of cheese.

The sandwiches turned out well. The Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches were crisp and toasty, and nice and gooey in the middle. The cheese filling had just a hint of the spices.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Winter, 1921)

The recommended way of softening the grated cheese by putting it in a bowl that is then placed over another pan containing hot water seemed very old-fashioned, but I followed the directions and it worked well. The cheese softened quickly so that the spices could be easily stirred into the cheese, and it was very spreadable.

Since I know that cheese contains a lot of salt, I skipped adding salt when I made this recipe. Also, I used a level teaspoon of dry mustard instead of a rounded one that was called for in the recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

  • Servings: 3 Sandwiches
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese. American would also work well.)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon paprika

6 slices bread


Put grated cheese, dry mustard, and paprika into a bowl; stir to mix. Put the bowl in a shallow pan of hot water for 2-3 minutes (or put in the microwave for a few seconds). Once the cheese has begun to soften, stir again to get the spices evenly spread throughout the mixture.

In the meantime, butter the bread on one side. Place three slices on a baking sheet with the buttered side down. Spread the slices with the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining bread slices. The buttered side should be up.

Put under the broiler in the oven, and toast until the bread is lightly browned. Flip the sandwiches and return to broiler. Toast until the second side is lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve.

A Hundred Years Ago is 10 Years Old!!

image of Jan. 1, 2011 post of A Hundred Years Ago
January 1, 2011 post of A Hundred Years Ago

A Hundred Years Ago hit a milestone today. It’s 10 years old. I did the very first post on January 1, 2011. When I started this blog, my goal was to do it for four years – but I wasn’t sure that it would last more than a month.

My grandmother, Helena Muffly, kept a diary from January 1, 1911- December 31, 1914 when she was a teen living on a farm in central Pennsylvania. The blog’s original purpose was to post my grandmother’s diary entries a hundred years to the day after she wrote them to share with family members. I also often posted additional information to explain and flesh out some of the entries. I planned to do a post every day during the four years of the diary. But, that felt very ambitious to me – and I thought I’d burn out quickly.

Was I ever wrong-

I had a blast researching and preparing the posts. And, over time more and more people found A Hundred Year Ago, and enjoyed reading about my grandmother’s daily experiences.

After I posted the last diary entry on December 31, 2014, I discovered that I missed blogging. So, about eight month later, I reinvented A Hundred Years Ago as a place to post recipes and other tidbits about food and cooking a hundred years ago. And, the rest is history.

Some of you have been with A Hundred Years Ago since almost the beginning; others have been part of this blogging community for a few years, months, or days. Thank you! I’m humbled by your caring and support across the years. I am so fortunate to have wonderful readers like you.

In case you’re interested, here’s the very first post:

Christmas and New Years Day

Posted on January 1, 2011 by Sheryl

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Mid ice and snow,

and wintry glow

The happy new year rings.

So now I’ll commence,

And not with pretense,

My diary of interesting things

Sunday, January 1, 1911: The old year has passed, and the new year is ushered in with its joys and possibilities. To me the old year has been quite a pleasant one. May this year be as pleasant. Christmas brought me no fatal grievances, and it really proved to be enjoyable and merry. I received quite a small number of Christmas presents although none of them were very costly. Judging none of them to exceed the modest price of fifty cents. (By this no one should think I am ungrateful for I really mean to be a grateful girl.)

This afternoon I went to Sunday school and attended catechize after church. On my way home I received a charming new year’s gift. (Thanks to the donor.) The first day of the new year is almost spent and I feel rather sad.

1920 Advice on How to Keep Milk Clean and Fresh

Source: Household Arts for Home and School, Vol. II (1920)

Other than putting the jug of milk in the refrigerator immediately after I get home from the supermarket, I don’t think much about how to keep the milk clean and fresh. A hundred years ago, people worried a lot more about maintaining milk quality. Here’s what it said in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:

There are many very important things to know about milk, but nothing is more important than to know how to care for it in the home. Because it is such a perfect food, it is a very good place for germs to grow. 

Be sure to wash the bottle before pouring out any milk. Get into the habit of doing this. You do not know what kind of dirt may have come in contact with the bottle after the milk was put into it. 

If milk is left in the bottle replace the cap or, better, provide a clean one. A cup or glass may be inverted over the bottle. Do not pour the milk into another utensil unless necessary. If necessary, be sure that the container is absolutely clean. Milk very readily absorbs the odors and flavors of other food in the refrigerator, and this is another good reason for covering it.

Sometimes milk is not delivered in bottles but is dipped from a can and poured into pans or pails. Be sure that the pans are scalded and kept covered until the milk id delivered. Do not put milk tickets into them, or leave them uncovered on the doorstep. If milk is bought at the grocery store one should not walk through the streets with the pail uncoverered. 

As soon as the milk is delivered the bottle should be washed and put into the refrigerator. If allowed to stand in a warm room it sours very quickly. 

All milk containers should be rinsed with cold water as soon as empty. They should then be washed with clean, soapy water and rinsed with scalding water. In the summer time it is a good plan to boil the pans and pails with soda water for fifteen minutes.   

Household Arts for Home and School, Vol. II (1920) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr 

[The book also contained directions for making a homemade cooler for those who did not have a refrigerator – but that is potentially another post, another day.]

Old-fashioned Fish Loaf

Sliced fish loaf on plate

When I saw a recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Fish Loaf, I knew that I needed to give it a try. Now that the holidays are starting to wind down, I’m ready for comfort foods. Maybe most people won’t consider Fish Loaf a comfort food, but for me it fits into that category. I have vague memories of eating (and enjoying) Salmon Loaf many years ago, and I wanted to see if this recipe was similar.

The old recipe called for using any canned fish (or flaked, cooked fresh fish) so there’s lots of flexibility- though I chose to go with salmon.

This recipe was very easy to make – and it tasted just like the Salmon Loaves that I remember from my childhood.

Recipe for Fish Loaf
Source: A New Snowdrift Cook Book (1920)

One teaspoon of salt seemed like a lot to me since the canned salmon that I used already contained some salt, so I when I updated the recipe, I reduced the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

Snowdrift was an old-time shortening that I don’t think is sold any longer.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fish Loaf

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 pound can fish or 2 1/2 cups flaked, cooked fresh fish (I used a 14.75 ounce can of Salmon.)

3 eggs

1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (I tore 1 slice of bread into small pieces.)

1 tablespoon melted butter or shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350° F. Separate the eggs. Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl, and beat until stiff. Set aside.

Put the egg yolks in another mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Flake the fish and add to the bowl with the beaten egg yolks.  Add bread crumbs, butter or shortening, salt, pepper, and parsley; stir to combine. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Put in a greased loaf pan, and place in oven and bake until firm (about 40 – 50 minutes). Remove from oven and cut into slices. If desired, serve with peas, cream or white sauce, egg sauce, or tomato sauce.