People often say to me, “You make all those hundred-year-old recipes . . . Don’t you ever have cooking disasters?”
And, I usually reply, “I seldom have a disaster. Most recipes turn out fine, but I make them only once; some are very good and I make them a couple of times; and, a few I absolutely love and they have become part of my regular cooking repertoire.”
But, I do occasionally have cooking disasters. This is one of those times.
I found a recipe for Runkel’s Fudge Roll in an advertisement for Runkel’s Cocoa in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, and thought to myself, “I bet this will be a good recipe. Usually recipes in advertisements were carefully tested.”
Wrong – The fudge filling hardened very quickly, and was difficult to spread; AND, the cake base broke into pieces when I tried to roll it.
The one good thing about this recipe is that it was very tasty – even though it didn’t look very nice.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir together. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth. Put batter on a 15x10x1 -inch baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the batter goes to the edges and corners of the pan, and that it is spread evenly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn upside down on a piece of parchment paper that has been covered with sugar. Peel off the parchment paper that was used when baking. Immediately spread with the fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter using medium low heat in a saucepan, add cocoa and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, and milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and add vanilla. Beat until smooth, and spread on cake base. Note: This icing hardens quickly. Immediately spread as soon as it reaches a spreadable consistency.
Did you ever want to start your own food-related business?
People had similar desires a hundred years ago. The January, 1918 issue of American Cookery magazine had an advertisement for a correspondence course on “Cooking for Profit.”
Today lots of rules and regulations affect the operation of businesses serving or selling food. A hundred years ago there were few regulations. But people in both 1919 and 2019 had many similar questions when considering whether to start a small food-related business – How do you cook foods that people want to buy? What is needed to ensure that the business will be successful? , etc.
Some things just go together like St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef – and, of course, for me it was only a small leap until I was asking, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes for corned beef?
I’m happy to report that I found an excellent hundred-year-old Corned Beef Hash recipe that was simple to make and a great way to use any corned beef left over from St. Patrick’s Day. However, there was one little glitch. I couldn’t bring myself to try the serving suggestion.
Here’s the original recipe:
Pour a ring of ketchup around the Corned Beef Hash? It might make a lovely presentation (though I tend to think not), but I’ll never know for sure.
And, I didn’t serve the Corned Beef Hash with baked bananas. Baked bananas may be tasty, but the 1919 cookbook didn’t include a recipe for them, and I don’t know how to make them. I must be lacking a bit of common cooking knowledge that most cooks had back then . . .sigh.
3 tablespoons broth that the corned beef was cooked in or water (I used water.)
Melt shortening in a skillet that has a lid; add corned beef, potatoes, and broth or water. Sprinkle with paprika. Gently stir to combine. Cover pan and cook using medium low heat until hot and steamy (and until most of the broth has been absorbed or evaporated). Stir occasionally. Do not allow the potatoes to brown. Remove from heat and serve.
Today we worry about whether fats are good fats or bad fats. Is a fat saturated or unsaturated? Does it contain trans fats? Does it contain mono- or polyunsaturated fats? Will it increase or decrease cholesterol levels?
A hundred years ago people had different questions about fats. They asked questions like:
How can I get the most calories for the least cost? (Amazingly more calories were seen as better back then.)
Does the fat provide sufficient vitamin A? (Fats with more vitamin A were considered better.)
Here’s what a woman wrote in a 1919 magazine article about how she selected fats to serve her family:
When it became necessary to pay two cents for every tablespoon of butter we used in our family, and I knew that we were paying that sum just to satisfy our palates with that specific flavor, I then and there decided that something must be done. I knew that a calorie of energy is as valuable from one source as another and that, measure for measure, other fats than butter would give the same energy.
In choosing a butter substitute, I found that oleomargarine, made largely from beef-oil, contains some, at least of this Fat Soluble A, and if I increased the family milk supply so that the children were getting nearly a quart each day, oleomargarine could replace some butter. I then I could give the family butter only where its flavor was most desirable and expected, and realize that it matters little whether we use lard, cottonseed oil, suet, or the most expensive imported olive oils, from the standpoint of fuel obtained, I could use any clean and wholesome fat in cooking with a perfectly clear conscience.
I found it economic and patriotic, too, to clarify every bit of fat, mixing hard and soft kinds together to get a degree of hardness satisfactory to use in bread, cakes and pastry and in all my cooking. Of course, it costs in time and labor, but save in food and money, and just now there is less food than time or labor.
from “How My Family Saved Fats” by Jessamine Chapman Williams (American Cookery, February, 1919)
The article said that oleomargarine was made from beef oil (tallow?). Today oleomargarine is just called margarine, and is generally vegetable oil product.
Carrots are one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables. They contain lots of vitamins A, K, and B6, as well as potassium and other minerals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Flemish Carrots. This dish contains a mixture of carrots and onions that is served in a lovely beef-broth sauce which brought out the natural sweetness of the carrots.
I always find March to be a difficult month for cooking. I like to serve locally-grown, seasonally-appropriate food – yet I’m tiring of the same-old, same-old winter vegetable dishes. This recipe is a nice twist on sautéed carrots.
Using medium-low heat, melt butter in a skillet that has a lid. Add carrots, onion, and parsley; cover skillet. Stir occasionally and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Add flour, salt, sugar, and pepper; stir gently until blended. Increase heat to medium. Gradually add beef broth while stirring constantly; heat until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
When I made this dish, I substituted butter for the Crisco shortening that was listed in the original recipe.
I was surprised to see an advertisement for a oven thermometer in the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery magazine. Cooks had a bit more information about oven temperatures than I’d previously realized.
Cooking with wood and coal stoves a century ago could be challenging. Hundred-year-old recipes never indicated the exact temperature that should be used when baking food in the oven. Instead the recipes said things like use a “high temperature” or a “medium temperature.” And, the cook was left to her (it was generally a woman in those days) own devices to figure out how to regulate the temperature. For example, more wood or coal might be thrown on the fire to get increase the temperature.
I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old snack and appetizer recipes. I recently found a recipe in a 1919 cookbook for Cheese and Rice Fritters. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a subtle cheese and tomato flavor. And, they were amazingly similar to an hors d’oeuvre that I recently had at a catered event.
Cook rice following package directions with the following substitution – replace half of the water called for on the package with tomato sauce. (Any remaining tomato sauce can be saved and used in another recipe.) Puree cooked rice. (Cook’s note: I’m not sure how the rice was pureed a hundred years ago. I used a blender to puree the rice – and that did not work very well. I think that a food processor might work better.)
In a mixing bowl, combine approximately 1 cup of pureed rice, salt, paprika, baking powder, and flour; stir until thoroughly mixed. (There may be extra rice that can be eaten or used in another recipe.) Add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. If dough is too dry, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water; if too moist, add 1 or tablespoons of additional flour.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into hot shortening. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
I used more rice than called for in the original recipe because 1/4 cup did not seem like enough to end up with 1 cup of pureed rice.