Old-fashioned Marshmallow Custard

marshmallow custard

I love old-fashioned baked custards. They are easy to make, and make a delightful dessert, so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Marshmallow Custard. The recipe called for putting a marshmallow in the bottom of each custard cup. The marshmallows floated to the top of the custard mixture, and then melted while baking. This resulted in a lovely sugary top layer on the custard that reminded me a bit of Crème Brûlée.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Marshmallow Custard
Good Housekeeping Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries

I think that the custard cups that I used were larger than the ones used by the recipe author because there was only enough of the custard mixture to fill 4 custard cups rather then the 6 indicated in the recipe. Because of the larger size of each cup -they also took longer to bake than indicated in the old recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Marshmallow Custard

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups half and half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

4 – 6 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325° F. Put eggs in mixing bowl and beat slightly. Add sugar, half and half, and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Put a marshmallow in the bottom of each custard cup. ( 4 – 6 custard cups will be needed. The number of custard cups needs will vary depending upon the size of the custard cups.) Pour the custard mixture over the marshmallows. Leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each custard cup.  Place the custard cups in a pan with hot water that comes to about an inch below the top of the cups. Bake for 40 – 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of the custard comes out clean.  May be served warm or cold.


Old-fashioned Grape Punch Beverage

grape punchin glass

There are very few pictures in hundred-year-old cookbooks and magazines. As a result, the few photos suggest which recipes the authors or editors considered the most enticing. So when I saw a photo with a pitcher of Grape Punch in a 1922 magazine that looked awesome, I decided to give it a try.

ingredients to make grape punch
Source: American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

The Grape Punch contains grape juice, lemon juice, and orange juice with cucumber peel (rind). I’ve previously had cucumber infused water which I associate with spas and hotel lobbies (and healthy eating), so was intrigued by the inclusion of cucumber in this recipe – though it called for the use of the peel rather than slices of cucumber which seemed a bit odd.

The verdict: The Grape Punch was tasty with lovely citrus undertones and the added smoothness of cucumber.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Grape Punch
Source: American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

I thought that 1 cup of sugar seemed like a lot, so used less. And, I was surprised how attractive thin slices of cucumber peel looked in the punch.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Grape Punch

  • Servings: 10 - 14
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 quart (4 cups) grape juice

1 cup sugar (If desired, use less sugar.)

juice of 4 lemons (about 1 cup lemon juice)

juice of 6 oranges (about 1 1/2 cups orange juice)

1 quart (4 cups) water

1 large cucumber (peel only)

Mix grape juice and sugar together. Add lemon juice, orange juice, and water; stir.

Peel cucumber thinly. (I used a vegetable peeler.) Cut peel into 2-4 inch pieces, then add to the Grape Punch. Chill, then serve.



Is Ice Water or Room Temperature Water Healthier?

water with ice cubes in glass
Source: American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

I like very cold water with lots of ice on hot summer days, but I’ve heard others say that water at room temperature is healthier. The debate over water temperature has been going on for a least a hundred years. Here’s what it says in a 1922 magazine:

A word about drinking water is not amiss just here. Iced water may seem very desirable when one is thirsty, but water without ice is far better for drinking purposes, as it does not so suddenly reduce the temperature of the stomach.

American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

Black Plum Soup (with Cheese Balls)

Black Plum Soup in Bowl

I love plums so was excited to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Black Plum Soup. I was slightly less excited after I read the recipe and realized that it called for putting cheese balls into the soup before serving (which sounded very strange to me), But, nevertheless, I decided to give the recipe a try.

The Black Plum Soup is served hot. It tasted like plums with a hint of cinnamon though was quite tart. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually really liked the cheese balls in the soup. The cheese balls added some texture to the otherwise clear soup – and sharpness of the cheese was a nice contrast to the tartness of the soup.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Black Plum Soup
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1922)

This recipe makes a lot of soup, so I divided it in half when I updated it.  The smaller amount I made still makes enough soup to for about 6 cups of soup or three bowls.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Black Plum Soup with Cheese Balls

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 dozen (12)  black plums

3 cups water or chicken broth (I used water.)

grated rind of 1/2 lemon

small piece of stick cinnamon (about 1 1/2 inches long – or longer if a very thin stick)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

juice from 1/2 lemon

Remove pits from plums and quarter. Put in a Dutch oven or large saucepan; add water or chicken broth, stick of cinnamon, sugar, salt, and white pepper. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.  Remove from heat and strain. (Discard the plum pulp.) Add the lemon juice to the plum soup. Reheat then serve. Add cheese balls (see recipe below) right before serving.

Cheese Balls

1/2 cup grated hard cheese (I used cheddar cheese)

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne (red) pepper

1/2 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fine plain breadcrumbs

shortening or cooking oil

Put grated hard cheese, parmesen cheese, salt, cayenne pepper, and beaten egg in a bowl, then mix to combine all ingredients. Shape the mixture into small balls, each about 1/2 – 3/4 inch in diameter. Roll each ball in the breadcrumbs. Put about 1/2 inch of shortening or cooking oil in a skillet, then heat until hot using medium heat. Place the cheese balls in the hot fat or oil, and fry until the bread crumbs are lightly browned (about 20-30 seconds). Using a fork roll the balls to fry on the other side.  Remove from skillet using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.


Hundred-year-old Advice for Making a Flaky Pie Crust

cutting shortenind into flourWhen I was young, I learned how to “cut” (or “chop”) shortening into the flour when making a pie crust, and I still use the old-fashioned technique -so enjoyed reading advice in a hundred-year-old cookbook about how to make crisp and flaky pie crusts. Here are a few excerpts:

Contrary to the general opinion, pastry is not hard to make. In fact, once the fundamental principles are understood, pastry is much easier and more quickly made than cake. When making pastry, keep these rules in mind. Fat makes a pie crust crisp, therefore, to economize on shortening will produce poor pastry.

The amount of air which is incorporated in the dough makes the crust flaky, so the dough requires careful handling. Water makes pastry tough and only enough should be used to hold the dough together.

Pastry flour is recommended because if absorbs less moisture; however, the regular family flour will give good results.

If all the ingredients are cold, the dough will be much easier to handle. Chopping the fat into the flour is recommended. Do not chop the fat into the flour too thoroughly; mix until the consistency of coarse meal.

Add only enough water to hold the mixture together. If too much water is used it will be necessary to use more flour when the dough is rolled out, and if that is the case, the pastry will be tough from handling, and the fat and flour will not be in the right proportion.

Handle the dough as quickly and lightly as possible.

Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Old-fashioned Mashed Summer Squash


Mashed Summer Squash in dish

Squash, squash everywhere – zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, yellow straightneck squash, pattypan squash. What should I do with all of them?

A hundred years ago people had similar concerns. This is what an article said about summer squash in a 1922 magazine:

 Summer Squash

Is summer squash one of your favorite vegetables, or do you consider it a rather tasteless thing, to be used as Hobson’s choice, but not to be hailed with joy? . . .

Few vegetables repay so amply for the small amount of garden-plot, fertilizer, and cultivation they require. They bear heavily though the season, and do not, like so many vegetables, require to be cooked immediately after picking in order catch the finest flavor. They are delicious when properly seasoned. They are also amongst the easiest vegetable to prepare for cooking.

American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

The article also includes a recipe for Mashed Summer Squash. I seasoned the squash with butter and celery salt, and it made a delightful side. dish.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Mashed Summer Squash
Source: American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

This recipe has so many options and permutations that I didn’t know where to began: Boil the squash or steam it; Season with salt or celery salt; peel the squash or don’t.

In the end. I cut the squash into chunks, but didn’t peel, and I used a Foley mill to mash (and remove the squash skin and seeds). The resulting mashed squash was very juicy, so I then partially strained the mashed squash.

Here’s how I made the recipe:

Mashed Summer Squash

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 cups, diced or sliced summer squash

1/2 teaspoons celery salt

1/8 pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Put squash in saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.  Press through a strainer or sieve. (I used a Foley mill.)

If the mashed squash is too juicy, partially strain until squash is the desired consistency. Then put in a dish and serve.