Old-fashioned Noodles and Cheese

I recently was in the mood for comfort foods, so decided to try a hundred-year-old recipe for Noodles and Cheese. The noodles were in a creamy cheese sauce that was made using American cheese. The recipe had an old-fashioned goodness that took me back to dishes served at family reunions and potluck dinners when I was a child. When I make cheesy pasta dishes, I tend to use cheddar cheese, but the American cheese in this dish is a nice variation.

Here the original recipe:

Recipe for Noodles and Cheese
Source: The Calorie Cook Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Noodles and Cheese

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 pound noodles

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound American cheese, grated or shredded

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Fill a  large saucepan 2/3 full with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Heat to boiling using high heat.  Stir in the noodles, then reduce heat and simmer until the noodles are tender (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Put half of the noodles in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dot with small pieces of the butter.  Sprinkle with half of the flour. Then, using one-half of the cheese, add a layer of cheese. Put remaining noodles on top of the cheese layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dot with small pieces of butter, then sprinkle with the remaining flour. Top with a layer of the remaining cheese . Gently pour the milk over everything. Place in oven and heat until hot and bubbly (approximately 30-45 minutes).


It’s Silly to be Extravagant with Food

family eating
Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book

Here’s what a hundred-year-old cookbook said about the value of eating economically:

E C O N O M Y ! !

I’ve asked the printer man to please let that word stand out just like that – boldly, defiantly, all by its little lone self!

Economy! If over-eating is a national trait, over-spending is certainly another. . . Extravagance with food is not clever, it is simply silly. Meal planning or preparing is no job to be slouched and hurried over as quickly and as extravagantly as possible. You do not need to use fussy, difficult recipes, either. It is no harder to cook a flank steak than a porter-house. It only take a little more skill.

Look on your marketing and cooking as a game. Take pleasure in seeing how cheaply you can set a healthful, delicious, and plentiful table.

The Calorie Cook Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey


Eggs a la Caracas

Eggs a la Caracas on plate

I’m always looking for interesting ways to serve eggs, so was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs a la Caracas. The recipe called for eggs, tomatoes, and cheese – as well as for a little cinnamon and cayenne (red pepper). I wasn’t quite sure about this spice mixture (and how it would taste with eggs), but I was pleasantly surprised. I definitely could taste the cinnamon, but it worked and added a nice flavor.

Recipe for Eggs a la Caracas
Source: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

I’m not sure where to get onion juice, so I just used 1 tablespoon finely chopped onions. I also added the grated cheese last and removed from the heat when melted, since cheese tends to stick to my pan if I cook it very long.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Eggs a la Caracas

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 tablespoons butter

2 oz. dried or chipped beef, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

dash of cinnamon

dash of cayenne (red) pepper

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup cheese, grated (I used cheddar cheese.)

Melt butter in skillet using medium heat. Add dried/chipped beef, tomatoes, onions, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper; stir to combine. Continue heating until hot, then add eggs and cook same as scrambled eggs. As the eggs begin to thicken, stir to move the cooked layer from the bottom of the pan. When the eggs are almost set, stir in the cheese; melt and then remove from heat and serve.


Recommended Amount of Milk Per Day, 1923 and 2023

glass of milkA hundred years ago, it was recommended that adults drink 2 cups of milk per day, while current recommendations are 3 cups per day. For children, the recommendation back then was 3 cups of milk per day, while the recommended amount now is based on age, but less for small children than in 1923.

A 1923 home economics textbook said:

One pint [2 cups] of whole milk should be allowed for each adult, and one and one-half pints [3 cups] for each child over two years of age; the younger child may need more. In addition to the prescribed allowance of whole milk, skimmed milk may be used in cooking as a source of protein and mineral matter. Part of the milk allowance for the family may well be supplied in milk soups, custards, bread, rice, and other pudding, cocoa and chocolate and in white sauce with vegetables, eggs and meats.

Economics of the Family (1923) by C.W. Taber and Ruth A. Wardall

Current recommendations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate website, are:

  • children 12-23 months should drink 1 2/3 – 2 cups of milk per day
  • children 2-3 years should drink 2 – 2 1/2 cups of milk per day
  • children 4-8 years should drink 2 1/2 cups of milk per day
  • children 9 and older should drink 3 cups of mil per day
  • adults should drink 3 cups of milk per day.

Old-fashioned Orange Fritters

Orange Fritters

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for old-fashioned orange fritters that was delightful. These deep-fried nuggets seemed almost decadent when served with the accompanying orange sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Orange Fritters
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (1923, The General Welfare Guild, The Beaver County General Hospital. New Brighton, Pennsylvania)

This recipe made a lot of fritters – and not a lot of sauce. If I made the full recipe again, I’d consider doubling the sauce.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Orange Fritters

  • Servings: about 50 fritters
  • Difficulty: moderate
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6  small oranges or 4 large oranges

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs

1/2 cup  butter, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup milk

shortening or lard

Peel oranges and separate into segments. Cut each segment into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.

Put flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, sugar, and milk in mixing bowl; stir until combined. Stir in the orange pieces.

Place the shortening or lard into a large skillet, and heat until hot. (There should be about 1/2 inch of melted fat. Add more if needed.) Drop heaping teaspoonsful of batter  into the hot fat.  Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then gently turn to brown the other side. When browned, remove from the skillet with a fork or slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels, then serve with sauce.


2 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup finely cut orange

Put butter and powdered sugar in a saucepan; stir to combine. Stir in the egg yolks, then add the finely cut orange pieces. Put in a sauce pan, and heat using medium heat until hot and the sauce begins to thicken. If too thick, add water or orange juice to make thinner. (Note: If lots of sauce is desired for the fritters, the  sauce recipe can be doubled.)


Old-fashioned Dutch Salad

Dutch Salad in bowl

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Dutch Salad, and decided to give it a try. It is a lettuce salad with a hot vinegar dressing. The this simple, classic salad was delightful.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Dutch Salad
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (1923, The General Welfare Guild, The Beaver County General Hospital)

This makes a lot of dressing, so I halved the recipe. And, I skipped seasoning the lettuce with salt and pepper.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dutch Salad

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 head lettuce

1/2 onion

salt and pepper, if desired

1 1/2  teaspoons butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Wash lettuce, dry, and then tear into small pieces and put into a bowl. Cut onion into small pieces and add to the lettuce. If desired sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Melt and lightly brown (using care not to burn) the butter in a skillet. Stir in the sugar and vinegar, using medium heat bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over salad. Toss and serve.