1919 West Bend Roaster Advertisement

Man holding roasting pan
Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1919)

Thanksgiving is a day for family, memories, and traditions. Even the most mundane parts of the day have meaning. I roast my turkey in a granite-ware roasting pan that is similar to my grandmother’s – though I have memories of a beautiful stainless steel roasting pan that my mother used, and sometimes think I should use a stainless steel pan like hers. And, then I come across a hundred-year-old advertisement for an aluminum roasting pan that will “last forever,” and wonder if any are still around.

The big day will soon be winding down, and I’ll be using lots of elbow grease to wash my roasting pan. Maybe I’m too wedded to tradition. One friend swears that disposable roasting pans that only cost a few dollars are the way to go; another insists that plastic roasting bags make the best juicy, tender turkeys- and that cleanup is a breeze.

Whatever foods you are eating today; and, however they were prepared, have an awesome day!

Happy Thanksgiving

Hundred-year-old Cranberry Sauce Recipe

bowl of cranberry sauceIt just isn’t Thanksgiving without Cranberry Sauce. Some years I make the whole berry sauce recipe printed on the bags of fresh cranberries; other years I grit my teeth and buy a can of jellied canned sauce.  But, I have vague food memories a wonderful smooth homemade Cranberry Sauce that was served at Thanksgiving gatherings when I was a small child.

So, I was thrilled to find a classic smooth Cranberry Sauce recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine. The Cranberry Sauce contained tiny bits of cranberries, and was a delightful blend of sweet and sour.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Classic Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

4 cups cranberries

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (scant 1/2 cup) water

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sugar

Wash cranberries, then place cranberries and water put in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Stir in the baking soda, then reduce heat and simmer until the berries have softened and burst (5-7 minutes). Skim any froth that rises to the top while cooking. Remove from heat, and press through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill.) Place the pulp in a clean pan and stir in the sugar. (The berry skins should be discarded.) Cook until the mixture begins to boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and put the cranberry sauce in the serving dish. Cool in refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be covered to prevent a thick “skin” from forming on the top.

(Cook’s note: Today many cranberries are sold in 12 ounce bags – which is 3 cups of cranberries. If using one 12-ounce bag of cranberries, make three- fourths of this recipe. This would mean using a little less than 1/3 cup water, 3/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups sugar.)

1919 Ideal Weight Table for Women

Weight and height table, female
Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Some things haven’t changed much over the past hundred years. Similarly to now, people worried about their weight back then.  A 1919 home economics textbook even contained a table that showed the “ideal weight” by height for a 30-year-old woman.

The book also offered advice for women about the importance of improving their eating habits:

Many women say, “Oh, I know I’m fat, but I feel all right anyway.” Nevertheless such women should practice those habits which will keep weight down automatically, no matter how well they feel, because (1) excess fat is unattractive from the appearance standpoint; (2) overweight after 35 years (according to the best insurance statistics) is closely associated with a high death rate; (3) an excess weight particularly handicaps efficiency in work or recreation.

Every homemaker, then, should closely estimate her own dietary. If she has servants and merely makes the beds or does light dusting, etc., then she needs only approximately 1,800-2,400 calories daily; but if she does most of her housework, including the heavier work of room cleaning, laundry work, etc., then she will need more nearly 2,500-2,800 calories.

Source – Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)

Hundred-year-old Recipe for Bread Stuffing

bread stuffing in bowl

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to stuffing, and I still use the bread stuffing recipe in my 1976 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty Crocker calls for combining bread crumbs with lots of butter, minced onion and celery; and then seasoning with sage and thyme. That recipe is tasty – but this year I wanted to make an authentic hundred-year-old recipe, so was thrilled to find a Bread Stuffing recipe in a 1919 magazine.

The hundred-year-old recipe skips the onion and celery – and uses poultry seasoning instead of the individual spices that I usually use. It also calls for an egg that acts as a binder to help keep the stuffing from falling apart.

The seasoning for the old recipe was just right, and is perfect for those who want an authentic, old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

bread stuffing recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Bread Stuffing

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Note: This recipe makes enough stuffing to stuff a 2-3 pound chicken. Double recipe for a 5 – 6 pound chicken; quadruple for a 10-12 pound turkey.

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 cups soft bread crumbs (tear bread into 1-inch pieces)

1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl stir together, butter, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add bread crumbs and egg; stir gently until thoroughly combined. Scoop stuffing into chicken or turkey body and neck cavities. Cook poultry thoroughly. Remove stuffing from poultry, and place in a bowl. Fluff with a spoon or fork, and then serve. May also be served cold.

1919 Wheatena Advertisement

Advertisement for Wheatena with girl pushing wheelbarrow
Source: American Cookery (December, 1919)

Many cereals come and go over the course of a few years – remember Cinnamon Mini Buns cereal? . . . or Dinersaurs? But a few cereals have been around for more than a hundred years. For example, Wheatena has been produced since the 1880s.

I’ve never actually eaten Wheatena – but this 1919 advertisement makes me want to give this old-time cooked cereal a try. What’s not to like? It has a tantalizing nutty flavor, is nourishing, is easy to prepare, AND it tastes good.

Old-fashioned Nutted Cream

molded Nutted Cream on plate

Holiday gatherings when I was a child meant lots of relatives crowded around a table – with all the leaves added, and topped with two or three mismatched tablecloths – in a tiny dining room with floral wallpaper on the walls. The table would almost sag from all the food – turkey or ham (or maybe both), stuffing, mashed potatoes, pickles, creamed vegetables  . . .  and molded salads or desserts. Back in those days, molded foods that contained gelatin were salads – today, similar food are often considered desserts.

There was always just a bit of drama surrounding the molded salad. They were unmolded shortly before we ate to help ensure that they looked their best. But, there always were questions about how long the mold needed to be dipped in hot water to successfully unmold it. If it wasn’t dipped long enough, the salad might only partially come out (and look like a mess) . . . and if it was dipped too long, it might partially melt (and look like a mess).

So when I recently came across a recipe in the November, 1919 issue of American Cookery for a gelatin and cream salad (or dessert) with nuts, I just had to give it a try. There were just too many memories to pass over it – and just enough risk to make it seem like it a fun, yet slightly challenging recipe to try.

I’m pleased to report that the Nutted Cream recipe was a huge success – and I didn’t have any trouble unmolding it. The creamy salad (or dessert) with embedded nuts had just a hint of sweetness, and was a delightful treat.

In many ways the Nutted Cream seemed surprisingly modern – and if I’d put it in individual cups, instead of the mold, it would be similar to some lovely desserts that I’ve recently had at very nice restaurants.

Here’s the original recipe (and a picture!) in the 1919 magazine:

Nutted Cream on Plate
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)
Nutted Cream Recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nutted Cream

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 packets unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

1/4 cup hot water

3 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3  cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts.) + (if desired) additional nuts for garnishing

Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water. Let sit until softened (about 2 minutes).  Add hot water, then place the small bowl in a pan that contains hot water. Stir the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove small bowl from the pan. Set aside.

Put the whipping in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar while continuing to beat, then gently stir in the walnuts. Set aside.

Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture in a pan that contains cold water and ice cubes. Stir the gelatin mixture until it begins to thicken. Then gently fold the gelatin mixture into the whipped cream mixture.

Spoon whipped cream mixture into an 8-cup mold.  Chill in the refrigerator until firm (at least two hours).

To serve, quickly dip the mold in hot water, then gently slide the Nutted Cream onto serving plate. If desired, garnish with additional chopped nuts.

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

piece of cake with chocolate frosting

When I make chocolate icing it often is tasty, but isn’t as smooth and glossy as I’d like. Well, I think that I’ve found the cause, as well as the solution, in a 1919 magazine article.

Why Chocolate Icing Loses Its Gloss

If a chocolate icing is beaten too much before spreading, the gloss will be lost. It should be spread while it is yet a little “runny,” so that it flows of itself to a great extent over the surface of the cake. Sometimes if a knife-blade, dipped into hot water is used to smooth the icing, it will restore the gloss.

American Cookery (December, 1919)