I like candy, but always feel guilty when I eat it, so I was pleased to discover hundred-year-old advice on the role of candy in the diet.
The Use of Candy in the Diet
Candy is an energy-giving food, but, unfortunately perhaps, it is not (at all times) a most desirable energy-giving food. Sugar exists in candy in concentrated form. In this condition, sugar is irritating to the organs of digestion.
Sugar is contained in large quantity in some fruits, especially in dried fruits, figs, dates, prunes, etc. These fruits are a much better source of sweets for children than is candy, because they do not contain as much sugar, and have, in addition, valuable food materials in the form of ash.
Candy should never be used to excess. A little eaten at the end of a meal is not harmful to a normal person. At that time the sugar does not come in direct contact with the walls of the alimentary canal, as it would if eaten between meals.
A Text-Book of Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1915)
The quote mentions “ash” in fruits. Ash is an old-time term for the minerals in foods.
I had a problem – too many cucumbers to eat in salads, but not enough to make pickles. This sent me searching through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for cucumber recipes. One cookbook suggested dipping cucumber spears into a batter and then frying them. I decided to give it a try.
The Fried Cucumbers were delicious and easy to make with a lovely crispy coating and a delightful slight crunch when I bit into them. They are versatile, and make a great appetizer or side dish. Fried Cucumbers would be lovely with a dipping sauce – though it definitely is not needed.
3-5 medium cucumbers (number needed depends upon size)
shortening or oil
Prepare a batter by combining the flour, salt, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined.
Cut the cucumbers into spears that are approximately 1-inch wide. Dip the spears in the batter.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded spears in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the spears may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each cucumber spear is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
And, here is the description in the old cookbook about how to prepare cucumbers. I didn’t try the suggestion for boiling and mashing them (there’s always another day), and just followed the instructions in the last paragraph about frying them.
Sometimes I think that peas are a boring and blasé food; but there are a couple of weeks each year when fresh garden peas are available at the farmers’ market, and that’s a totally different story. Fresh peas are a to-die-for sweet, yet delicate, taste sensation – and lovely when served in a traditional “cream” sauce that is made using milk.
I dug out my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and found this recipe for Creamed Peas.
The Creamed Peas were lovely and the simple sauce enhanced the subtle flavors of the tender peas. The dish was simultaneously an easy-to-make, but almost elegant food, and a delightful comfort food.
Put the flour in a cup or small bowl, and gradually stir in the 2 tablespoons of milk to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Put the peas into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peas, then pour 1/2 cup of milk over the peas. Return to the heat and using a medium heat bring the milk to a boil. Quickly, but gently, stir in the flour paste. Cook the creamed peas for a few seconds while continuing to stir until the milk mixture thickens. Remove from heat and serve.
I was surprised that the recipe author didn’t make a white sauce that was poured over the peas, but instead covered the peas with milk, heated it, and then stirred in a flour paste to thicken it. Maybe she was trying to minimize the number of pans on the stove. I made the recipe using the flour paste, but it would work fine to make the white sauce separately.
Visiting with old friends is always special. For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.
It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert – but something not too heavy. And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.
The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.
The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.
Recently a serendipitous event occurred. I saw a recipe for Chicken a la King in hundred-year-old magazine, and a left-over chicken breast languished in my refrigerator.
My mother and grandmothers often made Chicken (or Turkey) a la King to use left-over poultry – and I suddenly craved this old-time comfort food. The recipe did not disappoint. This delightful dish was both tasty and easy to make. The diced meat was embedded in a lovely thick and creamy sauce that contained mushrooms and green pepper. It is perfect when served over toast, biscuits, rice or pasta.
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 cooked chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (or use 1 cup diced left-over chicken or turkey)
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine the half and half, chicken broth, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl; set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet, then stir in mushrooms, green pepper, and onions. Using medium heat, cook until the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes) while stirring occasionally; then stir in the diced chicken. Stir in the flour, salt, paprika and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the combined liquids that previously had been set aside and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. May be served over toast, biscuits, rice, or pasta.
When browsing though old books and magazines, I always keep a lookout for easy-to-make, hundred-year-old breakfast recipes. So when I saw a recipe for Sour Milk Griddlecakes in a 1915 home economics textbook, I just had to give it a try.
Of course, griddlecakes are just another name for pancakes, but somehow even the name evokes old-fashioned goodness.
The Sour Milk Griddlecakes did not disappoint. Unlike most modern recipes, this recipe doesn’t call for any sugar, so the griddlecakes have a very delicate, slightly tangy, neutral flavor that is ready to soak up the goodness of syrups, jams, or other sweet toppings.
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Heat a lightly greased griddle or skillet to a medium temperature, then pour or scoop batter onto the hot surface to make individual pancakes. Cook until the top surface is hot and bubbly, and then flip and cook other side.
Here’s the original recipe:
This recipe is from an era when pasteurized milk was not the norm since it calls for sour milk. In the old days raw milk would sour—but still be good for cooking. Vinegar can be used to “sour” pasteurized milk, so I made that adaptation when modernizing the recipe.
There are so many kinds of tea. It’s always challenging to decide which purchase . . . bags or loose? . . . black, green, or herbal? . . . strong or mild? . . . organic, fair trade, or unidentified pedigree? . . . cheap bargain brand or pricey gourmet blend? . . .
I need help. So, when I saw information on how to select tea in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook, I eagerly read the advice:
In buying tea, choose the variety most pleasing to your taste. It should be free from stems and from powdered particles. When put in boiling water the leaves should not entirely unroll in a short time. Soak a pinch of tea, unroll the leaves, and note their size and shape. Also note proportion of large to small leaves and stems.
A very low priced tea is not really cheap. More is needed to give the required strength than with more expensive teas and it also yields more tannin, which we wish to avoid. Tea does not keep well, so it should be bought in small qualities and kept in air-tight glass jars.
A good grade of English Breakfast with a flavoring of Orange Pekoe makes a very pleasing tea.
The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics (1915)