Hundred-Year-Old Mint Syrup Recipe

I love fine coffee – and I hate to admit it, but I like it even better when I add a little flavored coffee syrup. I often feel guilty. Many commercial coffee syrups contain corn syrup and have lots of artificial ingredients.

I no longer need to feel guilty. I found a recipe for the perfect Mint Syrup in the place I would have least expected – in a hundred-year-magazine.   It’s made with fresh mint leaves and there’s not a bit of corn syrup in it (though there is lots of sugar, so maybe I should continue to feel just a bit guilty). This simple syrup highlights the bright, complex nuanced flavor of  the mint, and is wonderful in coffee and other beverages and foods.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

And here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mint Syrup

  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; then add the mint leaves. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; strain and cool.

Hundred-year-old Tomato and Cucumber Salad Recipe

I love all the fresh summer produce at the farmer’s market. Two of my favorites are tomatoes and cucumbers, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Tomato and Cumber Salad I knew that I had to give it a try.

The salad  was delightful, and had a light vinaigrette dressing that enhanced the sliced vegetables.

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

When I made this recipe, I halved it and I still had more dressing than I needed. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 large cucumber

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apply cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon onion, grated

Slice the tomatoes, and pare the cucumbers with a regular knife and then slice (using a fluted knife if desired). Arrange the sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in a serving dish. Set aside.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and grated onion in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and then pour the desired amount over the tomatoes and onions.

Extra dressing may be refrigerated and kept for several days.

My fluted cucumbers didn’t look like the ones in the old photo. Maybe they used a different type of knife.

Old-fashioned String Beans with Bacon Recipe

String Beans with Bacon (and onions) are delicious, and they are quick and easy to make. This hundred-year-old recipe brings back vague memories of string bean dishes from my childhood.

The recipe calls for cooking the beans until they are tender – and I cooked them for about 20 minutes. They weren’t crisp like the beans often prepared using modern recipes – but I found them to be a refreshing change, and enjoyed this dish’s old-fashioned goodness. The recipe is definitely a keeper.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1917)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

String Beans with Bacon

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pound string beans (use either yellow or green beans)

2 small onions, thinly sliced

1 slice bacon, chopped

water

1/8 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne (red) pepper

Clean string beans, remove tips, and snap into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan. Add the sliced onions and  chopped bacon; then just barely cover with water, and add the salt and cayenne pepper.  Place on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, then remove from heat, drain any excess liquid (a little is okay), and serve.

Hundred-Year-Old Lamb Curry with Rice Recipe

When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m sometimes surprised by the recipes I find. This is one of those times. I was amazed to find a recipe for Lamb Curry with Rice (East Indian) in the April, 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping that had been submitted by a reader.

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)

This recipe makes a very credible Lamb Curry. I’m not an expert on Indian foods (and feel free to disagree), but to me, it tasted similar to some of the milder lamb curries that I’ve eaten in restaurants over the years. Which led me to wonder, who was the woman who submitted this recipe to the magazine? Did she have friends from India? Had she visited India?

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lamb Curry with Rice

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 pounds stewing lamb

water

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

juice from 1 small lemon

cooked rice

Place the lamb in a dutch oven or large saucepan and cover with water; add salt. Cover, and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Remove from heat. Cut the lamb into small pieces, removing any fat, bones, or gristle, then set aside. Reserve 2 cups of broth, and skim excess fat from the top of the broth. (The broth may be chilled to make it easier to remove the fat.)

Melt the butter in a skillet using medium heat, and stir in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft; then add the cooked lamb.  Stir in the flour, pepper, curry powder, cloves, and allspice. Slowly add the lamb broth while stirring constantly; bring to a boil.  Add the coconut and lemon juice. Then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has a thick gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat and serve with rice.

Hundred-year-old Porcupine Salad Recipe

I have warm memories of making Raggedy Ann Salad and other character-shaped salads using canned fruits when I was a child, so I was thrilled to see a recipe for Porcupine Salad in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

Porcupine Salad was fun and easy to make, and it turned out beautifully. Almond slices are inserted into a canned pear half, and whole cloves are used to make the eyes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilia Frich (1917)

When I made the recipe I didn’t serve it on a lettuce leaf, and  I skipped the fruit salad dressing, but they could be added if desired. I found this recipe in the same cookbook that contained the Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey that I made last week, so that dressing could be used to replicate the original recipe’s serving suggestion.

Porcupine Salad

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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For each serving:

1 canned pear half

sliced almonds

2 whole cloves

Insert the almond slices into the larger part of the pear half, then stick the two cloves into the small end for the eyes.

Old-Fashioned Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey

Refreshing fruit salads are one of my go-to foods on hot summer days, so when I saw a recipe for Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey in a hundred-year-old cookbook I knew that I had to give it a try.

The whipped dressing, made with real cream, honey, and vinegar, was tart – but a perfect fruit topping. The tangy-sweetness of this  light, airy whipped cream dressing perks up the fruit, and can turn a generic mixture of fruits into a special fruit salad.  When I made this recipe, I asked people to guess what ingredient gave the dressing its tang.  They guessed that it contained  sour cream or even a little yogurt – and didn’t think of vinegar.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilia Frich (1917)

I couldn’t tell from the recipe whether the Fruit Salad Dressing was supposed to be spooned on top of the fruit or stirred into the fruit, so I made it both ways. The two presentations were very different – but the Fruit Salad was delicious both ways.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Time: active prep time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 egg yolks

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups  heavy whipping cream

Beat egg yolks, then stir in the honey, vinegar, and salt. Place in a saucepan, and cook using medium heat while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.

When ready to serve,  beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and then stir in the chilled egg mixture.

May be served as a fruit topping or stirred into a fruit mixture (grapes, cherry halves, cubed peaches or apricots, strawberries, etc. work well).

Cook’s note: This recipe makes a lot of dressing. I used the dressing on two consecutive days. On the first day, I whipped 1/2 cup of cream and stirred the egg mixture in to taste. The second day I whipped the remainder of the cream and stirred in the remaining dressing.

Hundred-year-old Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

Today, Strawberry Ice Cream sometimes seems boring; a hundred years ago it was very special. When strawberries were in season, it was time to get the hand-cranked  ice cream freezer out, buy some ice, invite friends over, and make Strawberry Ice Cream.

The hundred-year-old Strawberry Ice Cream recipe that I found was easy to make. It only had three ingredients: cream, sugar, and strawberries.  And, the ice cream was delightful. This classic ice cream was creamy and infused with the sunny taste of fresh strawberries.

There was no comparison to the cheap strawberry ice cream sold in plastic gallon tubs at the supermarket. It was somewhat similar to the higher-priced strawberry ice creams, but it did not contain the large chunks of frozen strawberry puree they often contain. The strawberries in this ice cream are “rubbed” through a strainer, so the pieces of strawberry in the ice cream were tiny which creates a lovely texture.

Ice cream that is not eaten immediately can be stored in the freezer. It was extremely firm when removed from the freezer, and should be allowed to warm for a few minutes before attempting to scoop.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Strawberry Ice Cream

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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(This recipe makes 1 3/4 – 2 quarts of liquid. If a large ice cream freezer is used, it may need to be doubled.)

1 pint strawberries

1 quart light cream (Half and Half)

1 cup sugar

Wash, hull, and slice strawberries, then mash with a potato masher or pastry blender. Add sugar, and let sit for 1 hour. Then “rub” the strawberries through a strainer or colander . (An old-fashioned, hand-cranked Foley mill works well to do this, but is not needed.) Discard the large strawberry fragments that won’t go through the strainer.

Stir the cream into the strained strawberries. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, then place in ice cream freezer and freeze.