Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes

I’ve eaten stacks of pancakes with  bacon on the side for years  .  . . boring.  So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes.

The hearty giant pancakes embedded with bits of bacon are cooked in a skillet, and are cut into triangles to serve.  The pancakes were a delightful taste treat that took me back in time to the days of hungry hard-working gold and silver miners in remote locations.

The old recipe also indicated that, if preferred, smaller, more typically-sized pancakes could be cooked on a griddle.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Cook’s Book which is a KC Baking Powder promotional cookbook (1911)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
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8 thin slices bacon cut into small 1/4 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

2 eggs

2  cups milk

Put the bacon  pieces in a skillet, and cook over medium heat until the bacon just begins to crisp; stir occasionally while cooking. Remove from heat and set aside. Reserve a small amount of the bacon fat to grease skillet.

In the meantime,  put cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, shortening, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined.

Option 1 – Large Pancakes that are Cut into Triangles: Generously grease a skillet with bacon fat. (I used a 6 inch, cast iron skillet). Heat skillet until hot using medium heat, then spoon 3/4 inch of the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the cooked bits of bacon.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about  3-4 minutes or until the batter is bubbly; then turn the pancake over and cook the other side. Remove from heat, and cut into triangles. Cook additional pancakes until all the batter is used.

Option 2 – Regular-sized (3 – 4 inch)  Pancakes: Heat a greased griddle until hot; then spoon or pour approximately 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Sprinkle bits of cooked bacon on the top of each pancake. Cook until the batter is bubbly, then flip pancake and cook the other side.

I made several ingredient adjustments when I made this recipe.  The old recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt. I didn’t use any since the bacon was salty. The old recipe also called for the use of condensed milk and water. In the mining camp far from town, it made sense to use canned condensed milk – but since I had regular milk in my refrigerator, I used substituted it for the condensed milk and water. Additionally, the batter seemed very thick, so I used a little more milk than the combined amount of condensed milk and water called for in the old recipe.

Old-fashioned Vegetable Chowder with Meat

Vegetable Chowder with Meat is the ultimate comfort food. This hundred-year-old recipe makes a delicious hearty soup that is perfect on these cold winter days. This flavorful  soup features carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, onion, and celery, as well as a little barley.  I used beef in this recipe, though other meats would also work.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (february, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Vegetable Chowder with Meat

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 pounds stewing beef

4 quarts water

2 tablespoons barley

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup potatoes, diced

1 cup cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup onion

1/2 cup celery

2 cups tomatoes, diced (or use 1 16-oz. can of tomatoes)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Put the meat and water in a stewing pot or dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil using high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour. Add barley and cook for an additional half hour.  Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, celery, and tomatoes. Continue cooking for an additional hour. Add salt, pepper, and parsley. Remove the meat from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot. Reheat until the soup is hot, and then serve.

Old-fashioned Honey Wafer Recipe

I’m always on the look-out for “healthy” hundred-year-old cookie recipes, so I was thrilled when I came across a recipe for Honey Wafers. The recipe uses honey as the primary sweetener – though it does contain a small amount of sugar.

Old-fashioned Honey Wafers are delightful with coffee. They have a distinct honey flavor, with mild undertones of lemon. Don’t expect these cookies to taste like sugar cookies.

I used a 2-inch in diameter round cookies cutter when making these cookies. This was a good size. Small is better. The honey is very predominant, and made for savoring.

These cookies got relatively hard after a day or two, but were still good. They could also be softened by putting in an airtight container with a slice or two of apple.

Here’s the original recipe:

The Cook’s Book (a small promotional cookbook for KC Baking Powder, 1911)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Honey Wafers

  • Servings: approximately 60 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1/3 teaspoon lemon extract

2 3/4 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour can be substituted.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2-4 tablespoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Combine butter, sugar, honey, and lemon extract in a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, stir to combine. Add flour, stir until well-mixed. If the mixture is too dry, add milk to create a dough with a consistency that can be easily rolled.

On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Classic Pear and Celery Salad Recipe

Food presentation is an art. I occasionally see lovely food designs in hundred-year-old magazines that may not quite work a century later. Then again, maybe they do. As food fads wax and wane over time, these old presentations sometimes almost seem refreshingly cutting edge.  Pear and Celery Salad definitely is dramatic, and is sure to be a conversation item at any party; however,I have mixed feelings about whether it is a fun but quirky recipe, or just a bit odd.

Source: Libby’s Advertisement in Ladies Home Journal (February, 1918)

The Pear and Celery Salad is placed on a bed of celery leaves, which creates a beautiful foundation for the salad. Celery slices are heaped into a large mound in the center of the plate, and then surrounded by canned pear halves (poached fresh pear halves would also work well). The mounded celery is topped with a mayonnaise, chili sauce, and nut dressing.

This recipe definitely turned out better than I thought it might. The tender pears melted in my mouth and  their delicate flavor was nicely balanced by the crunchy celery and nuts. The dressing reminded me a little of French salad dressing, except that it was nutty instead of smooth. The dressing worked well with the celery – and was intriguing with the pears.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pear and Celery Salad

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chili sauce

1/2 cut walnuts or other nuts, chopped

celery leaves from 1 head of celery

approximately 2 1/2 cups celery, cut into 1/2 – inch slices

1 29-ounce can of pear halves, drained

To make the dressing, place the mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl; stir until combined. Add nuts, and stir. Set aside.

Arrange celery leaves on serving plate, then place the sliced celery in a pile in the center of the plate. Surround the heaped celery with the pear halves which are stood on their edge. Gently spoon the dressing on top of the celery. There may be more dressing than needed. Reserve and extra dressing and serve separately.

Old-fashioned Chicken Pot Pie with Baked Dumplings

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie with Baked Dumplings is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day. I found this delightful hundred-year-old recipe in a promotional cookbook for KC Baking Powder. Chicken pieces smothered in a rich gravy are topped with tender dumplings.

This authentic old-fashioned pot pie recipe calls for cutting a whole chicken into pieces (legs, thighs, breast, etc.), and putting the pieces- including bones and skin – into the pot pie. I had doubts about doing this, but it worked just fine. I also thought that it seemed unusual that the recipe didn’t call for any vegetables – but I really didn’t miss them. The chicken pieces made lovely presentation and for a nice surprise for guests when the crust is opened, and the chicken was very tender and almost fell off the bones.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Cook’s Book: KC Baking Powder (1911)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chicken Pot Pie with Baked Dumplings

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 chicken, cut in pieces

water

1/4 – 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 – 1 cup milk

Place chicken pieces in a dutch oven, cover with water, cover pan and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is tender (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat and place chicken in a large casserole dish (2 1/2 – 3 quart dish).

Strain the liquid that the chicken was cooked in, and place in a saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, put 1/4 -1/2 cup flour in a small bowl, and add enough water to make a thick paste.  Stir the flour mixture into the boiling liquid while stirring constantly. Continue cooking until the liquid thickens into the gravy.

(The amount of flour needed is dependent upon how much liquid there is. I used 1/2 cup of flour, and then first stirred half of it into the boiling liquid. When it didn’t thicken it to a gravy-like consistency, I added more of the flour mixture.)

Add the hot gravy to the casserole dish that contains the cooked chicken until it is almost covers the chicken and is about 1 1/2  inches below the top of the dish. Don’t overfill the dish or it will boil over when heated in the oven.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F.  To make the dumplings, put 2 cups flour in a mixing bowl; then stir in the baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture, then add 3/4 cup milk, and stir with a fork to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add additional milk to create a dough similar in consistency to what would be used to make biscuits. Drop by spoonsfuls on top of the chicken and gravy. The top should be  completely covered with the dough. Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 25 – 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve.

Steamed Graham Pudding with Lemon Sauce

I’m stranded in the house by cold weather and snow, so I decided it was the perfect time to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Steamed Graham Pudding with Lemon Sauce. Since I had nowhere to go, it didn’t faze me that the recipe called for steaming the pudding for 2 hours.

It was worth the time and effort. The moist, rich Steamed Graham Pudding was embedded with raisins, and had sweet and sassy molasses undertones. When served with Lemon Sauce, the tartness of the sauce balances nicely with the heartiness of the pudding.

Judging by the number of steamed pudding recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks, steamed puddings were very popular a century ago – yet it’s rare to see any steamed pudding recipes in modern cookbooks except for the occasional plum pudding recipe. Today steamed puddings are often considered difficult to make with a lengthy cooking time. However, back in the days of wood and coal stoves that had the fire going all day, they were an easy-to-make dessert that was often made using an old coffee can as a mold.

Here are the hundred-year-old recipes:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1917)

I decided to go with “good” and served the pudding with lemon sauce, rather than topping with whipped cream to make it the “best.” It’s a bit of an overstatement to say that the pudding is “almost as light as a souffle,” but it is simply delicious.

I used a steamed pudding mold to make the pudding. The molds can be found in many (usually upscale) cooking equipment stores. It’s unfortunate that Target, JC Penney, and other more mainstream stores no longer sell these molds; however, casserole bowls can also be used as a mold. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how use a bowl to make a steamed pudding as well as general information about making steamed puddings.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Steamed Graham Pudding with Lemon Sauce

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Steamed Graham Pudding

2 1/2 cups graham flour

1 cup milk

1 cup molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried currants or raisins (I used raisins.)

Combine the graham flour, milk, molasses, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl, then stir in the currants or raisins. Put the mixture in a greased mold, and put the mold on a rack in a deep kettle; add enough water to come half way up the mold. Cover kettle. Bring to a gentle boil and steam for 2 hours. Remove from mold and serve warm with Lemon Sauce or whipped cream.

*Cook’s Note: I used a 2-liter mold. A 2-quart mold would also work.

Eggless Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Put the sugar and corn starch in a saucepan, and stir together. Add water and stir until smooth. Using medium heat bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer while stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Serve warm.

Old-fashioned Creamed Tuna Fish

At my house all the holiday baking is done (and has been consumed), and I’m ready to put up my feet and relax. To me this means that it’s time to make simple, basic, comfort foods like Creamed Tuna Fish.

The hundred-year-old recipe that I found for Creamed Tuna Fish only had two ingredients: tuna fish and white sauce. My updated version has four since I listed the ingredients in the white sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Creamed Tuna Fish is wonderful when served on toast, and it hits the spot after all the heavy holiday meals.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Tuna Fish

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 can tuna

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk.  Stir in the tuna and bring back to a boil; remove from heat.  Serve over toast, biscuits, rice, etc.