Rhubarb en Casserole

Rhubarb en Casserole in dish

Rhubarb is one of my favorite spring foods. These days many fruits are available year round, but rhubarb remains seasonal – which always makes it seems extra special when I finally get some. This year I decided to try a hundred-year-old recipe for Rhubarb en Casserole.

The recipe was simple, and only called for three ingredients – rhubarb, brown sugar, and raisins –  which are mixed together and then put in a casserole dish and baked in the oven until the rhubarb is tender.

The Rhubarb en Casserole was delightful. It was nice combination of tart and sweet with lovely caramel undertones. I’ve eaten many rhubarb dishes over the years, but most call for white sugar. I think  this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a rhubarb recipe that called for brown sugar, and it added a nice new flavor dimension. Rhubarb en Casserole can be served either hot or cold.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rhubarb en Casserole
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rhubarb en Casserole

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 cups unpeeled rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put cut rhubarb in cold water, then drain. Add brown sugar and raisins; stir to combine. Put it in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, and cover. Bake until the rhubarb is tender – about 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

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One Egg Chocolate Cake

piece of cake on plate

I’m always intrigued by old cake recipes that have titles which emphasize the use, or non-use, of a specific ingredient. For example, I recently came across a recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake. Why was the number of eggs stated in the title? Were eggs really expensive back then? . . . or maybe the recipe was aimed at families that raised chickens, and the chickens didn’t lay many eggs during the winter so cooks were looking for recipes that used few eggs. . . or. . . ?

This recipe made a  9-inch square cake, and was very tasty. I never missed any reduction in eggs.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) Compiled by First Baptist Church, Alphena, Michigan

I followed the recipe directions and grated the chocolate, then melted it by adding a little hot water and stirring. I was surprised how well this process melted the chocolate  – though think that the baking chocolate probably could be melted in the microwave to avoid the extra effort of grating the chocolate.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

One Egg Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10 - 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup  butter, softened

1/2 cup grated baking chocolate (about ounces of chocolate)

2 tablespoons hot water

approximately 3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the grated baking chocolate  in a measuring cup, then add hot water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup.  Set aside for at least 2 minutes.

Put sugar and egg yolk in a mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add butter, milk and chocolate mixture, baking soda, vanilla, and flour; beat until smooth. Put in a greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean (approximately 35 minutes). Frost if desired

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Old-fashioned Potato and Egg Salad

Potaot and Egg Salad in bowl

Memorial Day doesn’t seem complete without Potato Salad – and the best Potato Salads contain hard-boiled eggs, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato and Egg Salad.

The Potato and Egg Salad was delightful with crunchy celery and chopped pickles – but what made the salad really special was the dressing. The dressing was made with whipped cream and vinegar – and was amazingly light compared to the usual mayonnaise dressing. The whipped cream dressing takes a little longer to make than mayonnainse dressing, but it was well worth the extra effort

Here’s the original recipe:

Potato and Egg Salad
Source: For Luncheon and Supper Guests (1922)  by Alice Bradley

I didn’t have any onion juice, so substituted 1 tablespoon chopped onions.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato and Egg Salad

  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cold boiled potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup celery or cabbage, chopped (I used celery.)

2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (I used 2 large hard-boiled eggs.)

2 tablespoons pickle, chopped (I chopped several Bread and Butter Pickle slices.)

2 tablespoons green pepper or pimento, chopped (I used green pepper.)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon onions, chopped

cream dressing, see below

If desired, lettuce or cabbage leaves

Put the cubed potatoes, celery or cabbage, chopped eggs, chopped pickle,, green pepper or pimento, parsley, and onions  in a mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Chill in refrigerator. Just before serving, add Cream Dressing and gently stir until the potatoes and other ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.  If desired, serve on lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Cream Dressing

2 teaspoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar

dash cayenne (red) pepper

1 teaspoon butter

1/3 cup vinegar

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/2 cup whipping cream

Put the flour, salt, mustard, powdered sugar, cayenne pepper, and butter n a saucepan or double boiler, and gradually add vinegar while stirring constantly.  Using medium heat, cook until thickens while stirring constantly. Put a a spoonful of the hot mixture in the bowl with the egg yolk, and immediately stir rapidly; then add the mixture to the mixture in the saucepan or double boiler while stirring rapidly. Continue stirring and cook for 1 minute. The mixture will be very stiff. Put in a small bowl and cool in refrigerator.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream until it is stiff. Add the cooled vinegar mixture, and beat until smooth.

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Old-fashioned Nut Pancakes

Nut pancakes on plate

Sometimes it seems like I get into a rut when making breakfast foods – and tend to just make the same two or three foods over and over. So I’m always looking for easy-to-make recipes for breakfast foods. I recently saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Nut Pancakes, and decided to give it a try.

This recipe is a keeper. The pancakes contained lots of chopped walnuts, and had a lovely texture and flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Nut Pancakes
Source: Good Housekeepings’ Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

A hundred-years-ago many families still lived on farms and drank non-pasteurized milk; and, even in towns, much of the milk that was sold was not pasteurized. Back then, if the non-pasteurized milk was not used quickly, the “good” bacteria in the milk would turn it into a sour milk suitable for use in recipes. When making old recipes that call for sour milk, today’s pasteurized milk can be turned into a sour milk by adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to create a slightly curdled acidic milk.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nut Pancakes

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups milk

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

2 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons butter, melted

3/4 cup walnuts chopped

Put the milk in a cup or bowl, then stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Set aside for at least 2 minutes.

Put the bread flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder,, melted butter, and milk that has been combined with the vinegar or lemon juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

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.

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Raisins and Bananas

Raisins and Bananas on plate

Bananas are tasty, convenient, and inexpensive. They are also a very healthy fruit with fiber and protein, and potassium and other nutrients. However, they can also be boring. So when I saw a recipe for Raisins and Bananas in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The bananas are baked with raisins in a light sugar syrup. The Raisins and Bananas were tasty, and would make a lovely fruit dessert or snack (or could be served at breakfast of another meal).

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Raisins and Bananas
Source: Cement City Cook Book (Published by First Baptist Church, Alpena, MI, 1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Raisins and Bananas

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup raisins

6 bananas

juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put sugar, water, and raisins in a saucepan; stir. Using medium heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool until lukewarm.

In the meantime, peel bananas and remove any stringy fibers. If desired cut the bananas in half. Arrange in a baking dish, then pour the raisins and syrup over the bananas. Put in oven and bake until the syrup is hot and bubbly, and the bananas tender. Remove from oven. May be served either hot or cold.

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Celery au Gratin

Celery au Gratin

A hundred years ago celery was often served as a cooked vegetable, so I decided to make a recipe  for Celery au Gratin that I found in a 1922 cookbook.

The Celery au Gratin was tasty with pieces of celery embedded in a delightful cheese sauce.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for Celery au Gratin
Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

I used butter instead of shortening when making the sauce for this recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Celery as Gratin

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flour

dash salt and pepper

3/4 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar.)

1/2 cup fine soft bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put celery pieces, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the celery is tender (about 10 minutes). Then remove from heat, and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid to use in the sauce. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in another saucepan, then stir in flour and dashes of salt and pepper. Gradually, add the milk and reserved celery liquid while stirring constantly; Continue heating and stirring using medium heat until the sauce thickens.

Put half the cooked celery in a 3-cup casserole dish; add 1/2 of the sauce, then top with  1/2 of the grated cheese. Repeat in same order. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan.  Add the breadcrumbs and stir. Continue stirring until the breadcrumbs are crispy and light brown.

Sprinkle the buttered breadcrumbs on top of the layered celery. Put in oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Baconized Meatballs

Baconzied Meatballs in Dish

Meatballs in gravy are a nice comfort food, so when I saw a recipe for Baconized Meatballs in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try. Bacon is chopped into small pieces, sauted, and then mixed with ground beef, spices, and other ingredients, and used to make the meatballs.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Baconized Meatballs
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

I was surprised that “meat balls” was written as two words in the old recipe. I updated to the more modern way of spelling and combined into one word: meatballs.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baconized Meatballs

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Meatballs

4 slices bacon

1 cup cracker crumbs

1/2 cup hot water

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon onion salt

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sage

1/4 allspice

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup cooking oil, shortening, or lard

Gravy

3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2  cups water

Cut bacon into small pieces, then put in a skillet and sauté until crisp. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl put the cracker crumbs, water, ground beef, egg, salt, pepper onion salt, celery salt, thyme, sage, allspice, and sautéed bacon pieces.  Mix well, and form into meat balls (about 1 inch in diameter).

Put 2 tablespoons of flour on a plate. Roll meatballs in the flour.

Place the cooking oil, shortening, or lard into an overproof skillet and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot fat, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Move skillet to oven (preheated to 375° F.), and continue cooking until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked (about 20 minutes).  Remove from oven and put meatballs in serving dish.

Put skillet back on the top of the stove, and reheat using medium heat. To make the gravy, stir the 3 tablespoons flour into the meat juices. Slowly add the water while stirring. Continue stirring until the gravy thickens and is hot and bubbly. Removed from heat, and pour gravy over the meatballs, then serve.

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