Old-fashioned Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce

Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce in Dish

I often hear friends say that they hated the boiled Brussels sprouts their mother made, but that they now love roasted Brussels sprouts. But I must admit that personally I liked those Brussels sprouts of lore, so was intrigued when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce.

I was pleased with how the recipe turned out. The recipe called for cooking the Brussels Sprouts for 15 minutes, so they were more tender and less crunchy than roasted ones – but I liked them. And, they were lovely when served in a cream sauce.

An aside: One reason Brussels sprouts taste different now than in the past is because of changed cooking methods. Another reason is that plant breeders have developed modern varieties of Brussels sprouts that are less bitter than the old-time varieties.

Here’s the original recipe:

Brussels Sprouts with Cream

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Cream
Source: American Cookery (December, 1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 quart (about 2 pounds) Brussels sprouts

2 quarts water

1 teaspoon salt +1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup half and half (or use milk for a lighter sauce)

Wash Brussels sprouts, cut off stems, and remove any wilted leaves. Put into a large saucepan. Cover with the water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are tender, then drain.

In the meantime, in another saucepan, using medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; stir in the flour, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gradually, add the half and half while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the Cream Sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

To serve: Pour the Cream Sauce over the cooked Brussels sprouts; stir gently to coat the Brussels sprouts with the sauce. Put in bowl and serve.

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Old-fashioned Celery Dressing

Celery Dressing in Bowl

Dressing (or stuffing as I often call it) is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal, so when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Celery Dressing I decided to give it a try. This recipe makes a bread dressing that is embedded with lots of celery, and is nicely seasoned with sage.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Most times when I make hundred-year-old recipes, I try to follow the recipe as closely as I can, but with this recipe I ended up making several adaptations. When I updated the recipe, I quadrupled it.  The original recipe didn’t make much stuffing.

I used 1-inch soft bread pieces rather than dried bread crumbs.  This recipe called for an awfully lot of butter (3/4 cup of butter for every 2 cups of bread crumbs), so I reduced the amount when updating the recipe. Maybe the very large amount of butter would work if I’d used dried bread crumbs – but even then it seems like it would be too much.

Finally, I didn’t have any onion juice, so instead of using the juice, I used finely chopped onions.

This dressing can be stuffed into a turkey. Addiitonal adaptations may need to be made (such as addiing both or other liquid) if cooked in a casserole dish.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Celery Dressing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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This recipe makes enough for a 9-10 pound turkey.

8 cups 1-inch pieces of bread or bread cubes (I tore bread into small pieces.)

1 cup butter

4 cups chopped celery

4 teaspoons onion juice or 1/2 cup finely chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons ground sage

Melt butter in a skillet, stir in the celery (and chopped onions, if used). Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the salt, pepper, and sage (and onion juice, if used). Pour over the bread pieces and stir to combine. Stuff turkey with the dressing, then roast turkey.

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Old-fashioned Coconut Pumpkin Pie

Slice of Coconut Pumpkin Pie

When it comes to planning my Thanksgiving menu I always struggle with getting the right balance between traditional foods and new recipes. New recipes that are variations of traditional foods can be a nice way to strike that balance. I recently came across a new recipe (well, actually a hundred-year-old recipe – but it was new to me) for Coconut Pumpkin Pie, and decided to give it a try.

The coconut gave the pie a lovely milky sweetness that blended nicely with the pumpkin. The recipe called for two spices – nutmeg and cinnamon. My standard pumpkin pie recipe does not use nutmeg, so the flavor was noticeably different from many typical pumpkin pies, but it was lovely. The verdict – this recipe is a keeper and I may make it again for the big day.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Coconut Pumpking Pie
Source: Cement City Cook Book Compiled by the First Baptist Church Alpena, Michigan (1922)

What is the correct way to spell “coconut:”? The old recipe spells it “cocoanut” though I usually see it spelled “coconut,” so I went with the latter spelling when I updated the recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 6 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 eggs, beaten

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup shredded coconut

1 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Put the eggs in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth and lemon colored. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg: beat until combined. Stir in the coconut, and pour into the pie shell. Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue baking until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Old-fashioned Cranberry Applesauce

Cranberry Applesauce in bowl

Fresh cranberries are only available for a short time each year, and each Fall I look forward their arrival on the produce aisle. I was pleased to see them this week. I then looked through my hundred-year-old cookbooks and found a simple but very tasty recipe for Cranberry Applesauce. The recipe turned out well. The Cranberry Applesauce wasn’t as tart as Cranberry Sauce, but it wasn’t as sweet as Applesauce. In other words, it was just right.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Even though the old recipe spelled “applesauce” as two words, I think that it is usually spelled as one word today, so that’s the way I spelled it. Apparently, it was at least sometimes spelled as two words a hundred years ago.

‘Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cranberry Applesauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 cups apples, sliced (peel and core before slicing) (use Gala, Honeycrisp, or other apple that makes a good sauce)

1 1/2 cups cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan, then using medium heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking until the apples are soft are tender and the cranberries have burst. Periodically stir. Remove from heat. May be served hot or cold.

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Rice and Celery Croquettes

Cooks are always looking for tasty recipes that use left-overs. A hundred-years-ago croquettes were a popular way to use left-over vegetables, meats, and other foods. Often the croquettes were shaped into balls or small cylinders, and then fried.

I don’t make croquette recipes very often because I worry about whether fried foods are healthy. But I recently came across a recipe for Rice and Celery Croquettes that called for baking the croquettes rather than frying them, so I decided to give the recipe a try. The croquettes had a nice breaded coating, and a delicate onion and celery flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rice and Celery Croquettes
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

500° F. seemed like a very high temperature and I was concerned that the top of the croquettes would burn before the centers got hot, so I baked the croquettes at 425° F.

The ingredient list called for strained tomatoes, but the directions referred to tomato juice, so I used tomato juice. Rather than grating the onion, I finely chopped it.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice and Celery Croquettes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato juice

2 eggs

1/8 teaspoon beef extract or bouillon powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fine plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put the beef extract powder or bouillon powder and tomato juice in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the extract/bouillon powder Set aside.

Mix together rice, celery, onions, 1 egg, salt, and tomato juice with beef extract/bouillon. Shape into croquettes. I made round croquettes that were about 1-inch in diameter.

Put bread crumbs on a plate, then roll the croquettes in the breadcrumbs. Dip the coated croquettes in a beaten egg that has been mixed with two tablespoons water, then roll again in the bread crumbs.

Put the croquettes in a overproof baking dish or skillet. (I used a cast iron skillet). Dot top of croquettes with small pieces of butter. Place in oven and bake until the croquettes are lightly browned (about 35 minutes). If they are not sufficiently browned, increase oven temperature to 500° F. and bake for several additional minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

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Old-fashioned Steamed (Winter) Squash

Steamed squash in bowl

Yesterday my husband and I made our annual trip to a farm where the farmer sells pumpkins and squash from a farm wagon. We’ve purchased pumpkins and squash from the same farmer for more than ten years, and always look forward to a conversation about the weather, how young people don’t know that Hubbard squash is a squash, and tend to think of it as a decorative gourd, and so on.

We weren’t disapointed. The farmer had three farm wagons filled with orange, yellow, green, and white pumpkins, and butternut, acorn, Hubbard, and other types of squash.

When I got home, I flipped through my hundred-year-old cookbooks and found a recipe for Steamed (Winter) Squash. The recipe is very simple. Sometimes simple is best. Chunks of squash are steamed, then mashed. Butter, salt, pepper, and a small amount of sugar are then stirred into the squash. The mashed Steamed Squash was delightful. It’s a perfect comfort food, and  brings warm memories of eating a similar vegetable dish when I was a child.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Steamed Squash
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

I found this recipe a little difficult to follow, but I interpreted it to mean that fairly large chunks of winter squash that have not been peeled should be put into the steamer. After steaming, the pulp is removed from the squash shell, then mashed.

Since there are no amounts listed in this recipe, I made a judgement about how much of each ingredient to use to make 3-4 servings of the Steamed Squash.

Squash chunks in steamer

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Steamed Winter Squash

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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About 1 pound winter squash (I used 1/2 of a butternut squash)

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/8 teamspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut squash into large chunks (if necessary remove seeds), each about 4 inches across, Do not peel. Put the chunks of squash in a large pan that contains a steamer. Add water to the pan, so that it comes to just below the steamer. Cover pan. Using high heat, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat so the water continues gently boiling. Keep pan covered and steam until the squash is tender (about 20-30 minutes).  Remove from heat. Using a spoon scrape the squash pulp from the shell. Put into a mixing bowl and mash. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and sugar. Put in serving bowl and serve immediately.

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Old-fashioned Breakfast Apples

Breakfast applesI’m always looking for new recipes for simple, yet tasty ways to serve apples – and I recently found an excellent new (old) recipe. The hundred-year-old recipe was for Breakfast Apples, though they are work equally well at lunch or dinner.

The Breakfast Apples were delightful. Apple slices were sautéed in butter then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Breakfast Apples

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 large tart apples (Braeburn, McIntosh, Granny Smith, etc.)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoons sugar

Core and slice the apples (do not peel them). Melt butter in a skillet using medium heat; add salt and stir to combine. Add sliced apples, then put lid on pan. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove lid and use a spatula to turn over the apple slices so they evenly cook on both slides. Put lid back on the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove lid and check to see if the apples are soft. (If they are not soft, cook for several additonal minutes.)

In the meantime, put the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, and mix together.

Sprinkle the cooked apples with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Serve hot.

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