Old-fashioned Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters are a wonderful comfort food, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for them. The fritters were crispy; and, when served with a little confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, had just the right amount of sweetness. The fritters are made using banana slices or chunks, and when I bit into them, the embedded fruit was pure delight. This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

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

Banana Fritters

  • Servings: approximately 24 fritters
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

2 medium bananas, sliced or cut into small chunks (I sliced the bananas.)

shortening or lard

confectioners sugar (optional)

Put flour, baking powder, salt, egg, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined. Add sliced or cubed bananas, and gently stir until the bananas are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into hot shortening. Fry for about 2 minutes. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. If desired, sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve immediately.

Butterfly Salad Recipe

It’s always a challenge to get kids to eat healthy foods, but one trick that parents have been using for a long time is to dress foods up so they look like animals or other creatures. I recently came across a fun hundred-year-old recipe for Butterfly Salad that is quick and easy to make.

The recipe called for asparagus, lettuce, pineapple slices, olives, and pimento strips. This combination of ingredients sounded a bit unusual to me, but it actually was very tasty. The olives added a nuanced saltiness to the other ingredients, but did not overwhelm them.

Here’s the original recipe:

 

Source: American Cookery (January, 1919)

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

Butterfly Salad

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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For each serving:

2 flat lettuce leaves (I used the top portion of the outer leaves from a head of Romaine lettuce.)

1 slice canned pineapple

1 spear cooked asparagus (chilled)

2 – 3 stuffed green olives

2 strips pimento

2 tablespoons French dressing or mayonnaise (optional)

To make a butterfly set the asparagus spear in the center of the plate to represent the body.  To make the wings place the lettuce leaves on either side of the asparagus spear. To make the head, set an olive at the base of the asparagus spear. Cut the pineapple slice in half, and symmetrically set each half on a lettuce leaf.  Slice the other olive(s), and place slices on the pineapple to decorate the leaf “wings”. Put the strips of pimento above the olive head to represent the butterfly’s antennas. If desired, serve with French dressing or mayonnaise.

Eggs, Grand Duc Recipe

toast topped with asparagus, cheese sauce and poached eggAsparagus and eggs pair beautifully, and hum of spring, so I was thrilled to come across a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs, Grand Duc which is a delightful, surprisingly modern, egg and asparagus recipe.

Toast is topped with long, graceful spears of asparagus, which is immersed in a creamy cheese sauce. And, it all is topped with a perfectly poached egg.

The presentation is lovely, and would be perfect for a small Spring brunch.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

Here’s the recipe updated modern cooks. To make this dish more visually appealing, I used whole slices of toast instead of the toast squares called for in the original recipe. I also assembled the ingredients in a different order than called for in the original recipe.

Eggs Grand Duc

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 pound asparagus

4 eggs

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/3 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar.)

4 slices of bread, toasted

Asparagus

Trim asparagus spears to remove the tough sections at the bottom of the stalks. Place asparagus in a pan with a steamer. Put water in the bottom of the steamer, and cover. Heat to a boil; then reduce heat until the water simmers. Steam for about 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. (If preferred the asparagus can be roasted instead of steamed.)

Poached Egg Directions

Bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a skillet, then reduce to a simmer. Break each egg into a small bowl or cup, then slip into the water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the poached eggs from the water using a slotted spatula, and drain on paper towels.

Cheese Sauce Directions

Using medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan; then stir in the flour and salt. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly. Then add the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce thickens.

To Assemble

On the top of each slice of toast, arrange one-fourth of the cooked asparagus. Spoon cheese sauce on top of the asparagus, and top with a poached egg.

Dandelions with Bacon or Ham Recipe

Each Spring a primordial urge pulls me out of the house –paring knife and bowl in hand– to the weedy natural area at the far edge of my yard. Luscious green dandelion plants peek through the brown leaf-covered grass. The winter has been long and hard, and I desperately need to renew myself. The tender foraged greens are my spring tonic (as they were for my parents and grandparents).

People traditionally ate a very limited selection of foods during the late winter months, and often they were nutrient-deprived by April. Their bodies told them they needed the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants provided by the emerging dandelion leaves.

Since I’m a dandelion connoisseur (Is it possible to be a connoisseur of weeds?) , I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Dandelion with Ham or Bacon.

I made the ham version. The ham bits nicely balanced the slight bitterness of the small tender dandelion leaves. As I hungrily devour the dish,  I can almost feel the nutrients surging through my body. I’ve made it through another winter. Spring (and fresh food) have arrived – and I know that the summer’s bounty will be here soon. Life is good.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (April, 1918)

When I made this recipe, I made one-quarter of the original recipe. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dandelions with Ham or Bacon

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 quarts dandelion (8 cups)

water

4 ounces ham or bacon, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

Thoroughly wash the dandelion. (I triple wash it, and it is a slow process. The washing of the dandelion is what takes most of the time when making this recipe.)  Put in a large sauce pan and cover with boiling water. Place on stove, bring back to a boil using high heat. Boil for 15 seconds then remove from heat and drain thoroughly. Just barely cover the dandelion with fresh boiling water, add ham or bacon, salt, and pepper. Cover and place back on the stove. Return to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tend and the dandelions are almost dry (they should still have a little juice (about 25 minutes).  Remove from heat. If desired, serve with boiled turnips or potatoes.

Old-fashioned Beef Balls with Spaghetti

There are some foods where the recipes were just plain different a century ago than what they are now. Spaghetti is one of those foods. Modern marinara sauce recipes often call for basil and oregano, but those spices are seldom seen in old recipes.

I decided to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Beef Balls with Spaghetti. The recipe for the sauce called only for tomatoes, green pepper, onion, parsley, water, and salt. I had my doubts about the recipe, and worried that it won’t be spicy enough.

I worried needlessly. This recipe was a hit.

My husband said, “This spaghetti is great. It reminds me of the spaghetti they served when I was in elementary school. Mom never made spaghetti, and this was my favorite meal at school.”

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Cooking for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made this recipe entirely on top of the stove. I couldn’t figure out why the 1919 recipe calls for doing part of the cooking in the oven.)

Beef Balls with Spaghetti

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 28-ounce can tomatoes (or use a 1 quart jar of tomatoes)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped + 1 teaspoon onion, grated

2 bunches parsley, chopped

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

1/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons shortening or cooking oil

1/2 pound spaghetti

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. To make sauce, put tomatoes, green pepper, 1 chopped onion, parsley, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then puree.

While the vegetables are cooking, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon grated onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, then shape into 12 balls each approximately 1-inch in diameter. Put shortening or oil into a skillet, and heat. Add the beef balls, and cook for 3-5 minutes, then gently roll over. Roll several times until browned on all sides.

Put spaghetti sauce back in sauce pan, add beef balls. Using medium heat bring to a boil; reduce heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Beginning about 15 minutes before the sauce will be finished, cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

To serve, remove sauce from heat, and take beef balls out of the sauce.  Add spaghetti and parmasen cheese to the sauce, and lift with a fork until well blended. Add meatballs. Serve immediately

Runkel’s Fudge Roll

People often say to me, “You make all those hundred-year-old recipes . . . Don’t you ever have cooking disasters?”

And, I usually reply, “I seldom have a disaster. Most recipes turn out fine, but I make them only once; some are very good and I make them a couple of times; and, a few I absolutely love and they have become part of my regular cooking repertoire.”

But, I do occasionally have cooking disasters. This is one of those times.

I found a recipe for Runkel’s Fudge Roll in an advertisement for Runkel’s Cocoa in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, and thought to myself, “I bet this will be a good recipe. Usually recipes in advertisements were carefully tested.”

Wrong – The fudge filling hardened very quickly, and was difficult to spread; AND, the cake base broke into pieces when I tried to roll it.

The one good thing about this recipe is that it was very tasty – even though it didn’t look very nice.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1919)

Runkel's Fudge Roll

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: difficult
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2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Put butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir together. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth. Put batter on a 15x10x1 -inch baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the batter goes to the edges and corners of the pan, and that it is spread evenly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn upside down on a piece of parchment paper that has been covered with sugar. Peel off the parchment paper that was used when baking. Immediately spread with the fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.

Fudge Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter using medium low heat in a saucepan, add cocoa and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, and milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and add vanilla. Beat until smooth, and spread on cake base. Note: This icing hardens quickly. Immediately spread as soon as it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Old-fashioned Corned Beef Hash

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Some things just go together like St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef – and, of course, for me it was only a small leap until I was asking, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes for corned beef?

I’m happy to report that I found an excellent hundred-year-old Corned Beef Hash recipe that was simple to make and a great way to use any corned beef left over from St. Patrick’s Day.  However, there was one little glitch. I couldn’t bring myself to try the serving suggestion.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Pour a ring of ketchup around the Corned Beef Hash? It might make a lovely presentation (though I tend to think not), but I’ll never know for sure.

And, I didn’t serve the Corned Beef Hash with baked bananas. Baked bananas may be tasty, but the 1919 cookbook didn’t include a recipe for them, and I don’t know how to make them. I must be lacking a bit of common cooking knowledge that most cooks had back then . . .sigh.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Corned Beef Hash

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup cold cooked corn beef, chopped

1 cup cold boiled potatoes, chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons shortening

3 tablespoons broth that the corned beef was cooked in or water (I used water.)

paprika

Melt shortening in a skillet that has a lid; add corned beef, potatoes, and broth or water. Sprinkle with paprika. Gently stir to combine. Cover pan and cook using medium low heat until hot and steamy (and until most of the broth has been absorbed or evaporated). Stir occasionally. Do not allow the potatoes to brown. Remove from heat and serve.