I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Blueberry Duff in the February, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping. Duffs often are steamed puddings – but this recipe is very easy to make and calls for baking the duff in the oven.
This Blueberry Duff is moist, rich, and spicy. It contains molasses, well as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
The recipe calls for canned blueberries. I’m fascinated by what people ate during the winter months in the days before modern transportation allowed produce to be shipped thousands of miles. In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.
1 15-ounce (1 pint) can of canned blueberries (DO NOT use blueberry pie filling. This recipe calls for canned blueberries.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup barley flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses
whipped cream, optional
Drain canned blueberries; reserve both juice and berries.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put all-purpose flour, barley flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, molasses, and blueberry juice in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; put lid on dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from dish by running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting on a plate.
Serve either warm or cold. If desired, serve with whipped cream.
A hundred years ago, fresh fruit was scarce during the long winter months, so pies were often made using dried fruit. I found a wonderful recipe for a Fig Meringue Pie in a 1919 cookbook. The delectable fig filling is topped with a creamy meringue.
2 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons sugar + a small amount of additional sugar
1 8-inch (small) baked pie crust
Remove stems from figs, then chop. (There should be approximately 2 1/2 cups of chopped figs.) Put chopped figs in a saucepan, add water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 325° F. Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; beat together. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot fig mixture into bowl with beaten egg mixture, stir quickly to prevent eggs from coagulating. Then put this mixture in the saucepan with the cooked figs while stirring. Return to heat (medium), and cook until the mixture thickens while stirring continuously. Pour into a pie shell which had been previously baked.
In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.
Are you looking for a tasty, fun-to-make Valentine’s Day treat? Well, I may have found the perfect recipe for you. Pastry Hearts are made by spreading jelly on pastry dough, rolling into a log, slicing, and then shaping into hearts. The process of squeezing and pressing the dough to create the hearts was fun and felt a bit like playing with play dough.
pie pastry for a 1-shell pie (or use scraps of pastry dough left-over after making a pie crust)
1 egg white
red-colored jelly – red raspberry, cherry, etc. (I used red current jelly, but if I made this recipe again, I’d select a redder jelly.)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pie pastry into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Thinly spread with jelly. Starting at the narrow end, firmly roll into a log-shape. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.
Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. Shape into hearts by pulling into a point at one end, and pressing in at the other end. Use a paper towel to dab away any excess jelly. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 10 -15 minutes (or until lightly browned).
Recipes from a hundred-years ago often contain minimal directions and can be difficult to interpret. And, I occasionally come across old recipes that call for ingredients that are no longer available. Today is one of those times. When I read a 1919 recipe for Sour Milk Waffles, I immediately knew that I was not going to be able to exactly replicate the recipe.
A hundred-years-ago many families still lived on farms; 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. 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.
But this recipe calls for “thick sour milk.” The soured milk that I make with vinegar or lemon juice isn’t very thick. Then I remembered that milk in days gone by would have also contained cream that floated on the top. Perhaps the recipe is referring to the thickness of the soured cream. So, I substituted 1/4 cup sour cream, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons vinegar for the thick sour milk.
The recipe also says that if the milk lacks richness, add additional shortening. I decided that the sour cream added sufficient richness, and that no extra shortening was needed.
I was pleased with how my updated version of Sour Milk Waffles turned out. If you are looking for a soft waffle recipe, this is the recipe for you. The waffles had an old-fashioned goodness, and were very tasty. They browned nicely, and were fluffy and soft – though they were not crispy like most modern waffles.
Today I often hear that fresh fruit and vegetables are best – and that canned vegetables aren’t as tasty. This differs from a hundred years ago when canned vegetables were considered a “modern” way of preserving food.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style that intrigued me, and – though knowing that canned corn is not trendy – decided to give it a try. Perhaps part of what intrigued me was the claim that this was an internationally-inspired recipe. Was it really Mexican style? – or did the recipe author just think that a humble dish seemed more enticing if it was billed as an internationally-inspired food?
I’m glad that I gave this recipe a chance. The Corn Custard was rich and silky, and brought back warm, fuzzy memories of family gatherings many years ago when a similar dish was served.
1 pint corn (15-ounce can corn) – I used creamed style corn.
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 400° F. Melt butter in a skillet using medium heat. Put chopped onion and green pepper in skillet; saute until tender.
In the meantime, in a bowl, stir together eggs, milk, corn, salt, and paprika; pour mixture into the skillet with the onions and green peppers while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and steamy. Remove from heat and pour into a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Place a pan of hot water (the water should be about 1/2 inch deep) in the oven. (I used an old aluminum baking sheet with sides for the pan.) Then set the casserole dish with the corn mixture in the water. Bake until the corn custard is firm in the center and lightly browned. The length of time this dish needs to cook will vary depending upon the depth of the casserole dish. (When I made this recipe, it took about 45 minutes for corn custard to get firm.) Remove Corn Custard from oven. (I left the pan with the hot water in the oven until it cooled to avoid the risk of burning myself.)
I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Graham Pop-overs. The pop-overs did not rise as much as anticipated, but nevertheless they were a delightful bread that seemed more like a muffin than a pop-over. The Graham Pop-overs had a slightly nutty flavor, and were wonderful when served warm with butter or honey.
Graham flour is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour that contains the endosperm, the bran, and the wheat germ. Modern graham flours sometimes have most of the wheat germ removed to prolong shelf life and to help keep it from going rancid.
Year ago graham flour was considered a health food, and I regularly see recipes that call for it in hundred-year-old cookbooks.
Graham flour is named after its inventor Sylvester Graham. He began making graham flour in the 1830s, and promoted it as part of a health movement which encouraged eating vegetarian meals and unseasoned foods.
It might take a little effort to find graham flour. I had to look for the flour at three stores before I finally found it.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Beat eggs, then add milk. Beat in graham flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and shortening. Beat until just combined. Put batter into well-greased custard cups (ramekins) – or a muffin tin may be used. Fill each cup 1/2 full. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Do not open oven to help ensure the pop-overs rise completely. Reduce heat to 350° F. (The oven may now be opened to test for doneness.) Bake another 5 – 10 minutes or until the pop-overs are lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and immediately remove from custard cups/muffin tin.
The pop-overs baked more quickly than indicated in the original recipe, so I reduced the baking time.
The 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors. It was ratified on January 16, 1919, and prohibition went into effect a year later. The hundredth anniversary of this event is a good time to take a look at recipes for alcoholic beverages from the 1910s.
Bathtub gin, speakeasies, and flappers would be on the scene soon, but in 1919 people were celebrating the move toward temperance. At the time when the 18th Amendment was ratified, it was widely supported throughout much of the U.S. This amendment was the culmination of many temperance efforts by individuals and organization during the preceding decades.
Cookbooks published during the 1910s mirrored the trends of the times – and most contained no recipes for alcoholic beverages with the occasional exception of a recipe or two for egg nog for invalids – cooking for invalids was a common topic in cookbooks of that era – that called for adding a couple of tablespoons of whiskey or other liquor.
The one cookbook that I’ve found that contains numerous recipes for alcoholic beverages is a 1917 edition of a Kentucky cookbook called The Blue Grass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox. The two recipes included in this post are from that cookbook.