Did you ever plan the menu for a meal with 200 people? . . . and ended up getting sticker shock at how much it would cost? According to a hundred-year-old magazine, a church supper for 200 people in 1916 would cost only $74.58. To keep the costs down, the menu did have a few limitations. For example, canned peas were listed as the main vegetable. But, on the other hand, the person planning the menu did budget $3.50 for “help”.
We really should factor in inflation when looking at this old menu. According to an online inflation calculator, a dollar in 1916 is worth $22.22 today. So in today’s dollars, the total meal cost $1,657.17 or $8.29 per person – which, at least in my book, is still a very reasonably priced meal.
I found a delightful Bavarian Cabbage recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine. This traditional German dish was refreshingly sweet-sour (more sour than sweet), and would be lovely served with sausages, roast beef, or pork. It tasted very authentic; and if I closed my eyes and listened hard enough, I could almost see myself sitting at an outdoor cafe on the banks of the Rhine on a cool October day while listening to merry Octoberfest music.
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or butter (I used bacon drippings.)
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Using medium heat, melt the bacon drippings (or butter) in a frying pan; add onions and cook until tender (but not browned). Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Then add the shredded cabbage and stir; cover the pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Remove pan cover once or twice during cooking to make sure there is enough liquid; if too dry add enough water to keep from burning. (I did not need to add any water.)
I used less salt than the original recipe called for. One tablespoon of salt seemed like a lot – so I decided that it probably was a typo and instead used 1 teaspoon of salt. I also didn’t quite understand the last part of the old recipe about cold water (though I’m guessing that it was directing the cook to wash the cabbage prior to cooking).
There’s a lovely suggestion for serving grapefruit in a hundred-year-old magazine. The membrane between the segments is removed, and a maraschino cherry (or other fruit) is added as a garnish.
When two of my children visited recently, I tried serving grapefruit this way. The feedback very positive. Both agreed that the grapefruit was attractive and easy to eat.
Updated directions for modern cooks: Halve the grapefruit with a small paring knife; next cut around the edge of the grapefruit and around each segment, and then carefully remove several segments. With the knife cut the center membrane near where it is attached to the grapefruit rind, and then gently remove all of the membranes. After the membranes are removed, replace previously removed segments, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
I love peanut butter cookies, so when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for peanut butter cut-out cookies I had to give it a try.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this recipe, it quickly became apparent that something was wrong. When I combined all the ingredients, I had a thick batter instead of a dough–and there was no way I could roll it out. I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with the original recipe, but I decided that the best way to salvage it was to add additional flour – lots of flour. The resulting soft dough rolled out nicely.
The verdict: The cookies were nothing like modern peanut butter cookies, but if you can totally suspend expectations, the cookies were good. The old-fashioned cake-like cookies had a hint of peanut butter, and are lovely with milk or coffee.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the butter, peanut butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl, stir to combine. Stir in the egg and milk, then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well-mixed. Refrigerate dough 1/2 hour or until chilled.
On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 9-11 minutes.
Each Fall my husband and I drive out into the country to see the leaves – and to buy pumpkins and winter squash. There’s a farmer who sells incredible produce directly from a farm wagon – and each year we worry that his tiny roadside market will be gone.
But this year (like every year), just when we were sure we won’t find his wagon, we went around a bend and there it was–and the selection of pumpkins and squash was the best it’s ever been. We stocked up on lots of Fall produce. Right now most of the squash are on our front porch with the pumpkins, but I decided to use an acorn squash immediately – which leads me to the point of this post. I needed to find a hundred-year-old recipe for acorn squash.
I browsed through my old cookbooks and found a delightful recipe for baked squash which called for molasses.
The recipe worked perfectly with my acorn squash. The savory nuttiness of the squash is enhanced by the rustic sweetness of the molasses.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Depending upon squash size, halve or quarter the acorn squash to create serving-sized pieces. Remove seeds and the stringy portion. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil to make clean-up easier. Brush with molasses, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. While baking, baste 2 or 3 times with additional molasses. After the squash is removed from the oven put a small dab on butter in the middle of each squash piece.
There’s starting to be a nip in the air; a few trees are turning lovely hues of red and yellow, and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is here – and I had a sudden urge to make soup.
I found a lovely hundred-year-old recipe for Cream of Onion Soup. The soup was rich and creamy with flecks of onions. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of pepper which gave the Cream of Onion Soup a delightful peppery undertone.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in large saucepan, add sliced onions and saute until the onions are soft and semi-transparent (but not browned). Add water and parsley, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor.
Meanwhile, in a dutch oven, using medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter; then stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly; then add the pureed onion mixture.
In a small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks; add cream and stir to blend. Add a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of onion mixture and stir quickly to prevent the egg from coagulating. Then stir the egg and cream mixture into the onion mixture in the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and then serve.
Old-fashioned Brownies with Walnuts are an ultimate comfort dessert, and I found a delightful recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook. They were moist and chewy. The top of the Brownies was less crusty than many modern brownies – but the Brownies were wonderful. And, my husband and I devoured the entire pan within 24 hours.
This recipe was in one of my favorite hundred-year-old cookbooks, Lowney’s Cookbook. It is a general cookbook (though it was published by a chocolate manufacturer), and I tend to think of it as being an old-time equivalent of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
This recipe was one of the signature recipes in the old cookbook. Of course Lowney’s Premium Chocolate is long gone, so I substituted unsweetened baking chocolate. I was also surprised that the recipe didn’t call for baking powder or baking soda – but the recipe turned out just fine without it. I baked the brownies at 350° F. and it took longer than 15 minutes for them bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter in a mixing bowl; stir in sugar and chocolate. Add eggs, flour, and salt, and stir until combined.; then stir in walnuts. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cut into 36 squares.