Old-fashioned Lettuce Washer

letttuce washer
Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1922)

It’s fun to see old-time kitchen gadgets. Here’s what a hundred-year-old magazine said about a lettuce washer featured in an article titled, The Newest Kitchen Utensils:

Lettuce Washer

There are few things more distasteful than a plate of lettuce or romaine or chicory which, no matter how carefully it has been selected, examined or washed, has been so imperfectly dried that the dressing is weakened almost to tastelessness by the water still remaining on the leaves. Yet this happens even in the most carefully administered households, for it is a difficult thing to dry salad plants well without breaking their delicate, tender leaves. This implement, which is a familiar object in all French kitchens, is a salad washer and dryer. The green leaves are rinsed and placed in it, then it is dipped several times in a pan of cold water, and finally it is hung in a cool place where it may drip uninterruptedly. If time presses it may be swung back and forth a few times and all superfluous water will be expelled. Place the basket close to the ice to crisp the salad until serving time.

Ladies Home Journal (March, 1923)

Hundred-Year-Old Tip to Prevent Pots from Boiling Over

Saucepan that boiled overWhen I boil potatoes, beans, or other vegetables, I often have issues with the water boiling over. Here’s a household hint in a hundred-year-old cookbook about how to prevent a pan from boiling over:

To Keep the Lid on a Boiling Pot – A teaspoonful of butter dropped into the water in which you are boiling dry beans, or other starchy vegetables will stop the annoyance of having the lid on the pot jump off, as it will otherwise do. The butter acts the same as oil on troubled waters and keeps it calm and manageable.

Cook Book (Published by Bethany Shrine Patrol No. 1, Rochester N.Y., 1923)

1923 Tables for Calculating Food Portions for a Large Group

Table showing amount of food needed for church suppers
Source: Order of the Eastern Star Relief Fund Cook Book (Michigan Grand Chapter, 1923-1924, p. 37)

Old community and organization cookbooks provide a wealth of information – and I’m never quite sure what I’ll find when I start leafing through one. For example, I’d never considered how much butter, meat, or coffee was needed when having a large church supper, so it was helpful to find information about the amounts needed of page 37 of a hundred-year-old cookbook published by the Michigan Grand Chapter of the Eastern Star.

I was even more amazed when I flipped to page 81 of the same cookbook and found a table showing the amounts of various foods needed to serve 50 people.

Food needed to serve 50 people.
Source: Order of the Eastern Star Relief Fund Cook Book (Michigan Grand Chapter, 1923-1924, p. 81)

And, I was flabbergasted that some of the recommendations differed across the two pages. For example, for church suppers, a pound of butter will be enough for 48 to 56 servings, so it looks like a pound of butter would be enough for 50 people; but the chart on the amount of food needed for 50 people says that 2 pounds of butter is needed. Similarly, the church supper information says 1 pound of coffee is needed to serve 40 to 50 people, but the other table indicates that 2 pounds are needed to serve 50 people; however, there is some good news.  The information on both pages agree that 1/2 bushel of potatoes are needed to serve 50 people.

“A Homely Way to Make Potatoes” Recipe

Potato Mixture in Dish

I love to browse through old community cookbooks. Sometimes the recipes have unusual names that intrigue me. This is one of those times. A 1923 cookbook published by the General Welfare Guild of the Beaver Valley General Hospital in New Brighton, Pennsylvania had a recipe for “A Homely Way to Cook Potatoes.” Can potatoes be “homely?”

The recipe called for putting potatoes, onion, parsley and seasonings in a saucepan with water, and then boiling the mixture. The recipe was easy to make. The potatoes reminded me of old-fashioned parsley potatoes. And, the homely potatoes (dare I say it?) were attractive.

Here’s the original recipe:

Potato Recipe
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (Published by the General Welfare Guild, Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton, PA, 1923)

I’m not exactly sure how much  “4 large tablespoon butter” is, so I used four tablespoons of butter. It also did not seem like boiling water needed to be used in this recipe. I just used cold water. I’m sure that it took a little longer to heat, but that was okay with me.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

A Homely Way to Make Potatoes

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

6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 large onion, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup water

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Serve immediately.


1923 Cookbooks

cookbook cover

As we move into the new year, I’m shifting from making 1922 recipes to making 1923 recipes. I’m always re-energized each January when I have a whole new set of cookbooks and magazines to search through to find recipes to make for this blog. I recently purchased several 1923 cookbooks on eBay. Here are a few of the books that I’ll be pulling recipes from this year.

The Order of the Eastern Star Relief Fund Cook Book was “compiled and arranged by Minnie Grace Kenyon, Past Grand Matron,Michigan Grand Chapter, Order of the Easter Star.” The cookbook does not mention the purpose of the relief fund, so I don’t know why they were raising money by publishing a cookbook.

Cookbook coverThe General Welfare Guild Cook Book was compiled by a special committee of the General Welfare Guild of the Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton, Pennsylvania. The preface to the book says:

This organizations is an important auxiliary to the Hospital, having furnished and now maintaining:

  • The Children’s Ward,.
  • The Woman’s Surgical Ward,
  • The Maternity Ward,

as well as contributing liberally to many other charities.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve During Prohibition

bellWe always hear about the Roaring 20’s, but here is how a hundred-year-old magazine said that New Year’s Eve should be celebrated:

It is very natural to wish to drink to the health of one’s friends at the beginning of a new year, but fortunately the drunkenness and carousing that formerly marked New Year’s Eve have largely passed away and now we one another  “Happy New Year” just as fervently as of old, though less boisterously.

Surely the beginning of a new year is a day peculiarly adapted for family celebrations. The color scheme most appropriate is that of the Christmas Season- the read and green of the holly, which brings good luck. The bell is often used as a symbol of the New Year. “Ring out the old – Ring in the new.”

American Cookery (December, 1922)