Sometimes information provided in hundred-year-old magazines just leaves me scratching my head. For example, here’s a question I never would have thought of asking – and I have no clue whether the answer is correct.
Are Salted Nuts More Digestible Than Unsalted Ones?
YES! Nuts should never be eaten in any quantity without the addition of salt. The bulk of the protein of the nut is a substance called globulin, which is soluble in salt solution. Therefore, the addition of salt to the nut aids in its solution and digestion. This factor should not be so important in the case of roasted nuts, but even here salt, by making the nuts more palatable, aids in starting off their digestion, which is at best somewhat slow.
Breakfast in bed . . . those three words convey the ultimate in pampering to me. A century-old article in a popular women’s magazine, suggested that breakfast in bed may have been more popular than it is now. American Cookery showed several examples of beautiful place-settings that could be used to serve breakfast in bed. The article indicated that breakfast is bed was not just a luxury for wealthy people, but a nice change of pace for anyone:
But to all, even hum-drum women, there dawn days when a bit “under the weather” we merit the pleasure of a secluded breakfast. When a rarity, it is a joy. Many women who could not stand it daily – who like to be “up and at it” – confess to a veritable delight in a dainty bedside breakfast when overtired or indisposed.
There are lots of things to think about when deciding whether to serve hot cereal or cold “ready-to-eat” cereal. Here’s what a hundred-year-old home economics textbook says:
The ready-to-eat cereals commend themselves to those whose time is money. For the house-mother whose chief business is housekeeping the uncooked cereals will make the greatest return for the money spent. A cent’s worth of oatmeal when cooked is as much as the very heartiest laboring man can eat. A cent’s worth of cornmeal makes a breakfast for him, and there will be some left to fry for supper.
A cent’s worth of a ready-to-eat cereal is less – one shredded wheat biscuit or a dainty dish of corn flakes. The saving all depends upon the value of the cook’s time. For uncooked cereals she expends time in preparation, for the ready-to-eat cereals she expends money.
True economy for one family may be extravagance for another family. The intelligent housewife considers all these facts in order to make a wise decision.
How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie A. Long (1914)
I always enjoy reading hundred-year-old advice. Sometimes I agree with it; other times I just smile. Here is what a century-old home economics textbook says about drinking water:
That drinking water at meals is harmful is another tradition to which some people still cling. There may be certain pathological conditions that would make this practice harmful. But people in normal health suffer no ill effects from a reasonable amount of water taken with meals. A safe rule at meals is to drink when you are thirsty, and with one limitation not to drink when masticating.
The digestion of starch foods should begin in the mouth and this can take place only when the food is thoroughly mixed with the saliva. If food is mixed with water the salivary glands are not sufficiently stimulated to action, and the food passes from the mouth without enough of the digestive juice.
One disadvantage of drinking water at meals is that people who do so often think they have a sufficient amount and do not drink between meals. Copious water-drinking is essential for proper elimination. It is a safe rule to take at least six glasses a day, including that taken at meals, and ten glasses are not too much.
How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie Long (1914)
The introduction to the “Fish” chapter in a hundred-year-old cookbook explains why we should eat fish:
If more fish and less meat were used in the daily meals, it would help to reduce the cost of living. Fish provides the same nutrients as meat at a much smaller cost, and furnishes a food that is not only palatable but easily digested.
Whitefish, haddock, halibut, cod, flounder, smelts, perch, pickerel, sunfish and crappies belong to the white-fleshed family. Salmon, shad, lake trout, butterfish, and herring being to the red-fleshed family.
As the white-fleshed fish is considered more easy of digestion than the red-fleshed, it should be selected for invalids, convalescents or those suffering from weak digestion.
Fish should be eaten while fresh and in season; then it provides a delicate protein food. Stale fish is poisonous, so great care should be used in its selection. Fish contains albumen, and as albumen (which is like the white of egg) coagulates at a low temperature, it should be cooked at a temperature below the boiling point for water.
The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)
I find the last sentence about cooking fish at a temperature below the boiling point of water a bit befuddling. Have you ever heard that it was important to cook fish at low temperatures? I often put fish in the oven at 400° F. or sear on top of the stove using high temperatures.
I get ideas for posts from many sources. The inspiration for today’s post was a comment by a reader, Mona Gustafson Affinito, last week. She is writing a book set in the early 1900’s about her father called My Father’s House. She asked:
Have you run across tea wagons? My sister remembers fondly visiting the neighbor lady who served lovely little sandwiches and cookies, beautifully laid out on a tea wagon. My mother requested one for years, but, sadly, never got it. I’m trying to understand why as I work on “My Father’s House.”
This week I was flipping through 1917 issues of Good Housekeeping, and low and behold, there was a photo of a tea wagon illustrating an article on “Outdoor Meals.”
The caption of the photo contained the only mention of the tea wagon, but Mona, I hope it helps.
A century ago luncheons with friends often had beautiful tablescapes designed by the hostess. There are many lovely tablescape ideas and examples in hundred-year-old magazines. Here’s a suggestion for how to create a Peasant Table:
The “Peasant Table” is always in favor for luncheons, especially informal affairs. The one pictured has a long runner of white linen decorated with a crochet insertion and finished with a crochet edge. A grass receptacle in the center contains a flower holder in which tall spikes of zinnias appear to be growing in a natural clump. Four plain brass candlesticks frame the floral centerpiece. A brass bowl at each end flanks the candlestick, and it contains a floating pool of zinnia leaves and blossoms. Individual blue and white flower holders to match the blue and white dishes, contain zinnias also. Crochet doilies are used at the plates instead of linen, to relieve the plainness of the runner.