Cuts of Beef a Hundred Years Ago

Source: Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts (1913(
Source: Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts (1913)

Here’s some  hundred-year-old advice for selecting meat:

Beef should be a bright red and well streaked with fat.

To understand the difference between the tough and tender cuts we must be familiar with the structure of the muscle. Each muscle consists of bundles of tubes held together by connective tissues. In tough meat, the muscle tubes are thicker and there is more connective tissue present.

Exercise strengthens the muscle, and this accounts for the fact that the unexercised muscles of the young animal give us a softer meat. In the mature animal the muscles most exercised furnish a tough meat, and the less-used muscles the tender.

The tough cuts come from the neck and legs, the tender cuts from the middle of the back, the toughness increasing as the cuts approach the neck and the hind legs. The muscles of the abdomen are also tender, but they give a coarse-grained meat.

The tender cuts from the ribs and loin are the most highly prized, and therefore bring the highest price. These cuts are liked because of their tenderness although the nutritive value of the tough meat is as high or possibly even higher than the tender. We must take pains to use the cooking processes that will make the tough meats palatable.

Excerpts from Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts  by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1913)

 

Enjoying Friends, Family, and Dessert on the Porch on Hot Summer Days

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

A hundred years ago the summer heat could be oppressive. For example, on July 3, 1911 my grandmother wrote in her diary:

Almost roasted today. Went to Sunday school this afternoon. We had company this evening.

Air conditioning didn’t exit, and my grandmother’s family didn’t have electricity so there were no electric fans.  In those days families congregated on the porch on hot summer days to relax and enjoy the breezes. Friends would often stop by, and a dessert would generally “just appear.”

I’m glad that modern technology makes our summers more bearable now, but I sense that we’ve also lost something. Does anyone sit (or entertain) on their porch anymore? (As I write this, I realize that we now have decks and outdoor rooms. Maybe they serve the same purpose that porches did in days gone by.)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)

Hundred-Year-Old Grocery Store Scorecard

Source: The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics (1915)
Source: The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics (1915)

When I walk into a supermarket, I informally evaluate it. Is the produce fresh? Are the clerks friendly? Does it stock all of the grocery items that I regularly buy? Is the location convenient? Does it have good prices? . . .  And, if it doesn’t meet my standards, I might go to a different store the next time I shop.

Similarly, a hundred years ago people also evaluated their grocery stores; but that’s where the similarities end.  A hundred-year-old home economics textbook had a Grocery Scorecard that students could use to evaluate their grocery stores – but frankly I’ve never considered the proximity to stables, or most of the other old-time criteria.

I tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but when I’m honest with myself, I must admit what while some things were better a hundred years ago, I think I prefer modern food stores.

Silverware Patterns a Hundred Years Ago

Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)
Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)

Selecting silverware or other flatware is very personal, yet an indication of preferences and tastes. Before I got married I can remember agonizing over which pattern to select. Today, the decision might be easier since most people purchase inexpensive stainless steel flatware, but the design still gives clues to the buyer’s personality. Some styles are very formal and traditional; others informal and trendy.  Similarly, a hundred-years-ago people wanted to select the “right” silverware.

Here’s some excerpts of the advice in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:

Silver and plated silver for knives, forks, and spoons, coffee and tea sets, all add to the charm of the table. Figure 70 shows some good designs in spoons. A simple design is easy to clean.

Three sizes of spoons, tablespoons, teaspoons, and coffee spoons, and two sizes of forks are all sufficient, with a few larger spoons for service and desserts.

Triple-plated ware lasts for years, if well cared for, and comes in good designs.

Pewter, familiar in olden days, is being used again in Colonial designs, and makes an attractive tea or coffee set, is less costly than solid silver, and has a better tone and color than plated ware.

Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)

Source: Oneida Silverware Advertisement in Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)
Source: Oneida Silverware Advertisement in Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

 

Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Separating Egg Whites from Yolks

Separating egg 2

Old recipes call for separating egg whites from yolks much more frequently than modern recipes. For example, a few days ago I needed to separate four eggs to make the hundred-year-old Lemon Meringue Pie recipe that I recently posted. The yolks went into the lemon custard filling and the whites into the meringue.

Old cake recipes also often call for separating the eggs and beating the whites before adding them to the batter to get a lighter, fluffier cake. . . and so do some old omelette recipes. . . . My list could so on and on.

Here are directions in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for separating eggs:

Separating Whites from Yolks

Break the egg over a bowl, turn the small end down, and pull the shell apart, slipping the yolk from one half of the shell to the other once or twice, so that the white will drop into the bowl. If any of the yolk is mixed with the white, the white will not beat well on account of the fat present.

The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics by Emma E. Pirie (1915)