Do you ever eat cereal as a bed time snack? Somehow I thought that eating cereal at times other than breakfast was a fairly new phenomena, but apparently I was wrong. A 1920 advertisement for Quaker puffed grain cereals said that Puffed Wheat, Puffed Rice, and Corn Pops were perfect bedtime snacks.
I love apple pies, but sometimes I get bored by the typical cinnamon-flavored pie, so when I saw a recipe for Lemon Apple Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.
The pie was delightful – and nothing like any apple pie I’ve ever had before. Chopped apples are smothered in a tart lemony sauce.
Here’s the original recipe:
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Lemon Apple Pie
2 cups chopped apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg beaten
juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup saltine crackers (about 12 crackers), rolled fine (I put the crackers in a plastic bag and crushed with a rolling pin.)
pastry for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie
Heat oven to 425° F. Put the sugar, water, egg, lemon juice, and lemon rind in a bowl; stir to combine. Add the crushed saltine crackers and chopped apples, stir. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° F. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.
I love to read rich decriptions of food written by skilled food bloggers – even when it’s a bit over the top. Extravagant food descriptions aren’t new. Here are some excerpts from a fictional story that appeared in a 1920 magazine:
A Lunch Box Romance
From early youth Lucena Cottle had thirsted in secret for a romance and now she was face to face with her thirtieth birthday and none had come her way. Sidtracked by circumstances in the home of her widowed cousin-in-law, Mrs. Drusill Fifer, who took boarders for a livelihood.
However, as it chanced, the rank and file of Mrs. Fifer’s boarders- slangy young clerks, mostly whose brains ran to “swell” ties, “grand” movie shows and the like – made slight impression upon the fancy of Lucena. One, only one, was there whose stock stood high with her, and the, sad fact, was as helplessly shy as she, herself.
Dutton Filbert was not stylish, and his ties never bothered him. He was with an automobile company, and no doubt wore greasy overalls when at work, but he was always neat in the house, and Lucena liked his twinkling brown eyes.
The task of filling Mr. Filbert’s lunch basket daily was Lucena’s and one that she executed with zest. For, of all branches of cuisine duty, the preparing of sandwiches was one she especially loved and excelled in. No crude structures of slab-like bread and ragged gristly meat were those turned out by Lucena. Her’s – to see them was to taste them, and to taste them was to call for more. And no day-in-day-out sameness of construction dulled the appetite of the fortunate partaker thereof. One day, sliced cold, roast beef, thin, even, finely lean with narrow edging of delicate fat, nestled between the smooth, daintily battered slices of white bread and brown. Another day plentiful shavings of sweet, boiled ham, mustard-embellished, took the place of beef; or minced chicken, mingled with gravy, or scrambled egg, skillfully blended with chopped bacon of the alluring streak-of-fat-and-streak-of lean kind, serves as filling.
There were jelly tumblers of creamy rice pudding, and meringue custards, and marvelous mixtures of savory and spicy things baked in little brown casseroles; there were crisp, golden-brown turn-overs, fat and bulgy, merely hinting by a splash or two of candied red or orange-tinted juice, at the delights of their interiors, and cakes, never alike, two days in succession, but ranging widely from thin-edged wafers to wedges and triangles of loaf and layer cakes.
Mr. Filbert fully realized he was a lucky man.
One day Lucena got together a new gingercake that was a dream of joy – a sublimated thing, spice-breathing, raisin-spotted, of a spongy lightness and a delightsome dark red-brown hue. She placed two large blocks in Mr. Filbert’s lunch basket, and when next she overhauled the latter, she found not so much as an edge or a corner left. She did, however, find a bit of paper folded up in the napkins, which bore the following tribute:
Oh, gentle lady, who dost make
Such heart-enthralling gingercake,
Accept from me my thanks sincere
For treat the best I’ve had this year;
I’d like to ask you, if I may,
Please make another one someday.
After that they took a walk and had a talk; and about the week next there’ll be a wedding.
Lucena laughed and said, “I don’t know what you call a courtship. It was all straightforward and right, and it came about through the medium of the lunch basket.”
American Cookery (April, 1920)
According to a 1920 Good Housekeeping article, squash are a gold-mine and are “almost as variously useful as tomatoes.” One of the recipes included in the article was for Squash Nuggets. I decided to give it a try and was glad I did.
The Squash Nuggets were a fun, easy-to-eat, small sweet muffin that had just a hint of orange. They are just the right size for a small snack or treat – and great with coffee. They were especially tasty when eaten warm, but also good cold.
Here is the original recipe:
The pureed squash that I used was very moist. When I made this recipe the dough was very sticky, and I had to add a lot of extra flour (a whopping 1 1/2 cups of additional flour) to get a dough that can be rolled.
And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:
4 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks) (I used an egg.)
1 cup squash puree (I cooked cubes of Hubbard squash, then put through a Foley mill to make smooth. Butternut squash would also work well – or use canned or frozen squash.)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour may be substituted) + additional flour if needed (My squash was very moist and I needed to add an additional 1 1/2 cups flour to get a dough that I could roll.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter or margarine and the sugar. Add the corn syrup, egg, squash puree, orange peel, flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine into a soft dough that can be rolled to create log shapes. Add additional flour if the squash was very moist. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
I recently came across advice in a 1920 home economics textbook about how much water we should drink each day – which led me to search for 2020 advice.
When one rises in the morning, it is well to drink one or two glassfuls of water. From one to two quarts of water, either as plain water or in beverages, –should be taken each day. It used to be thought that water drinking during a meal was harmful. Scientific investigations have shown that this is a mistaken idea. Water may be drunk at mealtime. Indeed it has been found that it aids in the digestive processes, provided foods are not “rinsed down” with it, and provided very cold water is not used.
School and Home Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1920)
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men drink 15.5 cups of water a day, and women drink 11.5 cups a day. But this is just a guideline.
How much water you need depends on a number of factors, such as what you eat and the way you move your body. Adequate hydration can even change based on climate and what the weather’s like on any given day.
The 1920 advice recommends drinking 1-2 quarts of water a day. Since there are 8 cups in a quart, this would be 8 – 16 cups of water each day. The low end is less than the 2020 recommendation of 15.5 cups a day for men and 11.5 cups for women. A hundred years ago there was no differentiation in the amount needed by gender, whereas it is recognized today that men need more water than women.
I’m always looking for new ways to use vegetables, so when I saw an easy-to-make recipe for Spinach with Gravy in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.
The recipe turned out well. The gravy enhanced the flavor of the spinach, and was quite tasty. I served it as a stand-alone side dish – though I think that Spinach with Gravy would also be delightful on toast.
Here is the original recipe:
The directions in the old recipe for the gravy are a little confusing. The recipe calls for meat gravy, which I would assume already contained some flour or other thickener, yet it also indicates that 1 teaspoon flour should be stirred into 2 tablespoons of melted butter – and then the gravy should be added. This suggests that the recipe author thought that the gravy needed to be thicker than the typical gravy – though 1 teaspoon of flour isn’t much, so why bother?
I used the second option (which is described in the text beneath the ingredient list), and used bouillion cubes when I made the gravy. It worked fine.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Spinach with Gravy
2 quarts (1 8-ounce bag) spinach
Gravy – Option 1
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon flour
1 1/2 meat gravy
Gravy – Option 2
2 bouillion cubes (I used beef bouillion cubes.)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Wash spinach and cut into small pieces. Put in a pan, and using medium heat cook until tender (3-5 minutes). The water clinging to the spinach may provide sufficient liquid for cooking the spinach; if not, add a small amount of water.
In the meantime, make gravy.
Gravy: Option 1: In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add gravy while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the gravy is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat, and add the cooked spinach. Stir to combine.
Gravy Option 2: Dissolve the bouillion cubes in the boiling water to make a broth. In a pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add the broth while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the gravy is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat, and add the cooked spinach. Stir to combine.
I’ve baked (and sliced) lots of bread this year – and still struggle to consistently get thin, even slices. This 1920 advertisement has me sold. I’m ready to buy a Lightening Thin-Slice Bread Knife. And, what a deal! It only costs 50 cents. Do they still make Lightening Knives?