I keep a jar of honey in one of my kitchen cupboards, but never really thought about how to best store it until I read a short article in a hundred-year-old magazine. (When I read the article, I also realized that I never even considered storing honey in some of places where people apparently put it in 1919.)
How to Keep Honey
In using honey as a substitute for sugar, the housewife may encounter some difficulty through lack of knowledge in storing this product according to the American Food Journal. Housewives usually put their honey in the cellar for safekeeping, probably the worst possible place, as honey absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and will become thin and in time sour. Comb honey kept in a damp place will be hurt in appearance, as well as in quality. A practicable rule is to keep honey in any place where salt remains dry. If honey has granulated or candied, put the can containing it in a large vessel holding water, not hotter than the hand can be borne in. If the water is too hot, there is danger of spoiling the color and ruining the flavor of the honey. The can of honey should be supported by a block of wood in the vessel of water, so that the heat from the stove will not be too intense.
I’m always intrigued by hundred-year-old recipes that include drawings of the finished product since such recipes are few and far between. So when I recently came across a drawing of a beautifully presented recipe for a raspberry dessert called Patties en Surprise in a 1919 advertisement for Minute Tapioca, I decided to give it a try. This dessert is basically puff pastry cut into rounds, and filled with a raspberry and tapioca filling.
Here’s the picture and original recipe:
The verdict: Raspberries Patties en Surprise is a very pretty dessert. The filling is delightfully refreshing with a vibrant, fruity flavor. I had left-over filling after I used all the puff pastry rounds, so I spooned the left-overs into a small dishes – and it was even better than when served with the pastries. I will definitely make the filling again – I may (or may not) make the pastry portion of this recipe again.
Since the original recipe did not provide directions for making puff pastry, I bought a package of puff pastry at the store when I made this dessert rather than making puff pastry from scratch (though I realize this is not a fully authentic way to approach this recipe). Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
1 pint (2 half-pint boxes) red raspberries, crushed (approximately 1 cup pulp)
1/2 cup sugar
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets)
Raspberry Filling: Using high heat, bring water to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to medium and stir in tapioca. Continue cooking while stirring constantly until the tapioca is clear (about 5 minutes); stir in raspberry pulp (including juice) and sugar. Continue cooking and stirring an additional two minutes, then remove from heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
Pastry Shells: Preheat oven to 400° F. Unroll puff pastry sheets, and cut rounds (approximately 4-inches in diameter) using a cookie cutter (or an inverted water glass can be used as a cutter). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a smaller round cutter (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) cut another circle in the center of the large circles of puff pastry dough. (Press firmly when cutting the small circles. It is okay if it goes all the way through. It is more problematic when assembling this recipe if the small circles aren’t cut deeply enough than if they are cut all the way through.). Bake 20 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Remove pastries from baking sheet. Allow to cool before serving.
To Assemble: For each pastry, gently remove the top portion of the small pastry circle. Spoon the chilled raspberry tapioca mixture into the center of the pastry. Put the circular “cap” back on the pastry.
Today some people believe that coconut milk has health benefits. A hundred years ago, advertisers were also promoting the use of coconut milk – but to save milk and shortening. Coconut milk could be substituted for the milk and some of the fat in recipes. Back then coconut apparently came in cans which contained a mixture of shredded coconut and coconut milk – and cooks had to drain the coconut (and find uses for the coconut milk).
Sometimes simple desserts are the best. I recently found an easy-to-make, hundred-year-old recipe for Coconut and Orange Dessert that fits the bill. It is light and refreshing, and is just right on hot summer days.
Peel oranges, and remove white inner skin. Separate oranges into segments, and remove any seeds. Cut each segment into 1-inch pieces. Place orange pieces in a bowl and gently stir in most of the coconut (reserve about 2 tablespoons). Put orange and coconut mixture in serving bowl. Garnish with reserved coconut.
I recently came across a delightful and very versatile hundred-year-old muffin recipe. Sour Milk or Sour Cream Muffins are quick and easy to make. They are tasty with butter – and even better with a little jelly or jam. They also can serve as the basis for a plethora of other muffins; just stir in blueberries, raisins, nuts or other add-ins.
1 cup sour milk or sour cream (I used sour cream. If milk is used, it can be “soured” by adding 1 tablespoon vinegar.)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add egg, shortening or butter, and sour milk or sour cream; stir to combine. Grease muffin tins (or use paper liners), and then fill each muffin cup 3/4th full with batter. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
I was surprised to see an advertisement for refrigerators in a 1919 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Was the refrigerator electric? And, was the electricity dependable enough to ensure that food stayed cold in the refrigerator?