I have warm memories of making Raggedy Ann Salad and other character-shaped salads using canned fruits when I was a child, so I was thrilled to see a recipe for Porcupine Salad in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
Porcupine Salad was fun and easy to make, and it turned out beautifully. Almond slices are inserted into a canned pear half, and whole cloves are used to make the eyes.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made the recipe I didn’t serve it on a lettuce leaf, and I skipped the fruit salad dressing, but they could be added if desired. I found this recipe in the same cookbook that contained the Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey that I made last week, so that dressing could be used to replicate the original recipe’s serving suggestion.
For more than a hundred years people have known about calories. Cooks a century ago worried about providing enough calories for people who did hard physical labor. A 1915 home economics textbook showed that a lumberman needed more than twice as many calories each day than a shoemaker.
According to the book:
The man who is working at hard physical labor needs more food than the man who sits quietly at his work. Moreover, one working actively out of doors can take foods which are difficult of digestion for the person of sedentary occupation.
Refreshing fruit salads are one of my go-to foods on hot summer days, so when I saw a recipe for Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey in a hundred-year-old cookbook I knew that I had to give it a try.
The whipped dressing, made with real cream, honey, and vinegar, was tart – but a perfect fruit topping. The tangy-sweetness of this light, airy whipped cream dressing perks up the fruit, and can turn a generic mixture of fruits into a special fruit salad. When I made this recipe, I asked people to guess what ingredient gave the dressing its tang. They guessed that it contained sour cream or even a little yogurt – and didn’t think of vinegar.
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
I couldn’t tell from the recipe whether the Fruit Salad Dressing was supposed to be spooned on top of the fruit or stirred into the fruit, so I made it both ways. The two presentations were very different – but the Fruit Salad was delicious both ways.
Beat egg yolks, then stir in the honey, vinegar, and salt. Place in a saucepan, and cook using medium heat while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.
When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and then stir in the chilled egg mixture.
May be served as a fruit topping or stirred into a fruit mixture (grapes, cherry halves, cubed peaches or apricots, strawberries, etc. work well).
Cook’s note: This recipe makes a lot of dressing. I used the dressing on two consecutive days. On the first day, I whipped 1/2 cup of cream and stirred the egg mixture in to taste. The second day I whipped the remainder of the cream and stirred in the remaining dressing.
Creating lovely food presentations can be a time-consuming task – and it really adds nothing to the taste or value of the food. Is it important to present food in attractive ways?
Here’s what a home economist in training had to say a hundred years ago:
The Value of Attractive Food
Having kept house before I took my domestic-science training I used to think that the use of pretty dishes and garnishes, and the serving of foods in unfamiliar but pleasing guises, were clever but a useless way of showing off before company.
Now I now know that these things have an actual physiological value. For instance, my sister, fifteen and anaemic, had a very capricious appetite and could not be induced to eat sufficient nourishing food, things that have an actual physiological value.
From my study of physiology and kindred subjects I learned how very closely the nerves of sight and smell are connected with those affecting the digestive organs, and how the very sight of attractive food causes certain digestive processes to begin.
Thus certain nourishing soups that sister ordinarily would not touch were eaten when served in a pretty china cup with a spoonful of whipped cream, the cream adding to its nutritive value, and a leaf or a flower at its side.
She needed eggs but refused them boiled, poached, or before my enlightenment, fried. Later she ate dozens of them worked up into attractive desserts or smuggled into unfamiliar dishes made appetizing and attractive enough to tempt her into sampling them.
She not only ate food which she would otherwise have refused, but, because she enjoyed eating it, she digested and assimilated it and became a new kind of girl.
M.W., Teachers’ College (Ladies Home Journal, February, 1917)
Today, Strawberry Ice Cream sometimes seems boring; a hundred years ago it was very special. When strawberries were in season, it was time to get the hand-cranked ice cream freezer out, buy some ice, invite friends over, and make Strawberry Ice Cream.
The hundred-year-old Strawberry Ice Cream recipe that I found was easy to make. It only had three ingredients: cream, sugar, and strawberries. And, the ice cream was delightful. This classic ice cream was creamy and infused with the sunny taste of fresh strawberries.
There was no comparison to the cheap strawberry ice cream sold in plastic gallon tubs at the supermarket. It was somewhat similar to the higher-priced strawberry ice creams, but it did not contain the large chunks of frozen strawberry puree they often contain. The strawberries in this ice cream are “rubbed” through a strainer, so the pieces of strawberry in the ice cream were tiny which creates a lovely texture.
Ice cream that is not eaten immediately can be stored in the freezer. It was extremely firm when removed from the freezer, and should be allowed to warm for a few minutes before attempting to scoop.
(This recipe makes 1 3/4 – 2 quarts of liquid. If a large ice cream freezer is used, it may need to be doubled.)
1 pint strawberries
1 quart light cream (Half and Half)
1 cup sugar
Wash, hull, and slice strawberries, then mash with a potato masher or pastry blender. Add sugar, and let sit for 1 hour. Then “rub” the strawberries through a strainer or colander . (An old-fashioned, hand-cranked Foley mill works well to do this, but is not needed.) Discard the large strawberry fragments that won’t go through the strainer.
Stir the cream into the strained strawberries. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, then place in ice cream freezer and freeze.
Today we know that “breast is best” when it comes to feeding infants, but that formula is often used. I know of no one who would give an infant cows’ milk, but apparently a hundred years ago there was a discussion about whether the milk from one breed of cows was preferable to another for babies.