Hundred-Year-Old Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin PieFrankly I’m tired of the ubiquitous pumpkin pie recipe that calls for evaporated milk and a 1-pound can of pumpkin. Is it really necessary to use evaporated milk–or would regular milk work? And, of course,  I then made the short leap to:  How did they make pumpkin pies a hundred years ago?

I found an awesome  pumpkin pie recipe in the Lycoming Valley Cook Book. It was compiled by “the Ladies of the Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run Pa”. in 1907. The pie is similar enough to modern recipes that it won’t alarm your Thanksgiving guests. They’ll just think you used your usual recipe–but that it turned out better than it does in a typical year.

The resulting pie has a nice blend of spices that don’t overwhelm the pumpkin. The recipe calls for just two spices (cinnamon and ginger) rather than the three or four typically used in modern recipes.

It also uses more eggs than are generally used in recipes that call for evaporated milk. Since the milk used in the old recipe contains more liquid, additional eggs are needed to set the custard. This pie also requires more baking time than modern pumpkin pies, but the result is a rich and creamy custard filling.

Here’s my adaptation of the old recipe for modern cooks:

Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 8-inch (small) pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine all ingredients (except pie shell) in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (about 50-60 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Notes: This recipe filled the 8-inch pie shell to the very rim, and it was a little difficult to get it into the oven without spilling.  (Don’t overfill pie shell. If there is too much filling put the extra in a small casserole dish and cook separately.)

I used fresh pumpkin, but 1/2 of a can of pumpkin (14-16 oz. can) could be used. This recipe makes a small 8-inch pie. If I used canned pumpkin I’d probably double it, and instead make a large 10-inch pie.

To prepare the fresh pumpkin for the pie, I peeled part of a pumpkin and cut it into one-inch cubes. About 1 3/4 cups of cubed pumpkin will make a cup of cooked pumpkin. I put the cubed pumpkin into a saucepan and covered it with water. I turned the heat to high and brought to a boil; I then reduced the heat to medium and cooked until tender (about 20 minutes). I drained the pumpkin and used my mixer to blend it until smooth. I then proceeded with the pie recipe.

Fresh pumpkin can also be roasted. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and membranes, then put it in the oven at 400° F. Bake for about an hour or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from oven. When the pumpkin has cooled, remove the pulp from the pumpkin shell. Use mixer, blender, or food processor to blend the chunks of pulp until smooth. Proceed with the pie recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lycoming Valley (PA) Cook Book (1907)
Source: Source: Lycoming Valley Cook Book, compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, PA (1907)

How Many Calories Does a Boy Need to Eat Each Day?

Photo source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)
Photo source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

I’ve often heard parents say that their teen-aged sons “eat them out of house and home.”  That’s apparently been an issue for a long time. Here are some excerpts from a hundred-year-old Chicago Evening Post article as reprinted in the December, 1916 issue of American Cookery:

The Russell Sage Institute has just completed a scientific inquiry into the eating capacity of 300 boys at a big boarding school. The whole thing is summarized in one convincing sentence, “The 5,000 calories thus contained in the daily diet of active American boys of school age are half again as much as a farmer at work is believed to require.”

It is well to keep this scientifically ascertained fact in mind if you have boys of your own; it is their perfect justification for trying to eat you out of house and home.

The fixing of the fact by research has its sociological value, too. There are multitudes of boys who do not get their 5,000 calories daily. “Lack of appreciation of this factor,” says the investigator’s report, “and lack of provision for it, are the probable causes of much of the under-nutrition seen in children of school age.”

Hundred-Year-Old Chocolate Blancmange Recipe

cocoa-blanc-mange

There is an old saying that Blancmange should be wobbly but not as rubbery as a rubber ball.  I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Chocolate Blancmange, and using the criteria in the old saying, it was excellent. The Blancmange was rich and decadent, and trembled just a little.

Even though Blancmange is an old dessert, it was new to me; and this was the first time that I ever made this lovely molded dessert.

This recipe is a keeper. As my husband finished the Blancmange, he asked, “When are you going to make this again.?”

The old recipe was part of an  advertisement for Minute Tapioca.  (Yes, Minute Tapioca as been around for more than a hundred years).

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

When I saw the illustration for the Blancmange, I realized that I actually owned some old dessert plates that once belonged to my grandmother that looked very similar to the ones in the picture. I hadn’t seen the plates in years, but I pulled a chair over to my highest kitchen cupboard, and climbed up. A few minutes later I’d found the plates. They weren’t identical to the ones in the drawing, but I had a lot of fun trying to semi-replicate the old picture.

The old recipe called this dessert “blanc mange.” I think that today, the two words are generally combined into one (blancmange),  so that is the way that I’ve spelled it.

Minute Gelatine 5 1916
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chocolate Blancmange

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 25 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 cup minute tapioca

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

whipped cream, optional

In a medium saucepan stir together the tapioca, sugar, cocoa, and salt. While stirring, slowly add the milk. Using medium heat, and while stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that there is a slow rolling boil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Be sure to stir to the very bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour into individual molds. Custard cups work well as molds. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

To serve, set the molded dessert in a pan of hot water for a few seconds; then run a table knife around the edge of the mold to loosen and turn upside down on serving plate to unmold.

If desired, serve with whipped cream.

To make homemade whipped cream, Put 1 cup whipping cream in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar. Whip until there are stiff peaks.

Cook’s note: I did not make the cocoa (hot chocolate) prior to making this recipe. It seemed unnecessary to use a two-step process.  Instead, I found a recipe for hot chocolate on a can of cocoa. I combined the dry ingredients in that recipe with the dry ingredients called for in the hundred-year-old Blancmange recipe. I then stirred in three cups of milk.  This streamlined process worked just fine.

1916 Jello Advertisement

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

They sure knew how to package Jell-O a hundred years ago. The “Safety Bag” would keep it “as pure and sweet” as the day it was made for years.

I checked the “best used by” date on a package of Jell-O in my cupboard. The date was November 16, 2014.  Time flies, and I don’t remember when I bought it, but I don’t think that it was real long ago.  In any case, I discarded the package . . .  sigh . . . I wish that modern Jell-O would keep for years like the old-time Jell-O in its Safety Bag.

Old-Fashioned Squash (Yeast) Bread

squash-bread

Have you ever “hidden” vegetables in food to get your kids to eat healthier? I thought that hiding vegetables was a recent trend, but when I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Squash Bread, I discovered that cooks have been hiding vegetables for a long time.

The Squash Bread had a rustic artesian look, a nice texture, and a sunny yellow tinge – but I couldn’t taste the squash in it. It just tasted like the typical homemade bread.

The verdict: If you want to hide vegetables in bread this recipe is worth a try; otherwise, just stick with your usual bread recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

2 packages dry yeast

5-6 cups flour

1 cup pureed winter squash (Butternut squash works well in this recipe.)

1 tablespoon shortening (or lard)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Scald milk by heating in a sauce pan until the milk begins to steam and form bubbles; use medium heat and stir occasionally. Remove from heat before it comes to a boil. Let the scalded milk cool until it is lukewarm, then dissolve the yeast in the milk.

Put 2 cups flour, squash, shortening, butter, sugar,  salt, and the water and yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place in a greased bowl. Cover; let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased loaf pans, 9″ X 5″ X 3″, and cover. Let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Bake loaves in 400° F. oven for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

I always find old-time bread recipes particularly difficult to interpret because modern yeast is so different from what it was a hundred years ago. Back then it was not dried like the yeast that we generally use today. I guessed that 2 packages of dried yeast would be the equivalent of 1/2 cup (1/2 yeast cake) back then. This substitution worked just fine when I made this recipe.

100-Year-Old Church Supper Menu and Costs

Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1916)

Did you ever plan the menu for a meal with 200 people? . . . and ended up getting sticker shock at how much it would cost? According to a hundred-year-old magazine, a church supper for 200 people in 1916 would cost only $74.58. To keep the costs down, the menu did have a few limitations. For example, canned peas were listed as the main vegetable. But, on the other hand,  the person planning the menu did budget $3.50 for “help”.

We really should factor in inflation when looking at this old menu. According to an online inflation calculator, a dollar in 1916 is worth $22.22 today. So in today’s dollars, the total meal cost $1,657.17 or $8.29 per person – which, at least in my book, is still a very reasonably priced meal.

Hundred-Year-Old Bavarian Cabbage Recipe

bavarian-cabbage

I found a delightful Bavarian Cabbage recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine. This traditional German dish was refreshingly sweet-sour (more sour than sweet), and would be lovely served with sausages, roast beef, or pork. It tasted very authentic; and if I closed my eyes and listened hard enough, I could almost see myself sitting at an outdoor cafe on the banks of the Rhine on a cool October day while listening to merry Octoberfest music.

Here’s the original recipe.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1916)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1916)

Here’s how I updated the recipe for modern cooks:

Bavarian Cabbage

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 head cabbage (6 cups) shredded cabbage

1 tablespoon bacon drippings or butter (I used bacon drippings.)

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Using medium heat, melt  the bacon drippings (or butter) in a frying pan; add onions and cook until tender (but not browned). Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Then add the shredded cabbage and stir; cover the pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Remove pan cover once or twice during cooking to make sure there is enough liquid; if too dry add enough water to keep from burning. (I did not need to add any water.)

I used less salt than the original recipe called for. One tablespoon of salt seemed like a lot – so I decided that it probably was a typo and instead used 1 teaspoon of salt. I also didn’t quite understand the last part of the old recipe about cold water (though I’m guessing that it was directing the cook to wash the cabbage prior to cooking).