During these last days of summer I’m enjoying all the wonderful fresh vegetables, so when I saw a recipe for Eggplant en Casserole in a hundred-year-old magazine, I was intrigued and had to give it a try. The recipe had an old-fashioned goodness, with a taste and texture that was a little different from more modern eggplant casseroles.
The recipe is made with mashed eggplant that blended nicely with the other ingredients. In addition to the eggplant, the recipe called for corn and onion – as well as a little tomato soup, and it was topped with a crispy bread crumb topping.
2 small classic eggplants (approximately 4 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons shortening
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup corn cut from the cob (approximately 1 cup)
1/2 cup tomato soup (I used canned tomato soup.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel eggplants and cut into slices. Put into a steamer basket, and steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and mash.
In the meantime, melt the shortening in a skillet using medium low heat; add chopped onion and saute until tender. Stir in the mashed eggplant, corn, tomato soup, salt and pepper. Put into a casserole, cover with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Put in over and bake until hot and bubbly (about 1/2 hour).
There are lots of things to think about when deciding whether to serve hot cereal or cold “ready-to-eat” cereal. Here’s what a hundred-year-old home economics textbook says:
The ready-to-eat cereals commend themselves to those whose time is money. For the house-mother whose chief business is housekeeping the uncooked cereals will make the greatest return for the money spent. A cent’s worth of oatmeal when cooked is as much as the very heartiest laboring man can eat. A cent’s worth of cornmeal makes a breakfast for him, and there will be some left to fry for supper.
A cent’s worth of a ready-to-eat cereal is less – one shredded wheat biscuit or a dainty dish of corn flakes. The saving all depends upon the value of the cook’s time. For uncooked cereals she expends time in preparation, for the ready-to-eat cereals she expends money.
True economy for one family may be extravagance for another family. The intelligent housewife considers all these facts in order to make a wise decision.
How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie A. Long (1914)
Baked beans are a classic summer dish to take to picnics, barbeques, and potluck dinners. So I was excited when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Beans.
It takes a long time to make Baked Beans the traditional way. They need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for many hours. I thought about possible shortcuts (using canned beans or cooking the beans in a pressure cooker), but I decided that it would be more authentic to follow the directions in the old recipe.
The old-fashioned Baked Beans were hearty and tasty – however, they had much less sauce than most modern versions. When I served them, I asked my husband what he thought. He said, “They remind me of Baked Beans relatives used to bring to reunions years ago.”
I still had a few doubts, so when I begin to write this post I said to him, “I’m still not sure about this recipe. The beans seemed a little dry and there wasn’t much sauce.”
He replied, “They were good.”
So the final verdict is that they aren’t quite like modern Baked Beans, but they’re good.
2 cups dried pea or navy beans (I used navy beans.)
4 cups water + additional water
1 small onion, diced (approximately 1/3 cup)
2-3 slices bacon, diced + bacon for top of dish
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes (or use diced fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar (I used molasses.)
1/8 tablespoon baking soda
Soak dried beans in 4 cups water overnight, then drain. Put the soaked beans in a large saucepan, add onions, diced bacon, and salt, then cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until the beans are almost tender (about 1 hour). Remove from heat and add tomatoes, molasses/brown sugar, and baking soda; Place in 2-quart heavy casserole dish or bean crock; arrange bacon slices on the top and sprinkle with pepper; cover. Put in oven (preheated to 325° F.), and bake for 4-5 hours. If necessary, add additional hot water to keep moist while cooking. (I didn’t add any water.)
I always enjoy reading hundred-year-old advice. Sometimes I agree with it; other times I just smile. Here is what a century-old home economics textbook says about drinking water:
That drinking water at meals is harmful is another tradition to which some people still cling. There may be certain pathological conditions that would make this practice harmful. But people in normal health suffer no ill effects from a reasonable amount of water taken with meals. A safe rule at meals is to drink when you are thirsty, and with one limitation not to drink when masticating.
The digestion of starch foods should begin in the mouth and this can take place only when the food is thoroughly mixed with the saliva. If food is mixed with water the salivary glands are not sufficiently stimulated to action, and the food passes from the mouth without enough of the digestive juice.
One disadvantage of drinking water at meals is that people who do so often think they have a sufficient amount and do not drink between meals. Copious water-drinking is essential for proper elimination. It is a safe rule to take at least six glasses a day, including that taken at meals, and ten glasses are not too much.
How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie Long (1914)
Today summer squash is often streamed or grilled, but once or twice each summer I fry it. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Summer Squash.
When I make fried squash, I generally “bread” it with flour. The old recipe called for actual bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are a nice twist to this classic comfort food.
Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:
Yellow summer squash or zucchini could be used in this recipe. I used yellow straightneck squash to more authentically replicate the hundred-year-old recipe. According to Wikipedia, “the first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s.” Since this cookbook was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917, the cookbook author won’t have used zucchini.
Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper, dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.
In the meantime, heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying skillet. When hot, carefully place the breaded squash slices in the skillet in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the squash slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each slice is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Cook’s note: Some of the breading will fall off the squash during cooking. This is okay, the remaining breading is enough to make an attractive and tasty dish.
The old recipe calls for coating the squash slices with bread crumbs, both before and after dipping in egg. When I made this recipe very few bread crumbs clung to the squash slices prior to dipping it in the egg – so I skipped this step when updated the recipe. It works fine to only coat with bread crumbs after dipping in the eggs.
The introduction to the “Fish” chapter in a hundred-year-old cookbook explains why we should eat fish:
If more fish and less meat were used in the daily meals, it would help to reduce the cost of living. Fish provides the same nutrients as meat at a much smaller cost, and furnishes a food that is not only palatable but easily digested.
Whitefish, haddock, halibut, cod, flounder, smelts, perch, pickerel, sunfish and crappies belong to the white-fleshed family. Salmon, shad, lake trout, butterfish, and herring being to the red-fleshed family.
As the white-fleshed fish is considered more easy of digestion than the red-fleshed, it should be selected for invalids, convalescents or those suffering from weak digestion.
Fish should be eaten while fresh and in season; then it provides a delicate protein food. Stale fish is poisonous, so great care should be used in its selection. Fish contains albumen, and as albumen (which is like the white of egg) coagulates at a low temperature, it should be cooked at a temperature below the boiling point for water.
The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)
I find the last sentence about cooking fish at a temperature below the boiling point of water a bit befuddling. Have you ever heard that it was important to cook fish at low temperatures? I often put fish in the oven at 400° F. or sear on top of the stove using high temperatures.
I always thought Succotash was a mixture of corn and lima beans, so I was surprised to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Tomato Succotash. The recipe called for seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, corn, green pepper, and onions – so, of course, I had to give it a try.
The medley of vegetables was delightful. This recipe is a keeper. And, I know that it will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.
Here’s the original recipe:
I’m not sure what is meant by “green corn” in the recipe. When I made the recipe, I took it to mean tender (perhaps slightly immature) corn.
3 large ears of corn , cooked (tender corn is best)
2 tablespoons butter
1/ 2 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Peel and slice the tomatoes, set aside. (I put the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then removed from the hot water and put briefly in cold water. The skins are then easy to slip off the tomatoes).
Cut the corn from the cob. Set aside.
Put the butter in a large skillet; melt using medium heat. Add green pepper and onion; saute until tender. Stir in the sliced tomatoes, corn, salt, sugar, and paprika. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve.