“Take Good Care of Nature, and She Will Take Good Care of You”

This photo was the February, 1918 issue of Good Housekeeping. The caption beneath the picture says:

This very young old lady of ninety-five did all the work in her garden last year and then put up enough canned goods to supply herself, her grandsons, and her great-grandsons. She is already planning this year’s garden. Her recipe for long life and happiness is, “”Take good care of nature, and she will take good care of you.”

Old-Fashioned Mashed Turnip Recipe

 

Hundred-year-old Christmas menus sometimes included Mashed Turnips as a vegetable side dish, so I was pleased to find a 1918 recipe for Mashed Turnips. This rustic side dish has a delightful earthly, sweet, yet slightly bitter, flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1918)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mashed Turnip

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 medium turnips

water

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Wash and peel turnips; cut into slices or quarters. Put in a saucepan and cover with water; add salt.  Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until turnips are tender (approximately 35 – 45 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain. Mash the cooked turnips, then stir in pepper and butter. Serve immediately.

Hundred-Year-Old Christmas Centerpiece Suggestions

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December 1915)

Centerpieces were an important part of holiday tables a hundred-years-ago. Here is some hundred-year-old advice for a creating a Christmas centerpiece:

For Christmas, holly, mistletoe, or any other attractive green shrubs are more suitable than cut flowers. A sparkling tree or a Santa Claus make an attractive centerpiece.

The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics by Emma E. Pirie (1915)

Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

Are there some types of cookies that immediately bring back warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. Well, for me, Sand Tarts are that cookie. This thin, crispy cookie is my all-time favorite.  My mother never made them (I’m not sure why.), so I was always thrilled when they were on a cookie tray at church or a friend’s house.

I recently found an awesome hundred-year-old Sand Tart recipe that makes cookies just like I remembered.  The cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (“sand”), and taste almost like a thin Snickerdoodle. (Does anyone eat Snickerdoodles any more?)

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

This recipe originally appeared the American Cookery magazine during World War I. There were sugar shortages during the war. Even though the magazine chose to publish the recipe, the editors encouraged cooks not to make Sand Tarts because they “call for more sugar than ordinary cookies.”

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sand Tarts

  • Servings: approximately 75 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar + 2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 extra-large egg + 1 egg yolk (or 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/2 cup sugar

whole almonds or raisins (I used almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the shortening; beat in the 2 cups of sugar, and the whole egg and yolk. Then stir in the flour and salt. The dough will be crumbly, but will cling together when pressed together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Roll out dough out until it is very thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut into rounds or, if desired, other shapes; and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush cookies with the egg-white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set an almond or raisin in the center of each cookie. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Hundred-year-old Advice for Melting Chocolate

Holiday baking often requires melting chocolate so I was thrilled to see advice in a hundred-year-old magazine for an easy way to melt chocolate without waste.The Discoveries  column in Good Housekeeping invited readers to send in their “discoveries” for possible publication Readers whose submissions were published received $1 from the magazine. This is what a reader wrote:

Melted Chocolate

To have chocolate already at hand for melting without waste, keep your chocolate in a pint jar. To melt it simply place it in hot water. Any amount desired may be taken out. Seal the jar and keep it in the kitchen cabinet when you are not using it. –Mrs. F.M.F., N.Y.

Good Housekeeping (September, 1917)

It took a really long time to melt the chocolate. Perhaps chocolate a hundred years ago melted at lower temperatures than modern chocolate. A better approach today would be to melt in the microwave.

Popped Corn Macaroons

The recipes in specialty cookbooks focused on specific ingredients are often hit or miss. The authors sometimes get so focused on using certain ingredients that taste is lost. So I had a bit of trepidation when I recently came across a cookbook published in 1918 called The Corn Cook Book: War Edition by Elizabeth O. Hiller. This cookbook was written during World War I when wheat flour was in short supply, so Ms. Hiller sought to help cooks, “save the wheat” by using corn.

I was drawn to a recipe for Popped Corn Macaroons. I was intrigued by idea of using pop corn to make macaroons, and I liked that it was a gluten-free recipe.

The verdict: Popped Corn Macaroons are light and delightful. They have a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness that works well with the popped corn.  And, Popped Corn Macaroons are very attractive with each topped with a piece of candied cherry. This recipe is a keeper, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Popped Corn Cookbook (1918)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Popped Corn Macaroons

  • Servings: approximately 15 macaroons
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

3/4 cup unsalted popped corn, chopped

3/4 teaspoon butter, melted

1 egg white

5 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

about 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped

4-6 candied cherries, each cut into several pieces

Stir melted butter into the chopped popped corn, set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat. Stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the popped corn.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (It is important to use parchment paper. I had problems with the macaroons sticking to the baking sheet when I did not use it, so remade the recipe using parchment paper and it worked much better.) Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture on the baking sheet. Space 1 1/2 inches apart. Then shape into a circle and flatten with the back of a spoon or a knife. (Spoon or knife can be dipped in cold water before shaping and flattening, if there are problems with the dough sticking.) Sprinkle with chopped almonds, and then press a piece of candied cherry in the center. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly browned.

Hundred-Year-Old Edible Christmas Gift Suggestions

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Food makes a wonderful gift, and is sure to please friends and family – both now and a hundred years ago. But, I must admit that some gift suggestions on a hundred-year-old list of edible gift ideas don’t work for me.  Why the heck would someone want edible moss for desserts?

The article suggests wrapping the edible gift in tissue paper. The food could also be put in boxes. When giving a gift of candy a century ago, people often made decorative gift boxes. Several years ago, back when I was posting my grandmother’s diary, I did a post on how to make a triangular candy box. The directions originally appeared in the December, 1912 issue of School Arts Magazine.