Hundred-Year-Old Spiced Sweet Potato Balls Recipe

spiced-sweet-potato-balls-b

I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old winter vegetable recipes, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for Spiced Sweet Potato Balls.

The outside of the Spiced Sweet Potato balls were crisp and browned, while the inside was nutty, rich, and spicy with the warm blend of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. The balls contained ground nuts, which added a nice texture and flavor dimension when combined with sweet potatoes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spiced Sweet Potato Balls

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 large sweet potatoes (approximately 3 1/2 cups mashed)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup nuts, ground (I used walnuts.)

flour

shortening

Place whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (30-45 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Remove the skins from the potatoes then mash until smooth; mix in butter, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Add ground nuts, and stir to combine. Shape into 1-inch balls, then gently roll in flour.

Melt 1/2 inch of shortening in a large skillet.  Slip the sweet potato balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

Cook’s note: The mashed sweet potato mixture is very sticky. The key to success with this recipe  is shaping the balls, and then gently rolling the balls in the flour while continuing to shape.

Woman’s Wit Pitted Against High Food Prices

Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1917)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1917)

1917 was a rough year for families. World War I was raging in Europe, and inflation was rampant. Food prices increased that year at the fastest rate they have ever increased in U.S. history. According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report titled Consumers and Food Price Inflation, “Food inflation hit its all-time high of 28.7% in 1917.”

There are lots of articles in 1917 magazines about the high cost of food. Here’s some excerpts from a hundred-year-old article about how to beat the high cost of food.

Woman’s Wit Pitted Against High Food Prices

We’re racing this year against an ever-soaring opponent, an opponent who has no thought of fairness or humanity, no thought of anything but his own variable wish. You all know whom I mean – Mr. High Cost of Food.

He is a strong opponent. We’re finding him pretty hard to beat. When he rises as he as risen in just the last year, we’re apt to forget about beating him, and give up in despair, for most of our incomes have remained stationary, while the cost of food has grown to monster size, and the elephantine cost of food, we shudder with a “What’s the use?”

To win in any race one must know one’s ground. And the ground in my case was food values–what foods give the most nourishment for the money expended, what foods can take the place of others; it was knowing how to market in order to find out what was there, and to get the best of what I wanted; it was saving of food through proper cooking; it was making use of every ounce I had of brains, perseverance and skills.

It isn’t easy to win the race against food prices- I  haven’t won yet, but I’m constantly finding new ways of economy, from studying and discovering food facts. But I know I am going to win, for practical knowledge is the best sort of whip. And when I have the whip hand, why fear even Mr. High Cost of Food?

Ladies Home Journal (April, 1917)

Old-time Peanut Butter Griddle Cakes (Pancakes)

peanutbutter-griddle-cakes

What’s a cross between peanut butter cookies and pancakes? . . . answer: Peanut Butter Griddle Cakes.

I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Peanut Butter Griddle Cakes, and decided to give it a try. The recipe was incredibly easy. I whipped the batter up in a couple minutes–and in a couple more minutes I had beautiful golden brown griddle cakes. They were light and fluffy, and a hit at my house. My husband said, as he polished off the last griddle cake, “You should make these again.”

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Peanut Butter Griddle Cakes (Pancakes)

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

4 tablespoons peanut butter

2 cups milk

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Heat a lightly greased griddle or skillet to a medium temperature, then pour or scoop batter onto the hot surface to make individual griddle cakes.  Cook until the top surface is hot and bubbly, and then flip and cook other side.

Hundred-Year-Old Coffee FAQs

coffe-cup

I’m never quite sure whether coffee is good for me, so I was thrilled that the December, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal answered a lot of my questions. Here’s an abridged version of the questions and answers:

Does coffee really keep people awake?

It certainly does! The drinking of coffee sometimes serves a useful purpose in emergencies, such as in the case of a train dispatcher who must be possessed of a clear, active brain in order that human lives may be properly safeguarded. Or, to the nurse on night duty it is often found a very welcome beverage. But, in all such cases, the purpose for which coffee is taken is to insure wakefulness; the very condition that the average man or woman seek to avoid.

How does morning coffee with sugar and cream affect the stomach? With sugar or cream alone? What about black coffee?

When you take your cup of coffee at breakfast one thing occurs in the stomach no matter whether the coffee is taken “straight,” or with either cream or sugar, or both. The thing which universally occurs is a stimulation of the glands or workshops in the lining of the stomach, causing the glands to form more gastric fluid. In other words coffee, from this standpoint, acts very much the same as water.

What is the effect of coffee on the nervous system?

After the coffee leaves the stomach it passes into the bowel, from which it is taken and carried by the blood to all parts of the body. The effect on the nervous system is soon seen. The pulse quickens and the hand of the coffee drinker is no longer steady.

Does cold coffee produce the same stimulating effect as hot coffee up entering the stomach?

Yes! So far as the stimulating effect of the coffee in the stomach or the subsequent effect of the coffee upon the nervous system is concerned, it is immaterial whether one takes the coffee hot or cold. In other words, no matter what the temperature of the coffee may be, the stomach sees to it that the temperature is raised or lowered as the case may require, and that in a very few minutes a temperature approximating that of the body is established.

Hundred-Year-Old Potato Puffs Recipe

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Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

The week after Christmas is left-overs week at my house, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Puffs I had to give them a try.

The Potato Puffs were light and creamy with  just a hint of onion. When, I served the Potato Puffs, my daughter said, “Mom, this recipe is one of your better hundred-year-old recipes.” In other words, this recipe is a winner.

potato-puffs-recipe
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato Puffs

  • Servings: 3-4 servings
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups warm mashed potatoes

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon onion, grated (use additional grated onion if desired)

milk, as needed

salt and pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 425° F. Stir the egg into the mashed potatoes. If too thick, add a little milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop heaping teaspoons of the potato mixture onto a greased baking sheet. Bakes 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes: (1) If left-over mashed potatoes have been refrigerated, warm in a microwave or on the stove top, prior to adding the egg.  The potatoes only need to be warm, not hot. If the potatoes are quite hot, be sure to immediately start vigorously stirring when the egg is added to keep the egg from beginning to coagulate. (2) Potato Puffs may be refrigerated and reheated. Put in a 400 ° F oven for 20 minutes or until hot.

Old-Fashioned Black Walnut Bread (Nut Bread) Recipe

black-walnut-bread

I’m a black walnut aficionado The bold, rich taste of black walnuts is lovely in candies and baked goods. And, as a bonus black walnuts are quite nutritious. They are a good source of vitamin E and iron, and have lots of protein. They  also contain “good” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that can help reduce “bad” cholesterol.

Black walnuts are seldom sold in stores, so each autumn I scope out black walnut trees on nearby public property, and then forage the walnuts. I then hull the walnuts (and walk around for at least a week afterwards with walnut-stained hands), and then spread the hulled nuts out on newspapers to dry for several months.

A couple days ago my husband and I began to crack the walnuts, and then to pick the nut meats out, which is a challenge in itself. I swear that black walnuts are the most difficult nuts (except for maybe hickory nuts) to crack.

Now that I had the shelled nuts, I was ready to begin baking with them. I selected a hundred-year-old nut bread recipe. Any type of nuts could be used in the recipe–but black walnuts would have commonly been used in the early 1900s.

The Black Walnut Bread was easy to make, and it was a taste treat with the embedded, robust, savory pieces of black walnut. This recipe is a keeper.

Here is the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Black Walnut Bread (Nut Bread)

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup black walnuts, chopped (or other type of nut)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans.  Put the flour, sugar, baking powder,  and salt into a mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add egg and milk, and stir just enough to blend the ingredients. Add the black walnuts, and gently stir to spread the nuts throughout the batter. Pour into the greased pans. Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.

I couldn’t figure out why the old recipe said that after the batter was poured into the loaf pans that they should “stand aside to raise twenty minutes” before baking. Since this recipe called for baking powder (and not yeast), it didn’t seem like it needed to rise prior to baking so I ignored that step.