Raisins and Bananas

Raisins and Bananas on plate

Bananas are tasty, convenient, and inexpensive. They are also a very healthy fruit with fiber and protein, and potassium and other nutrients. However, they can also be boring. So when I saw a recipe for Raisins and Bananas in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The bananas are baked with raisins in a light sugar syrup. The Raisins and Bananas were tasty, and would make a lovely fruit dessert or snack (or could be served at breakfast of another meal).

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Raisins and Bananas
Source: Cement City Cook Book (Published by First Baptist Church, Alpena, MI, 1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Raisins and Bananas

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup raisins

6 bananas

juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put sugar, water, and raisins in a saucepan; stir. Using medium heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool until lukewarm.

In the meantime, peel bananas and remove any stringy fibers. If desired cut the bananas in half. Arrange in a baking dish, then pour the raisins and syrup over the bananas. Put in oven and bake until the syrup is hot and bubbly, and the bananas tender. Remove from oven. May be served either hot or cold.


Celery au Gratin

Celery au Gratin

A hundred years ago celery was often served as a cooked vegetable, so I decided to make a recipe  for Celery au Gratin that I found in a 1922 cookbook.

The Celery au Gratin was tasty with pieces of celery embedded in a delightful cheese sauce.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for Celery au Gratin
Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

I used butter instead of shortening when making the sauce for this recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Celery as Gratin

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flour

dash salt and pepper

3/4 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar.)

1/2 cup fine soft bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put celery pieces, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the celery is tender (about 10 minutes). Then remove from heat, and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid to use in the sauce. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in another saucepan, then stir in flour and dashes of salt and pepper. Gradually, add the milk and reserved celery liquid while stirring constantly; Continue heating and stirring using medium heat until the sauce thickens.

Put half the cooked celery in a 3-cup casserole dish; add 1/2 of the sauce, then top with  1/2 of the grated cheese. Repeat in same order. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan.  Add the breadcrumbs and stir. Continue stirring until the breadcrumbs are crispy and light brown.

Sprinkle the buttered breadcrumbs on top of the layered celery. Put in oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


1922 Advice for Where to Serve the First Course of a Dinner

dining room table
Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1915)

Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for where to serve the first course of a dinner:

Before answering this question specifically let us first say that there is no special course which is invariably the “first course of a dinner.” The first course may be shell fish; it may be soup; it may be the chief meat dish –according to the number of courses served and formality of the dinner. But whatever may be the first course, there is only one place where it should be eaten, and this is at the dining-room table in the dining-room.

During recent years, however, the custom has arisen of serving a small portion of some sapid and well-relished food, whose function of to stimulate appetite, as a beginning to the dinner. This beginning is not thought of as one of the courses, it is too unsubstantial, and the frilly little morsels used for this purpose are listed under the headings: “Some Beginnings,” “Appetizers,” “avani-diners,” or other similar phrase. A salpicon, which, correctly, is a very small portion, no more than a good tablespoonful, is an example of such a beginning. So is a canape. So used to be the original cocktail. At a gentlemen’s dinner it used to be customary to have canapes and coctails passed in the library soon after the guests assembled. Canapes were, then the crisp and crusty morels which could be eaten from the fingers; and cocktails were composed of ingredients now under legal ban.

At present our cocktails are of two kinds: the semi-solid kind, calling for the use of a fork, such as the oyster cocktail, which is really one of the courses, since it is only a new fashion of serving the shellfish. The place to eat this is in the dining-room. The other kind of cocktail is made of fruit juice or a mixture of fruit juices, etc., and this, according to a late fashion, is brought to the drawing-room, or wherever the guests are assembled–and now that guests are not expected to arrive on the stroke of the minute-hand, it helps the pleasant passing of a period of waiting for some belated one, to sip the cocktail during the quarter of an hour allowed after the time named for the dinner.

American Cookery (March, 1922)


Baconized Meatballs

Baconzied Meatballs in Dish

Meatballs in gravy are a nice comfort food, so when I saw a recipe for Baconized Meatballs in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try. Bacon is chopped into small pieces, sauted, and then mixed with ground beef, spices, and other ingredients, and used to make the meatballs.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Baconized Meatballs
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

I was surprised that “meat balls” was written as two words in the old recipe. I updated to the more modern way of spelling and combined into one word: meatballs.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baconized Meatballs

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 slices bacon

1 cup cracker crumbs

1/2 cup hot water

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon onion salt

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sage

1/4 allspice

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup cooking oil, shortening, or lard


3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2  cups water

Cut bacon into small pieces, then put in a skillet and sauté until crisp. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl put the cracker crumbs, water, ground beef, egg, salt, pepper onion salt, celery salt, thyme, sage, allspice, and sautéed bacon pieces.  Mix well, and form into meat balls (about 1 inch in diameter).

Put 2 tablespoons of flour on a plate. Roll meatballs in the flour.

Place the cooking oil, shortening, or lard into an overproof skillet and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot fat, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Move skillet to oven (preheated to 375° F.), and continue cooking until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked (about 20 minutes).  Remove from oven and put meatballs in serving dish.

Put skillet back on the top of the stove, and reheat using medium heat. To make the gravy, stir the 3 tablespoons flour into the meat juices. Slowly add the water while stirring. Continue stirring until the gravy thickens and is hot and bubbly. Removed from heat, and pour gravy over the meatballs, then serve.


Nutrition and Growth in Children: 1922 Book Review

Title page: Nutrition and Growth in Children
Source: Nutrition and Growth in Children (1922)

The June/July, 1922 issue of American Cookery magazine had a book review for a book called Nutrition and Growth in Children by William R.P. Emerson that piqued my interest, so I googled it. I was please to discover that the book is available online:

Nutrition and Growth in Children

Here’s the hundred-year-old book review that was in American Cookery:

One-third of all the children in the United States are underweight or under-nourished or malnourished. This condition is limited to no locality, and to no social class. It is as prevalent in the North, as in the South, in the country as in the city, in the homes of the rich as in the slums. It is a condition baneful of the well-being of our children and dangerous to the health of our future men and women. Malnutrition in children is now recognized as the greatest single problem affecting our national health. 

Dr. Emerson, nationally known as a pioneer in nutrition work, and the first to lay proper emphasis on the other important factors because besides diet, here offers to parents, teachers, social workers, and physicians the results of his rich and successful experience. In simple, practical terms he describes the causes of malnutrition in growing children and shows how the condition may be detected. He describes fully the methods of cure, which involve problems of physical defects, fatigue, home control and health habit, as well as diet and good habits. Finally, he outlines a complete and practical nutrition program for the home, the school, and the community. 

This is a thoroughly practical and scientific treatment of a subject of far reaching importance. 

American Cookery (June/July, 1922)

Here is part of the book’s preface:

Preface: Nutrition and Growth in Children
Source: Nutrition and Growth in Children (1922)

And, here is a chart in the book showing why one girl’s growth was off-track for a short time:

Growth Chart
Source: Nutrition and Growth in Children (1922)

Green Peas Maitre d’Hotel Recipe

Green Peas Maitre d'Hotel

Green peas are a vegetable I often cook when I’m uninspired, so I was intrigued when I came across a recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Green Peas Maitre d’Hotel. It sounded so fancy – and suggested that a boring vegetable could be really special. So I decided to give the recipe a try. The peas are immersed in butter, chopped mint leaves, and lemon juice.

The verdict: Green Peas Maitre d’Hotel were nice with a hint of mint, but the mint taste was very mild and nuanced; and I was a little disappointed that the peas in this recipe seemed very similar to just plain peas.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Green Peas Maitre d'Hotel
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Green Peas Maitre d'Hotel

  • Servings: 3- 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups green peas

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

salt and pepper

In a small bowl mix butter, chopped mint, lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper.

In the meantime, cook the peas in a small amount of boiling salted water until tender; drain. Then gently stir in the butter mixture. Return to heat until the butter melts, then serve.