Old-fashioned Cheese and Rice Fritters

I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old snack and appetizer recipes. I recently found a recipe in a 1919 cookbook for Cheese and Rice Fritters.  They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a subtle cheese and tomato flavor. And, they were amazingly similar to  an hors d’oeuvre that I recently had at a catered event.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Cheese and Rice Fritters
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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

Cheese and Rice Fritters

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 cup rice

1 4-ounce can tomato sauce


1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

shortening or lard

Cook rice following package directions with the following substitution – replace half of the water called for on the package with tomato sauce. (Any remaining tomato sauce can be saved and used in another recipe.) Puree cooked rice. (Cook’s note:  I’m not sure how the rice was pureed a hundred years ago. I used a blender to puree the rice – and that did not work very well. I think that a food processor might work better.)

In a mixing bowl, combine approximately 1 cup of pureed rice, salt, paprika, baking powder, and flour; stir until thoroughly mixed. (There may be extra rice that can be eaten or used in another recipe.)  Add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. If dough is too dry, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water; if too moist, add 1 or tablespoons of additional flour.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into hot shortening. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

I used more rice than called for in the original recipe because 1/4 cup did not seem like enough to end up with 1 cup of pureed rice.

There’s Excess Flour and Sugar in Europe – No Worries, Eat Cookies

Source: Wikimedia Commons (Imperial War Museums), Women at a flour mill, public domain

1919 magazines were filled with articles about World War I, and how the U.S. and other countries were returning to normalcy following the end of war.

During the war, Americans conserved food and were able to send huge amounts of flour and sugar to Europe to feed the troops and others in need.

At the end of the war there was lots of sugar stockpiled in Europe, and people wondered what should be done with it.  Here’s what the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery had to say about this:

Cookies! Yanks Eat Millions

More than 6,000,000 old-fashioned American cookies have been manufactured in France and distributed with the compliments of the American Red Cross to the soldiers in service, the wounded in hospitals and to scores of canteens. Within a month it is expected that 700,000 will be made a day. At present the output is 200,000 a day.

It is the belief of Red Cross officials that the manufacture of cookies will not be affected by the cessation of hostilities.

It is pointed out that there is a six-months stock of sugar and one and a half years’ supply of flour in storage for making the cookies.


Old-fashioned Blueberry Duff

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Blueberry Duff in the February, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping. Duffs often are steamed puddings – but this recipe is very easy to make and calls for baking the duff in the oven.

This Blueberry Duff is moist, rich, and spicy. It contains molasses, well as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The recipe calls for canned blueberries. I’m fascinated by what people ate during the winter months in the days before modern transportation allowed produce to be shipped thousands of miles.  In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1919)

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

Blueberry Duff

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 15-ounce (1 pint) can of canned blueberries (DO NOT use blueberry pie filling. This recipe calls for canned blueberries.)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup barley flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup molasses

whipped cream, optional

Drain canned blueberries; reserve both juice and berries.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put all-purpose flour, barley flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, molasses, and blueberry juice in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; put lid on dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from dish by running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting on a plate.

Serve either warm or cold. If desired, serve with whipped cream.

“Mineral Matter in the Diet” Poem

Poem titled: Mineral Matter in the Diet
Source: The Journal of Home Economics (April, 1919)

A hundred years ago, there was a lot of food-related research, and people were beginning to understand the important role of vitamins and minerals in our diet. I was amazed to even find a poem in the Journal of Home Economics which encouraged cooks to prepare foods which contained lots of minerals.

Old-fashioned Fig Meringue Pie

A hundred years ago, fresh fruit was scarce during the long winter months, so pies were often made using dried fruit.  I found a wonderful recipe for a Fig Meringue Pie in a 1919 cookbook. The delectable fig filling is topped with a creamy meringue.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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

Fig Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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12 ounces dried figs

1 1/2 cups water

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons sugar + a small amount of additional sugar

dash salt

1 8-inch (small) baked pie crust

Remove stems from figs, then chop. (There should be approximately 2 1/2 cups of chopped figs.) Put chopped figs in a saucepan, add water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 325° F. Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; beat together. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot fig mixture into bowl with beaten egg mixture, stir quickly to prevent eggs from coagulating. Then put this mixture in the saucepan with the cooked figs while stirring. Return to heat (medium), and cook until the mixture thickens while stirring continuously.  Pour into a pie shell which had been previously baked.

In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Troubleshooting Cake Problems

cake with icing
Image source: Recipes for Everyday (1919)

Ever have a cake that didn’t turn out quite right? Well, here’s some hundred-year-old advice for troubleshooting cake problems (and, amazingly, much of it is still applicable today).

Here’s what Janet McKenzie Hill wrote in a 1919 cookbook titled Recipes for Everyday:

Heavy or fallen cakes are caused by having too slow an oven; by using too much sugar or shortening; by using too little flour; by having such a hot oven that the outside bakes so thoroughly that the inside cannot rise; by moving the cake in the oven before the cell walls have become fixed; or by taking the cake from the oven before it is thoroughly baked.

Thick-crusted cakes are caused by too hot an oven, by using too much sugar and shortening, or too little flour.

Coarse-grained cakes are the result of using too much leavening material, or of having too slow an oven. They are also caused by insufficient creaming of shortening and sugar, or insufficient beating of the batter before adding the egg whites.

A”bready” cake is caused by using too much flour.

A cake rises in a peak in the center when the oven is too hot during the first few minutes of baking.

A cake will crack when it contains too much flour, or when the oven is so hot at first that the outside bakes before the center can rise.

Old-Fashioned Pastry Hearts

heart-shaped pastries

Are you looking for a tasty, fun-to-make Valentine’s Day treat? Well, I may have found the perfect recipe for you. Pastry Hearts are made by spreading jelly on pastry dough, rolling into a log, slicing, and then shaping into hearts. The process of squeezing and pressing the dough to create the hearts was fun and felt a bit like playing with play dough.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Pastry Hearts
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pastry Hearts

  • Servings: approximately 12 hearts
  • Difficulty: moderate
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pie pastry for a 1-shell pie (or use scraps of pastry dough left-over after making a pie crust)

1 egg white

red-colored jelly – red raspberry, cherry, etc. (I used red current jelly, but if I made this recipe again, I’d select a redder jelly.)


Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pie pastry into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Thinly spread with jelly. Starting at the narrow end, firmly roll into a log-shape. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. Shape into hearts by pulling into a point at one end, and pressing in at the other end. Use a paper towel to dab away any excess jelly. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 10 -15 minutes (or until lightly browned).