Old-fashioned Fried Cucumbers Recipe

 

Fried Cucumbers 2

I had a problem – too many cucumbers to eat in salads, but not enough to make pickles. This sent me searching through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for cucumber recipes. One cookbook suggested dipping cucumber spears into a batter and then frying them. I decided to give it a try.

The Fried Cucumbers were delicious and easy to make with a lovely crispy coating and a delightful slight  crunch when I bit into them. They are versatile, and make a great appetizer or side dish. Fried Cucumbers would be lovely with a dipping sauce – though it definitely is not needed.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Cucumbers

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3-5 medium cucumbers (number needed depends upon size)

shortening or oil

Prepare a batter by combining the flour, salt, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined.

Cut the cucumbers into spears that are approximately 1-inch wide.  Dip the spears in the batter.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded spears in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the spears may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each cucumber spear is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

And, here is the description in the old cookbook about how to prepare cucumbers. I didn’t try the suggestion for boiling and mashing them (there’s always another day), and just followed the instructions in the last paragraph about frying them.

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Cuts of Beef a Hundred Years Ago

Source: Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts (1913(
Source: Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts (1913)

Here’s some  hundred-year-old advice for selecting meat:

Beef should be a bright red and well streaked with fat.

To understand the difference between the tough and tender cuts we must be familiar with the structure of the muscle. Each muscle consists of bundles of tubes held together by connective tissues. In tough meat, the muscle tubes are thicker and there is more connective tissue present.

Exercise strengthens the muscle, and this accounts for the fact that the unexercised muscles of the young animal give us a softer meat. In the mature animal the muscles most exercised furnish a tough meat, and the less-used muscles the tender.

The tough cuts come from the neck and legs, the tender cuts from the middle of the back, the toughness increasing as the cuts approach the neck and the hind legs. The muscles of the abdomen are also tender, but they give a coarse-grained meat.

The tender cuts from the ribs and loin are the most highly prized, and therefore bring the highest price. These cuts are liked because of their tenderness although the nutritive value of the tough meat is as high or possibly even higher than the tender. We must take pains to use the cooking processes that will make the tough meats palatable.

Excerpts from Foods and Household Management : A Text-book of the Household Arts  by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1913)

 

Hundred-year-old Creamed Fresh Peas Recipe

Creamed Peas

Sometimes I think that peas are a boring and blasé food; but there are a couple of weeks each year when fresh garden peas are available at the farmers’ market, and that’s a totally different story. Fresh peas are  a to-die-for sweet, yet delicate,  taste sensation – and lovely when served in a traditional “cream” sauce that is made using milk.

I dug out my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and found this recipe for Creamed Peas.

creamed peas recipe
Source: Lycoming Valley Cook Book, Compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, PA (1907)

The Creamed Peas were lovely and the simple sauce enhanced  the subtle flavors of the tender peas. The dish was simultaneously an easy-to-make,  but almost elegant food, and a delightful comfort food.

Here’s the recipe adapted for modern cooks:

Creamed Fresh Peas

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups shelled fresh garden peas

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put the flour in a cup or small bowl, and gradually stir in the 2 tablespoons of milk to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the peas into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peas, then pour 1/2 cup of milk over the peas. Return to the heat and using a medium heat bring the milk to a boil. Quickly, but gently, stir in the flour paste. Cook the creamed peas for a few seconds while continuing to stir until the milk mixture thickens. Remove from heat and serve.

I was surprised that the recipe author didn’t make a white sauce that was poured over the peas, but instead covered the peas with milk, heated it, and then stirred in a flour paste to thicken it. Maybe she was trying to minimize the number of pans on the stove.  I made the recipe using the flour paste, but it would work fine to make the white sauce separately.

Enjoying Friends, Family, and Dessert on the Porch on Hot Summer Days

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

A hundred years ago the summer heat could be oppressive. For example, on July 3, 1911 my grandmother wrote in her diary:

Almost roasted today. Went to Sunday school this afternoon. We had company this evening.

Air conditioning didn’t exit, and my grandmother’s family didn’t have electricity so there were no electric fans.  In those days families congregated on the porch on hot summer days to relax and enjoy the breezes. Friends would often stop by, and a dessert would generally “just appear.”

I’m glad that modern technology makes our summers more bearable now, but I sense that we’ve also lost something. Does anyone sit (or entertain) on their porch anymore? (As I write this, I realize that we now have decks and outdoor rooms. Maybe they serve the same purpose that porches did in days gone by.)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1911)

Hundred-Year-Old Maple Walnut Tapioca Pudding Recipe

maple walnut tapioca pudding

Sometimes I’m amazed how long some products have been around. I recently was browsing through a hundred-year-old magazine and was stopped in my tracks when I saw an advertisement for Minute Tapioca.

Minute Gelatine 5 1916
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

I did a little research and discovered that Minute Tapioca has been sold in the U.S. since 1894. By 1916 it was widely available throughout the country.

The old ad was chock full of old tapioca recipes. A recipe for Maple Walnut Tapioca particularly intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

Tapioca pudding  is a little tricky to make because it requires lots of stirring while cooking prevent burning, but it’s well worth the effort. This classic recipe is delightful with a hint of caramel which blends perfectly with the crunchy walnuts.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Maple Walnut Tapioca Pudding

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 25 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

3 tablespoons minute tapioca

2 egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 – 2/3 cup maple syrup (sweeten to taste)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

walnut halves for garnish (optional)

whipped cream (optional)

Heat milk in a saucepan using medium heat while stirring continuously until it begins to steam. Stir in the tapioca, and cook for 15 minutes while continuing to stir continuously.  Midway through the cooking time, the mixture will begin to boil. When this occurs reduce heat so that there is a very slow rolling boil; continue to stir constantly. Remove from heat at the end of the 15 minutes.

Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot mixture into a small bowl with the beaten egg yolks and salt, and quickly stir. Then add the egg mixture to the tapioca, and return to medium heat and cook for an additional 3 minutes while stirring constantly. (The egg is first combined with a little of the hot mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot combination.)

Remove from heat, and cool in the refrigerator, then stir in the maple syrup. If the maple syrup does not readily mix with the tapioca mixture, beat a few seconds until combined (I used an electric mixer); then stir in the chopped walnuts.

If desired, may be garnished with walnut halves or whipped cream.

Old-fashioned Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

Sunshine cake slice

Visiting with old friends is always special.  For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.

It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert –  but something not too heavy.  And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.

The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.

The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Cake

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

5 egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; then add the cream of tartar and salt while continuing to beat until there are stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, egg yolks, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until combined, then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake  pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour). Remove cake from pan and place on serving plate, then drizzle with a thin orange frosting (glaze).

Orange Frosting (Glaze)

2 cups  powdered sugar

approximately 2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. If the mixture to too thick add additional orange juice; then stir in the grated orange rind.

Note: The frosting should be quite thin (and more of a glaze) when used on this cake. A thicker version of it would be lovely on heavier cakes.

Here are the original recipes:

sunshine cake recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

 

orange frosting (1)
Source: Tried and True Cook Book, compiled and published by the Willing Workers of the Minneapolis Incarnation Parish (1910)