Old-fashioned Scalloped Asparagus

HAPPY EASTER!

Nothing says Spring like asparagus (or a refrigerator filled with rainbow-colored hard-boiled eggs). So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe that called for both asparagus and chopped hard-boiled eggs.

The Scalloped Asparagus turned out wonderfully. This classic dish was tasty, and made a lovely presentation with bits of asparagus and egg poking through the browned bread crumb and cheese topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

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

Scalloped Asparagus

  • Servings: 4 - 5 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 bunch asparagus (approximately 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1 1/4 cup milk

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 cup fine bread crumbs

6 tablespoons grated or shredded cheese (I used Parmesan cheese.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Boil or steam asparagus until tender (2-3 minutes). 

Meantime in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir the flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil using medium heat. Remove the white sauce from heat.

Put 1/3 of the cooked asparagus in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Add a layer with 1/3 of the chopped eggs,  a layer of white sauce, a layer of bread crumbs, and a layer of 2 tablespoons cheese; continue layering with the final two layers being bread crumbs and cheese.

Bake for 1/2 hour or until the dish is hot and bubbly and the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve.

Reviving Withered Root Vegetables

My refrigerator always seems to have a few miscellaneous food lurking in it that have seen better days – like the plastic bag filled with carrots that I bought several weeks ago, but somehow had never used. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old suggestion for reviving carrots and other root vegetables.

Root vegetables, such as turnips and carrots, that have been withered need not be thrown away. Revive them by slicing off the ends and laying them in cold water. In a few hours their natural freshness will be restored.

Ladies Home Journal (March, 1918)

This tip worked wonderfully.  The revived carrots were almost as good as ones I’ve freshly pulled from my garden.

Hundred-year-old Peanut Butter Straws Recipe

Peanut butter is one of my favorite snack foods, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Peanut Butter Straws.

This irresistible snack contains peanut butter sandwiched between pieces of flaky pastry. The Peanut Butter Straws  have the essence of peanut butter sandwich crackers – though the shape is different, and they are less crispy.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1917)

When I updated the recipe for modern cooks, I changed the recipe name from Peanut Straws to Peanut Butter Straws because it more precisely describes this snack.  Here’s the updated recipe:

Peanut Butter Straws

  • Servings: approximately 75 4-inch straws
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup flour

1/3 cup shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

1/3 cup peanut butter

water

milk

paprika

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Put flour into bowl. Cut in shortening  using two knives or a pastry blender. Add water and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If needed, add additional water. (Or make pastry dough using a food processor).  Roll into a 1/8-thick rectangle on lightly floured surface.

Spread peanut butter on one-half the rolled dough. Just “slap” the peanut butter on the dough.  Do not worry if there are places here and there that have no peanut butter. The layers of the straws stick together better if there are places with no peanut butter.

Moisten the edges of the dough with water, then fold the other half of the pastry dough over on top of the dough that had been spread with the peanut butter. Roll lightly, and then prick here and there with a fork to prevent puffing up.

Cut into strips 1/2 inch wide by 4 inches long. Place on a greased cookie sheet, then brush with milk.  Put into oven and bake until straws are light brown (about 10 minutes). Remove from oven and sprinkle with paprika.

Pickled Bananas

I’ve pickled lots of different fruits and vegetables, so when I saw a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Pickled Bananas I just had to give it a try.

The Pickled Bananas were a nice change of pace. The pickling syrup which contained cinnamon, mace, and cloves was delightful. And, much to my surprise, the pickled bananas reminded me a little of pickled beets or other pickled starchy vegetable.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pickled Bananas

  • Servings: 6-8 servings
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon mace

4  firm (green) bananas, peeled and cut into thirds

Put sugar and vinegar in a saucepan, stir. Then tie the spices into a small bag made of cheesecloth, and place in the saucepan with the sugar and vinegar mixture. (A small amount of the spices will leak out of the bag into the syrup  – that’s okay).   Bring the mixture to a boil using medium heat, then add the banana pieces. Bring the liquid back up to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook until the bananas are tender and can be easily pierced using a wood toothpick. (The length of time will vary greatly depending upon how hard the bananas are. It might take 10 minutes, or it may take 30 minutes or more. Be patient.). Remove from heat. Chill for eat least 4 hours before serving.  Remove from syrup and serve.

I am not as frugal as homemakers a hundred years ago. I did not set the syrup aside for more pickling after I made this recipe.

Hundred-year-old Advice on How to Prepare Raw Vegetables for Storing and Eating

Here’s some hundred-year-old advice on how to clean and store raw vegetables:

Separate leaves or stalks into their natural divisions.

First. Examine them carefully, removing interior portions, insects, etc., that may be found on the vegetables.

Second. Wash thoroughly in several waters. Running water is preferable. Salted water aids in removing parasites.

Third. Drain off the water and dry with cheese cloth.

Greens may be kept in a paper bag in the refrigerator until serving time.

Coarser portions may be utilized for soups or sauces while the tender portions may be served raw. Great care should be exercised in the selection and preparation of food which is not subjected to heat before serving, such as salad greens. Salad plants, carelessly cultivated or handled may carry dangerous bacteria, or they may have been sprinkled with poisonous compounds.

The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)