Hundred-year-old Corn Fritters Recipe

Remember the first time you had corn on the cob this summer? . . . and, how special it was? . . . and, how much you ate? The corn was so sweet and tender. Back then, I’d buy a half-dozen ears at the farmer’s market – and my husband and I could easily polish it off at one meal.

Now, as the season winds down, I’m getting a little tired of corn. So when a neighbor gave me ten ears of corn a few days ago, I was looking for ways to use it. And, then I remembered Corn Fritters. . .

I found an incredible recipe for Corn Fritters in a hundred-year-old cookbook. The Fritters were crispy on the outside and contained just the right amount of corn. The recipe was perfect – it was both easy to make and tasty. Bring on the corn!

Here’s the original recipe:

Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

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

Corn Fritters

  • Servings: 15-20 fritters
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup corn (fresh corn cut from the cob is best; canned creamed corn could also be used)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

dash red pepper

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

shortening or lard

Put flour, salt, red pepper, egg, milk, and olive oil in a mixing bowl; beat until combined. Add corn and stir until the corn is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

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

Cook’s note: The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons salt. This seemed like a lot to me, so when I updated the recipe I only used 1 teaspoon.

Hundred-Year-Old Breakfast in Bed Place Settings

Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)

Breakfast in bed . . . those three words convey the ultimate in pampering to me. A century-old article in a popular women’s magazine, suggested that breakfast in bed may have been more popular than it is now.  American Cookery showed several examples of beautiful place-settings that could be used to serve breakfast in bed. The article indicated that breakfast is bed was not just a luxury for wealthy people, but a nice change of pace for anyone:

But to all, even hum-drum women, there dawn days when a bit “under the weather” we merit the pleasure of a secluded breakfast. When a rarity, it is a joy. Many women who could not stand it daily – who like to be “up and at it” – confess to a veritable delight in a dainty bedside breakfast when overtired or indisposed.

Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)

Old-fashioned Eggplant en Casserole

During these last days of summer I’m enjoying all the wonderful fresh vegetables, so when I saw a recipe for Eggplant en Casserole in a hundred-year-old magazine, I was intrigued and had to give it a try. The recipe had an old-fashioned goodness, with a taste and texture that was a little different from more modern eggplant casseroles.

The recipe is made with mashed eggplant that blended nicely with the other ingredients. In addition to the eggplant, the recipe called for corn and onion – as well as a little tomato soup, and it was topped with a crispy bread crumb topping.

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

Eggplant en Casserole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 small classic eggplants (approximately 4 cups mashed)

2 tablespoons shortening

2 medium onions, chopped

1 cup corn cut from the cob (approximately 1 cup)

1/2 cup tomato soup (I used canned tomato soup.)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel eggplants and cut into slices. Put into a steamer basket, and steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and mash.

In the meantime, melt the shortening in a skillet using medium low heat; add chopped onion and saute until tender. Stir in the mashed eggplant, corn, tomato soup, salt and pepper. Put into a casserole, cover with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Put in over and bake until hot and bubbly (about 1/2 hour).

When “Time is Money” Serve Ready-to-Eat Cereals

Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1916)

There are lots of things to think about when deciding whether to serve hot cereal or cold “ready-to-eat” cereal. Here’s what a hundred-year-old home economics textbook says:

The ready-to-eat cereals commend themselves to those whose time is money. For the house-mother whose chief business is housekeeping the uncooked cereals will make the greatest return for the money spent. A cent’s worth of oatmeal when cooked is as much as the very heartiest laboring man can eat. A cent’s worth of cornmeal makes a breakfast for him, and there will be some left to fry for supper.

A cent’s worth of a ready-to-eat cereal is less – one shredded wheat biscuit or a dainty dish of corn flakes. The saving all depends upon the value of the cook’s time. For uncooked cereals she expends time in preparation, for the ready-to-eat cereals she expends money.

True economy for one family may be extravagance for another family. The intelligent housewife considers all these facts in order to make a wise decision.

How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie A. Long (1914)

Hundred-year-old Baked Bean Recipe

Baked beans are a classic summer dish to take to picnics, barbeques, and potluck dinners. So I was excited when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Beans.

It takes a long time to make Baked Beans the traditional way. They need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for many hours. I thought about possible shortcuts (using canned beans or cooking the beans in a pressure cooker), but I decided that it would be more authentic to follow the directions in the old recipe.

The old-fashioned Baked Beans were hearty and tasty – however, they had much less sauce than most modern versions. When I served them, I asked my husband what he thought. He said, “They remind me of Baked Beans relatives used to bring to reunions years ago.”

I still had a few doubts, so when I begin to write this post I said to him, “I’m still not sure about this recipe. The beans seemed a little dry and there wasn’t much sauce.”

He replied, “They were good.”

So the final verdict is that they aren’t quite like modern Baked Beans, but they’re good.

Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baked Beans

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups dried pea or navy beans (I used navy beans.)

4 cups water + additional water

1 small onion, diced (approximately 1/3 cup)

2-3 slices bacon, diced + bacon for top of dish

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes (or use diced fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar (I used molasses.)

1/8 tablespoon baking soda

pepper

Soak dried beans in 4 cups water overnight, then drain. Put the soaked beans in a large saucepan, add onions, diced bacon, and salt, then cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until the beans are almost tender (about 1 hour).  Remove from heat and add tomatoes, molasses/brown sugar, and baking soda; Place in 2-quart heavy casserole dish or bean crock; arrange bacon slices on the top and sprinkle with pepper; cover.  Put in oven (preheated to 325° F.), and bake for 4-5 hours. If necessary, add additional hot water to keep moist while cooking. (I didn’t add any water.)

Hundred-Year-Old Advice About Drinking Water

I always enjoy reading hundred-year-old advice. Sometimes I agree with it; other times I just smile. Here is what a century-old home economics textbook says about drinking water:

Water-drinking

That drinking water at meals is harmful is another tradition to which some people still cling. There may be certain pathological conditions that would make this practice harmful. But people in normal health suffer no ill effects from a reasonable amount of water taken with meals. A safe rule at meals is to drink when you are thirsty, and with one limitation not to drink when masticating.

The digestion of starch foods should begin in the mouth and this can take place only when the food is thoroughly mixed with the saliva. If food is mixed with water the salivary glands are not sufficiently stimulated to action, and the food passes from the mouth without enough of the digestive juice.

One disadvantage of drinking water at meals is that people who do so often think they have a sufficient amount and do not drink between meals. Copious water-drinking is essential for proper elimination. It is a safe rule to take at least six glasses a day, including that taken at meals, and ten glasses are not too much.

How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie Long (1914)

Old-Fashioned Fried Summer Squash Recipe

Today summer squash is often streamed or grilled, but once or twice each summer I fry it.  So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Summer Squash.

When I make fried squash, I generally “bread” it with flour. The old recipe called for actual bread crumbs.  The bread crumbs are a nice twist to this classic comfort food.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

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

Yellow summer squash  or zucchini could be used in this recipe. I used yellow straightneck squash to more authentically replicate the hundred-year-old recipe. According to Wikipedia, “the first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s.” Since this cookbook was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917, the cookbook author won’t have used zucchini.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Summer Squash

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 small summer squash

salt and pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, slight beaten

shortening or cooking oil

Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper,  dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying skillet. When hot, carefully place the breaded squash slices in the skillet in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the squash slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each slice is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Some of the breading will fall off the squash during cooking. This is okay, the remaining breading is enough to make an attractive and tasty dish.

The old recipe calls for coating the squash slices with bread crumbs, both before and after dipping in egg. When I made this recipe very few bread crumbs clung to the squash slices prior to dipping it in the egg – so I skipped this step when updated the recipe. It works fine to only coat with bread crumbs after dipping in the eggs.