String Beans with Bacon (and onions) are delicious, and they are quick and easy to make. This hundred-year-old recipe brings back vague memories of string bean dishes from my childhood.
The recipe calls for cooking the beans until they are tender – and I cooked them for about 20 minutes. They weren’t crisp like the beans often prepared using modern recipes – but I found them to be a refreshing change, and enjoyed this dish’s old-fashioned goodness. The recipe is definitely a keeper.
1 pound string beans (use either yellow or green beans)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 slice bacon, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne (red) pepper
Clean string beans, remove tips, and snap into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan. Add the sliced onions and chopped bacon; then just barely cover with water, and add the salt and cayenne pepper. Place on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, then remove from heat, drain any excess liquid (a little is okay), and serve.
Sometimes I’m amazed by the things that people worried about a hundred years ago. For example, they worried about whether bananas were good for them. Here some excerpts from a hundred-year-old magazine article:
Consider the Banana
Perhaps no staple article of food is more the subject of strange fancies or more misunderstood – more overpraised for qualities which it does not posses and blamed for defects not its own – than that standby of the corner fruit stand, the banana.
“Is it true that a banana contains as much nutritive value as a half-pound of steak?” “Is it true that a raw banana is as indigestible as a raw potato, and must be cooked before it is eaten?” “Is it true that the combination of bananas and milk is poisonous?”
In spite of prejudice and misunderstanding, however, the majority of people accept its worth, for the consumption of bananas has increased by leaps and bounds. Less than fifty years ago the first bananas were brought to Boston. Today it is estimated that seven billion are consumed annually in the United States – an average of six dozen of this fruit for each man, woman, and child in the land.
Do not chose bananas that look pretty rather than those that are ripe. The banana of a clear lemon-yellow color, which brings the best price in the market, is most certainly not yet a ripe fruit. The pulp of such a banana is composed very largely of starch, and while it is an exaggeration to say that it is as difficult to digest as the starch of a raw potato, it is greatly improved in this respect by permitting the ripening processes.
When the banana is perfectly ripe, the clear yellow peeling has changed to brown or black, and more of the starch in the pulp has been converted into sugar. Such bananas have a far better flavor and aroma than the unripe yellow fruit.
Whatever bad reputation the fruit has acquired as regards to its indigestibility is due, undoubtedly to the fact that many people eat the unripe fruit. Then there is the tendency to eat the whole banana quickly without sufficient mastication.
Nature has given us in the banana a sanitary, sealed package. The banana is cheap; when properly ripened it is easy to digest; moreover, it contains sufficient roughage and laxative properties to be free from the constipating tendency of which many highly concentrated modern foods are guilty.
Its flavor is bland and characteristic, yet not sufficiently pronounced to become tiresome.
When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m sometimes surprised by the recipes I find. This is one of those times. I was amazed to find a recipe for Lamb Curry with Rice (East Indian) in the April, 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping that had been submitted by a reader.
This recipe makes a very credible Lamb Curry. I’m not an expert on Indian foods (and feel free to disagree), but to me, it tasted similar to some of the milder lamb curries that I’ve eaten in restaurants over the years. Which led me to wonder, who was the woman who submitted this recipe to the magazine? Did she have friends from India? Had she visited India?
Place the lamb in a dutch oven or large saucepan and cover with water; add salt. Cover, and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Remove from heat. Cut the lamb into small pieces, removing any fat, bones, or gristle, then set aside. Reserve 2 cups of broth, and skim excess fat from the top of the broth. (The broth may be chilled to make it easier to remove the fat.)
Melt the butter in a skillet using medium heat, and stir in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft; then add the cooked lamb. Stir in the flour, pepper, curry powder, cloves, and allspice. Slowly add the lamb broth while stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Add the coconut and lemon juice. Then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has a thick gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat and serve with rice.
I have warm memories of making Raggedy Ann Salad and other character-shaped salads using canned fruits when I was a child, so I was thrilled to see a recipe for Porcupine Salad in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
Porcupine Salad was fun and easy to make, and it turned out beautifully. Almond slices are inserted into a canned pear half, and whole cloves are used to make the eyes.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made the recipe I didn’t serve it on a lettuce leaf, and I skipped the fruit salad dressing, but they could be added if desired. I found this recipe in the same cookbook that contained the Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey that I made last week, so that dressing could be used to replicate the original recipe’s serving suggestion.
For more than a hundred years people have known about calories. Cooks a century ago worried about providing enough calories for people who did hard physical labor. A 1915 home economics textbook showed that a lumberman needed more than twice as many calories each day than a shoemaker.
According to the book:
The man who is working at hard physical labor needs more food than the man who sits quietly at his work. Moreover, one working actively out of doors can take foods which are difficult of digestion for the person of sedentary occupation.
Refreshing fruit salads are one of my go-to foods on hot summer days, so when I saw a recipe for Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey in a hundred-year-old cookbook I knew that I had to give it a try.
The whipped dressing, made with real cream, honey, and vinegar, was tart – but a perfect fruit topping. The tangy-sweetness of this light, airy whipped cream dressing perks up the fruit, and can turn a generic mixture of fruits into a special fruit salad. When I made this recipe, I asked people to guess what ingredient gave the dressing its tang. They guessed that it contained sour cream or even a little yogurt – and didn’t think of vinegar.
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
I couldn’t tell from the recipe whether the Fruit Salad Dressing was supposed to be spooned on top of the fruit or stirred into the fruit, so I made it both ways. The two presentations were very different – but the Fruit Salad was delicious both ways.
Beat egg yolks, then stir in the honey, vinegar, and salt. Place in a saucepan, and cook using medium heat while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.
When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and then stir in the chilled egg mixture.
May be served as a fruit topping or stirred into a fruit mixture (grapes, cherry halves, cubed peaches or apricots, strawberries, etc. work well).
Cook’s note: This recipe makes a lot of dressing. I used the dressing on two consecutive days. On the first day, I whipped 1/2 cup of cream and stirred the egg mixture in to taste. The second day I whipped the remainder of the cream and stirred in the remaining dressing.