Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce

Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce in Bowl

I seem to get into ruts when making vegetables, so am always on the lookout for recipes for some of the less common vegetables. When I saw a recipe for Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe turned out well. The sweet, nutty, earthly parsnips were cut into strips about 2-inches long and cooked, and then embedded in a rich, buttery sauce.

Recipe for Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce
Source: Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

I was surprised that the old recipe for the Drawn Butter Sauce called for water and flour. Today, Drawn Butter is generally just a clarified butter – but apparently it was a thickened butter and water sauce a hundred years ago.

When I made this recipe, I made half a recipe for the drawn butter sauce. I used hot water rather than fish stock. I peeled the parsnips rather than scraping them. (Does anyone scrape parsnips – or carrots for that matter – anymore?)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 pound parsnips (about 4 medium parsnips)


1 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

dash pepper

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Peel parsnips and cut into pieces two inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Put in a saucepan, cover with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender.

Melt half of the butter in a saucepan using medium heat; stir in the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Gradually add the hot water while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil while continuing to stir, reduce heat and continue to stir while the mixture slowly boils for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and the lemon juice. Immediately remove from heat and pour the sauce over the cooked parsnips. Gently stir to combine.

Fried Oysters in Batter with Philadelphia Relish

Fried Oysters with Philadelphia Relish

Oysters were much more popular a hundred years ago than what they are now, and many old cookbooks had numerous oyster recipes.  Oysters were widely available and relatively inexpensive. By 1923 trains could quickly transport oysters to most places in the U.S.

I decided to make a fairly basic hundred-year-old oyster recipe – Fried Oysters in Batter. The cookbook recommended that the oysters be served with Philadelphia Relish, which is a cabbage slaw with a vinegrette dressing, so I also made that.

The oysters turned out well and were very tasty. The Philadelphia Relish reminded me of cabbage slaws that were served at church dinners when I was child.

Here’s the original recipe:

Fried Oysters with Philadephia Relish
Source: Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

This recipe made a lot of batter. Since I had a pint of oysters, I halved the batter recipe (and still had more batter than I needed).

My sense is that green peppers have gotten much larger over the past hundred years, so I chopped 1/2 pepper instead of a whole one for the Philadelphia Relish. Also, the recipe called for “mustard seed,” but it didn’t seem like whole mustard seeds would work in this recipe, so I used ground dry mustard.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Oysters in Batter with Philadelphia Relish

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Fried Oysters in Batter

1 pint oysters

1/2 cup bread flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1 egg

3/8 cup milk

lard, shortening, or vegetable oil

Put flour, salt, pepper, egg, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined and smooth. Set aside.

Drain oysters, and dry on paper towels. Heat about 1/2 inch of lard, shortening, or vegetable oil in a large skillet. Then drip oysters in the batter, and put in the skillet. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then gently turn to brown the other side. When browned, remove from the skillet with a fork or slotted spoon. Drain the on paper towels, then serve.

If desired, serve with Philadelphia Relish.

Philadelphia Relish

2 cups cabbage, shredded

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup vinegar

Combine shredded cabbage and chopped green pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, put the celery seed, mustard, salt, brown sugar, and vinegar; stir to combine. Then pour over the cabbage and green pepper mixture. Stir gently to evenly distribute the dressing.

Old-fashioned Cream of Corn Soup (with Bacon)

bowl of cream of corn soup

I always enjoy the rich holiday foods – but I also find that I crave simpler comfort foods as the new year rolls around. It’s also the time of year when I enjoy making soups, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Cream of Corn Soup. The soup included both corn and bits of bacon, and was a delightful taste treat.

This recipe is a keeper. My husband said, “This is good,” which is high praise from him.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Cream of Corn Soup
Source: The Calorie Cook Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey

The old recipe only called for using 1 tablespoon of bacon grease (fat), but that seemed like a very small about of fat when I stirred 2 tablespoons flour into the bacon grease, so I used all the bacon grease that I got when cooking the bacon.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cream of Corn Soup (with Bacon)

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 can corn (14-16 oz.) or 2 cups fresh corn (cooked) (Either whole kernel or creamed corn can be used. I used a can of whole kernel corn.)

3 strips bacon

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 cups milk

Fry bacon until crisp in a Dutch oven or large saucepan, then remove from pan and crumble into small pieces. Set the crumbled bacon aside.

Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper into the bacon grease (fat). Then gradually add the milk while stirring constantly. Add the corn and crumbled bacon. Stir to combine. Continue heating until hot and steamy.