I see some very basic recipes (I tend to call them non-recipes) for simple foods in both modern and hundred-year-old cookbooks. Apparently both in 2020 and 1920 some cooks had simple questions – like how do you cook corn on the cob?
In 1920 corn on the cob was referred to boiled corn. And, here are directions for making it:
When I made the recipe I skipped the suggestion to put the Boiled Corn on a napkin. Somehow it just didn’t seem necessary – and it seemed like the napkin might get soaked from any water that dripped off the corn.
Husk corn and remove all silk. Fill large pot 2/3’s full with water. Bring water to a boil using high heat. Place husked corn in the boiling water, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the corn from the water.
Au Gratin Potatoes are tasty, so when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe that looked similar to an Au Gratin Potato recipe – but with a twist (the recipe called for corn in addition to potatoes) – I decided to give it a try.
The Cheese, Corn, and Potatoes were very nice. The rich, cheesy sauce worked nicely with the corn and potato combination.
Here’s the original recipe:
The recipe calls for Cheese Sauce. Here is the Cheese Sauce recipe.
Ever make a recipe that turned out well, but that required some interpretation and tweaks along the way? Well, this was one of those recipes.
The first decision I needed to make was what kind of canned corn should I use – whole kernel or cream style? I have a vague sense that canned cream-style corn has been around longer than the whole kernel (though I’m not sure), so I went with cream style. I had two cans of corn – 8.25 ounce can and a 14.75 can. The small one contained a little less corn than called for in the recipe; the large on a little more. (The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of corn.) I decided to go with the small can even though it only contained a little more than 1-cup of corn.
Next I needed to figure out issues related to the Cheese Sauce. The Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop recipe called for 2 cups Cheese Sauce, however, when summing the amounts in the list of ingredients in the Cheese Sauce recipe, it was clear that it made less than two cups. The Cheese Sauce recipe called for 1/2 cup of grated cheese, but it did indicate that more could be used. I decided to use 1 cup of cheese so I’d have approximately the correct amount of sauce. All was good.
But, once I’d prepared the Cheese Sauce, I realized that 1 1/2 cups of diced potatoes didn’t seem like very many potatoes given the amount of sauce that I had, so I decided to peel, dice, and cook an additional potato. This gave me about another cup of diced potatoes, so I now had a total of 2 1/2 cups. (If I’d used whole-kernel corn, perhaps the amount of sauce would not have seemed to excessive – not sure.)
When I assembled the ingredients, I just stirred the corn and cooked, diced potatoes into the Cheese Sauce rather than layering; and, then poured into the casserole dish to finish cooking.
Whew, this recipe required lots of interpretation. Sometimes the recipes that look the simplest end up being the trickiest. This recipe required lots of little adjustments, but the final dish turned out well.
I combined the two old recipes into one. Here is the updated recipe for modern cooks:
1 – 1 1/2 cups canned corn (I used a small – 8.25 ounce can – of cream-style corn, which is a little over 1 cup of corn.)
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a saucepan , melt butter using medium heat; then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Add cheese, and continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens. Add corn and potatoes, and reheat until hot. Pour into a casserole dish and put in oven; bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce bubbly.
August is my favorite month when it comes to cooking and eating. Gardens and farmers markets are filled with a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits at their prime – and, to me, corn on the cob is the quintessential August vegetable. But, I also am always looking for different ways to serve corn. So I was pleased to find a classic, very easy, hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Corn.
The corn is fried in a little butter, then seasoned with just a bit of cream, salt and pepper. Frying the corn, removes some of the liquid and brings out its natural sweetness Sometimes simple is best.
Cut corn off the cob. Melt butter in a skillet. Add corn then, using medium heat, fry the corn until browned, while stirring frequently (approximately 8-10 minutes). Add cream, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season; stir. Remove from heat and serve.
Today I often hear that fresh fruit and vegetables are best – and that canned vegetables aren’t as tasty. This differs from a hundred years ago when canned vegetables were considered a “modern” way of preserving food.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style that intrigued me, and – though knowing that canned corn is not trendy – decided to give it a try. Perhaps part of what intrigued me was the claim that this was an internationally-inspired recipe. Was it really Mexican style? – or did the recipe author just think that a humble dish seemed more enticing if it was billed as an internationally-inspired food?
I’m glad that I gave this recipe a chance. The Corn Custard was rich and silky, and brought back warm, fuzzy memories of family gatherings many years ago when a similar dish was served.
1 pint corn (15-ounce can corn) – I used creamed style corn.
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 400° F. Melt butter in a skillet using medium heat. Put chopped onion and green pepper in skillet; saute until tender.
In the meantime, in a bowl, stir together eggs, milk, corn, salt, and paprika; pour mixture into the skillet with the onions and green peppers while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and steamy. Remove from heat and pour into a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Place a pan of hot water (the water should be about 1/2 inch deep) in the oven. (I used an old aluminum baking sheet with sides for the pan.) Then set the casserole dish with the corn mixture in the water. Bake until the corn custard is firm in the center and lightly browned. The length of time this dish needs to cook will vary depending upon the depth of the casserole dish. (When I made this recipe, it took about 45 minutes for corn custard to get firm.) Remove Corn Custard from oven. (I left the pan with the hot water in the oven until it cooled to avoid the risk of burning myself.)
I’m always on the look-out for foods that are easy to make when camping, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Bacon and Corn, Camp Style. In addition to bacon and eggs, this dish contains eggs, green pepper, and onion, and is easy to make in a skillet. It is both hearty and tasty, and would be perfect for breakfast or dinner while camping. It also is a nice, easy dish to make at home.
2 cups corn, canned or boiled and cut from the cob (I used a 15 oz. can of corn which is a little less than 2 cups, but it worked well in this recipe.)
Using medium heat, cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside, but keep warm. Drain most of the fat from pan, while reserving a small amount to saute the vegetables. Add the green pepper and onion, and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Stir in the corn. Let cook until curds begin to form, then gently scrape the bottom of the pan and stir to turn the mixture to scramble the eggs. Continue cooking and scrambling until the eggs are set. Remove from the heat and serve. If desired garnish with some of the bacon strips. Serve the remaining bacon on the side.
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!
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
1/2 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.
I always thought Succotash was a mixture of corn and lima beans, so I was surprised to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Tomato Succotash. The recipe called for seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, corn, green pepper, and onions – so, of course, I had to give it a try.
The medley of vegetables was delightful. This recipe is a keeper. And, I know that it will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.
Here’s the original recipe:
I’m not sure what is meant by “green corn” in the recipe. When I made the recipe, I took it to mean tender (perhaps slightly immature) corn.
3 large ears of corn , cooked (tender corn is best)
2 tablespoons butter
1/ 2 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Peel and slice the tomatoes, set aside. (I put the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then removed from the hot water and put briefly in cold water. The skins are then easy to slip off the tomatoes).
Cut the corn from the cob. Set aside.
Put the butter in a large skillet; melt using medium heat. Add green pepper and onion; saute until tender. Stir in the sliced tomatoes, corn, salt, sugar, and paprika. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve.