Old-fashioned Fried Green Tomatoes

I think of Fried Green Tomatoes as a classic comfort food – but I never actually tried them until I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe.

This is a food that I should have tried years ago. The Fried Green Tomatoes turned out wonderfully.  They were delightful with a crispy cornmeal coating.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Blue Grass Cook Book (Compiled by Minnie C. Fox, 1917)

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

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

sugar

salt

pepper

1/2 cup corn meal

shortening or lard

Combine  the water and  1 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, then soak the sliced tomatoes in the water for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the water and drain on a paper towel, then lay the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper. Put the cornmeal in a small bowl, then roll each tomato slice in the cornmeal.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or large in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded green tomato slices in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about 3 minutes 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.

Old-fashioned Potato O’Brien

When browsing through hundred-year magazines, I came across a recipe for Potato O’Brien. Diced potatoes (that are first boiled) and green pepper are immersed in a hot and bubbly mild cheese sauce. The dish is then browned in the oven.

This version of Potato O’Brien is a little different from most modern recipes (which generally call for frying the potatoes), but it’s delicious. It reminds me a little of Scalloped Potatoes, but with cheese and green peppers.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (June – July, 1918)

This recipe contained several firsts for me. It’s the first hundred-year-old recipe that I’ve ever seen that called for American Cheese. I googled it, and learned from Wikipedia that:

After the official invention of processed cheese in 1911, and its subsequent popularization by James L. Kraft in the late-1910s and the 1920s, the term “American cheese” rapidly began to refer to this variety, instead of the traditional but more expensive cheddars also made and sold in the US.

Apparently by 1918, American cheese was commonly enough available that it was included in recipes published in magazines.

It’s also the first hundred-year-old recipe that I’ve ever seen that called for skim milk. I’m not clear to me why skim milk is preferred in this dish, so when I updated the recipe I just listed milk as an ingredient.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato O'Brien

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 medium potatoes (about 2 cups, diced)

1 tablespoon butter

1 green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup American cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Put diced potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Put on high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).

In the meantime, in a skillet, melt butter using low heat. Add the green pepper;  saute until tender, and then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Gently stir in the cooked potatoes. Put into a baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 – 30 minutes).

One teaspoon of salt seemed like a lot to me, so when I updated the recipe, I used less salt than was called for in the original recipe. I also sauted the green pepper in butter, rather than cooking it separately first.

Old-fashioned Cabbage and Beet Salad

 

Sometimes salads can seem a bit boring, so I was delighted to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Cabbage and Beet Salad. This salad makes a lovely presentation that is just a tad dramatic. And, a subtle homemade French dressing adds just the right amount of flavor to the salad.

Here’s the photo and recipe for Cabbage and Beet Salad in the hundred-year-old magazine:

Source: American Cookery (August – September, 1918)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cabbage and Beet Salad

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 small cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups shredded cabbage)

2 medium beets, cooked and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1 cup diced, cooked beets)

French Dressing

6 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons onion, finely minced

Put shredded cabbage in a bowl; gently stir in 2/3 of the French dressing. Put in refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours.

Put diced beets in another bowl; gently stir in 1/3 of the French dressing.  Put in refrigerator, and chill for at least 2 hours.

To serve:  Drain any excess dressing from the shredded cabbage, then arrange the cabbage in a ring with a hole in the center. (I pressed the cabbage into a circular mold, covered with the serving plate, and then quickly flipped and removed mold – but a mold is not necessary.)

Drain any excess liquid from the beets. Place beets in the center of the ring. Serve immediately.

To make French Dressing:  Put olive oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, and paprika in a small bowl; stir to combine. Stir in minced onion.

Old-fashioned Okra and Tomatoes

I seldom eat okra, but I recently saw some beautiful okra at the local farmers’ market, and decided to give it a try. Then, of course, I had to find a hundred-year-old okra recipe. I found a delightful Okra and Tomatoes recipe in 1904 Kentucky cookbook, called The Bluegrass Cookbook.

The Okra and Tomatoes (and a little onion) were tasty, as well as easy-to-make and nutritious. One drawback – the okra had a bit of a gooey (some call it a slimy) texture; but that’s just par for the course for this vegetable.  No vegetable’s perfect.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Bluegrass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox (1904)

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

Okra and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup okra, sliced

2 medium tomatoes

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put okra in a saucepan, and add enough water to just barely cover it. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat to low and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, and thoroughly drain.

In the meantime, put a pan of water on the stove; bring to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water for about 15 seconds: remove from heat and gently slip the skin off the tomatoes. Core tomatoes, then dice.  Put the diced tomatoes in a saucepan, and using medium heat cook 5 minutes while stirring frequently; then add onions. Continue cooking and stirring until soft and juicy (about an additional 5 minutes). Stir in butter, salt, and pepper. Add cooked okra, and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Note: See the reader comments. Several readers suggested adaptations to this recipe that might improve the texture and make the okra less gooey.

Old-fashioned Graham Nut Muffins

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m soooo tired of the sugary muffins typically sold at coffee shops, so I was pleased to recently find a hundred-year-old recipe for Graham Nut Muffins. The recipe called for just a little sugar (and a little molasses). The nuts embedded in the muffin add flavor and texture. This hearty muffin has a nice texture, is tasty, and is a healthy alternative to sweeter muffins.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

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

Graham Nut Muffins

  • Servings: approximately 16 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup graham flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts).

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease muffin pans (or use paper liners). In a mixing bowl combine graham flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add egg, milk, molasses and butter; then stir just enough to combine. Gently stir in the nuts. Spoon batter into muffin  cups; fill each cup about 3/4ths full. Place in oven. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until lightly browned and the muffins spring back when lightly touched.

Hundred-Year-Old Plum Conserve Recipe

Plums are coming into season, and are relatively inexpensive at the store, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Plum Conserve. Conserves are a type of jam or marmalade that often includes citrus fruit, raisins, and nuts.

In addition to plums, this Plum Conserve contains a peach, an orange (including the peel), raisins, and pecans. It has a beautiful purple hue and is delightful on scones, baguettes, and other breads. It is also lovely with cheese (think brie and crackers).

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, October, 1915)
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, October, 1915)

This recipe makes a lot of conserve. When I made the recipe, I halved it and I still got about 8 half-pints of Plum Conserve.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Plum Conserve

  • Servings: approximately 8 half-pints
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 quarts tart purple plums (about 2 pounds) – Plums that are not quite ripe work well in this recipe.

1 peach

1 orange

1/2 cup raisins

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Remove stones from plums and coarsely chop. Remove skin and stone from peach (I dipped the peach in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then slipped the skin off.); coarsely chop. Remove peel (and any excess white pith) from orange, and coarsely chop. Finely chop the orange peel.

Place the chopped plums, peach, orange, orange peel, and raisins in a dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the sugar and pecans.

Continue to boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Bacon and Corn, Camp Style

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.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (September, 1917)

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

Bacon and Corn, Camp Style

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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12 slices bacon (If desired, less may be used.)

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

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.