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.

“A Homely Way to Make Potatoes” Recipe

Potato Mixture in Dish

I love to browse through old community cookbooks. Sometimes the recipes have unusual names that intrigue me. This is one of those times. A 1923 cookbook published by the General Welfare Guild of the Beaver Valley General Hospital in New Brighton, Pennsylvania had a recipe for “A Homely Way to Cook Potatoes.” Can potatoes be “homely?”

The recipe called for putting potatoes, onion, parsley and seasonings in a saucepan with water, and then boiling the mixture. The recipe was easy to make. The potatoes reminded me of old-fashioned parsley potatoes. And, the homely potatoes (dare I say it?) were attractive.

Here’s the original recipe:

Potato Recipe
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (Published by the General Welfare Guild, Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton, PA, 1923)

I’m not exactly sure how much  “4 large tablespoon butter” is, so I used four tablespoons of butter. It also did not seem like boiling water needed to be used in this recipe. I just used cold water. I’m sure that it took a little longer to heat, but that was okay with me.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

A Homely Way to Make Potatoes

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 large onion, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup water

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Serve immediately.

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.

Old-fashioned Winter Salad

Winter Salad on Plate

Some holiday foods seem to have largely gone out of style. I have vague memories of decorative salads made by carefully arranging canned fruits and other ingredients on individual plates that were served at holiday gatherings when I was a child – but haven’t had one of these salads in years.  But when I saw a recipe for Winter Salad in the December, 1922 issue of American Cookery, I was intrigued, and decided to give it a try. A canned peach half, that is surrounded by grapefruit segments, is filled with chopped celery and pecans, and placed on some lettuce leaves. It is then topped with whipped cream flavored with paprika and topped with a candied cherry. (I used a Maraschino cherry.) 

I wasn’t quite sure about this recipe – the combination of ingredients seemed very unusual and I thought it extremely unusual to flavor whipped cream with paprika instead of sugar. That said, the Winter Salad was very attractive in an old-fashioned way.

This recipe won’t quite make the cut for the family Christmas dinner. I can’t quite picture serving it to friends and family at a holiday event (some things are just out of style); however, the combination of ingredients and flavors actually worked – and I can honestly say that the salad was tasty.  

Here’s the original recipe:

Winter Salad

Recipe for Winter Salad
American Cookery (December, 1922)

The recipe provides no information about how many peach halves should be used; however it does say that 1/2 cup of cream should be whipped. This recipe makes a lot of whipped cream, so I think that the recipe is for a large can (29 ounce) of peaches (or a quart of home canned peaches) – which typically contain about 8 peach halves. So I indicated below that the recipe is for 8 servings. However, it is easy to use smaller amounts of the various ingredients if fewer servings are needed.  

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Winter Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Leaf lettuce 

29-ounce can peach halves (8 peach halves)

2 -3 grapefruit (peeled and separated into segments)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 cup pecans, chopped 

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 candied or Maraschino cherries

Arrange lettuce leaves on individual salad plates, and top with a peach half. Surround the peach half with grapefruit segments. Fill each half with a mixture of the chopped celery and pecans. 

Meanwhile, put the heavy cream in a deep mixing bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Add the paprika, salt, and lemon juice; beat to combine. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream on top of each filled peach, then top with a cherry.

Hundred-year-old Recipe for Macaroni with Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is a wonderful comfort food – and it seems more popular than even. Kids love it, and it’s also often on the menu at very fancy restaurants. So when I saw a recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Macaroni with Cheese, I decided to give it a try. The process for making the Macaroni with Cheese was a little different from the modern way of making the dish. The old recipe called for putting layers of bread crumbs (small pieces of torn bread), macaroni, and cheese into a casserole dish. Thin cream (half and half) is then poured over the layers. The dish is then baked until the bread crumbs are lightly browned. 

The Macaroni with Cheese turned out nicely, and was very tasty. The bread crumb layers blended nicely with the macaroni and cheese, and I couldn’t identify separate layers in the finished dish. It just seemed like a typical Macaroni and Cheese. 

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

Apparently macaroni was different a hundred years ago from what it is now. The recipe calls for breaking the macaroni into inch pieces. Today, it is already cut into pieces that are about an inch long.  

When I read this recipe I wasn’t clear whether the three teaspoons of salt went into the water that the macaroni was boiled in, or if it was sprinkled on the layers of macaroni in the casserole dish. In any case, it seemed like a lot of salt, so I instead cooked the macaroni in water that contained 1 teaspoon salt, and just sprinkled a little salt on the layers in the dish. 

450° F. seemed like a very high temperature to bake this dish, but it worked. The Macaroni with Cheese cooked very quickly at this temperature. 

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Macaroni with Cheese

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 cups macaroni

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar.)

2 slices bread torn into very small pieces (about 1 cup of bread pieces)

1/4 cup butter

1 cup half and half

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450° F. Put water and 1 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil using high heat. Add macaroni, and reduce heat so that the water gently simmers. Cook the macaroni until al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water. 

Cover the bottom of a buttered 2-quart casserole dish with 1/4 of the bread crumbs. Add a layer with 1/3 of the macaroni. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated cheese; then sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dot with bits of the butter. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of bread crumbs. 

Pour the cream over the top of the layers. Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the bread crumbs are lightly browned and the mixture is hot and bubbly.

Old-fashioned Oat Macaroons

oat macaroons on baking sheet

I’m always looking for cookie recipes that are both easy to make and tasty, so when I saw a recipe for Oat Macaroons in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The Oat Macaroons contain oatmeal and coconut. They are light and tasty with just the right amount of sweetness. An added bonus is that they are gluten free. This recipe is a winner and I plan to make it again. The would be a wonderful addition to a holiday cookie tray.

Recipe for Oat Macaroons
Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

I used butter instead of melted shortening when I made this recipe, and I used quick minute (oatmeal) for the rolled oats.  I also did not mix in order given. I thought that it would be difficult to get the salt, vanilla, cornstarch, and baking powder evenly distributed in the cookie dough if added at the end, so I stirred those ingredients in prior to adding the oatmeal and coconut.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Oat Macaroons

  • Servings: about 30 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 cups quick (1 minute) oatmeal

1 cup flake coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and vanilla  in a mixing bowl; stir. Add melted butter and stir until smooth. Add oatmeal and coconut; stir until combined. Drop heaping teaspoons of the dough on greased baking sheet. As needed, gently press the dough together to create a firm dropped cookie. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, wait minute and then remove from baking sheet to wire rack for further cooling.

Old-fashioned Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce

Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce in Dish

I often hear friends say that they hated the boiled Brussels sprouts their mother made, but that they now love roasted Brussels sprouts. But I must admit that personally I liked those Brussels sprouts of lore, so was intrigued when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Cream Sauce.

I was pleased with how the recipe turned out. The recipe called for cooking the Brussels Sprouts for 15 minutes, so they were more tender and less crunchy than roasted ones – but I liked them. And, they were lovely when served in a cream sauce.

An aside: One reason Brussels sprouts taste different now than in the past is because of changed cooking methods. Another reason is that plant breeders have developed modern varieties of Brussels sprouts that are less bitter than the old-time varieties.

Here’s the original recipe:

Brussels Sprouts with Cream

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Cream
Source: American Cookery (December, 1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 quart (about 2 pounds) Brussels sprouts

2 quarts water

1 teaspoon salt +1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup half and half (or use milk for a lighter sauce)

Wash Brussels sprouts, cut off stems, and remove any wilted leaves. Put into a large saucepan. Cover with the water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are tender, then drain.

In the meantime, in another saucepan, using medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; stir in the flour, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gradually, add the half and half while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the Cream Sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

To serve: Pour the Cream Sauce over the cooked Brussels sprouts; stir gently to coat the Brussels sprouts with the sauce. Put in bowl and serve.