Dandelions with Bacon or Ham Recipe

Each Spring a primordial urge pulls me out of the house –paring knife and bowl in hand– to the weedy natural area at the far edge of my yard. Luscious green dandelion plants peek through the brown leaf-covered grass. The winter has been long and hard, and I desperately need to renew myself. The tender foraged greens are my spring tonic (as they were for my parents and grandparents).

People traditionally ate a very limited selection of foods during the late winter months, and often they were nutrient-deprived by April. Their bodies told them they needed the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants provided by the emerging dandelion leaves.

Since I’m a dandelion connoisseur (Is it possible to be a connoisseur of weeds?) , I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Dandelion with Ham or Bacon.

I made the ham version. The ham bits nicely balanced the slight bitterness of the small tender dandelion leaves. As I hungrily devour the dish,  I can almost feel the nutrients surging through my body. I’ve made it through another winter. Spring (and fresh food) have arrived – and I know that the summer’s bounty will be here soon. Life is good.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (April, 1918)

When I made this recipe, I made one-quarter of the original recipe. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dandelions with Ham or Bacon

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 quarts dandelion (8 cups)

water

4 ounces ham or bacon, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

Thoroughly wash the dandelion. (I triple wash it, and it is a slow process. The washing of the dandelion is what takes most of the time when making this recipe.)  Put in a large sauce pan and cover with boiling water. Place on stove, bring back to a boil using high heat. Boil for 15 seconds then remove from heat and drain thoroughly. Just barely cover the dandelion with fresh boiling water, add ham or bacon, salt, and pepper. Cover and place back on the stove. Return to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tend and the dandelions are almost dry (they should still have a little juice (about 25 minutes).  Remove from heat. If desired, serve with boiled turnips or potatoes.

Old-fashioned Beef Balls with Spaghetti

There are some foods where the recipes were just plain different a century ago than what they are now. Spaghetti is one of those foods. Modern marinara sauce recipes often call for basil and oregano, but those spices are seldom seen in old recipes.

I decided to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Beef Balls with Spaghetti. The recipe for the sauce called only for tomatoes, green pepper, onion, parsley, water, and salt. I had my doubts about the recipe, and worried that it won’t be spicy enough.

I worried needlessly. This recipe was a hit.

My husband said, “This spaghetti is great. It reminds me of the spaghetti they served when I was in elementary school. Mom never made spaghetti, and this was my favorite meal at school.”

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Cooking for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made this recipe entirely on top of the stove. I couldn’t figure out why the 1919 recipe calls for doing part of the cooking in the oven.)

Beef Balls with Spaghetti

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 28-ounce can tomatoes (or use a 1 quart jar of tomatoes)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped + 1 teaspoon onion, grated

2 bunches parsley, chopped

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

1/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons shortening or cooking oil

1/2 pound spaghetti

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. To make sauce, put tomatoes, green pepper, 1 chopped onion, parsley, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then puree.

While the vegetables are cooking, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon grated onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, then shape into 12 balls each approximately 1-inch in diameter. Put shortening or oil into a skillet, and heat. Add the beef balls, and cook for 3-5 minutes, then gently roll over. Roll several times until browned on all sides.

Put spaghetti sauce back in sauce pan, add beef balls. Using medium heat bring to a boil; reduce heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Beginning about 15 minutes before the sauce will be finished, cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

To serve, remove sauce from heat, and take beef balls out of the sauce.  Add spaghetti and parmasen cheese to the sauce, and lift with a fork until well blended. Add meatballs. Serve immediately

Runkel’s Fudge Roll

People often say to me, “You make all those hundred-year-old recipes . . . Don’t you ever have cooking disasters?”

And, I usually reply, “I seldom have a disaster. Most recipes turn out fine, but I make them only once; some are very good and I make them a couple of times; and, a few I absolutely love and they have become part of my regular cooking repertoire.”

But, I do occasionally have cooking disasters. This is one of those times.

I found a recipe for Runkel’s Fudge Roll in an advertisement for Runkel’s Cocoa in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, and thought to myself, “I bet this will be a good recipe. Usually recipes in advertisements were carefully tested.”

Wrong – The fudge filling hardened very quickly, and was difficult to spread; AND, the cake base broke into pieces when I tried to roll it.

The one good thing about this recipe is that it was very tasty – even though it didn’t look very nice.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1919)

Runkel's Fudge Roll

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Put butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir together. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth. Put batter on a 15x10x1 -inch baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the batter goes to the edges and corners of the pan, and that it is spread evenly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn upside down on a piece of parchment paper that has been covered with sugar. Peel off the parchment paper that was used when baking. Immediately spread with the fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.

Fudge Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter using medium low heat in a saucepan, add cocoa and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, and milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and add vanilla. Beat until smooth, and spread on cake base. Note: This icing hardens quickly. Immediately spread as soon as it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Old-fashioned Corned Beef Hash

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Some things just go together like St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef – and, of course, for me it was only a small leap until I was asking, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes for corned beef?

I’m happy to report that I found an excellent hundred-year-old Corned Beef Hash recipe that was simple to make and a great way to use any corned beef left over from St. Patrick’s Day.  However, there was one little glitch. I couldn’t bring myself to try the serving suggestion.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Pour a ring of ketchup around the Corned Beef Hash? It might make a lovely presentation (though I tend to think not), but I’ll never know for sure.

And, I didn’t serve the Corned Beef Hash with baked bananas. Baked bananas may be tasty, but the 1919 cookbook didn’t include a recipe for them, and I don’t know how to make them. I must be lacking a bit of common cooking knowledge that most cooks had back then . . .sigh.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Corned Beef Hash

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup cold cooked corn beef, chopped

1 cup cold boiled potatoes, chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons shortening

3 tablespoons broth that the corned beef was cooked in or water (I used water.)

paprika

Melt shortening in a skillet that has a lid; add corned beef, potatoes, and broth or water. Sprinkle with paprika. Gently stir to combine. Cover pan and cook using medium low heat until hot and steamy (and until most of the broth has been absorbed or evaporated). Stir occasionally. Do not allow the potatoes to brown. Remove from heat and serve.

Old-fashioned Blueberry Duff

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Blueberry Duff in the February, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping. Duffs often are steamed puddings – but this recipe is very easy to make and calls for baking the duff in the oven.

This Blueberry Duff is moist, rich, and spicy. It contains molasses, well as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The recipe calls for canned blueberries. I’m fascinated by what people ate during the winter months in the days before modern transportation allowed produce to be shipped thousands of miles.  In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1919)

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

Blueberry Duff

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 15-ounce (1 pint) can of canned blueberries (DO NOT use blueberry pie filling. This recipe calls for canned blueberries.)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup barley flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup molasses

whipped cream, optional

Drain canned blueberries; reserve both juice and berries.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put all-purpose flour, barley flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, molasses, and blueberry juice in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; put lid on dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from dish by running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting on a plate.

Serve either warm or cold. If desired, serve with whipped cream.

Old-fashioned Fig Meringue Pie

A hundred years ago, fresh fruit was scarce during the long winter months, so pies were often made using dried fruit.  I found a wonderful recipe for a Fig Meringue Pie in a 1919 cookbook. The delectable fig filling is topped with a creamy meringue.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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

Fig Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

12 ounces dried figs

1 1/2 cups water

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons sugar + a small amount of additional sugar

dash salt

1 8-inch (small) baked pie crust

Remove stems from figs, then chop. (There should be approximately 2 1/2 cups of chopped figs.) Put chopped figs in a saucepan, add water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 325° F. Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; beat together. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot fig mixture into bowl with beaten egg mixture, stir quickly to prevent eggs from coagulating. Then put this mixture in the saucepan with the cooked figs while stirring. Return to heat (medium), and cook until the mixture thickens while stirring continuously.  Pour into a pie shell which had been previously baked.

In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Old-Fashioned Pastry Hearts

heart-shaped pastries

Are you looking for a tasty, fun-to-make Valentine’s Day treat? Well, I may have found the perfect recipe for you. Pastry Hearts are made by spreading jelly on pastry dough, rolling into a log, slicing, and then shaping into hearts. The process of squeezing and pressing the dough to create the hearts was fun and felt a bit like playing with play dough.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Pastry Hearts
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pastry Hearts

  • Servings: approximately 12 hearts
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

pie pastry for a 1-shell pie (or use scraps of pastry dough left-over after making a pie crust)

1 egg white

red-colored jelly – red raspberry, cherry, etc. (I used red current jelly, but if I made this recipe again, I’d select a redder jelly.)

sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pie pastry into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Thinly spread with jelly. Starting at the narrow end, firmly roll into a log-shape. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. Shape into hearts by pulling into a point at one end, and pressing in at the other end. Use a paper towel to dab away any excess jelly. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 10 -15 minutes (or until lightly browned).