Old-fashioned Grape Fruit Salad (Grape Gelatin)

Molded Grape Fruit Salad (Grape Gelatin)

Memorial Day means cook-outs, and picnics, and family reunions. And, in the good old days, there often was one (or more) gelatin salads at those events. So I decided to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Grape Gelatin. It was made using unflavored gelatin, grape juice, lemon juice, and sugar.

The gelatin had a rich grape flavor, and was sweet, yet a little tart . The flavor was much more authentic and complex than modern packaged grape gelatin. One possible downside – modern grape gelatin is a more intense purple, though the color looks artificial.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Grape Fruit Salad (Grape Gelatin)
General Welfare Guild Cook Book (Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton, PA, 1923)

Hmm. . . Is this a recipe for a grape “fruit salad” or a recipe for “grapefruit” salad”? When I made the recipe I was in a hurry and quickly read it. I interpreted the recipe as a recipe for grape “fruit salad”, but as I reread it, I think that I probably misinterpreted the recipe. Oops! In any case, the grape gelatin I made turned well.

I’m not sure how much gelatin was in a box of gelatin a hundred years ago. I used 2 packets of gelatin, since this recipe calls for 4 cups of liquid, and each packet now contains enough gelatin for 2 cups of liquid.

I molded the gelatin, but it would also work well in a dish.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Grape Fruit Salad (Grape Gelatin)

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 packets (0.25 ounce) unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water + 1 cup water

1 1/2 cups grape juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup sugar

Put 1 cup cold water in a bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water, and let soak for 10 minutes.

Put 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Add the gelatin that has been soaked in water. Bring back to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the grape juice, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. If needed, strain; then pour into a 5-cup mold. Refrigerate until firm.

To serve: Quickly dip the mold in hot water, then unmold onto serving plate.


Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

It’s the time of year for rhubarb, and I’m enjoying various rhubarb dishes and desserts – Stewed Rhubarb, Rhubarb Pie, Baked Rhubarb with Orange, but I’m always looking for new recipes, so I was pleased to see a recipe for Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding is made using pearl tapioca which required soaking overnight, so this isn’t a quick recipe, but it turned out well. The tapioca is cooked until it is almost done, and then rhubarb pieces are stirred in. After I stirred the rhubarb pieces into the tapioca, I did not stir any more but cooked for another half hour or so using low heat. The result was tender rhubarb pieces embedded in the tapioca that maintained their shape. The old recipe suggested serving this with thin cream, so I served with half and half – though it would also be good with milk.

The Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding had an old-fashioned goodness. It had a nice balance of sweetness and tartness.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding
Source: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

The Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding was plenty sweet for me, so I did not add any additional sugar when I served it.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2/3 cup pearl tapioca


1 1/4 cup boiling water

2/3 teaspoon salt

3 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 1/3 cup sugar

half and half or milk

Cover tapioca with water and soak overnight. Drain. Put tapioca and salt in a large saucepan with a heavy bottom (or use a double boiler if you have one), then add boiling water. Heat with medium heat until bubbles begin to form at side of pan, but it is not yet boiling; cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook until the water is absorbed (about 45 minutes to an hour).

In the meantime put rhubarb and sugar in a bowl. Stir to coat rhubarb with sugar.

Stir in the rhubarb pieces coated with sugar, and increase heat to medium for 1 minute. Cover and reduce to heat to very low. Cook until the rhubarb is tender and the tapioca translucent (about 1/2 hour).

Can be served hot or cold. Serve with half and half or milk.


Eggs a la Caracas

Eggs a la Caracas on plate

I’m always looking for interesting ways to serve eggs, so was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs a la Caracas. The recipe called for eggs, tomatoes, and cheese – as well as for a little cinnamon and cayenne (red pepper). I wasn’t quite sure about this spice mixture (and how it would taste with eggs), but I was pleasantly surprised. I definitely could taste the cinnamon, but it worked and added a nice flavor.

Recipe for Eggs a la Caracas
Source: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

I’m not sure where to get onion juice, so I just used 1 tablespoon finely chopped onions. I also added the grated cheese last and removed from the heat when melted, since cheese tends to stick to my pan if I cook it very long.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Eggs a la Caracas

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 tablespoons butter

2 oz. dried or chipped beef, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

dash of cinnamon

dash of cayenne (red) pepper

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup cheese, grated (I used cheddar cheese.)

Melt butter in skillet using medium heat. Add dried/chipped beef, tomatoes, onions, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper; stir to combine. Continue heating until hot, then add eggs and cook same as scrambled eggs. As the eggs begin to thicken, stir to move the cooked layer from the bottom of the pan. When the eggs are almost set, stir in the cheese; melt and then remove from heat and serve.


Old-fashioned Orange Fritters

Orange Fritters

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for old-fashioned orange fritters that was delightful. These deep-fried nuggets seemed almost decadent when served with the accompanying orange sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Orange Fritters
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (1923, The General Welfare Guild, The Beaver County General Hospital. New Brighton, Pennsylvania)

This recipe made a lot of fritters – and not a lot of sauce. If I made the full recipe again, I’d consider doubling the sauce.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Orange Fritters

  • Servings: about 50 fritters
  • Difficulty: moderate
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6  small oranges or 4 large oranges

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs

1/2 cup  butter, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup milk

shortening or lard

Peel oranges and separate into segments. Cut each segment into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.

Put flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, sugar, and milk in mixing bowl; stir until combined. Stir in the orange pieces.

Place the shortening or lard into a large skillet, and heat until hot. (There should be about 1/2 inch of melted fat. Add more if needed.) Drop heaping teaspoonsful of batter  into the hot fat.  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 on paper towels, then serve with sauce.


2 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup finely cut orange

Put butter and powdered sugar in a saucepan; stir to combine. Stir in the egg yolks, then add the finely cut orange pieces. Put in a sauce pan, and heat using medium heat until hot and the sauce begins to thicken. If too thick, add water or orange juice to make thinner. (Note: If lots of sauce is desired for the fritters, the  sauce recipe can be doubled.)


Old-fashioned Dutch Salad

Dutch Salad in bowl

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Dutch Salad, and decided to give it a try. It is a lettuce salad with a hot vinegar dressing. The this simple, classic salad was delightful.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Dutch Salad
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book (1923, The General Welfare Guild, The Beaver County General Hospital)

This makes a lot of dressing, so I halved the recipe. And, I skipped seasoning the lettuce with salt and pepper.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dutch Salad

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 head lettuce

1/2 onion

salt and pepper, if desired

1 1/2  teaspoons butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Wash lettuce, dry, and then tear into small pieces and put into a bowl. Cut onion into small pieces and add to the lettuce. If desired sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Melt and lightly brown (using care not to burn) the butter in a skillet. Stir in the sugar and vinegar, using medium heat bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over salad. Toss and serve.


Old-fashioned Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuit

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Cheese Biscuits. The recipe was simple to make and the biscuits were tasty. My husband said, “You should make these again sometime,” which is high praise from him.  This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cheese Biscuits
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1923)

When I made this recipe, I used shortening rather than lard. Here is the recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits that the Cheese Biscuits recipe refers to:

Recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1923)

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

Cheese Biscuits

  • Servings: approximately 6 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon lard or shortening

1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

3/8 cup milk and water in equal parts (3/16 cup milk + 3/16 cup water) (Don’t worry if the proportions aren’t exactly the same for the milk and water. It will turn out fine even it they are not.)

1/2 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese.)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Mix the dry ingredients together; cut (work) in the lard or shortening and butter using fingers, pastry blender, or food processor.  Gradually add the milk and water mixture while mixing with a knife or spoon.  Continue adding liquid until there is a soft dough. Add grated cheese, and gently stir until the cheese is evenly distributed.  The amount of water needed varies depending upon the type of flour. On a floured board, pat or roll the dough until 1/2 -inch thick. Cut with a round biscuit cutter. (I used a glass as the cutter.) Place on greased baking sheet, and bake for 12- 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm.


Old-fashioned Date Pudding

Date Pudding

I recently came across a cookbook published in 1923 called The Calorie Cook Book. In the Introduction it says:

This book has been made for the use of those people who wish to eat properly and really don’t know how. . .

We Americans have bolted and stuffed rich food for so long that it is amazing how very few of us know how to stop or what to do, when the family physician, treacherously upheld by our own inner selves, demands a change in the catch-as-catch-can style of eating we have so long enjoyed.

Based on the title and the book’s introduction, I assumed that the recipes would be for healthy low-calorie foods. But the first page I flipped to proved that my assumption was wrong:

Date Pudding Recipe
Source: The Calorie Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey

The recipe for Date Pudding said it was delicious, but that reducers should be beware. The recipe was not for them. I was intrigued. The author must think that a recipe is really good when deciding to put a high-calorie recipe in a low-calorie cookbook. So, before I knew it, I decided to ignore the warning and make Date Pudding.

The Date Pudding was delightful. Beaten egg whites gave the pudding a nice texture, and the dates and walnuts blended nicely for just the right balance of sweetness and crunchiness. I served the Date Pudding with whipped cream, which made it even more delicious and decadent.

This recipe called for “English walnuts” to distinguish them from “black walnuts.” Today, English walnuts are generally just called walnuts.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Date Pudding

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs, separated

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup dates, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups milk

whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg whites in a mixing bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Put sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, egg yolks, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites, and then gently stir in the chopped dates and walnuts. Put the mixture in an 8″ X 8″ square baking dish. Put in oven and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (approximately 50 minutes – 1 hour). Remove from oven. May be served warm or cold. If desired serve with whipped cream.