Old-fashioned Spinach with Gravy

Spinach with Gravy in Bowl

I’m always looking for new ways to use vegetables, so when I saw an easy-to-make recipe for Spinach with Gravy in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe turned out well. The gravy enhanced the flavor of the spinach, and was quite tasty. I served it as a stand-alone side dish – though I think that Spinach with Gravy would also be delightful on toast.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for spinach with gravy
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

The directions in the old recipe for the gravy are a little confusing. The recipe calls for meat gravy, which I would assume already contained some flour or other thickener, yet it also indicates that 1 teaspoon flour should be stirred into 2 tablespoons of melted butter – and then the gravy should be added. This suggests that the recipe author thought that the gravy needed to be thicker than the typical gravy – though 1 teaspoon of flour isn’t much, so why bother?

I used the second option (which is described in the text beneath the ingredient list), and used bouillion cubes when I made the gravy. It worked fine.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spinach with Gravy

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 quarts (1 8-ounce bag) spinach

Gravy – Option 1

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon flour

1 1/2 meat gravy

Gravy – Option 2

2 bouillion cubes (I used beef bouillion cubes.)

1 1/2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

Wash spinach and cut into small pieces. Put in a pan, and using medium heat cook until tender (3-5 minutes). The water clinging to the spinach may provide sufficient liquid for cooking the spinach; if not, add a small amount of water.

In the meantime, make gravy.

Gravy: Option 1: In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add gravy while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the gravy is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat, and add the cooked spinach. Stir to combine.

Gravy Option 2: Dissolve the bouillion cubes in the boiling water to make a broth. In a pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add the broth while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the gravy is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat, and add the cooked spinach. Stir to combine.

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Old-fashioned Fried Cauliflower with Onion

Fried Cauliflower with Onion in Serving Dish

Cauliflower is a tasty, nutritious vegetable. It contains lots of vitamin C and folate – and is a good source of fiber. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Cauliflower with Onion. The recipe was easy-to-make and delicious. This makes a great side dish.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Fried Cauliflower with Onions
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

I cut the florets from the stalk before putting boiling – though the head of cauliflower could be put in a large pot of boiling water to cook, and then the florets could be separated after cooking, if preferred.

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

Fried Cauliflower with Onion

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 head cauliflower

1 teaspoon salt

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons fat (cooking oil, shortening, or lard)

Cut cauliflower florets from the main stalk. Put florets in a saucepan and cover with water; add salt. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and cook until tender, about 5 -7 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

In the meantime, put fat in a skillet and heat until hot using medium heat. Add onions and fry until transparent and just beginning to brown while stirring occasionally. Add cooked cauliflower florets, and fry until lightly browned (about 10 minutes), while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.

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Old-fashioned Baked Honey Custard

Individual Serving of Baked Honey CustardFall is in the air, the days are getting shorter, and I’ve been craving comfort food. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Honey Custard. The recipe is a winner. Baked Honey Custard was easy to make, and had a delicate, silky texture. The honey and cinnamon flavors merged beautifully to create a delightfully flavored custard.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Baked Honey Custard
Source: American Cookery (January, 1920)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baked Honey Custard

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 cups milk

5 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon milk

Scald the milk by putting in a saucepan, then heat using medium heat until the milk steams and is almost ready to begin boiling; stir constantly while heating the milk. (Another option is to scald the milk using a microwave. Set aside.)

In the meantime, put the eggs into a mixing bowl, and beat just until smooth. Add the honey, cinnamon, and salt; beat until the ingredients are combined. Add a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot scalded milk, while stirring. Continue to very slowly add the hot milk while stirring constantly.  [The egg is first combined with a little of the hot mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot combination.]

Pour into custard cups. Place cups 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking pan. Pour very hot water into pan around cups to within 1/2 inch of top of cups.

Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Remove cups from water. Serve custard warm or chilled.

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Old-fashioned Flavored Beets

 

Flavored Beets in serving dish

Beets are a perfect vegetable. They are colorful, tasty, high in fiber, and nutritious. They are a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Flavored Beets. When I read the ingredient list, the Flavored Beets sounded a lot like the Harvard Beets that my mother made in my youth, so I decided to give the recipe a try.

The Flavored Beets turned out wonderfully. This recipe is a keeper. The delightful sweet sour sauce was lovely, and worked perfectly to enhance the rich, earthy flavor of the beets. The sauce was not as thick as I remember the Harvard Beet sauce my mother made, but the taste was very similar.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for flavored beets
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Discoveries

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Flavored Beets

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups sliced, cooked beets (I boiled, then sliced 4 medium beets – though canned beets would also work.)

3/4 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Put the cornstarch and vinegar in a saucepan; stir until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Add butter, and stir until melted. Add beets, and reheat until the beets are hot while gently stirring. Serve

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Old-fashioned Stuffed Peach Salad

4 Stuffed Peach Halves

I eat lots of fresh fruit; canned fruit not so much. But a hundred-year-old recipe reminded me that canned fruits are delicious. Stuffed Peach Salad was easy to make, attractive, and most importantly, tasty.

Recipe for Stuffed Peach Salad
Source: American Cookery (January, 1920)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Stuffed Peach Salad

  • Servings: approximately 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 15-ounce can peach halves

grapes, quartered

chopped walnuts

Drain peaches and arrange on plate. Fill the cavity of each peach with grapes and walnuts.

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Old-fashioned Butterscotch Apples

dessert bowl with butterscotch apples

Fall is in the air! Evenings are a bit nippy, and the trees are starting to turn color. And, it’s the season for apples, so browsed through old magazines and books for an apple recipe. And, I think I found a winner.

I found a delightful hundred-year-old recipe for Butterscotch Apples. Stewed apples are served in a creamy brown sugar sauce.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for butterscotch apples
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta C. Greer

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Butterscotch Apples

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 large apples

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 tablespoon butter (I used 1 tablespoon.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Peel, core, and quarter the apples.

In the meantime, put the brown sugar and water in a large saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to  boil while stirring occasionally. Add the quartered apples. Cover and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until the apples are tender (5-10 minutes) while stirring occasionally. (The apples can boil over, so watch carefully and reduce heat further if boiling too vigorously.) Remove the apples from the syrup using a slotted spoon; set both the apples and the syrup aside.

Put the cornstarch in another saucepan. Gradually stir in milk, and stir until smooth. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Add the syrup that the apples were cooked in.  Bring back to a boil, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the salt, butter, and vanilla.

To serve: May be served hot or cold. (I served it hot.) Put in the cooked apples in serving dishes, and spoon sauce over them.

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Emily’s White Cake with Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting

slice of cake on plate
Source: Balanced Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill

I recently came across a recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Emily’s White Cake, and decided to give it a try. I was intrigued by the recipe’s name. Who was Emily? – The recipe’s author? . . her daughter? . . . a neighbor who shared the recipe? . . .

I also wondered: Are recipes that are named after someone more likely to be good than more generically named ones? . . . or vice versa?

To make the frosting, I used a recipe in the same cookbook.

Here are the original recipes:

cake recipe
Source: Balanced Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill
Frosting Recipe
Source: Balanced Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill

The old recipe referred to moderate heat and high heat (and probably assumed that the cook was using a wood or coal stove). Many cakes are baked at 350° F, so I just used that temperature. It took a little longer to bake the cake than indicated in the old recipe.

The old cake recipe called for 3 tablespoons of baking powder – which seemed like a lot. I wondered if it was a typo – and really supposed to be 3 teaspoons. But in the end, I went with what the recipe said and used 3 tablespoons. The frosted cake tasted fine – though I  think that  it might have been better if I’d used less baking powder. (I ate a few cake crumbs, and they may have been a bit bitter, but it was not noticeable once the cake was frosted.)

[9/14/20 Note: Based on the research and comments of readers about other sources for this recipe – e.g., old Crisco advertisement that contained the recipe, other editions of the cookbook – I’ve determined that 3 tablespoons of baking powder was a typo and that it should be 3 teaspoons. I now include this information in the updated recipe.]

I doubled the recipe for Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting to make enough to ice the cake layers. When I made the Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting, the consistency and spreadability seemed a bit off, so I added 3 tablespoons of melted butter. This greatly improved the texture of the frosting, so when I updated the recipe I included butter as an ingredient.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Emily's White Cake with Confectioner's Chocolate Frosting

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Emily’s White Cake

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

3 tablespoons baking powder (I used 3 tablespoons which is what the old recipe called for, but other sources for this recipe state that 3 teaspoons should be used. The larger amount worked, but if I made the recipe again I’d use 3 teaspoons of baking powder. See note in blog post for details.)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring

3 egg (whites only)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans.

Put egg whites in a medium mixing bowl; beat until stiff. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add flour, baking powder, salt, water, flour, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then assemble layers and frost.

Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting

2 squares chocolate, melted

3 tablespoons butter melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons boiling water (more water may be needed)

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Put the melted chocolate and butter in sauce pan, add the granulated sugar and water. Heat using medium heat, while stirring until smooth. Remove from heat add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Stir until smooth. Add additional water, if needed.

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