Pickled Bananas

I’ve pickled lots of different fruits and vegetables, so when I saw a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Pickled Bananas I just had to give it a try.

The Pickled Bananas were a nice change of pace. The pickling syrup which contained cinnamon, mace, and cloves was delightful. And, much to my surprise, the pickled bananas reminded me a little of pickled beets or other pickled starchy vegetable.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pickled Bananas

  • Servings: 6-8 servings
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon mace

4  firm (green) bananas, peeled and cut into thirds

Put sugar and vinegar in a saucepan, stir. Then tie the spices into a small bag made of cheesecloth, and place in the saucepan with the sugar and vinegar mixture. (A small amount of the spices will leak out of the bag into the syrup  – that’s okay).   Bring the mixture to a boil using medium heat, then add the banana pieces. Bring the liquid back up to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook until the bananas are tender and can be easily pierced using a wood toothpick. (The length of time will vary greatly depending upon how hard the bananas are. It might take 10 minutes, or it may take 30 minutes or more. Be patient.). Remove from heat. Chill for eat least 4 hours before serving.  Remove from syrup and serve.

I am not as frugal as homemakers a hundred years ago. I did not set the syrup aside for more pickling after I made this recipe.

Old-fashioned Kale with Corned Beef

This rustic, easy-to-make, hundred- year-old Corned Beef with Kale recipe is perfect for St.Patrick Day, and would hit the spot on any brisk March day.

The recipe called for whole kale leaves, and suggests a presentation that features them. I used Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur Kale). It retained its shape when cooked, and its sweet nuttiness worked well with the flavorful corned beef.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

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

Corned Beef with Kale

  • Servings: 5 -7
  • Difficulty: easy
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2-3 pounds corned beef with spice packet

1 bunch kale (about 1 pound)


butter, melted (optional)

Put corned beef in a large pot and cover with water. Add spice packet that came with it. Cover and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes per pound or until tender.  Remove from water and let rest for 10 minutes; then thinly slice.

About 45 minutes before the corned beef will be ready to serve, wash and trim kale to remove the bottom portion of the stem and leaves. Gently tie into bunches using cooking twine. Put into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat. then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from water. Untie and, if desired, drizzle with melted butter.

To serve: Put kale leaves on plate, and top with the sliced corned beef.

Old-fashioned Date and Apple Salad

Simple, tasty, attractive salads are the best. I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe that fits the bill. Date and Apple Salad has a light lemon and oil dressing. The apples and dates are cut into “match-stick” pieces which makes a lovely presentation; and the tart, crunchiness of the apples combines beautifully with the sweet, chewy dates. This recipe is a keeper.

Here is the original recipe:sh

Source: American Cookery (January, 1918)

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

Date and Apple Salad

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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8 ounces pitted dates

2 apples

juice from  1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil.)

lettuce leaves, optional

Cut dates into lengthwise into “match-stick” pieces, and put into a bowl. Peel and core apples, then cut into match-stick pieces. Dip apple pieces in lemon juice, then place in the bowl with the dates. Add salt and oil; then gently toss.  If desired, serve on lettuce leaves.

The hundred-year-old recipe called for six tablespoons of oil. This seemed excessive, so I used two tablespoons of oil.

Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes

I’ve eaten stacks of pancakes with  bacon on the side for years  .  . . boring.  So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes.

The hearty giant pancakes embedded with bits of bacon are cooked in a skillet, and are cut into triangles to serve.  The pancakes were a delightful taste treat that took me back in time to the days of hungry hard-working gold and silver miners in remote locations.

The old recipe also indicated that, if preferred, smaller, more typically-sized pancakes could be cooked on a griddle.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Cook’s Book which is a KC Baking Powder promotional cookbook (1911)

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

Mining Camp Cornmeal Pancakes

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
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8 thin slices bacon cut into small 1/4 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

2 eggs

2  cups milk

Put the bacon  pieces in a skillet, and cook over medium heat until the bacon just begins to crisp; stir occasionally while cooking. Remove from heat and set aside. Reserve a small amount of the bacon fat to grease skillet.

In the meantime,  put cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, shortening, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined.

Option 1 – Large Pancakes that are Cut into Triangles: Generously grease a skillet with bacon fat. (I used a 6 inch, cast iron skillet). Heat skillet until hot using medium heat, then spoon 3/4 inch of the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the cooked bits of bacon.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about  3-4 minutes or until the batter is bubbly; then turn the pancake over and cook the other side. Remove from heat, and cut into triangles. Cook additional pancakes until all the batter is used.

Option 2 – Regular-sized (3 – 4 inch)  Pancakes: Heat a greased griddle until hot; then spoon or pour approximately 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Sprinkle bits of cooked bacon on the top of each pancake. Cook until the batter is bubbly, then flip pancake and cook the other side.

I made several ingredient adjustments when I made this recipe.  The old recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt. I didn’t use any since the bacon was salty. The old recipe also called for the use of condensed milk and water. In the mining camp far from town, it made sense to use canned condensed milk – but since I had regular milk in my refrigerator, I used substituted it for the condensed milk and water. Additionally, the batter seemed very thick, so I used a little more milk than the combined amount of condensed milk and water called for in the old recipe.

Old-fashioned Vegetable Chowder with Meat

Vegetable Chowder with Meat is the ultimate comfort food. This hundred-year-old recipe makes a delicious hearty soup that is perfect on these cold winter days. This flavorful  soup features carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, onion, and celery, as well as a little barley.  I used beef in this recipe, though other meats would also work.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (february, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Vegetable Chowder with Meat

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 pounds stewing beef

4 quarts water

2 tablespoons barley

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup potatoes, diced

1 cup cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup onion

1/2 cup celery

2 cups tomatoes, diced (or use 1 16-oz. can of tomatoes)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Put the meat and water in a stewing pot or dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil using high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour. Add barley and cook for an additional half hour.  Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, celery, and tomatoes. Continue cooking for an additional hour. Add salt, pepper, and parsley. Remove the meat from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot. Reheat until the soup is hot, and then serve.

Old-fashioned Honey Wafer Recipe

I’m always on the look-out for “healthy” hundred-year-old cookie recipes, so I was thrilled when I came across a recipe for Honey Wafers. The recipe uses honey as the primary sweetener – though it does contain a small amount of sugar.

Old-fashioned Honey Wafers are delightful with coffee. They have a distinct honey flavor, with mild undertones of lemon. Don’t expect these cookies to taste like sugar cookies.

I used a 2-inch in diameter round cookies cutter when making these cookies. This was a good size. Small is better. The honey is very predominant, and made for savoring.

These cookies got relatively hard after a day or two, but were still good. They could also be softened by putting in an airtight container with a slice or two of apple.

Here’s the original recipe:

The Cook’s Book (a small promotional cookbook for KC Baking Powder, 1911)

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

Honey Wafers

  • Servings: approximately 60 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1/3 teaspoon lemon extract

2 3/4 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour can be substituted.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2-4 tablespoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Combine butter, sugar, honey, and lemon extract in a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, stir to combine. Add flour, stir until well-mixed. If the mixture is too dry, add milk to create a dough with a consistency that can be easily rolled.

On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Classic Pear and Celery Salad Recipe

Food presentation is an art. I occasionally see lovely food designs in hundred-year-old magazines that may not quite work a century later. Then again, maybe they do. As food fads wax and wane over time, these old presentations sometimes almost seem refreshingly cutting edge.  Pear and Celery Salad definitely is dramatic, and is sure to be a conversation item at any party; however,I have mixed feelings about whether it is a fun but quirky recipe, or just a bit odd.

Source: Libby’s Advertisement in Ladies Home Journal (February, 1918)

The Pear and Celery Salad is placed on a bed of celery leaves, which creates a beautiful foundation for the salad. Celery slices are heaped into a large mound in the center of the plate, and then surrounded by canned pear halves (poached fresh pear halves would also work well). The mounded celery is topped with a mayonnaise, chili sauce, and nut dressing.

This recipe definitely turned out better than I thought it might. The tender pears melted in my mouth and  their delicate flavor was nicely balanced by the crunchy celery and nuts. The dressing reminded me a little of French salad dressing, except that it was nutty instead of smooth. The dressing worked well with the celery – and was intriguing with the pears.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pear and Celery Salad

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chili sauce

1/2 cut walnuts or other nuts, chopped

celery leaves from 1 head of celery

approximately 2 1/2 cups celery, cut into 1/2 – inch slices

1 29-ounce can of pear halves, drained

To make the dressing, place the mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl; stir until combined. Add nuts, and stir. Set aside.

Arrange celery leaves on serving plate, then place the sliced celery in a pile in the center of the plate. Surround the heaped celery with the pear halves which are stood on their edge. Gently spoon the dressing on top of the celery. There may be more dressing than needed. Reserve and extra dressing and serve separately.