Old-fashioned Creamed Tuna Fish

At my house all the holiday baking is done (and has been consumed), and I’m ready to put up my feet and relax. To me this means that it’s time to make simple, basic, comfort foods like Creamed Tuna Fish.

The hundred-year-old recipe that I found for Creamed Tuna Fish only had two ingredients: tuna fish and white sauce. My updated version has four since I listed the ingredients in the white sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Creamed Tuna Fish is wonderful when served on toast, and it hits the spot after all the heavy holiday meals.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Tuna Fish

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

1 can tuna

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk.  Stir in the tuna and bring back to a boil; remove from heat.  Serve over toast, biscuits, rice, etc.

Old-fashioned Potato Croquettes

Christmas isn’t even here yet, but I’m already worrying about leftovers. I justify this to myself by saying that I like to plan ahead, but maybe I should be enjoying the moment.

In any case, I ALWAYS have leftover mashed potatoes after holiday meals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Croquettes that calls for mashed potatoes. The Potato Croquettes had a crispy crust filled with a delightful spicy mashed potato mixture flavored with paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, parsley,  and onion.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Potato Croquettes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups hot mashed potatoes (If they are cold, they can be reheated in the microwave.)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper

1/8 teaspoon celery salt

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, beaten

1 cup fine bread crumbs

approximately 1/2 cup shortening

Mix together the potatoes, butter, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, parsley, egg yolks, and minced onion. Shape into 1-inch balls; then roll in flour, dip in beaten egg, and finally roll in bread crumbs. (If the potato mixture is sticky – and not very firm, skip dipping in the egg.)

Place the shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot. (There should be about 1/2 inch of melted shortening. Add more if needed.) Drop balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

When I made the recipe I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt rather than the 1 teaspoon called for in the original recipe. I also used chopped onion rather than onion juice. The recipe turned out fine with these substitutions.

Hundred-year-old Panocha Recipe

When it comes to holiday cooking at my house, old-fashioned candies are a “must make,” so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old Panocha recipe.

Panocha is a delightful old-fashioned brown sugar fudge with the typical walnuts.

Sometimes I have issues with fudge, but this recipe was quick and easy to make. The Panocha was creamy with a nice caramel flavor,

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Text-book of Cooking (1915) by Carlotta Greer

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

Panocha

  • Servings: 20-25 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups light brown sugar

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Combine brown sugar and milk in saucepan; add cream of tartar and stir. Continue stirring while heating over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Quit stirring and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and continue boiling (without stirring) until candy reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees F.) (about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in butter and remove from heat, beat until the mixture thickens. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a buttered 8 X 8 inch pan. When cool, cut into pieces.

Hundred-Year-Old Orange Nut Bread Recipe

I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy holiday bread recipes, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Orange Nut Bread. Graham flour, candied orange peel, and pecans give this bread a nutty, yet distinctly sunny, orange flavor.

I definitely plan to make this recipe again. It’s tasty, and the candied orange peel makes it just enough different from most nut bread recipes that it is sure to be a hit this holiday season.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

I was surprised that the recipe called for no shortening, and for less sugar than many modern nut bread recipes – but it all worked. This bread has a nice texture; and, while a little drier than some quick breads, is very tasty.

When I made this recipe I used less salt than called for in the original recipe. Two teaspoons of salt seemed a tad excessive.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Orange Nut Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups graham flour

1/2 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup candied orange peel

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 egg

2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

In a mixing bowl stir together all-purpose flour, graham flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate small bowl, combine the candied orange peel and pecans. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients that had been previously combined to coat the orange peel and pecan pieces. Set aside.

Add egg and milk to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl; beat until mixed. Stir in the orange peel and pecan mixture. Bake 35-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Old-fashioned Chinese Chews Recipe

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Chinese Chews. The recipe was for walnut and date cookie balls. Why were they called Chinese? Were the balls supposed to seem special  because the name evoked thoughts of  exotic, far away places?  I think of the middle east when I think of dates – but not China.  That said, improbably named recipes inevitably intrigue me, so the next thing I knew I was making Chinese Chews.

Chinese Chews are a sweet chewy treat, and would make a nice addition to a holiday cookie tray.

They were fun to make. The dough is spread thinly in a pan or baking sheet, and then baked until it just begins to brown. The baked dough is then removed from the oven, cut into pieces, and rolled into balls which are then coated in granulated sugar.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1917)

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

Chinese Chews

  • Servings: 20-25 1-inch balls
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup dates, chopped

1 cup walnuts chopped

granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs. Then stir in the dates and walnuts. Spread thinly on a baking sheet. (There may not be enough to cover the entire sheet.) Place in the oven and bake until the dough sets and just begins to brown (about 15 minutes). The baked dough should look “not quite done.” Remove from oven and cool about five minutes.

Use a spatula to remove the baked dough from the pan  Take chunks of the baked dough and shape into 1-inch balls. (Don’t worry if baked dough comes out of the pan in odd-shaped pieces. I put all the pieces in a bowl, and intentionally combined some of the “crustier” portions from the edge of the pan with some of the softer portions from the center to make balls that had a nice consistency.)  Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Work quickly because the balls are easier to shape when the dough is still warm.

Cook’s note: The hundred-year-old recipe called for pastry flour. I used all-purpose flour and it worked fine.

Old-Fashioned Squash Pie

If you like pumpkin pie, but are looking for something a bit richer and more flavorful, Squash Pie is the pie for you.

I used  heirloom hubbard squash to make this hundred-year-old Squash Pie recipe, but other winter squash would work equally well.

This recipe uses less milk and more eggs than the typical modern pumpkin pie recipe. Similarly the spices are just a little different  from modern recipes.  Many modern recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger – the old recipe lists cinnamon and nutmeg, but does not call for any ginger. All of these tweaks are good – but the texture and taste are a little different than modern Pumpkin Pies.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Paste is an archaic term for the pie pastry. When I made this recipe I used my usual pie pastry recipe, but sometime soon I’ll try the old recipe for “Chopped Paste.”

Here’s the Squash Pie recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 3/4 cups winter squash (hubbard, butternut, etc.), pared and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 9-inch pie shell

Put cubed squash in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes); remove from heat and drain. Puree squash. (There should be approximately 1 cup of pureed squash.)

Preheat 425° F.  Put pureed squash in mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie shell. Place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (approximately 40-50 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Old-fashioned Creamed Carrots and Onions

I’m currently auditioning foods to serve on Thanksgiving. Some people love to try new recipes when family and friends convene for the holidays. I, on the other hand, prefer to try new recipes ahead of time to help ensure that all goes smoothly on the big day.

So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Creamed Carrots and Onions, I had to give it a try.  It just said Thanksgiving to me, and brought back vague memories of wonderful creamed vegetables lovingly prepared by my grandmother and other elderly relatives when I was a child

The recipe did not disappoint. The Creamed Carrots and Onions passed their audition. They were easy to make, colorful,  and tasty — and definitely deserve a spot on the Thanksgiving table.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Carrots and Onions

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups sliced onions

water

2 cups bite-sized carrot chunks (peel or scrape carrots, then cut into chunks)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup milk

Put onions in saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. The carrots should be tender but not mushy. Remove from heat and drain.

In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Gently stir in the cooked carrots and onions. Remove from heat and serve.