Hundred-Year-Old Potato Puffs Recipe

potato-puffs-1
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

The week after Christmas is left-overs week at my house, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Puffs I had to give them a try.

The Potato Puffs were light and creamy with  just a hint of onion. When, I served the Potato Puffs, my daughter said, “Mom, this recipe is one of your better hundred-year-old recipes.” In other words, this recipe is a winner.

potato-puffs-recipe
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato Puffs

  • Servings: 3-4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups warm mashed potatoes

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon onion, grated (use additional grated onion if desired)

milk, as needed

salt and pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 425° F. Stir the egg into the mashed potatoes. If too thick, add a little milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop heaping teaspoons of the potato mixture onto a greased baking sheet. Bakes 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes: (1) If left-over mashed potatoes have been refrigerated, warm in a microwave or on the stove top, prior to adding the egg.  The potatoes only need to be warm, not hot. If the potatoes are quite hot, be sure to immediately start vigorously stirring when the egg is added to keep the egg from beginning to coagulate. (2) Potato Puffs may be refrigerated and reheated. Put in a 400 ° F oven for 20 minutes or until hot.

Old-Fashioned Black Walnut Bread (Nut Bread) Recipe

black-walnut-bread

I’m a black walnut aficionado The bold, rich taste of black walnuts is lovely in candies and baked goods. And, as a bonus black walnuts are quite nutritious. They are a good source of vitamin E and iron, and have lots of protein. They  also contain “good” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that can help reduce “bad” cholesterol.

Black walnuts are seldom sold in stores, so each autumn I scope out black walnut trees on nearby public property, and then forage the walnuts. I then hull the walnuts (and walk around for at least a week afterwards with walnut-stained hands), and then spread the hulled nuts out on newspapers to dry for several months.

A couple days ago my husband and I began to crack the walnuts, and then to pick the nut meats out, which is a challenge in itself. I swear that black walnuts are the most difficult nuts (except for maybe hickory nuts) to crack.

Now that I had the shelled nuts, I was ready to begin baking with them. I selected a hundred-year-old nut bread recipe. Any type of nuts could be used in the recipe–but black walnuts would have commonly been used in the early 1900s.

The Black Walnut Bread was easy to make, and it was a taste treat with the embedded, robust, savory pieces of black walnut. This recipe is a keeper.

Here is the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Black Walnut Bread (Nut Bread)

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup black walnuts, chopped (or other type of nut)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans.  Put the flour, sugar, baking powder,  and salt into a mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add egg and milk, and stir just enough to blend the ingredients. Add the black walnuts, and gently stir to spread the nuts throughout the batter. Pour into the greased pans. Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.

I couldn’t figure out why the old recipe said that after the batter was poured into the loaf pans that they should “stand aside to raise twenty minutes” before baking. Since this recipe called for baking powder (and not yeast), it didn’t seem like it needed to rise prior to baking so I ignored that step.

Hundred-year-old Cocoa Recipe

CocoaBrrrr, it’s snowy,  the temperature outside is in the single digits, and I’m cocooning until the weather improves.  Then I remembered  seeing a  recipe for  Cocoa in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook, and knew it was the perfect time to try it.

The Cocoa only took a few minutes to make – and soon I was relaxing with a steamy cup of rich and creamy Cocoa.  There was no comparison to the modern pre-mixed cocoa products.  The Cocoa made using old recipe was better . . . much, much better.

Here are the old directions for making Cocoa:

Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1915)
Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1915)

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cocoa

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 teaspoons cocoa

4 teaspoons sugar

2 cup milk

Put the cocoa and sugar in a bowl, and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon and milk and stir until smooth; then add another tablespoon of milk and stir.  Set aside.

Put the remainder of the milk in a medium sauce pan. While stirring constantly, heat the milk until hot and steamy using medium heat; then stir in the cocoa mixture. Remove from heat and serve.

When I made this recipe, I looked at the Cocoa recipe on the can of cocoa. The recipe on the can called for more sugar, and had a 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to cocoa, while the hundred-year-old recipe had a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to cocoa which resulted in a delightful hot drink that featured the nuanced chocolaty notes  of the cocoa without being overwhelmed by the sweetness of the sugar.

Hundred-Year-Old Hermits Cookies Recipe

hermit-cookies

Tis the season . . . for baking cookies. Old-fashioned, traditional cookies are my favorite, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Hermits. Hermits are a soft, spicy, raisin cookie. They have been around a long time so there are lots of variations. This recipe was for the traditional drop cookie version.

The Hermits were delightful. They had a lovely texture and the right amount of chewiness. The old-fashioned goodness of the Hermits was enhanced by just the right amount of cinnamon and mace, and a hint of molasses.

The recipe was easy to make–and would be a perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

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

Hermits

  • Servings: approximately 40 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon milk

1 tablespoon molasses

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon mace

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups flour

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Put butter in a large mixing bowl, and stir (cream) until smooth; then stir in the brown sugar. Stir in milk, molasses, eggs, cinnamon, mace, and baking powder. Add flour, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Add raisins, and stir gently to distribute the raisins throughout the dough. Drop rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Caramels: Comparison of Old and Modern Recipes

caramels
The caramels with walnuts were made using the hundred-year-old recipe. The other caramels were made using the modern recipe.

The holidays are a time for family fun, so when my daughter was recently home for Thanksgiving we decided that it was time for another post that compares a hundred-year-old recipe with a modern one. This year we decided to make Caramels.

I made a Caramel recipe from a hundred-year-old magazine that listed nuts, preferably black walnuts, as an ingredient. My daughter made a Caramel recipe that did not call for nuts from Sally’s Baking Addiction called Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels.

My recipe called for brown sugar. The modern recipe used three sweets: brown sugar, white sugar, and light corn syrup. It included a note which said that corn syrup is “a controversial ingredient, for sure, but an imperative one for making candy as it prevents crystallization and keeps the caramels smooth as silk.”

The Verdict: The two candies were both good, but very different from each other.

The modern recipe was delectable. The Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels were smooth and creamy, and melted in my mouth. If you want a great Caramel recipe, I strongly recommend clicking on the link and going to Sally’s website for her recipe.

On the other hand, the  hundred-year-old Caramel recipe made a candy that barely seemed like a caramel. It tasted more like a praline. If, by chance,  you are looking for a delightful walnut praline recipe, the old recipe is the recipe for you.

The hundred-year-old recipe included a warning, “These directions must be followed to the letter.”  I tried my best to follow them to the letter, but apparently failed since I think that the caramel may have partially “crystalized” (or perhaps a caramel a hundred-years-ago was different from a modern caramel).

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)

Here’s my version of the hundred-year-old recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made half of the original recipe.)

Caramels

  • Servings: approximately 50 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 pound light-brown sugar (2 cups, packed)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

1 cup chopped nuts, preferably black walnuts

Prepare a 8 inch by 8 inch square pan by lining it with foil, and then buttering the foil.  Set aside.

Put the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a large, heavy saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat so that there is a slow rolling boil. Continue to stir until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage (245 – 248° F.). This can also be tested by dropping a small amount of the hot mixture into ice-cold water. It is done when a caramel-textured ball is formed. Add nuts before removing from the heat. Remove spoon from mixture while still boiling to prevent crystallization.

Quickly pour into the prepared pan. Scrape what remains into another dish. When cool turn onto a cookie sheet or board.  Cut into bite-sized pieces. If desired, wrap caramels in waxed paper.

walnut-caramel

Old-fashioned Mashed Potatoes

mashed-potatoes-f

Mashed Potatoes are a quick and easy-to-make comfort food. It’s one of those foods that I never use a recipe to make. Long ago I learned how to boil the potatoes, whip them, add a little butter and milk, and whip a bit more to combine.

Given how easy it is to make Mashed Potatoes,  I was very surprised to discover a hundred-year-old recipe  for Mashed Potatoes that contained extensive detail.  Back then even the most complex recipes were generally short and lacked details,  Why would recipes for difficult-to-make foods leave a huge amount of latitude for interpretation, while a recipe for a basic food be very specific?

Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of Household Arts (1915)
Source: Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of Household Arts (1915)

This recipe referred to two other recipes. One explained how to boil potatoes:

potatoes-boiled

The other recipe mentioned in the Mashed Potato recipe was the Potato in the Half Shell recipe, which contained information about how much butter, milk, and salt should be used when making potatoes:

potatoes-half-shell

I generally use electric beaters to make “mashed” potatoes, but I decided to give the old-time recipe a try. I dug out my old potato masher out from under all my other seldom-used kitchen utensils in the back of bottom drawer in the kitchen cabinets, and made real mashed potatoes.

Here’s the old recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-5 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 cups potatoes, pared and cut into 1-inch cubes (4-6 potatoes) (I used red potatoes – though russets would also work well.)

water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

approximately 1/4 cup milk

Put enough water into a  large saucepan so that it is about 1/3 filled; add salt and bring to a boil using high heat. Add diced potatoes; return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or  until the potatoes are very soft when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and drain. Using a wire potato masher, mash the potatoes until smooth.  Add the butter and half the milk. Mash a little more to combine. If the potatoes are too stiff, add additional milk until the potatoes reach the desired consistency. (Do not over-mash or the potatoes will get gummy.) Reheat the mashed potatoes using medium heat  To reheat, put the pan with the mashed potatoes back on the stove using medium heat for 15-30 seconds; stir once or twice. Remove from heat and put in serving dish.

mashed-potatoes-b

Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Celery and Walnuts

cranberry-saladRemember the  old-fashioned gelatin salads with embedded mystery fruits and vegetables that great-aunts inevitably  brought to Thanksgiving dinners? Well, I’ve found one of those old recipes.  The hundred-year-old  Cranberry Salad recipe called for gelatin — and celery and walnuts.

When I made this salad I didn’t want to like it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted similar to jellied cranberry sauce. The colorful, tart jellied sauce was perfectly punctuated with the crunch of the celery and walnuts.

The original recipe was for Cranberry Salad, but when I updated the recipe I renamed it, Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Celery and Walnuts, to more accurately describe the dish. Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1916)

I bought a 12-ounce bag of cranberries to make this recipe. When I measured how many cranberries were in the bag, I realized that I only had 3 cups of cranberries, not the 4 cups (1 quart) called for in the old recipe. I reduced all of the other ingredients proportionately and made three-fourths of the original recipe.

When serving the Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Celery and Walnuts, I didn’t cut it into squares, and I skipped the lettuce and mayonnaise. I  just put it in a pretty dish and let people serve themselves.  Here’s my updated recipe:

Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Celery and Walnuts

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 cups cranberries (1 12-ounce bag)

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 envelops unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup celery, chopped

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Put cranberries and  1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then press the cooked cranberries through a sieve or strainer. (I used a Foley mill. A food processor could also be used to puree the berries).  Return the cranberry sauce to the sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over the puree. Let sit for one minute, then add the sugar and stir. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly, then reduce heat and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat.

Put half of the cranberry sauce into a serving dish or bowl; refrigerate until just set (about 1 1/2 hours). (Keep the remainder of the cranberry sauce at room temperature.) Remove the set cranberry sauce from the refrigerator and sprinkle with the chopped celery and walnuts. Pour the remaining half of the cranberry sauce over this , and return to the refrigerator until set.

I used a Foley Mill to make the Cranberry Sauce. It worked well, but a sieve, strainer, or food processor could also be used to make the sauce.
I used a Foley Mill to make the Cranberry Sauce. It worked well, but a sieve, strainer, or food processor could also be used to make the sauce.