Old-fashioned Spinach Soup

bowl of spinach soup

I have warm memories of Popeye the Sailor Man eating spinach to grow strong. Spinach is chockful of nutrients, and is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin C, as well as being one of the best sources of plant-based iron. What’s not to like?

As a result, I’m always on the lookout for good spinach recipes. So when I came across a hundred-year-old for Spinach Soup, I decided to give it a try.

The creamy Spinach Soup was delicious with a slight peppery undertone which added interest.

Here’s the original recipe:

Spinach Soup Recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (Revised Edition, 1921)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spinach Soup

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 quarts spinach (I used a 10 ounce package of spinach.)

6 cups water

1/2 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 clove garlic or 2 tablespoons chopped onion (I used the chopped onion.)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 cup cream, if desired

Put spinach and water into a large pan, and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Removed from heat, and puree or press through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill.)

In the meantime, put milk, garlic or onion, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Using medium heat, scald the milk, while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and strain. (Discard the garlic or onion and bay leaf.)

Put butter in large pan or dutch oven. Melt using low heat; then stir in the flour. Slowly add scalded milk while stirring constantly. Then stir in the spinach mixture, salt, cayenne pepper, and celery salt. Heat until steamy, then serve.

If desired whip the cream, and put a dollop of the whipped cream on top of each bowl of soup.

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Old-fashioned Coconut Pie

slice of coconut pie on plateSometimes I crave classic old-fashioned cream pies.  I recently came across a lovely recipe for Coconut Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook. This pie differs from many modern coconut pies because, in addition to the usual milk, egg yolks, and coconut, the recipe calls for grated lemon rind and lemon juice. The lemon adds a lovely sunny note to this rich creamy pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Coconut Pie
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition (1921)

When I updated the recipe I updated the spelling of coconut. “Cocoanut” is an archaic way of spelling coconut that I sometimes see in old recipes and cookbooks.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter melted

grated rind and juice from 1 lemon

1 cup grated coconut

1 10-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, butter, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind and coconut. Pour into pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F.. Bake additional 60 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

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Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce

Fried Bananas on plate

I was recently browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, and came across a recipe for Fried Bananas with Crumbs, and decided to give it with a try. The recipe said that the Fried Bananas could be served with Lemon Sauce, so I also made the sauce.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce were surprisingly tasty. The Fried Bananas were crispy on the outside, and the Lemon Sauce added a bright, sunny, sweet-sour flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Fried Bananas with Crumbs
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition, 1921

Six bananas seemed like a lot, so I divided the recipe in half when I made it.

I garnished the Fried Bananas with lemon slices, but I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the directions in the old cookbook and also garnish them with parsley. But, who knows, maybe the bananas would have looked better if I’d also used parsley.

Both Sherry Sauce and Lemon Sauce sounded good. Unfortunately, Lowney’s Cook Book, the cookbook that I got the Fried Bananas recipe out of, did not have a recipe for Sherry Sauce; but it did contain a recipe for Lemon Sauce, so the decision about which sauce to make was easy. I made Lemon Sauce.

Recipe for Lemon Sauce
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition, 1921

The Lemon Sauce recipe also looked like it would make a lot of sauce, so I divided it into half.

Here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Fried Bananas in Crumbs

3 bananas

salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fine plain breadcrumbs (I put 1 bread slice, that I tore into several pieces, into the blender to make the breadcrumbs.)

shortening or vegetable oil

lemon pieces or slices (for garnish, if desired)

parsley (for garnish, if desired)

Place flour on a plate or in a small bowl, and  place the bread crumbs on another plate or small bowl. Put the beaten egg in a small bowl.

Peel bananas; cut into half both lengthwise and crosswise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Roll in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the bread crumbs.

Heat about 1/2 inch of shortening or vegetable oil in a skillet, then put the breaded banana pieces in the hot shortening or oil. Fry until lightly browned on the bottom, then gently turn to brown the other side. When browned, remove bananas from the skillet. Drain on paper towels, then serve with Lemon Sauce. If desired, garnish with lemon pieces or slices and parsley.

Lemon Sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

juice of 1/2 lemon

grated rind of 1/2 lemon

3/4 tablespoon butter

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Stir in the water, and heat using medium heat until the mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens (about 10-20 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and butter. Serve hot.

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Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies

Gingerbread men on baking sheet

Making cut-out cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions, so I was thrilled to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for Gingerbread Men.

These delightful molasses and spice cookies are decorated with raisins or currants, and are a little thicker and chewier than some gingerbread cookies. They’d be lovely on a holiday cookie tray.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Gingerbread Men
Source: Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. II) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

The caption under the illustration in the old textbook says, “Some suggestions to please the children.” Today Gingerbread Men often are topped with lots of colorful icing, and very sweet. Would children in 2020 be pleased by Gingerbread Men decorated with only raisins or currants? My gut feeling is that many today wouldn’t fully appreciate  this old-time flavorful, healthier option – and would miss the icing. Which is a pity. The Gingerbread Men were wonderful.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 18 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups flour

raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put shortening, brown sugar, egg, and molasses in mixing bowl; mix together. Add baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and flour; stir to combine. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. (If too sticky to roll, add more flour.) Cut into shapes using a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter. Put on prepared baking sheet. Raisins or currants may be used for eyes, mouth, and buttons. (Cut raisins into several pieces if they are too large.) Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

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Old-fashioned Creamed Turnips

Creamed Turnips in Bowl

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Creamed Turnips, and decided to give it a try. Creamed Turnips makes a lovely side dish. I served them with pork chops, and the earthy sweetness of the turnips immersed in a velvety cream sauce perfectly complemented the meat.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Mashed Turnips
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Autumn, 1920)

One teaspoon of salt seemed like a lot of salt for the Cream Sauce, so I only used 1/2 teaspoon.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Turnips

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 pounds turnips

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

Peel the turnips, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Put the cubed turnips in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat, drain, and put in serving bowl.

Cream Sauce

In the meantime, melt butter in another saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add salt and pepper, then reduce heat and continue boiling for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.  Pour cream sauce over the turnips.

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Old-fashioned Braised Carrots

Braised Carrots in Serving DishSome old rules of thumb and beliefs about nutrition are true. For example, my mother always told me to eat carrots so that I could see better at night. She was right. It’s true that carrots contain lots of Vitamin A which may make it easier to see in the dark.

Carrots are also a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K; and, they are high in fiber, and low in calories.

The bottom line is that carrots are a very nutritious vegetable. But, except for nibbling on the occasional raw carrot, I seldom eat them. So when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Braised Carrots, I decided that it was time to try a carrot recipe.

The Braised Carrots, when made using beef broth, taste and have a texture similar to carrots in a beef stew. It makes a nice vegetable side dish. The carrots are cut lengthwise into long strips which makes for a nice, somewhat unique, presentation.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Braised Carrots
Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Braised Carrots

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

water

6 carrots

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup stock or water (I used beef broth.)

Fill a Dutch oven half full with water. Put on stove and bring to a boil using high heat.

In the meantime, wash and peel (or scrape) the carrots; then quarter lengthwise. Put carrots in the boiling water and cover. Remove from heat. Let sit until the water has cooled (about 45 minutes). Drain.

Preheat oven to 375° F. In the meantime, on the top of the stove, melt butter in an oven-proof skillet using medium heat. Gently put carrots in the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes. May be gently turned once or twice. (The carrots were difficult to turn without breaking, and they didn’t really seem to need to be turned, so I did not turn most of them. They did not brown, but became more tender). Add stock or water, and put in oven for a half hour. Remove from oven, and put in serving dish. Spoon some of the liquid over the carrots.

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Old-fashioned Cinnamon Toast

slice of cinnamon toast on plateWhen I recently was browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, and came across a recipe for Cinnamon Toast, memories came flooding back. I have warm, fuzzy memories of eating Cinnamon Toast, as well as fun memories of making Cinnamon Toast that bring to mind people I hadn’t thought of in years.

When I was a child, Cinnamon Toast was the perfect after-school snack. Open the door, take off coat, put a couple slices of bread in the toaster, and toast. Then spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and voila – a delightful, sweet treat.

I also remember how my mother always made Cinnamon Toast when I didn’t feel well, and how it always made a miserable day seem a just little bit better. Similarly, I always made it for my children when they were ill, and not hungry for the usual foods. And, I’ve noticed that, as adults, they make Cinnamon Toast for themselves when they are sick.

When I make Cinnamon Toast, no recipe is needed. It is so simple to make. But seeing the hundred-year-old recipe for Cinnamon Toast reminded of another day, many years ago when I did make Cinnamon Toast using a recipe.

It was my first day in junior high, and I was feeling very grown up going from one class to another. Then I was brought back to earth when I got to home economics, and the teacher said, “Today we are going to learn how to make Cinnamon Toast.” And, she actually gave us a recipe. My friends and I tried to suppress giggles. A few of the more daring girls (only girls took home economics back then; the boys took shop) whispered, “This is stupid. Doesn’t everyone know how to make Cinnamon Toast? Does she think we’re little kids?”

But the bottom line is – recipe or no recipe – Cinnamon Toast is the ultimate comfort food.

Here’s the original recipe:

Cinnamon Toast Recipe
Source; The Cook Book of Left-Overs (1920) compiled by the More Nurses in Training Movement

The hundred-year-old recipe calls for brown sugar, while I typically use white. Either type of sugar works. When brown sugar is used, the Cinnamon Toast has a slight hint of caramel.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cinnamon Toast

  • Servings: 1 serving
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 slice bread

butter

Put the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir until mixed. Set aside.

Toast bread then spread with butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. (Save any extra of the sugar and cinnamon mixture to use on another piece of toast.)

If desired, melt the sugar mixture on the toast – Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the toast on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish, and put in the oven for 1-3 minutes or until the sugar is melted; remove from oven and serve immediately.

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