I’m sometimes asked how I decide which hundred-year-old recipes to make. Often I make recipes that sound like something I think I might like; other times I select recipes because I’m intrigued by an unusual combination of ingredients or preparation methods.
This week, was a first. Another blogger’s post inspired me to select a particular hundred-year-old recipe.
I recently read Automatic Gardening and Real Gluten Free Food’s recipe for Cold Chicken Rice Salad – and thought, “I think that I’ve seen a similar recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook.” Next thing I knew, I was making a 1919 recipe for Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad.
Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad has a nice texture, and is packed with flavor. Both a hundred years ago and now, this salad is perfect for a summer lunch or picnic.
Here is the original recipe:
When I made the recipe, I used some lettuce, but not an entire head. Similarly I used less mayonnaise than the old recipe called for.
If you are looking for a hundred-year-old recipe, come back next week. This week, I’m revisiting the early days of this blog – and including a 70-year-old recipe for Soft Molasses Cookies to boot.
I began A Hundred Years Ago in 2011 to post my grandmother’s diary entries a hundred years to the day after she wrote them. My grandmother, Helena Muffly [Swartz] kept the diary from 1911 to 1914 when she was a teen living on a farm near McEwensville in central Pennsylvania. After I posted all the diary entries, I reinvented A Hundred Years Ago to its current focus on food. Today I’m going to go back to those diary years —
When I was a child, I lived about a mile from Grandma – and most of her other grandchildren also lived nearby. But one of Grandma’s daughters lived in the Philadelphia area with her husband and three children. It was always a special occasion when those cousins visited.
I recently received a comment on a post I did about Grandma’s cookies from Pat Donaldson, one of my “Philadelphia” cousins. She then followed up with an email. She wrote:
I too remember Grandma’s cookies fondly. We’d come to visit, and her cookie jar would always be full, with either Molasses or Peanut Butter cookies. The Molasses cookies were soft, with a dark crinkly top, and the Peanut Butter cookies had the trademark cross-hatching on them. We’d eat the cookies as we ran in and out of the house playing tag.
Later, when we were grown and attending a wedding we talked about those cookies and found how scarcely they were given out to our cousins, who would have to ask for just one very politely. They were scandalized that we just reached in and ate them! But we were only there one weekend a month, and Grandma never said a word about our cookie habit – just kept the cookie jar full for us.
After her funeral, we were all given a chance to take home one item to remember Grandma by. I chose her Sunbeam mixer, which came with a little cookbook. The mixer was a Sunbeam Mixmaster 10, which was sold around 1950. Since I was in college and needed a mixer, that’s what I chose. It lasted quite a while – decades at least. The recipe book came with the mixer
Inside the cookbook I found recipes for molasses and peanut butter cookies. I’m not sure about the peanut butter cookies – but the molasses cookies have an “X” next to the recipe, and I’m fairly sure they’re the ones Grandma baked. I’ve scanned the pages from the recipe book. The Sunbeam cookbook is still a bit recent for your food blog – but the cookies can be eaten any time.
p.s.: One year when we were visiting we went exploring in the attic, and found Grandma’s cookie stash. She must have baked dozens and dozens of them, and they were all sitting in a box waiting to go into the cookie jar as soon as we emptied it. That solved the mystery of how Grandma’s cookie jar could always be full, when we never saw her baking cookies!
Here’s the first page of the little cookbook that came with the mixer::
And, here’s the recipe in the cookbook (with Grandma’s “X” marking it as a recipe she had made):
Of course, I had to try Grandma’s (i.e., the Sunbeam Mixmaster Cookbook) Soft Molasses Cookie recipe. The cookies turned out wonderfully. They were soft and chewy with just the right mixture of spices and raisins. Making the cookies with a mixer was very 1950’s, but the cookies are definitely a wonderful, traditional, soft molasses cookie that brought back fond memories of Grandma, her kitchen, and wonderful times playing with my cousins.
Banana Fritters are a wonderful comfort food, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for them. The fritters were crispy; and, when served with a little confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, had just the right amount of sweetness. The fritters are made using banana slices or chunks, and when I bit into them, the embedded fruit was pure delight. This recipe is a keeper.
2 medium bananas, sliced or cut into small chunks (I sliced the bananas.)
shortening or lard
confectioners sugar (optional)
Put flour, baking powder, salt, egg, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until combined. Add sliced or cubed bananas, and gently stir until the bananas are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into hot shortening. Fry for about 2 minutes. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. If desired, sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve immediately.
It’s always a challenge to get kids to eat healthy foods, but one trick that parents have been using for a long time is to dress foods up so they look like animals or other creatures. I recently came across a fun hundred-year-old recipe for Butterfly Salad that is quick and easy to make.
The recipe called for asparagus, lettuce, pineapple slices, olives, and pimento strips. This combination of ingredients sounded a bit unusual to me, but it actually was very tasty. The olives added a nuanced saltiness to the other ingredients, but did not overwhelm them.
2 flat lettuce leaves (I used the top portion of the outer leaves from a head of Romaine lettuce.)
1 slice canned pineapple
1 spear cooked asparagus (chilled)
2 – 3 stuffed green olives
2 strips pimento
2 tablespoons French dressing or mayonnaise (optional)
To make a butterfly set the asparagus spear in the center of the plate to represent the body. To make the wings place the lettuce leaves on either side of the asparagus spear. To make the head, set an olive at the base of the asparagus spear. Cut the pineapple slice in half, and symmetrically set each half on a lettuce leaf. Slice the other olive(s), and place slices on the pineapple to decorate the leaf “wings”. Put the strips of pimento above the olive head to represent the butterfly’s antennas. If desired, serve with French dressing or mayonnaise.
Asparagus and eggs pair beautifully, and hum of spring, so I was thrilled to come across a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs, Grand Duc which is a delightful, surprisingly modern, egg and asparagus recipe.
Toast is topped with long, graceful spears of asparagus, which is immersed in a creamy cheese sauce. And, it all is topped with a perfectly poached egg.
The presentation is lovely, and would be perfect for a small Spring brunch.
Here’s the original recipe:
Here’s the recipe updated modern cooks. To make this dish more visually appealing, I used whole slices of toast instead of the toast squares called for in the original recipe. I also assembled the ingredients in a different order than called for in the original recipe.
Trim asparagus spears to remove the tough sections at the bottom of the stalks. Place asparagus in a pan with a steamer. Put water in the bottom of the steamer, and cover. Heat to a boil; then reduce heat until the water simmers. Steam for about 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. (If preferred the asparagus can be roasted instead of steamed.)
Poached Egg Directions
Bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a skillet, then reduce to a simmer. Break each egg into a small bowl or cup, then slip into the water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the poached eggs from the water using a slotted spatula, and drain on paper towels.
Cheese Sauce Directions
Using medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan; then stir in the flour and salt. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly. Then add the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce thickens.
On the top of each slice of toast, arrange one-fourth of the cooked asparagus. Spoon cheese sauce on top of the asparagus, and top with a poached egg.
Carrots are one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables. They contain lots of vitamins A, K, and B6, as well as potassium and other minerals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Flemish Carrots. This dish contains a mixture of carrots and onions that is served in a lovely beef-broth sauce which brought out the natural sweetness of the carrots.
I always find March to be a difficult month for cooking. I like to serve locally-grown, seasonally-appropriate food – yet I’m tiring of the same-old, same-old winter vegetable dishes. This recipe is a nice twist on sautéed carrots.
Using medium-low heat, melt butter in a skillet that has a lid. Add carrots, onion, and parsley; cover skillet. Stir occasionally and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Add flour, salt, sugar, and pepper; stir gently until blended. Increase heat to medium. Gradually add beef broth while stirring constantly; heat until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
When I made this dish, I substituted butter for the Crisco shortening that was listed in the original recipe.
I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old snack and appetizer recipes. I recently found a recipe in a 1919 cookbook for Cheese and Rice Fritters. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a subtle cheese and tomato flavor. And, they were amazingly similar to an hors d’oeuvre that I recently had at a catered event.
Cook rice following package directions with the following substitution – replace half of the water called for on the package with tomato sauce. (Any remaining tomato sauce can be saved and used in another recipe.) Puree cooked rice. (Cook’s note: I’m not sure how the rice was pureed a hundred years ago. I used a blender to puree the rice – and that did not work very well. I think that a food processor might work better.)
In a mixing bowl, combine approximately 1 cup of pureed rice, salt, paprika, baking powder, and flour; stir until thoroughly mixed. (There may be extra rice that can be eaten or used in another recipe.) Add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. If dough is too dry, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water; if too moist, add 1 or tablespoons of additional flour.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into hot shortening. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
I used more rice than called for in the original recipe because 1/4 cup did not seem like enough to end up with 1 cup of pureed rice.