Old-fashioned Sour Milk Waffles

Recipes from a hundred-years ago often contain minimal directions and can be difficult to interpret. And, I occasionally come across old recipes that call for ingredients that are no longer available. Today is one of those times. When I read a 1919 recipe for Sour Milk Waffles, I immediately knew that I was not going to be able to exactly replicate the recipe.

Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

A hundred-years-ago many families still lived on farms; and, even in towns, much of the milk that was sold was not pasteurized. Back then, if the non-pasteurized milk was not used quickly, the “good” bacteria in the milk would turn it into a sour milk suitable for use in recipes. Today’s pasteurized milk can be turned into a sour milk by adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to create a slightly curdled acidic milk.

But this recipe calls for “thick sour milk.” The soured milk that I make with vinegar or lemon juice isn’t very thick. Then I remembered that milk in days gone by would have also contained cream that floated on the top. Perhaps the recipe is referring to the thickness of the soured cream. So, I substituted 1/4 cup sour cream, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons vinegar for the thick sour milk.

The recipe also says that if the milk lacks richness, add additional shortening. I decided that the sour cream added sufficient richness, and that no extra shortening was needed.

I was pleased with how my updated version of Sour Milk Waffles turned out. If you are looking for a soft waffle recipe, this is the recipe for you. The waffles had an old-fashioned goodness, and were very tasty. They browned nicely, and were fluffy and soft –  though they were not crispy like most modern waffles.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sour Milk Waffles

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

2 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons shortening, melted

1/4 cup sour cream

Put the milk in a cup or bowl, then stir in the vinegar. Set aside for at least 2 minutes.

Put the egg whites in a small mixing bowl, beat until light and foamy. Set aside.

Put flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, shortening, sour cream, egg yolks, and milk soured with vinegar or lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in beaten egg whites.

Ladle batter onto a hot waffle iron and cook, following the waffle iron directions.

Old-fashioned Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style

corn custard in casserole dish

Today I often hear that fresh fruit and vegetables are best – and that canned vegetables aren’t as tasty. This differs from a hundred years ago when canned vegetables were considered a “modern” way of preserving food.

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style that intrigued me, and – though knowing that canned corn is not trendy – decided to give it a try. Perhaps part of what intrigued me was the claim that this was an internationally-inspired recipe. Was it really Mexican style? – or did the recipe author just think that a humble dish seemed more enticing if it was billed as an internationally-inspired food?

I’m glad that I gave this recipe a chance. The Corn Custard was rich and silky, and brought back warm, fuzzy memories of family gatherings many years ago when a similar dish was served.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (January, 1919)

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

Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 pint corn (15-ounce can corn) – I used creamed style corn.

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Melt butter in a skillet using medium heat. Put chopped onion and green pepper in skillet; saute until tender.

In the meantime, in a bowl, stir together eggs, milk, corn, salt, and paprika; pour mixture into the skillet with the onions and green peppers while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and steamy. Remove from heat and pour into a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.

Place a pan of hot water (the water should be about 1/2 inch deep) in the oven. (I used an old aluminum baking sheet with sides for the pan.) Then set the casserole dish with the corn mixture in the water. Bake until the corn custard is firm in the center and lightly browned. The length of time this dish needs to cook will vary depending upon the depth of the casserole dish. (When I made this recipe, it took about 45 minutes for corn custard to get firm.) Remove Corn Custard from oven. (I left the pan with the hot water in the oven until it cooled to avoid the risk of burning myself.)

Old-fashioned Graham Pop-overs

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Graham Pop-overs. The pop-overs did not rise as much as anticipated, but nevertheless they were a delightful bread that seemed more like a muffin than a pop-over. The Graham Pop-overs had a slightly nutty flavor, and were wonderful when served warm with butter or honey.

Graham flour is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour that contains the endosperm, the bran, and the wheat germ. Modern graham flours sometimes have most of the wheat germ removed to prolong shelf life and to help keep it from going rancid.

Year ago graham flour was considered a health food, and I regularly see recipes that call for it in hundred-year-old cookbooks.

Graham flour is named after its inventor Sylvester Graham. He began making graham flour in the 1830s, and promoted it as part of a health movement which encouraged eating vegetarian meals and unseasoned foods.

It might take a little effort to find graham flour. I had to look for the flour at three stores before I finally found it.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Source: Recipes for Everyday (1919)

Graham Pop-overs

  • Servings: approximately 12 Pop-overs
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 eggs

2 cups milk

2 cups graham flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons shortening, melted

Preheat oven to 450° F.  Beat eggs, then add milk. Beat in graham flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and shortening. Beat until just combined. Put batter into well-greased custard cups (ramekins) – or a muffin tin may be used. Fill each cup 1/2 full. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Do not open oven to help ensure the pop-overs rise completely. Reduce heat to 350° F. (The oven may now be opened to test for doneness.) Bake another 5 – 10 minutes or until the pop-overs are lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and immediately remove from custard cups/muffin tin.

The pop-overs baked more quickly than indicated in the original recipe, so I reduced the baking time.

Alcoholic Beverage Recipes a Hundred Years Ago

Source: The Blue Grass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox (1917 edition)

The 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors. It was ratified on January 16, 1919, and prohibition went into effect a year later. The hundredth anniversary of this event is a good time to take a look at recipes for alcoholic beverages from the 1910s.

Bathtub gin, speakeasies, and flappers would be on the scene soon, but in 1919 people were celebrating the move toward temperance. At the time when the 18th Amendment was ratified, it was widely supported throughout much of the U.S. This amendment was the culmination of many temperance efforts by individuals and organization during the preceding decades.

Cookbooks published during the 1910s mirrored the trends of the times – and most contained no recipes for alcoholic beverages with the occasional exception of a recipe or two for egg nog for invalids – cooking for invalids was a common topic in cookbooks of that era –  that called for adding a couple of tablespoons of whiskey or other liquor.

The one cookbook that I’ve found that contains numerous recipes for alcoholic beverages is a 1917 edition of a Kentucky cookbook called The Blue Grass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox. The two recipes included in this post are from that cookbook.

Hundred-year-old Little Pumpkin Pies Recipe

‘Tis the season for pumpkin desserts, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Little Pumpkin Pies, I knew that I had to give it a try.  Ginger and a small amount of molasses blend wonderfully with the pumpkin to create a lovely taste sensation. This recipe does not call for any cinnamon, but I never missed it.

So often dessert servings are huge. These Little Pumpkin Pies are perfect when something smaller is called for.

The old recipe suggested serving the Little Pumpkin Pies with whipped cream that is flavored with vanilla or almond extract. These pies are great by themselves – and probably would be fine with commercial whipped cream – but I highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to make homemade whipped cream. It really enhances the old-time goodness of these Little Pumpkin Pies.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Little Pumpkin Pies

  • Servings: about 15 2-inch pies (number varies depending upon size of pie tins)
  • Difficulty: moderate
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And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:


pie pastry (Enough for a 2-crust 9-inch pie – more may be needed if pre-rolled sheets are used. I re-rolled pastry scraps several times to make all of the small pie shells)

1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin*

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup half and half

Roll pastry dough and cut into pieces. Fit each piece into the small pie pans; trim and flute edges. (I used a fairly shallow muffin pan to make the small pies.)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine pumpkin, sugar, molasses, eggs, ginger, salt, butter, and half and half in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Spoon into pie crusts. Bake 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (for another 15-30 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of a pie comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Remove pies from pans. If desired, serve with whipped cream (see recipe below).

*Note: I used fresh pumpkin, but 3/4th of a can of pumpkin (14-16 oz. can) could be used. To prepare the fresh pumpkin for the pie, I peeled part of a pumpkin and cut it into one-inch cubes. About 1 3/4 cups of cubed pumpkin will make a cup of cooked pumpkin. I put the cubed pumpkin into a saucepan and covered it with water. I turned the heat to high and brought to a boil; I then reduced the heat to medium and cooked until tender (about 20 minutes). I drained the pumpkin and used my mixer to blend it until smooth. I then proceeded with the pie recipe.

Fresh pumpkin can also be roasted. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and membranes, then put it in the oven at 400° F. Bake for about an hour or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from oven. When the pumpkin has cooled, remove the pulp from the pumpkin shell. Use mixer, blender, or food processor to blend the chunks of pulp until smooth. Proceed with the pie recipe.

Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/8 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (I used vanilla)

Place the whipping cream in a bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar, and vanilla or almond extract. Continue beating until thoroughly mixed.

Old-fashioned Tomato and Nut Salad (Stuffed Tomato with Nut Salad)

The dog days of summer are upon us, but the good news is that delectable garden-fresh tomatoes are plentiful.  So I was thrilled to recently find a hundred-year-old recipe for Tomato and Nut Salad.  This is really a stuffed tomato recipe. The tomato is stuffed with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, walnuts, and green pepper, with a little mayonnaise for added flavor and to bind everything together. The crunchy stuffing reminds me of Waldorf salad – though that isn’t exactly an accurate description since there are no apples in this recipe.

The recipe calls for peeling the tomato. I almost skipped this step- but it’s worth doing. The peeled tomato has a lovely velvety surface which adds to the presentation.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

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

Tomato and Nut Salad (Stuffed Tomato with Nut Salad)

  • Servings: 1 serving per tomato
  • Difficulty: moderate
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For each serving use the following ingredients:

1 medium tomato

2 teaspoons walnuts, chopped

2 teaspoons green pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons mayonnaise

lettuce leaves, optional

Put a pan of water on the stove; bring to a boil. Drop the tomato into the water for about 15 seconds: remove from heat and gently slip the skin off the tomato.  Using a knife remove the stem end and the firm core from the tomato and discard. Scoop out the tomato pulp and seeds, place in a strainer and drain off any excess liquid. Place pulp in a bowl; add the walnuts and green pepper. Stir in the mayonnaise, then stuff the tomato with the mixture. If desired serve on lettuce leaves.

Old-fashioned Scalloped Cucumbers

Why do we almost always eat some vegetables raw, while others are typically cooked? I don’t have an answer, but I know that I was surprised when I recently saw a hundred-year-recipe for Scalloped Cucumbers. And, since it’s cucumber season, I decided to give the recipe a try.

The Scalloped Cucumbers were delightful. The cooked cucumbers still had a hint of crispness, and when mixed with onion slices in a creamy sauce, and topped with cheese and breadcrumbs, this makes a perfect vegetable side dish. Cucumbers are a  tasty vegetable . . . regardless of whether eaten raw or cooked.

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

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

Scalloped Cucumbers

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 large cucumbers

6 medium onions

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated*

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs*

Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel cucumbers, and quarter length-wise. Remove the seeds, and then dice the cucumbers into bite-sized chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (about 10 – 15 minutes). (Cucumbers are still somewhat firm even when cooked.)

Remove the skins from the onions, and then thinly slice. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (about 10 – 15 minutes).

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.

In a large buttered casserole dish, layer the white sauce, cucumbers, and onions. End with a layer of white sauce. Then sprinkle the grated cheese and breadcrumbs on the top. Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

*The original hundred-year-old recipe also indicated that nuts or cereal could be used as a topping.

I didn’t salt the water when I cooked the cucumbers and onions: instead I put some salt in the white sauce. And, I didn’t “butter and crumb” my casserole dish; I just buttered the dish. It worked fine with the crumbs just sprinkled on top of the dish.