Old-Fashioned Fried Summer Squash Recipe

Today summer squash is often streamed or grilled, but once or twice each summer I fry it.  So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Summer Squash.

When I make fried squash, I generally “bread” it with flour. The old recipe called for actual bread crumbs.  The bread crumbs are a nice twist to this classic comfort food.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

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

Yellow summer squash  or zucchini could be used in this recipe. I used yellow straightneck squash to more authentically replicate the hundred-year-old recipe. According to Wikipedia, “the first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s.” Since this cookbook was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917, the cookbook author won’t have used zucchini.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Summer Squash

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 small summer squash

salt and pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, slight beaten

shortening or cooking oil

Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper,  dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying skillet. When hot, carefully place the breaded squash slices in the skillet in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the squash slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each slice is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Some of the breading will fall off the squash during cooking. This is okay, the remaining breading is enough to make an attractive and tasty dish.

The old recipe calls for coating the squash slices with bread crumbs, both before and after dipping in egg. When I made this recipe very few bread crumbs clung to the squash slices prior to dipping it in the egg – so I skipped this step when updated the recipe. It works fine to only coat with bread crumbs after dipping in the eggs.

Old-Fashioned Squash (Yeast) Bread

squash-bread

Have you ever “hidden” vegetables in food to get your kids to eat healthier? I thought that hiding vegetables was a recent trend, but when I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Squash Bread, I discovered that cooks have been hiding vegetables for a long time.

The Squash Bread had a rustic artesian look, a nice texture, and a sunny yellow tinge – but I couldn’t taste the squash in it. It just tasted like the typical homemade bread.

The verdict: If you want to hide vegetables in bread this recipe is worth a try; otherwise, just stick with your usual bread recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

2 packages dry yeast

5-6 cups flour

1 cup pureed winter squash (Butternut squash works well in this recipe.)

1 tablespoon shortening (or lard)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Scald milk by heating in a sauce pan until the milk begins to steam and form bubbles; use medium heat and stir occasionally. Remove from heat before it comes to a boil. Let the scalded milk cool until it is lukewarm, then dissolve the yeast in the milk.

Put 2 cups flour, squash, shortening, butter, sugar,  salt, and the water and yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place in a greased bowl. Cover; let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased loaf pans, 9″ X 5″ X 3″, and cover. Let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Bake loaves in 400° F. oven for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

I always find old-time bread recipes particularly difficult to interpret because modern yeast is so different from what it was a hundred years ago. Back then it was not dried like the yeast that we generally use today. I guessed that 2 packages of dried yeast would be the equivalent of 1/2 cup (1/2 yeast cake) back then. This substitution worked just fine when I made this recipe.

Baked Acorn Squash with Molasses

baked acorn squash with molasses

Each Fall my husband and I drive out into the country to see the leaves – and to buy pumpkins and winter squash. There’s a farmer who sells incredible produce directly from a farm wagon – and each year we worry that his tiny roadside market will be gone.

But this year (like every year), just when we were sure we won’t find his wagon, we went around a bend and there it was–and the selection of pumpkins and squash was the best it’s ever been. We stocked up on lots of Fall produce. Right now most of the squash are on our front porch with the pumpkins, but I decided to use an acorn squash immediately – which leads me to the point of this post. I needed to find a hundred-year-old recipe for acorn squash.

I browsed through my old cookbooks and found a delightful recipe for baked squash which called for molasses.

The recipe worked perfectly with my acorn squash. The savory nuttiness of the squash is enhanced by the rustic sweetness of the molasses.

baked-squash-w-molassas-recipe

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks.

Baked Acorn Squash with Molasses

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 acorn squash

approximately 1 tablespoon molasses

salt and pepper

approximately 1 tablespoon butter 

Preheat oven to 400° F. Depending upon squash size, halve or quarter the acorn squash to create serving-sized pieces. Remove seeds and the stringy portion. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil to make clean-up easier. Brush with molasses, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. While baking, baste 2 or 3 times with additional molasses. After the squash is removed from the oven put a small dab on butter in the middle of each squash piece.

Honey-Glazed Squash

Honey-glazed Squash

The farmer’s market has oodles of awesome squash—butternut, hubbard, acorn, and lots of other wonderful varieties whose names I don’t know. It’s time to make Honey-Glazed Squash.

This old-time recipe contains not only honey, but also lemon juice and ground mace. The lemon juice gives lovely citrus undertones to the honey which mingles with the delicate flavor of the mace.

If desired, chopped walnuts can be mixed with the squash for added flavor and crunchiness.

If you are looking for a recipe for candied, squash, this IS NOT the recipe for you. But if you want a classic recipe for a rich, but sophisticated glaze, that is unexpectedly flavorful, you’ll love it.

Honey Glazed Squash

2 cups winter squash (butternut, hubbard, etc.) –pared and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon ground mace

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Put cubed squash in a saucepan and cover with water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until just barely tender (about 12-15 minutes); then thoroughly drain the squash.

Meanwhile in another pan, melt the butter; then stir in the honey, lemon juice, and mace. Using medium heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the liquid simmers. Cook until the liquid begins to thicken into a honey syrup (about 8-10 minutes). If desired, add the walnuts. Add the drained squash cubes to the syrup, and gently turn the cubes to coat with the honey glaze. Place glazed squash in a serving bowl.

3 servings

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Any type of winter squash can be used for this recipe, but here is the squash that I used.  Can you help me identify it? It cooked up beautifully–the cooked pieces were tender, but retained their shape well.

At the farmer’s market, it was in a group of squash—all which had long crooked necks—that were labeled as butternut squash. However, the butternut squash every other producer was selling had much shorter necks.

This squash probably weighed about 5 or 6 pounds. I have a very vague memory of a squash called the Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck squash that we grew when I was I child which I think looked similar to this. But this squash was smaller than what I remember them being. So I’m confused. Is it a butternut squash? . . . Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck squash? . . . something else?

Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 24, 1913:  Nothing much continues.

DSC08305

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma, I know that you were writing the diary for yourself . . .and that nothing much happened, AGAIN.

But for those of us glancing over your shoulder a hundred years later we care about even the little things like, what did you eat for dinner?

It’s getting to be Fall, maybe you ate winter squash from the garden.  . . . and if it was a small squash perhaps it was stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Here’s a recipe I often use to stuff acorn squash. It’s not an authentic hundred-year-old recipe—they definitely wouldn’t have had sliced American cheese back then—but I like it and it gives a sense of how people used miscellaneous fall vegetables and other common ingredients to stuff squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Delicata or other small winter squash can be substituted for the acorn squash.

1 acorn squash

1/4 pound ground beef

1/2 cup celery

1/4 cup onion

3 slices American cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

butter

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Halve and seed squash. Place cut side down in shallow baking pan; pour approximately 1/2 inch very warm water in pan around squash. Bake until tender—about 1 1/4 hours.*

About 10-15 minutes before the squash has completed cooking, brown ground beef in skillet. Add celery and onion; cook until tender. Add cheeses and stir constantly just until cheese melts. Turn squash up on serving dish; dot with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then fill cavity with meat mixture.

*Or squash can be microwaved until tender—about 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

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Old Squash Muffins Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, November 13, 1912:  Nothing of any account seems to be happening around here, so I can’t write much.

Here are the squash muffins I made.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Another slow day for Grandma—the total opposite from my life.

I’m bustling around getting ready for Thanksgiving—cleaning the house and planning the menu for the big day.

I recently flipped through the November, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal looking for recipes that might be good this Thanksgiving.

Here’s a keeper I found for Squash Muffins. I tested them yesterday—and plan to make them again for Thanksgiving.

They’re delicious served warm with butter—and have a lovely, delicate taste. However, they are less sweet and heavier than many modern muffins, so I had to set aside my preconceived notions and just enjoy their old-fashioned goodness.

And, here is the picture of Squash Muffins in the November, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Here’s the recipe—slightly adapted for modern stoves and ingredients.

Squash Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put two-thirds of a cupful of cooked squash into a bowl, then add a quarter of a cupful of sugar, two well-beaten eggs, two cupfuls  of flour, half a teaspoonful of salt, three teaspoonfuls of baking powder and three tablespoonsfuls of melted butter. Mix well and bake in well-greased muffin pans for approximately twenty minutes. If these muffins are intended for a luncheon or a tea, a quarter of a teaspoonful of powdered ginger may be added.

Makes approximately 18 muffins

I added ginger—even though we ate the muffins at dinner.

I used hubbard squash, but butternut or other winter squash (or canned/frozen squash) would also work. I peeled and cubed about 1 1/2 cups of squash and boiled in water in a pan on the stove for about 15 minutes. I then drained the squash, mashed and measured out two-thirds of a cup to use in the recipe.

Hubbard Squash Soup Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, November 16, 1911: Nothing important.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today I’m going to go off on a tangent –

My husband and I recently were out in the country and saw a farmer selling pumpkins, squash and other produce from a far. There were two large hubbard squash on the wagon. I immediately knew that I had to have one of them.

The farmer was surprised when I purchased it. He said that few people bought hubbard squash anymore.  He said that the previous year he’d sold none—and my purchase was his first hubbard squash sale this year.

He continued, “Old people buy them once in a while. Young people think they are some type of big gourd.”

(I hope he wasn’t insinuating that I’m old. Middle aged: yes; old: no)

Are hubbard squash really an almost archaic food?  . . .a food from Grandma’s day that people seldom eat now?

Here’s my favorite hubbard squash recipe.  It’s probably not a hundred-year-old recipe—but it’s a good way to use an old-time squash.

This soup is excellent, and I make it several times every Fall.

Hubbard Squash Soup

3 cups hubbard squash pulp (approx. 1/2 hubbard squash)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

5 cups chicken broth

2 ham hocks

1 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon thyme

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To get squash pulp, cut hubbard squash in half; remove seeds and membranes. Unless the squash is very small, only 1/2 of squash (or even less) will be needed to get 3 cups of pulp. [An aside: The squash in the photo is very large–and I needed to use less than a quarter of it to get 3 cups]. Put squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up.  Bake the squash for 45-60 minutes or until tender. The squash meat will start to become dark. This is okay.  Scrape squash out of the shell, and measure 3 cups of squash for use in this recipe.

Put olive oil in large pot. Heat using medium heat and then add celery, onion, and garlic; cook until tender. Add chicken broth, squash, ham hocks, honey, and thyme. Simmer for 45 minutes. Pull the ham hock out and dice any meat. Return meat to soup; cool slightly Puree soup in a blender until smooth.  Return to pan, and add cream and milk. Reheat soup, then serve.

Yield: 9 servings