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

Old Fried Winter Squash Recipe

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

Tuesday, October 17, 1911: Not so very much to write about. It is raining tonight.

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

On days when Grandma wrote little, I often wish that she’d somehow known that someone would be reading the diary a hundred years later who wanted to know more about the mundane, routine aspects of her life—like what did her family eat for supper on a rainy evening in October?

Since she didn’t tell us what they ate, I’ll take a guess–

When I was growing up we often ate fried winter squash during the fall and winter. My sense is that this is a very traditional Pennsylvania food that Grandma would have eaten when she was young:

Fried Winter Squash

3/4  pound winter squash (butternut, hubbard, etc.), peeled and thinly sliced (approximate)

Lard or other shortening

salt and pepper

Melt shortening in skillet. It should be about 1/4 inch deep. Put 1 layer of squash in pan. Cook for about 5 minutes; turn squash with a fork. Cook  another 5 – 8 minutes; or until squash is tender. Remove squash from pan and drain on paper towels. Put on serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

My husband and I really enjoy this recipe. It is very simple—and it really brings out the wonderful taste of the squash. The amounts are very flexible for this recipe. I usually slice enough squash to cover the bottom of the skillet.

In Grandma’s day they would have fried the squash in lard, but shortening works just fine.

I use butternut squash when I make this recipe—but butternut squash (somewhat surprisingly to me, since it’s so ubiquitous today) was not widely available until the 1940s. A hundred years ago, they probably used hubbard squash, Long Island cheese squash (this is a white squash that looks sort of like a pumpkin), or other traditional variety.