Sunday, June 20, 2021

Summertime Eats from Yesteryear

Since it's hotter than Hades right now, I want to share some cool old-time summery recipes. (And one fiery one!) The salad recipes are from my mother's
Watkins Cook Book, published in 1936 by the J.R. Watkins Co. in Winona, Minnesota (price $1.00.) The other recipes come from The First Texas Cook Book, published in 1883 by women of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas.

Cherry Salad

Cherries, black or Royal Anne (red, similar to Rainier cherries)

Cream cheese

Nuts (I suggest pecans or walnuts chopped)

Lettuce, crisp


Select large black or Royal Anne cherries, wash, remove stones carefully, fill with cream cheese and nuts. Chill, serve on crisp lettuce with fruit salad dressing.


Fruit Juice Aspic

1 quart syrup from canned pineapple and canned white cherries
Juice of 3 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 box gelatin (plain)
1 cup cold water
Boiling water (I assume 1 cup)
Any cut fruit

Dissolve gelatin in cold water, then in boiling water. Mix with fruit syrup and juice. Let mixture come to boil. Pour into mold. Any fruit may be [added to mold]

Creamy Salad Dressing (For Fruit Salads)

½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. paprika
2 egg yolks & whites separated
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup whipped cream

 Add sifted dry ingredients to beaten egg yolks, add vinegar and butter. Cook in double boiler, stir until smooth and creamy. Remove from fire, when cool add stiffly beaten egg whites, beat over hot water. Chill. Before using, add whipped cream.

Stuffed Tomato Salad

Ripe tomatoes, chilled
Cooked sweetbreads or chicken
Celery, cut, crisp in ice water
½ cup blanched almonds
Mayonnaise dressing (amount unspecified)
Celery salt

Peel, cut off tops, scoop out center of tomatoes. Chill. Fill with blended mixture, serve on crisp lettuce.

Or use shredded cabbage, shredded pineapple, and diced cucumbers after placing in ice water and salt to crisp.

Now for the Texas recipes. They were not laid out like our modern ones, but I think you can get the gist of them.

Corn Fritters

Grate six ears of boiled corn, beat the yelks (yolks) of three eggs, and mix with the corn; add two even tablespoons of flour, season with pepper and salt, add the whites of three eggs beaten to a stiff froth. Fry in hot lard; serve upon a napkin laid on a flat dish. (Fancy!)

Saratoga Potatoes

Peel and slice on a slaw-cutter into cold water, wash thoroughly and drain, spread between the folds of a clean cloth, rub and pat dry. Fry a few at a time in boiling lard, salt as you take out.

Saratoga potatoes are often eaten cold. They can be prepared three or four hours before needed, and if kept in a warm place they will be crisp and nice. Can be used for garnishing game and steak.

Stuffed Eggs

Boil some eggs hard, remove the shells, and cut them in half lengthwise, take out the yelks, mash then fine and season with butter, pepper and salt, chop some cold boiled ham fine and mix with the yelks, fill the halved whites with this mixture and put them in a pan, set in the oven and brown slightly.

Filé Gumbo (Hot stuff!)

Brown a tablespoon of flour, put in a pot with quarter of a tablespoon of hot grease and two sliced onions, add to this a large slice of ham, also chicken, turkey or young veal cut up; fill the pot with boiling water and let the contents boil about two hours. A minute or two before serving add a pint of drained oyster liquor and 50 to 100 oysters, also a pod of red pepper. When ready to serve, after having poured the gumbo into a tureen, stir in in a spoonful of filé. Have rice cooked dry to serve with it.

*Filé powder is a seasoning made from the ground, dried leaves of the sassafras tree. It's an integral part of Creole cooking, and is used to thicken and flavor Gumbos and other Creole dishes.

If you think these recipes require a lot of work, you’re right. In the old days, women spent much more time preparing food than most of us do today.

If you have a favorite summer recipe you would like to share, I'd love to read it. Please post it in your comments.

Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense novels, all spiced with sensual romance. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and three very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged babies.

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Website:  Lyn Horner’s Corner 

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  1. These recipes sound delicious. I didn't know what File was until this, Lyn, even though I've used it many times. This is a post to save! Thank you.

  2. Lyn, I love this post, especially the fruit recipes and dressing. Also, I recently discovered that hard-boiled eggs were called "stuffed" eggs and were featured at picnics in much the same way as they are today.


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