Tag Archives: vintage cookbook

Sick Food: Barley Water For Invalids

No, not food that is sick. Food you eat when you are sick, like barley water.  A better term is the chapter heading in one of my vintage cookbooks: “Invalid Cookery.”

1925 Cook Book

1925 Cook Book Cover

I had noticed this intriguing chapter title in the 1925 book, The Home Makers’ Cooking School Cook Book by Jessie M. DeBoth (cover title: Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book).  This book, which qualifies as an heirloom, belonged to my great aunt, Maud Stout Bartlett.  As I’ve explained before, a number of newspapers across the country carried Miss DeBoth’s column on cookery, and each published a book of recipes, putting their own name on the cover.

I’ve had a cold that knocked me down this past week, and I kept thinking if I had the energy to get up, I’d cook something from the chapter on “Invalid Cookery.”  Now I’m back up and at the computer, and still feeling the need of comfort food, although not feeling good enough to actually cook anything complicated..

Sick Child

Child in Sick bed, photo from The London Blitz, 1940, Photo by Cecil Beaton, public domain

We all have our sick food favorites, some the same from childhood. Mine include Vernor’s ginger ale (it has to be Vernor’s and if I have to explain why, you’re not from the mid-West); pudding of any kind, but particularly rice pudding; tea with lemon juice and honey; white bread toast to dunk in the tea–or spread with applesauce. Soup and club crackers. It has now been scientifically proven that chicken soup actually IS good for you when you’re ill.

From Mrs. DeBoth’s Cook Book

Back to the book. The introduction to the chapter “Invalid Cookery” is preachy and thorough– as is every chapter introduction in this book. It encourages the housewife by saying,

Caring for the invalid falls to the lot of a large majority of homemakers at some time.  Very often the homemaker has much to do with the recovery of the invalid.  Special foods must be cooked, appetites must be coaxed back to normal, and the patient must be catered to in every possible way.

That is a proposition that I am sure every husband would agree to, and every homemaker might wonder just who was going to “cater to [ME when I get sick]..in every possible way.”

Not only must you prepare the right food, but the appearance of the food affects the appetite.

Sick person breakfast tray

From American Food Roots website.
In “Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent,” Fannie Merritt Farmer called for setting a pretty breakfast tray to stimulate the appetite. / Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co. and the USDA National Agricultural Library

A simple dish of pudding can be made to look so attractive that the person for whom it is intended will be glad to take it no matter what it is.  Daintiness is of primary importance.  The tray must be attractive.  The portions should be small.  A large serving may look so overwhelming that the patient will not try to eat it.  When hot liquids are served, they should be brought in a covered pitcher to be kept hot.  By pouring it in the room, there is not the danger of spilling in carrying.  Nothing so quickly mars the appearance of a tray as a saucer into which some of the liquid of the cup has been spilled.

Oh, dear! Heaven forfend that I should slop some liquid into a saucer!

Monotony should be avoided, even if only the garnish on the food is changed.  When the diet is so limited that great variation is not possible, it sometimes helps to change the dishes with which the patient is served.  A bit of parsley in place of other garnish makes the plate look a little different.  Cress, too, makes an attractive garnish.

The author of this book, does not apparently have a high opinion of the brain power of the reader.

Special care should be taken that no liquid food is ever served in the glass which has contained medicine.  Even if the glass has been thoroughly washed, it may have a slightly unpleasant taste or odor.

Okay, got it! Be dainty. Don’t spill stuff. Add some parsley. Don’t put the lemonade in the paregoric glass. But what should I prepare?  Some suggestions sounds okay, but some just sounds downright weird.

Rennet

When I was a child, and my children were small, I made rennet custard.  My vintage cook book calls for Junket tablets in an eggnog, which sounds awfully good, but I didn’t have any Junket (a brand name) rennet tablets on hand, so I couldn’t try that.

Barley Water

Nor did I have pearl barley on hand for barley water.  (See UPDATE below) But I know that barley water was a headliner in feeding injured soldiers during the Civil War, and it hung on into the twenties. By the way, have you been watching Mercy Street on PBS? Set in a Civil War hospital, where the head nurse spends quite a bit of time worrying about what the soldiers are eating.

In case you want to try it:

  • 2 Tablespoons pearl barley
  • 1 Quart cold water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A little sugar if desired.

Wash the barley, pour the water over it and soak for several hours.  Add salt and cook in a double boiler for at least three hours.  Strain through cheese cloth or a fine strainer, flavor with lemon, and add sugar if desired.

Note: Most current day recipes call for cooking barley for 45 minutes–but that is for eating it as a grain. Also, pearl barley has had a lot of the nutrients removed (which apparently Ms. DeBoth hadn’t caught on to, so its benefit to invalids is a bit questionable.)

The Book of Household Management by Mrs. Beeton has a similar recipe for barley water , but a more intriguing one proposes barley gruel made with red wine. Mrs. Beeton’s book, published just before the Civil War, must have been quite influential. I found her book at the intriguing site called Ex-Classics and from another site that contains her whole book, Mrs. Beeton.com.

Mrs. Beeton’s barley water recipe.

INGREDIENTS – 2 oz. of pearl barley, 2 quarts of boiling water, 1 pint of cold water.

Mode.—Wash the barley in cold water; put it into a saucepan with the above proportion of cold water, and when it has boiled for about 1/4 hour, strain off the water, and add the 2 quarts of fresh boiling water. Boil it until the liquid is reduced one half; strain it, and it will be ready for use. It may be flavoured with lemon-peel, after being sweetened, or a small piece may be simmered with the barley. When the invalid may take it, a little lemon-juice gives this pleasant drink in illness a very nice flavour.

Time.—To boil until the liquid is reduced one half.

Sufficient to make 1 quart of barley-water.

UPDATE: I could not stand the suspense, so finally got out to buy some pearl barley and try making barley water.  I used Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, because it sounded a little more logical to me.  The tiny amount of barley in relation to the water, gives the barley water a pinkish-brown hue. I got just over a quart of liquid at the end.  I added to one glass, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of sugar (channeling my grandmother Vera Anderson who would put the maximum amount of sugar in anything).  Neither of the recipes specify drinking it warm or cold, but I drank it cold, thinking that would be more soothing for a sore throat.

 It really is not bad. You get a bit of the flavor of the grain, plus the lemon and slight sweetness.

Medieval Recipe for Barley Water

Finally, if you want to go back to Medieval days for a recipe for Barley Water for Invalids:

This is an excerpt from Libre del Coch
(Spain, 1520 – Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)
94. Barley-water for Invalids. You will take barley and cook it the night before, according to the quantity that you wish to make. Then take a pullet or cockerel, and break its bones and then make a pot boil with water that is clean; and moderately, in such a manner that when you cast in the pullet or cockerel, the water only covers it; and [this is] if it is little, of necessity you will have to cast in more water if the pullet is larger, and it is necessary that it cooks longer; and it must cook or boil constantly, and never cease to boil. And do not cast in salt until the last, when you know that there is no more than a dishful of broth, because it will be more flavorful. And having done this, after the patient has supped, you will take a few peeled almonds and grind them with a little of the white meat of the pullet in a mortar; and blend them with the broth of the cockerel or pullet; and when you have strained it, put this milk in a little pot; and if you wish, cast in a tiny bit of starch; you can cast it in at the same time as the milk; and then take the barley or ordio when it is cooked, and take a hemp-tow which should not be very thin, and put it in that ordio or barley, and press down the hemp-tow very well, in such a manner that all the liquor comes out of the barley; then take that milk that you removed, and strain it through a sieve, in such a manner that little of the starch passes through it; and then strain everything again, the barley and all; and it should be a little clear and thin. Because in resting overnight it will turn thick. And I wish to say this now: let it cook the night before with sugar; and in the morning, when the patient is going to drink it, make it boil a little, and that will make it of great benefit; and when you give this barley-water, cast a little sugar over the dish; and if you don’t wish to cast in starch, do not cast it in, [and see] that nothing goes into it.

The things you can find on the Internet!!

What I Will Not Cook

I’m going to pause here, but promise that I’ll bring you some more–but probably NOT “Toast water” (a piece of stale bread soaked in boiling water). And NOT Irish moss (it’s a seaweed and is controversial because it is the source of carrageen which some health experts warn against.) So while cold and flue season is still upon us, I’ll be back with more Invalid Cookery in the future.

Source in addition to those linked above: A Manual for Invalid Cookery. (1880) (available on line)

Hutty Cutty Ginger Cookies

Yes, I know Halloween is past, but….

When I discovered that I had not put any gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes on Ancestors in Aprons, I realized what a serious oversight that was.  Gingerbread was a very early type of cookie* , and with the holidays coming, we want to find the best possible recipe for gingerbread boys. Today it is Hutty Cutty Cookies.

Ginger Cookies

Ginger Cookies decorated for Halloween

Stay tuned–this week, a recipe from the 1920’s America, next week, a German spice mixture for Gingerbread cookies, and the following week a genuine Ginger Cookie recipe from Germany that utilizes that special spice mixture.

I flipped through my go-to old recipe book**–the one that belonged to my Great Aunt Maude–and found not one but SEVERAL Ginger cookie recipes–Ginger Snaps, Soft Ginger Cookies, Molasses Wafers, Ginger Bolivars (like Ginger Snaps except with molasses instead of sugar), not to mention ginger cake and four kinds of ginger bread and Ginger Gems.

But the one I could not resist had the puzzling name of Hutty Cutty Ginger Cookies. What or who is Hutty Cutty? Beats me. Beats Google, too.  The closest I found to an answer was a letter to a Chicago newspaper asking about a children’s story from the 20s called Hutty Cutty. Sounds like a likely source, and if your researching skills are better than mine, PLEASE let me know who/what Hutty Cutty is and what it/he/she has to do with Ginger Cookies.

I like to compare lots of more modern recipes before baking or cooking an old recipe, and in this case I learned something from Joy of Cooking that I have somehow missed all these years.  Instead of rolling the cookies out on a floured cloth or sheet of whatever and transferring them to the pan–roll them out on a lightly-greased pan and cut them there. What a revelation!  It worked just great for these cookies.  Just don’t try it on a pan coated to be stick-proof, or you’ll damage the coating.

Although I don’t include the frosting in the recipe below, I frosted these with a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze (just mix in drops of water until you get the texture you want) and then sprinkled with orange sugar and made faces with one of those little tubes of decorating gel. It doesn’t go far and is rather expensive, so I’d recommend making your own, or dipping a toothpick in melted chocolate for the face on the jack-o-lantern.

Gingerbread Hutty Cutty Cookies

Serves 30+
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Halloween, Thanksgiving
From book Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book
Control the spiciness and make them soft or crispy--delicious gingerbread cookies.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups sugar ((white or brown))
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/8 cups molasses
  • 3/8 cups honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoons ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/4 cups flour

Directions

1. Whisk together flour, soda, baking powder and spices
2. Melt butter over low heat. Meanwhile, beat eggs. Let butter get cool and add, eggs and sweeteners.
3. Add flour mixture. Stir well. Put bowl in refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.
4. When ready to bake, either roll and cut shapes, or form balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes--more if you like them crispier.

Note

I made quite a few changes in the original recipe for Hutty Cutty Gingerbread Cookies from the Buffalo Cooking School Cook Book. First I cut it in 1/4 because the original called for 14 or 15 cups of flour, which would have had me baking all day! I used more flour than called for, because their proportions resulted in a very sticky mass. They did not suggest refrigerating the dough, so I don't know how you could roll it.

I changed the method of mixing, rather than creaming the butter and sugar, melting the butter and all the sweeteners blends them better in my opinion.

You control the spice mix. I added a bit of ground cloves to kick up the spiciness, and you can adjust as you like.  I also used brown sugar although the original recipe did not specify brown.

You also control crispiness by how thin you make the cookies and how long you cook them.  I rolled my cookies to slightly over 1/8" for cutting and baked just over 20 minutes (stoves vary, so you'll just have to keep an eye on them).  Mine came out soft, but not cakey, and have stayed a nice soft texture for several days.

The pumpkin cut-out cookies in the picture are approximately 3 1/2 " wide and I got 30 cookies, plus scraps to make a half dozen smaller round cookies besides.

The spice taste kicks up a bit after they have been stored in an air tight container for a while.

*For more history of cookies see the Kindle edition of Cookie: A Love Story: Fun Facts, Delicious Stories, Fascinating History, Tasty Recipes, and More About Our Most Beloved Treat, by Brette Sember.

**Still available from used book dealers:The Home Makers’ Cooking School Cook Book (It was apparently published by many newspapers, those who carried the author’s columns)

Note:  The links here lead to Amazon, because I am an Amazon affiliate. If you buy anything through those links, even though it costs you no more, I make a few cents to support Ancestors, and I thank you for your support.

 

German Warm Potato Salad (Warm)

I make cold “picnic” potato salad often. My family loves it. (So do I). But I have never made as much potato salad as I did last week.  A forgotten bag of potatoes in my pantry was starting to sprout. I should know better than to buy potatoes by the bag.

potatoesSo, following my trend of thinking of my waste-not-want-not ancestors in aprons, I got to work making potato salad.  All those potatoes in one big cold potato salad would get very boring, though, so I made the German warm  potato salad that I do not make quite as frequently.  I usually turn to my favorite old Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but decided to look for something a little different.

I dug out a thoroughly dilapidated spiral-bound cookbook from my mother’s Home Ec teaching days. Harriette Anderson Kaser taught many subjects, but when I was in high school she was teaching home economics and all my friends took her class. I didn’t. Instead, ironically, I went home and started dinner.

Home Ec teachers got lots of product books, like the Joys of Jell-o book I’ve used here before. Their national organization also pulled together cookbooks featuring favorite recipes of the teachers across the nation.  My copy of Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads has been used so much that the cover and the first few pages are missing, as well as the last pages of the index and the back cover.


This image is from Amazon, and says it was published in 1964. I thought it was a bit older, but this must be the same book. Click on the image if you would like to purchase your own.

There are some really strange recipes in here, along with an endless variety of old favorites like bean salad or carrot salad or chicken salad. It is a source of endless experimentation for the curious cook.

I was looking for an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch warm potato salad recipe that my German Ancestors might make.  The one I found, did come from Pennsylvania and seemed authentic except that it included olives, which did not strike me as a food that German immigrants would have at hand.  I substituted dill pickle, which they could have on their canning shelves.  Warning–if you don’t like vinegar–like my friend Kerry Dexter, who commented on the Sauerbraten recipe–you’re not going to like this sweet and sour, warm potato salad. But, hey! It has BACON.

Note: I did not include a picture, because next to cooked oatmeal, this is about the least photogenic food I can think of.

German Recipe: Pennsylvania Dutch Warm Potato Salad

Serves 12
Allergy Egg
Meal type Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region German
From book Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads

Ingredients

  • 10 medium potatoes (cooked in jackets)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced)
  • 4 medium slices bacon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 dill pickle (diced)

Directions

1. Dice potatoes (peel if you want, or leave skin on).
2. Combine diced potatoes with onions and celery and set aside.
3. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble into the potato mixture.
4. Stir flour into bacon grease and mix to make a paste. (Adding more if necessary).
5. Combine eggs, sugar, dry mustard, salt and pepper with water and vinegar. Stir into bacon-flour paste.
6. Cook sauce over low heat until thick. Pour over potato mixture and mix lightly. Stir in dill pickles and gently add hard-cooked eggs.
7. Sprinkle with paprika or parsley. Serve while warm, or refrigerate to marinate for several hours, then either reheat or serve chilled.

Note

The recipe in the book called for carrots and I skipped those. I also do not eat onions, so left out the onions, with no loss. I substituted dill pickle for olives.

I also used less sugar than called for (1 cup) because I felt that left it too sugary.

The recipe was contributed by home economics teacher Mrs. Sandra Mock, Pequea Valley High School, Kinzers, Pennsylvania

Reminder: You can find an index of some of my favorite cookbooks–vintage and not–on their own special page: Food Books that Stir Family Memories.