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Cooking in the Early 1900s

May 24, 2013, 3:34 pm

Our store manager, Eldon Horner, stumbled on a vintage cookbook that caught his eye. The Inglenook Cook Book was published in 1922 and is a collection of recipes contributed by the women of the Church of the Brethen, and subscribers and friends of the Inglenook Magazine.

The Inglenook was a weekly magazine founded in 1900. It was geared toward the education and entertainment of youth. A description of the day reads thus: “Its pages are clean, its articles instructive, and it is a fitting companion for the spare moments of the schoolboy and the gray beard.” It only cost one dollar for a whole year. Subscribers received a free copy of the cookbook.

About the Inglenook Cookbook
The cookbook was meant to appeal to Brethren families, still mostly rural, who wanted substantial meals simply and tastefully prepared, and was a best seller of its time. (Buy the book!)

Reading this book is like stepping back a century and imagining oneself on a farm in an early 1900s kitchen with a wood-burning cook stove. If you walk out the back door the barn is 50 feet away and a few chickens might scatter as you head over to the well to get a bucket of fresh, cold water.

It was taken for granted that ladies knew certain things about cooking, such as the temperature of the oven (moderate), what it means to dress a squirrel, what sweet milk is, and just how to mix ingredients (put all together). Cookbooks nowadays take nothing for granted in case the reader is not a seasoned cook, and spells out even the most rudimentary directions.

Families of this era ate well judging by the recipes in this book. They did not eat a low-fat diet and did not worry about carbs. But life on the farm was full of physical labor and they probably worked hard, using up all those calories.

Here are a few recipes and menus taken from the cookbook.

Asparagus Soup

Take a large bunch of asparagus, scrape it nicely, cut off one inch of the tops and lay them in water. Chop the stalks and put them on the fire with a piece of bacon, a large onion cut up, and pepper and salt. Add two quarts of water and boil till stalks are quite soft, then put through a sieve, strain the water to it and put back into the pot. Put into it a chicken, cut up with the tops of asparagus, boil until done, thicken with flour, add butter and milk and serve.
From Sister Amy V. Furry, from Johnsville, Maryland

Corn Soup

Put on a little water in a pan or skillet (so your milk will not burn so easily), then put in 3 or 4 pints of good sweet milk, pepper and butter. Add one can of corn and when it boils once, take off and salt to taste. Eat with crackers.
From Sister L. Clannin of Hicksville, Washington


Break 6 eggs into a tin cup and fill the cup up with water; add a little salt and mix flour in it to make a stiff dough.
From Sister D.W. Inman From Bradford, Ohio

Squirrel Croquettes

Dress squirrel ready to cook, cook until meat will fall off the bones, then let cool; work out the bones with the hands, and chop meat fine; season with a little salt, pepper and sage; make into cakes. Roll in corn meal and fry in butter.
From Sister Effie I. House of Montserrat, Missouri

Cellar Buns

Take 1 pint of potato beer, the same as you use for baking bread, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 3 tablespoonfuls of lard, ½ teaspoonful of salt. Put all together,  mix the same as for bread, put in the cellar to rise and then work out into small cakes. Set them again in the cellar to rise and when very light bake in a moderate oven until nice and brown. From Sister Emma Fisher from Baltic, Ohio

Baked Beans

Look over and wash 3 cupfuls of beans and put to soak over night in plenty of water. As soon as fire is kindled in the morning put them in a pan, pot or closely sealed kettle, add 1 pound of salt pork or bacon (salt pork is best), 1 teaspoonful of ground mustard, 1 teaspoonful of black pepper, 1 teasponful of soda, 1 teasponful of salt, 2 tablespoonfuls of cooking molasses, 1 tablsepoonful of sugar and 1 pint of water. Bake from four to six hours, adding more water if necessary. They should be a rich brown and moist when done.
From Sister M. Cooney, Enders, Nebraska

Head Cheese

Wash as many hog’s heads as you wish, scrape clean, take out eyes, put in kettle with sufficient water cover and keep water over the top till the meat begins to drop from the bones. Set off the fire and let cool. When cold enough to put bare hands in, put in a pan, then with your hands take out all the bones; to each gallon of meat allow 1 tablespoonful of pepper, 2 teaspoonfuls of ground sage, 1 teaspoonful of salt, with the hands squeeze all up together, taking out all the lumps that will mash up, then mold in dish or granite pan and set in a cool place; when cold slice in thin slices and serve.
From sister Sarah Hayes, Rural, Oregon

Tomato Mush

Take as many tomatoes as you desire for a meal, peel and slice them in a dish, then crumb up as much bread as you have tomatoes. Put in a skillet a large piece of butter, put put it on the stove and let brown, then stir the crumbled bread into it, then the tomatoes. Stir until the tomatoes are done; season with salt, pepper and sugar. When done, pour over them ½ cupful of sweet cream. Take up and serve.
From Sister Sara Miller, Sabetha, Kansas

Mountain Dew Pudding

Take 1 pint of milk, yolks of 2 eggs, 2 tablespoonfuls cocoanut, ½ cup rolled crackers, 1 teaspoonful lemon extract, and a little sugar. Bake half hour. Make a frosting of whites of 2 eggs and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Brown in oven. From Sister Etta Eckerle, Lanark, Illinois

Menu by Sister Gay McDannel Nill from Hollister, Oklahoma

Breakfast food
Fried eggs
Buns, Butter, Jelly
Postum and cream
Stewed chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes
Rice (cooked in chicken broth)
Fried Potatoes
Sliced Tomatoes

Menu by Sister Olive O. Ball from Belleville, Kansas

Oatmeal and cream
Breakfast bacon
Fried Potatoes
Scrambled eggs
Bread and butter
Cured pork with mashed potatoes, scalloped corn
Bread, butter, plum preserves, pickles
Apple pie
Scalloped potatoes
Bread and butter with jelly
Canned peaches

Some handwritten recipes were inside the book including one for easy soap. Pass the lye and grease please! Note the excellent penmanship, something that is becoming rare these days.



And finally, read what the ladies recommend for a toothache. Rural dentists must have been scarce!

Posted by at 3:34 pm
Add Comment Add Comment (1 comment)


May 27, 2013 9:00am
Olivia Leyton

How fun!! How i would love to have some fresh 'head cheese', but wouldn't have the gumption to make it myself. The squirrel croquette sounds delicious, actually...
They sure did eat well back then, and i bet the pickles were nicely fermented. As for clove oil for dental maintenance, i use clove oil i make as a mouth wash..(haven't tried cloroform or is it phyll? anyways..)best ever for getting rid of gum irritations, etc.



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