Old recipes for present-day appetite

In September, Flora VerStraten-Merrin, president of the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, held a picnic where members were to bring a recipe that had been served in their family since childhood or earlier.

Three recipes that got particular notice were sent from VerStraten-Merrin, Virginia Glenn and JoAnne Stives and will be published in this space.

I have a Rumford Complete Cookbook, with the first publication in 1908 and the book I have published in 1946. It has definitions of terms used in cookery in the early days, and there are not many of these particular words still in use today.

Did you know that a soup or stew served with young spring vegetables is called a la printaniere? How about aspic? That is seldom heard anymore, but I remember making it in home economics class. It was a gelatin of spiced tomato juice placed in a mold with shrimp or fresh vegetables in the center when it was unmolded.

Bombe is a combination of two frozen mixtures molded together, one used as the lining, the other as the center of the mold. Farci is a word used for stuffing or dressing put inside another food. Jardiniere means a combination of mixed vegetables, and macedoine is a mixture of vegetables or fruits.

Roux is a word chefs and skilled cooks know today but not the young cooks and bakers. It is a cooked mixture of butter and flour for thickening soups, sauces and gravies.

Salmi is not salami spelled wrong. It is an old word for a rich stew of game, half roasted, then cut up and cooked in a sauce. Vol-au-ent is a large size pate-shell filled with creamed chicken, sweetbreads or oysters. And in case someone doesn’t know, pate is an individual puff pastry shell with either sweet or savory fillings.

Some measurements that were not familiar to me from the old cookbook were: A dash, less than 1/8 teaspoon; 60 drops is 1 teaspoon; 1 gill is a half cup; and 1 cup butter is a half pound.

Now for the ethnic dishes from the genealogy society members. Flora VerStratten-Merrin e-mailed me a recipe for German Red Cabbage that I can almost taste with German sausages and dumplings.

German Red Cabbage

5 cups shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced green apples

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons water

1/4 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 2 hours.

Scalloped corn is an old-time recipe from JoAnne Stives. This casserole makes 12 servings and takes 90 minutes to bake in a 350 degree oven.

Scalloped Corn

2 cups corn kernels, fresh or a 12-ounce bag frozen corn (This must be a new addition, because I don’t think her ancestors had a freezer.)

14.75-ounce can creamed corn

8 ounces French onion sour cream dip

1 egg, lightly beaten

8.5-ounce box corn muffin mix

1/4 cup butter, melted

4-ounce jar sliced, sweet, red pimento, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon each both ground red and black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a deep, 8-cup casserole with vegetable oil. Mix together corn kernels, creamed corn, sour cream dip, egg, corn muffin mix and butter in a large bowl. Fold in pimento, peppers and salt. Scrape into a casserole. Bake in 350 degree oven 90 minutes or until set and lightly golden.

Note: Joanne bakes hers uncovered.

Virginia Glenn tells me that this recipe came from Monroe County with her grandmother.

It remained a favorite with her parents and now with all the Glenn family. These are little yeast dough pies filled with a meat and vegetable filling.

Runza’s Cabbage Pie


1/2 pound ground beef or sausage

Small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups cabbage, chopped into 1-inch pieces

Large carrot, pared and very thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Brown ground meat and onions. Strain fat. Add butter and carrots. Stir and cook until carrots are tender but not soft. Add cabbage and heat just until cabbage starts to wilt.


2 to 2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup sugar

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

Egg white

1 tablespoon water

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Heat milk, water and shortening to 110 degrees. Add to flour mixture with one egg. Beat 1 minute on low speed. Add second cup of flour then beat three minutes on high. Turn out onto floured surface and knead, adding remaining flour as needed until dough is soft and firm. Cover and let rest in warm place 20 minutes. Shape dough into 6 balls. Roll each into a 6-inch round.

Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture in center and fold in half. Wet edges with a little milk on fingers and pinch to seal. Arrange on cookie sheet. Whisk an egg white and water and brush over pies. Bake at 350 degrees. Place on rack to cool. This recipe doubles and triples well. Make extra and freeze for later.

I started baking when I was 10 years old and would make a Silver White Cake from Aunt Jenny’s Spry Cookbook that turned out very well for a cake made from scratch. And for the cake flour, I used Swan’s Down Cake Flour. I don’t know if that is still around or not. I don’t have that recipe book any more but a recipe from a 1960 Electric Cookbook, with a name card stapled inside from Lynda Lee Ward, home economist with Ohio Edison Co. and a picture of Reddy Kilowat, your electric servant. I think the Silver White Cake was made extra delicious with the addition of almond flavoring. This recipe calls for that flavoring as well.

Festive White Cake

3 cups sifted cake flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups liquid, half milk and half water

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup egg whites, 5 or 6

1/4 cup sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter or margarine; add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Combine milk and flavorings. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until smooth after each addition. Beat egg whites until foamy; gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat until meringue forms soft peaks. Fold into batter. Grease and flour two 9-inch or three 8-inch layer cake pans. Divide batter evenly in prepared pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Let cake cool 5 minutes and turn out on cooking racks.

I would put a chocolate frosting on my cake as that is what the family liked. Here is a recipe from the Electric Cookbook for that, too.

Rich Chocolate


3 squares baking chocolate, melted and cooled

1/4 cup butter

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

5 tablespoons top milk or light cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate over low heat; cool. Cream butter; add powdered sugar and milk alternately; beat until fluffy. Mix in salt, vanilla and melted chocolate.

Makes enough to frost a three layer -inch cake.

Or you could make this butter cream frosting that is pretty much the same today as it was then.

Butter Cream Frosting

1/3 cup soft butter or margarine

1 pound sifted powdered sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons cream, milk, fruit juice or strong coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter; gradually add powdered sugar alternately with cream. Beat until fluffy. Add vanilla. Makes enough for tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers.

Note: Once I didn’t have a light cream so I used whipping cream and was pleasantly surprised how fluffy it became when beating it for a few minutes.

Popovers were once a popular dinner bread but seldom made today. They are not hard to make, but they need to be served immediately. They aren’t as good cold.

I got this recipe from Annabelle McCullough.


1 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon melted butter

Stir flour and salt together. Beat eggs well and combine with milk and melted butter. Add liquid mixture to flour, stirring well to make a smooth batter.

Fill greased glass custard cups one-third full. Bake in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven; puncture with sharp knife to release steam.

Serve piping hot. Makes eight.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)