A Recipe from the 1906 “20th Century Cookbook”

Cookbook from 1906
Cookbook from 1906

There was never a time when there was less excuse for ignorance in any branch of human progress than there is right now. The dawn of the Twentieth Century shows the light of knowledge shining on all great achievements, but the most brilliant light is in the advancement of the Science and Art of Cookery and the Culture and Economy of the Home Beautiful” .

So begins the preface page of this 1906 cookbook that I have in my collection. The language and sentence structure of many books written during that era sound like something you might expect in a speech. The capital letters in the sentences above are all theirs.

You have to understand however how much things had changed by 1906. Except in wealthy households, the one or more servant household had become servant – less and women had to learn how to cook for their families themselves. Technology helped of course. There was a gadget for everything and some were power- assisted. Here is a recipe from that cookbook. Note that there are no amounts given in any of the ingredients unlike cookbooks today. I have copied them exactly as they are written in the book. The words in italics are mine.

Lyonnaise Potatoes

One tablespoon of butter. One onion chopped fine. Twelve cold baked potatoes. Parsley. Salt. Pepper.

To the butter and onion add the potatoes, and stir quickly over the open flame for five minutes taking care they do not stick to the pan; season with salt and pepper, add chopped parsley, drain and serve. (Yes, that’s it!).

Here are suggested menus for a typical Saturday:

Breakfast: Baked apple, oatmeal porridge,pork chops, fried mush, muffins and coffee (now that’s a hearty breakfast – no coffee and danish breakfast here!)

Luncheon: Oyster patties, raisin bread, stewed apricots,and chocolate (What kind of chocolate? Now this is a menu I can live with!)

Dinner: Cream of celery soup, chicken pie, baked potatoes, Lima beans, spiced apple pickles, prune pie and coffee. (No problems with irregularity!)

3 thoughts on “A Recipe from the 1906 “20th Century Cookbook”

  1. I absolutely “love” old cookbooks. I collect them and use them a lot (especially for baked items). Sometimes I have to look up different terms to find out what they mean. For instance, I was making hot potato salad and it said to add savory. My first thought was…savory what? It ended up being mint so i went in the back yard and got mint. LOL it’s always an adventure. I’m now interested in finding out what “mush” is as referenced above. I’m thinking they may be talking about scrapple.

  2. It seems to me that they ate pretty healthy back then! Lots of fruits, veggies, and grains, and a balance of fish, poultry, and meat. I love the old recipes. Please post more!

    1. They sure did. They actually cooked real food. Now consider what it would be like to eat like they did combined with our current medical knowledge. We’d all live to be 100!

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