Cooking Techniques · The Vintage Kitchen

Sue makes Cream Tapioca Pudding

Cream tapioca pudding is what most of us today would call… tapioca pudding. You know, in a milk custard sauce. Why Sue makes Cream Tapioca Pudding instead of regular ordinary tapioca pudding, I have no idea.

Anyway, in Lesson 15, dated Saturday March 3, Sue and Ruth Ann begin to make less heavy, winter foods. Tapioca pudding is nice for a cold early spring. Usually served chilled, it’s a heavy pudding, unlike the sherbets and ice creams that appear later in the year. And traditionally tapioca pudding ranks as a favorite in homes that have children.

If you are seeing this series for the first time, we are working our way through the 1924 cookbook When Sue Began to Cook. It’s part of the Bettina’s Best Recipes series of books from the Twenties, and it takes the form of an instruction book framed within a story. Sue and her best friend Ruth Ann are spending their Saturday mornings learning to cook under the watchful eye of Sue’s mother Bettina, ace cook and house manager. If you want to start at the beginning, clicking the book title link will take you back to Lesson 1 so you can follow their progress and learn their story.

Each week’s lesson includes a new recipe. The recipes usually contain a new cooking technique. In addition, Sue keeps a lesson notebook which tells the tale of Ruth Ann’s ill mother and various other happenings.

Sue’s notes on Cream Tapioca Pudding

It seemed to take us a good while to finish our work this morning, and when Ruth Ann came over for the cooking lesson we weren’t quite ready, Mother and I. And Robin was rushing around doing his own work and grumbling because Teddy was waiting for him and he couldn’t go till he had brought up the wood for the fireplace and had fed Caesar [the family cat] and had put his own room in order.

Robin makes me tired. I had dried the breakfast dishes for Mother (I always do on Saturday) and had straightened up my own room and had dusted the living room and watered the plants and I was just cleaning the bird cage when Ruth Ann came, but I wasn’t grumbling. I have a good deal to do, it seems to me, but I don’t scold about it. That is, not very often.

“Oh, Robin,” I heard Ruth Ann say. “I wish I’d come earlier! Why, I could have straightened up your room for you. I just love to make beds and dust and hang up clothes.”

I could hardly believe my ears. Really, I don’t mind doing these things, but I can’t say I care to do them for the neighbors!

“Don’t you take care of your own room at your grandmother’s?” Mother asked. (Mother was making salad dressing. She usually does on Saturdays.)

“No, because Grandmother prefers to have Selma do it. It keeps her busy. And Selma thinks I don’t do things right.”

“Hurray!” cried Robin. “You should worry about that? So much more time to play!”

“But it isn’t any fun not belonging to a real family and not having things you just have to do every day,” Ruth Ann said. “I don’t feel real at Grandmother’s. When Mother comes home, I intend to do all the work. Every bit!”

“All work and no play would make Ruth Ann a dull girl,” laughed Mother. “But I agree with you, Ruth Ann, that all play and no work is worse yet. Well, at least you’re learning to cook and wash dishes, and by the time your Mother comes home you’ll know all about running the kitchen at least. And just wait until Spring comes! Then we’ll each have a little garden to tend.”

“Me too, Aunt Bettina?”

“Yes, indeed. Right here in this very back yard beside Sue’s. And just wait till you girls learn to go to market and keep accounts and do other things besides cooking! But the cooking must come first. Well, are you all ready to begin on Cream Tapioca Pudding?”

We were, and it was an easy lesson. But all the time I kept thinking of what Ruth Ann had said about work, and real families. I’m glad my family is real, even if I do have lots of things to do every day.

Recipe for Cream Tapioca Pudding

This tapioca pudding recipe adds apples to it for a bit of added texture, taste, and nutrition.

Cream Tapioca Pudding

From When Sue Began to Cook


  • ½ cup prepared tapioca also known as tapioca pearls
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups peeled cored sliced apples


  • This pudding had to be cooked in the double boiler. Mother had us put the tapioca, milk, and salt all together in the top utensil (pan) and cook it for twenty five minutes. (Of course we had the bottom part half full of boiling water. We always watch it, too, to see that it doesn't boil dry.)
  • We gave the cooking tapioca a stir every once in a while to keep it an even thicknes all through. While it was cooking we broke the two eggs in a bowl and beat them up with the Dover egg beater. Then we added the sugar to the eggs and beat them for a few minutes longer. Next (while the tapioca was still cookng) Mother had us wash, quarter, peel, and slice our apples. We each used a little sharp vegetable knife and it didn't take any time at all.
  • After the tapioca had cooked a good twenty five minutes by the clock, we added the eggs and sugar and cooked it for three minutes longer, stirring all the time. Then we added the vanilla and lemon extract and the sliced apples, and poured the pudding into a pretty china serving dish.
  • Mother had us set our puddings out on top of the icebox to get cold. (We don't take ice in winter. The icebox is in a little outside room that isn't heated.) We saved my pudding for dinner and had it with cream and sugar. Ruth Ann carried hers home.
Cooking Techniques · The Vintage Kitchen

Sue Makes Escalloped Oysters

In Lesson 14 of the Saturday morning cooking class, Sue makes Escalloped Oysters. This is a continuing series from the pages of the 1924 book When Sue Began to Cook. We started with Lesson 1, which you can find by clicking the linked book title. Sue and her friend Ruth Ann completed an entire year of lessons, one Saturday at a time, and you will find them reproduced for the first time here.

Even in the Twenties a dish like Escalloped Oysters appeared on the table rarely. This was a holiday dish, a celebratory dish, or a Sunday dish for families who routinely made a fancy Sunday dinner for the family. Why Bettina guides while Sue makes Escalloped Oysters, I have no idea.

Several other less expensive and more family-friendly dishes could make their way into small casserole dishes. Perhaps it formed a basis for other escalloped dishes, like salmon, potatoes, tuna, or corn. Today we know of Scalloped Potatoes more often than any of the other options. Long ago we dropped the e in escalloped.

You can still find recipes for Scalloped (or Escalloped) Oysters online, so if you are so inclined you might want to give this recipe a try. It should work just as well with canned or fresh oysters. A 6 1/2 oz can of oysters should give you enough to make this recipe. The Spruce Eats gives the lowdown on cooked and canned oysters

Sue’s notes on Escalloped Oysters

Escalloped oysters is quite a grownup dish — a company dish too. So if it hadn’t been for the new little casseroles Mrs. Rambler gave to Ruth Ann and me for our cooking lessons, Mother might have had us make something else today. (I don’t call her old any more. She isn’t so awfully old when you know her.)

It was Ruth Ann who called for the basket and napkin after all. She said Mrs Rambler told her they were the best muffins she ever ate and they did her head lots of good. (Mother says she guesses the kind thought was what did her head the most good. And that very often cross people aren’t cross if you’re nice to them.) Well, Ruth Ann went in and had quite a nice little visit with her, and told her all about our cooking lessons. And the very next day, here came a messenger with two of the dearest little casseroles you ever saw in all your life, old Kitchen Diary. All wrapped up in tissue paper and ribbon. They were “for the two little cooks.” Of course we already had a casserole but it was an old one, and Mother’s. And these were brand new.

Mother showed us how to temper them so they wouldn’t crack. That meant to put them in a pan of cold water over the fire and let the water come to a boil slowly. After that they were safe, Mother said. But she told us we mustn’t ever put them right over the fire to melt butter in them or anything. Well, I certainly don’t intend to spoil mine that way!

Recipe for Escalloped Oysters

If you like buttered soft bread or cracker crumbs in food, you should love this.

Escalloped Oysters

From When Sue Began to Cook


  • 1 pint oysters
  • 3 cups cracker crumbs
  • 2 tsp salt you may want less
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 2 ½ cups milk


  • Mother had us each put our own oysters (of course a pint means two cupfuls) in a little strainer over a bowl so that we could catch all the liquor that drained off. Then she had us take up an oyster at a time and feel it to see if there was any shell in it or around it. Of course the shell had to be removed.
  • We rolled our crackers fine with a rolling pin, putting them on a piece of nice clean brown paper to do it. Then we each melted our butter in the warm oven in the baking dish we were going to use and of course this buttered the dish and also saved using another. We mixed our cracker, melted butter, salt and paprika together in a clean pan, and when they were well mixed we spread a layer of this cracker mixture over the bottom of the dish. Then we added a layer of oysters (about a third of what we had), spreading them out flat with a fork. Then we spread anther layer of crumbs on them, enough to cover them from sight. Then we added more oysters and more crumbs, more oysters and more crumbs in the same way, having the top layer in crumbs.
  • I forgot to say that we added milk to the oyster liquor so there were two and a half cups of liquids all together. We poured this gently over the top of the dish (I mean the contents of the dish) and then we baked it in a moderate oven for twenty minutes. [moderate oven = 350ºF] When the escalloped oysters were done they were a lovely brown color.
Cooking Techniques · The Vintage Kitchen

Sue Makes Graham Muffins

Come into the kitchen while Sue makes Graham Muffins. These appeared on the Twenties table often because they added fiber to the diet. This is Lesson 13 in the series from When Sue Began to Cook, one of the cookbooks in the Bettina’s Best Recipes book series from the Twenties. If you are just joining the series for the first time, click the book title to transport back to Lesson 1. Sue and her friend Ruth Ann’s story unfolds as the lessons progress. In addition, the recipes increase in difficulty as they go.

Graham muffins contain graham flour. This coarselSy ground whole wheat flour was named for the maker of the Graham cracker. The grind of Graham flour added texture and fiber to the recipe. Unlike almost all other flours and powders in the kitchen, cooks never sifted Graham flour. If they did, the point of the flour stayed behind in the screen.

This is the first muffin recipe to appear in When Sue Began to Cook. Most beginning cookbooks began with simple breads like biscuits and muffins. They were relatively easy to make and looked good even when they came out less than perfect. A good white sauce can be tricky for a beginning cook, yet this is exactly where Bettina began teaching in Lesson 1. Sue and Ruth Ann find the muffin recipe relatively easy after their preceding kitchen adventures.

Sue’s notebook about Graham Muffins

Old Mrs. Rambler, who lives across the street from us (next to the McCarthy’s) has headaches and doesn’t like children. Probably that’s because she lives so close to so many of them. Ruth Ann and I keep thinking how nice it would be if she would only adopt Maxine McCarthy, the one with the beautiful tight curls, and perhaps Clarence Patrick, the well behaved boy, but so far nothing has come of the idea. The children bother her a lot and are always swinging on her gate when she isn’t looking just because it makes her so cross to have them do it. And I suppose she never notices which ones are good and which are bad.

So, with this introduction, anyone would understand how surprised I was when Ruth Ann said to Mother, “Aunt Bettina, would you mind if I carried six or eight of my nice fat muffins over to Mrs. Rambler?”

“But why Mrs. Rambler?” I asked in a surprised tone. “With all the McCarthys there who are always so hungry, why in the world would you slight them in favor of a cross crabbed woman who is simply rolling in money?”

Mother laughed. “Mrs. Rambler isn’t exactly rolling in money, dear,” she said. “And besides, everybody is always doing things for the McCarthys. Let Ruth Ann take her muffins wherever she wishes.”

“I want to give them to Mrs. Rambler because nobody ever thinks of her when the presents are going round,” Ruth Ann said, bravely. I guess she needs to be brave when she talks to me. I can be quite fierce and sarcastic at times.

“We’ll put the muffins in my pretty brown basket,” said Mother. “We’ll put a clean napkin in it first and then we’ll draw it up over the muffins to keep them warm while Ruth Ann is carrying them. You can leave the basket there, dear. Tell her Robin will call for it tomorrow.”

Ruth Ann and I went together on the errand of mercy (only I wasn’t very sympathetic) and Mrs. Rambler herself came to the door. “Here are some muffins for your lunch,” said Ruth Ann, handing them in. “Someone will call for the basket tomorrow.”

“I never have any appetite anymore,” said Mrs. Rambler, but she took the basked and thanked us for it very nicely. Maxine and Clifford were leaning over the fence when we came out. I guess they wondered why on earth we would be taking anything in a basket to old Mrs. Rambler when so many hungry children lived next door. But after all, the McCarthys have more fun than Mrs. Rambler does even if they are hungrier.

Recipe for Graham Muffins

Sometimes the storyline that appears in Sue’s notebook reads a bit odd. This was one of those entries. No explanation is given for Sue’s animosity towards Mrs. Rambler. Only that the neighborhood children annoy her and that this is somehow Mrs. Rambler’s fault. Like I said. Odd.

Here’s the recipe for Graham Muffins. You should be able to replace the graham flour with oat flour if you cannot tolerate wheat, and replace the white flour with 1 to 1 gluten free flour. The muffins will be quite a bit softer but they should still be tasty. The egg will help to hold them together.

Graham Muffins

from When Sue Began to Cook


  • 1 cup Graham flour
  • 1 ¼ cups white flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp light brown sugar No lumps in it!
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp lard or butter, oil, etc.


  • Never sift Graham flour! I learned that a long time ago when I was a little girl, so I rememebered today when we began to make our muffins. Mother had us each put the white flour, baking powder, sugar and salt through the flour sifter, and then add the Graham flour. You see, if you sift Graham flour it takes away all the bran part that is so good for you.
  • Well, after we had all the dry things mixed together, we each beat up an egg in a bowl with a Dover egg beater and then added the milk to the egg. Then Mother had us melt the lard the way she does in order to save dishes. She had us light the oven and each warm up a muffin pan in it. Then we each measured out our two level tablespoons of lard in one of the little muffin places. Then we dipped a piece of clean brown paper in the lard and with it, we greased the other muffin compartments. (Of course the one that held the lard was already greased.)
  • Then we emptied the melted lard and the egg and milk in the bowl and with the other things and stirred them all together very thoroughly. (I'm growing a lot of muscle with all this beating!)
  • Then Mother had us fill the greased muffin pans with the batter. Each little compartment had to be only about half full, and the recipe made twelve muffins. Then we baked them in a moderate oven for about twenty minutes and they were done. [moderate oven = 350º F]
Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

A Christmas Dinner from 1924

Large metal bowl filled with unshelled and half-shelled walnuts. A metal nutcracker sticks out of the nuts at an angle. In the background we see part of a large Victorian style window and a small portion of a huge blazing fireplace.

Traditional meals look really big to us today. For those raised on hamburgers and french fries, or pizza and a soda, the multi-course meal seems huge. To give you an idea, here’s a Christmas dinner from 1924 along with a few recipes. Here you’ll find recipes to make Oyster Cocktail, Chestnut Stuffing, and Frozen Maraschino Pudding.

Why were these meals so lavish? Why did they contain so many courses? Well, for one thing, these big meals hearken from a time when they were cooked by servants and served by servants. Therefore, the person in charge of the meal only cooked. He or she wasn’t engaged in working full time outside the home. Actually, the cook also needed to complete no other housework or errands. The food could be delivered to the house. As a result, the cook could focus completely on turning out dinners like this one, night after night.

Given all that, why do we put forth all this effort? If you want to emulate the habits of the wealthy of old, what better time to go all out than the holidays? Plus, feeding a houseful of people really does take more food. One way to stretch the turkey, or whatever you plan to serve, is to include extra sides and an extra dessert. Even though this creates more work, in the long run it’s easier than making a second turkey or a second main dish.

This Christmas dinner from 1924 was designed to be carried out by one young cook in her early twenties. The magazine touted it as the “new bride’s Christmas dinner.” Can you imagine? This would take a lot of advance planning to pull off well as a solo cook.

Christmas dinner men

Oyster Cocktail
Tomato Bouillon, Whipped Cream
Toasted Saltines
Roast Turkey, Chestnut Stuffing
Giblet Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Onions Squash Soufflé
Jellied Cranberries
Endive French Dressing
Cheese Sticks
Frozen Maraschino Pudding
Sponge Cake
Nuts Bonbons

The courses

This dinner would be served in five or six different courses, one after another. No normal Twenties dining table contained the space for such a repast if served all at once. So, to give you an idea what this looks like, here’s a possible breakdown of the meal:

Course 1: Oyster Cocktail. This is the appetizer.

Course 2: Tomato Bouillon with Whipped Cream. This is the soup course. The whipped cream is unsweetened. It’s just cream, whipped. The saltines accompany the soup.

Course 3: Roast Turkey, Chestnut Stuffing, Giblet Gravy. Accompanied by the vegetables, which are Mashed Potatoes, Baked Onions, Squash Soufflé, and Jellied Cranberries. This is the main course.

Course 4: Endive with French Dressing. This is the salad course, and it appears at the end of the meal. The Cheese Sticks listed under it accompany the salad.

Course 5: Frozen Maraschino Pudding, Sponge Cake, and Coffee. This is the dessert course.

After dinner: Not really considered a course, nuts and candy or mints sit in bowls on the table for nibbling after the completion of dinner. Perhaps guests enjoy them with a second cup of coffee.

If you want to undertake this or a meal like it, most of the items above are easy enough to replicate. Perhaps you already have recipes in your file. Maybe some of them you’ve committed to memory, like Mashed Potatoes. Really, you only need to roast a turkey once to know how it’s done. The next time, and after that, you only need to check to make sure the oven is set, look on the wrapper for hours to cook, and you’ve got it.

If you’d like it vegetarian

Or maybe you’d prefer to replace the turkey with a great nut roast, and make the meal vegetarian. If so, the best nut roast recipe I’ve ever made is the Cheese and Nut Loaf from the Greens cookbook. While this recipe isn’t vintage, it is really good! To help you find your own copy, I’ve linked to a slightly modified recipe from Epicurious in case you don’t have the cookbook on your shelf.

Oyster Cocktail


  • 3/4 cup tomato catsup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • few drops Tabasco sauce, optional
  • 3 dozen oysters
  • 1 stalk celery, for garnish
  • 1/2 green pepper, for garnish

To the catsup add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and celery salt. If you want to add a few drops of Tabasco sauce, do it now.

Add the oysters to the mixture and chill. Serve in cocktail glasses, garnished with finely chopped celery and strips of green pepper.

If you like, you can replace the oysters with clams, lobster, crabmeat, or shrimp.

Recipe makes six servings.

Chestnut Stuffing


  • 3 cups chestnut puree
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream

To prepare the chestnut purée, boil a quart of large French chestnuts until tender. Let cool until you can touch them safely. Remove the shells and skins and rub through a sieve. (A food processor would probably also work.)

To the puree add the bread crumbs, butter, and seasonings. Moisten with the cream and mix lightly.

Use this to stuff the turkey, or bake in a casserole dish. To bake in the oven separately, turn the mixture into a buttered or oiled baking dish. Cover the dish with foil. Bake the dressing at 400ºF for 30 minutes. Then, if you want a crispy topping, remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes or so until the top is golden brown.

Frozen Maraschino Pudding


  • 1/2 cup candied pineapple
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries
  • 1/4 cup juice from cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup cream, whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cut the pineapple into small pieces and halve the cherries. Add the cherry juice and let stand several hours.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff.

Boil the sugar and water together until the syrup spins a thread (238ºF). Pour the hot sugar slowly onto the stiff egg whites. Add salt and beat until cool. (This will cook the egg whites. If you are concerned, you can use pasteurized egg whites in this dish.)

Fold in the cream, which has been whipped until stiff. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and fruit mixture.

Freeze for three hours before serving.

Recipe makes six servings.

An alternate fluffy dessert

If you like the idea of the whipped cream and fruit dessert but the egg whites give you pause, here’s an alternative. This recipe for Fruited Cream Dessert contains many of the same ingredients, minus the egg. You can substitute candied pineapple and cherries for the fruit in this recipe, if you like. Be sure to soak the pineapple in the cherry juice before using. The soaking softens the pineapple.

Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Homemade Christmas Candies

1920s illustration. Blue bowl sits on a table surrounded by red and green holly. The bowl is piled high with candy of all different shapes and colors. Pink, green, white, and brown squares and rounds fill the bowl.

The candy counter was a popular destination for shoppers. Chocolate Hershey bars, Teaberry gum, and a host of other sweets kept everyone’s sugar-loving tooth happy. For a nickel you could take home a small candy bar, if you made it that far without devouring it. Even so, one of the most popular Christmas gifts continued to be homemade Christmas candies.

Friends and far-flung family alike anticipated the arrival of the yearly candy box. Special homemade Christmas candies such as taffy, fudge, hard peppermints, and even gumdrops nestled happily against one another in the small tin. Some looked forward to the arrival of the tin all year. Homemade Christmas candies were a gift to treasure, and few turned up their noses at such an offering.

This worked to the candy maker’s advantage as well. For the price of a little sugar, chocolate or cocoa, and flavorings (some of which lasted for years on the pantry shelf) a home cook turned out enough candy for the family at home as well as friends and family local and far. A candy recipe makes a huge amount of sugar-laden food for one or two people. Fitting two or three of each kind of candy into a box made a beautiful presentation, and enough filled boxes left the candy maker with just enough of the sweets for home use.

Today I offer some of the old recipes so you can get a start on your home homemade Christmas candies box. Or platter. Or however you want to serve it, send it, or eat it. These recipes for Persian Sweets, Christmas Fudge, Boston Cream, and Frosted Gum Drops are only a few of the candy recipes available.

Note: If you are making candy, and boiling sugar of any kind, you will need a large, deep saucepan. A three to four-and-a-half quart pan should work well. Sugar will boil up and over the top of a pan, creating a burn hazard. The large pan helps to safeguard against this. Please be careful.

Persian Sweets

This recipe is uncooked and easy to throw together if you have the ingredients and a few holes in your candy box. Why this is called Persian Sweets, I have no idea. Other variations of this, with different fruits added, are known as Fruit Rolls. You will need:

  • One cup chopped raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar, or enough to cover the candy
  • waxed paper

Mix the raisins, dates, and nuts together. This will be sticky. Knead on a board that you’ve covered with powdered sugar. Knead it until the mass sticks together well.

Roll the candy with a rolling pin, also coated with powdered sugar so it doesn’t stick. Roll until the candy is 1/2-inch thick.

Cut into small squares, no more than 1-inch square. One-half inch squares would make nice cubes, somewhat like Kraft caramels.

Roll the cut squares in powdered sugar until well covered. Wrap each square in waxed paper.

This will keep quite a while if packed in a tin or airtight container. It would be a good candy to send long distances.

Christmas Fudge

This is a chocolate-flavored fudge with a little molasses. It also contains no cream. You will need:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 rounded Tablespoons butter (each Tbsp would be about 1 1/3 Tbsp, so 2 2/3 Tbsp total)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, bar form, grated (Lindt and Ghiradelli both offer baking chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Large, deep saucepan
  • pans for holding the fudge: 8 x 8 baking pan, loaf pans, etc.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, but do not let it brown.

Remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the sugars, molasses, and water.

Boil the mixture 2 minutes. Add grated chocolate and boil for 5 minutes. Always count the time from the point that bubbling begins.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cool. Then beat vigorously and spread into pans.

Mark into squares. When the mixture is cold, cut the pieces apart with a sharp knife.

Boston Cream

This is reminiscent of the Boston Cream Pie, without the cake.

You will need:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white syrup (Karo or another brand corn syrup)
  • 1 cup sweet cream (whipping cream, whole cream)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate (Lindt or Ghiradelli baking chocolate)
  • Large, deep saucepan
  • Buttered pans for cooling the candy. A loaf pan would work well, or even several miniature loaf pans.

Boil the sugar, syrup, and cream to a soft ball. In other words, you bring the mixture to a boil. Take a tiny bit on the tip of a spoon and drop it into a glass of ice cold water. The mixture should form a ball in the water but squish when you bring it out of the water. That is a soft ball. It is also 238ºF on a candy thermometer.

Once it reaches soft ball stage, remove the pan from the heat. Beat until the candy is white and smooth. This is going to take a while if you do it by hand.

Beat in the nuts and the flavoring. Turn into deep buttered pans to cool.

When cold, melt the chocolate and pour the chocolate over the top of the candy. Let it stand for several days to ripen.

Cut into slices to serve.

Frosted Gum Drops

These red and green jewels will brighten any candy plate.

You will need:

  • 4 level tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • red, yellow, and green food coloring
  • wintergreen or peppermint flavoring oil
  • clover flavoring oil
  • lemon flavoring oil
  • rose oil or flavoring extract
  • granulated sugar for rolling
  • Large deep saucepan for candy making

Soak the gelatin in the cold water for five minutes. Stir in the boiling water until completely dissolved.

Add the sugar and boil for 25 minutes from the time boiling begins, stirring constantly. If you don’t keep it moving it will stick and burn.

Pour the syrup into 4 heatproof containers. When it cools, flavor and color them. Use a drop or two of lemon oil for the first container. Do not color it. For container 2, use a drop or two of green and flavor with wintergreen. For container 3, use yellow coloring and rose flavor. If you use extract rather than oil, you will need a bit more than a drop. For container 4, use red and flavor with clove.

Pour each candy into a small pan that has been dipped into cold water. Loaf pans or other small pans would work.

Refrigerate overnight. Cut into cubes with a knife dipped in boiling water. Roll each piece in granulated sugar until well coated.

Set aside for two days to crystallize.

Note: These flavor and color suggestions are very vintage. If you’d rather use blue food coloring and blackberry flavoring, do so.

More options

Once you get started, candy making can become an obsession. It’s fun to do and generally popular. Taffy pulls bring people together. For that matter, so does a big plate of fudge surrounded by fresh cups of coffee!

Every candy box has a hole where you can tuck just one more thing. If you find yourself in that position, take a look at this no-cook recipe for Easy Fondant Cream Mints. They were a huge hit at my house.

The Vintage Kitchen

1914 Thanksgiving Menu

A photo from 1914. A vase of autumn leaves sits on a table. Next to it sits a round silver tray holding three clear glass cups, a pottery pitcher, and a dish of candies next to it.
Warm mulled cider with ginger, 1914

Every year the magazines tout the best, the simplest, the oldest, the newest holiday recipes. The holiday is irrelevant; they publish recipes for holidays spring, summer, autumn, and winter. You might think this is a relatively new phenomenon. Nope. Today I bring you… a 1914 Thanksgiving Menu.

Just in case you believe that things were easier 100 years ago, I give you this up-to-date 1914 Thanksgiving Menu. Why 1914? Because in many ways 1914 was one of the last years for over the top meals on occasions like this. Menu planning did get simpler in the Twenties, and often the periodicals offered several different menus to match various tastes. Have small children at home? Try this menu. Want something vegetarian? Here’s one for you. Are you strapped for cash this year? Here’s a budget holiday meal.

But in 1914, that sensible attitude towards entertaining was still a few years off. Modern Priscilla, where I found this article, also included very few recipes considering the length of foods on this list.

This 1914 Thanksgiving menu gives you an appetizer, soup, meat dish, fish dish, vegetable sides, salad, and desserts. In short, everything that made a good meal in 1914 appears here. All at one time, course after course. Imagine making all this for say, a dozen guests and family!


Clam Cocktails Brown Bread Sandwiches
Cream of Mushroom Soup Croutons
Deviled Crabmeat on Corn Fritters
Roast Turkey Chestnut Stuffing Giblet Sauce
Escalloped Oysters
Mashed Potatoes Riced Turnips
Smothered Onions Celery
Cranberry Sauce
Cider Frappé
Cabbage Salad Cheese Straws
Indian Pudding Pumpkin Pie
Ice Cream with Maple Walnut Sauce
Fruit Nuts

Mulled Cider in the drawing room for after dinner

Can you imagine? One meal. Twenty four items. I would never survive putting on a spread like this. Of course, this assumes that anyone in 1914 eating meals of this stature had at least two servants in-house. Usually this would be a cook and someone to serve at the table. Otherwise you would spend your entire day cooking the meal, serving the meal, and removing the meal. When would you have time to eat?

When housekeepers started to do more on their own, meals became simpler. Someone finally realized that the average family did not need meat and fish in the same meal. One or the other would do. Soup remained a recommended starter for many years, however. And we still look forward to desserts today, although we usually settle for a prepared dessert or fruit rather than both options at once.

Most of the food options above you will have no trouble finding recipes to make. Indian Pudding is a pudding made from cornmeal and molasses and ginger that takes several hours to make.

If you’d like to offer a dessert other than Ice Cream with Maple Walnut Sauce to go along with the Pumpkin Pie, I suggest this 1917 Mocha Cake for coffee lovers on your guest list. It’s delicious and popular everywhere I take it.

I’ll leave you today with a recipe for Cider Frappé. I would like to give the recipe for Mulled Cider as well, but it contains raw eggs. I cannot imagine raw eggs in warm cider, so I’ll pass.

Cider Frappé for a 1914 Thanksgiving Dinner

Frozen cider to serve alongside roasted turkey or as a separate course, before the desserts.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Freeze in ice cream freezer2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Course: Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Frappe, iced
Servings: 8 1/2-cup servings


  • Ice cream freezer


  • 1 quart apple cider
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 3 inch piece cinnamon


  • Boil all ingredients together for fifteen minutes.
  • Strain and cool.
  • Add to ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions until it reaches a mushy consistency.
  • Remove to the freezer in a covered container to set until needed.


Serve in glass cups with roast turkey or serve as a separate course
The Vintage Kitchen

Take a Break from Coffee – Try Breakfast Cocoa!

Cup of hot cocoa and plate of toast on 1950s melamine dishes.
All dressed up in retro dishes, this Breakfast Cocoa is some of the best in vintage recipes.

On a crisp cool morning in autumn or winter, this breakfast cocoa recipe will fire your tastebuds and sweeten your day. It first appeared in print 100 years ago. Many hundred year old recipes deserve to be forgotten. This is not one of them. 

Frankly, I was surprised at how tasty this hot cocoa is. I expected it to be slightly bitter, and instead it has a nice smooth, slightly sweet taste. The entire recipe only uses 3 tablespoons of sugar for four servings, very much in line with a 1920s recipe. While it’s not bitter, this is not a cup of prepackaged Swiss Miss Cocoa with marshmallows. You can taste the chocolate in this great morning pick-me-up, and it contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee. 

Into the Vintage Time Machine

So how and why did this recipe come about in the first place? Let’s take a peek into the Vintage Time Machine…

The year is 1920. Adults usually drink only coffee or tea with breakfast. Milk is for children. Both coffee and tea are served with just a dash of milk or cream, enough to change the color of the hot liquid. Also, it ensures that the very hot beverage doesn’t break the china cups. 

Portions are small for everything. An eight-inch cake serves ten, a nine-inch cake serves twelve. Four cups of liquid serve four to six people, whether in soup or beverage form. 

A cursory look through any list of recipes will show that coffee is the accepted drink for both breakfast and dinner. Sometimes, that coffee is substituted with tea. Often, tea made its star appearance as part of a luncheon or afternoon tea party or front porch gathering with friends. 

Back to The Recipe

One household magazine suggested hot cocoa as a change of pace in the morning. For one thing, when mixed with milk it provided added nutrition. In addition, the denizens of the Twenties knew that cocoa itself contained nutrients. Potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium are only a few of the useful minerals in a cup of hot cocoa. It also contains a little caffeine, that happy drug that lures most of us into the kitchen in the mornings. One cup of hot cocoa provides 9 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. of drink. Hardly the 95 mg of caffeine you get from one cup of black coffee, but better than none. 

One huge benefit of cooking with old recipes is that they teach you cooking methods long forgotten by the everyday cook. Have you ever tried to combine cocoa powder and water (or another liquid) and watched it clump maddeningly while you stir with ferocity? No? Just me? 

I found out by making this recipe that if you stir hot water into cocoa powder, it doesn’t clump. It doesn’t even think about clumping. It dissolves into the water smoothly. 

Another trick of this recipe is to boil the cocoa powder with water and sugar for five minutes before adding warmed milk to it. This thickens the mixture a bit and combines it so that you don’t experience as much grainy chocolate at the bottom of your cup. 

Now, if you make this on the stove and then walk away from it for an hour or more, it separates. It then needs to be stirred together again before pouring into cups. (It will also need to be reheated if forgotten for that long.)

You Will Need

To make this recipe you need:

  • cocoa powder
  • sugar
  • boiling water
  • milk (I used whole dairy milk, but you can use whatever milk or milk substitute you feel comfortable using.)
  • a whisk or old-fashioned egg beaters, or even an immersion (stick) blender
  • two saucepans – one to heat the milk and a larger one for the cocoa/water mixture.

And now, the recipe:

Breakfast Cocoa

Make this when you want a break from coffee or tea in the morning, but still want something warm to drink. This recipe from 1920 is easy to make and delicious!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, cocoa, hot
Servings: 4
Author: VintageJenny


  • small saucepan to hold three cups
  • medium saucepan to hold four cups
  • wire whisk or egg beater (or immersion blender)
  • measuring spoons
  • heatproof measuring cup
  • kettle for heating water to boil


  • 3 cups milk Any milk or milk substitute (like soy or almond) should work.
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 3 tbsp powdered cocoa
  • 3 tbsp sugar


  • Place milk into small saucepan and bring to scalding. When scalding milk, it does not come to a boil. You will see a ring of little bubbles around the edge of the pan and some steam may rise from the heating milk. Once you scald it, turn it off.
  • Bring water to a boil, if you haven't already. Then carefully measure out 1 cup into a heat-proof container.
  • Place cocoa powder into larger saucepan.
  • Slowly add the water to the cocoa. Stir as you add, until it is very smooth. Then add the sugar.
  • Heat the cocoa mixture to the boiling point, and let boil for five minutes. Stir every now and then so that nothing sticks.
  • When the five minutes is up, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Add the scalded milk to the cocoa, water, and sugar. Beat the mixture with a whisk or with the egg beater for two minutes. This will make your hot cocoa frothy. A quick zap with an immersion or stick blender will do the same thing.
  • Pour your creation into four small mugs or teacups, and enjoy.

That’s all there is to it! Now that we tried it, this recipe definitely becomes part of our breakfast rotation — and it may become the starring drink at an afternoon tea.