Southern Tomato Pie Recipe from 1877

I had six tomatoes in my fridge that I needed to use. I found a recipe for tomato pie that called for green tomatoes. These were ripe, but I’ve never been a big fan of green tomatoes anyway. I decided to make the pie, substituting red for green tomatoes.

Wash and slice tomatoes without peeling them. Put the tomatoes in a medium-sized saucepan with about a cup to a cup and a half of water. Cook over medium low heat until they start to become tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from burner. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. The 1877 cook then says “flavor with nutmeg.”

I cringed a little, unsure how this spice would taste with tomatoes. I added ½ teaspoon nutmeg.

Prepare double-crust pie dough.

Hint: I learned a little trick from another 1877 cook when baking liquidy pie fillings: Mix 3 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle this over the crust. You may only use 1/3 to ½ of this mixture. It keeps the bottom crust from getting soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, add stewed tomatoes to bottom crust. Then arrange the top crust over the tomatoes and add holes with a knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

I tasted the pie warm from the oven (not hot) and also cold. I liked them both.

The small amount of sugar in the pie didn’t make it too sweet. There was just a hint of nutmeg. If you’d like more, add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg instead of ½ teaspoon to the stewed tomatoes before baking.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods but I don’t like them roasted. I was surprised how much I liked this pie.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.





Iced Blueberries Recipe from 1877

Flipping through the fruit section of a cookbook from 1877, I found a recipe for Iced Currants. The cook suggested that cherries and grapes can be substituted for currants.

So why not try blueberries this way?

Wash and drain ½ cup of blueberries on a paper towel.

Separate 3 egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat them. I used a hand mixer for this easy recipe.

The cook suggests using a sieve for the next part, which I don’t own. I used a baking rack covered with paper towels.

Dip each blueberry into the beaten egg white mixture and set on the baking rack so that the fruit doesn’t touch. Sift a thick layer of powdered sugar over them. The cook didn’t mention waiting for the berries to set so the blueberries still had a frothy coating from the egg whites when I covered them. The froth kept the sugar from sticking.

I tried again, this time giving the berries an hour to set before sprinkling on powdered sugar. Still too frothy to hold the sugar coating.

What do they say about third time is the charm? The next time I dipped a batch of blueberries individually into the egg whites, I stayed away from the frothy part. I rolled the blueberries in powdered sugar to achieve an even coat. Perfect!

Tip: Don’t beat the egg whites. Give them a little whisk. Don’t sprinkle but roll the fruit in powdered sugar.

Delicious! A light, sweet healthy snack in about five minutes.

I’d try this with blackberries and raspberries as well.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe with other fruits.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.




Lemon Cake Recipe from 1877

Wanting to make a dessert for the gathering of a few friends, I found a recipe for lemon cake in my 1877 cookbook. I love lemon desserts and decided to try this recipe originally submitted by Miss M. B. Fullington.

I have to confess that I had to make this dessert twice. Miss Fullington didn’t give a lot of details with her instructions. Since the recipe calls for 7 eggs, I went through a lot of eggs to get this right. The batter consistency for this first batch was all wrong—not at all the creamy texture I expected. When I noticed that the cook hadn’t even mentioned baking the cake, I realized that a few important details were missing.

I tasted the batter—buttery with nice hint of lemon. I decided to remake with a couple of changes that I will note along the way.

Set aside 2 cups of flour in a bowl. If using all-purpose flour as I do, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Separate 7 eggs with the yolks in one bowl and reserve the whites in another. Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add 2 cups sugar, the zest of 2 lemons, the juice of 1 lemon, the egg yolks, and ¾ pound butter (3 sticks—I know! It’s a lot of butter. They ate more butter than we do now. I followed Miss Fullington’s recipe but believe it would still work with less.) The recipe does not call for lemon extract, but I added 1 teaspoon of the extract to enhance the flavor—good call!

Beat these ingredients together, adding a little flour at a time. Then fold in the beaten egg whites. My mixer has a FOLD button that works wonderfully for this.

This time the batter was light and creamy with the perfect amount of lemon flavor. Yum!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan with cooking spray. If using a 13 x 9 pan, bake about 35 – 40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If using an 8 x 8 pan, bake about 50 – 60 minutes.

I made white icing following Betty Crocker’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe.

The whole cake tasted delicious. It has a wonderful buttery lemon flavor. Loving the lemony dessert, my guests ate every last crumb on their plates.

One person mentioned that he tasted an eggy flavor. I agreed. In my opinion, the number of eggs can be reduced to four or five. Also, the amount of butter can be reduced–perhaps to about ½ cup.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.



Bina’s Stewed Corn Recipe from 1877

While searching for a vegetable to make for a family gathering, I found a recipe for stewed corn in my 1877 cookbook. It uses fresh corn. It was delicious! You might want to make extra for a large crowd because many folks will come back for seconds.

This recipe is based off 3 pints of corn and I had no idea how many ears of corn made that much. I purchased 8 ears of corn and, to my surprise, that made 3 pints!

Shuck the corn and remove the corn silks. Rinse the corn.

Shave the corn off the ears with a sharp knife. Always work toward the bowl. I start about halfway down the ear and then turn it over and do the other side. Don’t shave the vegetable so closely that you cut the cob.

Hint: A large deep bowl or pot works best for shaving the corn off the cob as it splatters.

Pour the kernels into a cast iron skillet. Add just enough water to cover the corn. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. (My husband isn’t big on pepper so I used 1/8 teaspoon.)

Cover and cook over a medium low heat about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add more water if necessary because the corn shouldn’t brown. The aroma as it cooks will make you hungry!

Meanwhile, stir 1 teaspoon of flour into ½ cup of cream. Add this cream mixture to the corn in the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking. Stir and replace the lid.

Bina, the original cook, served this with roast beef, escalloped tomatoes, and mashed potatoes.

Delicious! Everyone complimented the corn dish and went back for second and third helpings. It was so good that I warmed it up and ate some for breakfast the next day. Yummy!

It’s so hard to find ways to make vegetables like corn into a special side dish. This recipe earned compliments at my house and chances are good it will earn them at yours.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.



Apple Meringue Pie Recipe from 1877

While searching for a dessert to make for a family gathering, I ran across a recipe for apple meringue pie in my 1877 cookbook. Intrigued by a dessert I’d never heard of, I decided to try it.

The recipe calls for tart apples so I used Granny Smith. For apple pies that I’ve made in the past, three large apples made one pie. Since these apples would be “stewed” before going into the pie shell, I used twice that amount. This made enough filling for a large 9” pie.

Peel and slice the apples. Place them in a large saucepan and add water but don’t cover the apples. Cook over a medium heat until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. The aroma took me back to childhood memories of my grandmother’s cooking.

Remove from heat. Drain excess water. Mash the cooked apples. Add a teaspoon of nutmeg. After tasting the mixture with a spoon, I felt it needed a teaspoon of cinnamon so I added that. It gave the apples a nice flavor.

Hint: To prevent fruit juices from soaking into the pie crust, beat an egg and lightly brush a little onto the unbaked shell. 1877 cooks dipped a cloth into the egg mixture, but I used a pastry brush.

Poor the apple mixture into a prepared unbaked pie crust and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the shell is done and the apples are set.

For the meringue: Beat 3 egg whites, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla until “it will stand alone.”

Allow the baked pie to cool about ten minutes then cover the pie with the meringue. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and return the pie to the oven just until the meringue is lightly browned. This may take five minutes but keep watching so as not to burn it.

Refrigerate after the pie cools and serve cold.

None of my guests had heard of an apple meringue pie. The novelty and the taste appealed to everyone. The dessert took me back to my grandmother’s cooking. I liked it. I had always used sugar as opposed to powdered sugar for meringues and was a little nervous about how it would work. The powdered sugar took a little longer to whip but tasted good.

The cook advises that peaches can be substituted for apples when in season. That sounds really delicious so I plan to make it with peaches.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.



Ambrosia Recipe from 1877

I leafed through my 1877 cookbook for a dish to take to a family Easter meal and stumbled across this recipe for ambrosia. A little different from the modern version, fruity—it was perfect.

For this dish, you can peel and slice one pineapple. Mrs. Theo Brown, the original cook, advised that the canned pineapple was equally as good, so I used pineapples chunks and then sliced them in half.

Peel six to seven sweet oranges, removing the seeds and core. Slice the larger sections in two.

Combine the oranges and pineapple and mix them well.

Choose a deep, round serving bowl to allow for 2 or 3 layers. Start with a layer of fruit then top it with grated coconut. (I used packaged sweetened coconut because that was all that was available at the grocery store.) Sprinkle powdered sugar over the coconut. (Mrs. Brown called this “pulverized sugar.”) You don’t need a lot, especially when using sweetened coconut.

Then add another layer of fruit and coconut and top it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. My serving dish held 2 layers and it was plenty.

Guests found this citrus dish refreshing—much lighter than modern versions that can call for sour cream, heavy cream, and mini marshmallows.

I liked it very much. The powdered sugar gives the dish a sweet flavor. I plan to make it again. An easy dish to take to a picnic or family gathering.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.



Delicate Cake Recipe from 1877

Delicate cakes sound as if they are light and airy. I found this recipe in an 1877 cookbook and decided to try it.

Since the original recipe called for 6 eggs, I halved the ingredients.

Cream ¼ cup butter with 1 cup sugar. Whisk 3 egg whites until frothy and add to the mixture. Add the zest of one orange or lemon. (I used an orange.)

In a separate bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. (The recipe doesn’t call for salt but add ½ teaspoon of salt if using all-purpose flour.)

Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients, alternating with 1/3 cup milk + 1 tablespoon.

Prepare a springform baking pan with cooking spray. Add batter and bake at 350 until done, about 25 to 30 minutes.

I drizzled a glaze (powdered sugar mixed with a little water) on each serving. This is a delicious cake with a delicate hint of orange. I plan to make it again.

This recipe is from Miss Mary E. Miller.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.


1841 Seasonings for White Sauces, Fricassees, and Ragout

I found a Seasoning recipe for white sauces, ragouts, and fricassees in an 1841 cookbook.

Ragouts are highly-seasoned meat stews. White sauce, made from white roux and milk, is the base of other sauces. Fricassees are stewed meats or vegetables that are served in a white sauce.

Select a small mixing bowl.

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon mace

1 tablespoon dried lemon peel

Mix ingredients together.

Store in closed container until needed in white sauces, fricassees, and ragouts.

To try out the seasoning blend, I made baked macaroni and cheese using the Basic White Sauce Recipe from Taste of Home. I prepared the sauce as directed and then added cheese. I added about ¼ teaspoon of the seasoning mixture to the sauce and baked as usual.

The extra flavors changed the dish enough that it did not taste like macaroni and cheese to me, but wasn’t bad.

It’s also worth a try in stews, which often benefit from extra flavor.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe in your cooking.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Gelzer, Lois. Taste of Home, 2018/01/21

Hale, Sarah Josepha. Early American Cookery: “The Good Housekeeper” 1841, Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.


1841 Cider Vinegar Recipe

Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of an 1841 cookbook, wrote that vinegar was “perpetually wanted” by families yet was expensive to purchase. Frugal housekeepers prepared their own vinegar.

There were several varieties of vinegars used by early cooks including celery vinegar, horseradish vinegar, and cucumber vinegar.

They also used cider vinegar, as we do today. It is surprisingly easy to prepare.

Add a cup of white sugar into a half gallon of apple cider. Stir well.

This liquid needs to ferment for 4 months. I am storing mine in the original plastic container.

I will update this post at the end of that time. I’m uncertain whether buying refrigerated cider affects the fermentation process, but I’ll let you know if I have cider vinegar in 4 months.

Stay tuned!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Hale, Sarah Josepha. Early American Cookery: “The Good Housekeeper” 1841, Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.


1841 Mustard Recipe

Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of an 1841 cookbook, wrote that mustard is best when freshly made. I occasionally like mustard on my sandwiches so this seemed like a fun experiment.

As is so often the case with old recipes, no ingredient amounts were supplied.

Hale suggests using the best ground mustard. I used 2 tablespoons of ground mustard. A “little salt” became 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Mix this together. Add 2 teaspoons of warm water and stir. You will probably need a little more water (I used 3 teaspoons) until it is spreadable consistency.

I tried this mustard on a ham sandwich. It has VERY STRONG taste, similar to horseradish mustard. I did not like it.

Hale included a recipe for Mild Mustard, where milk is substituted for the water. This made a creamier consistency, but the taste was even stronger.

Having grown accustomed to the popular mustard brands available today, this old recipe was too spicy for me. I don’t believe that greatly watering down the mustard would have improved the taste.

Did our ancestors use mustard more sparingly in their cooking than modern cooks? Or did strong spices improve the taste of poor quality meats?

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Hale, Sarah Josepha. Early American Cookery: “The Good Housekeeper” 1841, Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.