The joy of cooking old recipes in a modern kitchen

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by old homes. I’m not talking about the old adobes we have here in the Trans Pecos, I’m talking about old homes that date back to the 1700s, when America was “new,” and up to the very early 1900s at the youngest.

Don’t get me wrong, give me a Far West Texas 100-plus-year-old adobe Craftsman any day and I’m the happiest gal around. But there’s something about the old houses with the enormous fireplaces in the kitchen that give me all the feels.

I receive daily updates from a website that specializes in old homes around the world when they hit the real estate market. I spend most of my time on the internet looking at the homes and sending unusual or striking ones to my husband.

We sit across the room from each other, each looking at our own computer screen, and discuss the different architectural and design features. There are some spectacular old homes for sale for quite reasonable prices.

As I type this, my web browser has open links for houses built in 1860, 1870, 1798, 1799, 1795, 1900, 1760, 1815 and 1784 because I haven’t saved them to my bookmarks and they’re some of my favorites right now. If you want to get sucked into a wonderful world of old houses that are for sale, visit http://www.oldhousedreams.com, the best thing on the internet, in my humble opinion.

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When I sent my husband the 1870 log house in a small town in North Carolina, we were almost ready to pack up and head east to the lush green that surrounded the charming log house with the modern amenities… until someone beat us to it and a “contingent sale” status appeared the second day it was on the market. We wouldn’t have really done it, don’t worry. But it was dreamy, for sure, complete with a fabulous kitchen and central air and heat. Be still, my heart.

Or maybe someday we WILL do it… I saved the photos of this place and just look at it and sigh. It’s on 6 acres, too. For waaaaaaayyyyy cheaper than ANY house in our area.

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I keep handy a small set of cookbooks that specialize in Early America, Young Republic and Victorian America. They’re so fun to browse through, and the Early America and Young Republic books both feature kitchens with the massive fireplaces that were used for cooking, as well as heating the home.

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One of the cookbooks says in the preface, “Today’s cooks do not have to begin by washing the salt from the butter, cutting sugar from the loaf and pounding it fine and sifting it, nor are most of the able to follow directions that assume the cook knows what to do when told, ‘add Milk [not saying how much] and put them in the Oven until enough [meaning done].’ Of course, if they are not enough, ‘do not take them from the Oven or they will be undone and unwholesome.”

“All of the modern conveniences” and “recently updated kitchen” are a few of my favorite phrases when it comes to the 250+ year old homes. As charming and lovely as the kitchen fireplaces are, I just don’t know that I would’ve been one of those women that took great joy in keeping the fire going all day and night, and always having a kettle of something cooking.

I love my modern conveniences and recently updated cooking spaces, but the charm and history of the really old homes tug at my heart every time. It’s probably a good thing I live in the 21st century as far as my appreciation for convenience goes, but I love how so many of the houses that are for sale still have the enormous fireplaces intact.

Below are pictures from my dream 1870 log house… I don’t miss the in-the-kitchen fireplace here…

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Below are pictures from the books. I wonder what’s cooking in those big ol’ kettles?

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While the sweet little cookbooks contain a number of recipes I’d never use because they’re too “fancy” (that means “unappealing to me”), like fried smelt or boiled ducks in onion sauce, many of the desserts and cookies are timeless.

Here’s an old recipe and a modern recipe for one of my favorite cookies, Coconut Macaroons. And luckily, no matter which recipe you decide to use, you don’t have to bake these in the fireplace.

I love coconut macaroons.

Coconut Macaroons – Two Ways to Make Them

  1. Old Fashioned Coconut Macaroons
    3 egg whites
    2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
    3 to 4 cups fine grated coconut

Beat the egg whites till very frothy, then beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is very stiff. Snip or chop the coconut very fine. Stir the coconut into the egg-white mixture to form a very stiff paste. With floured hands, very gently roll a tablespoonful at a time into small balls. Place a few inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan at once. Makes about 4-1/2 dozen.

  1. Modern Coconut Macaroons
    4 egg whites
    3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
    1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, add the sugar and mix well.  Add the coconut and mix with a spoon. Using a small ice cream scoop (or rounded spoon), place mounds of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned on top. Cool before eating.

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23 thoughts on “The joy of cooking old recipes in a modern kitchen

  1. That macaroon recipe is so easy, I don’t even have the one I use written down. My aunts mom in law just showed her one afternoon and it’s stayed with me all these years. But it’s exactly the same. My aunt sometimes dips them in chocolate, gawd I could eat the entire batch by my self! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I knowwwwwww!!! We went to EP last Saturday and I kept my eyes open for you!

        That log house was listed at $175K. You can barely get a trailer around here for $175K. Since that log one is taken now (unless it falls through and we’re suddenly moving to North Carolina), here’s my current second choice, and it’s $99K, and I haven’t seen a great house for $99K since the 1990s LOL:
        https://www.oldhousedreams.com/2019/05/04/c-1895-folk-victorian-warrenton-nc/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Omg!! I just might take that house from you, it’s beautiful. Just kidding (or am I?, lol) At $99k there’s enough with what I qualify for to redo the kitchen and bedrooms. It’s over 2000 sq ft that’s unbelievable. A house that big in El Paso (depending on the neighborhood) is over $185k. So you finally made your trip to Costco?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s amazing how affordable lovely homes NOT in Texas are. If you subscribe to that website’s newsletter, she sends new listings every day. I stayed off of Facebook the first two days I discovered Old House Dreams, and found another totally perfect dream home in Mississippi LOL I’ve also got a Vermont house I’m watching. Like we don’t have our hands full in Fort Davis 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s so fun! I have dreams of walking through the houses when I’ve looked at them too much. Some of them have icky vibes radiating from the photos, and lots of orbs (but you’re not supposed to comment about the orbs LOL). We found one house he was ready to buy, because it was a massive brick monster in need of some easy fixes for like $34K… so I researched a little and found it listed on all sorts of haunted places sites! People reported being shoved “by nothing” and leaving the house with unexplained bleeding scratches under their clothing. Nope. So much nope. Thanks but no thanks. I deleted that place from my brain!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh yeah, if you want to sell a house like that do NOT mention those orbs that look like dust 😝🤣.
        I’ve been house hunting since January and still haven’t found anything that “speaks” to me, that I’m going love living in. It’s been a headache. But onward I go, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. And we FINALLY made it to Costco- and ❤️Sprouts❤️ – y’all have THREE Sprouts now?!?! We got amazing shrimp at Sprouts – huge and $8/pound – haven’t gotten such good shrimp since our last trip to the coast. The wild caught sockeye salmon was wonderful, too. Three Sprouts. Dang. 😆👌🏻

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I know, right? We’re have Sprouts overload, but they do have some really great specials and their seafood is probably the freshest. But we also have the Whole Foods on the west side as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. We don’t even go to the West Side any more, especially with the newer Sprouts on the East side. We drive for three hours, find some food, hit Lowe’s/Home Depot, Costco, Sprouts, then drive for three hours back home lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Oh, I love Manhattan Heights 😍 There’s a house on OHD very similar to this one, maybe in Ohio (I can’t recall), that’s a LOT bigger for a LOT less. This place is fabulous!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Check out this old house here in El Paso, it’s beautiful but look at the price, it’s almost nosebleed enduring!! I mean, this is El Paso, not Los Angeles or New York, ugh, unbelievable 🙄🤔

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I made chocolate dipped macaroons for my man’s birthday last year. They were gone in no time. My pictures of them were sorta blurry so I didn’t share them. FYI – total pet peeve of mine is when people use “macaroon” and “macaron” interchangeably, because they are completely different, delightful little beasts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No! You said it correctly!!! It’s when someone calls the teeny, brightly colored almond sammich confections “macaroons” that drives me bonkers 😂👎🏻

        Liked by 1 person

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