A tasty trip back in time: Arkansas Living recipes through the decades

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Arkansas Living has always been about Arkansas eating.

It’s a tradition that began with the very first edition of Arkansas REA News in November of 1946, which featured “News for REA Homemakers,” with tips on freezing fruits and vegetables. Ever since, many Arkansas families’ favorite, time-honored dishes have originated from these pages.

In celebration of our 75th anniversary, we have searched the archives to reprint one recipe from each decade. We’re sharing the recipes as originally written to preserve their charm.

We’re honored to have enjoyed a place at your table all these years!

 

The following recipe comes from a story about budget-friendly meals that began: “What more can a woman want than to fix meals that please a man? … Any homemaker can please her man — and save him money — with money-saving main dishes.” 

Times have changed, but the dish still sounds delicious!

1940s: Sausage with Sweet Potato and Apple

½ pound sausage

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes

3 medium-sized apples

½ teaspoon salt

1  tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup cold water

1 tablespoon sausage drippings

Cut link sausage into ½-inch pieces. Fry until well done. If bulk sausage is used, shape it into small balls before frying or break it up as it cooks.

Pare and slice potatoes and apples. Mix salt, flour, and sugar together and blend with cold water. Arrange layers of potatoes, apples, and sausage in a baking dish, pouring some of the flour and sugar mixture over each layer. Top the dish with apples and sausage, and add drippings.

Cover; bake in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees F.) until apples and potatoes are tender—about 45 minutes.

To complete the meal be sure to have that crisp green salad that everyone needs for daily vitamin content. For dessert try a well-chilled creamy rice pudding made with eggs and milk to supplement the protein from the small serving of meat.

And for variety you might use thick slices of smoked shoulder, or shoulder pork chops sliced thin and well browned to replace the sausage.

The following recipe — included in a “Party Grill Cooking” article — was to be cooked on an electric griddle, offering “rural homemakers an opportunity to cook anywhere there is a 115-volt electrical outlet.” While the name might suggest these burgers were to be prepared for men, the black-and-white photo shows a smiling father cooking for the children, while the ladies lounge on the patio.

1950s: “Man of The House” Cheeseburgers

In addition to recipes like “Man of the House” Cheeseburgers, 1950s magazines included sewing patterns.

1 pound chuck, ground once

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 teaspoons grated onion

4 slices American processed cheese

4 hamburger buns, lightly buttered

  1. Preheat griddle 5 minute on “Medium.” 2. Lightly toss chuck with pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and grated onion. 3. Divide meat mixture into 8 parts and gently shape and flatten into 8 patties, 3” x ¼”. 4. Grill hamburgers for 2 minutes on each side. 5. Place 1 slice of cheese on top of 4 hamburgers — cover with remaining four hamburgers. Grill until cheese begins to melt.
    Note: Do not flatten meat with spatula during grilling. Do salt after grilling. Serves 4.

 

The following recipe was included in a roundup titled “Pecans aplenty.” It also has mayonnaise and sour cream aplenty — a full cup of each! And bacon! How could Celestial Chicken Salad not be out of this world?

Before she edited Rural Arkansas and eventually Arkansas Living, the late Ouida Cox contributed recipes and other content for the “Women’s Department.”

1960s: Celestial Chicken Salad

4 cups diced cooked chicken

2 cups diced celery

One 4 ½ ounce jar whole mushrooms, drained

½ cup pecan halves, toasted

4  slices crisp fried bacon, crumbled

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1 cup dairy sour cream

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine chicken, celery, mushrooms, pecans and crumbled bacon in a large bowl. Blend mayonnaise or salad dressing with remaining ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, tossing lightly to mix. Chill thoroughly. Serve in crisp lettuce cups, if desired. 6 to 8 servings. Note: To toast pecans, place in shallow baking pan in preheated, 350 degree oven about 15 minutes.

 

There might have been more dry counties in the 1970s, but that didn’t stop Arkansas cooks from baking with hooch — for the taste, not tipsiness. Said the recipe, “The spirits in the ‘secret’ ingredient evaporate during cooking leaving only the delightful flavor …”

Intoxicating presentation for an intoxicating dessert: Rum Cake.

1970s: Rum Cake

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

1 (3 ¾ Oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

½ cup cooking oil

½ cup cold water

½ cup rum

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan. Chop pecans and sprinkle over bottom of pan. Mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, water and rum together. Pour batter over chopped pecans and bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes.

While cake is baking, mix glaze:

1 stick butter

¼ cup water

1 cup sugar

¼ cup rum

Boil together in saucepan for five minutes, stirring. Remove cake from oven, pour glaze over. Let set for at least 10 minutes before removing. Add whipped cream and garnish with grapes rolled in powdered sugar, if you wish.

 

A “bran” new side dish in the 1980s: Stuffed Squash Rings (top left) featuring raisin bran.

The following recipe appeared in an article titled “New Ideas for Autumn,” in which each recipe “cerealously” contained cereal, the ultimate 1980s convenience food.

1980s: Stuffed Squash Rings

2 medium acorn squash

3  tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 ½  cups natural raisin bran, lightly crushed

1 green apple, cored and diced (about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon grated orange rind

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Cut ends off squash and cut each squash into 2 rings; remove seeds and fiber. Pour water into shallow baking pan to just cover bottom. Place squash rings in pan and cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil; drain water. Brush squash rings with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine remaining butter with cereal, apple, sugar, orange rind and cinnamon and fill squash center. Bake 20 minutes longer. Makes 4 servings.

 

   How have we gone this far back into the Arkansas Living recipe archives without a gelatin salad? And without more sour cream? This recipe, which produces a marvelous magenta ring, is just the thing!

Pretty in pink: A colorful gelatin salad from the 1990s.

 

1990s: Salad in the Pink

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple

2 pkgs (3 oz. each) strawberry gelatin

1 can (16 oz.) whole berry  cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups sour cream

½ cup chopped pecans

Drain pineapple; reserve juice. Combine reserved juice, 1 cup water and gelatin in saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring to completely dissolve gelatin. Remove from heat. Stir cranberry sauce, lemon peel and juice, and nutmeg into gelatin mixture. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold sour cream, pecans and pineapple into cranberry mixture. Pour into 2-quart mold or 13” by 9” pan. Chill until firm.

Even Arkansas Living, known for traditional, tasty Southern fare, couldn’t escape the trappings of the low-fat craze, as proven by this recipe from a roundup of light sauces, titled, “I’ll Have That … On The Side.”

2000s: Mock Hollandaise Sauce

6 ounces fat-free cream cheese

1/3 cup fat-free sour cream

3-4 tablespoons fat-free milk

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

½-1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

We’ll conclude our tasty trip back in time with a more traditional recipe credited to reader Nell Hattabaugh of Booneville. It’s “plant-based,” and yet it’s still classic Arkansas Living fare at its deep-fried finest.

2010s: Okra Fritters

1 cup okra, chopped

½ cup onion, chopped

½ cup tomatoes, chopped

1 egg, beaten

¼  cup corn meal mix

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Mix okra, onion, tomatoes and egg. Mix together dry ingredients, add okra mixture. Drop by tablespoons into hot oil.

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