Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today

Post #14 Vegetables

September 15, 2014

Grandma was familiar with vegetables most of us have never heard of before. Others she used were common in her time but not so popular in our time. Still others are cooked in different ways today than in Grandma’s day.

A quick trip to the grocery and I had the following: Turnips (with tops), Kohlrabi, Rutabaga, Parsnip, Carrots, Onions, and Celery Root. These were some of the vegetables she relied on to keep well into the winter in her root cellar. Some of these ‘old fashioned’ recipes will be new to me.

Since most of the vegetables she served were cooked ‘in boiling salted water’ I thought that would be the way to try these. I don’t feel the salt did anything, good or bad, so next time I will just leave it out and salt later if anything needs it. I peeled and sliced or cut the roots into a large dice as this would be the most usable. The vegetables would also not take so long to cook. Most were tender after 10 to 15 minutes but the celery root and the turnip took a while longer to make them tender but not mushy. From these we can make a variety of dishes like Grandma took to her table.

Creamed and Au Gratin are very easy. For the creamed vegetables just make a simple white sauce (see below) and add about 2 cups cooked vegetable to 1 cup sauce. To make the au gratin: layer the cooked vegetable in a baking dish with buttered dry bread crumbs. Pour in some milk or cream and top with crumbs. Bake till browned on top at 375 degrees.

After cooking the different vegetables, I started tasting. I was delightfully surprised I liked several. The Rutabaga was great just as it was with a touch of butter. The Kohlrabi (made from the recipe that follows) was also a treat. The turnips would be a great addition to a stew or soup but they did not do much for me as a stand alone veggie. The Celery Root is supposed to taste like a blend of celery and walnuts. I could taste the celery, but the walnuts? This would be good as an au gratin. The parsnip is an acquired taste to be sure. Not as strong as I expected, more like a sweet ‘off’ flavored carrot.

This recipe for kohlrabi is right out of a wonderful old cookbook called ‘The Glorious Art of Home Cooking’ by Hannah Dutaud from 1935. It makes a very good and healthy dish.


Separate kohlrabi leaves from the stalks. Wash the stalks and cut them into one inch cubes; cover with cold water and cook till tender. Wash leaves and cook in very small amount of water till tender, drain, and chop coarsely. Add to diced stalks, season with salt, pepper and butter or cream. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

White Sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. When the mixture starts to bubble, pour in the milk all at once. Stir constantly over medium to low heat till thick and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in two cups of cooked vegetable.