1920s Summer Tea with Recipes from the Great Gatsby Era

Illustration by unknown artist for “Porch Teas” July 1926 issue of “Women’s Home Companion” at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby did not receive the greatest reception when it was first published during April of 1925. Perhaps that’s because the words hit just a little too close to home for many readers back then. Yet, today, we love Mr. Gatsby and romanticize about an era when people took the time to breathe and relax on a warm summer’s day…a time when friends and newly made acquaintances shared food, ideas and news during conversations amongst themselves…and in person.

Pleasantries and polite teas were required for healthy socializing, according to the article entitled Porch Teas, written by Woman’s Home Companion food editor, Alice Bradley, July 1926.  Bradley was a respected chef and taught alongside Fannie Farmer for most of her career. At this time, she was Principal at Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, located at Huntington Chambers, 30 Huntington Avenue, Boston.

After Fannie Farmer suffered a fatal stroke, aged 57 during 1915, Alice Bradley purchased the business and continued in Farmer’s footsteps. She worked to inspire every day housewives and nurses about the importance of nutrition and cookery arts. She taught women chefs until the school closed during the mid-1940s.

These are some of Alice Bradley’s recipes….

Rhubarb Frappé is served when it is icy cold, slushy. There's not a strawberry in sight! It's that small amount of freshly squeezed orange juice that brings out the strong, fresh rhubarb color and flavor. Recipe from July 1926 "Woman's Home Companion". Photograph by J. Henri
Rhubarb Frappé is one of summer’s joys when served slushy, and icy cold in frosted glasses. There’s not a strawberry in sight! Instead, a small amount of freshly squeezed orange juice brings out the strong, fresh rhubarb flavor and color. Recipe from “Porch Teas” by Alice Bradley, July 1926,  “Woman’s Home Companion”. Photograph by J. Henri @thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Frappés were highly favored, frosty beverages served during the Roaring Twenties. Everyone had ice boxes or if you were wealthy enough, you might even afford one of the very first electric, domestic refrigerators sold during 1926 for a mere $285.

So this slushy, frozen, fruity concoction was relatively easy to create and certainly welcomed by anyone. If you were not temperance minded, then these flavorful drinks could easily cover the taste of otherwise bristling home-made alcohol, which was also quite illegal then.

After testing Alice Bradley’s specialties in our studio kitchen, we discovered that her 1920s recipes are surprisingly simple to make, inexpensive and require few ingredients…and each recipe is uniquely flavorful…downright delicious, in fact.

We also found that the iced tea drinks, usually made with a powerful brew of black India Assam tea, gives an especially strong, caffeinated kick. After all, one doesn’t need alcohol to experience a buzz!

See the recipe for Black India Assam tea drink
called India Frappé in this week’s first post, dated July 20, 2014.
Iced "India Frappé" (right) is made from a dark brew of black India Assam tea mixed with pureed strawberries and citrus juices. Served over crushed ice, this outstanding drink is even better when slightly frozen in slushy 1920s frappé style.  The drink is perfectly paired with ginger nutmeat tea sandwiches (foreground) accompanied by fresh coconut cakes. Historical recipes dated 1920 and 1926 are found at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com.  Photograph by J.Henri.
Iced India Frappé (right) is made from a dark brew of black India Assam tea mixed with pureed strawberries and citrus juices. Served over crushed ice, this outstanding drink is even better when slightly frozen in slushy 1920s frappé style. The drink is perfectly paired with ginger nutmeat tea sandwiches (foreground) accompanied by fresh coconut cakes. These historical recipes from 1921 and 1926 are found at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com. Photograph by J.Henri.

According to Alice Bradley, “Tea on the porch is one of the most delightful ways of repaying social obligations. Then too, it makes a pleasant ending for a club meeting or a bridge party.”

“With the tea, pass cream and sugar, quartered slices of lemon garnished with bits of candied cherry and whole cloves, or a spiced sirup (sic).”

Cream Cheese and Ginger Sandwiches

Mix cream cheese with
chopped Canton ginger and chopped nuts.

Spread on bread and cut in finger-shaped strips.
Garnish with watercress.

Editor’s Note:
These amazingly simple nutmeat with ginger finger sandwiches
are inexpensive to make and surprisingly tasty.
The recipe makes about 12 sandwiches or 4 servings.

Here’s a few helpful hints from our kitchen:

•We finely grated about 3 inches of fresh ginger root 
and added this, along with its juice, to soft cream cheese.
•We used 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts for this recipe.
•The sandwiches stay together perfectly when the
cream cheese mixture is spread over both slices of tea bread.
•Place a single layer of fresh watercress leaves
on one slice before closing the sandwich.
•Be sure to trim off the crusts, then slice again into 4 long, thin strips.

Coconut Cakes

1 fresh coconut          7 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn sirup
Rose color paste
1 egg white
Grate sufficient coconut to make 2 cups.
Put with corn sirup (sic) and sugar in top of double boiler, add color to make a delicate pink.

Stir and cook until mixture clings to spoon.
Add white of egg and cook until mixture
feels sticky when tried
 between fingers.
Spread in wet pan, cover with wet paper, and cool.

Then chill by setting pan on ice in refrigerator.
Shape into balls, first dipping hands in cold water.
If 1-1/2 tablespoons of mixture are used for each,
10 cakes can be made.

Heat a tin sheet slightly and rub with white wax,
paraffin or cooking oil.

Place balls on sheet and bake in slow oven about 20 minutes, being careful that they do not lose their color.

Editor’s Note:
•To simplify the process, we used finely grated, organic coconut from the baking section of our local grocery. To this, we added 2-3 tablespoons of water to moisten the coconut so that it was refreshed.
•We used superfine Baker’s sugar instead of coarse table sugar.
The measurements for both are the same.
•Inexpensive food coloring will create a lovely pink shade.
You should take time to mix this thoroughly. Please only use 1 drop.
•We baked this in a convection oven at 285 degrees for 20 minutes.
Coconut cakes should be removed *before* they turn golden brown.
•The recipe makes 10 bite sized cakes…but you’ll wish you had more!

Rhubarb Frappé

1 quart rhubarb      3 pints water
1/3 cup orange juice  4 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
Few grains of salt

Cook rhubarb, cut in small pieces, with water until soft.
Squeeze through double thickness of cheesecloth, add sugar and
boil until sugar is dissolved. Add fruit juices and salt.
Mix thoroughly and chill in freezer, surrounded with equal 
parts ice and salt. Turn crank intermittently, freezing 
to a mush. Serve in glass from punch bowl with a
large block of ice, garnished with mint leaves.
This recipe will serve 8 people.

Editor’s Note:
•This is an unusual and very delicious, easy recipe!
•A fine mesh strainer or chinois will work
if you’re out of cheese cloth.
•Simply place drink mixture in a stainless steel bowl,
and leave it in your freezer until mushy consistency.
This recipe will make an amazing sorbet!
•And about that pinch of salt…
it’s true you only need a pinch…
those tiny grains will make that
fresh rhubarb flavor burst in your mouth!


Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.

A Flapper’s Frappé for a Summery Day

Pen and ink drawing by renowned 1920s illustrator, John Barbour from "The Designer & The Woman's Magazine" July 1921
Pen and ink drawing by renowned 1920s illustrator, John Barbour from “The Designer & The Woman’s Magazine” July 1921 at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

U.S. Prohibition outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages between 1920 through 1933. Recipes for elaborate non-alcoholic drinks began to appear in every magazine and newspaper, with the hope of quenching that nagging thirst…but it was a thirst that was only satiated within the world of underground speakeasies resulting in high stakes crime.

“Frappés are frozen just half-way between a punch and an ice” stated cooking author Mary Mason Wright in the July 1921 issue of The Designer and Women’s Magazine. She added that this beverage style could also be served as a substitute for soup courses during hot weather. The name is derived from the base of black india tea.

India Frappé

2 cups sugar     1 cup water
1 cup fruit juice: pineapple, currant, cherry, strawberry or grape
3 juiced oranges        2 juiced lemons
1 pint cold black india tea
crushed fresh raspberries or bananas

“Boil the sugar and water to a sirup (sic),
then when cool add the fruit-juices.”

“Add the tea and enough (additional) water
to make two quarts and freeze to a mushy consistency.
Then add a cup of crushed fruit.”

Add a sprig of mint and a slice of orange to garnish each glass.

…and for those who might enjoy a little 1920s speakeasy nostalgia…
simply add one shot of citrus infused vodka to each glass, and shake.

Serves 8

Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.

Beguiling Bohemian Beauty


Pen and ink illustrations by Christine Challenger, "The Designer and The Woman's Magazine, July 1921.
Illustrations  by Christine Challenger, “The Designer and The Woman’s Magazine, July 1921 @thegildedtimes.com

She dipped her crow quill pen into the wide bottomed glass that was filled with India ink.  Then she touched the tiny tip onto the pencil outline of the long arm that seductively stretched across a leg draped with translucent, silk georgette.

Contour lines this fine required perfectionism. Her pen pushed gently onto the outline, spreading the black ink with gentle up and down pressure from her fingers. The thin, then thick, then thin again lines made her drawing come alive. Editors loved her work.

Inking the illustration took as much time as developing the ideas, thumbnails and final sketches for the artwork. If the quill nib caught against a tiny nub within the paper, or if her touch was inconsistent, the ink would splatter permanent black splotches everywhere, ruining her work. The music on her Victrola helped keep her hand steady….


Although little is known about the artist, Christine Challenger not only illustrated couture fashion, but also brazen 1920s Bohemian ideals. Ideals that she believed elegant American women should aspire to.

In her opening illustration above, Challenger places the exotic beauty before a mirror.

Her reflection not only captures the stylish bandeau headdress wrapped around her forehead, but also the model’s quiet reflection about the women who came before her. Through the tiny portraits hanging at both sides to the mirror, Challenger depicts a cartoon of feminine ideas about change, freedom and hope for the future.

The 1920s marked a new, bold era of freedom through fashion for women. It was also a time of seduction. According to her words, the exotic woman above wears an “exquisite nightgown of flesh Georgette with lace.”  There was a reason why the artist drew the model so that her back is turned toward us….

No details were left to the imagination. The illustrator went on to describe that her model lounged on a rug made “of black velvet finely embroidered with wool in brilliant colors.”

Her pert puss sits admiringly on an accent chair, with “cushions of emerald green and black taffetas, finished with embroidery of silver and silver fringe.” Of course, this required genuine silver embroidery floss.

Accessories illustrated by Christine Challenger, 1921 @thegildedtimes.com
Accessories illustrated by Christine Challenger, 1921 @thegildedtimes.com

Accessories for the those en vogue that summer were sublime:

“The diamond watch hanging from a platinum and diamond  fob is being much exploited in Paris, and even worn with tailor-made clothes.  The bracelets, enameled with mosaic effect, are connected with a chain of crystals. The parasol is in gold and silver Japanese brocade lined with orange, with a handle of orange and gold carved to represent a cluster of fruit.”

Christine Challenger, July 1921

From "The Designer and The Woman's Magazine" July 1921. Christine Challenger @thegildedtimes.com
From “The Designer and The Woman’s Magazine” July 1921. Christine Challenger @thegildedtimes.com

Challenger’s bathing suit design was quintessentially Bohemian. She states:

“Here is an audacious bathing-suit in dull purple satin trimmed with conventionalized flowers in soft yellow duvetyn. A touch of purple tails off the charming, tight-fitting cap.”

Duvetyn or Duvetyne was a matte, twill-like fabric with a soft nap, resembling velvet. It was used only briefly in fashions, shortly after it was first introduced. The waist length purple hat tails were designed to drape from the base of the cloche, around the neck and flutter at the back. 

According to what few records found, Christine Challenger was born in England and immigrated to the States in 1915. She married banker Blair Reed and they lived in Manhattan.

According to newspaper clippings, Christine Challenger became a mother in 1920. Typically, women did not have serious careers, especially if they were mothers, during this era. Based on what few records we can find, Challenger was indeed working as a highly regarded, professional illustrator during this time, all while tending to her tiny baby girl. 

In fact, Christine was pregnant again when these words and illustrations were published. Soon after, she gave birth to a second child, a son.  

As an adult, Challenger’s son, Elliott Reid, became an actor and is probably best known for having appeared with Marilyn Monroe in the famous movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Although they continued to live in New York, Mrs. Christine Challenger Reid’s children and family took precedence over her work in the arts…or so it appears…because her illustrations soon disappeared from magazines after her second child.

Christine Challenger’s signature is found along with over 200 others on the door from The Greenwich Village Bookshop. The door, now part of a permanent exhibit, was signed by prominent writers, artists, poets and even publishers between the years of 1920 through 1925. This is now held in the collections at the Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas at Austin.  http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/bookshopdoor

Note: The embedded iTunes recording is by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. Entitled “Whispering”, the tune was charted as “Number One Hit” during 1920.

 Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.

Circa Gatsby….

From the July 1921 issue of "The Designer and The Woman's Magazine"
“The Designer & The Woman’s Magazine” July 1921 @ The Gilded Times

During the summery heat of 1921, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan were flickers in Fitzgerald’s eyes. His beloved Zelda was pregnant for most of that year. Undoubtedly by this time in July, she had started to yearn for the days when she could again fit into the silky, slinky attire such as what appeared in this fashion magazine from that year.

According to more than one account, Zelda Fitzgerald liked gold colored dresses….

“There is a tendency for longer skirt lengths…”

Those words in the caption to this fashion illustration address the glowing gold frock, to the far right. That new length was the latest fashion criteria for that year, the caption reads.

It was advised to follow sage Parisian style and simply add a longer, top layer to dresses. A matching tunic made from four, hand-embroidered panels would do the trick. It should reach several inches below the skirt’s hemline, and therefore satisfy trending lengths that were both en flux and de rigueur around that time.

“A bit of embroidery makes all frocks chic, even in so simple a design as this.”

The tunic’s leaf motif was executed eyelet fashion. The raised silk floss embroidery outlined many peekaboo holes. Instructions were given at the back of this magazine as to exactly how to do the hand embroidery at home.

All three designs in this illustration were made from silk crêpe de Chine or shantung. Cotton is mentioned as a possibility, but only in passing…and with a bit of a sniff.

It was the sheer, silk georgette blouse, worn by the model to the far left in the illustration, that made that ensemble come together. This was a seductive yet “practical summer mode.”

“The colors selected frequently make this combination suitable for the formal affairs of summertime.”

Accessories were equally divine with an embroidered, silk sun umbrella, bakelite bangles and creative, couture hats.  The shoes were all dyed to match the tunic’s embroidery, or the colors of the dresses.

The golden dress is topped off with an ear tickling cloche. No, it’s not fur. The hat was entirely covered with the down taken from a black swan. Ahh, these were the dresses ripe for Daisy….

“Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the think folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.”

 Chapt 5, pp 118-119 “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.

Welcome and Thank you!


Intact antique and vintage magazines are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  Photograph by Julia Henri.
Just a few of the antique magazines from the collections used to create this blog. Photograph by Julia Henri.

This newly pressed blog was created
with the hope of highlighting what is rarely seen.

The Gilded Times is dedicated to all the writers, illustrators, photographers, artists, editors, agents and publishers in our past.

Topics are culled from antique and vintage
magazines & newspapers dating back to 1840.

This blog is just the beginning of a long term project.

Posts are created using digitally enhanced illustrations
and photographs with the goal that even the
smallest details might be understood and appreciated.

Every story is paraphrased, edited, researched and referenced.

Biographies about the journalists, illustrators & photographers who
originally wrote the stories are typically included.

Blog entries are posted as time permits between professional writing assignments.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in my work.

Thank you.

Thank you for Following this blog through WordPress
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Original text & photographs ©2014 through 2015

Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.