Betty Crocker & Outdoor Entertaining

As Friday afternoon hit and I still didn’t have an idea for a post, I suddenly remember the bright red box shelved in our Special Collections Media section. Saved by “Betty Crocker” for neither the first nor last time! (I know it’s really a team of people, but admit it, we all have an image of her.) A couple of years back, I found the cheery box that is the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library (our edition is from 1971). As we headed into the Memorial Day weekend and grilling season, I pulled out the section called “Outdoor Entertaining.” (We’re only taking on one section for today–the cheery red box of Betty Crocker recipes holds lots of surprises for future posts!)

Skewered or spitted foods not pictured include steak kabobs, lamb or veal skewers, and ham on a spit, in case you were curious. There are a number of seafood recipes (nothing stabbed or punctured—though there is a fish in a wire grilling frame) in this section, what appears to be a nice recipe for grilled apples, and lots more meat.

So, as we kick off grilling season and unofficial summer, take some inspiration. This weekend, break out the coals/gas/wood and skewer away (carefully, of course). It’s amazing what you can do with a little grill power.

 

A Tiny Post on Some Tiny Books

Cookbooks come in all sizes, and sometimes, in a variety of shapes (last year, we posted a book shaped like a cocktail shaker). This week, we’re talking size. It’s a tiny post on some tiny books! Just last month, we acquired three little books (and when we say little, we’re not kidding!). For scale, we’ve photographed one next to a standard paperclip:

Our three books are each devoted to one type of recipe. There’s The Tiny Book on SaladsThe Tiny Book on Sandwiches, and The Tiny Book on Chafing Dishes. All three were published in 1905 by the Livermore & Knight Co. in Providence, Rhode Island. Each book has sections for different main ingredients and you’ll see a combination of common and, by modern standards, uncommon recipes.

The first question many people ask when they first see these books is “why?” Is there a point to a cookbook this small? Or was is more a gimmick? We don’t have a clear answer. Despite the size, the font is surprisingly readable (which can often be the case with small books) and the recipes are simple, practical, and, for the most part, likely very tasty. The small size would make the books easy to store in a apron pocket (though good luck keeping track of them on a traditional bookshelf!).

Research suggests there are two more books in the series, The Tiny Book on Candies and The Tiny Book on Cocktails. We’ll keep our eyes open for these additional gems and hope you will, too! In the meantime, we invite you to visit us and check out the three we have on hand. We think you’ll get a kick out of them.

A Treatise of All Sorts of Foods: Or, The 1745 Book with the 93-Word Title

Back in the early days of the blog, we profiled the oldest food-related publication in our collection, the short selection of a larger publication with the lengthy title, A pocket-companion, containing things necessary to be known by all that values their health and happiness : being a plain way of nature’s own prescribing, to cure most diseases in men, women and children, by kitchen-physick only. To which is added, an account how a man may live well and plentifully for two-pence a day / collected from The good housewife made a doctor, by Tho. Tryon  (1692). You can that view that post online here: “Advice from 1692.”

However, it seemed about time we go back and show off another early publication from the History of Food and Drink Collection. This week, we’re featuring a slightly more recent publication from 1745, with, if you can believe it, an even longer title: A treatise of all sorts of foods, both animal and vegetable: also of drinkables: giving an account how to chuse the best sort of all kinds; of the good and bad effects they produce; the principles they abound with; the time, age, and constitution they are adapted to. Wherin their nature and use is explain’d according to the sentiments of the most eminent physicians and naturalists, ancient and modern. Written originally in French, by the learned M.L. Lemery. Tr. by D. Hay. To which is added, an introduction treating of foods in general. (When you look at the title page below, you may notice there is actually a great deal MORE that someone wisely thought to leave out, when cataloging the item.)

As much as we’d love to have you visit us, the good news is, if you want to read more from this treatise (and it’s well worth it!), you can see it online. A pdf is available through VTech Works, the library’s institutional repository (http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10325). If you’re not used to the style and font of mid-18th century publications, don’t worry. Like handwriting, it won’t take long for you to understand those long “f”s and strange, archaic terms.

And whether you’re wondering what people thought about gooseberries, “sea-dragons,” milk, wild boar, or brandy in the 1740s, this is a great place to start. The book’s descriptions about melancholy Humours may be out of date, but the desire to give good advice about food is timeless.

Kentucky Home Cooking

We featured several pages from the Kentucky Receipt Book a while back, in a post about the variety of lettuce sandwich recipes. However, this is a LOT more to this wonderful publication from 1903 and it’s high-time the cookbook had its moment in the spotlight…

One of the most noticeable things about this cookbook is the lack of a table of contents. The index at the back gives pages numbers for recipes by category (see image above), but if you’re looking for something specific, it takes a little digging. But, if you’re willing to dig, this book is full of surprises. A few examples:

  • the Kentucky Receipt Book is believed to contain one of the earliest printed recipes for banana pudding–however, if you look at the images above, you’ll notice the vital absence of vanilla wafers (although Nabisco was producing a cookie similar to the modern wafer by 1903).
  • there is an entire section devoted to oysters: fried, baked, skewered, curried, griddled, broiled, creamed, deviled, roasted, fricasseed, pickled, raw, in pastry, on toast, in an omelette, as a croquette, in a sauce…the book even contains directions for feeding oysters (keep them in your cellar!).
  • a whole host of unique animals and particular parts appear, including wild grouse, squirrel, terrapin, hog and calf head (for scrapple and mock turtle, respectively), backbone, and sweetbreads.
  • there is a section on beverages with directions for making fruit wines, cordials, beer, vinegar,  punches, and cocktails (gin fizzes, manhattans, and of course, the mint julep!). Several of the tea recipes also include rum.
  • directions on how to pickle everything from cucumbers and peppers to figs, melons, and walnuts
  • household hints and remedies like treating freckles with horseradish, cleaning zinc with kerosene, and curing headaches with lemon slices.

The Kentucky Receipt Book  is available here at Special Collections if you’re in the area and looking for a gelatin salad or pigeon dish for your next party. You can also view it through the Internet Archive, since it is out of copyright.

And remember, you only need to feed those oysters every other day, so take today off and bake a lemon pie, instead. This cookbook has seven variations…

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