Jack Frost in the Kitchen

With the holidays just around the corner, fall and winter baking season is here! (It’s baking season almost year round if you’re me, but this time of year can be especially popular.) And, in the past, we’ve talked a fair bit about flour and baking powder on the blog, but we haven’t said much about another staple: sugar!

This 1930-ish pamphlet belongs to the large family of advertising publications and icons in our collection. Eighteen Unusual Recipes has a center image, so each page has a half moon cut out, allowing Jack Frost and a few of his products to shine through. He’s framed by recipes that may not all seem that unusual. We have things like cakes and dessert loaves, and “Sea Wave Candy” (which may sound a bit strange, but isn’t really, when you see the ingredients). For the time, we might consider “Spanish Marmalade” and “Chutney Sauce” to be a bit out there. Perhaps more importantly, though, is convincing people to buy the right product. And, with as diverse a set of sugar products as the company made, they were certainly targeting a wide market. (I particularly like the little individually wrapped sugar tablets in the center of the back page.)

The National Sugar Refining Company of New Jersey isn’t called that anymore. It has long since become part of a larger company. But you might still see Jack Frost on a package or two, depending on where you live, continuing to bring you granulated sugar for all your goodies!

Dial-a-Drink?

We haven’t featured a cocktail item in a while, and, since we have another quirky piece of ephemera we found over the summer, it seems like time to share! Meet the “Mixed Drink Recipe Guide” from Tel-O-Drink Co. in 1948:

If you’re a regular reader, you may recall, back in the day a post we did on a Prohibition-era sliding drink card. This item is in the same family of cocktail gadgets, albeit with a shorter menu. The drink recipe on the outside edge lines up with a recipe and a picture of the appropriate glass for serving. It is double sided and includes recipes for 24 drinks, most of which could be considered mid-20th century classics, from the gin martini to the single serving Planter’s Punch.

This particular item is also stamped with an advertisement for a store in Jamaica, NY. When to comes to culinary history, creative advertising always seems to be, well, creative. Why hand out a booklet full of recipes when you can find a more interactive way to mix and pour? I can drink to that!


And don’t forget! Special Collections staff will be on hand at the Presidential Installation at Virginia Tech (http://www.president.vt.edu/installation/experience-virginia-tech.html), so if you’re coming to the showcase on Saturday morning, be sure to stop by and visit with us! We’ll be sharing items from the History of Food and Drink Collection and enjoying the opportunity to talk with the community!

 

Beyond English Language Books

While the majority of materials in the History of Food and Drink Collection are in English, that’s not the rule. Over time, we’ve acquired a handful or two of items (mostly books, but at least one manuscript cookbook, too) in other languages. More recently, this is included a two German, two Spanish, and one French cocktail manuals. But that wasn’t where it started. As it turns out, you can find publications on culinary topics in a variety of languages. Today, we’re featuring Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft by Anna Bauer. Published in Vienna in 1892, this household management guide isn’t all that different from the same kinds of books you would find in America at the time. (And yes, you’re all being subjected to a German language book because that’s the European language your usual archivist/blogger, Kira, can read best…)

In English, we might call Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft something like “The Austrian Housewife: A Handbook for Women and Girls of all (Social) Classes; Practical Instruction for Managers of Domestic Economy (or Home Economics),” if we translated it close to literally. But really, we could just call it “How to be an Austrian Housewife in 1892.”

Like the majority of household management guides from the period, there aren’t many (or, in this case, ANY) colors and only one image–that of a proper account book to be kept by the household manager. Of course, with this book, there’s the added challenge of a Fraktur (gothic) font. And, like English language books from the period, this is one jam-packed (pun intended) guide for women. It contains a general introduction and sections on: organizing and cleaning rooms/spaces; handling and preserving meat; preparation and storage of sausages (an entire CHAPTER on that subject); storage of vegetables and fruits; drying fruits; storing of juicy fruits in pickles, wines, and mustard; preserving fruits with sugar; serving meals and carving; caring for and feeding the sick; hygiene; childcare; gardening; and the management of livestock, including dairy products. All crammed into 410 pages!

You can’t find this title online, so if you’re curious, you’ll have to pay us a visit. You’ll find more than few foreign language titles on our shelves relating to a variety of subjects, so feel free to drop by!

Tschüß bis nächste Woche! (Bye until next week!)

The History of Dining (and Eating) at Virginia Tech

This week, we’re featuring one of the few more recent publications from our collection. One, it’s a really neat book. And two, it has a section on tailgating. I’ve spent my fair share of time staying away from campus during a home game, but if you’re a part of the Blacksburg community, some things are inevitable. Whether you love or hate football season, it does mean food. Nor is it the only food history our town has to offer. A Taste of Virginia Tech is the work of two alumnae, published in 2012.

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This book is about a lot more than tailgating, however. It covers some of the recent history of dining on campus, the farmer’s market, and PLENTY of recipes from local restaurant and local people. Sure, this is a recent book, but it’s an important piece of VT history, too. It’s also a great reminder of the way food insinuates its way into our daily life and culture. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived here all your life, spent your college days here, or only show up for games. Whether it’s wings and dip at a tailgate, fish tacos on the patio at Cabo, or a burger at Mike’s, we all have our favorite spots and foods in Blacksburg.


P.S. The library copy is checked out, so if you’d like to scout the recipes, you might just need to drop by and see us. :)

Cora Bolton McBryde’s Cookbook

Some of our readers may know (and some of you may not) that Special Collections has a second blog. Launched in January 2014, it highlights materials from all of our collecting areas and features contributions from all our staff. Last week, our university archivist wrote a post about a handwritten cookbook we acquired last year. It was kept by Cora Bolton McBryde, the wife of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College president (from 1891-1907), John McLaren McBryde. It’s a very interesting piece of university history AND food history. So this week, our feature comes from our other blog. You can read about the cookbook, its preservation, and a little about the McBrydes here: http://vtspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/cooking-for-the-president-cora-bolton-mcbrydes-cookbook/. Enjoy!

Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Summer Cooking

Since summer is in full swing, this week we’re again featuring, well, summer recipes. This time, from Mrs. Scott’s North American Seasonal Cook Book: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Guide to Economy and Ease in Good Food, 1921. (Perhaps we’ll revisit other portions of the cookbook later in the year, too!)

Front cover

Front cover

From the introduction:

This is the first cook book ever planned to help the housewife take advantage of Nature’s changing supply of foodstuffs from season to season, tho such timeliness is the chief determining factor in the economy, palatability and healthfulness of many articles of diet…The average woman who never thought of the matter in this light will be astonished at the usefulness of this Seasonal Cook Book. It will enable her to make timely use of what is in market, and by so doing will help not only to reduce the cost of living, but at the same time increase the pleasure of the table.

The summer recipes include recipes for hot and cold soups; fish and clams; beef, lamb and combination dishes; egg dishes; cheese receipts; vegetables; salads and dressings; fruit desserts; puddings; frozen dishes; seasonable cakes; jams; home flavors; breads; beverages; jellies; canning; and sandwiches. Personally, I got stuck in the sandwich section at the end, surprised at how many different things one can combine with cream cheese to make a filling, especially when it comes to olives…

Mrs. Scott’s point, though, is that you can do a great deal with what is on hand during a given season. Good advice for any age where cooks may be seeking economy, simplicity, and efficiency. And there are at least some options for those hot days when turning on an oven might be the last thing on your mind!

Frozen Desserts and Virginia Dishes–Just in Time for July 4th!

While hunting for either a) July 4th themed recipes or b) summery desserts for the holiday, I stumbled upon Frozen Desserts: A Little Book Containing Recipes for Ice Cream. Water Ices, Frozen Desserts Together with Sundry “Famous Old Virginia Dishes,” by Mrs. Clement Carrington McPhail. (Quite a long title for 16 pages!) It probably dates to the early part of the 20th century. What’s more intriguing, though, is the combination…

Front cover

Front cover

It’s hard not to look at this more like two 8 page publications by one author that were sort of stuck together. There isn’t a real connection between, say, Frozen Banana Bisque and Old Virginia Hoecake, but what cook doesn’t have a diverse knowledge of foods. I suppose Mrs. McPhail was just sharing what she knew.

So, whether your three day weekend needs some tutti frutti, pineapple ice, apple dumplings, or wild duck, take a little inspiration from Virginia past. (Though you may want to skip the frozen mayonnaise, whether you’re picnicking or not!)

Happy July 4th!

Betty Crocker & Salads!

It’s back to Betty Crocker and the bright red box for a short Friday afternoon post. There’s something that must draw me to it for these end-of-the-week features. Today’s post focuses on section “D,” aka “Salads for Every Occasion.” Frozen, fruity, meaty, fishy, jellied, dressed, dry…and often some wild combination. (But don’t worry, we’ve spared you the jellied chicken this time…)

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Whether you’re looking for dish to complement a weekend bbq or a way to use up leftovers, this series of cards can help…maybe?

Happy Friday and make something you enjoy this weekend!

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.

 

Women’s History Month, Part 8: Amelia Simmons (fl. late 18th century)

Since last week, I’ve been running around with the idea in my head that I wanted to write about a first: namely, the author of the first known American cookbook, Amelia Simmons. We aren’t lucky enough to own an early edition of the treasured American Cookery, or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake: Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life (first published in 1796), but we do have a 1996 reprint of the second 1796 edition. (Oh, how I do enjoy a long cookbook title!)

Below I’m sharing the book itself, but profiling Amelia turns out to be a near-impossibility! Her history is gleaned in bits and pieces. There’s a wonderful biography of what is known and speculated about her online at the Feeding America project from MSU. I won’t re-hash it here, but it is a great read and I recommend it.

 

American Cookery was first published in 1796. The country was young, still creating an identity. American food culture, influenced by Simmons and some of her receipts, was developing right along with it. Certainly this and other publications relied on mostly British cooking and British cookbooks would remain popular and common in America for decades to come. However, Simmons’ receipts incorporated native ingredients, most notably cornmeal (Indian meal), and, by the 1798 edition, advice for how to improve access to resources for cooking (“The cultivation of Rabbits would be profitable in America”).  Simmon’s recipes include the use of pearl ash (also called “pot ash”), which functioned as a precursor to what we consider modern baking powder, still about 50 years ahead of her time. The final page of our edition also contains directions for “emptins,” an ingredient that worked as a kind of yeast. Simmon’s book wasn’t only about recipes, but cooking and baking as processes in the home. The 1798 edition offered was expanded to offer information on growing and choosing foods, as well as preparing them.

Feeding America has a digital copy of the 1798 edition online, for those of you interested in viewing the whole item and Project Gutenburg includes the text of the first 1796 edition, if you’d like to compare. Either way, this book offers us a great peek into the roots of American food and its history. Now, Independence Cake, anyone? :)

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