The Garland Cook Book (Ovens, not Decorations, of course!)

Waaaaaaay back in 2011, when “What’s Cookin’ @Special Collections?!” was born, I talked about how our collection included materials relating to food technology. More specifically, we have historical books, publications, and ephemera which depict changes in food technology over time. This week, I tracked down a cookbook on our shelves that comes from a corporation. Rather than pushing a food product, like some other titles I’ve blogged about before, this one is pushing what we might call a food technology product: oven heat control.

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The Garland Oven Cook Book isn’t quite what I expected. I imagined this was a company that made ovens. I was sort of correct. In fact, it’s a cookbook designed around/for a specific oven part: heat control. The full title is actually The Garland Cook Book: Containing Tested Recipes for Cooking by Controlled Heat and Instructions for Operating the Garland Oven Heat Control. In other words, it’s a cookbook designed for process, based on a product. The introduction has a lot to say on this:

The subject of cooking by controlled heat is one that is engaging the attention of the best cooks and domestic science experts everywhere, and the verdict is unanimous that it not only makes much lighter the task of preparing the daily meals, but gives even the experienced cook a certainty of good results for cooking any particular dish desired…

The control automatically holds the flame of the oven steady at this desired temperature. It is not necessary to watch it, or even think about it, for the control keeps the heat constant and steady, without your having to touch the gas cock, or even go near the oven until the time is up to take the food from the oven.

I don’t know much about The Garland Cook Book. In fact, the only copy that shows up cataloged for public or academic libraries in WorldCat is ours, so it seems to be pretty scarce. There’s no clear date, but the cookbook was probably created by the Detroit-Michigan Stove Company, which produced Garland stoves. Lucky for us, the Detroit Historical Society knows more than I do, and there’s a short article on the Garland stove online. The stove dates back to the 1860s and the company to 1872. This item doesn’t have date, but is possibly from the very late 19th century, but more likely the early part of the 20th century.

However, probably the most important thing about this cookbook is the mechanism behind it. In terms of gas stoves, even temperature control was a huge leap forward in technology, kitchen efficiency, and home cooking. It meant less time being tied to the kitchen, less guesswork, and less need to keep a constant eye on the food.  I know we have some more publications in the collection (and some ephemera, too) dealing with stoves, ovens, and their changes over time. So, if you’re interested, you should pay us a visit and we’ll do some digging. You never know what we might uncover!

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