This week, I thought we’d look at a manuscript cookbook. At the moment, this particular item is considered unprocessed, but by the time this blog post is over, I’ll probably have done half of the work of describing the collection. So, there may even be a finding aid by the end of the day!
Officially, this manuscript cookbook doesn’t have a title yet. It’s owner/creator, as we can tell from the inscription at the front, was someone named “Doris.” The cookbook was a gift from her mother in 1925. However, we don’t have many other clues as to the identity of Doris. Which, of course, can be the case with manuscript cookbooks. But more on that in a moment.
One of the first things you might notice about this item is the cover. It’s not the original. Rather, a blank notebook (with nice marbled end papers) has been covered with what seems to be wallpaper. It was hand stitched in at the front and back, probably to protect from food debris.
If you’ve spent anytime looking at handwritten recipe books, trends and recipe themes emerge: There is often a preponderance of cakes, cookies, puddings (or, “pudgings” as it appears here), and preserves.
Because some of the pages are already loose and I didn’t want to stress the binding by placing it flat on a scanner, I decided to photograph the pages in today’s post. So, apologies for the addition of fingers and in some cases, less than perfect quality.
Despite my blurry photo, conserves, it seems, are quite easy to make. Case in point:
2 Qts cut up rhubard
1 Large Pineapple
2 lbs sugar
boil until thick
One of our only clues about Doris also comes from a folded up sheet of paper stuck inside the cookbook. On one page, there is a recipe for the every-popular moulded salmon or tuna salad. In addition, there are some recipes from a 1964 Randolph Macon Alumnae Association luncheon.
The cheese strata is attributed to Doris Rogers. While I don’t like to make assumptions, it’s possible this is the same owner of the cookbook. Although the cookbook does have a section of cheese recipes, it doesn’t contain a cheese strata (I was hoping to find a match!). Still, this could be a clue I’ll need to follow up on, if I can find some Randolph-Macon history!
After page 165, the rest of this notebook is blank, which also isn’t uncommon when it comes to manuscript receipt books. Sometimes people lose interest, sometimes they begin collecting recipes in another way, sometimes it gets passed on to someone else (who may or may not continue to add to it). It seems that this particular cookbook did get use–there are loose pages from lots of turning and there are definitely some stains suggesting it spent time open in an active kitchen.
The other reason I chose to highlight this item during my 2018 Women’s History Month series is to play against the posts I’ve already done this month. We started with Betty Crocker who, while not an actual person, is an icon. Last week, we looked at some women’s contributions to cocktail history, some of which were obvious, others a little less so. This week was an opportunity to point out that contributions to culinary history do not have to be identified, attributed, or famous. Rather, anyone can create a piece of culinary history that might just have a longer legacy that you expect. We have no reason to believe that Doris was keeping this cookbook for us to be able to share, but now, 93 years later, we have the option to make her recipes once again.
Way back in the days of March 2012, when the blog was just a wee babe of 7 months old, I wrote a post about Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife; or, Methodical Cook, America’s first regional cookbook. While I don’t plan to re-hash the post exactly, it seemed like time to revisit it. That post (found here) focused primarily on the 1846 edition of the book in our collection, though it made passing mention of the other two in our possession: the 1824 (first edition) and the 1855 (which we had only recently acquired). I’m pleased to say that these days, Special Collections includes SEVEN different editions of Mary Randolph on our shelves! (All told, this is just scratching the surface–there are more like 40 editions in print if you count different years of publication , publishers, and later reprints!) Let’s take a look, shall we?
Publication year: 1824 (sometimes cataloged or described as 1820 or [1820?])
Publisher: Hurst & Company, New York
Number of pages in the text: 180 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes (this edition also contains several pages of advertisements in the back).
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 4
Fun fact about this edition: “Arlington Edition” doesn’t denote the location of publication, but more likely where it was written (Mary and her husband David moved to the Washington, DC area in 1819, five years before this first edition was published.)
Bonus fact about this copy: Our 1824 is in particularly fragile shape. At some point in its history, it sustained water damage and has been nibbled on by insects. We provide a safe and stable home for this copy, so if you come to see it in person, we’ll have to help you look at it.
Publication year: 1836
Publisher: John Plaskitt, Baltimore
Number of pages: 180 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes.
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 24
Fun fact about this edition: In 1828, Mary Randolph added a small selection of recipes to 3rd edition of The Virginia Housewife. Our 1836 is our earliest copy to contain these additional recipes, which include items like “Mock Turtle Soup of Calf’s Head,” “Fried Chickens,” and “To Make Yellow Pickle.”
Publication year: 1846
Publisher: E. H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia
Number of pages: 180 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes.
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 14
Fun fact about this particular copy: Our 1846 edition was rebound in a new binding with new end-papers sometime in the latter half of the 20th century. However, the original front and back covers were retained (despite their damage) and applied to the new binding. This was a well-used copy with blotches and stains, suggesting it saw plenty of time in a kitchen!
Publication year: 1855
Publisher: E. H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia
Number of pages: 180 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes (this edition also contains several pages of advertisements in the back).
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 3
Fun fact about this edition: Like some other earlier additions, this one features several pages of advertisements in the back. In this case, there are 12 pages of ads for textbooks and educational volumes printed by the same publishers (E. H. Butler & Co. of Philadelphia).
Publication year: 1970 (reprint of 1860)
Publisher: Avenel Books, Richmond (1970); E. H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia (original 1860)
Number of pages: 180 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes (this edition also contains several pages of advertisements in the back which were part of the 1860).
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 30
Fun fact about this edition: Although printed in 1970, this edition is actually a page for page reprint of the 1860 version! The book is a little larger than the original would have been, which makes the text a bit bigger and easier to read, but once you get past the modern cover, this edition takes you back 110 years.
Publication year: 1984 (reprint of 1824, plus pages from the 1825, and additional recipes which first appeared in 1828)
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (1984); Davis and Force, Washington, DC (1824) (American Antiquarian Society copy); Way & Gideon, Washington, DC (1825 & 1828) (American Antiquarian Society copy)
Number of pages: 370 including preface, introduction, table of contents, and recipes, and extensive notes, commentaries, and appendices by author Karen Hess.
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 186
Fun fact about this edition: Unlike any of the 19th century editions or the later reprints, this 1984 edition contains a frontispiece with a picture of Mary Randolph (it would be common practice later in the 19th century to include author’s pictures or some sort of image opposite the title page). Karen Hess did extensive work comparing early editions and the result is this version which includes the original 1824 text plus recipes that were added to the 1825 and 1828 editions and a historical glossary. The 1825 edition also included Mary Randolph’s designs for a home refrigerator and tub, but these designs were removed from all subsequent editions–these pages are also included in this 1984 volume.
Publication year: 2013
Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City (2013); Way & Gideon, Washington, DC (1828) (American Antiquarian Society copy)
Number of pages: 240 including preface, introduction, table of contents, recipes, and additional introduction by Nathalie Dupree.
Number of copies in public or academic libraries (incl. Virginia Tech): 30
Fun fact about this edition: This edition is part of a series of reproduced American cookbooks and culinary-related works that, to date, contains around 65 publications. It includes the works of people we’ve talked about on the blog before like William Alcott, Catherine Beecher, Lydia Maria Child, Eliza Leslie, Jerry Thomas, and Susannah Carter, as well as some community cookbooks, early translations of French cookbooks, and many more authors!
I’ve been wanting to do this little comparison for some time now. I know we didn’t get into the details of these volumes, but that would have made for an exceptionally long post. If you’re interested in seeing the volumes for yourself, you’re always welcome to visit us and do some comparing of your own. You can also find a few different editions of The Virginia Housewife, or; Methodical Cook online in digital and/or transcribed forms: Project Gutenberg has the1860 edition; Michigan State University’s “Feeding America” project has the1838 edition; the Internet Archive, via the University of California Libraries, has the1836 edition. In other words, Mary Randolph’s influence–or at least her recipes–are still available today for the curious culinary historian! And remember: “Method is the Soul of Management”–for Mary, it wasn’t just about what you cook, but how you cook it!
This week, with some holidays looming, rather than feature a single item, I thought it might be more fun to do something I’ve done before (though without explicitly pointing it out)–feature variations on a single recipe. Putting aside my own reservations about this seasonal favorite, this week is all about EGGNOG! There are as many variations as there are people who make it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a short, historical tour of this culinary and cocktail treat.
As a side note, there’s actually a whole family of what we might consider eggnog drinks or “nogs” as they are sometimes referred to, which also includes things like the “Tom and Jerry,” the egg/ale flip, and zabaglione (aka zabajone aka sabayon aka zabaione, which can be either an egg-based dessert or an egg-based drink), but for the sake of simplicity, I’m sticking with the classic concept. Even with the classic, there’s plenty of ambiguity and one struggles to define what the classic recipe is. Some people describe eggnog as a milk punch (not to be confused with the more appropriately termed “milk punch” that doesn’t contain eggs) or an egg milk punch (which is accurate in this case)! Okay, before this gets any thicker than eggnog itself, let’s look at some examples…
Jerry Thomas is something of my cocktail hero and, if I had lived in his era, I would like to think we would have been cocktail buddies. I would definitely have enjoyed his spirit (and spirits!), stories, and personality! He had a handful of eggnog (or as he calls them “egg nogg”) recipes published in 1862. What they have in common is eggs (or some part thereof) and sugar. But he offers nog(g)s spiked with sherry, cider, brandy, rum, madeira, or some combination of several. Some include milk or water and while most are cold, he does include a hot variation, which we’ll see come up again shortly. If the first bartender’s manual published is this complicated about eggnog, drawing on the existing history, it’s easy to see how everyone has a version…
Harriet Anne De Salis‘ recipe includes brown sugar (not white) and ginger and cinnamon (along with nutmeg). There’s no milk, and it’s spirituous base is a combination of rum and hot beer. Hers is a hot drink. (This is a bit closer to the partial origin of eggnog–the egg flip–which also appears in her book. While I’m really not going to get into that comparison, the egg flip/ale flip is a really fascinating drink. You can read about it’s process and see it being made by food blogger and author Sarah Lohman. It involved a fire poker–seriously!)
In 1930, with Prohibition in full swing, it may seem surprising that cocktail manuals were being published in the U. S. But believe me, they were very popular (a topic I’ve covered elsewhere on the blog before). Dexter Mason’s book features a single egg nog recipe intended to serve 50 people. Mason includes the trending eggs, sugar, and nutmeg, as well as milk AND double cream. His choice of spirits: rum and whiskey. Talk about rich!
In 1952, David Embury published The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. It was popular in its one time and is still at least a well-known title to cocktail historians today. Embury not only gives us recipes, but also sage advice on the topic of nogs…
Embury’s “Individual Egg Nog” can be made with virtually any spirit (he adds port, applejack, gin, and cognac to the growing list). Like Jerry Thomas, he also has a “Baltimore Egg Nog,” but his includes cognac, rum and peach brandy (rather than brandy or rum and Madeira, as Thomas suggests). Embury also add milk and cream and uses both egg yolks AND whites. It appears to skip the nutmeg, but it’s actually listed as part of his advice for all eggnogs above–don’t skip it! He also gives us both hot and cold options.
Embury gives us five versions of eggnog and while the similarities are clear, the variations are just as telling. (And yes, I let a version of the Tom and Jerry sneak in for the curious.) There’s no one way to make eggnog, no matter what one might think. Best not to argue–just enjoy!
Even corporate sponsored pamphlets can get in on the eggnog action…
This variation is from the Bacardi corporation, so we should only be surprised if the base is anything BUT rum. However, by the the 1970s, we also see the use of pre-made eggnog, rather than homemade, as in the party version above. Or, other creative substitutions like ice cream. The Eggnog for one uses ice, which doesn’t appear in any of the previous variations (Embury is explicitly against it and while Thomas and De Salis would have had some access to ice, both avoids this addition). Even without eggs as an individual ingredient, Bacardi does include nutmeg….I’m beginning to suspect true eggnog is really just a vehicle for nutmeg consumption…
Our last examples bring us into the modern age of cocktails. These variations are from The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book (2009).
The eggnog recipes here are mixed in with some other bourbon-filled holiday treats, but the general idea is clear and it reflects some more modern craft cocktails/bartending experimentation. In the days of the appletini, chocolate martini, the cosmopolitan, and a variety of other “martinis” (don’t get me started!), it’s not surprising to see some new eggnogs, too. In this case, it’s chocolate and pistachio (as well as candy cane, pumpkin, and traditional versions on other pages). All five rely on ready-to-drink eggnog, dressed up with bourbon and some other items, but all five are also topped with nutmeg (and candy canes and whipped cream).
While I specifically went hunting through cocktail manuals of the last 150+ years, it’s also important to point out that, of course, your eggnog need not be alcoholic. The early homemade recipes published by Thomas, De Salis, Mason, and Embury can be made non-alcoholic and if you’re looking for ready-to-use, these days, it even comes dairy-free. My point with all this meandering through eggnog history is that no matter what your preferences and tastes, there’s probably an eggnog for you out there somewhere–or in your very own kitchen, waiting to be invented. Plus, it’s just really, really fun to follow the historical path of a drink with such a long history (dating back to the 1770s, at least) through time. It’s a good reminder that the contents of every glass have a story to tell and that not every path has a clear, straight evolution. Eggnog recipes are more like branches and twigs of a tree, shooting out in all directions, in variations and themes. And, like every recipe, every branch and twig ends with a nutmeg seed.
It’s National Cheese Fondue Day! (Seriously, there’s a food holiday for a lot of things that might surprise you…) As a result, it only seems fair to share a few fondue recipes. These come courtesy of the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library from 1971. There’s actually a whole section of cards on fondue, about 1/3 of which are cheese-related. Here are a couple of highlights:
2015 is around the corner, which means it’s time for me to dig out the holiday cookbooks. I thought about a post full of candy, but it’s important to remember this time of year isn’t ALL about sweets. That being said, our feature item this week still has its fair share of holiday dessert classics. Let’s take a look at The Holiday Cookbook from the Culinary Arts Institute. It was issued and re-issued repeatedly, but ours is from 1957.
Christmas main dishes
Fruitcake (pt. 1)
Fruitcake (pt. 2)
New Year’s appetizers
New Year’s main dishes
New Year’s desserts
This title actually covers nine different holidays, but I don’t want to spoil some of others just yet. This title could reappear in 2015. 🙂 We’re focused on Christmas, full of classics like roast goose and fruitcake, and New Year’s, with its savory canapes, rich main dishes, and holiday-ingredient-inspired pies. There’s a mix here of the expected for Christmas: a “light” fruitcake that looks anything but light (plus, you can make them in a range of sizes!); roast goose; candied yams; and candies and hard sauces. But you’ll also find 5 dishes with persimmons in the 6 pages of Christmas recipes and a creamy, yet chunky looking “Creamed Oysters with Turkey.”
The New Year’s recipes include a lot of seafood canapes (“Crab Nippies,” herring in sour cream, and shrimp cocktail), as well as heavy meat dishes like Yorkshire Pudding and rib roast. There’s stuffed or curried birds (“Curried Chicken with Broiled Bananas?”), an Eggnogg Pie, and three different eggnogg recipes, for those of you who can never get enough of the ‘nog. Apparently, one should ring in the new year with a rich diet!
No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this time of year, who you’re with, and on what you’re dining, Special Collections wishes you the best! We’re looking forward to our holidays full of goodies (we’ve all been busy making our usual–and not so usual–treats for each other around here) and we hope you are, too!
Happy Holidays and we’ll meet you back here in 2015!
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!
“Do not regard cooking from a standpoint of taste only. Endeavor to use the various food materials to the best possible advantage–carefully preserving their nourishing qualities and maintaining their true value.”
From the Introduction
This week, we’re featuring the Vegetarian Cook Book published by the City of David in 1934. Full of vegetable, egg, cheese, and meat substitute dishes, there are a few surprises as well…
Whether theosophical vegetarians or religious vegetarians, we’ve clearly made every attempt to represent the “loaf” in the past couple of weeks. This title also includes a good deal of “mocking,” too: Mock Veal (Cutlets), Mock Turkey (Croquettes AND Dressing), Mock Steak (or Salmon or Sausage or Crabs), and even a Mock Cherry Pie (made with cranberries and raisins).
Mary’s City of David, the religious organization behind this publication, was based in Michigan. Their dietary choices were religious-based and as the preface states, they were focused on their own supplies of vegetables, fruits, poultry (for eggs), and dairy products. The resulting recipes are quite different from the Vegetarian Cook Book from last week (despite the duplicate title). Rather than relying on a protein substitute (the Protose made by the Battle Creek Food Company), this group found all sorts of creative alternatives in the section on Meat Substitutes: peanut butter, other ground nuts, beans, cracker crumbs, and even tomato pulp (see “Mock Salmon”).
Another oddity we see in this cookbook is the number and variety of actual vegetable recipes. There are classic veggies: potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, carrots, and peas, but also asparagus, beets, dandelion greens, “egg plant,” salsify, and pumpkin. And while there’s some repetition (you can cream just about anything, for example), there is not shortage of veggies and veggie-based dishes.
The other big surprise here is the significant number of desserts. After the sections on salads and dressings, the book jumps straight into pastries. Nearly 50 of the publication’s 140+ pages share recipes for pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, puddings, fritters, dumplings, custards, and candies. However, like many cookbooks, we cannot reach the end without several pages devoted to canning and preserving! Once again, neither fruit nor vegetable is ignored. There are instructions for quince jelly, plum conserve, spiced crabapples, pickled tomatoes, homemade catsup, and even pickled beets to get you through any season.
On a side note (and since I made a passing reference last week), the Mary’s City of David did have a baseball team. It has a long and interesting history (the team, for example, played in the first ever night game in 1930). While not the topic of our post today, you can read more about the team here: http://www.maryscityofdavid.org/html/baseball.html.
And who knows, lima bean croquettes and cabbage salad may have been just what the team needed!