Tea Room Recipes for Hot Tea Month

During the fall, I wrote a series of posts about processing the Education Cookery Collection (#1, #2, and #3). That collection also includes a bunch of associated books and publications. Although those titles haven’t been cataloged yet, I pulled one of them to write about today. January is National Hot Tea Month and while it’s actually supposed to be around 60 degrees in Blacksburg today, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk tea-related food!

Tea-Room Recipes: A Book for Home Makers and Tea-Room Managers was written in by Lenore Richards and Nola Treat in 1925.  As the subtitle suggests, its purpose was two-fold: recipes for the home and recipes for food-serving businesses. Richards and Treat, it seems, ran a cafeteria, and in their previous lives, were on the faculty of the College of Agriculture, University of Minnesota. So, they probably both had an extension service background.

From the preface:

This book contains what the authors have come to call tea-room recipes. These recipes are richer, more expensive and designed to server fewer people that those in “Quantity Cookery.” [more on that in a moment] They are especially for the use of home makers entertaining at luncheon, tea and dinner, and for the use of managers of tea rooms, clubs and similar institutions.

Tea-Room Recipes is about half desserts, so we can see the distinct emphasis on the “entertaining” element. There are a sea of pies, cakes (with icings and fillings), cookies, ice creams, puddings, torts, and gelatins. But before you get to those treats (unless you’re hosting an event that goes straight for the good stuff), there are several chapters on the more savory side. These sections cover soups, some surprisingly hefty entrees (lamb chops, nut loafs, macaroni bakes), a few quick-and-easy to prepare vegetables sides, salads (with dressings and garnishes like cheese balls), and one of my favorite topics, sandwiches. The sandwich chapter begins with something called the “Tombeche,” which took a moment to decipher, but makes sense when you see the ingredient list: tomato, dried beef, and cheese. Plus, there are some strange ground/melted chocolate or orange fillings, lots of cream cheese/nut combinations, and a hefty dose of olives. A bread chapter covers the savory (including a bacon bread!) and the sweet (muffins and other breakfast sweets).

In addition to this book, Richards and Treat also wrote Quantity Cookery, which seems like a logical companion piece to this one. Tea-Room Recipes can be used to feed a family of, say 4-6, but it can also be used to feed a restaurant full of people. A book like Quantity Cookery takes that to the next level (though it has a more specific, commercial audience).

Oh, and in case you’re curious, since I started this post talking about Hot Tea Month? Tea-Room Recipes does not contain any recipes for tea. I guess the assumption is you can handle that part on your own…


Local Exhibit: Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled

Last year (wow, it feels weird to say that!), the Library of Virginia, with support from Virginia ABC and the Virginia Distillers Association, developed an exhibit that was on display in Richmond. Now, that exhibit, “Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled,” is on the road. For the next 4-5 weeks, it’s here in town at the Blacksburg branch of the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library!

There are a couple of sneak-peek pictures on their Facebook page, but I encourage you to visit the exhibit in person and learn more about an exciting time period (and one of my favorites!) in cocktail history! I suspect there will be some events going on in conjunction with the exhibit and I’ll try to post updates. And, if all goes according to plan, we’ll also have a small display of materials from our collection related to this topic and time period in the next couple of weeks. (More on that soon!)

Military Menus for the Holiday

Our Military & Wartime Cookery Collection (Ms2017-029) includes a wide variety of military/food related ephemera, as well as a collection of associated cataloged publications. Among the materials, we found a 1935 menu from the Christmas Dinner aboard the United States Ship Nevada. The cover includes a color illustration of a decorated ship and a lighthouse, both of which are producing lights that create a Christmas Tree pattern on the water.

The inside includes information about the officers, the date, and the menu itself, which tells us some interesting things about the time. It’s always interesting to see cigarettes, for example, as part of a menu.

We also have a small collection of menus from American forces in Iceland during World War II. Two are for Thanksgiving and the third, below, is from Christmas 1943. The 824th Engineers Aviation Battalion was stationed in Iceland and worked to build airdromes and airfields, as well as provide improvements to the port at Reykjavik.

This menu is actually eight pages long, and contains five pages with a complete list of soldiers in the battalion. In addition, it has the “signatures” page and, at the very end, the menu itself.

Although they are eight years apart, the menus have a fair amount in common: fruit cake, mince pie, candy, nuts, cigarettes, rolls & butter, turkey & gravy, potatoes of one or more kinds, and cranberry sauce. And, in the 21st century, these are things we still associate with the holidays this time of year. The latter menu’s emphasis on “fresh” as a word, though, is a reminder about how special some food items would have been in Iceland in December 1943, as well as a reminder of how rare they might have been at home during rationing of the time.

We at Special Collections hope you have a good holiday season and don’t worry: We’ve got plenty of blog posts planned for 2018!*

*(Your usual archivist/blogger Kira may even get back on a weekly schedule!)

‘Tis the Season…For a Number of Holidays!

It’s the holiday time of year, isn’t it? We get a little break after Thanksgiving here in the U.S., but Hanukkah has begun. Christmas and Kwanzaa are a little over a week away. So, this week, we’re looking at a few recipes from all of those traditions. (We’ll even get into New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day!)

We’re starting with a more recent publication: Southern Holidays (2014) from the Savor the South series. It’s a more modern book and while many of the recipes are modernized, as you’ll see, they have roots that are far deeper. In addition, one of the things about this book is its perspective. Earlier holiday-themed cookbooks in our collection tend to have a specific focus, usually around Christmas (though not always). As we know, there are many other holidays this time of year, and it’s exciting to see them represented here. (I believe we have more titles, but I have to save some for next year!)

The second book with our feature recipes for today is The Holiday Cookbook from 1957. It’s arranged chronologically, so it starts with New Year’s, but we’re going the other way around and starting with the closer holiday. 🙂

No matter what you may be celebrating, chances are you have a holiday food tradition of some sort and we hope you have the opportunity to indulge in it this year! There will a short post going up next week (after your archivist/blogger has headed off to visit family and friends) featuring some military holiday menus, but we want to take this opportunity to say, from Special Collections to you:

Happy Holidays!

New Pamphlet Round Up #7!

It’s about that time we look at some new pamphlets! As usual, they’ve been making their way into my office and piling up for addition to the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002). This batch haven’t made their way into the finding aid just yet, but I hope to get these, and some others, added next week. I picked out six, including three that fit in with materials we already have from the parent companies, and three that represent companies for which we don’t already have items.

First up, our existing companies:

The collection already includes La Rosa & Sons, Inc.’s 1949 pamphlet, “101 Ways to Prepare Macaroni.” This pamphlet focuses entirely on tiny pastina shapes (though there’s an ad in the center for some of other shapes the company made). About half the recipes are labeled as “recipes for children.” While one might expect a lot of soup recipes, one 1/3 are for soups. Another 1/3 are for entrees or “pastina as a vegetable.” The last 1/3 are all–you guessed it–desserts. Apparently, you can fill your puddings, custards, and even cake with tiny pasta!
“Good Things to Eat from Out of the Air” comes from Proctor & Gamble. So far, most of our pamphlets from this company are related to Crisco and some other baking staples. Rather than a single product, this pamphlet, published in 1932, includes a wide range of recipes from radio cooking shows. Essentially, these would be the precursor to modern food-based TV networks, and such programs were quite popular in the 1930s.
The Worcester Salt Company is what we now know of as the Morton Salt Company. To date, we have a handful of pamphlets from the company that, of course, talk about cooking with salt, but also it’s history. “The Worcester Cook Book” was written by Janet McKenzie Hill (a name common on our blog!). It contains recipes, information on the new “free-running salt” that didn’t clump, and the interestingly title section, “The Romance of Salt.” This latter turns out to be a combination of facts about salt, as well as lore and legend surrounding it. For example: “Love-sick maidens at one time, depended on salt to restore to them their straying lovers.” Romantic, huh?

In addition, some of the items waiting to be added to the collection represent new companies!

“Coldspot: Modern Menu Magic Recipes” comes from Sears, Roebuck and Company. About 1/3 of it is about how to use and care for your “coldspot” refrigerator and the other 2/3 is recipes, mostly of things you would store or make using your refrigerator, of course.
This 1975 Tupperware catalog features some of the new products that year, how to use it (yes, there are directions for proper opening and closing of items), and a list of products and potential uses around the home. This catalog may be over 40 years old, but the company is still around. You might recognize some of the pieces, old or new, in your kitchen today!
Premier-Pabst Corporation from Milwaukee might sound familiar. What are advertising here, though, isn’t beer. It’s cheese! (The spreadable, pasteurized kind–sort of like a spreadable velveeta?) This little booklet uses the cheese baked on fish, in a frozen salad with prunes, and perhaps slightly more traditionally, in a sauce for rarebit.

The ABCs of Harry MacElhone

Much of late last week around here was focused on getting materials together for an open house-style donor event last Friday. For your usual archivist & blogger Kira, that meant preparing a two-drink historic cocktail tasting and talk (borrowing from an early 20th century euphemism, it was titled “Measuring Sidewalks Upside Down: Cocktail History in America (and Special Collections!)”). Cocktails aren’t quite on my brain anymore, but both of the drinks on the tasting menu came from rare volumes in our collection. One was a bottled (gin) cocktail from Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks, or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion (1862), which has been a feature on the blog before. The other was the Scofflaw Cocktail, one of my favorite Prohibition-era drinks for a number of reasons (more on that shortly). There are a number of recipes for it, but one of the earliest appearances was in Harry McElhone‘s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, first published in 1921. Our copy is a 10th edition, from a bit later, probably about 1929.

When it comes to cocktail history, a lot of things have been lost–ingredients, recipes, and explanations of names among them. We’ve been lucky enough to discover recipes for “lost” ingredients and found long-forgotten recipes. Names, well, that’s a bit harder. A lot of times, there is no good explanation. Luckily, the same can’t be said for the Scofflaw (or, Scoff-law, if you prefer), which are two of the reasons I love this cocktail. It has a great name AND an origin story. We know that in early 1924, the Boston Herald newspaper held a contest to find a word to describe those lawless types who continued to  engaged in the illicit manufacture and transportation of spirits, brazenly consuming alcohol during Prohibition. Two different people sent in the word “scofflaw,” and the two split the $200 prize. We also know that it didn’t take long for these newly-minted scofflaws to fight back. Although located overseas and thousands of miles the States, it didn’t take long for someone at Harry’s New York Bar to have an idea: Co-opt the word and make it a drink.

Like many-a cocktail, the Scofflaw has seen some variation its 93 years, but not as much as some other cocktails. You probably won’t see arguments break out over the ingredient list or discover minor changes in almost every version you see (like with the Jack Rose). The original Scofflaw Cocktail was made with blended whiskey, but other variants suggest the use of rye or bourbon specifically (I prefer the former). And one could argue about balance, since you’ll see a 1:1 ratio of whiskey: vermouth, as well as a 2:1 ratio. But, as with any cocktail, it’s okay to adjust to a drinker’s taste. The other fun part about a drink like this is that it lends itself to homemade ingredients in the modern craft cocktail age, particularly in the case of the bitters and the grenadine.

If you obsess over cocktails like someone writing this blog post, you might notice some inconsistencies in MacElhone’s book, even with the few sample pages above. References appear to both “‘Canadian Club’ whiskey” and “‘Canadian Club’ whisky” which would be the same thing (and correctly spelled the latter way). Angostura sometimes has “Bitters” after it, but not always. Measurements come in standard (teaspoons) and non-standard (dashes) amounts, as well as in ratios, or sometimes, a combination of all of the above. We know that not all the recipes are from MacElhone and we can probably attribute the variation to his collecting some of the recipes from other sources.  Since, from a historical perspective, measurements are always tricky (they have shifted over time), it may mean a little research or experimentation is needed–but that’s hardly a bad thing. Just remember, we may no longer be scofflaws, but we certainly enjoy one!

Quick Announcement Re: November 17, 2017

Just a quick announcement from our staff: Newman Library will be closing early at 4pm on Friday, November 17, 2017, for a donor appreciation event. This includes Special Collections. We will open at 8am, as usual, but we be closing an hour early. We will re-open at our usual time on the following Monday morning (November 20, 2017).