Community Cooking in (and Beyond) the Bluegrass State

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass: A New and Practical Cook Book Containing Nearly a Thousand Recipes was originally published in 1875. The copy is one of the 10th “new and enlarged” edition, first issued in 1879, but our actual copy is from 1881. Compiled and edited by the Ladies of the Presbyterian Church in Paris, Kentucky, these 206 pages are packed with recipes from women (and a few men) from mostly Kentucky, but also Virginia, Arkansas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Our edition includes the original 1875 preface, which we can’t NOT quote a bit of for you:

The “Blue Grass” region of Kentucky, as is well know, is considered the garden spot of the State. It is celebrated for the fertility of its soil, the beauty of its pastures, its flocks and blooded stock, and last, but not least, for the hospitality of its people and their table luxuries.

It is useless to enlarge upon the last feature, especially to those who have attended Bourbon Fairs [that’s the county, not the whiskey], and made visits in this and the adjoining counties. We only refer to it, by way of introducing our book to the appreciation of the public.

The 1879 also had a preface of its own, which states, in part:

…Nine thousand copies have been sold, and its praises have been sung by many of the best housekeepers of the land.

In sending forth this new edition, we have corrected some errors, supplied defects, and added many valuable recipes, which will be found at the close of each section and in the Miscellaneous department.

The entire profits of this work have been, and will continue to be, devoted to religious charity.

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass was, at its core, a community cookbook, designed to raise funds for a cause. But the fact that it went on into at least 10 editions and over 9,000 copies sold says a lot for this little volume. (There was at least one more edition in 1905 AND it has been reprinted  at least once in the last 10 years.) It clearly appealed to a wide audience (not just Kentuckians!) in its originality. (The preface also states that “Many of our recipes are entirely original with our own famed cooks; others have been gathered from the most reliable sources; not one, so far as we know, has been copied from books.”) So, what are these amazing recipes?

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass has elements we see in many other cookbooks of the time: sections for home remedies, home cleaning/upkeep, and cooking for invalids, in addition to all the other recipes. Of course, it also reflects a different era of cooking. The majority of the recipes have a list of ingredients in non-standard amounts (standardized measurements, courtesy of Fannie Farmer, were still several years in the future in 1881) and, in some cases, additional directions, but there was still an assumption that a reader would know what to do with those ingredients. Or, they would at least understand the basics of producing a pudding, a white sauce, or a pastry dough as a component. Compared to many modern cookbooks, there was a different set of expectations on home cooks in the late 19th century! Some of the basics may be covered in the book (Housekeeping in the Blue Grass has recipes for pie crust that you could use throughout, for example), but there’s no guarantee.

Community cookbooks were aptly named, especially in their early days–they weren’t just something produced by a community group (often of women). They were produced by a community of cooks, for a community of new and experienced cooks, and to help build community between those who had the knowledge and those who might have needed some culinary and domestic education. That’s a whole other topic we don’t have space for here today, but it is food for thought (at least it has been for me lately).

Housekeeping in the Blue Grass is available online, as it was scanned by Special Collections staff some years ago. So, if our amuse-bouche (I love that word!) of a blog post isn’t enough for you, you can delve further into the book and find recipes for deviled turkey, Sally Lunn, or fish pie…

Very (Cran)berry Goodness!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a good time to talk about a favorite seasonal berry: The Cranberry! Underrated and sometimes forgotten, it’s more versatile than it’s typical jellied or un-jellied sauce or relish. And we have the pamphlets to prove it! Two different folders in the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002) have booklets from cranberry-centric companies. First, there’s “Cranberries and How to Cook Them” (1938) from the American Cranberry Exchange:

This pamphlet for “Eatmor Cranberries” (seriously!) puts cranberries in baked goods, sauces, salads, relishes and even–yup, you guess it–gelatin! It has tips for using cranberries as a meat tenderizer and a recipe for cranberries as an omelet filling. It also includes a little bit of detail about where the berries come from and how they are harvested. Although our last example (below) contains a lot more detail on the history of cranberries. But first, “Cape Cod’s Famous Cranberry Recipes” (1941) from the National Cranberry Association. This organization was also known early on as the Cranberry Canners, Inc., but most of you will probably recognize it by the company’s current name:  Ocean Spray Cranberry, Inc.

This pamphlet presents the clever idea of using cookie cutters to produce shaped decorations for a surprising number of holiday meals–not just Thanksgiving, but also Valentine’s Day, Easter, and even Halloween (cranberry-sauce shaped turkeys, hearts, bunnies, and pumpkins respectively). In addition, of course, it’s full of recipes…including some meat dishes with cranberry accompaniments and a few interesting desserts (Cranberry Nogg?). Lastly, also from the National Cranberry Association, there’s “101 All-Time Favorite Cranberry Recipes.” (That’s a lot of cranberries!)
 This pamphlet includes many of the expected items, but it also has “Cranburgers” (hamburgers with a cranberry sauce), a range of desserts, and some punches and cocktails. At this rate, you could work cranberries into every course of your Thanksgiving meal. Or your everyday meals, really. So, however you enjoy them, sneak some cranberries into your holiday. You won’t regret it!

Feeding en masse, 50 at a time!

2016 is off to a start and next week, our students return for the spring semester. Campus will be filling up with busy, hungry students. And there are a lot of them to feed. Of course the History of Food & Drink Collection has some advice on this topic! This week, we’re featuring Food for Fifty, a 1937 book with recipes for feeding groups of people. (Now, if we just multiply that by 142,200, we’ll reach the number of meals served by Dining Services on campus each year…)

As you may notice, it’s not just recipes. The book includes several pages of dictionary terms for cooking and foods, pages of cookery terms, a menu planning chapter, sections on how to best prepare ingredients, and some illustrations and photographs. However, there are plenty of recipes for every food group, too.

Food for Fifty was published and re-published with multiple editions: a 2nd edition in 1941 (in our collection), a 3rd edition in 1950 (in our collection) and a 5th edition in 1971. [I wasn’t able to find a date for the 4th edition.] It appears that, after a long absence, the book was adapted by new authors, and our collection also includes 3 editions of this version: 9th (1993), 10th (1997), and 11th (2001). Feeding crowds, whether in institutional settings or in more informal ones, has long been a trend in food history, and Food for Fifty isn’t our only example. If you check out the catalog record for the 1937 edition, you’ll see a subject heading “quantity cooking.” If you follow the subject heading down the rabbit hole, you’ll find we have 127 books in the libraries (25 of which reside in Special Collections) with that heading and more titles with similar or related headings. Some are aimed at specific types of quantity cooking, like for schools, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, community kitchens, or military. Others target a specific ingredient/set of ingredients like meat or baked goods, or focus on quantity cooking that’s cost-effective or for-profit in nature. In other words, there’s more than one reason and way to write a recipe book for quantity cooking.

So, whether you’re looking to fry frog legs for 50 or supply cake for 100 in your boarding house, keep in mind that Special Collections might just be the resource for you–and not just historically speaking. Some of the earlier publications may seem out of date in some ways (boarding houses are certainly less common in 2015 than in 1915), but that doesn’t mean we don’t all still want a slab of apple cobbler at our next family reunion. 🙂

There’s Something about Dairy!

This week, I had it in mind to find something Halloween related. Then I realized, with a busy day today and tomorrow, hunting for Halloween recipes wasn’t on my menu. We haven’t talked about dairy in quite some time, though, and that seemed as good a topic as any. The even better news is that I happened on a “Halloween Pie” recipe in the book I selected. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is not look for what you want with the History of Food and Drink Collection. Sometimes what you’re looking for finds you.

Last year, during Women’s History Month (March), I talked a little bit about Ruth Berolzheimer and the Culinary Arts Institute. One of the books mentioned in that post is our feature item this week. What I expected was a 30-50 page soft cover pamphlet, like many other publications in the series from the Culinary Arts Institute. What I got was 256 pages and 750 recipes related to dairy! (I think we’ll get our daily dose of Vitamin D in this post!)

The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Front cover.
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Front cover.
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Table of contents.
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Table of contents.
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce (above)--which also looks a bit Halloween-eqsue--and Potatoes in Savory Sauce (below).
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce (above) (which also looks a bit Halloween-eqsue, if you’re looking for a brain-like item on your menu!) and Potatoes in Savory Sauce (below).
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Chicory Crown Salad (top), Frozen Cheese Salad (middle), and Cottage Cheese Ring (bottom). There are a LOT of frozen salads in this section of the book!
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Chicory Crown Salad (top), Frozen Cheese Salad (middle), and Cottage Cheese Ring (bottom). There are a LOT of frozen salads in this section of the book!
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Bombes (above) and Sour Cream Chocolate Cake (below).
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Bombes (above) and Sour Cream Chocolate Cake (below).
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Chocolate Malted Milk (above) and Banana Milk Shake (below). Also, note the recipe for Halloween Pie, which sadly, isn't pictured anywhere.
The Dairy Cook Book, 1941. Pictures include Chocolate Malted Milk (above) and Banana Milk Shake (below). Also, note the recipe for Halloween Pie, which sadly, isn’t pictured anywhere.

This is a cookbook that’s organized around meal components, not meals themselves. So, if you’re looking for breakfast ideas, for example, you aren’t out of luck. They are in the book, if you know where to go: breads and entrees, specifically. Go into those sections and you’ll find more doughnuts, muffins, and egg dishes than you can manage, but this is really a book that’s focused on the sweet stuff. One look at the table of contents above makes that fairly clear: puddings, cakes AND refrigerator cakes, frozen desserts, pies, cookies, frostings and fillings, and more than half of the sauces and beverages. We might even make a case for a fair number of the salads being desserts! On the flip side, if you’re looking for cheese-based appetizers, this is also the book for you. It’s chock full of cheese balls and snack foods stuff with or rolled in cheese. Seriously, it’s enough to whey anyone down! (Yes, I had to get at least one cheese pun in this week.)

On a last (unintended) note, this book contains a recipe for an old friend of ours that I found while flipping through the pages (serendipity at work!). It’s called “Individual Salad Sandwich Loaves,” but as you may know, a recipe title can be deceiving. There’s no picture, but  when you see a list of ingredients that includes minced meat and eggs, unsliced bread, butter, mayonnaise, cream, cream cheese, a few herbs/spices, and garnishes like watercress and olives, a mid-20th century recipe aficionado’s brain can make the leap before even reaching the end of directions which read “[c]ut loaf into 2-inch slices and cover each with cream cheese.” Call it what you will, but a frosted sandwich is a frosted sandwich, any day of the week. (The previous posts on this topic can be found here and here and here and here–yes there are FOUR! As for future posts, well, you’ll have to wait and see.)

The Dairy Cook Book (1941) isn’t out of copyright, so you won’t find it online, as is the case with most of the Culinary Arts Institute publications, which come from the same era. However, they do seem to overlap a bit, so if you have one (the one on snacks, or one of the dessert pamphlets, for example), you may have seen some of the recipes before. As always, you’re welcome to visit us in search of your next dairy recipe–or any other recipe, of course. You won’t find everything on our shelves, but as I like to point out to researchers, you might find something you didn’t know you were looking for, and it can take you in a whole new direction. I think this rings true for research, but for cooking, too. After all, recipes are just a guideline, right? 😉

Farm and Rural Cooking: The Orange Judd Cookbook

The Orange Judd Cook Book , published in 1914, has a subtitle that describes it rather succinctly:  “A Practical Collection of Tested Recipes for Practical Housekeepers.” Beyond that, it was largely intended for rural and farm homes and housekeepers.

Given its early 20th century publication date, the lack of color images isn’t surprising. Still, each picture does present a perfectly created and plated dish, even if some of it is *gulp* jellied. (I know I have serious doubts I could cheese cakes that nice looking on the first try–pastry crusts and I, for example, are old enemies.) And it makes the important point that plating and presentation have always been a factor in serving and eating.

Adeline O. Goessling, the author, wrote a number of related books between 1901 and 1919, including Making the Farm Kitchen PayFarm and Home Cook Book and Housekeeper’s Assistant, and The Farm and Home Cook Book: A Practical Collection of Tested Recipes for Practical Housekeepers. It seems safe to say, when it came to authoring cookbooks, Ms. Goessling found her niche and an effective way to package and repackage titles and recipes!

With the emphasis on rural and farm life, the cookbook isn’t without a few recipes that might make a modern reader look twice. We’ve looked before at recipes for various mock and real sea creatures, organ meats, and alternative sources of meat (squirrel, for example). The Orange Judd Cook Book is the first recipes we’ve seen in our collection for raccoon (baked, of course!). Not only are there directions for preparing it, but a rationale as to why raccoon would be good for eating and how to not waste the fat you don’t want to bake it with–by making soap. This lead to more than one discussion in the library about what raccoon would actually taste like and exactly how strong a scent you would need in that soap to not smell like a gamey animal. (Why yes, we librarians and archivists are a fun bunch!) The fact that “Baked Coon” is immediately followed by “Possum and Sweet ‘Taters'” led to discussions of how different the environments we were raised in can be.

Which brings our post this week to a close with this thought: cookbooks can spark cultural conversation and education in any environment, even if its only the shared experience of wonder at a new food or recipe.

Oh, and while Special Collections at Virginia Tech does not have any of Adeline Goessling’s other publications, you can The Orange Judd Cook Book and several others online via the Internet Archive.

Cooking for the Sick Isn’t All Tea and Toast

Many of the cookbooks in the collection, especially those from the 19th century, include a section on cooking and preparing food for the sick. Others feature instruction on feeding children and infants. This week’s feature, Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, has a little of everything. A combination textbook for cooking school students and cookbook, it was written by well-known teacher/author Fannie Merritt Farmer. The book went through multiple editions between 1904 and the early 1920s (ours is from 1911), and it has been reprinted occasionally since then.

The book contains information on nutrition and food values, feeding children and infants, and a lengthy list of recipes. While many cookbooks include simple recipes for the sick (teas, gruels, and toast),  Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent is much more elaborate, as you can see from some of the images above. Chapters have detailed instructions on preparing luncheon and dinner trays appropriately so they look neat and aren’t overcrowded. Recipes range from teas, soups, puddings/gelatins (it was too hard to resist the image of a carved orange basket!) and toast to chops, oysters, and custard souffles. The latter is not quite the simple fare you might expect.

However, if you look at Farmer’s list of things to consider when feeding the sick, the first two are appealing to sight and taste. “Never consult a patient as to his menu, nor enter into a conversation relating to his diet, within his hearing,” she advises, but “…the best means of stimulating the appetite is to have good food, well cooked, and attractively served.” (Admittedly taken to some strange extremes–see “Flowering Ice-Cream” above.) Chapters on specific types of food include notes on nutritive value, recommendations on the best ways to serve, and a variety of recipes.Contradictions aside (“Cream and Mayonnaise dressings, although highly nutritious, are so complex as to render them difficult of digestion” followed by recipes for both),  the fact that the book addresses different types and phases of illness, and, to some extent, transitioning back to a regular diet, is a change from many other publications from the time period. And it clearly had an audience for nearly 20 years!

And for those of you wondering what kind of stance the book takes on alcohol, there are cases of illness that justify its consumption, as “[t]he use of alcoholic beverages in some diseases seems almost imperative.” Before going on talk about when and why to drink a little brandy or  a lot of whiskey, however, Farmer includes the following statement: “Lives, without doubt, have been saved by the use of champagne.” There is a very brief explanation about champagne putting those with fevers into beneficial sleep, but either way, it might be my new favorite quotation.

And, on a vaguely related note, since it’s graduation weekend here at Virginia Tech, a little champagne might just be in order. Congrats and good luck, Class of 2012! Go out into the world…and find something good to eat. That’s my advice.

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…