Women’s History Month, Part 24: “Doris’s” Manuscript Cookbook

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.

Front cover of “Doris’s” manuscript cookbook, c.1925
Inside the front cover

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.

The cookbook has an index of recipes, which is always a fun trick. One never knows how many pages you might need for recipes of a certain type, so there are often blank segments or spaces. Or recipes for like items don’t end up together, when more get tacked on to the end!

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.

Recipes for rhubarb conserve, plum conserve, and orange marmalade

Despite my blurry photo, conserves, it seems, are quite easy to make. Case in point:

Rhubarb Conserve

2 Qts cut up rhubard

1 Large Pineapple

2 oranges

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.


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…

National Sandwich Day Round-Up

Today is National Sandwich Day, which means I can’t let the day go by without saying something on the topic. To be honest, sandwiches are quite the subject on our blog, though. From the savory-frosted to the sweet-filled, there’s some surprising and not-so-surprising history among our posts.

Frosted Sandwich series:

Celebrating sandwiches:

Of course, when talking about sandwiches, there is an inherent danger: Not everyone has the same definition of a sandwich. Or, perhaps, more accurately, some people are more open to interpretation. While venturing into that debate isn’t something for this post per se, it is worth mentioning that a collection like the one we have in here is just the kind of place you can do research on the history of sandwiches in American cookbooks. Or, if you’re just in search of new recipe to try. When it comes to bread and fillings, the combinations are endless.

From the Crust to the Filling: More About Sandwiches

I don’t know why summer always has me thinking and blogging about sandwiches. Apparently, it’s also a time we acquire materials on sandwiches (we’ll have plenty more bread-and-filling-based publications to share down the road). Today, I found one from 1924, Mrs. Scott’s Sandwich Book: Selected Recipes for Pleasing Appetizing Meals and Light Summer Lunches. Fitting, right? This publication is actually a supplement to a newspaper, The North American.

The short introduction states the following:

They [sandwiches] are made of meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables, salads, fish, dried fruits, nuts, jellies, preserves–of practically everything. And there are hot sandwiches–How good they are!–as well as cold ones. Indeed, this might almost be called the age of sandwiches…Along with the change in the nature of the sandwich has come a decided change in its use. once it was though of merely as a dinner bucket or picnic attribute. Now sandwiches are served at every sort of meal, except formal dinners, and even in the most fashionable of hotels and restaurants they are constantly in demand.

Most pages of the fold-out are themed recipes around an ingredient or set of ingredients, many with small advertisements. Sections include: Assorted Sandwiches, Sandwiches Made of Olives, Cheese Sandwiches, Some Sweet Sandwiches, Dainty Salad Sandwiches, Pleasing Nut Sandwiches, Special Egg Sandwiches, Many Cheese Sandwiches, Selected Hot Sandwiches, Choice Meat Sandwiches, Canned Fish. You may be alternatively fascinated and slightly confused by some of the options, but there are quite a few tasty options, especially if you like cream cheese, olives, or pickles.

There is, of course, a recipe for our old favorite, the lettuce sandwich. And there’s a more fancy tomato and lettuce version or lettuce and cream cheese. If you’d like to pair your lettuce with something a little more unique, you could try peanut butter, dried sausage, or Spanish onion. If you’re a fan of condiments (sweet or savory), there are sandwiches that cater to you, too! Try a Tartar, Jelly, or Brown Sugar Sandwich.

The few remaining pages are full-page ads: one for Supplee Ice Cream and one for Mrs. Schorer’s  Pic-o-naise and Olive-niase. Yes, you read that right. The latter is pretty obvious, but I wasn’t able to find an ingredient list for the Pic-o-naise. If I had to guess, based on the picture, I’d go with mayo mixed with pimento and olive or pickle (definitely something green and minced). We have a pamphlets for Supplee milk  and Mrs. Schlorer’s products elsewhere among the culinary materials, too. Anyway, for a 16-page supplement, Mrs. Scott’s Sandwich Book has a lot to tell us about sandwiches of the time. And hopefully you’re feeling inspired for your next picnic!

New Pamphlet Round-Up #6!

It’s time again for another pamphlet round-up! (Side note: As with last time around, these are all brand new items. They haven’t been added to the Culinary Pamphlet Collection yet, but they will be soon! I’m actually getting some processing done this summer!) Presented in no particular order:

“Winter Menu Magic” comes from the National Biscuit Company (which you might know as Nabisco these days), and was published in 1933. It largely focuses on simple, thrifty, one-dish meals, including things like a “Vegetarian Loaf” made with graham crackers, a “Beefsteak and Oyster Pie,” and for those more special Sunday Dinners, a “Lobster Bisque.”
“The Story of Sugar Cane” is a history of, you guessed it, sugar cane, from the American Sugar Refining Company. The American Sugar Refining Company owned several brands, including Sunny Cane, Franklin, and Domino.
“Infant Feeding and Hygiene” is a 1913 pamphlet from the Nestle’s Food Company. It’s a multi-part booklet that covers care and feeding of the well and sick child, as well as a whole section on Nestle’s food itself. It contains testimonials and pictures of happy babies who have, presumably, been fed the namesake product.
This item necessitated scanning two pages. The cover title continues on the title page: “Bread and–Swift’s Premium Oleomargarine.” I love the “Not touched by hand” tagline, which, although the pamphlet isn’t dated, points to a period where machine production and sanitary environments were on the minds of consumers AND corporations.

“Good Things to Eat” comes from D&C Quality Food Products and dates from 1928. The company was based in Brooklyn and made a number of convenience items, including “My-T-Fine pudding,” flour, and pie mix.
“Creative Cooking with Cottage Cheese” is from the American Dairy Association and probably dates to the 1960s. “Creative” is right: there are dips, breads, meatless and meat main dishes, veggie,s, salads, a couple of sandwiches, and a heap of desserts.
Last up is “Meat in the Meal for Health Defense,” a 1942 pamphlet from the National Livestock and Meat Board. It includes recipes and advice for feeding a family in compliance with nutrition programs and defense efforts.

This is only about 1/5 of the pamphlet backlog in my office at present, but there are definitely some good discoveries, no matter what your interest. As always, you’re welcome to come view items–even the unprocessed ones–and visit us in Special Collections. We’ll be here all summer!

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…

Summer (Cooking) School, Part 6: British Baking at Home, Abroad, and in the Trade

This week, many of our staff are at the Society of American Archivists annual conference. This includes me, your usual archivist/blogger Kira who is, quite excitedly, presenting on a panel this year. “What panel?” you ask. Why, one about food collections and outreach! So, while I’m off definitely learning from others and hopefully inspiring a few colleagues, too, we’ve got another culinary lesson here on the blog. Despite the high temps in Blacksburg the last couple of weeks, I went a little crazy and was baking last week. For the library’s annual summer picnic, I whipped up a couple of cobblers (thanks to a very simple, 6 ingredient recipe!): blackberry peach and strawberry blueberry. While it may not have been the smartest move, turning on the oven and all, the summer smacks of cobbler to me and I hadn’t made one in a long time. Which also has me thinking about baking. I respect the fact that  baking is a precise and scientific art, but I’ve never been good at that in the kitchen. And, I’ve gone this long with any major baking disasters in my life (we’ll save tales of cooking and candy-making disasters for another day). Still, there’s plenty to learn from our historic resources, like The Pastrycook and Confectioner’s Guide for Hotels, Restaurants, and the Trade in General, Adapted Also for Family Use, Including a Large Variety of Modern Recipes. The title actually goes on, but we’ll take a break there. (You can see the rest of it on the title page below.)

Written by Robert Wells in 1889, this is a short, but detailed, British guide to baking, confectionery (including sugar-work), meat pies, ornamental butter, and more. Since this is a British book, you’ll notice a few differences, but nothing that can’t be overcome in the historic or modern American kitchen. Castor (aka caster) sugar, for example, isn’t that common in the U.S. These days, though, it can found in some stores, most definitely online, and, with modern kitchen technology (a coffee/spice grinder or a food processor), you can make it yourself!

While, at first glance, this book may seem like a strange conglomerate of recipes–I can see including meat pies in a book on pastry–there is a theme here. The sections on cooking meat and poultry may seem a bit out of place, but if you can’t cook them properly, they aren’t going to make for a good meat pie. The one thing that is really lacking, especially since this is designed to be a manual not only for other professionals, but for the home cook, was pictures. I, for one, would love to see #294: To Ornament a Tongue as a Dolphin. This seems like the kind of manual that would benefit from a bit more visual content, but perhaps the lack thereof gives the home and professional the freedom to be creative rather than match a certain image.

The entirety of The Pastrycook and Confectioner’s Guide can be found on Special Collections Online, our digital platform: http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/HFDBooks/TX773.W4457_1889. You can read it online or download the pdf for later if you’re interested. Take a moment to learn something new about culinary history this week, even it’s just a little fact. I know I’m looking forward to finding out what my colleagues are doing with food history collection and outreach. I might even have some tidbits to share when I get back! Until then, good eating (though if your summer is as hot as our in Blacksburg, you might want to take a word of advice from me and skip the baking for now)!