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)!

 

 

Food History in the News (#1): Bread Substitutions in War-time

Recent conversations with students and a book I finished not too long ago have given me a case of “substitution” on the brain. In other words, during World War I and II, what was taking the place of standard ingredients, or even processes, that were rationed or needed elsewhere (sugar, flour, meat, and even alcohol)? So, I was delighted by a recent story from NPR’s “The Salt” about just this topic: Save The Fleet, Eat Less Wheat: The Patriotic History Of Ditching Bread.” It’s a quick read, but definitely worth it!

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? 😉

Frosted Sandwich, Part 4: Return of the Son of Frosted Sandwich

I know. It’s the post you’ve been waiting months for…or dreading for just as long, wondering when I might find MORE frosted sandwich recipes to share. The long wait is over! (By the way, if you haven’t seen the previous posts in this series, you may want to check out #1, #2, and #3.)

Our first two recipes come from Sandwiches for Every Occasion, a booklet sponsored by Town Talk Bread. One looks like our traditional frosted loaf sandwich and includes recommendations for two ham loaf and egg-olive fillings. In the past, we’ve seen frosted sandwiches with one, two, or three layers and one of two “frostings”: cream cheese or mayonnaise. Here, we have a new frosting: cottage cheese. (I started considering whether cottage cheese would have the strength to stay on sides, or if it would sort of start to slide off. Then I stopped myself–some things are best left un-pondered.)

TX818T39_frosted1

Our second example from this booklet is a holiday-themed frosted sandwich! And a timely one, at that. I mean, what 4th of July celebration would be complete without cucumbers, tomatoes, and mayo rounds with a cream cheese shell, right? (It’s all very…round.) The best part is, these can be adapted to other parties and holidays. Just swap the flag on a toothpick for a piped heart-shape colored red or a baby shower decoration…

TX818T39_frosted2

After considering alternative decorations, I started thinking about color. If you really wanted to get into a theme, you could color your “frosting.” It turns out, despite the fact that we haven’t seen it in previous posts, I wasn’t the first to think of this idea.

TX714C87661971_P13

This party loaf from the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library is frosted with yellow-tinted cream cheese (thinned with light cream). It has three layers that caused a few of my coworkers to give it strange looks. I toyed with launching a new guessing game called, “Name That Filling!,” but thought better of it. If you’d like to guess, you’re welcome to do so. I’ll list the fillings at the bottom of the post. 🙂

Next up isn’t a frosted sandwich exactly. It’s a bonus frosted item–an appetizer I found while looking for the party loaf above. That’s deviled ham, rolled into logs, and frosted with cream cheese. It seems close enough. Put it between to crackers and voila!

TX714C87661971_P26

Our next frosted item comes from another pamphlet, “Sandwich Secrets,” sponsored by Dreikorn’s Orange Wrap Bread. I scanned the whole page, since I thought any of the “sandwich pastes” at the top could also be potential fillings. We’re back to black-and-white images, which leaves much to the imagination, for better or worse. I did notice this version seems to have a far larger bread-to-filling ratio. And, it seems to have less frosting than many other variations. Perhaps that for the best?

SandwichSecretsPamphlet_a

The last image in this week’s fascinating/terrifying post isn’t a sandwich, either. I’ve bombarded you with enough of those for the moment. It’s more…something to think about. The frosted sandwich isn’t something you’ll see on tables these days (no doubt we can guess why). But it seems there should have been more recipes during the height of its popularity. Besides the use of food coloring, “frostings” could have been adulterated in all kinds of way, including the addition of other flavors. So, this week, I’m leaving you with a selection of flavored mayonnaise recipes from Best Foods, Inc. (and the picture of a salmon salad mold that you could mistake for a frosted sandwich, unfortunately–I did at first).

BestFoodsPamphlet_a

Just imagine the possibilities for your next party! Got olives in a filling? Use an olive mayo. Try a chili sauce mayo on that ham and chicken salad filled sandwich. Using (gulp) fish/seafood fillings? Maybe it needs sour cream mayo. There’s even the potential for a sweet(er) frosted sandwich, coated in fruit juice mayonnaise!

All my making fun of frosted sandwiches aside, I think they make a great example of a past culinary trend that materials in our collections can help you learn more about. There are foods that come and go, some once and some in waves. Other trends survive decades or even centuries. Researching culinary history is fascinating, fun, and a great way to come up with some strange facts to share with friends and colleagues. Whether you’re curious, scholarly, or both, you’re always welcome to visit us in search of recipes.



*Fillings (from top to bottom) in the Betty Crocker Party Loaf: “Golden Cheese Spread” (shredded cheddar and cream cheese with seasonings); chicken and olive; salmon salad

Women’s History Month, Part 11: Malinda Russell (b. abt. 1822?)

This week, I want to talk a little bit about Malinda Russell. I say “a little bit” quite intentionally, as that’s about all anyone knows. In May of 1866, Malinda Russell self-published a cookbook in Paw Paw, Michigan, the first known cookbook by an African-American. In fact, most of what we know of her comes from the introduction to A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, which includes “A Short History of the Author.” She was born free in Tennessee, possibly around 1820 or 1822. From her account, we can surmise that she lived a challenging life:

My mother being born after the emancipation of my grandmother, her children are by law free…At the age of nineteen, I set out for Liberia; but being robbed by some member of the party with whom I was traveling, I was obliged to stop at Lynchburg, Virginia…Anderson Vaughan, my husband, lived only four years…I am still a widow, with one child, a son, who is crippled…I kept a pastry shop for about six years, and, by hard labor and economy, saved a considerable sum of money for the support of myself and my son, which was taken from me on the 16th of January, 1864, by a guerilla party…Hearing that Michigan was the Garden of the West, I resolved to make that my home…This is one reason why I publish my Cook Book, hoping to receive enough from the sale of it to enable me to return home [Greenville, TN]…

From what else we do know, she worked as a cook, a nurse, and a wash-woman in Virginia and Tennessee. She owned a boarding-house, then a pastry shop before moving to Michigan, where she seems to have been a cook again at the time the book was published.

The original A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen was published in 1866. It was a 29 page pamphlet and very few copies still seem to exist. The one most well-known (if not the only one) is in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan Special Collections. In 2007, they printed a small run of facsimiles, a copy of which we acquired not long after. Although the original item is out of copyright, the 2007 facsimile is not. As a result, I’m not posting images from the item itself, though I have included the front and back covers, and I’ll share some quotes below.

A Domestic Cook Book: containing a careful selection of receipts for the kitchen by Mrs. Malinda Russell, an experience cook published by the author, 1866
A Domestic Cook Book, 1866 (facsimile), front cover
A Domestic Cook Book by Malinda Russell a free woman of color, Paw Paw, Michgan 1866. A facsimile of the first known cook book by an african american with an introduction by Janice Bluestein Longone from the unique copy in the William L. Clements Library, 2007
A Domestic Cook Book, 1866 (facsimile), back cover

I first saw Malinda Russell’s name in 2013 while researching African-American culinary history for a talk I gave in our library. I was amazed at her story and excited to find our facsimile, which I quickly pulled from the shelf. After her brief autobiography is another introductory section, “Rules and Regulations of the Kitchen,” in which Russell provides an explanation of her culinary background. The last sentence of this page reads “I cook after the plan of the ‘Virginia Housewife.'” It seems, at times, we can’t escape Mary Randolph on the blog, can we? 🙂

Russell’s book doesn’t have a table of contents or index and, aside from loosely grouping like receipts, a structure, but for all its 30 pages, she shares plenty of receipts. You’ll find cakes, cordials, pies, cookies, gelatin desserts, pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables, breads/rolls, and custards/puddings. On the whole, there is an emphasis on sweet dishes and baked goods, but she finished with savory meat and poultry dishes, two fish recipes, and several handfuls of home remedies. Not one recipe has directions longer than about eight sentences (calf’s head soup and cream puffs are among the more complex, and all are written in paragraph form without a list of ingredients (characteristic of the era). Most are summed up in as little as 3-4 sentences (or less!), like Sally Lun:

Three tablespoons yeast, two do. butter, two do. sugar, two eggs, flour to make thick as cake. Let it rise six hours; bake quick.

Or “Baked Peach Cobbler”:

Scald and rub the peaches; stew until done; season with sugar to your taste. Paste your pans, put in the fruit, dropping small pieces of butter over it; cover with paste and bake. When done, float the pie with the syrup from the fruit.

Or “Fricaseed Catfish”:

Boil in water with a little salt until done, then drain off the water, and turn over the fish rich cream, butter, pepper, and a little flour, and simmer slowly.

I’m trying to keep my post from being too lengthy (too late, I know!), but for a women with only one publication there was a LOT to say for this week’s profile. Still, I do want to add a final side note or two. First, despite the dearth of information about Malinda Russell, she is no secret in the culinary world. You’ll find her and her book as the subject of news articles, blog posts, and culinary research, if you take a moment to search for her. Second, to date, A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, is the first known cookbook by an African-American, woman or man, in the United States. Robert Roberts’ The House Servant’s Directory is the first book published by an African-American in 1827 and in 1848, Tunis Campbell published Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters and Housekeepers’ Guide. Malinda Russell’s book remains in good company, when it comes to African-American publishing history. And, perhaps more importantly,  she helped paved the way for the the next 149 years of African-American cookbook authors.

Join us again next week for our final Women’s History Month profile of 2015. We’ll look at some of the works of food author M. F. K. Fisher.

Victory Bread?

Sometimes, as you may well know, I find feature items for the blog while looking for other items. I was hunting the shelves for a few publications (I wanted to scan images for the next 2-3 weeks and see if I can get ahead!), when I found Victory Breads for One Hundred: Suitable for Hotels, Boarding Houses, Institutions, published in 1918. We’re used to seeing “victory”-inspired books and pamphlets relating to food in World War II, but not nearly as many from World War I. It practically jumped off the shelf at me!

This pamphlet may not look like much on the surface, but it has a great deal to say about a food staple during the war. The United States Food Administration (USFA) was a World War I-era federal agency focused on the administration of allies’ food reserves. In this case, the emphasis is on saving wheat and wheat flour, with a goal of cutting wheat use by 20%. The first two pages talk about the overall plan, the reasoning behind it, and the potential wheat substitutes or additions you might see in flour. About 1/3 of the recipes are for breads containing an 80/20 mix. The rest are made up of quick bread and muffin recipes of a 50/50 wheat-substitute blend. In wartime or not, there’s no reason you can’t try something different when you’re making bread, so think about one of these recipes next time you’re in the mood for a homemade loaf (or 50!).

If you’re interested in the USFA, you can learn a more on the National Archives website. If you prefer visual appeal, the site also features from posters from the USFA, too, encouraging both patriotism and food savings. Meanwhile, you can probably find me wandering the stacks in search of whatever else we might have on World War I, the USFA, and food for “Victory!”

Talkin’ About Sandwiches

This week, we’re back to a favorite topic: sandwiches. (Nothing frosted this time, but I will caution that I found another recipe for one today’s feature and there will be a Frosted Sandwich, Part 4 post one of these days!) Sandwiches for Every Occasion by Demetria Taylor (also title TownTalk Sandwich Book) pretty much tells you what is it. However, you might be surprised just how many occasions DO need a sandwich…

This publication is corporate sponsored (Town Talk Bread, Worcester Baking Company, Massachusetts). But, unlike some similar items, it’s far less obvious. This is a booklet that’s all about the recipes. And the sandwiches. (Sooooo many fillings!) We haven’t digitized the entire item, but you’ll find recipes for themed parties, social events, everyday situations, picnics, holidays, and more. If you want to get ahead of the game, you can already start planning to use those Thanksgiving leftovers!

Although there isn’t anything we haven’t really seen before when it comes to sandwich fillings (or at least come close to), there are a few that might give you pause: Bacon and peanut butter? Tuna with pickled beets? Deviled ham and peanut butter? Flaked salmon with walnuts and green peppers? Peanut butter, orange rind, parsley, orange juice, and mayonnaise? (Seriously, sandwich cookbooks, leave the peanut butter alone–it’s fine as it is!)

At any rate, this great little publication is an important reminder: sandwiches are everywhere and you don’t need an excuse to enjoy them. Just grab your favorite bread and fillings and dive in. Stick with an old stand-by, or get creative–you might surprise yourself!

Have a favorite sandwich? Let us know in the comments below!