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…


A Monday Morning Recipe (#1)

This Monday, with a mug full of tea at hand, it seems a good morning to share a recipe. In particular, a recipe for “Tea Biscuits.”

"Tea Biscuits" from "Cooking Recipes" Recipe Book (Ms2008-023)
“Tea Biscuits” from “Cooking Recipes” Recipe Book (Ms2008-023)

This version comes from a handwritten recipe book in our collection, one that we believe dates from the 1930s. You can read more about the recipe book in the finding aid and you can see the whole item in digital form. Or, you can just make some tea biscuits and enjoy them for what they are!

Cooking with Dromedary (NOT Camels, I promise!)

…Although the idea of cooking with a camel in one’s kitchen (not as an ingredient, but as a helper) is worth a giggle. Rather, our feature this week is from the Hills Brothers Co. of New York. Dromedary was the label of a variety of products, includes dates, figs, coconut, fruit butters, and tapioca. This particular cookbook comes from 1914. At 100 years old, it needs a moment in the spotlight.

Not surprisingly, then, the recipes in this little volume tend to highlight dates, figs, and tapioca. But, we can’t escape without our share of unique fillings (“Sweet Green Peppers Stuffed with Figs” and “Thanksgiving Squash Pie”), fried goodies (date AND fig fritters, plus croquettes), and curiously named recipes (“Golf Balls,” “Camel Fig Mousse”–named after the brand, and “Masked Apples”). Still, there are LOTS of great ideas for dried fruit in here and the recipes are diverse. It wasn’t all desserts, as I expected. So go on, try a “Delicious Sandwich”– It’s camel approved. 🙂

Frosted Sandwich, Part 3: Son of Frosted Sandwich

As I sat here contemplating a blog post for the week, I had a sudden realization: The blog turned two on September 14 and the day snuck right past me! So,


That being said, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some festive, monochromatic (and occasionally polychromatic) party recipes…and the return of the frosted sandwich (It’s been a while, I know)!

Today’s images are from Good Luck Color Scheme Parties. Published in 1931, this 32 page pamphlet features creative recipes in a range of colors and flavors. It covers not only holidays, but also card and occasional parties, all while, of course, promoting John F. Jelke Company products like Good Luck Margarine and Evaporated Milk.

This plain cake is separated by layers of jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.
This plain cake is separated by layers of tasty jam. Sad marshmallow clown aside, we needed a (belated) birthday cake image to celebrate the blog.

So, here’s looking forward to another year of posts and LOTS more learning about the History of Food and Drink Collection! It may just be your year to pay us a visit, too!

From Bread to Snaps: A Ginger-Filled Tour of History

It’s that time of year where some people have ginger on the brain. The Internet is full of gingerbread creations: loaves, cookies, men, houses, villages, monuments, and pop-culture icons. (You can see the results of an image search on “gingerbread creations” here–nothing rude, I promise.) Not surprisingly, the History of Food & Drink Collection is full of recipes. Nothing quite as exciting as the Arc de Triompe or a whole village, but the variations are many.

The gallery features ginger bread, ginger cake, and ginger snap recipes from several historical sources and represent only a sample of the recipes among our books and manuscripts! They all have ginger in common, but the evolution of gingerbread and its sibling goodies have come a long way from the Medieval days of white bread crumbs and spices. However, the notes regarding Martha Washington’s recipes suggest gingerbread has always had a very long-standing relationship with the holidays: “prints [essential pressed or molded shapes-presumably like the modern gingerbread cookie] is moste used after the second course in christmas.”

Of course, like many recipes up through the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, if you’re looking for specific baking directions, you may be out of luck. If you feel like trying one of the recipes from our post today, you may have to draw on the more modern recipes for oven times and temps–but let us know! We’d love to hear about your experience.

Special Collections has nearly reached the end of our year in the office as we’re closed from December 22-January 1.  So, we’ll take a moment to say

Happy Holidays!

from us to you. We’ll be back in 2013 with lots more books, manuscripts, recipes, and images (edible and not-quite-so), and more news, events, and new acquisitions!

The Way the Cookie Crumbles (Or Stays Chewy)

If you’re like me this time of year*, you might have cookies on the brain and are creating goodies by the handful.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for some suggestions to keep your oven in full swing, look no further! Special Collection is laden with directions for tasty cookies, breads, and puddings (more on the latter over the next couple weeks). Oh, and I promise, I’m not sneaking any grossly inedible cookie recipes into this post, despite some interesting discoveries…

This week’s post features recipes from three different recipe books. The ABC of Cookies from 1961 includes selected recipes beginning with each letter of the alphabet, except for that “XYZ” combination at the end (“X-Tra Special Walnut Cookies”). Each section starts four lines of poetry, and has at least one recipe for cakes/tea cakes, bars, drop cookies, rolled cookies, pastry cookies and specialties, and winter classics like spice and fruit cookies.

“Do-It-Yourself” Butter Cookies: 56 Fabulous Cookie Ideas Plus 41 Do-It-Together Decorating Ideas (1965) is a pamphlet sponsored by a number of companies, as the cover clearly shows. It contains recipes for cookies, but also some creative display and serving alternatives (cone-shaped pine trees with hooks and snowmen with dowels in their arms for holding cookies, both using a modeling mixture make with flour). There are also a few great advertisements, including one for Nestle’s “Choco-bake,” a liquid chocolate baking additive.

The final book of this week’s cookie trilogy is a bit more modern: The Cookie Book from 2001, which touts itself as “the only cookie book you will ever need.” Whether that’s true or not, this book does have a wide selection of recipes! Venturing into the “savory” section might require a little kitchen boldness, but whatever you like, there are options: chocolate, fruit, spices, nuts, coffee, or butter.

Food history and food traditions play an important role in the celebration of many holidays, and today, coincidentally, is no except. It’s Saint Nicholas Day, a holiday celebrated in a variety of ways throughout the globe. If you’ve been good, perhaps Saint Nicholas has left you presents and treats. If he hasn’t, you might just need to bake up some goodies of your own tonight. At least to last you until we find some new recipes for next week. Until then,

Happy Baking!

* (Note: I sincerely hope you are not like me, or, while you’ve baked 26 dozen cookies to feed coworkers and friends, you are nowhere close to being finished with holiday shopping.)

Balanced Recipes, Cooking with Mettle/Metal

Sometimes, a cookbook just looks different, which seems more than enough reason to share. Balanced Recipes is a perfect example. The recipes themselves are on index card sized slips of paper, hole punched, and layered throughout the book by subject, allowing you to easily see and access them. Even more striking is the “binding.” It is hard to miss this shiny, metal-encased wonder on the shelf while browsing.

Balanced Recipes was published by the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company in 1933. In includes classics like brownies, the ever-popular chicken croquettes, candied sweet potatoes, and vegetable soup. And, like any good cookbook, it contains some more innovative dishes: baked bananas, creamed fried onions, and tomato pancakes. The introduction to each section offers advice for the home cook. Given the Great Depression-era timing of Balanced Recipes, the emphasis on not wasting is hardly surprising: “Use every edible bit of food that you purchase.” At the same time, the author shares the following:

[I]t it certainly poor menu psychology to plan an entire meal from left-overs. No matter how delicious each separate dish may be, avoid serving a meal consisting of hash, mixed fruit or vegetable salad and a dessert which has appeared in exactly the same form at a previous meal.

In other words, use your left-overs in a new way, don’t just reheat them. After all, a meal should “provide contrasts in texture, color and flavor.”

Balanced Recipes was the product of Mary Ellis Ames, who wrote at least three other publications for the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company in the 1930s and 1940s: Pillsbury’s Cookery Club (1934), Your Guide to Better Baking (1941), and The Three “R”s of Wartime Baking: Rations, ‘Richment and Recipes (1943).

Until next week, always remember to serve something crunchy with your soups: “celery, radishes, salted nuts…or small pieces of crisp toast or crackers spread with flavored butter or fish paste.” The choice is yours. 🙂