Women’s History Month Profile, Part 5: Ruth Berolzheimer (1886-1965)

March means it’s Women’s History Month again and I thought it would be fun, like last year, to profile some awesome women and their roles in American culinary history.

Culinary Arts Institute logo
Culinary Arts Institute logo

We have more than a few of Ruth Berolzheimer’s volumes in our collection. In fact, hers is a name I encountered early on in my work with the History of Food and Drink Collection and one that persistently appears, if I’m hunting for recipes and publications from the 1940s and 1950s. She was a prolific editor of culinary publications as the director of the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago. She edited a series of booklets devoted to various foods. Our holdings include:

  • 250 Classic Cake Recipes, c.1949
  • 250 Delicious Soups, c.1941
  • 250 Superb Pies and Pastries, c.1941 and 1953 editions
  • 250 Ways to Prepare Poultry and Game Birds, c.1940
  • 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
  • 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952
  • 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
  • 500 Delicious Dishes from Leftovers, c.1949
  • 500 Delicious Salads, 1940, 1949, and 1953 editions
  • 500 Snacks, c.1949
  • The Cookie Book, c.1949
  • The Dairy Cook book, c.1941
  • Victory Canning: Preserving, Drying, Smoking, and Pickling of Fresh Foods for Future Use, c.1942
  • The Wartime Cookbook: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942.

Among those not in our holdings are publications on desserts, fish and seafood, potatoes, meat, sandwiches, breads, and candies.

In addition to the themed publications, Ruth Berolzheimer and the Culinary Arts Institute produced a lengthy list of other cookbooks. There were multiple editions of The American Woman’s Cook Book, as well as the wartime variant, The American Women’s Food Stretcher Cook Book: Make Your Ration Points Go Twice as Far, and many editions of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook.

On a related note, I found this great 2008 online article about Ruth and her work, which also includes an interview with one of her nephews: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-cookbook-queen/Content?oid=1106100.

Be sure to check back next week, when the blog features publications from the History of Food and Drink Collection by Lily Haxworth Wallace!

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Garden Drama: Veggies for Victory

It’s a busy spring in Special Collections, so many apologies for missing a post last week!  After a surprise snow storm last week, winter seems to have left us, and following a few days of apparent summer temperatures, spring seems to be settling in nicely. If you haven’t started your gardening, it may be time to get planting, whether it’s in a yard or pots on your patio. To help you along, we’re sharing Plans and Suggestions for Your Victory Garden: Presenting a Four-Act Playlet Entitled: “Grow What You Eat.”

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This is one of those great items in the History of Food & Drink Collection that defies a simple categorization. It’s a great representation of the World War II “Victory for the U.S!” style of publications from this period. It addresses everyone in the ideal American family and is designed to create and motivate a family activity. And, in case you missed it, it promotes a company and a product (Planet Jr. Farm and Garden Implements and Tractors). All of these are characteristic of some of the kinds of publications in our collection, though seeing them all together isn’t quite as common. The thing that won us over in particular was the format: a four-act playlet.

With one act for each season, this pamphlet follows a family of four as Bill and Mary convince Mother and a slightly-reluctant Dad to plant a family garden. We follow the family through preparation, planting, harvesting and preserving what they don’t consume in season. The playlet extolls the time- and money-saving aspects of the family’s garden (thanks to some communal garden tools, self-sustenance, and better use of rationed foods). It also features some none-too-subtle advertising for Planet Jr. products throughout.

There are several pages at the end of the play that feature garden plans for different size plots, as well as a detailed timetable for “Growing the 41 Most Important Home Garden Vegetables” and some garden hints. The chart includes information on how much seed to buy for a family of 5, dates to plant, seed depth, space between rows, time to produce, yield per 20 feet of row, notes about each vegetable, and more! The last few pages of the pamphlet contain pictures and descriptions of Planet Jr. garden tools (mostly those mentioned in the text).

Gardens may no longer be of the “victory” kind, but home and community gardens are very popular these days. So, propaganda-esque dialogue and modern families that don’t resemble the 1940s standard aside, “Grow What You Eat” can still speak to us in the 21st century. There is a lot to be gained from a garden, whether you’re fond of veggies, looking for an excuse to work in the yard, or seeking the perfect herb for the cocktail you like to sip when the day is done. So get out there and get planting (with or without your Planet Jr. tools)–the season is just starting!

Kerr-ful Canning: Preservation at Home

Wander the shelves that contain our History of Food and Drink Collection and you’ll find lots about preservation: canning, freezing, pickling, and drying texts abound. We’ve covered preserving from a home perspective (pickling recipes from handwritten manuals) and canning from a women’s publication. Today, we’re turning to the professionals.

Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation began in 1903 as a distributor of glass jars and related canning supplies and still remains a household name today (at least where food preservation is concerned). This week, we’re featuring the 1948 Kerr Home Canning Book. It’s a practical “how-to,” chock full of instructions, recipes, and even a FAQ! Recipes range from the expected (fruits, veggies, jellies/jams/preserves, butters and conserves, and pickles) to the less common (fish, meats,  and soups/stocks) to the downright “Unusual Foods” section (featuring plum pudding, milk, and tamales).

Home canning, a staple during the early 20th century, also proved vital to storing and rationing during World War II. In more recent years, it has seen a revival in all kinds of communities, with farmers markets, CSAs, and home gardens. Although the information has certainly changed some (you don’t necessarily want to rely on the 1948 FAQ when it comes to modern technologies), the reasons behind and interest in home canning processes have not.

Here at Special Collections, we have Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation publications from the 1940s up through the 1990s in both the library catalog and the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, as well as publications from the competition (Ball Brothers, Co., later Ball Corporation) dating from the 1920s-1970s. Feel free to stop by and peruse. We might have just the recipe for extra fruits and veggies (and rabbit meat if you’re looking to make “Bunny Sausage”).

P.S. If anyone can explain the porcelain dolls and elves to me, I’d love to hear your theories. I’m still not quite sure what either have to do with food preservation…

Cooking in Tidewater (It’s not like it sounds!)

Part of our goal with the History of Food & Drink Collection/Culinary History Collection is to document food history in Virginia. Among our nearly 3,500 publications are more than a few community, local, regional, and state cookbooks. Tidewater Virginia Cook Book: A Collection of Good, Reliable Recipes is an item we purchased for the collection in 2011. Published in 1891, it includes recipes contributed by women from all over the state for all kinds of foods, though the emphasis is on the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Although there is not necessarily a lot of visual appeal, at least not the recipe content, the book is certainly worth a glance or two! It pays special attention to fresh seafood, much more readily available than here in some other parts of the state (Blacksburg, I’m talking about you!): Pickled oysters, lobster, crabs, prawns, and fish.

One of the standouts here is definitely the abundance of terrapin and turtle recipes. On page 8, it’s “turtle soup;” on page 14, it’s two recipes for terrapin and one for “mock terrapin;” on page 7, it’s “mock-turtle soup;” and then, the topper, “Imitation mock turtle soup.” For those times when simply imitating a recipe isn’t enough, you can imitation the imitation! Mock turtle soup, by the way, comes from a calf’s head and ham base. Imitation mock turtle comes from black beans cooked with a meat joint, then mashed.

Not surprisingly, many of the included recipes are desserts: puddings, cakes (“pork cake,” anyone?), creams and custards, pies, and tarts. But there are also ices and ice creams, often a challenge with late 19th century technologies, and a “pepper candy” made with cayenne pepper. Pickles, preserves, jellies, and brandied fruits abound, and in a throw-back to our feature from two weeks ago, this recipe book includes “grape catsup.”

Whereas handwritten receipt books often shared cherished recipes within a family, the growing genre of community or other group cookbooks introduced these to a whole new audience. This particular volume came from the Reid Memorial Association of Norfolk, Virginia, though it contained recipes from ladies around the state. The idea of fundraising through cookbooks, especially by women, took off and our collection is full of similar publications dating from the late 19th century to the modern day. And, in addition to recipes, almost all of them have something else in common: advertising!

Questionable mock turtle/terrapin recipes aside, one of the other unique features of this volume is the ads in the back, several of which appear in the gallery above. General stores, food stores, florists, animal (sheep, beef, horses, mules–take your pick!) suppliers, insurance and real estate agents, appliance dealers (touting relatively new home technologies)…everyone got in on the action, even companies as far away as Oswego, NY! Although the baking powder wars had yet to start, we are greeted with “Government Tests” and “Royal Baking Powder” in large letters, suggesting a more reliable product than other companies. And, of course, targeting the women who could by buying there product over others.

See, as promised, nothing about cooking with laundry detergent (someone out there must have jumped to that conclusion first!), just some good old Virginia food history. We have a lot more to share with you, too. Be sure to keep following. Meanwhile, this archivist has weekend company coming and Mrs. Roper’s “Mock Terrapin” (made from calf’s liver and hard boiled eggs) might just be on the menu…

The New Art & Convenience in the Kitchen

Convenience and efficiency are a common theme in the collection here. Growing middle classes in the late 19th and into the 20th century meant women were responsible for managing the kitchen and preparing food. In 1934, the General Electric Kitchen Institute offered this handy little home helper: The New Art of Buying, Preserving, and Preparing Foods. The book includes tips for home management, advice for how to modernize your kitchen, recipes and meal planning, and details on how to use modern appliances to improve feeding one’s family (especially the refrigerator, the range/over, the electric mixer, and the dishwasher).

“The most important room in the home has now become the most enjoyable. No longer is the modern woman tied down to monotonous hours of kitchen routine. Magic electric servants work for her, giving her new joyous hours of freedom–hours she can spend in any way she chooses.” The G-E Kitchen Institute was even offering personalized directions on how to modernize kitchens for women who sent a sketch of their current set up!

The book includes suggested menus for all kinds of meals, from family dinners to entertaining at a bridal shower, as well as recipes for every course. But there is an emphasis on convenience and speed (“Today in over 1,000,000 American homes, electric cookery does in minutes the work that hours did in years gone by”). There is a whole section on oven meals, in which the whole dinner goes into the oven and finishes at the same time. Many things can now be done in advance and stored in your refrigerator! Leftovers won’t be wasted, either! And the dishwasher will keep your hands out of that dirty water! A few of the recipes may make you wonder (like many of those in our collection) just who thought onions rolled in bread and spread with mayonnaise resulted in a tasty canape or chopped chicken needed to be embedded in gelatin, but that’s always what makes this collection and these publications special. They offer us a window in a food past we don’t see today.

It’s a bit challenging to pigeon-hole this publication into a single category. It isn’t just a cookbook, an advertisement for GE appliances, or a household manual. Rather, it’s a creative melding of all three–which is one of other reasons to highlight it this week. We’re gradually starting to think about our culinary collection in a new way here at Special Collections. Instead of defining it simply in terms of formats (books, manuscripts, educational kits, electronic resources, etc.), we’re trying to imagine it in terms of topics. While that could potentially be a long list, we’re noticing there are some distinct themes among existing holdings: receipts & recipes (including home remedies); dietetics, education/home economics & nutrition (children and adults); household management & social history; technology, food processing & preservation; and entertaining & the history of the cocktail.

We’ll be sharing more about some of these themes on the blog in the weeks to come, as well as serving up our usual fare of recipes, history, and a little gentle fun, so be sure to stick with us.

Presenting the History of Food & Drink at Special Collections

This week, I’m giving our loyal blog readers something a little different. Yours truly, archivist/blogger Kira, was invited to give a presentation on the culinary collection to library staff and faculty as part of an in-house training day. Happy (as always) to share the collection, I spent an hour yesterday sharing images of items, talking about how we’re re-imagining the collection, and poking a little good-natured fun.

We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and describing all our collecting areas in terms of formats, but we’re trying to break away from that model. Instead, we’re beginning to talk about collections and collecting areas thematically. Whereas we used to talk about the culinary collection in terms of books and manuscripts, we’re now talking about it in terms of larger themes: receipts and recipes, domestic/social/economic history, the history of cocktails and entertaining, changing food technology and processes–just to give a few examples. The presentation I gave was almost entirely image-based, so I’m including it here. It has a nice cross section of the collection.

(Use the arrow buttons below the slides to click through. Clicking on the button showing four arrows pointing out in different directions will show the slides at full screen size.)

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…