Dietary Computing in 1902

This week’s feature is about computing nutrition and dietary information by hand. And if you’re like me with math, thankfully, the calculating is already done for you!

The full title of this work, in typical lengthy style, is: The Dietary Computer. Explanatory Pamphlet; the Pamphlet Containing Tables of Food Composition, Lists of Prices, Weights, and Measures, Selected Recipes for the Slips, Directions for Using the Same. We are particularly pleased to have a first edition of this set. Although we often talk about our Rare Book Collection, it’s fair to say that not every publication in Special Collections is one of only 1,000.  Published in 1902, the authors describe it in a number of ways:

The aim of this little pamphlet is to familiarize settlement workers and progressive housewives with a few fundamental principles used in making out bills of fare according to food values…[a] concentrated essence of something more delicate, to be used with judgment and discretion as a wire fence to guide the learner to better sources…[t]his is no new cookbook, it is only a bald statement of a few facts to help those who really wish to learn…

It isn’t a cookbook per se, but it does have recipes, and a quite a range of them. Everything from soups and vegetables, meat and fish dishes, and savory breads and puddings. However, the focus is on economics–how to get the best nutritional value for your buck, as it were. The book itself contains tables devoted to foods constant in the diet, food values by calorie, cost of 1,000 calories of various recipes, the “cost of 100 grams of nitrogenous substance,” and composition of food materials Table V includes the actual recipes.

A supplement, Methods in Household Economics, consists of price lists and meal planning charts. Although blank price lists are provided, there is also a set of lists for Boston prices (presumably for comparison purposes). So, if you’re wondering about the average cost for moose (35¢/pound) and other meats or fish, as well as  a head of cauliflower in July (40¢) or other vegetables, we can help! Just don’t be disappointed when you realize how much prices have changes…

Be sure to check back with us for some more nutrition-oriented features in the future. And until then, keep on computing!

Sandwiches, Part 2: Return of Frosted Sandwich

Sometimes there is a food so odd, so unique, and oft-times unsettling, it creeps back up when you least expect it. And just to keep you on your toes, it changes ever so slightly. Lately, it seems to be the “frosted sandwich” (see its first appearance here). To be fair, 500 Tasty Sandwiches, edited by the director of the Culinary Arts Institute during the 1940s and 1950s, Ruth Berolzheimer, includes so much more than the merely frosted. This 1941 gem contains sandwiches that were frosted, toasted, grilled, baked, fried, filled, rolled, cut, shaped, and layered in some very creative ways.

The book also contains recipes for fancy breads, fillings, and spreads, all with an emphasis on both economy and entertaining: “Dainty colorful sandwiches such as these guarantee the success of any tea or bridge party” (26). Of course, this includes suggestions like “egg and catchup,” “peanut-butter and pickle,” and “salmon and nut.” Then there are the complex patterns and shapes to be admired: the checkerboard, the gangplank, and the treasure chest, the last of which is essentially a hollowed bread loaf refilled with sandwiches made from the center slices, then covered with the top. While modern taste buds may not like the choice of fillings, the loaf or treasure chest style does lend itself to a certain portability for picnics, travel, and feeding crowds.

It’s when we get to frosting these sandwiches (with cream cheese, rather than the whipped mayonnaise we’ve seen previously) that things start to go wrong. Besides whole frosted loaves, 500 Tasty Sandwiches brings us something new: individual sized servings. Frosted to look like cakes rounds. Or rectangles.

 And the shapes don’t end there! This cookbook provides with plenty of interesting examples of structural ingenuity, as the pyramid and skyscraper recipes above indicate. It’s the ultimate opportunity to play with your food and to get creative. There are endless combinations of fillings and layers, begging to be tried…you just may not want to eat it when you’re finished…

On a final note, this publication is part of a larger set by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc., so we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by its contents. The series includes such Special Collections favorites (a few of which have appeared on our blog before!) as:

  • 500 Delicious Salads, 1940
  • 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
  • The Wartime Cook Book: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942 (an interesting comparison to this publication, which was likely published just before the war began–availability changed quickly!)
  • 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
  • 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952

…and the list goes on. Don’t believe me? Visit the library’s catalog, Addison, and search “Berolzheimer, Ruth” as author. You’ll be amazed (and amused) to see a range of titles and editions! Plus, you’ll likely see more of them here–we have far too much food history to share!

Recipes with a Dash of Hospitality

This week’s post includes a lot of recipes with canned or jarred goods, interesting color images, and a smattering of history. From Curtice Brothers Co. in Rochester, NY, the 1916 A Pictorial History of Hospitality with a Few Suggestions for Recipes contains illustrations of hospitality from different cultures throughout history.

There is a forward to the cookbook (not pictured) that includes a few statements worth sharing:

One always finds a fascination in history, be it the tale of a folk or the story of a food. In the world of foods Curtice Brothers Co., has a definite place…

…this booklet…will be found useful by helping to make the housewife’s daily routine less burdensome.

Pictorially portraying as it does by dainty illustrations (which are historically correct),–the history of, and changes in Hospitality,–this book will no doubt prove of added interest.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just as the pamphlet does: our food has a story. Every ingredient and every recipe. They aren’t always the most exciting stories, but stories nonetheless. A Pictorial History of Hospitality with a Few Suggestions for Recipes reminds us that related aspects of food culture all have stories, too.

One of the emerging themes of the History of Food & Drink Collection is the idea of efficiency and ease of food preparation. Along with the recipes, you’ll see meal planning hints and menu suggestions. The very fact that the company produced primarily canned and preserved food was one step in that process.

Lastly, this small publication introduces a topic that we have not spent much time talking about just yet: hospitality. We’ve talked about meal planning for dinners from the simple to the formal, table settings and decor, entertaining, and cocktails and canapes, but the concept of hospitality is closely tied to all these things. It is a motivating factor behind much of cooking and baking, as well as authoring household manuals and cookbooks. It’s the common social act of offering something to a guest who drops by or having something ready when you know company is coming. And it’s an easy excuse to splurge on the good wine and cheese.

As the illustrations above remind us, stereotypical as they may be, hospitality has roots at least as deep as our food’s history…so expect to see more about it in the future.

Catsup…or is it Ketchup?

Earlier this week, some of the folks at NPR had a post on “katchop,” made from ground anchovies. While their post has gone missing over the course of the week, it has continued to roll around in this archivist’s brain as inspiration. We have not talked yet much about sauces, or catsups/ketchups in particular. Which seems unfair to a condiment that has such a rich and complex history in food. Even in the modern age, we can’t agree on a single spelling!

Many of the historical cookbooks in our collection have one or more recipes for some variation of catsup/ketchup. More often that not, the recipes are included in sections on preservation and pickling. Ah, our old friend, pickling, has plenty more tricks!

Today, catsup/ketchup brings certain specific images to mind: bright red color, salty tang of tomato, fighting with a butter knife so the glass bottle will give up its goods. Here in America, with grilling season just getting started, it means hot dogs and hamburgers. And it goes perfect with fries. But, from a historical perspective, this delectable sauce has come a LONG way. It might just surprise you…

Richard Briggs’ The New Art of Cookery according to the present practice : being a complete guide to all housekeepers, on a plan entirely new : consisting of thirty-eight chapters … : with bills of fare for every month in the year, neatly and correctly printed, besides being another of those wonderfully long titles, comes from 1798. While this certainly is not the earlier receipt for ketchup, it is among the earliest  in our collection. Most important to note, there’s not a tomato in sight. Early catsups/ketchups were loosely defined as being liquors extracted from a food.

New Art of Cookery, 1798: Mushroom ketchup

In 1824, Mary Randolph’s The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook included a number of catsup recipes, which also appeared in the 1846 edition (below). First, there was oyster catsup. Basically, pounded, spiced, boiled oysters. This really wasn’t meant to be served as a condiment by itself, as we can see from Mrs. Randolph’s instructions. It was a way of adding  flavor and substance to other sauces. Although a gob of this on a hamburger might be an interesting culinary adventure!

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Oyster Catsup

Mary Randolph’s book does contain something familiar, though: tomato catsup at last! Still no hints on serving, but this is certainly the ancestor of our modern condiment.  It is something you could serve on a meat dish or spice up another sauce. Again, the idea is preservation of a food in a creative and usable form.

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Tomato Catsup

But Mrs. Randolph has at least one more catsup in her arsenal of recipes: walnut.  We have talked about pickled walnuts on the blog before. But why simply pickle them, when you can pickle them, juice them, and spice the extracted liquor! It probably adds a nice nutty, earthy flavor to sauces and cooking juices and meats or poultry.

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Walnut Catsup

Later editions of The Williamsburg art of cookery; or, Accomplish’d gentlewoman’s companion: being a collection of upwards of five hundred of the most ancient & approv’d recipes in Virginia cookery … And also a table of favorite Williamsburg garden herbs, from the mid-1800;’s century reprinted Mary Randolph’s version of walnut catsup, too.

In some cases, we might wonder. why? Why did tomato catsup survive 170 years, when walnut, mushroom, and oyster versions didn’t? (Well, at least not in the same forms.) And then there are other cases why the “why” is not about survival, but why one might make something in the first place.

Enter Mrs. Beeton and her The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress … also sanitary, medical and legal memoranda with a history of the origin, properties, and use of all things connected with home life and comfort. The recipe below comes from the 1878 edition and should be left to speak for itself…

The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress … also sanitary, medical and legal memoranda with a history of the origin, properties, and use of all things connected with home life and comfort, 1878: Liver Ketchup

There isn’t much that can be said on the heels of a recipe like that, but it should give you something to think about if you’re grilling this summer. We talk a lot on the blog about how our food has a long history and that is always worth consideration. It never just appears on our plate. Tomato catsup/ketchup has had a couple hundred years of culinary history to develop to perfection. It stood on the backs of some predecessors and had the chance to learn from some failures.

And, hey, at least you are not dipping those fries in liver paste…

Pamphlets for Victory!

Last year, with so many new culinary pamphlets from the 19th and 20th century piling up around us, Special Collections decided to create a collection just for these little gems: The Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002. And we’ve featured one or two of them before (“Lunch in Wartime” and “Canned Meat…at the Beach!” for example). This week, we’re sharing three pamphlets from three different companies/institutions, all with a common theme: Victory!

First up, there’s the four-page “Special Edition: Your Wartime Food” pamphlet, c.1941-1945, from Kroger Grocery & Baker Co. (later Kroger Company). It includes a selection recipes using cheaper cuts of meat (aka “utility beef”) and/or stretching better cuts a little further. In addition the pages pictured, there are also instructions for basics like beef stew and pot roast, as well as sauerbraten, “American Chop Suey,” beef steak pie, and stuffed steak.

Cheese was a great source of protein under rationing, and even it could be stretched to help feed a family. The modern Kraft, Inc. has had a series of names over time (10 names changes since its early days as “Kraft Cheese Company” to be exact!). It is hardly surprising that they produced some useful pamphlets during World War II, including “Cheese Recipes for Wartime Meals: How to Make Your Cheese Go Further” in 1943. While the black and white images may not to the dishes justice, this small publication contains cheese recipes for roasts, casseroles, vegetables, egg dishes, strata, puddings, and sandwiches.

Lastly, for this week, we offer The Wartime Cookbook: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs from 1942.  In addition to recipes, the booklet is filled with slogans, small photographs, logos, and explanations of what foods are available and why. There is also a good deal of nutritional information throughout.

There is a finding aid for the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, with a list of pamphlets available online. Just keep in mind, this collection is ALWAYS growing. From Jell-O to shredded wheat, from olive oil to shortening, and from waterless cookers to blender–the collection includes pamphlets and small publications from food companies/councils, appliance makers, insurance companies, and restaurants/hotels. They all offer different perspectives, some creative recipes, and a more than a fair share of colorful illustrations. It’s DEFINITELY worth a visit and a look!

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.)

From London to Williamsburg: The Evolution of an American Cookbook


For the sake of convenience, we’ll be using the short title of this book in today’s posting about The Williamsburg Art of Cookery, though it IS worth sharing the title from the title page one:

The Williamsburg Art of Cookery: or, Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion: Being a Collection of Upwards of Five Hundred of the Most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia Cookery…and also a Table of Favorite Williamsburg Garden Herbs. To which is Added, an Account of Virginia Hospitality; Treatises on Various Branches of Cookery; an Account of Health Drinking; some Considerations on the Observation of Christmas in Virginia, with traditional Recipes for this Season; with the Author’s Explanation of the Method of Collecting & Adapting these Choice Recipes; and an alphabetical INDEX to the Whole. (And that leaves out the list of categories of included recipes printed on the title page!)

The story behind The Williamsburg Art of Cookery begins in 1727 when Eliza Smith wrote a cookbook and household guide for women in London, The Compleat Housewife: or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion. (Be warned, the full title for this work would also take another 5 or 6 lines, too.) Special Collections has a copy of the 6th edition of Eliza Smith’s work from 1734 printed in London. In 1742, a printer in Williamsburg, Virginia, named William Parks decided to adapt the 5th edition of Smith’s book for American audiences. Although he kept the same title and most of the same content, he removed ingredients unavailable in this country, producing what is considered to be the first American cookbook.

In 1938, Helen Duprey Bullock took everything one step further. Working with Parks’ version of The Compleat Housewife, she added new content, including the sections on herbs and Christmas in Virginia, as well as recipes for other Virginia sources. The Culinary History Collection includes 5 editions of this title from a first edition published in 1938 to a 1961 reprint. The images the post are from the a copy of the 4th edition printed in 1947.

Before this simple blog post turns into a much-too-long essay on the history of these two cookbooks/household manuals, let’s turn to the text instead. The majority of the recipes fit into categories familiar to cookbook fans: soups & sauces, meat & fish, breads, vegetables, pastries and other baked goods, and pickles & preserves.

There are a some more unique elements, too. The book contains a reprint from a 1780s British magazine, “A Moral and Physical Thermometer: or, A Scale of Progress of Temperance and Intemperance–Liquors, with their Effects in their usual Order.” The consequences of imbibing beyond strong beer once in a while range from vices like idleness or swindling to  severe punishments like transportation (“Botany Bay”) or the gallows. And this page, of course, is immediately followed by recipes for cordials and shurbs. Oops? The sections on Virginia hospitality, herbs, and the holiday season are a nice addition and a way to insert local/regional feel to a text that is both historic and modern.

On a related note, as another example of how a book or manuscript itself can have a story independent of the actual content…This edition was printed by August Dietz (1867-1963) in Richmond, Virginia. August Dietz was a well-known printer (in Virginia, at least) and Civil War philatelist (he wrote several books on the topic). In 2010, a small collection of his Civil War memorabilia was donated to Special Collections. This unique collection includes individual newspapers, manuscript materials, a woodcut and block, Confederate playing cards, and, of course, several stamps. A finding aid with more information is available online.

Thanks for bearing with a long post this week, but this is a great text with so much history!  You can find editions of The Compleat Housewife online, since it’s long out of copyright, but you’ll have to visit Special Collections (or another library) to check out The Williamsburg Art of Cookery–and you should!

Vegetable Posters & Children’s Nutrition

Previous posts here have mentioned the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbooks and Nutrition Literature Archives, but we have yet to do a feature post about it (not that a single post can contain this sub-collection!). With the upcoming concert event (more about that later this week), your archivist/blogger Kira has vegetables on her brain. Enter the Ann A. Hertzler Collection, a manuscript collection consisting of some of Dr. Hertzler’s extensive publications, subject and research files, posters, and artifacts. Today, we’re sharing one small piece of the collection: posters for children (and parents) about vegetables and nutrition.

In addition to helping children identify different vegetables, on the reverse, this poster has activities to engage children in learning about vegetables. Suggestions include growing vegetables from seeds, making soup in the classroom, creating flashcards, sing alongs, and reading children’s books about vegetables. Continue reading “Vegetable Posters & Children’s Nutrition”

Summer Dreamin’ (Of Marshmallow Sandwiches and Glorified Perfection Salad)

It may not be summer (or even spring!) yet, but we had this item on display for our Open House event here at Special Collections last night. Plus, we have more warm weather on the way here in Blacksburg. Terrifying cover color scheme aside (against the multi-tonal greens, that white bread sandwich looks a little too pasty), Salads, Sandwiches, and Summer Drinks is an interesting blend of recipes. Ranging from the economical to the lavish and the simple to the strange, this publication has it all.

We’ve encountered some strange sandwiches here and here before and this won’t be the last of it. Salads, Sandwiches, and Summer Drinks contains such chapter headings as “Distinguished Sandwich Service,” “Nutritious Sandwiches,” “Party and Occasional Sandwiches,” “Refreshing Sandwiches,” and “Toasted Sandwiches.” Plus, there is an entire category of “Sweet Sandwiches” with some recipes that certainly catch your attention: chopped, softened marshmallows with butter and honey; cream cheese on chocolate wafers; or hard-boiled egg and butter (mixed with powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange rind). If you’re looking for something healthier, the “Nutritious Sandwiches” section includes combinations like creamed butter, peanut butter and chopped stuffed olives; crushed baked beans mixed with Russian dressing; or cottage cheese and chopped prunes with mayonnaise. And while we may have missed the chance to make Lincoln Birthday sandwiches this year, there are plenty of suggestions for other holiday snacks (see images above).

As for the salads, they are not about to be upstaged by mere bread and filling. Dressing recipes range from the classic boiled to fruited mayonnaise to French with all kinds of additions. The salad chapters include “Garnishing the Salad,” “Fruit Salads” (with subsection on frozen salads), “Main Dish Salads,” “Molded Salads” (as if we could forget them!), “Party or Occasion Salads,” and “Vegetarian Salads.” In addition to prescribed recipes, the book also contains tables for both suggested fruit and vegetable combinations. Lobster salad with caviar and party salads aside, most of the recipes are for everyday sort of eating and of surprising variety. As for holidays, you still have time to whip up a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day: green peppers, stuffed with cream cheese (made green by adding some sort of herbs or olives), sliced onto a bed of lettuce, and served with mayonnaise (also colored green with either spinach juice or parsley).

It was difficult not to share this great little publication in its entirely, since it does have a wonderful variety of classic and not-so-classic dishes. This is one of many specialized pamphlets by Liberty Weekly, as a number of others are referenced within this one, although this is the only one we currently have at Special Collections. They were all intended to make life a little easier and a little fancier. So, on that note, we’ll leave this post with a few helpful hints:

  • “Dainty summer flowers…frozen in the [ice] cubes, are attractive.”
  • “Have greens crisp and well dried. Otherwise dressing slides off, resulting in considerable loss in piquancy.”
  • and most importantly, “Never serve sandwiches ungarnished except at a picnic.”

Candy Holiday Redux: In Honor of Valentine’s Day

In honor of yesterday’s candy-laden holiday, it seems appropriate to feature, well, candy. And what good culinary history collection doesn’t have material on that subject? Sure, there are traditional chocolates, candy hearts, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and chocolate cherries. But what if there was something better…something healthier? Enter Candy -Making Revolutionized: Confectionery from Vegetables, a book about making candy from vegetables. Seriously.

Published in 1912, this little book takes a novel approach to the sweet. Ranging from root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, and carrots) to fruits (tomatoes and dates) to spices (ginger), the book includes recipes for candies of all sorts. In addition simply crystallizing or candying pieces, there are specific directions on making marshmallows, puffs, creams, bon-bons, nutlettes, and pastilles. There are instructions for making basic candy you can shape into anything (note the table spread in the image gallery above with its pigs, flowers, and boutonnieres). The book includes several chapters on the techniques, as well information for caterers looking to expand their menus and teachers looking to add that little something extra to a class. And, like every good recipe book, it contains at least one treatment for sickness–onion tablets! You can read about those in the pages above.

Mary Elizabeth Hall’s introduction includes her reasons for touting vegetable confectioneries: the healthy nature of vegetables, the ease with which anyone with a garden has access to ingredients, the fact that beautiful items can be made with simple kitchen tools. However, good reasons aside, it is well worth sharing the start of the introduction:

The years of work in candy-making that have made possible this book, I now look back upon with a certain feeling of satisfaction. The satisfaction comes from the knowledge that because of the discovery that is here recorded, the candy of the future will be purer, more wholesome, more nourishing than that of the past has been. Even if the processes that are here set forth fail of the widest adoption, I have still the satisfaction of knowing that just so far as they are adopted will there be greater healthfulness of confectionery. (vi)

While no one really grabbed hold of Mary Hall’s philosophy, and a majority of our candy is a lot less healthier than it was in her day, there is still some hope. Organic, local, and healthy trends in eating may very well bring us to something close to the green bean taffy and potato caramel of 1912.

Besides, when you think about it, is there better way to say “I Love You” than with a decorative box filled with beet puffs, tomato marshmallows, and potato mocha walnuts? Yes, plenty (perhaps but NOT giving someone that box in the first place?)! On the one hand, this book could be a reminder that just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. On the other hand, you could do a lot worse than a candied green bean and gingered carrots…right?

On a final note, if you can’t come here to see our copy, this book is out of copyright and you can find is online in a number of formats.