Lettuce Talk Salads

May is National Salad Month. I know, not everyone loves their veggies, but historically speaking, “salad” can mean a lot of things. From dressed lettuce to frozen cheese and fruit, there are a ton (probably literal and figurative) of recipes in between, some more traditional than others. I’m currently working my way through a generous donation of 27 boxes of culinary materials–the first cart load of items is parked outside my office to prepare for cataloging and there are a range of titles relating to salads. This #foodfriday, here are a few ideas for the classic and the experimental salad fan.

First up, some fruit salads, courtesy of the Southern Living Cookbook Salads including Appetizers (1968). I was super-excited to catch the pages of recipes below because they include one from Rural Retreat, Virginia! Though I’m still working out the flavor profile of that fruit, greens, and cheese combo…

Next up, some more substantial meat-filled salads from The Salads Cookbook (1979), also from Southern Living. Since the front cover didn’t have a title (but does have a lovely caesar!), I included the title page below. Also, some rather interesting chicken options. Chicken and bananas? Pineapple & chicken in tomatoes? Well, at least I could totally get on board with all the avocado options!

Although perhaps I should have put this one first (because of the back cover image), the idea of picnic salads fit in better here, after the substantial/heartier options. So, this is the Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Salad Recipes (1978). The front cover features a “bowl” salad, a salad with its own edible bowl, and something more, well, freestanding. (Yes, there’s gelatin ahead.) The second page include some great picnic options, as well as advice on transporting salads for your outings. The back cover is also a handy guide to lettuces!

And, since we all know I can’t leave gelatin alone, here’s a page from The Knox Gelatine Cookbook (1977). It seems they took a classic element, Green Goddess Dressing, and made it into something gelatinous. Also, I’m not at all surprised to see a gelatin twist on a classic garden salad. I’m sure it’s been done before, complete with lettuce, though this option seems to skip that main ingredient…

None of these books are cataloged yet, but once they are, you can visit us in Special Collections to give them a look. (Actually, if you’re really interested and you come by fast enough, you might still catch them before we send them off for cataloging!) In the meantime, we have PLENTY of other salad books in the collection. Books with leaves (pun intended, of course) full of recipes, just waiting to be discovered.

The lesson for today is that salads come in many forms, some more traditional, others more…inventive. It’s also a great reminder of how the idea of a salad has changed and, in this particular case, gives us a sense of the trends in the late 1960s 1970s. And maybe it even offers us a little encouragement. Even if chicken and bananas don’t seem like an obvious pairing, someone liked it enough to publish it. So next time you’re wondering if you should put two ingredients together in your salad bowl, take a chance. We’ve got your back.

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Very (Cran)berry Goodness!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a good time to talk about a favorite seasonal berry: The Cranberry! Underrated and sometimes forgotten, it’s more versatile than it’s typical jellied or un-jellied sauce or relish. And we have the pamphlets to prove it! Two different folders in the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002) have booklets from cranberry-centric companies. First, there’s “Cranberries and How to Cook Them” (1938) from the American Cranberry Exchange:

This pamphlet for “Eatmor Cranberries” (seriously!) puts cranberries in baked goods, sauces, salads, relishes and even–yup, you guess it–gelatin! It has tips for using cranberries as a meat tenderizer and a recipe for cranberries as an omelet filling. It also includes a little bit of detail about where the berries come from and how they are harvested. Although our last example (below) contains a lot more detail on the history of cranberries. But first, “Cape Cod’s Famous Cranberry Recipes” (1941) from the National Cranberry Association. This organization was also known early on as the Cranberry Canners, Inc., but most of you will probably recognize it by the company’s current name:  Ocean Spray Cranberry, Inc.

This pamphlet presents the clever idea of using cookie cutters to produce shaped decorations for a surprising number of holiday meals–not just Thanksgiving, but also Valentine’s Day, Easter, and even Halloween (cranberry-sauce shaped turkeys, hearts, bunnies, and pumpkins respectively). In addition, of course, it’s full of recipes…including some meat dishes with cranberry accompaniments and a few interesting desserts (Cranberry Nogg?). Lastly, also from the National Cranberry Association, there’s “101 All-Time Favorite Cranberry Recipes.” (That’s a lot of cranberries!)
 This pamphlet includes many of the expected items, but it also has “Cranburgers” (hamburgers with a cranberry sauce), a range of desserts, and some punches and cocktails. At this rate, you could work cranberries into every course of your Thanksgiving meal. Or your everyday meals, really. So, however you enjoy them, sneak some cranberries into your holiday. You won’t regret it!

Gelatin, Seeds, and Advertising History

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues in the library showed up on my doorstep with an old advertisement. She picked it up, thinking I would want it for the culinary collection–as, of course, I did. After all, it featured one of my favorite obsessions and frequent blog topic: gelatin.  Today, however, I won’t be subjecting you, dear Readers, to a list of terrifying recipes or a series of taunts at this wiggly food I just can’t bring myself to eat. Rather, I thought I would take an opportunity to write a post about following a trail and where it could lead someone. But first, Jell-O!

jello_1921001

This ad comes from 1921. Jell-O had, at that time, already been a commercially made product for 22 years (since it’s developer sold it to the Genesee Pure Foods Company). The original four flavors (strawberry, raspberry, lemon, and orange) were joined by cherry and peach, rounding out the six flavors advertised. Interestingly, during the 1910s and 1920s, Genesee Pure Foods Company flirted with a chocolate flavored gelatin (not a pudding or mousse mix), but it didn’t seem to have the popularity of fruit flavors and it was gone by 1927. By 1921, though, Jell-O was a household name in convenience, efficiency, and eating. For over 20 years, the company had been advertising in innovative ways, like giving away free little recipe booklets to tempt shoppers to try something new at home.

Anyway, back to our meandering: This ad came to me in a plastic sleeve of sorts, nestled against a piece of cardboard for support. After taking in the full-color image itself, a perfect Jell-O dessert set against a vase of flowers, I found myself, as usual, overly elated about a piece of ephemera. It wasn’t until later I noticed that the dessert is even shown in a ray of sunlight! We have lots of Jell-O booklets starting as early as the 1900s, but we didn’t yet have a large size (8″ x 11.75″) like this one. It was a bit of an odd size: not quite right for a magazine, too large and lacking in fold lines to have been in a package, and not a standard paper sheet. “Is there anything on the back?” I asked my colleague-turned-donor. She didn’t know, but we were going to find out. It turns out, there was–and one that explained a bit more:

jello_1921002

As it turns out, this Jell-O ad had been neatly cut away from the back of a seed catalog, apparently as a collectible item. While the booklets are common collectibles and while the idea of cutting items out of other items isn’t new, I hadn’t quite seen it in action in this way. At times in our history, for example, people would excise pages from illuminated manuscripts to sell off piecemeal–but Jell-O ads?

Anyway, following the trail: The seed catalog, as you can see, was for one Stark Bro’s. nursery. Stark Bro’s, like Jell-O, is a company not unheard of here in Special Collections. In fact, they are responsible for one of my favorite items on our shelves, which I’ve written about before. Although this particular page shows mostly flowers and a couple of tomatoes, Stark Bro’s were equally well-known for fruit trees–making this catalog a great venue for a product in which people were experimenting with, well, embedding fruit. This brings us to an important consideration for advertising: knowing your product(s) and knowing your audience. You don’t always see advertisements for non-seed catalog products in seed catalogs. But, if you’re going to bring in outsiders, make it something that matches up!

So, the point of all this is that individual items, even a single advertisement from the back of a long-gone seed catalog, can be of use and can lead us somewhere. In this case, it might be interesting to pursue how long the advertising relationship existed between these two companies, how fruitful (pun intended) it might have been, and how direct the link between the development of fruit-filled gelatin recipes and these kinds of advertising relationships. Or one could pursue a more-single sided topic, like how the Jell-O advertising changed over time (the artwork, the methods, the partners. etc.)

This particular advertisement will be joining the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002) along with the myriad of other Jell-O and other gelatin booklets. Just in case it piques your interest…

Women’s History Month, Part 13: Marion Harris Neil

Welcome to Women’s History Month 2016! As with previous years, this month we’ve got a whole new series of profiles lined up. But first, a quick message from our sponsors–Us!

Your archivist/blogger Kira and two of her amazing colleagues, Laurel and Sam, are working on some Women’s History Month displays. We have a digital exhibit that went live yesterday, which you can see here: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/exhibits/show/womens-history-2016. (Spoiler alert: there IS some History of Food & Drink material in it!). We’re also in the process of switching content in our reading room display cases AND setting up two other cases on the first floor of the library along with a touch screen monitor for the digital display. We hope you’ll check out one or both exhibits. (And hey, if you’re coming to the talk next week, “Cookery, Cocktails, Chores, and Cures: Food History in Special Collections,” you’ll already be here!)

…Back to our regularly scheduled blogging! This week we’re looking at the works of Marion Harris Neil. I say “works” for a very specific reason. Normally, I tried to include some biographical information in my aptly-named “profiles.” But Marion is a mystery. A prolific, prolific mystery. Census records from the eras during which she wrote include plenty of “Marion Neils,” but with no clues to go on, it’s hard to narrow things down. Her books and publications are often product-based, so the focus is on the company and the food, not the woman. Unlike some of our other authors, there are no biographical hints in prefaces or introductory pages. Still, she had plenty to say on the topic of food:

You can read about the 1917 edition of Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder in a previous blog post and you can view the 1914 edition of The Story of Crisco on the Special Collections digital collections website.

Marion Harris Neil Bibliography (items in bold are held by Special Collections):

  • “The Minute Man Cook Book.” 1909. [Alternate title: “The Minute Man A Brief Account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord by Wayne Whipple with Recipes for Minute Tapioca, Minute Gelatine (Plain) and Minute Gelatine (Flavored) by Janet McKenzie Hill, Marion H. Neil, Ella A. Pierce, and other culinary authorities.”] In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Alcono Cook Book. Newark, N.Y., J.M. Pitkin & Co., 1910.
  • Choice Recipes Requiring “True Fruit” Brand: Pure Flavoring Extracts. Rochester, N.Y.: J. Hungerford Smith Co., [1912?]
  • How to Cook in Casserole Dishes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1912. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Thing to Eat Made with Bread. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Canning, Preserving and Pickling. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1914. (Multiple editions)
  • “The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes.” 1913. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Cox’s Manual of Gelatine Cookery. 5th American ed. Edinburgh, Scotland: J. & G. Cox, Limited, [1914]. (Previous post on a broadside advertisement for this company)
  • Delicious Recipes Made with Mueller’s Products. Jersey City, N.J. : C.F. Mueller Co., 1914.
  • The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes. 5th ed. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1914. (Multiple editions) (Available online)
  • A Calendar of Dinners with 615 Recipes: Including the Story of Crisco.8th ed. Cincinnati : Proctor & Gamble Co., c1915.
  • The Something-Different Dish. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1915
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1916.(Multiple editions)
  • Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1916. (Multiple editions)
  • Dromedary War-Time Recipes: Appetizing and Economical Dishes Made with Dromedary Food Products. [New York?]: Hills Bros. Co., 1917.
  • Favorite Recipes Cook Book: A Complete Culinary Guide. New York: F.M. Lupton, 1917. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Things to Eat: A Selection of Unusual Recipes for Those who Appreciate Good Things to Eat. San Francisco, Calif.: California Packing Corp., 1917.
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1917.  (Previous blog post)
  • Economical Cookery. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1918.
  • Sixty-Five Delicious Dishes Made with Bread: Containing Tested Recipes Compiled for the Fleischmann Co. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1919.
  • The Thrift Cook Book. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1919. (Multiple editions)
  • 40 Unique Dromedary Cocoanut Recipes. [New York]: Hills Bros. Co., [192-?]
  • 43 Delicious Ways of Serving McMenamin’s Crab Meat. Hampton, Va.: McMenamin & Co., [192-?]
  • Auto Vacuum Ice Cream Freezer Recipes. New York: Auto Vacuum Freezer Co., 1920.
  • Delicious Recipes. [Fresno, Calif.]: [California Peach Growers, Inc.], [1920?]
  • A Calendar of Dinners, with 615 Recipes. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1921. (Multiple editions)
  • A Modern Manual of Cooking. Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble Co., 1921.
  • Mrs. Neil’s Cooking Secrets: and, the Story of Crisco. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., 1924. (Multiple editions)
  • “Mrs. Harland’s Cooking Secrets.” [Crisco.] 1925. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.

Neil also published in Table Talk, a long running home economics and cooking periodical, and wrote or edited numerous other pamphlets and ephemeral publications that aren’t likely captured by catalog records. I’ll also mention that many of the publications above (and the others) are available online through the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and/or Google Books. You’ll just have to go looking for them!

With an extra Thursday this March, you can expect four more profiles, and I promise, they won’t all be about women of the food world shrouded in quite so many shadows. For now, you’ll just have to let Marion’s recipes speak for her.

We’re on the Air…and Cooking!

We certainly talk on the blog about how improvements in kitchen technology have changed the way food was (and continues to) prepared, stored, served, and shared. Today, we’re going to look at how another form of technology had an equally interesting effect on cooking and improving one’s culinary skills. Also, there will be talk of Jell-O (briefly, I promise, but not without good cause). Enter General Foods Cooking School of the Air. Which “air” and which technology, you may ask? Radio!

Before we go too far, though, I should point out that the General Foods Cooking School of the Air series should not to be confused with the Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air (see the National Women’s History Museum post on Betty Crocker for more on the latter). Same concept, some overlapping years on the radio, but two different companies behind them. (Coincidental titles? I’ll leave that up to you!)

(The images below are all individually captioned, which I haven’t done in a while. To read the full captions, click on the first image to bring up a browse-able gallery!)

General Foods Cooking School of the Air was published for at least 2 years (and probably longer). It’s a set of companion pamphlets to the radio show of the same title, hosted by Frances Lee Barton. Holdings are limited in public/academic libraries, so we’re sure happy to add these to our collection. A little searching revealed five other libraries with some of the pamphlets, but it’s unclear if anyone is lucky enough to have a full run. And, from what I can see, no one has digitized them yet. Ours are on rings with a paper front and back cover, but they could also be ordered with a 3 ring binder for easy organization.

Even with only a limited number, you can get a sense of the range of topics Barton covered: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts; holidays; formal and informal lunch and dinner parties; food service; jams, jellies, and butters; and more. Since we just acquired ours, they are about to go for cataloging–which means they aren’t quite available for use in the reading room, but I hope it won’t be long. In the meantime, as you know, we’ve got plenty of other culinary items for you to check out, if you’re thinking of paying us a visit. We’ll be here!

Gelatine (Yes, that’s with an “e”) from Across the Pond

After several months of stockpiling new items for the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, I finally had a chance to add half a box worth of new materials. There were plenty of new additions to companies for which we already have folders and lots of new companies are now represented. The collection itself is now into Box 5! Among the additions are two advertisements for one our favorite topics–you guess it–gelatin. Or, in this case, gelatine. J. & G. Cox was an Edinburgh, Scotland, based company, so we have acquired an extra “e.” (You’ll also get some additional vowels in the some of the recipes below.)

Cox_ad1_a Cox_ad1_b Cox_ad2Unfortunately, I don’t have any hints as to when these advertisements were created. I know that the company was active in at least the first four decades of the 20th century, but it could have slightly earlier roots, too. Between the 1910s and the 1940s, much like Genessee Pure Foods Co. (later Jell-O Company and General Foods Corporation–Jell-O Division) and Chas. B. Knox Co., this company produced LOTS of small pamphlets with recipes. J. & G. Cox even published at least one pamphlet in French, as well: “Recettes choisies, Cox’s instant powdered gelatine.” I found two copies cataloged by universities in Canada. Lest we forget, gelatin was not an exclusively American product. Until it was commercially available in the late 19th century, it was made at home, by housewives everywhere.

The advertisement on the more orange colored paper is the one with recipes. It’s also the one that appears to have been marketed for American audiences. It has a small “U. S. A.” in the upper left corner and is labeled “specially prepared for exportation.” Yet, the recipes are clearly in British English and have a certain air of British cuisine about them. The other advertisement is more of a single-page essay praising the quality, benefits, and low cost of the Cox’s gelatine. It even includes a testimonial from a chemist. However, both make a reference to it being prepared for export, suggesting J. & G. Cox’s market may have been broad. Both ads are a little different from the pamphlet-type items gelatin companies also produced and gave away. And while these two ads do stand out a little more because of it, the audience and the intention was the same: selling product to consumers, whichever side of the Atlantic they were on.

Jell-O Pamphlets, c.1931

Here we are, eight weeks into 2015 and we have yet to talk about gelatin. That’s a problem I can solve. 🙂

This week, we’ve got some strange and intriguing recipes from two Jell-o pamphlets published in 1931. One has “thrifty” in the title, suggesting it may include some of the more basic (and down-to-earth?) recipes, Thrifty Jell-O Recipes to Brighten Your Menus. The other, The Greater Jell-O Recipe Book, is “greater” in the sense that is has more pages and more recipes. More…creative, shall we call them…recipes. “Greater” is a subjective word and open to interpretation in this context, and I’ll leave it up to you, dear foodies. However, the latter publication does focus more on dishes you might use in entertaining, rather than those you might put on a family dinner menu.

Lime Jell-O came out the year before in 1930, so there are a number of recipes utilizing this new flavor (“Cheese Cube Relish,” “Grapefruit Salad,” and “Creamy Lime Flakes,” for example). There are also plenty of recipes that appear in both booklets and are what we might consider “classics” today. This includes things like “Under the Sea Salad” and various fruit-flavored “fluffs” and jellied strawberries.

I very nearly posted some frozen gelatin recipes, but thought better of it. It’s cold enough here that we don’t need to think about that. Of course, if you’re in many parts of the country this week, you can simply put your Jell-O outside and make your own frozen creations, sweet or savory. Stay warm out there, and we’ll meet you back here next week!