‘Tis the Season…For a Number of Holidays!

It’s the holiday time of year, isn’t it? We get a little break after Thanksgiving here in the U.S., but Hanukkah has begun. Christmas and Kwanzaa are a little over a week away. So, this week, we’re looking at a few recipes from all of those traditions. (We’ll even get into New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day!)

We’re starting with a more recent publication: Southern Holidays (2014) from the Savor the South series. It’s a more modern book and while many of the recipes are modernized, as you’ll see, they have roots that are far deeper. In addition, one of the things about this book is its perspective. Earlier holiday-themed cookbooks in our collection tend to have a specific focus, usually around Christmas (though not always). As we know, there are many other holidays this time of year, and it’s exciting to see them represented here. (I believe we have more titles, but I have to save some for next year!)

The second book with our feature recipes for today is The Holiday Cookbook from 1957. It’s arranged chronologically, so it starts with New Year’s, but we’re going the other way around and starting with the closer holiday. 🙂

No matter what you may be celebrating, chances are you have a holiday food tradition of some sort and we hope you have the opportunity to indulge in it this year! There will a short post going up next week (after your archivist/blogger has headed off to visit family and friends) featuring some military holiday menus, but we want to take this opportunity to say, from Special Collections to you:

Happy Holidays!


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!

Holiday Entertaining, Part 2 of 2.5: Trivia Time!

Maybe card games aren’t your thing. Maybe you thought you had a handle on entertainment. Or maybe you just have unexpected company. Whatever the case, Part 2 of our holiday entertaining series is here to help. This week, it’s trivia. Well, our feature publication calls them “tests,” but Mental Cocktails, published in 1933, is really sets of trivia questions.

Mental Cocktails, 1933
Mental Cocktails, 1933


Mental Cocktails contains 6 different trivia tests. The first is allotted 10 minutes, the other five allotted 20 minutes. The first one is a bit of a warm up, but I know our readers are quite capable, so I’ve skipped over it. As you may have noticed, the pages above includes two of the tests, but no answers. You may also recall that last week, I mentioned this was a 2.5 part series. There’s no fun in my giving you the answers up front! With the holiday this week and the library closing on Thursday for the next nine days, this post is going up earlier in the week than usual, on Monday, with good reason. The pages with the answers to both of the tests above (aka Part .5) will come out in a post on Wednesday. Think of it this way: you have WAY more than 20 minutes to solve the trivia, but you don’t have to be as generous with your guests. We’ll keep that between us. 🙂

On a side note, the book says that this is the first series and more volumes were expected. Our copy of this book is the only one I found cataloged in public or academic library hands and I wasn’t able to locate any additional volumes in the series. Part of that could stem from the lack of publisher and publication location information, but it leaves us with the trivia question that isn’t answered in the back: Were there more Mental Cocktails or not?!?


Holiday Entertaining, Part 1 of 2.5: Card Games

The holiday season is in full swing and I thought it might be a good idea to talk about entertaining. Many of us will be hosting guests or be hosted by someone else and there can  With part of my family, we usually hit a point where some sort of game comes out. When I was younger, I remember learning lots of card games, most of which I couldn’t tell you the rules to now. In the last few years, it’s been word games: Scrabble, Bananagrams, and, for a short time, Master Boggle. (I say “for a short time” on that last one, since after a few rounds with your favorite culinary blogger who happens to have an English/Literature background, some family members won’t play with me anymore.) But that’s neither here nor there. 🙂 If YOU are entertaining, or looking to be entertained in the next few weeks, I’ve got a 2.5 part series of blog posts for you! This week, it’s How to Entertain with Cards!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921

This lovely little booklet covers card parties for formal clubs, special events, and the everyday. There is information on creating and managing a club, foods to serve, game to play, and even how to send invitations. Everything a person could need to keep the guests busy!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents, page 1.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.

With 43 pages of information, there is plenty of be learned and put to good use, but for this week, I’ve focused on the relevant details for this time of year. The booklet gets a little more obscure with suggestions for October Nut parties, Rose parties, and Seashore parties. Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed–we certainly talk about advertising and motivation enough on the blog–this booklet was published courtesy of the U. S. Playing Card Company.

This publication, and the one we’ll look at next week (for those really last minute trivia games), are both part of the History Food and Drink Collection AND the Cocktail History Collection. Why? Because the idea of the cocktail party as it evolved in the 20th century was about much more than just a cocktail. It was about drinking, true, but also eating, socializing, and sharing good times. There is a great deal of social history tied to cocktails, dining, and entertaining visitors and How to Entertain with Cards gives us a little insight.

Happy New Year From Us to You!

Hard to believe it’s almost 2015! Hopefully, our readers out there have a fun way to ring in the new year. If you’re having guests and are still looking for the right drink to fill your punch bowl, we wanted to offer a selection or two of the bubbly. Here’s How: Mixed Drinks is a 1941 book published in Asheville, NC. It’s got some rather interesting wood boards (which make it hard to scan, so apologies for the slightly off-kilter images–I haven’t been into the bowl yet!). Plus, there are more than a few punches.

Cheers to your 2014 AND 2015! Special Collections (and the university at large) re-opens next week. Be sure to stay with us–we’ll have plenty of new surprises in store!

Happy New Year!

Ring Out 2014–Culinary Arts Institute Style!

2015 is around the corner, which means it’s time for me to dig out the holiday cookbooks. I thought about a post full of candy, but it’s important to remember this time of year isn’t ALL about sweets. That being said, our feature item this week still has its fair share of holiday dessert classics. Let’s take a look at The Holiday Cookbook from the Culinary Arts Institute. It was issued and re-issued repeatedly, but ours is from 1957.

This title actually covers nine different holidays, but I don’t want to spoil some of others just yet. This title could reappear in 2015. 🙂 We’re focused on Christmas, full of classics like roast goose and fruitcake, and New Year’s, with its savory canapes, rich main dishes, and holiday-ingredient-inspired pies. There’s a mix here of the expected for Christmas: a “light” fruitcake that looks anything but light (plus, you can make them in a range of sizes!); roast goose; candied yams; and candies and hard sauces. But you’ll also find 5 dishes with persimmons in the 6 pages of Christmas recipes and a creamy, yet chunky looking “Creamed Oysters with Turkey.”

The New Year’s recipes include a lot of seafood canapes (“Crab Nippies,” herring in sour cream, and shrimp cocktail), as well as heavy meat dishes like Yorkshire Pudding and rib roast. There’s stuffed or curried birds (“Curried Chicken with Broiled Bananas?”), an Eggnogg Pie, and three different eggnogg recipes, for those of you who can never get enough of the ‘nog. Apparently, one should ring in the new year with a rich diet!

No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this time of year, who you’re with, and on what you’re dining, Special Collections wishes you the best! We’re looking forward to our holidays full of goodies (we’ve all been busy making our usual–and not so usual–treats for each other around here) and we hope you are, too!

Happy Holidays and we’ll meet you back here in 2015!

Eudora Welty’s Fruitcake

In 1980, Albondocani Press produced a Christmas card with Eudora Welty’s White Fruitcake recipe. The cover art, by Robert Dunn, was an hand drawn image that actually looks quite appealing! WhiteFruitcake
This fruitcake used bourbon, which would be a nice compliment to the pecan, crystallized cherries and pineapple, and lemon peel. You can find the recipe online in a number of places, including the Cookbook of the Day blog. Welty’s recipe may not have been created by her, but she did give it quite the boost. This recipe may be a little late for this year, but you can always start fruitcake planning for next year…

We have one New Year’s Eve post scheduled, then we’ll be back in 2014. We look forward to continuing to share our collection with you.

Happy Holidays from Virginia Tech Special Collections!

Celebrate The End of Prohibition!

Happy Repeal Day!

“Happy what?” you may ask. Today is the anniversary of Repeal Day. And if you’ve done the math, you’ll notice it’s the 80th anniversary! Ratifying the 21st Amendment, which would repeal the 18th Amendment, required a three-quarters majority. On this day in 1933, Utah became the tipping (tippling?) point and Prohibition ended, at least at the national level. It would take until 1966 before all the state laws were overturned. And, of course, we have dry counties throughout the country today. 

So, naturally, this week seems like a good time to feature an item from the Cocktail History portion of the History of Food and Drink Collection. We have a number of items from 1933 and each has its merits, but Pick-me-up: Thirteen Drawings in Colour by Ian Fenwick ; with Thirteen Rhyming Recipes by A.N. Other presents a fun look at cocktails, through art and poetry. 

Other recipes/poems include the “Peri Ideal,” “The Tempter,” the “White Baby,” the “Quelle Vie,” the “Millionaire,” the “Royal Fizz” (which is actually missing a couple of ingredients in this version of the recipe), ” The Merry Widow,” the “Orange Blossom,” and the “Straight Law.”

Pick-me-up is not available online and you’ll only find about 4 copies in libraries in the US, including ours.  But we’ll be here, if you want a closer look…Or if you’re just looking for creative recipe to celebrate Repeal Day.


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.)