Kitchen Items to Live Without?

Kitchen Items to Live Without?

Courtesy of the website “There I Fixed It.” For their “Historical Thursday” segment this week, they featured some strange kitchen innovations that didn’t survive to find themselves in every home…though one can’t imagine why. After all, the infra-red turkey roaster would only take up one-third of a kitchen!

Newman Library Classic Film Series: Your 1960s Kitchen!

As part of an ongoing series, sharing films from the collection at Newman Library, we invite you to join us for three shorts relating to household management. On Sunday, October 2, at 8:30pm, the library will be showing “15 Minutes to Mealtime,” “Freeze for Ease,” and “Alice in Numberland.” The first of these two films are VPI productions, and the last comes to us from the USDA.

Weather permitting, this an outdoor event, so bring your blanket or lawn chair! 

More information on the event can be found on the Newman Library Classic Film Series: Your 1960s Kitchen Facebook page.

Lunch in Wartime


Food for Victory!

World War II continued to change the relationship between food and family. Pamphlets like this one provided suggestions on how to balance rationing with supporting working family members and other war efforts at home. “How to Pack Lunch Boxes for War Workers” included a detailed meal plan for lunches on any shift, regardless of gender—a factor we don’t usually mention when planning meals today. The aside in the second picture “(Or a Woman)” acknowledges the growing roles of women outside the home…although traditional expectations are still being reinforced. After all, SHE’S the one making lunch on the front cover, even if she was helping build bombers on the second shift.

Oh, and when it comes to sandwich fillings, be sure to consider the “Mock Chicken” on Day 14, or the “Peanut Butter and Chow-Chow” on Day 26. Motivation to stop thinking about lunch and get back to work? Quite possibly!

How to Pack Lunch Boxes for War Workers, 1944. Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.


Update: After several minutes of imagining the worst, curiosity got the better of me and I had to investigate the “mock chicken” issue. Rather surprisingly, it is made up of ground pork or veal, chopped carrot and celery, Chow Chow, and mayonnaise. (This is Kira, one of the archivists at Special Collections.) Anything other tantalizing items need further description? Post a comment and ask!

Modernist Cuisine has arrived!

Friday afternoon bonus, Food-lovers:

After several months of anticipation, we have added Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking to our holdings! This amazing six volume set includes information on the history and basics of food, techniques and equipment, animals, plants, ingredients, new approaches to preparation, and recipes combining all the knowledge together. Recipes and techniques range from basic to the complex (french fries v. ultrasonic french fries?);the unique (mussels in mussel juice spheres) to the well, frankly, bizarre (foie gras cherries, anyone?); and include a range of ingredients from the household common (sugar) to the uncommon (black summer truffles) to the chemical specialists (super methylcellulose SGA 150). At the same time, with a willingness to acquire a few unusual items, most of these recipes are not beyond the capabilities of the adventurous home cook. More information on the set is available online.

Modernist Cuisine is available for viewing/use in the Special Collections reading room during our normal hours (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm). We invite you to come by and think about food in a new way (and see how it looks in detailed, high def photographs!). Seafood Paper, Ham Consomme with Melon Beads, Bacon Mushroom Cappuccino, or Gel Noodles may just turn out to be your new favorite dish!

Just What IS Cookin’?

Special Collections at Virginia Tech is home to a growing collection of books, publications, pamphlets, and manuscript materials relating to Culinary History. Additional information on the Culinary History Collection, as well as the two subsets of this collection, the Peacock Harper Culinary Collection and the Ann Hertzler Children’s Literature and Nutrition Archive, is available thorough the Special Collections website. Other materials in the Culinary History Collection are available through the circulating collection at Newman Library. All books and manuscripts can be found in the library catalog, Addison.

In order to provide an online peek into this exciting group of materials, including handwritten manuscript receipt (recipe) books, early 20th century Jell-O pamphlets, local and community cookbooks from Virginia, and historic American recipe books, we are launching a new blog. Once a week, we will feature an item that, for one reason or another, catches our attention. It may be colorful illustrations, especially rare content, a favorite standard, or questionably edible recipes, but hopefully, each item will offer a little entertainment and a little history. And keep your eyes open for quotes, links, new acquisitions, and events that are just begging to be shared.

Feel free to comment and/or ask questions about specific items or the collection in general (use the “Ask about Culinary History at Special Collections” button on the right)—we’ll do our best to answer them. And if you’re in the area, hoping for the close up view, we’re here Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.