Food AND Fun? In One Book? :)

Food & Fun for Daughter and Son was published in 1946. We acquired a copy last year, but it slipped off my radar until recently. I must not have had the time to take a good look, or I undoubtedly would have shared it sooner!

As you can see, this book is a blend of “how-to/advice for parents,” meal planning guide, nutrition manual, and cookbook. Typically, we have a wide range of recipes and menus, some more intriguing that others. (I’m curious about a lunch of beef broth, potato salad, and cake…but also not saying I’d turn it down.) What I found more interesting, though, was everything else. The intended audience is adults, but it sometimes results in seeming non-sequiturs like:

“To limited degree and in a kind, friendly way, table manners should be taught at an early age to avoid embarrassment when he comes in contact with older, well-behaved children.

Your immaculate, regular care of the refrigerator will prolong its efficiency and life.”

There are a few more pieces of advice about the kitchen, then it jumps to advice for caring for a child with a cold. I see the general connection, but the first couple chapters are a conglomerate of advice on a range of subjects that contribute to raising healthy children.

We’ve definitely looked at books for/about children that featured party themes and planning, but I think this is the first time we’ve come across a book with section devoted to “Diversions for an Only or Lonely Child.” The suggestions themselves may seem outdated or silly, but it was neat to see the topic addressed in conjunction with entertaining kids who are sick or stuck in bed.

So, until next week, if you’re missing us, don’t worry! There’s an imaginary pony of your own that needs training!

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!

365 Luncheon Dishes & 365 Days in a Year–What a Coincidence!

Some of the items we feature on What’s Cookin’ are things we know about and which stick with us for various reasons. Others, like our book today, come from good old fashioned shelf browsing. While not all the History of Food and Drink Collection titles are shelved together, the majority are in groups and it’s a great deal of fun to wander, looking at spines and flipping through pages. This week, we found 365 Luncheon Dishes; A Luncheon Dish for Every Day in the Year, Selected from Marion Harland, Christine Terhune Herrick, Boston Cooking School Magazine, Table Talk, Good Housekeeping, and Others. Published in 1902, it turns out to be exactly what it sounds like. Each month includes recipes for each day. (During Leap Years, we can presume, you’d need to come up with your own dish for February 29!) If you follow us, you’ll recognize some of these recipe authors: Marion Harland,her daughter Christine Terhune Herrick, and Janet McKenzie Hill (Boston Cooking School Magazine‘s first editor).

Despite the structure of the cookbook, the recipes don’t reflect any sort of seasonal nature. You’re just as likely to find warm dishes in summer and cold ones in winter. Some recipes are for main dishes and others are for sides or components of a larger luncheon menu. So, while not a meal planning guide, the book does offer lots of variety one could incorporate into planning. 

This volume has previously been scanned by Special Collections staff and you can view it online here: http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/10287. The samples we shared today just begin to scratch the surface!

You may be wondering, with a title like 365 Luncheon Dishes, if this book is part of a series. As a matter of fact, it is! In 1901, George W. Jacobs & Co. published 365 Breakfast Dishes. Although we don’t have a copy of this volume in Special Collections, you can view it online. In 1903, the company followed up with 365 Dinner Dishes. The copy available online is from the same year, but our copy has cover that looks more like the one above. These were followed by several more titles (none of which, unfortunately, reside on our shelves): 365 Tasty Dishes (1906). 365 Foreign Dishes (1908), and 365 Vegetables Dishes (1910). Clearly, the publisher felt they were doing something right with this format–No matter what your time of day or cooking need, they have you covered!

Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 4: Janet McKenzie Hill (1852-1933)

The last week of March has arrived, leaving us time to meet one more lady of influence from the late 19th and early 20th century–Janet McKenzie Hill.

Born in Massachusetts in 1852, Janet McKenzie finished her education and began working as an assistant teacher. She married Benjamin Hill in 1873. She later attended the Boston Cooking School (yes, another BCS graduate this week–but to be fair, it was the place for a culinary education at the close of the 19th century), graduating in 1892. Four years later, she founded and served as the first editor of the Boston Cooking School Magazine (later American Cookery from 1914-1946).  Over the course of her long career as an author, editor, demonstrator, and lecturer, she wrote more than 15 books, not including pamphlets, promotional brochures, and articles. She died in 1933.

The images below contain scans from publications by Hill available in Special Collections ranging from cookbooks, product/brand specific pamphlets, and posthumous revised editions of her works. Over time, her books reflected the changing times, whether an improvement to an available technology, a country at war (World War I), or defining a new kind of relationship between author/educator and product/producer.

A complete list of Janet McKenzie Hill’s publications in the library’s catalog can be found here. The Culinary Pamphlet Collection at Special Collections includes two more of her brand-related pamphlets. Six of her books are available through the library’s digital rare book collection here.

Incidentally, Janet McKenzie Hill was also known for popularizing the baked bean sandwich. So if you’re looking for something to try that isn’t creamed fish between slabs of aspic or prunes on toast, or won’t require special skills in food construction, a nice fruit salad or baked bean sandwich might be a safe choice.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our profiles of some culinary leading ladies this month (at least as much as archivist/blogger Kira has enjoyed researching and learning about them)! There are plenty more where they came from if you want to pay us a visit and ask. Next week, April is upon us, and there are all kinds of spring surprises in our History of Food & Drink Collection, waiting to be discovered and shared…

Veggie Goodness, Part II: On Vegetarian Loaves and Alternatives to Fishes

“Do not regard cooking from a standpoint of taste only. Endeavor to use the various food materials to the best possible advantage–carefully preserving their nourishing qualities and maintaining their true value.”

This week, we’re featuring the Vegetarian Cook Book published by the City of David in 1934. Full of vegetable, egg, cheese, and meat substitute dishes, there are a few surprises as well…

Whether theosophical vegetarians or religious vegetarians, we’ve clearly made every attempt to represent the “loaf” in the past couple of weeks. This title also includes a good deal of “mocking,” too: Mock Veal (Cutlets), Mock Turkey (Croquettes AND Dressing),  Mock Steak (or Salmon or Sausage or Crabs), and even a Mock Cherry Pie (made with cranberries and raisins).

Mary’s City of David, the religious organization behind this publication, was based in Michigan. Their dietary choices were religious-based and as the preface states, they were focused on their own supplies of vegetables, fruits, poultry (for eggs), and dairy products. The resulting recipes are quite different from the Vegetarian Cook Book from last week (despite the duplicate title). Rather than relying on a protein substitute (the Protose made by the Battle Creek Food Company), this group found all sorts of creative alternatives in the section on Meat Substitutes: peanut butter, other ground nuts, beans, cracker crumbs, and even tomato pulp (see “Mock Salmon”).

Another oddity we see in this cookbook is the  number and variety of actual vegetable recipes. There are classic veggies: potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, carrots, and peas, but also asparagus, beets, dandelion greens, “egg plant,” salsify, and pumpkin. And while there’s some repetition (you can cream just about anything, for example), there is not shortage of veggies and veggie-based dishes.

The other big surprise here is the significant number of desserts. After the sections on salads and dressings, the book jumps straight into pastries. Nearly 50 of the publication’s 140+ pages share recipes for pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, puddings, fritters, dumplings, custards, and candies. However, like many cookbooks, we cannot reach the end without several pages devoted to canning and preserving! Once again, neither fruit nor vegetable is ignored. There are instructions for quince jelly, plum conserve, spiced crabapples, pickled tomatoes, homemade catsup, and even pickled beets to get you through any season.

On a side note (and since I made a passing reference last week), the Mary’s City of David did have a baseball team. It has a long and interesting history (the team, for example, played in the first ever night game in 1930). While not the topic of our post today, you can read more about the team here: http://www.maryscityofdavid.org/html/baseball.html.

And who knows, lima bean croquettes and cabbage salad may have been just what the team needed!

The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book, or the Delights of Electric Refrigeration

For some reason, The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book sounds like it could double as a horror movie title. Good for us, it isn’t! Published by the Electric Refrigeration Department of the General Electric Company in 1931, this little book is “arranged to assist you in making the greatest use of your General Electric Refrigerator.”

With hints on organizing, using, cleaning and cooking with your fridge, this is one helpful pamphlet! Kitchen appliances have a long history, but you can almost always (at least partially) chalk their invention and improvement up to efficiency. Whether less time in the kitchen for women in the 1930s meant more time with children, more time outside the home, or more time working, the idea was simplification and better use of time.

About half of this volume contains recipes and meal planning, some of which is shown in the gallery above.  In general, there’s a lack of particularly unsettling recipes, despite the overabundance of gelatin dishes (stuffed eggs in gelatin mayonnaise and ham mousse, for example). Instead, the focus is on relatively easy-to-prepare/store dishes, and somewhat flexible meal planning. A little preparation and it’s simple to go from an informal family dinner to feeding unexpected company with a few ingredients that you can, of course, store in your electric refrigerator.

The other half of the publication is more on the “household hints” side of things.  Unsure how to arrange food in your fridge? Want to defrost it? Lack the proper storage for foods in your fridge? Have leftovers in need of a makeover? The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book can help with pictures, diagrams, advertisements for containers, and leftover meat and vegetable uses.

There was at least one more addition of this pamphlet produced, but the 1931 is the most common among libraries. Check it out when you’re planning your next Washington’s Birthday Dinner! (Yes, there is a suggested menu for this event, complete with hatchet-shaped bread and butter sandwiches…) Happy chilling!

Farm and Rural Cooking: The Orange Judd Cookbook

The Orange Judd Cook Book , published in 1914, has a subtitle that describes it rather succinctly:  “A Practical Collection of Tested Recipes for Practical Housekeepers.” Beyond that, it was largely intended for rural and farm homes and housekeepers.

Given its early 20th century publication date, the lack of color images isn’t surprising. Still, each picture does present a perfectly created and plated dish, even if some of it is *gulp* jellied. (I know I have serious doubts I could cheese cakes that nice looking on the first try–pastry crusts and I, for example, are old enemies.) And it makes the important point that plating and presentation have always been a factor in serving and eating.

Adeline O. Goessling, the author, wrote a number of related books between 1901 and 1919, including Making the Farm Kitchen PayFarm and Home Cook Book and Housekeeper’s Assistant, and The Farm and Home Cook Book: A Practical Collection of Tested Recipes for Practical Housekeepers. It seems safe to say, when it came to authoring cookbooks, Ms. Goessling found her niche and an effective way to package and repackage titles and recipes!

With the emphasis on rural and farm life, the cookbook isn’t without a few recipes that might make a modern reader look twice. We’ve looked before at recipes for various mock and real sea creatures, organ meats, and alternative sources of meat (squirrel, for example). The Orange Judd Cook Book is the first recipes we’ve seen in our collection for raccoon (baked, of course!). Not only are there directions for preparing it, but a rationale as to why raccoon would be good for eating and how to not waste the fat you don’t want to bake it with–by making soap. This lead to more than one discussion in the library about what raccoon would actually taste like and exactly how strong a scent you would need in that soap to not smell like a gamey animal. (Why yes, we librarians and archivists are a fun bunch!) The fact that “Baked Coon” is immediately followed by “Possum and Sweet ‘Taters'” led to discussions of how different the environments we were raised in can be.

Which brings our post this week to a close with this thought: cookbooks can spark cultural conversation and education in any environment, even if its only the shared experience of wonder at a new food or recipe.

Oh, and while Special Collections at Virginia Tech does not have any of Adeline Goessling’s other publications, you can The Orange Judd Cook Book and several others online via the Internet Archive.

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.

Cooking for the Sick Isn’t All Tea and Toast

Many of the cookbooks in the collection, especially those from the 19th century, include a section on cooking and preparing food for the sick. Others feature instruction on feeding children and infants. This week’s feature, Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, has a little of everything. A combination textbook for cooking school students and cookbook, it was written by well-known teacher/author Fannie Merritt Farmer. The book went through multiple editions between 1904 and the early 1920s (ours is from 1911), and it has been reprinted occasionally since then.

The book contains information on nutrition and food values, feeding children and infants, and a lengthy list of recipes. While many cookbooks include simple recipes for the sick (teas, gruels, and toast),  Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent is much more elaborate, as you can see from some of the images above. Chapters have detailed instructions on preparing luncheon and dinner trays appropriately so they look neat and aren’t overcrowded. Recipes range from teas, soups, puddings/gelatins (it was too hard to resist the image of a carved orange basket!) and toast to chops, oysters, and custard souffles. The latter is not quite the simple fare you might expect.

However, if you look at Farmer’s list of things to consider when feeding the sick, the first two are appealing to sight and taste. “Never consult a patient as to his menu, nor enter into a conversation relating to his diet, within his hearing,” she advises, but “…the best means of stimulating the appetite is to have good food, well cooked, and attractively served.” (Admittedly taken to some strange extremes–see “Flowering Ice-Cream” above.) Chapters on specific types of food include notes on nutritive value, recommendations on the best ways to serve, and a variety of recipes.Contradictions aside (“Cream and Mayonnaise dressings, although highly nutritious, are so complex as to render them difficult of digestion” followed by recipes for both),  the fact that the book addresses different types and phases of illness, and, to some extent, transitioning back to a regular diet, is a change from many other publications from the time period. And it clearly had an audience for nearly 20 years!

And for those of you wondering what kind of stance the book takes on alcohol, there are cases of illness that justify its consumption, as “[t]he use of alcoholic beverages in some diseases seems almost imperative.” Before going on talk about when and why to drink a little brandy or  a lot of whiskey, however, Farmer includes the following statement: “Lives, without doubt, have been saved by the use of champagne.” There is a very brief explanation about champagne putting those with fevers into beneficial sleep, but either way, it might be my new favorite quotation.

And, on a vaguely related note, since it’s graduation weekend here at Virginia Tech, a little champagne might just be in order. Congrats and good luck, Class of 2012! Go out into the world…and find something good to eat. That’s my advice.

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…

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