Summer (Cooking) School, Part 6: British Baking at Home, Abroad, and in the Trade

This week, many of our staff are at the Society of American Archivists annual conference. This includes me, your usual archivist/blogger Kira who is, quite excitedly, presenting on a panel this year. “What panel?” you ask. Why, one about food collections and outreach! So, while I’m off definitely learning from others and hopefully inspiring a few colleagues, too, we’ve got another culinary lesson here on the blog. Despite the high temps in Blacksburg the last couple of weeks, I went a little crazy and was baking last week. For the library’s annual summer picnic, I whipped up a couple of cobblers (thanks to a very simple, 6 ingredient recipe!): blackberry peach and strawberry blueberry. While it may not have been the smartest move, turning on the oven and all, the summer smacks of cobbler to me and I hadn’t made one in a long time. Which also has me thinking about baking. I respect the fact that  baking is a precise and scientific art, but I’ve never been good at that in the kitchen. And, I’ve gone this long with any major baking disasters in my life (we’ll save tales of cooking and candy-making disasters for another day). Still, there’s plenty to learn from our historic resources, like The Pastrycook and Confectioner’s Guide for Hotels, Restaurants, and the Trade in General, Adapted Also for Family Use, Including a Large Variety of Modern Recipes. The title actually goes on, but we’ll take a break there. (You can see the rest of it on the title page below.)

Written by Robert Wells in 1889, this is a short, but detailed, British guide to baking, confectionery (including sugar-work), meat pies, ornamental butter, and more. Since this is a British book, you’ll notice a few differences, but nothing that can’t be overcome in the historic or modern American kitchen. Castor (aka caster) sugar, for example, isn’t that common in the U.S. These days, though, it can found in some stores, most definitely online, and, with modern kitchen technology (a coffee/spice grinder or a food processor), you can make it yourself!

While, at first glance, this book may seem like a strange conglomerate of recipes–I can see including meat pies in a book on pastry–there is a theme here. The sections on cooking meat and poultry may seem a bit out of place, but if you can’t cook them properly, they aren’t going to make for a good meat pie. The one thing that is really lacking, especially since this is designed to be a manual not only for other professionals, but for the home cook, was pictures. I, for one, would love to see #294: To Ornament a Tongue as a Dolphin. This seems like the kind of manual that would benefit from a bit more visual content, but perhaps the lack thereof gives the home and professional the freedom to be creative rather than match a certain image.

The entirety of The Pastrycook and Confectioner’s Guide can be found on Special Collections Online, our digital platform: http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/HFDBooks/TX773.W4457_1889. You can read it online or download the pdf for later if you’re interested. Take a moment to learn something new about culinary history this week, even it’s just a little fact. I know I’m looking forward to finding out what my colleagues are doing with food history collection and outreach. I might even have some tidbits to share when I get back! Until then, good eating (though if your summer is as hot as our in Blacksburg, you might want to take a word of advice from me and skip the baking for now)!

 

 

Summer (Cooking) School, Part 3: The Story of Meat

Honestly, I couldn’t come up with a title that was better than the actual title of the book we’re looking at this week. The Story of Meat basically says it all, doesn’t it? (It doesn’t…but luckily we have the book for plenty of answers and stories!)

TX373H51942_fc

Right off the bat, the frontispiece will catch your attention. While there are plenty more pictures, diagrams, and drawings to come, this is actually the only color one–sadly. Still, it’s not exactly where you might expect a book on meat to start–with the transport of pickled beef. TX373H51942_tp

Anyway, The Story of Meat was first published in 1939; our edition is from 1942. This is another one of those volumes that’s part text book/educational resource, part history, part…well, something else entirely. First, it covers a LOT of topics in its 291 pages as you can see from the table of contents. Seriously, from our early hunting ancestors to 1940s job opportunities in the meat industry, there’s commentary here.

TX373H51942_iii TX373H51942_iv TX373H51942_vi

It was hard to pick some favorite pages from the many, but I did manage a few, including this spread from the chapter on the western frontier:

TX373H51942_32

At first, I was so intrigued by the quote about the “woven bravery and of cowardice, of heroic generosity and sordid thievery (what lower creature in the ranch-lands than the cattle-thief?), of gentleness, murder, and sudden death…” I missed the map for a moment. But, if you’ve ever been curious about cattle trails–ta da! Or, wondering about the grading system for beef? There’s help for that, too!

TX373H51942_90

Like some of the other educational volumes we’ve highlighted so far this summer, each of these chapters concludes with a series of questions about the content. The page below comes from the end of the chapter of selling meat in a retail setting.

TX373H51942_212

To be sure, there’s a fair amount of meat propaganda here (which is hardly surprising). There’s a whole chapter on the importance of meat in the diet. Questions at the end of this chapter include things like “Why is it inadvisable to exclude meat from the human diet?” and “Is meat a necessary part of the diet of children? Of office workers? Why?” Clearly, the answer to the latter set is not meant to be a “No.”  This chapter is full of two page illustrations, showing the various cuts from animals and how to cook them. It’s also got charts on wholesale versus resale cuts and some depicting the protein, calories, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and vitamins in meat compared to other foods.TX373H51942_237 TX373H51942_260

While I don’t think we should necessarily be surprised by the propaganda itself, it can raise an interesting question about timing. The first edition of this book came out in 1939, but by 1942, when this edition was published, the war had started and rationing was becoming a growing practice in the United States and abroad. Yet, from what I can tell, there’s little to no mention of those concerns in the book. I should also mention that “meat” is predominantly used to refer to cattle in most of the book, but there are sections, as you may notice above, that tackle sheep, pigs, poultry, and indirectly, dairy, too. In other words, quite a versatile manual. The only thing that really seems to be missing are recipes. The authors cover cooking techniques, but don’t offer specifics. I guess that’s more the purview of the cookbook, not the history/textbook…

We haven’t digitized all of our copy (yet?), but the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has and you can view it on the Internet Archive if you can’t visit us in person. The Story of Meat, by the way, is just the start of our meat-related publications. And if you’re more interested in the opposite site, we have a few titles on vegetarianism that you might also want to sink your teeth into. Until our next lesson, remember to keep your cattle safe. After all, there’s nothing worse than a cattle-thief…right?

Women’s History Month, Part 16: Hannah Glasse (1708-1770)

In 1747, the first edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy was published in London. By 1800, it had been issued in more than 20 editions and it was a staple cookbook and household manual into the 1840s. Since the 1970s, it has also been republished with new introductions and in different formats. Our copy in Special Collections is the 6th edition, “with very large editions,” published in 1758. (You can see a scanned version of the 1747 edition online.) Hannah’s lofty title aside, she did include some unique recipes (turnip wine), techniques, and opinions (she seems to have been quite against French influence in English cooking).

The other edition we have of the book in Special Collections is a 1976 reprint of the 1796 edition. This reprint appears in 10 separate volumes, housed in a single box. So, the major chapters of the early print editions here become individual volumes.

Hannah had an interesting life filled with alternating successes and failures. Between some contradicting details, it’s a bit unclear if she was born to her father’s wife or to another woman with whom he may have had a relationship. Regardless, she was born in 1708. In 1724, she married an Irish soldier named John Glasse. They had 11 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood. He died in 1747, the same year The Art of Cookery was published. It appears, despite the book’s success, Glasse spent several months in debtors’ prison during 1757, but she published her third book before the end of that year. Little is known about the final years of her life, but she died in London in 1770, leaving a legacy of recipes, common sense advice, and economical cooking behind.

Bibliography of Hannah Glasse publications at the University Libraries (items in Special Collections are in bold):

  • The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy: Which Far Exceeds Any Thing of the Kind Yet Published…To Which are Added, by way of an Appendix, One Hundred and Fifty New and Useful Receipts, and a Copious Index to This and All the Octavo Editions. London : Printed for the Author …, 1758. 6th. ed., with very large additions.
  • The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. With a new introduction by Fanny Cradock. Hamden, Conn., Archon Books, 1971.
  • The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Richmond, Va. : Randolph Carter Williams, c1976.

Of course, The Art of Cookery wasn’t the only household book that Glasse wrote. She also authored titles like The Compleat Confectioner; or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Plain and Easy (1755) and The Servants Directory: or, House-Keepers Companion (1757). While Hannah Glasse wasn’t the most prolific of the many cookbook authors we talk about on the blog, she was extremely influential during in England and her threads run through the culinary culture that was developing in America during her time and into the decades that followed.

Our final Women’s History Month profile of 2016 is coming up next week (already??), where we’ll look at Susannah Carter and The Frugal Housewife. Until then, take a note from Hannah and remember: It doesn’t take 6 lbs of butter to fry 12 eggs. You can do it with 1/2 lb just as easily.

Feeding en masse, 50 at a time!

2016 is off to a start and next week, our students return for the spring semester. Campus will be filling up with busy, hungry students. And there are a lot of them to feed. Of course the History of Food & Drink Collection has some advice on this topic! This week, we’re featuring Food for Fifty, a 1937 book with recipes for feeding groups of people. (Now, if we just multiply that by 142,200, we’ll reach the number of meals served by Dining Services on campus each year…)

As you may notice, it’s not just recipes. The book includes several pages of dictionary terms for cooking and foods, pages of cookery terms, a menu planning chapter, sections on how to best prepare ingredients, and some illustrations and photographs. However, there are plenty of recipes for every food group, too.

Food for Fifty was published and re-published with multiple editions: a 2nd edition in 1941 (in our collection), a 3rd edition in 1950 (in our collection) and a 5th edition in 1971. [I wasn’t able to find a date for the 4th edition.] It appears that, after a long absence, the book was adapted by new authors, and our collection also includes 3 editions of this version: 9th (1993), 10th (1997), and 11th (2001). Feeding crowds, whether in institutional settings or in more informal ones, has long been a trend in food history, and Food for Fifty isn’t our only example. If you check out the catalog record for the 1937 edition, you’ll see a subject heading “quantity cooking.” If you follow the subject heading down the rabbit hole, you’ll find we have 127 books in the libraries (25 of which reside in Special Collections) with that heading and more titles with similar or related headings. Some are aimed at specific types of quantity cooking, like for schools, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, community kitchens, or military. Others target a specific ingredient/set of ingredients like meat or baked goods, or focus on quantity cooking that’s cost-effective or for-profit in nature. In other words, there’s more than one reason and way to write a recipe book for quantity cooking.

So, whether you’re looking to fry frog legs for 50 or supply cake for 100 in your boarding house, keep in mind that Special Collections might just be the resource for you–and not just historically speaking. Some of the earlier publications may seem out of date in some ways (boarding houses are certainly less common in 2015 than in 1915), but that doesn’t mean we don’t all still want a slab of apple cobbler at our next family reunion. 🙂

Women’s History Month, Part 11: Malinda Russell (b. abt. 1822?)

This week, I want to talk a little bit about Malinda Russell. I say “a little bit” quite intentionally, as that’s about all anyone knows. In May of 1866, Malinda Russell self-published a cookbook in Paw Paw, Michigan, the first known cookbook by an African-American. In fact, most of what we know of her comes from the introduction to A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, which includes “A Short History of the Author.” She was born free in Tennessee, possibly around 1820 or 1822. From her account, we can surmise that she lived a challenging life:

My mother being born after the emancipation of my grandmother, her children are by law free…At the age of nineteen, I set out for Liberia; but being robbed by some member of the party with whom I was traveling, I was obliged to stop at Lynchburg, Virginia…Anderson Vaughan, my husband, lived only four years…I am still a widow, with one child, a son, who is crippled…I kept a pastry shop for about six years, and, by hard labor and economy, saved a considerable sum of money for the support of myself and my son, which was taken from me on the 16th of January, 1864, by a guerilla party…Hearing that Michigan was the Garden of the West, I resolved to make that my home…This is one reason why I publish my Cook Book, hoping to receive enough from the sale of it to enable me to return home [Greenville, TN]…

From what else we do know, she worked as a cook, a nurse, and a wash-woman in Virginia and Tennessee. She owned a boarding-house, then a pastry shop before moving to Michigan, where she seems to have been a cook again at the time the book was published.

The original A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen was published in 1866. It was a 29 page pamphlet and very few copies still seem to exist. The one most well-known (if not the only one) is in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan Special Collections. In 2007, they printed a small run of facsimiles, a copy of which we acquired not long after. Although the original item is out of copyright, the 2007 facsimile is not. As a result, I’m not posting images from the item itself, though I have included the front and back covers, and I’ll share some quotes below.

A Domestic Cook Book: containing a careful selection of receipts for the kitchen by Mrs. Malinda Russell, an experience cook published by the author, 1866
A Domestic Cook Book, 1866 (facsimile), front cover
A Domestic Cook Book by Malinda Russell a free woman of color, Paw Paw, Michgan 1866. A facsimile of the first known cook book by an african american with an introduction by Janice Bluestein Longone from the unique copy in the William L. Clements Library, 2007
A Domestic Cook Book, 1866 (facsimile), back cover

I first saw Malinda Russell’s name in 2013 while researching African-American culinary history for a talk I gave in our library. I was amazed at her story and excited to find our facsimile, which I quickly pulled from the shelf. After her brief autobiography is another introductory section, “Rules and Regulations of the Kitchen,” in which Russell provides an explanation of her culinary background. The last sentence of this page reads “I cook after the plan of the ‘Virginia Housewife.'” It seems, at times, we can’t escape Mary Randolph on the blog, can we? 🙂

Russell’s book doesn’t have a table of contents or index and, aside from loosely grouping like receipts, a structure, but for all its 30 pages, she shares plenty of receipts. You’ll find cakes, cordials, pies, cookies, gelatin desserts, pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables, breads/rolls, and custards/puddings. On the whole, there is an emphasis on sweet dishes and baked goods, but she finished with savory meat and poultry dishes, two fish recipes, and several handfuls of home remedies. Not one recipe has directions longer than about eight sentences (calf’s head soup and cream puffs are among the more complex, and all are written in paragraph form without a list of ingredients (characteristic of the era). Most are summed up in as little as 3-4 sentences (or less!), like Sally Lun:

Three tablespoons yeast, two do. butter, two do. sugar, two eggs, flour to make thick as cake. Let it rise six hours; bake quick.

Or “Baked Peach Cobbler”:

Scald and rub the peaches; stew until done; season with sugar to your taste. Paste your pans, put in the fruit, dropping small pieces of butter over it; cover with paste and bake. When done, float the pie with the syrup from the fruit.

Or “Fricaseed Catfish”:

Boil in water with a little salt until done, then drain off the water, and turn over the fish rich cream, butter, pepper, and a little flour, and simmer slowly.

I’m trying to keep my post from being too lengthy (too late, I know!), but for a women with only one publication there was a LOT to say for this week’s profile. Still, I do want to add a final side note or two. First, despite the dearth of information about Malinda Russell, she is no secret in the culinary world. You’ll find her and her book as the subject of news articles, blog posts, and culinary research, if you take a moment to search for her. Second, to date, A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, is the first known cookbook by an African-American, woman or man, in the United States. Robert Roberts’ The House Servant’s Directory is the first book published by an African-American in 1827 and in 1848, Tunis Campbell published Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters and Housekeepers’ Guide. Malinda Russell’s book remains in good company, when it comes to African-American publishing history. And, perhaps more importantly,  she helped paved the way for the the next 149 years of African-American cookbook authors.

Join us again next week for our final Women’s History Month profile of 2015. We’ll look at some of the works of food author M. F. K. Fisher.

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!

All about the Turkeys!

Thanksgiving week is here! Special Collections is open through noon on Wednesday, but we’re all thinking ahead. In the meantime, it seems like a fun idea to talk turkey. (Or, at least look at them!) Agriculture plays a BIG part in culinary history and Virginia Tech history. So, it can’t be all that surprising we have material relating to all manner of poultry. Whether you’re looking to raise, exhibit, judge, cook, or eat, we probably have a publication for you. This week, we’re focusing on the turkey. And you might be amazed at the variety of breeds and things you might need to know about them.

The slideshow below includes images from two books: Turkeys and how to grow them. A treatise on the natural history and origin of the name of turkeys; the various breeds, and best methods to insure success in the business of turkey growing. With essays from practical turkey growers in different parts of the United States and Canada. Ed. by Herbert Myrick from 1897 and Turkeys, all varieties; their care and management, mating, rearing, exhibiting and judging turkeys; explanation of score-card judging, with complete instructions. A collection of the experiences of best known successful turkey breeders, exhibitors and judges from 1909. (And yes, that IS a census of the number of turkeys in each state in 1890 that you’ll see!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy Thanksgiving (and eat well)!

(We’ll be back to posting in December!)